Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Golden doorknob at the Forbidden City, Beijing
Photo: Andi Braun, SXC
In China, the color yellow or gold is considered the most beautiful color and is associated with good luck. It was the color worn by the emperors in Imperial China, and thus is a symbol of lavishness and wealth. The color corresponds with the earth and plays a significant part in Chinese culture, Chinese art and in all the important Chinese festivals. When it comes to fashion, I think gold is a color one can wear all year round. It adds depth, sparkle, glitter, and brightness to every outfit. There are more ways to wear gold than you can probably think of. So the next time you get dressed, why not try a touch of golden sheen?

ZARA leopard ballet flats
I love these gold leopard ballet flats with the golden-capped ribbons. I have been wearing them almost everyday lately (so comfy!), and you’ll be surprised that this print and combination of colors really go with almost everything. They can make a simple outfit playful and fun. 

BICHUN Nail Color in B14

This summer, I really love wearing gold nail polish. It gives nails a nice, light sheen and sunny glow. It’s another alternative to the staple light nudes and pinks. It is just as elegant and sophisticated too.

Gold hoop earrings from H&M

In my opinion, gold hoop earrings will never go out of style. It’s just one of those things that can dress up any outfit. Every girl should have a pair among their accessories. I like mine big and thin.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I have always wanted to do a post exclusively on perfumes but I had to take time to gather my many thoughts on this subject…and now it’s finally here!

Let me start by saying that like most women out there, I love perfume! I have worn so many different fragrances over the years. But I can bet you that people who know me couldn’t pinpoint one particular perfume I really wore, or that I smelled like anything special at all. I believe it’s because I never really had what people call a “signature fragrance.” I just love changing things up and trying new things. There are definitely fragrances I have worn for years, but I never wore one exclusively and ultimately, I stopped wearing all my perfumes at a certain point in my life. I also only wear light floral or citrus scents during the day which fade after two hours. I was never that girl with the scent lingering behind them. I would wear a heavier fragrance only at night.

Photo: Emma Payne, SXC
The reason I love perfumes is because of its power to make you feel attractive in an instant and its ability to hold special memories. I can probably even remember what a few of my girlfriends wore. Emma used L'Eau d'Issey for a couple of years and its woody, earthy smell always reminds me of her. I think Cathy once wore an Anna Sui perfume that smelled really fresh and fruity. Isabel wears very light scents. She probably wore L'eau Par Kenzo once (because I did too!). Angela once wore Lacoste Pour Femme which smelled really nice and my dearest childhood friend Celine used to cover herself with Victoria's Secret Strawberries and Champagne Fragrance Mist. I miss her a lot whenever I encounter that scent. 

So, in tribute to perfumes, I thought I’d play a little game. I’d let you in on some of my favorites and you’d share yours as well (only if you want to of course!). I normally go for citrus florals or woody florals when it comes to perfume. So, let’s get started:

A FRAGRANCE I TOTALLY LOVE RIGHT NOW…is actually a tie between these two perfumes at the moment.

This smells like Europe in a bottle to me…a field of flowers in an English garden or perhaps a garden in Paris. It is fresh, feminine and sophisticated. Top notes are cassis, melon and citrus. Middle notes are black violet, lily and jasmine. Base notes are blonde wood, amber and santal. I love, love, love this!! It is perfect for day or night.

Tous Touch eau de toilette

This fragrance from Spanish brand Tous is quite sweet, and I normally don’t like sweet scents or vanilla scents (my sister loves them though!). But this has an interesting mix of floral, fruity and sweet notes. It’s warm and fresh at the same time. It smells like jasmine mixed with honey and it is just delicious! Top notes are lotus, lily of the valley and freesia. Middle notes are jasmine, osmanthus, tiare flower. Base notes are blueberry, raspberry, vanilla and honey-coated almonds. Yum!! I prefer to wear this at night.

A DISCONTINUED FRAGRANCE I REALLY MISS…are actually three that are now gone but not forgotten.

The Body Shop Cassis Rose eau de toilette

This remains my all-time favorite Body Shop scent. I still can’t believe they discontinued it! I also had the body spray. Really fresh, fruity and girly…it was the perfect light rose scent. Top notes were raspberry and blackcurrant. Middle notes were rose, freesia and violet. Base notes were musk, sandalwood and cedar. It was the best fruity floral for me! I miss this!

Calgon Turquoise Seas Body Mist

I must have gone through 5 bottles of this stuff in my early twenties. I would always buy the small one so I could stash it easily in my bag and just continue spraying it on myself the whole day. It just smells like salty sea air, ocean waves and the beach…just an amazing aquatic fragrance. I recently heard Calgon is bringing it back due to insistent public demand. That’s how great this is!

Crabtree & Evelyn Lavender Water

I used up two big bottles of this a long time ago. I loved it! It smells like a bouquet of lavender flowers mixed with that fresh just-out-of-the-shower smell. Really clean scent. Crabtree & Evelyn now have a new and different version called Lavender eau de toilette. I haven’t tried that one yet.

MY FAVORITE FRAGRANCE FOR MEN…are these wonderful three. 

CK One (Calvin Klein)

I will always love CK One! It is a unisex fragrance but I think it smells great on men. It also reminds me of high school as a lot of people wore this in the mid-nineties. I think my brother still wears this today. Great iconic, clean and fresh scent! Top notes are bergamot, cardamom, pineapple, papaya. Middle notes of jasmine, violet, rose, nutmeg. Base notes are musk and amber. 

Muschio Bianco (White Moss)

This is another great unisex scent. I bought this for my husband Marc once and then I ended up using it too. So we finished that bottle up in no time! This has notes of lavender, juniper, wood, amber and moss. It is just so fresh and clean. I love it!

