SUMMER RECAP: Fitspiration

Just like last year, I took a break from blogging for a few months – I mean, summer IS the prime season for social events and outdoor activities. But apart from that, it gave me the opportunity to dabble in a side job, reprioritize my life, set aside some much-needed time for myself, and improve some aspects of my lifestyle that I wasn’t satisfied with. But since I can’t recap my entire summer in a single post, I’ve decided to do a series of entries to get all my followers caught up. Enjoy! :)

I think it’s about time I make a confession – something I haven’t been fully honest about to even some of my closest friends. During my senior year of college I was diagnosed with body dysmorphia, brought on by my already existing generalized anxiety disorder and mild obsessive compulsive disorder. 80% of the time, I look in the mirror and see myself anywhere from 20 to 60 lbs heavier. Some nights, I will still spend hours at a time poring over my facial imperfections in photos uploaded on Facebook. It’s only under very rare and specific conditions that I see myself accurately. And when I do, I end up spending the whole night crying.

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With that said, over the past few summer months a friend introduced me to the concept of fitspiration. It became popular after pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia blogs started getting banned from Tumblr. The idea is to see “fitness” as the goal, not “skinny”. Since then, I’ve been eating a lot cleaner, and focusing more on toning. And although the number on the scale has remained the same, I can definitely see the change in my body. Most importantly, I’ve learned that being fit is not a fad that you do temporarily until you’re happy with yourself; it’s an entire lifestyle change.

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Three things I’ve recently added into my regimen are: oatmeal, biking, and light weight training. Every morning for breakfast, I used to have yogurt with granola. And while it’s a fantastic option, it doesn’t fill me up. And because I can’t take a break for a small snack on busy work days, I would always end up overeating during my lunch break. Oatmeal is plenty filling and contains soluble fiber, of which I otherwise don’t get much of throughout the rest of the day. It’s great for your heart and digestive system, and tastes so good with some fruit, walnuts, and a dash of brown sugar! But personally, I prefer the texture of the old-fashioned rolled oats over the all-too-mushy instant oatmeal.

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As for biking, my boyfriend and I go for about 5 or 6 miles every Sunday morning – usually in a local scenic spot like Alley Pond Park or Bayside Marina near Fort Totten. It’s a great addition to our weekly schedule, and it’s so much easier to get motivated to exercise when you have a workout buddy. Unfortunately, my old bicycle that I used to cruise around my college campus with is now a dilapidated mess. Not fit for riding anymore, I’ve been borrowing my brother’s. I plan to invest in a speedy new one in the near future, though. :)

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And last, but not least, is light weight training. It all started when my regular Zumba instructor was out for the whole month of August. The substitute incorporated dumbbells into our dance moves, and you can really feel the resistance and burn in your arms after a few minutes! I was able to score a weight set on Amazon for an amazing deal, so every other night I do a bunch of reps for a more toned upper body. And in the relatively short time I’ve been doing it, I can already see more defined biceps! I really want to keep this up, since it takes more work to get rid of the dreaded “bra bulge”. Wish me luck!
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SUMMER RECAP: Clip-in Hair Extensions

Just like last year, I took a break from blogging for a few months – I mean, summer IS the prime season for social events and outdoor activities. But apart from that, it gave me the opportunity to dabble in a side job, reprioritize my life, set aside some much-needed time for myself, and improve some aspects of my lifestyle that I wasn’t satisfied with. But since I can’t recap my entire summer in a single post, I’ve decided to do a series of entries to get all my followers caught up. Enjoy! :)

A few months ago, in her heavy Korean accent, my hairdresser told me that my locks underwent “chemical melting” from all the harsh bleaching I had put it through. Which explained why my ends were so thin and uneven. So she chopped it all off. But because having my hair at shoulder length made me feel less feminine, my confidence dipped significantly. :( Thankfully, a friend recommended clip-in extensions as a temporary solution while it grows back. At first, I was skeptical. I had so many questions! Would they look natural? What is the color doesn’t match perfectly? Could I heat style them? How much would they cost? How long would they last? Would they fall out if I wasn’t careful?

