Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Notable Quotable

“When things fall apart, it can be your greatest gift. The truth is, it could possibly have saved your life. Chaos shall therefore always be regarded as good news." 

--Pema Chodron

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Sacred Truth by LUSH

Finally! LUSH made its come back in Singapore after disappearing in the market here in the mid 90s! It's back at where it used to be at Wisma Atria but this time, LUSH has got its own standalone shop at Basement 1 (It used to be at B1 at Isetan Wisma).

I used to be crazy over their products and remember loving their I Love Juicy shampoo last time. So when I caught its familiar whiff of LUSH trademark smell a mile before I reached the shop, I got so excited for old time's sake. Trust me, I didn't buy the entire shop really. With a committed effort to buy less and buy well, I only bought what I needed -- Face Mask.

It's meant to be cos it just happened that LUSH got their selection of face masks on display right at the front of the shop. After debating between Oatifix and The Sacred Truth, I got the latter after the sales person adamantly gushed about how fantastic it is.

It's a thick paste of anti-aging slush with papaya, ginseng, wheat grass, green tea, cleansing clay and butter with a mouth watering smell. A quick check on my handy safety guide of David Suzuki's Dirty Dozen and The Sacred Truth passed the non-toxic test.

I kinda like it. "Kinda" because it really is quite good. I smeared it on clean face for about 15 minutes and after washing it off, my skin did feel hydrated and radiant. Also, a tiny 75g tub can probably last you quite a bit as you don't need a hell lot each time, so at $21, it's quite a good deal.

However, I can't say I completely adore it because I've grown to not like products that are way too strong smelling. Yes, this smells divine but after slathering it on my face, its unnaturally powerful cloud of aroma got me investigating more and I realize there are indeed added fragrances! Alas! Quite the opposite of what I've been trying to do!

I ran a search on Good Guide and found that LUSH scored only an average of 5.2 out of 10. That kinda got me cos it scored only 4.9 on the "Health" segment, meaning there are potentially harmful chemicals in it. NOT GOOD!

But confession: I hate to say that I actually kinda enjoy using it. I blame it on emotional attachment to my youth as it reminds me of my carefree college days where I roam around Town with HL and the LUSH smell was quintessential every time we walked past the Isetan at Wisma.Those were the happy days and using it reminds me of those happy times.

I doubt I'll buy it again but I can't promise I won't touch this stuff again after I finish this tub, given my strong emotional attachment to LUSH. Exploring new brands of safe, non-toxic and ideally organic face mask is definitely on the menu but meanwhile, with or without potential toxins, I'm gonna enjoy this one till I'm done with it!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hello Year of the Water Dragon!

Wearing baby blue nails from Scotch Naturals Caleigh to usher in the year of the water dragon! I absolutely LOVE Scotch Naturals and I would want all the colours! It paints like a dream, dries quickly and most importantly, is super safe and non toxic! Click here for my previous post on it.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Organic Salt Scrub

With the toxins and chemicals laden body scrub tossed out of the bathroom, I'm taking matters into my own hand and making my own organic salt scrub. Not only is it easy to whip up, you can customize the scent according to your preference. Here's what you need:
  • Sweet Almond Oil
  • Fine grained Salt -- I use Himalayan Rock Salt but natural sea salt or even Epsom Salt is good too. Just make sure the grain isn't too big or you'll tear your skin
  • Essential oils -- Here's where you can get creative and combine the bespoke aromatic treat of your preference. I've picked Lavender, Bergamot and Geranium 
Now here's a general rule of thumbs when it comes to how much of each of the above to use. The sweet almond oil to salt ration is 1:2, and for every ounce (about 30ml) of sweet almond oil, I add about 10 to 15 drops of essential oil. Also, make sure you use good essential oil and not the low grade ones made for diffusing.

Start with blending in the oil and stirring it with a glass rod or wooden stick. I added 15 drops of Lavender, 10 drops of Bergamot and 5 drops of Geranium in about 60ml of oil. If you're new to blending oils, go slowly and drop by drop. Stir and blend well, take a whiff to see if you've got what you want before adding more.

Once the oil is done, add in the salt, mix well and Viola! Home made salt scrub! If you have very dry and sensitive skin, you can use brown sugar instead of salt as it's a little more gentle. I put a small tub at my shower and use it once or twice a week by applying it on damp skin before rinsing it off. Because I don't really love having the oily after feel especially in the tropics, I usually follow through with a tiny amount of body wash. However, in cold country, I'll just rinse off and pat dry.

The fun part is very much the mixing and blending! Whipping up home made body scrubs is totally addictive!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Rainbow Connection

I know, I know, the entire Singapore has talked about THE double rainbow but I just have to post the photo, taken right at my kitchen window where I stayed put the entire time till it went home just to take in the magic of it all. It was special not just because it was the first time I've seen a double rainbow but it was special because it appeared at a time where I need to see one. It's the universe's way of saying everything's gonna be fine. Life is beautiful after all.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

McScary, McGross, McToxic!

