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Spotlight | Mamonde Flower Toner Series (Rose Water Toner + Aqua Peel Toner).

If you're into Korean cosmetics and beauty products, then you've probably heard of Mamonde's Rose Water Toner. It's one of the brand's bestsellers, and a cult favorite among K-beauty fans. Mamonde banked on this popularity and launched the Flower Toner series - a collection of flower-infused and nature-inspired toners for every skincare need.
Mamonde Flower Toner series.
L-R: Flower Honey Toner (dehydrated skin), Chamomile Pure Toner (sensitive skin) Rose Water Toner (all skin types), Aqua Peel Toner (dull, combination skin), Pore Clean Toner (oily skin).
These toners went on a 1+1 sale (that's 'buy one, get one' in layman's terms) while I was in Korea last June, and so I took this chance to buy two new toners for 15000 won (around $13 or Php 700), the price of one. Of course, I purchased the cult classic Rose Water Toner and paired it with the Aqua Peel Toner, upon recommendation of the staff at the Mamonde store in Myeongdong.
Mamonde Aqua Peel Toner and Rose Water Toner.
The Mamonde Rose Water Toner has recently been reformulated and now contains 90.97% rose water (previously, it was just 90.89%). It's made with Damask roses which grow in Bulgaria, and are said to be the most fragrant of all roses.
Mamonde Rose Water Toner.
Aside from its scent, the Damask rose is also known for its soothing and moisturizing properties, earning it the title of 'Queen of All Roses'. And true enough, you get a surge of moisture after applying this product on your skin.
Hangul text written at the back of the bottle.
The Mamonde Rose Water Toner has a light, watery consistency which absorbs into the skin immediately. It does not sting, nor does it leave the skin with a greasy feel. In addition, its mild and gentle '7-free formulation(meaning this product is free from harmful ingredients such as mineral oil, silicone oil, animal ingredients, polyacrylamide, imidazolidinyl urea, triethanoamine, and synthetic pigments) makes this product safe and suitable for all skin types.
Shelf life of almost three years.
I've been using this as my morning toner for the past two months and I love how my skin feels soft and plump after patting this on to my face. (Yes, pat it, don't rub it. Patting is less damaging to the skin, plus it increases the absorption and effectiveness of the products, and stimulates healthy blood flow.) I also love its refreshing rose scent - it's the kind of scent that 'picks you up' and lifts your mood.
Mamonde Aqua Peel Toner.
The Mamonde Aqua Peel Toner, on the other hand, is a refreshing peeling toner that wipes away dead skin cells to smoothen and moisturize the skin. It boasts of its '2-step peeling formula' using apricot enzymes - first, it 'soaks' dead skin cells, then the enzymes from the apricot plant help with 'skin turn-over' to effectively remove the dead skin cells for clearer-looking skin.
Hangul text written at the back of the bottle.
The Mamonde Aqua Peel Toner also has an AHA component to mildly exfoliate the skin and prevent built-up of dead skin cells. Its plum blossom component, on the other hand, delivers rich nourishment and moisture to exfoliated skin to keep the skin hydrated. And then there's the plum fruit extract component, which repairs the skin's natural barriers and helps improve skin elasticity.

Like the Rose Water Toner, the Aqua Peel Toner is free from animal ingredients, mineral oil, synthetic pigments, and triethanolamine. Its consistency is also light, watery, and easily absorbed by the skin.
Also has a shelf life of almost three years.
I was initially worried that my skin would react negatively to this aqua peeling stuff (my skin is quite erratic and tends to be extra sensitive whenever I'm about to have my period), but the store attendant assured me that this product is gentle on the skin. Glad to know she was right!

I've been using this as my nighttime toner for almost two months now (using it alternately with the COSRx Galactomyces Alcohol-free Toner) and I've never had issues with it. No breakouts whatsoever. It doesn't sting nor does it leave the skin feeling tight and dry. It does its job of hydrating the skin and it even helps minimize the appearance of pores on my nose - not that they're very prominent. As for the scent, this toner has a light, floral fruity fragrance which reminds me of Baby Tous, one of my favorite colognes of all time.
A toner for every skincare need. :)
Since both toners work nicely on my skin, I reckon I'll be buying more of these in the future. Hopefully, they'll go on sale again on my next Korea trip so I can buy more for less. If not, well, I can easily purchase them at Althea, where they're sold at a very reasonable price. :)


Spotlight | Skin & Lab White Vita-C Essence.

It hasn't been long since I incorporated essences(s) in my skincare routine. I discovered them a little over a year ago, starting with the Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence from COSRX, and I have been obsessed with essences - and the wonderful things that they do for your skin - ever since.