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So I took to researching all the different options for my hair type. At the end of the day, I decided that a 7-piece set of wefts in varying widths would give me that layered look I wanted. Nervously, I ordered a set of 18” dark brown human hair extensions from the eBay seller “ldszyz” for about $31 with free shipping. When they arrived at my doorstep a week later, it occurred to me that I had no idea how to put them in. >.<; But, naturally, I was an expert three YouTube videos later. :P

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I was pleasantly surprised that the color blends beautifully – you can hardly tell they’re extensions! They aren’t heavy at all, it they stay put really well. Typically, it’s recommended that my extensions should last 3-4 months before replacing them – but that’s with everyday wear, heat styling, and regular washing. Since I only wear mine on the weekends, I estimate that they should last me about a year. And by then, my hair should already be six inches longer! :D My only issue with them is that they sometimes give you too much volume in humidity, especially if your hair isn’t naturally straight. But this is something that can easily be fixed by wearing it in a sleek, long ponytail. What do you guys think, would you ever consider wearing clip-in hair extensions?

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SUMMER RECAP: Cosplayholic

Just like last year, I took a break from blogging for a few months – I mean, summer IS the prime season for social events and outdoor activities. But apart from that, it gave me the opportunity to dabble in a side job, reprioritize my life, set aside some much-needed time for myself, and improve some aspects of my lifestyle that I wasn’t satisfied with. But since I can’t recap my entire summer in a single post, I’ve decided to do a series of entries to get all my followers caught up. Enjoy! :)

Cosplayholic is an eBay shop (with an impressive positive feedback score) that I had been eyeing for months. Since I know many of my readers are comparison shoppers like myself, I wanted to share an honest and detailed narrative of my purchasing experience with this seller.

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My boyfriend and I decided to order the custom-tailored Tidus and Songstress Yuna outfits, since we had two events coming up – my annual trip to New Jersey for AnimeNext and a Final Fantasy themed rave in Brooklyn called Vinyl Fantasy IV. We sent Cosplayholic our measurements and paid the outrageous shipping costs, thinking it would be worth it. Unfortunately, my bank thought the order was fraudulent and activated a chargeback – which would take several weeks to process, even after I cancelled it.

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Since the convention was approaching soon, I made an agreement with the seller to pay the $220+ total again via PayPal while the chargeback was processing, and in the event that the money would get taken out of my bank account a second time, they would return it to me. Yes, I know that the terms of agreement on eBay specifically state that they are not held responsible for arrangements done independently of their site. So I took the risk, thinking the seller was trustworthy.

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When the costumes arrived in the mail several weeks later, we were pleased to find that both fit perfectly and looked just like the photos in the listing. (They even included a note in the package that asked us to leave them positive feedback, since they’re feeding their families in China with the money they make from their cosplay shop, and any store below a certain score is banned from making any more transactions.) It was a personal decision for me to wear a different skirt, since I thought the one included was too long. Nonetheless, we received many compliments at both events – so I’m not taking a jab at the quality of their products at all.

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Now fast forward a little over a month later, where the cancelled chargeback was finished processing and I am charged a second time for my order. Despite our agreement, Cosplayholic denies receiving the second payment. After many phone calls and messages between me, my bank, and PayPal – the consensus was that the seller did receive the money. After threatening to file a dispute with them through my bank, and giving them both PayPal transaction numbers as proof of my payments, they CONVENIENTLY only responded back to me once a week – promising they would return my money but never actually doing it until months later. Ultimately, it took them from April until September to return $220+ to me even though I was messaging them every week. I do not recommend them, the customer service is a nightmare.
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Blonde Envy

aka “How to go from dark brown to light blonde at home for under $50.”

