HFactor Water: Worth the hype?

"I have been given this product by HFactor as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company."

As a lupus patient, I tend to have more fatigue than a healthy person. I'm always relying on naps, sleeping in, caffeine, and exercise. And water. Lots of it. I like my water plain: none of that fruit-infused stuff, please (though I will try to make some for the extra boost of health benefits). I'm always on the lookout for food and drink that will only help my lupus get better, as I want to take more holistic approach to healing in addition just taking medication (instead of not taking medications at all, because they are my lifeline). So of course I agreed to try a 6-pack of HFactor Water bottles when Julie Ryan of Chronic Illness Bloggers emailed me regarding the amazing benefits of hydrogen rich water.

Here is the back description of the water.

Instead of plastic, the HFactor Water is contained in an aluminum pouch (that looks like a Hi-C drink!) that has a much smaller carbon footprint than a plastic bottle. It's also BPA-free, which is something I am more aware of after a warning sign at the Walgreens Pharmacy states how products with BPA can damage female reproductive organs. So if you are really environmentally conscious, you will love this. The top of the pouch has a perforated slip that you can tear apart to drink with the attached straw. You have to be extra careful because the water squirts all over. So I have to cut it with scissors. For a product that is supposed to be on-the-go, this is extremely impractical...especially if you have a chronic illness and have limited movement in your hands (not saying I do, but for others who do)

According to the HFactor website, hydrogen-rich water has a numerous amount of benefits, including:

  • Clear Skin
  • Reduced Inflammation
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Peak performance for exercise
  • Faster recovery

I agreed to try 2 packs of water a day for 3 straight days.

On the first day I tried it twice (the day it was delivered), I found it to have a weird metallic taste. It's supposed to be tasteless, but I could definitely taste something that is not found in my bottled waters (like Crystal Geyser). It was also lukewarm, which I don't mind because I drink room temperature water all the time, though I do love my cold water! I stored it in my room (which is the warmest room in my house), and tried it the next day, and was surprised to feel that it tasted colder! Maybe it could've been the way it was delivered the day before and stored much warmer? And I didn't taste the metallic taste! I can say the same about the last day.

How did I feel?

I wanted to like it. I tried my first pouch on the first day before my Ballet Beautiful Backstage Workout DVD, and honestly, I didn't feel much of a difference. It could be because I got the DVD on the same day, and the moves were much harder than other Ballet Beautiful DVDs I have. And because you might see an improvement in performance if you were doing a cardio/endurance-based workout. But three days isn't enough for me to see a huge improvement in my exercise performance, my lupus inflammation, or my kidneys (where my lupus affects the most). Plus, I would've liked to test this before I see my rheumatologist on June 6 because I get my lab tests (blood and urine samples) done every time I see her. I would want to see if this makes a difference in my labs.

Maybe I will give it another chance, but one thing I do know is that it's not cheap, with the 6-pack of being $18 and the 24-pack being $64.99, and you can shop for them here. I do like how it is BPA-free though. I will just stick to my good ol' regular water.

May Beauty Favorites

So in May, I had a list of planned blog posts but they all kinda fell to the wayside because I just got a new job! I am currently a Marketing/Media intern for the California State Fair. I love it so far, I love the environment, the people I work with, the tasks I get to do: designing fliers and campaigns for their website, signage, inputting data entry for their app, etc. And starting in June, I will be participating in some community events for the fair. I also really love the State Fair: it occurs annually in July, and I go brave it despite the torturous 88–100°F weather. I love the food (fatty everything and deep fried cookie dough), rides (Cecilio hates rides so we just go on the Ferris wheel), farm animals, cooling off with watermelon lemonade, fine art exhibits, and watching the fireworks. Unfortunately, I am only a seasonal worker and will be there until the end of July, but it's a great way to get the experience I need for future jobs. I feel more passionate and alive.

But I don't want to ignore this blog! I want to, and will, post more in June. I've gotten some new beauty goodies (mostly from April) that I want to share with you, that I've been loving:

1. Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick (Catnip, Craft, Kathryn)
I wrote about how much I much I loved the shade Catnip, (bottom pictured) that I went to go buy 2 other shades: Kathryn and Craft! Kathryn was another love at first swipe shade, the warm rosy pink suits me so well without being loud. I've been using it a lot. And Craft is a pinkish plum that's gorgeous to wear all year round. I work across the street from the mall, so I have to resist temptation from going after work. I've only gone twice though since this job: once for trying to fix my phone at the Apple store, and then the second time for getting my brows done at the Benefit Brow Bar.

I recently got this from my ColourPop haul, and it's my favorite among the Ultra Satin bunch. It's still pretty drying, but not as much as the Ultra Matte liquid lipstick. This is similar to the ABH shade in Kathryn I just mentioned, but only at $6 instead of $20.

