Q&A: After the No-Buy Beauty Challenge

After the No-Buy Makeup Challenge… Jeanne asks Sharon

Jeanne: How long did your no-buy makeup last?

Sharon: 8 months. The no-buy challenge ended short because I went to Korea in March 2016. Yup.

Jeanne: What have you learned from the no-buy makeup challenge?

Sharon: Learned that I needed to stop buying hyped-up products and really think about making the purchase because I end up only using my favorites anyway.

Jeanne: How did you deal with the sudden change?

Sharon: We ended up doing a beauty swap a few months into the challenge and I found some good products like the Hada Labo lotion, which I ended up loving and finished! I also went on swapidu.com and found a great Too Faced Natural Matte palette, which I still enjoy using. These swaps helped soothe my desire for new beauty products.

Jeanne: How much money do you think you saved through the no-buy makeup challenge?

Sharon: Approximately $500!

Jeanne: What’s new in your beauty buying trends?

Sharon: Now I’m really into looking at what ingredients go into beauty products, especially with skincare. I will still purchase a product if I really want to but I’ve been trying to be more conscious about the quality of the products rather than getting distracted by the hype.



5 Skincare Faves of 2015

My humble, favorite skincare finds of 2015.


NUDE Skincare Purify Cleansing Wash ($28/ 3.4 oz)

A lot of cleansers out there tend to dry out and irritate my oily, sensitive skin which causes it to produce more build-up. So for the past 4-5 years, I’ve been using Morning Calm‘s natural handmade soaps (review here). That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of NUDE Skincare Purify Cleansing Wash. Though this cleanser doesn’t foam, it leaves my skin refreshed, super soft, and not dry, which makes it perfect as a second cleanser or a morning cleanser. I think I will switch back to using soap in the warmer months but for now during the cooler months I will be sticking with this!

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant ($28/ 4 oz)

Where have you been all my life~ If you suffer from blocked, large pores, blackheads, oily skin, uneven texture… you have to try this! This stuff unclogs pores and removes excess dead skin cells, leaving my skin looking radiant. It did not completely remove my stubborn blackheads but I did see an improvement in the size of them. The texture is weird at first. It felt greasy on my face but when I rub it in between my fingers it feels more like sap… It’s hard to explain but the greasy feeling goes away. I like to use my hands to pat in a few drops after cleansing. After using this regularly, I rarely reach for my physical exfoliants.

Hada Labo Rohto Goku-jun Hyaluronic Milky Lotion (~$12-15/ 140 ml)

This cult-favorite lotion is probably better suited for those with dry skin, but I enjoyed using this in the evenings for an extra oomph of moisture. It feels like serum and lotion combined in one and does not feel heavy on skin. This is not irreplaceable for me but it’s hard to come across a quality gel lotion at this price point.

Amway Artistry Hydra-V Nourishing Gel Cream ($43/ 2.5 fl. oz)

I’ve only had this for about a month but I can already see myself using it all year-round. Unlike some gel creams that can feel too light and substance-less, this one actually moisturizes and soothes my skin without any greasiness. And it comes in a TUBE!! How many gel creams have you encountered that come in a tube or pump packaging?

Nuxe Reve de Miel ($19/ 0.5 oz)

This is the most repairing lip balm I have ever tried. My lips are always dry and sometimes I pick at them which makes it worse, but this lip balm will heal it all, overnight.

One Year No Buy Challenge


Yes… Not buying makeup or skincare products for one whole year. Til August 6, 2016. Dun Dun Dun!

That means, not buying the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow (which has been on my wish list since its US launch!) or Maison Martin Margiela’s Lazy Sunday Morning Rollerball (was waiting for this!!), and what else… til next August.

Believe it or not, I’ve been wanting to do something this extreme for a while.

A little (long) history: I started wearing makeup (brow pencil, eyeliner and tinted lip balm) since my freshman year of college (2007). After graduation (2012), I discovered the Youtube black hole of makeup reviews and tutorials… I started off by slowly making careful purchases. And eventually started wearing a full face of makeup and owned at least one product in every category by 2014. Currently I own more than a dozen blushes (after giving away a few) and I’m noticing how making a decision for each purchase is getting done with less and less contemplation!

I realized that I need to stop making nonsense justifications in my brain for my unnecessary purchases, such as by comparing my collection to that of others, telling myself that I won’t stay young forever, that I deserve a treat, and that I am not pretty so I need all the help I can get. As I’m typing and organizing my thoughts, I realize how they are mostly stemming from unhappy, negative thoughts. I also realize that while I go on Youtube and sephora.com multiple times a day, I could be doing something more meaningful, such as encouraging my niece to make another tower of blocks, trying out different recipes for lunch, doing a little stretch, watching a short Illustrator tutorial, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that one should feel shameful about owning 24 foundations and 45 lipsticks, or spending endless hours looking up swatches and launches of new makeup collections. It’s just that for me, I was starting to feel not like myself and unhappy about my slowly but surely growing addiction, and I wasn’t necessarily feeling more self-confident or beautiful as I had hoped and romanticized as my collection grew and my routine became more elaborate. I do think that changing the outside can affect the inside in positive ways, but there definitely is a limit. It’s time for me to learn how to love, appreciate and learn about myself in other hundred different possible ways.