I do admit that from time to time, I feel a pang of inadequacy because of my natural dark hair, skin, and eyes. Especially since two of my closest girlfriends are gorgeous blondes, I often find myself feeling so mediocre next to them. I suppose society’s standard of beauty is to blame, but I genuinely enjoy bleaching my hair every once in a while for a change of pace. :)

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There are varying opinions of Asian women with blonde hair. The general consensus always  seems to be,”It’s just not natural.” I disagree. Sometimes, it’s pulled off well. And other times, it’s just a disaster. It all has to do with skin tone, and finding the perfect shade for you. This time, I wanted to reach a cooler almost-platinum blonde instead of golden/strawberry blonde.

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The new Fèria Absolute Platinum in Extreme Platinum sounded promising when I first laid eyes on it. Unfortunately, it only lifted my hair a few shades lighter from dark brown to a medium orange-brown. It was at this point that I was getting frustrated with my reluctant strands, and went for a brand I’ve been wanting to try out forever.

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Palty is known for being very effective on dark, thick, Asian hair. It doesn’t hurt that the packaging is downright adorable, as well. I’ve read tons of online reviews, and was thankful to find a huge selection hidden in a beauty store at my local “Chinatown”, Flushing. I thought the most appropriate shade would be Super Flash Sparkling Blonde.

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It was a bit pricey at $13 per box, and I needed two.. but my hair successfully lifted more significantly. I have to admit that I felt a mild burning sensation on my scalp during the process. But I suppose that’s the price you have to pay for beauty. It came out a lovely golden blonde with brassy undertones. As you can see in the photo below, my ends are already getting fried. :X

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Unfortunately, I’m very hard to please and wanted to get rid of the orange tones completely. So I counteracted it with a cool blonde shade, Garnier Nutrisse: #82 Champagne Blonde (Champagne Fizz). I was going to get the lighter, White Chocolate shade, but couldn’t find it anywhere. :/ I was happy with how it came out, though. I got a lot of compliments at work. :P

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But after a month, my roots were already growing out and the brassiness was coming back. So I picked up two boxes of Garnier Nutrisse: #100 Extra Light Natural Blonde (Chamomile) to touch it up a bit. And to be honest, I’m in love with the results. It’s the perfect medium between warm and cool, and matches my skin tone pretty well.

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As you can see in this photo, I’m almost as blonde as my beautiful friend Kristiana. <3 I’m in dire need of a trim, though. My strands feel like straw, which I’ve been trying to nurse back to health with lots of deep conditioner and by only flat-ironing my hair on the weekends and special occasions. Next month, I might just get my roots and highlights done professionally. Because the bottom line is that as much as I love doing my own hair, I could have just saved myself all the trouble and went to a salon. The extra money would have been well worth it, given the hassle I went through. x_x

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Trend Alert: Waterfall Skirts

Not to be confused with the more popular high-low trend, waterfall skirts look more feminine and free-flowing. The delicate asymmetry turns heads, the “streams” of fabric dance as you make your entrance into a room, and onlookers will stare in awe of how ethereal your presence is. (Ok, I may be exaggerating. But they do remind me of fairies, sorceresses, angels, and other magical beings in fantasy.) This music video by k-pop girl group 4minute shows just how alluring these skirts can look in movement.

Like hi-lo skirts, waterfall skirts are typically made from chiffon or another sheer lightweight material. The difference is that its fabric is often pleated, the number of the folds varying from one designer to the next. Another thing that sets them apart are that waterfall skirts don’t necessarily have to start shorter in the front and longer in the back. In fact, the prettier ones I’ve seen start at arbitrary points and look tastefully chaotic. >:D

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I purchased this black waterfall skirt from Love Culture for dirt cheap a few months ago, and haven’t been able to wear it until it warmed up a bit last weekend. The elastic waistband wasn’t sewn in place, so it kept flipping and folding over inside the fabric throughout the day. It also kept riding up my waist so that my proportions looked all messed up. Or maybe I just need to lose a few more pounds? :(

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One thing is for certain, though – it’s definitely not a practical skirt to wear. There are so many hazards! Including, but not limited to: tripping over them in your heels, getting them stuck in an escalator, and being prone to wardrobe malfunctions when it’s windy. >.<; I wish you luck if you’re brave enough.