3. ColourPop Super Shock Cheek (Cheerio)
I've been using this deep raspberry blush when I am in a hurry but I still want to look glowing. I love the creamy gel consistency of the ColourPop Blushes, and they last a long time.

4. ELF Blush Palette (Dark)
Sometimes I wonder why I spent so much money on blushes when this baby beats even my higher end ones from MAC, Tarte, The Balm, etc. It's SO pigmented (almost as much pigment as the NARS blushes) that I have to be careful to not swipe on too much! All of my blush brushes pick up so much product on each shade. It's so wonderful. Best of all, it's only $6!

5. Viva La la Juicy Eau de Parfum
I got this during the 3x point offer at Sephora, and not only do I adore the super-girly packaging, but I love the sweet notes of amber, caramel, vanilla, sandalwood, and praline. It's sweet like candy, but not sickenly so. It's a wonderful scent for spring and summer, and it lasts all day!

6. Maybelline Color Tattoo eyeshadows (Bad to the Bronze, Tough As Taupe,  Barely Branded, Chocolate Suede)
I've tried these before but they faded. Without eyeshadow primer, it's no use for me even though they claim to last 24 hours. They're great to apply with just fingers, especially when I'm in a hurry. But I use brushes with them too. I like using Chocolate Suede as a liner over my top lash line.

What items have you been loving this May?

How faith helps me get through my lupus.

"This is a sponsored post for Self Care Catalysts. I have been compensated through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. All opinions remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company."

The nature of lupus is unpredictable. I'm so SO thankful at the moment that I am in remission...but I am still terrified that a flare could strike up at any minute. It happened to me in 2013: I was not taking prednisone at all, and my labs were going pretty good. Then after my Europe trip in July 2013, I got some lab work done, and BAM, the protein in my kidney went up again, to the point where I needed a biopsy and to stay at the hospital overnight (to be fair, I wasn't taking my meds properly the way I do now). My mom was in the Philippines at the time when I had my biopsy: my grandma had a stroke, so my mom had to rush over there and booked the flight within 3 days. I was in the first semester of my graphic design program at university. And 2013 was the year my dad passed away. So there, you get an idea how much of a whirlwind 2013 was (in good and bad ways).

I've had moments of wondering where God was throughout all of it. I doubted. I would wonder, why did He put me in this situation? Why did my dad have to go? Why do I have to be put on this prednisone crap? Why do I have to get seizures in the middle of university, therefore not driving, and therefore not having transportation to get my dream job or internship? (my brother in law was already dropping me off and picking me up on his way to work, and thankfully my school and his work are on the same freeway). Why do my sisters and niece have to suffer? (My older sister, Trixie, has severe lupus, pulmonary hypertension, and scleroderma; my younger sister Sarah and niece Abigail have autism and intellectual disability). I wondered why I had to be taken to church with all of the hyper rock music and and bright-colored lights that were supposed to create a joyful, Hillsong-esque vibe when deep inside I wasn't feeling okay at all, and I had to go with the flow with feeling like I had to be joyful. I would Google on my phone will God heal me?, will God help me through college?, or Bible verses about healing.

Even though I have doubted my faith, I know deep down (even though I certainly didn't feel like it at the time) that God hasn't let me down or abandoned me. Even when I felt so desperate and depressed about my situation. I'm not the preaching type, and evangelicalism certainly isn't my spiritual gift. But I do know that He has helped me through the refiner's fire, and He can help you too. Of course, life isn't easy and the bad times and good are always cyclical; it's not linear where you struggle for a bit, then you get better/stronger and period. Life is a whole lot more complicated than that.

So, how do I cope spiritually and emotionally while getting bitten by the wolf that is lupus?

1. Pray regularly.
After my mom and sister's trip to the Philippines in 2013, they started praying during meals. As a Christian family, we never really did that except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and for safekeeping before big trips. I then realized when I went to the Philippines in 2014 that it was my preacher uncle who would always pray before meals, and he prayed over my anxiety before going home (after all, I did have a seizure when I was there). I was taken aback at first, honestly. But it's a powerful weapon against what evil is thrown at you. My sister, dad, and I were showered with prayer among our family and friends during our hospital stays, flareups, and lab tests. When you pray, even (or especially) if you don't feel like it, you are shaking mountains with your faith. You don't have to say any eloquent words either, it's just talking to God normally. If you're Episcopalian, you can also follow the Book of Common Prayer which has beautiful psalms and more structured and liturgical prayers, where you read a particular Bible story on a particular day. One app I love is Forward Day by Day, which is a daily devotional app from the Episcopal Church. It models after the Book of Common Prayer: it has a daily meditation with a verse and reflections (shown below), daily prayer for the morning and evening, and a specific Bible story that corresponds to the day you're supposed to read it according to the Book of Common Prayer.