Still wanna eat McNuggets? Watch and learn more about the processed meat you're eating!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Ethical Consumerism Manifesto

Supporting my consumerism overhaul to consume less, choose well and buy ethnically, here's my new manifesto.

The Ethical Consumerism Manifesto:
  • Say NO to mindless consumerism. Buy only when you need something, not when you need shopping to relief boredom or stress. Alternative to shopping, choose a service like a good massage
  • Quality over quantity! Go for the good stuff that lasts. No more "Buy and Throw Away" mentality
  • When possible, buy products that's ethically sourced with fair trading. Be aware of externalized cost such as pollution, exploitation etc. (Read more here). Don't buy from companies that exploit animals, human beings and the environment. For instance, don't buy any Disney or Nike products as they are notorious for underpaying factories and poor working conditions. Here's a list of unethical companies to avoid. 
  • When buying something you don't need but want (eg, clothes or shoes etc), take some time to consider before impulse buying. Statistic shows that most consumers use only 1% of what they have bought six months down the road. 
  • Fashion purchases have to be timeless and classic with good quality that will last. If the French can be fashionable with a few key classic items like stripes tees, black cigarette pants, and ballet flats, so can we. No need to deck up like a Christmas tree. 
  • De-clutter and give away useful stuff that you don't use to people who need it more (but don't give rubbish to people!)
  • Switch to non toxic toiletries and skin care with no harmful chemicals. With the human breast milk being one of the most toxic food (refer to the video I posted in Consumerism Overhaul), you'd like to think twice about using chemical and toxins laden toiletries. Your skin absorbs up to 64% of what you put on it, so don't put toxic stuff on it! Here's where you can check if your products are safe. David Suzuki has a pocket guide of a dozen of toxic substances to avoid called the Dirty Dozens, click here to print it out and keep it in your wallet as reference when you go toiletries shopping. 
  • Use non-toxic household items like floor cleaner, washing powder, dish washing liquid etc. Yes, the toxic stuff is cheaper but think about this, it isn't just about protecting the environment, it's protecting your health too since your skin will be expose to the toxins. The fact that research has shown an insanely high amount of toxins and chemicals in the body of crawling toddlers and home pets  ought to make you think about switching to safer products. Also, when you buy less of other stuff, the money you save can use to buy these eco-friendly products. Create the demand and hopefully the cost will go down too! Good Guide provides a great database on the safety index of many products and is my favorite go-to source.
  • Bring your own recycling bag! Reduce the use of plastic bags!
  • Locally grown vegetable and produce are more environmentally friendly. Not only are they fresher, they require less fuel to reach your market
  • Consume less, choose well and buy ethically!
Image from Grafter

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Have a Scotch!

Among most beauty products, nail polish is definitely one of the most toxic ones. Smelling it makes you high with its acrid glue-like stench and the thought of getting brain damage from its smell always flashes in my head every time I paint my nails. That's until I got to know of Scotch Naturals! Hallelujah to a safe, non-toxic option in tons of gorgeous colours! 

Thing is, there are a lot of supposedly safer, non-toxic nail polish brands out there like Zoya, Mavala or Butter London (common brands like Sally Hansen, OPI and Revlon too in fact) that's "Three Free". They're free of the top three most toxic substances found in many nail polishes aka Dibutyl Phthalate, Formaldehyde Resin and Toluene. However, despite being Three Free, they're still loaded with a hell lot of chemicals and being Three Free means they simply don't have the MOST toxic stuff.

Scotch Naturals, on the other hand, is a water base option whose ingredients include only water, acrylic polymer emulsion and non toxic colorant, and they're tested for safety, making them truly non toxic. This non-toxic water base nail polish is also a proud signer of The Compact for Safe Cosmetics

I got Kiltlifter (a classic red) and On the Rocks Top Coat to test them out and I'm extremely happy to announce that Scotch Naturals is a major winner!!!

It paints on smoothly and dries faster than traditional toxic nail polish to give you a glossy finish. The colour is a bit lighter than the bottle but it's rich, vibrant and doesn't streak. Like its toxic counterpart, you need two coats for a nice even finish before topping it off with the top coat. But unlike its toxic cousin, the good thing is that there's no need for a base coat even with the darker colours! Instead, you would need to prep your nails a bit by buffing them (add a drop of jojoba oil if you have very dry nails) as the instruction says that it adheres best to healthy nails. Another tip is to apply before bedtime to let the paint sink in and adhere well so it lasts longer.

