Sunday, January 18, 2015

Eyebrow Pencils For Black Hair | Photos & Swatches

Strong, defined, bold brows have been all the craze lately. Comments and hashtags regarding having a strong #browgame have been showering social media platforms left and right.

Being a sparse-eyebrow-hair-gal, I have tried well over 10 different eyebrow products over the past few years. My biggest challenge with finding the right eyebrow product is finding a natural shade to match my black Asian eyebrow hair. The majority of the brow products available on the US market have too much of a warm red undertone to naturally match those with jet black hair.

I plan to make individual in-depth blogpost reviews on each of these eyebrow pencils. In the meantime, here is a quick breakdown of which brow pencil shades work well to match jet black hair.

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Money saving tipEbates cashback program is offering 8% cash back for Sephora (cash back rates vary; the most I've seen for Sephora is 10%!). Ebates has soo many online sites they offer cash back for. Definitely look for cashback bonuses before you make any online purchase!
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I've also been wanting to try Lioele's Brow Pencil in "gray black", but I've just been trying to use up my current collection of brow products (I have a lot -- eek).



I have also tried brow powder, brow wax, and brow kits -- but I'll save those for a separate post. I truly hope this helps some of my black hair sisters out there!

Leave me a comment and let me know what brow products you love!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kate Somerville Oil Free Moisturizer Allergic Reaction | My Story

Sigh, yet another product to add to my skincare/makeup allergy list: Kate Somerville Oil Free Moisturizer

This is going to be quite a long post, but I want to share as much as I can about my allergic reaction experiences in hopes it will help someone who may also be allergic to the same products/ingredients.

Suffering from a skin allergic reaction is definitely extremely frustrating for more reasons than one.

Physically, your skin may feel itchy, hot, swollen, dry, and tight. If the reaction is more severe, you may even have some blisters/pustules that ooze (yikes!).

Psychologically, I always feel extremely frustrated because there are so many unknowns.

It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the reaction, especially since some reactions are delayed. Thus, you may not show any signs of an allergy until 24-72 hours after exposure to the allergen (this has always been the case in my allergic contact dermatitis reactions to skincare products).

You may be able to narrow it down to which product caused the reaction, but it's extremely difficult to determine which exact ingredient is the culprit since most products contain well over 10 ingredients.

To add to the frustration, it's hard to predict how the reaction will progress. How swollen and red does my face look now? Will I scratch my face unknowingly during my sleep and cause scars? Will it get worse tomorrow? How long will it last? Will I wake up looking like Alex Hitchens during the frantic allergy scene in Hitch? So many unknowns!!!

My personal experience:
Here's a brief timeline of how my allergic reaction progressed & symptoms experienced.

Day 1: Used Kate Somerville Oil Free Moisturizer on face morning & night, no signs of a reaction.

Day 2: Used morning & night, slight itching on my cheeks at night but no bumps or visible redness.

Day 3: Woke up with a swollen face that felt hot/warm to the touch with small red raised bumps. Face was extremely itchy; redness on face looks patchy. I think I subconsciously apply more moisturizer to the left side of my face, and I noticed the left side of my face was more swollen (my left eye area was so swollen you couldn't see my eyelid fold anymore). I stopped using the moisturizer this day.

Day 4: Woke up with small red raised bumps still present. Very small pustules formed in certain areas (the area where I initially dabbed the moisturizer on my face). Skin felt more itchy than the day before but appeared slightly less swollen. Skin had some very small, dry, flaky patches.

Day 5: Woke up with less swelling/redness and itching was only mild throughout the day. Small raised bumps still present all over my face. Skin felt very dry.

Day 6: Significantly less itchiness, redness subsided, small bumps less noticeable. Small flaky patches still present on my cheeks and around my nose. Skin feels more dry than normal.

Day 7: Slight redness still present (face looked slightly sunburnt). Small raised bumps barely noticeable. No itching or swelling.

Day 8-10: No redness, but skin is still flaky and dry.

Day 11: Skin returns to normal (yay!!!!)

So what can you do to manage this skin allergic reaction?
The symptoms will subside on their own in a week or so; however, there are some tips you can keep in mind to help you get get through the reaction.
  • Stop using the product right away.
  • Don't scratch. I know how hard it is, but scratching already sensitive skin could potentially cause scarring or infection. 
  • Try not to touch irritated areas; but if you have to, gently pat skin to relieve itching.
  • Cool oatmeal or an oatmeal wash can help soothe your skin and relive itching temporarily.
  • Medication. If you cannot resist scratching, consider taking over-the-counter benadryl by mouth (at bedtime) to help with itching. Unfortunately, benadryl hasn't helped relieve any of my skin allergic reaction symptoms.
    For me personally, oral corticosteroid doses (prednisone) helped reduce the itching and swelling. Oral steroids are usually reserved for severe cases and you will need to see your doctor to get a prescription. 
  • Keep your skin moisturized with a non-comedogenic fragrance free moisturizer that you've used with no issues in the past.
  • Avoid taking hot showers or washing your face with hot water as this can further dry out your skin and increase irritation.
  • Don't dwell on what your reaction looks like. It's easy to feel self-conscious about what your face looks like while going through this allergic reaction, but worrying about it is not going to change anything. Just focus on getting through your day as normally as possible, and DO NOT SCRATCH.
  • Keep track of your symptoms in case you have another skin allergic reaction in the future. You'll feel less anxious if you already know how your skin will heal.
  • Test products on a small area on your neck or inner wrist before using all over the face.

Other products I have had an allergic reaction to: 
I am also allergic to mango skin -- very strange, I know.
I have eaten pre-cut mangoes with no issues, but one time I cut my own mango and decided to bite the mango fruit off the skin. NEVER AGAIN. I had a serious allergic skin reaction that persisted for over a week. It was bad -- I'm talking oozing small blisters all around my mouth and on my cheeks.

My mango skin allergic reaction was way worse than any skincare product ever caused. I did some research and found out that mango skin contains urushiol, which is an organic oil found in poison ivy/oak/sumac. Well, heck!! I used to get poison ivy every summer when I was a kid. Now that I know how hypersensitive my immune system is, I avoid mangos all together.

Not sure if this is relevant, but I also have a shellfish/crustacean sensitivity. My lips get tingly/swollen/itchy when I eat shrimp/crab/lobster, but it subsides after a few hours.

I am including these photos in hopes it will help someone identify their allergic reaction. I know some people get irked by photos of skin conditions, so I have posted these photos as smaller images in this post. You can click on the photo to see the full size image.

First day allergic reaction symptoms appeared.
The left photo is a close-up of the redness.
The lighting in right photo really depicts how bumpy my skin appeared.

The next day, you can still see the bumpiness and redness.
Small, dry, flaky patches present on my cheeks.

Finally the bumpiness starts to improve.

I decided to apply the product on my inner wrist. Yup, it caused bumpy redness.

When the allergic reaction finally cleared, this is my normal skin tone/texture:

Below are photos I took from my Hope In A Jar allergy from 2 years ago:

I guess it's safe to conclude that I'm done experimenting with different skincare products :( . I have had very good results from Shiseido and SK-II skincare; I just wish they weren't so pricey! but I guess I'm just going to have to stick with it since I know my skin responds well to those brands.

To those who are currently experiencing an allergic skin reaction, I wish you the best of luck! I really hope this post helps someone out there. You'll get through this :) What products are you allergic to? Feel free to share you allergy experiences below to help others out!