2. Find a church community.
I honestly was struggling with this because I had a bad experience at my old church (I've gone to mostly Assemblies of God churches) because of me dating Cecilio...they did not approve of him. He wasn't a Christian at the time, and I felt so horrible. He is a Christian, but not in the sense where he is outwardly preaching or posting Bible verses on Facebook. He also grew up in a devout Catholic family, which is totally antithesis to my evangelical background. It did cause some tension in our relationship at first, especially because I rediscovered my love for God after my last ex broke up with me. So, we are meeting in the middle by regularly going to an Episcopal church: Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento, CA to be exact. That is the church where we will be getting married in! The Episcopal/Anglican Church is known as the "middle-way" between Catholic and Protestant: It has the Catholic rituals (singing with a hymn book rather than rockstar worship music, citing the Nicene and Apostle Creeds, practicing the Eucharist) with Protestant theology. We love it because they are so rich in their faith but are also extremely intellectual and educational, and they love and care for the ones that those in evangelical churches look down upon (women, the LGBT community, and people of different faiths), eating with them the way Jesus ate with the ones who were marginalized by the religious society in His day.

Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento, CA

3. Find and remember verses about healing and comforting.
I had a skin cancer scare in 2007 (the year I graduated high school): I had an mole near my left breast that was large, irregularly shaped, raised, and had different colors, which were all of the classic signs of melanoma. I've had it for years, but it hit me that I needed to do something about it. I was terrified though of the thought of having cancer and my life being cut short. I wrote a letter to my parents because I was scared to tell them in person, and they agreed to take me to the doctor to have it removed. Before we left the house for the incision, my dad quietly rehearsed Psalm 23 to me. The incision was quick and painless (because I got numbed beforehand) and I was left with a stitch that had to stay on for a few weeks because I had to go back and have it removed. I was so thankful when I got a call from the doctor and she said that the mole was benign.

Psalm 23 is the go-to for a source of strength, positivity and comfort through the tough times. But other verses I like are:

"Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." (Isiah 41:10 NRSV)

"Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6–7 NRSV)

"but he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.' So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

4. Practice gratitude, always.
I do have a tendency to be cynical and pessimistic (though I really try to put positive vibes on this blog), but I am really stopping myself. I can't help how I feel at times when I compare myself to others and wonder why I don't have this and other people my age do, or why they have accomplished more than I ever have. I have God, my family, friends, a wonderful fiancé I get to spend my life with, 3 adorable dogs, a means to buy all this makeup (haha), awesome travel experiences, and a pretty kickass job right now (though it's seasonal, I am really really happy right now). I try to put things in perspective too: Though I didn't get the internship I wanted at the design studio I interviewed with, I am thankful that they considered my portfolio good enough for a 2nd interview (out of the 12 people who applied, I was one of 4 who got that 2nd interview!). And if I did get the internship, I wouldn't have gotten my dogs, because I wouldn't have had the time to take care of them on top of finishing school. And my dogs have helped me emotionally, and my mom believes that they are one of the main factors in me healing and being a more positive person. There have been numerous studies regarding pets and how they reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and depression!

5. Immerse in nature.
I am so lucky to be living in California where nature abounds, and we have different terrain: the majestic mountains of Lake Tahoe, the crashing waves by the coasts, the below-elevation desert that is Death Valley, and gorgeous species of trees. I also live in Sacramento, which nestles between San Francisco and Tahoe, so of course we have gorgeous scenery! Cecilio and I always say we want to go hiking, but we never get around to it. (hint hint) There's just something about looking up at the mountains that makes you in awe of the universe, that there is something bigger than yourself...and that you are but a speck among hundreds of thousands of galaxies. Being immersed in nature makes you forget about your mundane day-to-day problems for a while too. Cecilio's sister recently moved to Tahoe, so we have been visiting a lot and have been taking in the mountains and the trees.

Yosemite (a photo I took in 2010)

Cosumnes River Preserve, which is technically in my backyard :D

Mt. Watson in Lake Tahoe

Ocean Beach in San Francisco (Photo Courtesy of Cecilio)

6. Take care of yourself.
My mom always tells me that health is wealth: You could have all of the riches in the world, but if your health suffers, it means nothing. I always need to recharge my batteries, especially as an introvert. One app that has helped me is called Health Storylines, which is created by Self Care Catalysts. They are amazing in which they try to educate and advocate for patients actively becoming more involved with their medical condition, keep patients at the core of their values, and promoting the fact that managing your disease permeates in all aspects of your life, not just in the hospital or clinic. The Health Storylines app helps you manage your disease by tracking your appointments with a calendar, punching in reminders to take your medications, tracking seizures (if you have epilepsy), and tracking your exercise routine. But more relevant to this post is that they have sections called "Healthy Doses" where you are given different sections: Gratitude, Optimism, Love, Funny, and Mindfulness. For each section you press, you get an encouraging quote or a lovely photo of nature that warms your heart. And even though I talk about my faith in this post, it does not mean I limit myself to Bible verses or Christian quotes! 