I was half-expecting it to chip like crazy cos it all seems too perfect to be true, but on the contrary, it lasted me a full week with just a wee bit of chipping just like any other nail polish. There's also no yellowing of my nails after I remove it so that's bonus point!

The verdict? I love Scotch Naturals! I'm switching to this safer options for good! Guess what? I just ordered two other colours now that it's passed the test with flying colours!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Notable Quotable

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” 

-- Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan

P.S. This is for you J, if you're reading. Look at the stars! Everything will be fine soon cos even the pain will pass.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Suki Exfoliating Foaming Cleanser

Awesome face cleanser alert! Suki Exfoliating Foaming Cleanser is one superb award-winning organic face wash! Recently, I've switched over to fully organic stuff for quite a number of my skincare products and by far, the Suki Exfoliating Foaming Cleanser is one awesome organic product that I can say I totally love (more reviews for other products like stuff from The Organic Pharmacy coming soon)!

Suki Skincare makes great organic skincare products with high potency botanic concentrate that are free of all harmful toxins. They're tested for their efficacy in the lab by human beings and not animals. I love the fact that they're an ethical company that supports fair trade and are environmentally friendly. They use mostly glass packaging and minimize the use of plastic to be environmentally friendly and also ensure that the bees aren't harmed in the honey, beewax and royal jelly they use. Super awesome!

The first Suki product I tried has been such a great success that I'm hooked and I can't wait to try the rest of their products (kinda did already and so far so good! More next time). The Suki Exfoliating Foaming Cleanser is better than I expected! It's a sugar scrub cleanser with the goodness of lemongrass. The sugar provides a mild exfoliating effect with its grainy texture and natural alpha hydroxy acid while organic lemongrass purifies and chamomile soothes. It's gentle enough for daily use but you're supposed to use once a day instead of twice. For sensitive skin, use it up to 3 times a week instead.

For an organic product, this cleanser foams up pretty well to give a rich later, something quite rare among organic and natural products as they tend to foam less due to the lack of harsh sulphate. So this face cleanser is a total pleasure to use with its creamy foamy texture. The grainy texture isn't too coarse and it's fine for my everyday use despite my dry skin. All you need is just a small amount (size of 10 cent coin), rub gently to foam up in wet palms before applying to face in circular motion and rinse off. 

Skin feels very clean, refreshed and not overly dried up. The scent of lemongrass is such a treat every time I use it and it smells so divine that I'm tempted to eat it. The only draw back is that it's in a jar and I would very much prefer a squeeze bottle but then it's Suki's mission to minimize the use of plastic so I shouldn't complain such first world issue, though I know some people are put off by having to dig out any skin care product from a jar. 

According to Suki, many users cited refined skin and even skin after using the products. I'll have to wait for a bit more to see if that's true but with or without those claims, I simply LOVE it as a cleanser and I'm definitely sticking to this. 

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Toxics In, Toxics Out! Choose Non Toxic Products!


That's my new mantra when it comes to my toiletries. I've always favored organic products but in the last two months or so, after doing some serious research and reading on the negative effects of chemicals in our everyday products, I've been progressively switching to organic for all the stuff I use from shower gel, shampoo to face cream. It's part of my plan in streamlining and buying less stuff by buying only good quality safe organic products that isn't a health hazard. It hasn't gone 100% organic yet but that's my plan in the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite organic stores and brands to check out!

Super Nature
@21 Orchard Boulevard, Park House
They're potentially my number one favorite place in Singapore! It's happiness every time I get there cos they have SUPER extensive range of organic everything from toiletries, homeopathic remedies to fresh meat and vegetable.

Bud Cosmetics
@Square2 (Novena) and Mandarin Gallery
My second favorite store for organic toiletries after Super Nature, they stock a pretty good selection of products including The Organic Phamarcy (not available at Super Nature) and Filthy Farm Girl soaps.

Pure Tincture
@OUB Plaza Level 4
Smaller range of organic products but they stock Suki Skincare, one of my favorites and have organic facials too. I'm gonna try that out soon.

Brown Rice Paradise
@Tanglin Mall & Siglap Center
This one needs no introduction, having been around for so long. I've been going to the Tanglin Mall outlet for the last 10 years I realize!

@Forum Shopping Center
Awesome selection of supplements!

Brands I love and use:

Suki Skincare
The Organic Pharmacy
Intelligent Nutrients
Avalon Organics
John Masters Organics
Balm Balm
Alba Organics

Choose organic! Choose well!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Consumerism Overhaul

In my quest to simplify, de-clutter and streamline my stuff, my things and potentially my life in a recent overhaul exercise inspired by the book The Joy of Less, I've chanced upon a youtube video that is completely life-changing. It's totally changed the way I look at consumerism and capitalism and I'm so sure that my serendipitous discovery of this video clip (I chanced upon it while researching on safe organic toiletries!) is a sign that I REALLY must change the way I participate in the whole consumerism cycle.