If you remember my blog post about my first-ever Althea haul, the product that I was most excited about was the Skin & Lab White Vita-C Essence. I have read tons of positive reviews about this product, which was one of the reasons why I wanted to give it a try.
Skin & Lab Dr. Vita Clinic White Vita-C Essence, Php 730 at the Althea website.
Althea likens this product to 'a big, refreshing glass of orange juice for the skin'. And we all know that orange juice is one of the richest sources of vitamin C, which is an anti-oxidant and detoxifying agent that prevents and neutralizes free radicals from causing damage to our body.

The Skin & Lab White Vita-C Essence contains Ethyl Ascorbyl Ether, a more stabilized form of vitamin C. And with its higher concentration of vitamin C, this product not only effectively brightens the skin and reduces dark spots, but also strengthens the skin and stimulates collagen production.
Brighter and smoother skin, why not? :)
This essence also contains green tea seed oil, which is also rich in vitamin C; sea buckthorn oil, which helps slow down the signs of aging by nourishing the tissues in the skin; spider silk protein which retains skin moisture and makes the skin softer and smoother; and arginine/lysine polypeptide which acts like an elixir for skin health.
Product description + usage instructions.
The product comes in a pump bottle made of frosted glass, and based on my research, vitamin-C skincare products are typically packaged as such to to keep them from degrading or losing efficacy. Although the glass bottle isn't very travel-friendly, at least I know that this product is packaged appropriately.
Comes in a 50 mL frosted glass bottle.
And a pump inside.
This essence has a light, watery consistency which makes it super easy for the skin to absorb. It neither feels heavy nor sticky on the skin, and it doesn't make your face shiny or greasy after application. I especially love its invigorating, citrus-y scent - reminds me of fresh orange juice that my husband used to make.
You get this much product with just one pump.
I've been using this essence for more than two months now, applying it in the morning after patting my face with toner and before slathering my face with an SPF30/PA++ day cream. It is imperative that you wear sunscreen, as skincare products infused with vitamin C make your skin more sensitive to the sun. If you're worried about sun damage or if you think your sunscreen isn't potent enough against the harmful rays of the sun, then you can opt to use this essence at night. As for me, I prefer taking my daily dose of vitamin C in the morning, whether it's an oral health supplement, or a skincare product.
Confidently bare-faced, thanks to Skin & Lab White Vita-C Essence.
And so far, this essence has kept its promise of 'brighter and smoother skin'. I've noticed that my skin has become softer and smoother over time, and the blotchy, uneven patches around my cheekbones are no longer visible. I love the 'chok chok effect' (aka dewy, bouncy, glowing skin) that I'm getting from this product, and from the looks of it, I'll be using this essence down to the very last drop!


Taking Care of Your Health As You Get Older.

As much as we like to ignore it, getting older (and all the changes associated with it) will always be a fact of life. And while you can’t exactly stop the hands of time, there are plenty of things you can do to remain fit and healthy, and to ensure you have the best possible quality of life for decades to come. Aside from your own benefit, taking care of your health as you get older enables you to better care for your loved ones – and we all want that. If you're over 40 (or perhaps even well over 40) here are both some unusual and some pretty common-sense ways to better take care of you despite the passing years!
Lee Min Ki in Because This is My First Life (2017).
Start with your brain
It’s impossible to stay motivated to look after your body if you aren’t first taking care of that big old computer upstairs! Staying mentally active is vital to boosting your mood and keeping your faculties sharp, and there are endless options to choose from. Puzzle games and brain teasers, picking up an old hobby like playing a musical instrument, writing or painting, or taking time to get back to nature are just a few examples.
Son Ho Jun in My Secret Terrius (2018).
Get regular exercise
We’re not talking about running marathons or hitting the gym for several hours a day here – although there’s nothing to stop you from doing just that if you want! A brisk 30 minute walk each day is generally recommended, although building up to this slowly over a week or two is perfectly fine too. What matters is that you get up and get moving.
Lee Min Ki and Jung So Min in Because This is My First Life (2017).
Starting a family later in life
For decades now, people have been putting off becoming parents until later and later in life – something made possible by radical advances in the field of fertility treatment and general medical care. Women well into their 40s and even 50s often have perfectly healthy pregnancies and are often in a better situation financially and emotionally to provide for their children than their younger counterparts. If you’ve always wanted children but felt you weren’t quite ready, then there’s no reason you can’t too – but this does make it even more important for both you and your partner to care of your health. Avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, and eating lots of fresh fruit and veggies are all excellent ideas anyway, but are particularly important for promoting fertility.
Women of Okinawa.
Photo credit: Bluezones.
Eat like the healthiest people eat
Most of us have heard of the famous Japanese Okinawans, who not just lived well into old age with the highest percentage of centenarians in the world, but also remained fit and active well into their so-called ‘old age’. And thanks to US military records, (as the US ran Okinawa until 1972) we know exactly what they ate. Largely focused around purple and orange sweet potato, their total diet was made up of a whopping 96% plant foods – which makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Fruit and veggies are a great source of antioxidants, and if fruits and veggies are 96% of what you're eating, you're getting a lot of them! Aside from this, they avoided processed foods, eating their food in its natural form, and were avid gardeners – getting a combination of stress relief, time in the sun and exercise all rolled into one!