The Health Storylines app (left) and the Healthy Doses section (right)

If you are interested in downloading Health Storylines, you can click here for the Apple version or here for the Android version.

Click if you also want to learn more about SELFCAREMVMT (brought to you by Self Care Catalysts)

AM/PM Beauty Tag

Which lip color will I wear today?

First off, I just want to say thank you Katie from Beauty from Katie for tagging me in this. I love reading her beauty posts and she is just an overall sweet and down-to-earth gal! Here in this tag, I talk about my beauty/lifestyle routines from sunrise to sunset. Without further ado, here are my answers:

What is your morning beauty routine?
Like Katie, sometimes I have a hard time following my routine so I just either splash water or moisturize. I have been using the Foreo Day Cleanser I got from this month's Allure Beauty Box, and I use the Murad Hydrating Toner. I then massage my face with the Murad Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum (which I'm almost out of), and I moisturize either with the Murad Anti-Aging Moisturizer, or the Cotz Flawless Complexion Sunscreen, which was also from the Allure Beauty Box.

What's for breakfast?
Lately, I've been all about toast. It's the easiest thing for me, yet I try to make it healthy: I either cut up bananas and spread peanut butter on whole wheat toast, or spread pesto and hummus with avocado and/or turkey slices on top. On weekends, my mom's boyfriend cooks up scrumptious scrambled eggs and sausages, or a Shakeology smoothie. Oh yes and coffee!

Coffee or Tea?
I'm a coffee gal, through and through. It gets me through the day. Although I do want to drink green tea more for the health and beauty benefits (cancer-fighting, weight loss, beautiful skin, etc.)

How long does it take you to get out the door? 
I would say around 30-45 minutes!!

What's your go-to make-up look on a fuss-free morning?
LOL like Katie said, even a fuss-free beauty routine takes a lot of work! Rather than wearing primer and foundation, I wear my Neutrogena Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer. Then I fill in my brows with the NYX Micro Brow Pencil. I conceal my dark circles, which I discussed in this post. I apply some mascara, and my favorite is the L'Oreal Voluminous, as it curls, lengthens AND thickens! It's a miracle worker. I like adding in a pop of cream or gel blush (like from ColourPop), or any of the powder blushes from the ELF blush palette, and it is so wonderful and pigmented, AND long-lasting for it being $6! As for lip colors? I'm so indecisive! It really depends on my mood!

What is your evening beauty routine?
I cleanse my face with the Murad Clarifying Cleanser with the Foreo Luna play device. Whatever leftover makeup I have (and it's a pain to get everything out), I wipe it with the ELF makeup remover wipes. Once or twice a week I exfoliate with the Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub. I also really love a good mask and serum. I finally moisturize with the Shea Moisture Peace Rose Oil Moisturizer!

Snack time! What's in the bowl?
This is so bad but I love Flaming Hot Cheetos and yes I do eat it before bed. It's a bad habit I'm trying to break, especially when I have cashews on my bedside I could be eating instead...

How do you wind down and prep for bed?
Check social media, talk to Cecilio, and pray.

What are you wearing for sleep?
It depends. Sometimes in the summer I sleep naked or wear a really light tank top and shorts. During the winter I like my thick PJs.

What are some things you must do before hitting the hay?
Like I mentioned, talking to Cecilio and praying. I have to floss and brush my teeth, and use mouthwash: I have been taking care of my teeth more than ever because they kinda got bad after taking a few of my medications and overall lupus flareups. I also cuddle up with my dogs (Flora, my Maltese/Yorkie mix, sleeps with my and Aris, my Maltese/Rat Terrier mix, sleeps on his own bed on the floor.)

I want everyone and anyone who reads my blog to try out this tag, but I also want to tag specifically:

Carol from Carol in a Page
Bash from Hey Bash
Emma from Wellemma
Erin from Make Erin Over
Kay from Shoes and Glitter

Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick (Catnip)

Ever since Anastasia Beverly Hill's two liquid lipstick shades, Catnip and Soft Lilac, released during the end of last year, I've been eyeing on Catnip. Soft Lilac is a pale violet shade, whereas Catnip is a pinkish plum that I felt would suit better on my skintone. Last week, I made a trip to Sephora after work because I was having issues with my phone (still am), and I had to go to the Apple store at the mall right across from my work. I swatched Catnip on my lips and it was love at first swipe.

I do have two ABH's liquid lipsticks already, Carina and Spice, and although they work wonderfully with my skin tone, I feel like they are outlandish and I have not worn them a lot, if at all. The ABH liquid lipsticks are uncomfortably drying, which is to be expected but I am able to manage as long as I moisturize the hell out of it before hand. For $20, you get 0.11 oz in a tube with the usual doe-footed applicator.