Drakkar Noir (Guy Laroche)

This is the epitome of a wonderful, powerful, masculine scent. I have a secret. I was once addicted to Drakkar. My dad used to wear this when I was younger and when he wasn't looking, I would grab it from his bathroom counter and sniff it everyday. It just smelled so great and I think every man should wear this once in their life. Notes are lavender, citrus, spicy berries and sandalwood. 

A FRAGRANCE HIGH ON MY WISH LIST…are these two that I just can't get out of my mind.

Gucci Guilty eau de toilette

This perfume is just AMAZING!! I smelled this recently at Sephora and went crazy spraying it all over myself in the store. I had to stop myself from buying it because in China, international luxury perfumes are incredibly expensive due to the high taxes placed upon them. Since this is already a pricey fragrance, I decided to wait and not buy this until I get to a duty-free shop. Gucci Guilty has top notes of pink pepper, heart of lilac, and base notes of amber and patchouli. You just have to smell it to believe the beauty of this fragrance. I am definitely willing to wait for this one.

I smelled a sample of this in a magazine and thought it was AWESOME. It smells really elegant and sophisticated. I am waiting to get to a duty free for this one too. Top notes are pink peony, freesia and lychee. Middle notes are rose, lily of the valley, magnolia. Base notes are cedarwood, amber and honey. You can definitely smell the soft and fresh scent of roses here and it's done in a very subtle way. Great perfume! 

So these are what's in my perfume diaries for now. How about you? Would love to hear some of your choices. If you have time, complete the following sentences and let me in your perfume diaries as well...

1. A fragrance I totally love right now...
2. A discontinued fragrance I really miss...
3. My favorite fragrance for men...
4. A fragrance high on my wish list...

Monday, July 9, 2012


Beauty products from Korean brand Mamonde

South Korean beauty brands are extremely popular in China and in the past few years, they have been emerging into other Asian markets and into the U.S. as well. I once read an article in Marie Claire online where a beauty guru stated that South Korea’s skincare products are years ahead of the U.S. and simply outpacing other countries when it comes to innovation and technology. Just like Japan, South Korean beauty brands now have some of the most talked-about skincare products in the market. Lately, I have become a big fan myself with my new love…Korean skincare brand, Mamonde. I am now an official believer in the power of Korean beauty brands. Mamonde is available in South Korea, in Sephora stores around China and in Hong Kong. Most of their products are also available online.

Mamonde Age Control Ultra Repair Cream 50ml (289rmb) (US$46)

I was never really particular about using anti-aging creams on my face until after I turned 30. I also tend to switch brands a lot since I hadn’t really found that one cream that had a “wow effect” on my skin…that is until now! After using up a small sample of Mamonde Age Control Ultra Repair Cream from Sephora, I really noticed an incredible improvement on my skin. It felt so much softer and looked smoother and brighter. This cream is just amazing to me, and is the first product I actually recall rushing out to buy simply from trying the sample. So far, it is fantastic and I highly recommend it.
This premium nourishing cream restores the skin’s functions with two key anti-aging ingredients: Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) and EGCG. Maitake, also known as the king of mushrooms, has a regenerative effect on the skin by revitalizing skin cells in only 12 hours. EGCG is a powerful antioxidant that is extracted from 100% pure organic green tea, which protects tissues from damage and promotes collagen generation.


Mamonde Total Solution Mineral Watery BB Cream 40ml (145rmb) (US$23)

I am a big fan of the BB Cream craze that has hit Asia the last few years. For those of you unfamiliar with this great “multi-tasking” cream, here’s a quick background: BB can stand for either “blemish balm” or “beauty balm” and was originally formulated in Germany as a healing ointment for post-laser skin treatments. Eventually, the Koreans turned the idea into a unique beauty product version that acts as the ultimate multi-tasker: a tinted moisturizer, a blemish concealer, a sunscreen, and anti-aging treatment in one! I mean, who would say no to a product like this?
I love Mamonde Total Solution Mineral Watery BB Cream SPF30+ which is very lightweight and hydrating. It glides on smoothly and looks very natural. I usually just put this on during the day and I’m good to go! The only problem with this product is that it comes in just one shade, which is for light/medium skin tones. I somehow got lucky as it blended into my skin tone perfectly. No worries though as most international cosmetic brands like Garnier, Maybelline, Clinique, MAC, and Bobbi Brown (just to name a few) have BB creams that come in different shades to choose from.
Despite my new-found obsession with Mamonde products, here are other great Korean beauty brands that are also definitely worth trying. 
Do you have a favorite Korean beauty product? I'd love to hear from you. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


In my hometown of Manila, Philippines, it’s the monsoon season right now but over here in China and the rest of the northern hemisphere, summer is in full swing…the heat is on! The sun is shining, the pavements are sizzling, and the humidity levels are rising. In times like this, one can’t help but think of turquoise waters, white sands, salty air and beautiful beaches.

It just isn’t summer without the beach, and here in China, finding a beach can be a chore, as most are just not as accessible unless you live in perpetually sunny Hainan in the south.

So in celebration of the beginning of summer, I'd like to share some past photographs I took in Vietnam and the Philippines that inspire me not to give up the hunt for the perfect summer destination in China (no matter how hot it gets here!). To me, that would be the perfect combination of blue skies, tropical trees, summer sunsets and the beach. 

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

My friends Angela and Emma entering
the pristine waters of
Boracay, Philippines

Blue skies and 19th century architecture
at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
Bataan, Philippines

Tropical trees in front of Casa Unisan
Bataan, Philippines

A little shade beneath the summer sun
Bataan, Philippines
Manila Bay summertime sunset
Manila, Philippines