Vital vitamins
While there’s no need for a multivitamin supplement if you're eating a balanced diet, there are two vitamins to keep an eye on as you age – vitamin B12 and vitamin D. As you get older, your body loses some of its ability to absorb B12 (which is vital for healthy blood and nerve function) so if you're over 50 you should be supplementing or incorporating B12 fortified foods into your diet. And while sunshine will always be the best source of vitamin D, it can be difficult for older individuals with limited mobility to get as much as they need, so it is recommended that those over 70 take a supplement.
Park Bo Gum while filming Love in the Moonlight (2016).
Keep an eye on your eyes!
After 40, people who have never experienced any problems with their vision before may start to find it more difficult to read fine print – and that’s perfectly normal. Visit an optician if you suspect you might need reading glasses. Wearing sunglasses outdoors is a good idea to prevent UV-related degeneration and incorporating lots of lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes and other red fruit in your diet (move over carrots!) can help prevent macular degeneration.

Aging might be inevitable – but there are so many good choices you can make every day to ensure you remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible – and that’s entirely under your control.


Spotlight | Vice Cosmetics Water Gel Lip & Cheek Tint.

Although it was never my intent to buy or own any of the Vice Cosmetics lip tints, I somehow ended up with three of them - thanks to my friend who purchased the complete set of Vice's Water Gel Lip & Cheek Tints as soon as they became available online. When the tints finally arrived, she realized that some of the shades don't work for her while some of the colors looked almost identical. And with that, some of the goods came into my possession because you know what they say - sharing is caring. Lol!
Vice Cosmetics Water Gel Lip & Cheek Tint.
Following the huge success of the Phenomenal Liquid Lipstick and Good Vibes Matte Lipstick, these Water Gel Lip & Cheek Tints were launched last August and were geared towards a younger clientele. Each lip tint retails for just Php 145 a pop - a fair enough price if you're marketing the product to students and young adults and moms (and titas) on a budget.
Shade names indicated on the bottom of the tubes.
Vice Cosmetics describes this product as a 'water-based tint specially formulated for easy blending'. It promises 'intensely pigmented and long-lasting color with a lightweight texture for all day comfort.' These lip tints are also infused with 'comfort-enhancing ingredients' and antioxidants such as vitamin E. Vice Cosmetics also guarantees that this line of lip products are paraben-free, cruelty-free, and contains no animal or animal-derived ingredients
Flat sponge tip applicator.
The lip tints come in frosted plastic tubes with eye-catching, gradient colors. I have noticed, however, that the sponge tip applicators of these lip tints are flatter and wider compared to the applicators of the Phenomenal Liquid Lipsticks. These lip tints also have a sweet, fruity scent, which dissipates as soon as you apply the product on your lips.
Swatches from L-R (indoor lighting): Beshie, Seswang, G na G.
In terms of formula and application, these water-based gel tints are easy to apply and easy to blend - if you're going to use them on your cheeks, that is. The tints are neither runny nor watery but they do have a notorious tendency of seeping through the lips and staining your teeth. They are nicely pigmented, and you can layer the colors to make it more opaque and intense.
Swatches from L-R (natural light): Beshie, Seswang, G na G.
Here are the shades that I currently own:
Seswang on my lips.
Seswang is a playful shade of fuchsia, and my favorite shade among the three.
Beshie on my lips.
Beshie is a peachy orange shade that looks natural on the lips and gives your cheeks a nice, healthy glow.
G na G on my lips.
G na G is a deep purple shade that kinda reminds me of Kool Aid Grape.

Staying power, for me, is so-so. The colors start to fade after about three hours, and you need to reapply after every meal, even after a cup of coffee. If it's any consolation, the darker shades stay put longer the lighter ones. However, the darker shades like G na G tend to settle on the fine lines on your lips, and they tend to become more prominent the longer you wear it.

Overall, these tints are good enough considering the price. If you're new to gel tints or have a limited budget for it, consider these Water Gel Lip & Cheek Tints an option. However, if it's longevity you're after, this product may not be able to live up to your expectations. 
Products used:
FACE: Innisfree Cushion Primer,
Nature Republic Botanical Stick Concealer,
Holika x Holika Hard Cover Glow Cushion.
EYES: Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil in Brown,
Clio Kill Black Waterproof Brush Liner,
Nature Republic Pure Shine Mascara.
CHEEKS: Vice Cosmetics Water Gel Lip & Cheek Tint in Seswang
LIPS: Vice Cosmetics Water Gel Lip & Cheek Tint in Seswang.