Catnip is one of those rare shades that look amazing (yet completely different) on all skin tones. I have never ordered it before because I was afraid that I wouldn't like it. Well, to me, it's a slightly darker version of Marvelous Mauve or Stila Patina. For those with pale skin, it is a deep, plummy magenta (which is what I was hoping for). If you have medium/tan skin like me...well, you can see how it looks below. It is probably what Soft Lilac is to fair skin. And for dark skin, it resembles Patina the most. 

Nevertheless, I love it and it is a gorgeous spring shade without being too pink. It's great for everyday wear especially in the workplace!

I am really happy with this shade. I am always on the search for a girly pink that isn't too pale but not to bright, and this fits the bill. This is what I wanted Marvelous Mauve to look on me but didn't, so I ended up hating it and giving it to my 16 year old future sister-in-law for her birthday. I can't wear it too much right now since I'm experiencing some severe drying on my lips and skin, but my God is it more marvelous than Marvelous Mauve!

Do you have this shade? Or any of the ABH liquid lipsticks?

How I conceal my dark circles

To me, the dark circles under my eyes have been getting worse and worse. I'm sure it has to do with poor rest (when I was in college, I hardly slept, and I still have bad sleeping habits to this day that I'm trying to overcome), side effects from my prednisone (the salt retention shows up under your eyes, making it puffier, and my love for sodium doesn't help), and genetics (I'm 1/4 Indian, and South Asian women have extra dark circles).

Like I said just now, I would just buy some concealer that was 1-2 shades lighter, pat them under my eyes and wonder why they look so grey rather than brightened up as if I had my 8 hours of beauty sleep. A color corrector is necessary. Thankfully color correcting beauty products are all in the rage right now as we beauty fanatics want to look more natural, and by using products that will neutralize the problem areas on your face, you can finally have that flawless #wokeuplikethis look. And no, please don't use orange or red lipstick for your color correcting. Get a real product specifically for the eyes. I created this tutorial using the products that have worked for me the best.

Here's me with severe dark circles:

Step 1: Get a peach or orange color corrector. Because orange and yellow are the opposite of blue and violet in the color wheel, they will cancel out the dark blue tones under your eyes. I used the BECCA Backlight Targeted Colour Corrector in "Peach" (although it's a bright orange, and there's a reddish-orange shade called "Papaya"). I love its gel-like consistency because it's not too thick. I still pat it thinly with my fingers with 1–2 layers.

Step 2: I squeeze a tiny, tiny dot of the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Anti-Aging Concealer (Neutral Medium) because it's so thick and I don't want it to make me look cakey. I love this stuff for my dark circles, it gives me so much coverage. I really wanted to love my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer since everyone raves about it, but it didn't give me the coverage I needed (it's too thin) and would melt away. So instead, I use that for my dark spots on my face. Anyway, I use the IT Cosmetics concealer either with my fingers or a concealer brush, but I recently bought the beautyblender micro.mini to apply it really precisely in hard to reach areas (like the area near my inner corner).

Step 3: Lastly, I finally set it with Laura Mercier Translucent Pressed Setting Powder to keep my conceal-job in place. It still fades throughout the day but nowhere near as much as if I didn't have it.


NOTE: I forgot this as the absolute first step, but you should apply some de-puffing eye cream before your color corrector. This is a step I forget A LOT but need to be more cognizant of. I use the Clark's Botanical Anti-Puff Eye Cream that I got from my March Boxycharm, but I have heard some great things about the Origins GinZing eye cream and I definitely want to give it a go. I'd love to try some eye de-puffing pads and chilled green tea bags. I want to heal and not just conceal. And don't forget to sleep!

What are your favorite beauty products or tips that aid in your dark and puffy eye circles?

May 2016 Allure Beauty Box: Hot Summer

After canceling Boxycharm to try something new (and slightly less expensive), I've ben eyeing Allure Beauty Box (formerly known as Sample Society). Allure Magazine is one of my favorite woman's magazines (they focus solely on beauty and fashion, no annoying sex articles like Cosmo), so of course I had to check it out. The first month of signing up is only $10, and $15 after that.

The May Allure Beauty Box has caused a huge outrage to those who have signed up last month, because Allure oversold to the point where they didn't realize they had a shortage of boxes until much, much later. (Read more about it on My Subscription Addiction) I was worried because I thought I wouldn't get this month's box, since a lot of those who signed up in April were unable to get May's box (I signed up on April 4 though). I've heard rumors that no one who signed up in April got the box, the people who signed up on the 29th didn't get it, the rude customer service reps, etc. So I did call customer service, and spoke to a very nice guy named Keith, who told me that I was one of the lucky ones that was going to get the box! I was so excited days later when I got the email that my box was on its way.

This month's theme is Hot Summer, and has 8 products!!! That is the most amount of goodies I have ever received in a beauty box.