I can’t say that I won’t purchase absolutely nothing for one year. I will purchase staple items like mascaras (that needs tossing every 3 months) and cleansers when I run out. But before I make any necessary purchase, I will try to scrape off every last drop of the things I already own and make use of samples too.

I am actually excited about this challenge and it’s already quite liberating! It’s only been two days but I already notice myself not going on sephora.com or searching for beauty sales as much as I used to. I also feel some relief by the thought of possibly using up a lot of products before they expire.

I really thought this post was going to be a simple declaration but turned out to be quite therapeutic and a corny one but who cares! I just hope to have a careful selection of makeup by the end of this challenge and start focusing on what really matters to me.

Natural Beauty: Morning Calm


I discovered “natural soap” through Etsy, when I encountered Morning Calm several years back. I was immediately intrigued, but what really got me excited was the fact that the owner, Hwasoon Kim, was formulating her soaps with traditional Korean skin care ingredients such as Red Bean, Sanghwang Mushroom, and Hwangto Clay to name a few.

Growing up in a family with three other skin care conscious women, I was naturally exposed to a wide variety of cleansers yet had difficulty finding ones that worked for me. My skin is very oily, congested and sensitive, and a lot of foaming cleansers out there that claim to be “gentle yet effective” are usually one or the other, rarely both. Surprisingly, Morning Calm soaps were both. They removed daily build-up of oil and dead skin cells, any residue left from oil cleansing while leaving my skin feeling purified and soft but not squeaky clean. I’ve been a loyal customer ever since (4 years ago).

Once I stopped using her soaps temporarily and I noticed a huge difference. My skin got dry and patchy but grimy and congested at the same time that I had to exfoliate every other day if not every day (I was using Vichy and Laneige cleaners at the time). After using her Elvan Clay Soap for two weeks, not only did my skin come back, my skin felt unbelievably softer. My other favorite is Organic Green Tea (temporarily unavailable) which also leaves skin super smooth as if you actually rinsed with green tea water.

There aren’t many variety of soaps in stock currently, but she also sells beautiful lip balms, natural deodorants, cleansing oils and more. They make great gifts too! My mom’s picky Korean friends really enjoyed them that one asked me to place an order for her.

Overall, I think natural soaps are well worth trying especially if you have oily, congested or sensitive skin. It’s sad that soap gets a bad rep these days but I swear by them. Plus, they are economical since they are solid and will last you for ages. Other natural soap shops that I recommend are Herbivore Botanicals, Long Winter Farm and Rocky Top Soap.

What are your currently favorite natural beauty product?

Bite Beauty Butter Cream Lipstick in Heather

Whenever I walk into a Sephora, I tell myself: No lip product! If anything get eye makeup because that’s where I like to emphasize and spend most time when I get ready. Then slowly I start to notice the pinky, peachy and coral nudes, try on about 20 similar but different shades til my lips are on fire, and yeah.. one comes home with me. The same happened a few weeks ago when I went to Sephora but I ended up getting something a little different.

Bite Beauty Butter Cream Lipstick in Heather
Bite Beauty Butter Cream Lipstick in Heather

Bite Beauty’s Butter Cream Lipstick in Heather is a mid-tone slightly mauvey dusty rose shade. I tend to stay away from medium or dark toned lip colors because I think they make my already small lips look even smaller but this shade did not do that. And it’s a beautiful everyday classy color that is neither too muted or too bright.

Formula was nothing special contrary to how they advertise. It feels like any other regular lipstick on me so that was a little disappointing but regardless I love it.

Since this shade has kind of helped me get out of my usual peachy pink rut, I don’t know how many lip colors I’ll try on next time I walk into a Sephora.. : )

A’PIEU Pure Block Natural Sun Cream

apieusuncream copy

Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen used to be my sun protection of choice for a long time because it did not leave my skin oily or would not result in that dreadful white cast. Until I found this one which is like… 5 times better! It’s A’PIEU’s Pure Block Natural Sun Cream! A’PIEU is a Korean brand and I found this on eBay for about $10 including shipping.

This sunblock (SPF 45 and PA +++) goes on like a light lotion, there’s absolutely no white cast or siliconey feel whatsoever, absorbs completely, and leaves your skin feeling soft.

And the best part is that it does not have a muggy sunblocky scent, but smells like real fresh peeled tangerines! So so so so fresh!

Never in a million years did I think I would love a sunblock this much! What is your favorite sun protection?