Will I (re)purchase? I might, but only after I've run out of Seswang. :)


Five Rewarding Activities Parents Can Do with Their Children.

One of the most difficult things as a parent is trying to find the time to give to your children, but not take away from your day-to-day responsibilities. Time with your kids doesn't have to be only about the kids. Want to do something that your kids will love, but also beneficial to you as a parent? Pick from these five activities below:

Coloring is not only fun for children, but can also be a great stress reliever for parents as well. Whether you are choosing a coloring book and crayons or canvas paper and paint brushes, coloring is fun for everyone.
Yue at age 2 with his favorite Ernie plushie back in the days.
Coloring helps with motor skills and help in the development of muscles in your child's fingers, hand, and wrist that are important in developing a better handwriting. It also helps push boundaries and lets your child know that it is good to think of new ideas. There are also many benefits of coloring for adults such as reducing anxiety and stress, maintaining focus and mental as well as physical health.

Coloring is meditative. It is something that can be done without thinking too much. Thereby shutting the brain down and giving yourself a much-needed mental break. Staying between the lines takes focus and concentration, but adds no stress. Coloring is a perfect way to train yourself to focus on one thing at a time. Outside demands can wait until your time coloring is complete.

Build Something Together
Another great way for children and adults to work together is to build something. Whether you want to find a way to hang blankets up all over the room or maybe even get some large empty boxes stacked together, building a fort is a fun and imaginative learning opportunity. There are plenty of sources online that show you how to build a box fort.
Yue's favorite Ninjago Legos.
Much like coloring, building Lego blocks are not only for kids anymore. Concentrating on building will relax your brain and help train you how to focus on one thing at a time.

In addition, building model cars can be very time consuming for children and adults, but it teaches a very nice lesson about completing work and having a reward for it. Now each time your child looks at the car or plane they can think of the time and effort put into it.

It may seem counterproductive for some parents to think a video game can be beneficial and rewarding, but Minecraft can be. Minecraft is considered a “sandbox” game, which means you start from very little and create your world. It is a very easy to learn game. Your child will love that you are sharing interests with them, and it shares many of the same mental benefits as the activities already mentioned.

Get Active
Running around a playing with your kids may be the best activity a parent can do. Most of the games are the same as they were when you were little, so allow yourself to be a kid again.

The best way to get exercise is by having fun doing it, so play the games with your child that you played as a child.
Yue and Daddy playing arcade basketball.
It isn't just boys that like to play catch. Girls enjoy it too, so grab a baseball and a glove or a football, and toss it around the yard. Don't mind the sore muscles the next day. Another fun thing for kids and adults is to kick around soccer balls. You don't need to have expensive equipment to have a good time.

Walk, run, ride, or Rollerblade to your local park. The fresh air and sun will be beneficial to your body, and the memories made will help cement bonds between you and your children.

Swings and slides are not just fun for kids. It is surprising how much enjoyment you get by using playground equipment. You may look awkward as an adult on a child's swing, but the smile on your face will let you know it is worth it.

Learning with your child is a great way to show your child that learning is fun. Classrooms are great, but most of the time learning in an unstructured environment can be better.
Quiet time with books.
Find a day where you have little going on and fill it with fun learning activities such as picking out a book from the library or visiting a museum. There are also plenty of shows that you can watch and learn. Depending on your child's age it may be cartoons or documentaries, but make sure it is enjoyable for everyone. Do not use this time for anything other than focusing on your child and the information delivered by the show.

Moreover, it is very important for children to like to read. Reading is one of the most difficult things to learn, but it can be fun in the right environment.

Reading is important at every age, whether you are reading to your child, having them read to you, or just sitting in the same room reading. Being together is the most important part, but the habits being learned are invaluable.
Yue at an exhibition in Changgyeongung Palace, Spring 2016.
Audiobooks and podcasts can be a great way for children of any age – depending on the content – to learn while on the go. Every parent knows that those little ears are listening, even when they aren't supposed to, so you may as well take advantage of it. I am sure most kids would rather watch a Disney princess or Star Wars movie than to listen to a self-help book, but sometimes the medicine that tastes bad is the only thing that will make them feel better.

Kids Will Be Kids
For most people life was easier as a child. Use activities with your children as a bridge to the child you once were. Embrace parenthood and use the time with your children to give them growth, and find the benefits in becoming a kid once again. Parenting is tough, but all I can do is try to be the best mom possible, and keep growing with our kids.