What makes Allure Beauty Box unique is that it comes with a mini magazine featuring the products (rather than a sheet of laminated paper) with instructions on how to use them. 

The first 3 products I will talk about are from the brand Foreo:

On the left looks like this weird pink-shaped toy, but it's actually the Foreo Luna play, which is actually worth $39! The Foreo Luna is known as the new Clarisonic (which I don't have), except that the brushes are made with silicone (which is more gentle for sensitive skin and easier to clean), and you do not need to buy replacement brushes, so it is cheaper in the long run. This is the smallest of the Luna Foreo family, with the minis coming in at $99 and the full-sized retailing up to $199! The full-sized devices have different ones specializing in sensitive, combination, normal and dry skin. The Foreo Lunas also claim to have anti-aging properties. Since the Foreo Luna play is the smallest of the bunch, it does not come with a charger and is good for up to 100 uses. But all of the Foreo Lunas are super compact and easy to travel with.

After the first night I tried the Foreo Luna play, I woke up the next day with my pores looking more enlarged. I'm not used to seeing larger pores (they are still kinda small, but in my perspective they are larger than what I am used to). I started to freak out a little bit. But after the 2nd night I tried it, my skin felt more radiant and clearer the next morning. Maybe I was purging? I use this at night with my Murad Clarifying Cleanser. Yes, I know that I received the Foreo Night Cleanser, but I am afraid to make too many switches on my skincare products so I haven't tried it yet, and can't really comment on it. I made the mistake one time during my first LUSH haul, buying too many skincare products (all a waste of $90-something), using them all at once, and waking up with horrible redness and spots. So I am more cognizant about not switching up my skincare routine too much.

During the day, I like to cleanse with the Foreo Day Cleanser, which brightens my skin and is made with mandarin and bergamot extracts, and apricot-seed oil.

Normally, I would be pretty annoyed with the amount of skincare I get on most beauty boxes, but I was pretty thrilled to find the Equitance Brightening Serum + Spot Corrector. Especially because I am running out of my Murad Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum. I use this at night while Murad is now saved for the morning. It claims to minimize spots caused by acne and sun spots in 4 weeks! I didn't realize how quick that was in the beauty world, but the mini magazine emphasized how fast that was compared to other skincare treatments. I like how there's no stinging sensation. I wish it was cooling, but it works for those with ultra sensitive skin.

Because the theme is Hot Summer, it makes sense to throw in a facial sunscreen with SPF 50, especially when you will be out and about and need protection for the sun. That's why you need the Cotz Flawless Complexion. Did I mention that this is a mineral-based sunscreen? You can read here about why I favor mineral, eco-friendly sunscreen. I have been wearing this before applying my makeup, and it's only been a few days and I am running out! That's how tiny this is (0.18 oz). One thing about this is that it's a weird salmon color, and I'm used to seeing more white sunscreens, so the color threw me off a bit.

When My Subscription Addiction (the best website for subscription box reviews and spoilers!) posted the full spoiler for this month's beauty box, I was pretty disappointed to see the Pixi by Petra mini Mattelustre Lipstick in Rose Naturelle. I just KNEW this would be the type of shade I would hate because it matched my lips. And I was correct. It looked like this lovely warm rosy brown on my arm but I might as well could've applied lip balm. The mini magazine says this lipstick "isn't a wispy, barely there rose". Well, if you have lips as pigmented as mine you bet it is!

Another dud is the MUFE Smoky Extravagant Mascara. Why? I got this as a birthday gift for being a Sephora beauty insider in 2014, and it lengthened my lashes, but did not thicken them to how much I liked it. Any other mascara would've been better.

Last but not least is the Lauren B Beauty Nail Polish in Santa Barbara Surf. Actually, this baby was the reason I postponed this box review: I wanted to paint my nails to showcase it, but haven't had the time due to a lot of stuff going on in my life. I do have a love relationship with it, because I don't like the brush. It's not a wide, precise flat brush like OPI's nail polishes. This is more akin to the Essie polishes, which have cute packaging too but wonky brushes that apply really thick. I think I may need to get a nail polish thicker. I do love how this is long lasting. And the shade, Santa Barbara surf is a gorgeous seafoam-green-meets-robins-egg-blue that is so amazing on all skin tones. It would complement fair skin so well and contrast tan (or darker) skin in a beautiful way. Lauren B Beauty polishes are all vegan with no formaldehyde, toulene, DBP, formaldehyde or camphor.

Overall, I think this is a decent box with a few let downs (the lipstick and mascara), but I have been loving on the Foreo Luna Play, the Equitance serum and the nail polish. I will keep my subscription and hope to get even better products! I am also really really excited for the arrival of my Play! by Sephora box. Anytime soon...

Are you guys subscribed to Allure Beauty Box?

I said YES to the DRESS!!!!!