The Story of Stuff is a project started by Annie Leonard in 2007 when she got fed up with the whole "Buy and throw away" culture, prompting her to investigate and dig deeper into the whole cycle of consumerism and what fuels its fire. Along the way, she's uncovered many ugly truths about consumerism and exposes its nasty underbellies that challenges the way we would (at least I did) look at consumerism.

It's a pretty long video but I savored every seconds of it and it'll be something I'll re-watch every now and then whenever I feel seduced by the lure of advertisers and big money-making corporations. I'm even more determined to go through a "consumerism rehab" and re-program myself to not "want" and "need" things too much! This video is truly life-changing for me!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Notable Quotable

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool 
than to open one's mouth and remove all doubts.” 

― Abraham Lincoln

I really would like to tell this to a certain train wreck I see at work....sad case. Oh and a certain HR head whose pretending to know IT stuff is embarrassing. Zip it people, zip it!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

January Muse

Reading: The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay. I've been on a mission to declutter, downsize and pare down my stuff. When I told my friends I'm gonna TRY to be minimalist, they all burst out laughing, knowing that shopping and buying stuff seems to be my super power. But really, perhaps one of this year's resolutions (I don't do resolutions btw) is to buy very selectively and to give/throw away all the stuff I don't need. This book is awesome as Francine teaches you how to declutter, drilling down to the the psychology of why people hoard their things. I've been decluttering some stuff and I love the feeling of chucking out old stuff and reclaiming space. It's a wake up call that the stuff I chuck out is money too and it's all from my senseless consuming and buying. So from now on, I'm gonna be very selective in the stuff that I get. Wish me luck!

Also reading Time Out Singapore. I check in on Time Out Singapore every now and then to keep up with all the stuff that's happening in this sunny island of durian eaters. Great tips on where to eat, what to see, where to go etc. A must-read if you're bored of your routine and would want something new to do and see.

Watching: Animations from the Ghibli Studio! How I love Hayao Miyazaki's work! My dad started me on it when I was 9 or so when he took me to watch my first Miyazaki cartoon, Laputa, Castle in the Sky. I've been a fan since, with special affinity to Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service because they're my childhood favorites. I've been re-watching Miyazaki animations over the holidays. LOVE them!

Later this month, I'll also be watching Giselle by The Paris Opera Ballet. I can't wait!! And I've got pretty good ticket!

Wearing: Diptyque Do Son Perfume. I got the solid perfume version of this lovely Tuberose scent. Will blog more about it another time. It's super nice and I love the packaging!

Also wearing a lot of my Vamoose necklace. So pretty! Perfect for layering!

Using: The Organic Pharmacy Antioxidant Cream. I was done with my Ole Henriksen moisturizer and I'm switching a lot of my face and body care to organic stuff. I got The Organic Pharmacy Antioxidant Cream this time. It smells divine with a nice citrus scent and nice texture that's quickly absorbed. I just started using it for about 2 weeks now. Will blog more about it soon when I can speak more about it, but so far so good.

Drinking: EveryDay Detox tea by Traditional Medicinals. I'm hooked on herbal tea and I'm drinking this one almost everyday. Traditional Medicinals makes really great herbal tea and I've got the night time sleep well tea as well for the occasional insomnia.

Loving: Hardly a sexy thing to love but I must admit I love using the NeilMed Netti Pot. The ceramic netti pot I bought in India broke long time ago and now I've replaced it with a plastic one from NeilMed. It comes with its salt mixture in convenient sachets and it does wonders for my sinus. I rinse my nose every night now. I know it sounds painful and uncomfortable to flush your nostrils but trust me, if you have sinus, this is a god sent! On top of keeping sinus at bay, ancient ayurvedic medicine also says using a netti pot balances the Ida (ying) and Pingala (yang) energy too.

Lusting after: The Dior Oui necklace. I love it. Plain and simple. Oui si vous plait!!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Hello 2012!

Happy New Year! It's 2012 and I declined all party invitations and proudly and unabashedly slept through the whole count down as I always do. I just don't believe in the whole count down party thing as a new year isn't something worth celebrating in my book (unlike say winning the lottery or something like that).

Anyhow, I love the whole festive year end period for the holidays and the much needed break and I got a Happy New Year present from Mr Bear!

Ohh it's a box from Kids 21 and anything from the Club 21 group is good and et viola! Meet my new cuddly friend "Uncle Twinkle" the bunny!

I'm a big kid at heart and I still love my stuffed animals and this super luxurious one from Club 21 is sooo soft! I've always wanted it!

And new year, new stuff. I walked into Massimo Dutti and accident happened.

Bought a pair of super soft ballet flats and two leather bracelets. Nothing like some good old retail therapy to herald in a new year!


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