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Like my stye? Hype it on Lookbook! ~ Lights Please
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Trend Alert: Denim Vests

Now that the weather has been hitting the low to mid-60s, it’s time to toss aside our jackets and start thinking about more Spring-friendly outerwear. Reminiscent of the 80s, the fashion industry has been reviving the denim vest.

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Since a lot of my friends are metalheads, it’s not unusual for me to see them rocking theirs with all sorts of band patches and button pins. And that’s the beauty of this trend – you can be as creative as you want, and tailor it towards your own individual style. If you’re the arts and crafts type, or just plain adventurous, you can make it a DIY project. There are plenty of tutorials on the internet for refashioning denim: acid washing, cropping, lace paneling, and installing studs/spikes, just to name a few.

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DIY: Studded Lace Denim Vest [photo credit]

Since I prefer a little feminine touch to everything, I decided to purchase a embellished denim vest from Hong Kong on eBay. With its silver sequins, chains, rhinestones, and deconstruction, it was practically screaming my name. And for less than $15 with free shipping, I wasn’t going to pass it up. :P

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Personally, I have a rule when it comes to denim: Only one piece at a time. I’m not about that blue collar look, if you know what I mean. With that said, this trend makes a simple outfit look edgier. I can see it working well with black leggings and a casual t-shirt or tanktop, but wearing it over a colorful patterned dress or skirt this Spring is just as chic.

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Like my style? Hype it on Lookbook! ~ Fight Like a Girl

Since the weather was gorgeous this past weekend, le boyfriend and I took a walk by the local marina before going out on a sushi date. Predictably, I brought my camera in hopes of finding an opportunity to snap some photos. I wore my new vest over a black maxi dress that I’ve had since high school.

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Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Miracle Dry Oil

As a BzzAgent, I’m able to test out new products released by brands that I already love! In this case, I was sent a free bottle of the new Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Miracle Dry Oil. I’m already a long-time fan of their hair dye line and have also recently started using their straightening heat protectant spray, so being picked for this campaign was a pleasant surprise. :) Marketed as an everyday multi-purpose product for hair, body, and face, this weightless formula absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave an oily residue. It combines three different oils: olive, avocado, and shea.

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Olive oil moisturizes, protects, and replenishes your dry hair, improving its strength and elasticity. You face and body benefit from antioxidants that help protect against skin damage. Avocado oil is loaded with Vitamin E, and protects against dryness while locking in color and moisture to keep your hair looking radiant and silky soft. The oil’s natural hydrating abilities promote soft and supple skin, too. Shea oil is known for heaving unique healing properties. It rejuvenates damaged hair and leaves it with a healthy shine. It’s also a great moisturizer that helps improve elasticity in skin. –Garnier Fructis

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Since I’ve been embracing my natural hair lately, and choose to air-dry instead of blow-dry, I could always use some extra moisture. After using this product every morning for a week.. I noticed that it was shinier, my waves were more defined, my dry ends didn’t feel as brittle, and my locks were overall softer.

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TIPS:

1) Do not apply directly into your hair. Especially your bangs. The product is very heavy and soaks in really quickly, so it won’t get distributed evenly and you’ll just end up looking greasy. If you have medium/long hair like me, two spritzes into your palm will be enough. Rub your hands together, and run them through your damp hair at least three inches from your scalp in a downward massaging motion. Once your hair has dried and you still think it could use some extra moisture or softness, do not use more than one spritz to touch up. A little goes a long way!

2) If you have oily and/or acne-prone skin, do not apply onto your face. Not for extended periods of time, at least. I didn’t even risk it, since I know that I break out really easily. If you have dry skin on other parts of your body, though, I highly recommend this. It’s a lot more lightweight than other similar oil-based products, and gives a healthy glow. Since I love showing off my legs in the warmer seasons, I can imagine myself using a little bit of this to accentuate them in shorts/skirts/dresses. :P
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