David's Bridal in Sacramento, CA

I am still in a state of bliss as I am typing this. This is the moment brides have been waiting for...now I really, really feel like a bride more. I feel like a princess. Which is what every bride should feel on her wedding day, right?

Here's a little background:

When Cecilio and I got engaged, of course one of the first things I did was buy bridal magazines and ripped out pictures of dresses that I liked, and re-pinned photos that were to my taste. I wanted a beautiful dress, but I didn't want to spend a few thousand dollars. Where can you intersect the two? I decided to check out the David's Bridal website, since they have a wide range of styles for every budget. Even though our wedding is on the more expensive side, I still didn't want to throw away money.

I have been looking at the David's Bridal website and even downloaded the app since November. 

I have been lusting over this Jewel 3/4 sleeve trumpet gown since November. I wouldn't stop talking to Cecilio about it, even though I didn't tell him what it looked like. He knows me too well, and knows how much I adore wedding dresses with sleeves. When we see a dress with sleeves, he always says, "That looks like something you would like". So I KNOW it won't surprise him when he sees that this was the dress I have been talking to him about the whole time. I got to try it on in January while my mom was in the Philippines. My sister sent her a picture and my mom was indifferent to it. Throughout the months though, she said it was elegant but a bit too simple. I mean, I loved it so much and I would tell Cecilio, "even though I am going to Renfro's (a bridal boutique I went to), I still want THIS dress..." but I would go back and forth about it because I felt underwhelmed, especially for our setting (Episcopal church ceremony with the processional song being Trumpet Voluntary on an organ, 4-star hotel with expected 140 guests). I would always stare at photos of myself in this dress though. That's how obsessed I was with it. I even called 2 locations to see if they had this in stock with my size, and thankfully the closest David's to my house (20 minutes away) had it! I ended up not trying it though after some pushing from my mom to try other ones.

I also became fond of the Oleg Cassini 3/4 sleeve organza+lace ballgown. I actually tried this on right after I tried on "THE ONE", just to see. It made me look very matronly, and as if I was getting married in the Middle Ages, rather than channeling my inner Kate Middleton.

I have always been so worried about getting the dress I thought I would hate. I know what I didn't want: strapless, satin, with pickups. Like this:

I mean, I tried on 2 strapless dresses when I was in Renfro's, but the photos my mom took of me in them confirmed that I REALLY didn't want to wear one.

My dress is not strapless, nor does it have long sleeves. I can't tell you the details (you'll have to wait 10 months from now!), but I can tell you that it's so elegant and classic, the type that I would pass on to my future daughter.

Before my appointment, I was checking out the David's Bridal app and found this frock that looked weird on the model, but oh-so-gorgeous on real brides. I liked it and wanted to try it, but felt like it was out of my budget. I showed the photo to my mom and she said to not worry about the cost, because if we were already spending the amount of money we are for this wedding, might as well have a grand (but not overwhelming) dress to go along with it. So I showed it to my consultants, and she said that I would love it (and the 2nd one pictured above). So when I tried it on, the other consultants were complimenting me, strangers were ooh-ing and ahh-ing, and agreed that it was so much better than the other one I tried. My mom took photos of me in it and I loved how it looked in person and in photos (if I liked a dress I tried on but it looks crappy in photos, I would immediately rule it out).

In David's Bridal, once you find THE ONE dress, the consultants give you a bell, tell you to think of all the memories you've had with your future husband all of the memories you'll continue to have. Needless to say, I rang the bell and am waiting for my dress in June :)

I cannot wait to walk down the aisle in it. It will take Cecilio's breath away, that's for sure. He will probably start bawling! 

Can I also have a mini ramble here? Here in the U.S., lots of well-to-do brides look down upon David's Bridal, saying it's the Walmart of wedding dresses, and how the styles are so tacky. I feel that this is very disrespectful, especially because a lot of brides cannot afford a couture gown, even at a trunk show when it's marked down by only 10%. David's offers dresses from $79–$2000. Also, I have heard stories of plus-sized brides getting dismissed by the consultants from those boutiques who sell couture (There are very few exceptions though, like Sparkle, a boutique in Sacramento specifically for plus-sized brides). I know that David's is a national chain (and they have opened a few stores in the UK), and you're not going to get the one-on-one experience with a consultant, and you're definitely not going to get the popping champagne experience. To me, that wasn't a big priority. I know that lots of brides have had horrible experience with their service, and it all depends on the location. The Sacramento location is superb, and I cannot thank my consultant Alex enough (she was also my consultant when I stopped by in January). The Roseville location (which is 20 minutes away from Sacramento), has mediocre reviews. You also cannot call the dresses tacky when there are collections from Zac Posen, Vera Wang, and now Jenny Packham. There are so many brides who got and love their dresses from David's, don't tear them down just because they didn't get that Maggie Sottero gown beaded with Swarovski crystals.

ColourPop Ultra Satin Lips (+1 Ultra Matte +1 Super Shock Cheek)

colourpop, colourpop ultra satin, colourpop ultra matte, ultra satin, ultra matte, lyin' king, the rabbit, tansy, toolips, more better)

colourpop, colourpop ultra satin, colourpop ultra matte, ultra satin, ultra matte, lyin' king, the rabbit, tansy, toolips, more better, cheerio, super shock cheek

Hey everyone! Well, this month has been the least amount of blog posts I've had so far, at this point (early/mid-May) I would probably have at least 5 posts by now. I even scheduled some posts but life got in the way: wedding planning (we're deep in planning mode now and booked our DJ, florist, and videographer), Mother's Day, went to the Bernie Sanders rally on Monday (this was a huge deal for Sacramento and his campaign for President of the U.S.), and got offered a job (okay, it's a paid internship, and it's seasonal until the end of July, but I'm super-excited and it's the beginning of my career path). I definitely have a lot to post and I am so excited to be here again!

This is my 3rd ColourPop haul, and I actually got it during the 20% off sale at the end of April. I was lucky because I was in Southern California that weekend and had to order it through my phone, and the website kept crashing, and as I pressed the button for the transaction thinking it didn't go through the first time, I made a 2nd order! I had to call customer service to erase the 2nd order.

When the Ultra Satin liquid lipsticks came out, I wasn't all too excited about the shades. However, I did order 4 of them: Lyin' King, The Rabbit, Tansy, and Toolips. I also got 1 Ultra Matte lippie: More Better, and 1 Super Shock Cheek: Cheerio. Like the Ultra Mattes, the Ultra Satin cost $6 and is in the same exact packaging, with a silver cap, holographic Colourpop logo on the tube. The ONLY difference lies in the formula: while the Ultra Matte tugs at your lip, dries down within seconds and does not budge, the Ultra Satin is more comfortable upon application. I wouldn't say it's moisturizing or healing, but it is a better option for those who suffer from chronically dry lips like I do. After it dries, it has a sticky feel. Unfortunately, it does wear off when I drink coffee. It is much easier to remove than the Ultra Mattes though, thankfully.

Before we start, I want to show you the swatches:

colourpop, colourpop ultra satin, colourpop ultra matte, ultra satin, ultra matte, lyin' king, the rabbit, tansy, toolips, more better, cheerio, super shock cheek
Top to bottom: Lyin' King, The Rabbit, Tansy, Toolips, More Better, Cheerio

Here are the shades (I am also wearing the Super Shock Cheek blush in "Cheerio"...no foundation though):

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Lyin' King is my favorite of the Ultra Satin bunch. It is a deep rosy/berry-ish pink. I search high and low for a shade like this, and I cannot find it...not at MAC, not at NYX, neither here (high end) nor there (drugstore). I love hot pinks, but a lot of the shades I have are too loud, too sheer, or wears off. It packs a punch without screaming for attention. To me, this is a work-friendly shade if you don't want something muted. I am so glad I got this shade, as I truly also believe it works well on all skin tones.

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The Rabbit is a hot Barbie pink with blue undertones, which is very similar to the Ultra Matte Sundae. It's a little less wearable than Lyin' King but I enjoy it, especially for a night out. It does have a slight sheen, almost a subtle glossy look.

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I have been wanting Tansy as I did a Google search too see how it looks like, and unfortunately I only found a handful of medium/darker skinned ladies rock this shade. This medium golden brown does not disappoint...at least, under natural light. It looks terrible and muted under my fluorescent bathroom lights. It's still so beautiful though, and this will be a regular of mine during the fall.

colourpop, colourpop ultra satin, colourpop ultra satin toolips, colourpop toolips, toolips

My least favorite has to be Toolips, this cool-toned brown. I bought it hoping it would be similar to the Ultra Matte Limbo (which is actually what I wanted since it's a dupe for the Kylie Lip Kit True Brown K), but this just looks so plain weird on me. Maybe it's because I haven't completed the look with foundation, extra eye makeup, etc. but I feel like I should have gotten Limbo, or the other Satin lippies like Prim or London Fog.

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I've been lusting for More Better, one of the Ultra Mattes, since December. It sure did not disappoint! I can and will wear it all year, but it's best during the Fall. This deep berry/wine shade reminds me of MAC D for Danger, but much, much richer. The only thing I don't like? That there's no Ultra Satin shade similar to this!

Overall, I've had a pretty great haul (except for Toolips) and ColourPop did a great job on developing the Ultra Satin line. The Ultra Matte line is way too drying for me, but it didn't stop me from getting More Better. It doesn't stop me from getting other shades like Scrooge or Limbo.

I am in love...especially with More Better and Lyin' King :)

And about the blush? I got Cheerio, which is a deep berry satin blush, but shows up as more magenta on my skin tone. Still so beautiful!

Do you guys have any of the lippies from the Ultra Satin line?