Hello Pretty Bird! - A beauty and not-so-glamorous lifestyle blog: September 2015

30 September, 2015

Rebecca Asks | A quick poll of sorts about social media and blog-reading habits

Happy Wednesday, everybody! I've been immersed in some crazy non-HelloPrettyBird projects this past week, but I have some really fun stuff planned for early October (hint: giveaways!) so keep your eyes peeled. :)

Speaking of keeping your eyes peeled here's my question of the week:

How do you prefer to experience blogs and blog-like content in 2015? Do you spend the most time: 
  1. Reading traditional blogs/articles (text and photos) 
  2. Watching user-generated videos (like YouTube)
  3. Browsing short-form social media sites (like Instagram or Snapchat) 
  4. A balance of all three... or something else?

Just to clarify, by user-generated video I mean things like vlogs and and/or clips with commentary, not full films or television shows on Netflix, Hulu etc. For me it's #1 or #3—though for the past couple of months I've been so busy that it's been harder for me to do #1, sobcrysob. Which makes things like Instagram and Snapchat an appealing choice—it's easy to scroll through a bunch of photos and leave quick comments while I'm waiting for water to boil or something. But I wonder if my habits aren't part of a larger shift towards short-form media—not sure if that's a good thing, but it is definitely a thing.

Anyway, what do you think? Do you prefer consuming media via one of these methods over the others? Or do you think it's better to have a balance of all three? Or eschew technology in favor of other activities (in which case, why are you reading this?) Let me know in the comments.

25 September, 2015

An introduction to UNT Cosmetics (Taiwan): BBs, CCs, eye stuff (oh my!) Plus coupon code & GIVEAWAY!


A week or two ago I reviewed the Pore Minissima Super Anti Shine Oil Control Serum by Taiwanese skincare brand UNT, and now I'm back with more! UNT is perhaps best known for their skincare products, but did you know that they also make a ton of makeup? Well even if you didn't before you're going to now, because I'll be swatching not one but FOUR of their products today. Hold onto your pretty little hats.

An introduction to UNT Cosmetics (Taiwan): BBs, CCs, eye stuff (oh my!) Plus coupon code & GIVEAWAY!

24 September, 2015

18 September, 2015

5 tips to help you wake up (from a non-morning person)

Here's a personal factoid that's a bit of an understatement: I am not a morning person. Even when I'm not suffering from insomnia, there's something about getting out of bed that's just really, really challenging for me. Maybe I should invest in scratchy, horrible blankets? Or try to give myself nightmares so I don't doze back off once I wake up? I don't know. In any case I do actually have to get up and work most days, so today I'll be sharing a few of my coping strategies for surviving the morning and escaping Bed Mountain. (It's not nearly as treacherous as it seems once you're fully awake.)

5 tips to help you wake up (from a non-morning person)

Review | Too Cool For School Egg Mousse Pack

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How do you feel about food having food on your face? One thing I've noticed with K-beauty brands is how popular food-based skincare is—there's an entire brand called Skinfood, for Pete's sake. This post isn't about Skinfood, but it is about another K-brand that's made with food meant to be put on your skin: The Too Cool For School Egg Mousse Pack, which contains actual egg extract!

Too Cool For School Egg Mousse Pack

17 September, 2015

When Couples Can't Agree: Meal prep made easy with Suddenly Salad (+ GIVEAWAY & COUPON!)


My main squeeze Stan and I are coming up on our fifth anniversary of living together pretty soon (bust out some balloons!) I think a big part of the reason we've managed to live together for so long without killing each other is that we're on the same page about a lot of things—our habits aren't identical, but they mesh well together. Curiously though, one of our most frequent sources of conflict for a long time was what to have to dinner—we managed to pick out furniture for our new apartment in a day, but somehow deciding which food to cook on a Wednesday night required hours of intense debate? Eventually we settled into a pattern that seems to work for us: I cook 90% of the food, and Stan cleans up the dishes 90% of the time. Apparently cooking was a major source of stress for him, hence the epic "discussions."

Suddenly Grain Salad Harvest Grains #MealPrep #SuddenlySalad

I like cooking and absolutely loathe cleaning so I'm 100% happy with this arrangement, though like most people, there are nights when I'm too busy to make an elaborate meal that matches everybody's culinary desires. Lately I've been using Better Crocker Suddenly Grain Salad to help me out on those crazier nights—it's ready in less than half an hour and we can customize our own individual plates however we like. Win-win!

16 September, 2015

Rebecca Asks | How far in advance do you start saving for the holidays?

Happy Wednesday, everybody! How you doin'? I'm tired.

This week's question was inspired by all of the holiday beauty sets that started appearing over these past couple of weeks—it is still summer, right?

How far in advance do you start saving and planning for your holiday season shopping? (That includes gifts for others and holiday splurges you might make for yourself.) Do you have a special system for keeping track of the funds?

In 2014 I made a separate savings account with the boring name "gift fund"—every month I put a bit of money aside in it to be used for holidays, birthday gifts etc. So thanks to that I'm saving a little bit for gifts year-round, but I still always find myself overwhelmed when it comes to my wants—there are so many pretty things that come around the holidays that nobody's going to buy for me but me. Obviously I can't purchase every single thing that looks awesome, but giving yourself a gift or two during the holiday season isn't so bad, right? So I just set up yet another savings account called "fun fund", hahaha. Now what to spend it on....

On a related note: If you don't care about financial planning at all but have been paying attention to the holiday collections, I'd love to know what's on your wishlist! Nosy nosy me.

15 September, 2015

#LifeHacktoBoredom: 5 Fun Things To Do with Fun-Sized Candy Bars (+ $20 giveaway!)


So here's a weird little story for you: My main squeeze Stan had an unexpected day off work today because an exterminator found a single bedbug in his office, and they shut the whole place down to fumigate. Adult version of a snow day? Anyway, he's been home all day getting up in my business, so I've been keeping him at bay with the promise of mini chocolate bars if he leaves me alone, hahaha. But that got me thinking—what are some other ways to beat boredom with fun-sized candy bars? That are maybe slightly less anti-social? Let the wacky brainstorming commence!

#LifeHacktoBoredom: 5 Fun Things To Do with Fun-Sized Candy Bars

Zarbee's at Target: Where to find it + get $4 off in September!

Planning a trip to Target in the next couple of weeks? As I mentioned in yesterday's post about self-care tips for the self-employed, Zarbee's Naturals Vitamin Drink Mix is on sale at Target until the end of September as part of their Made to Matter program. If you're not familiar, #MadeToMatter is Target's special curated collection of organic and non-toxic products, so it makes perfect sense that Zarbee's would be included—they specialize in cold remedies and supplements that are free of drugs, alcohol, gluten, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners and artificial dyes.

Zarbee's at Target: Where to find it + get $4 off in September! #DrinkForYourself #Zarbees #MadeToMatter

The past 31 years of life have taught me one very important thing: If I'm not careful, I will always get sick in the fall. I'm serious—I can think of a few years in my late teens/early twenties where I got bronchitis three or more times during fall and early winter. That kind of sucked to be frank, so now that I'm a responsible adult I take extra preventative care (like hand-washing and immune-boosting supplements). And where better to stock up on all of those things at once than...

Review | RE:CIPE by Slowganic Detox Rose Petal Cleansing Oil

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Calling all rose lovers! Today I'm reviewing a cleansing oil that not only smells like roses, but also has actual chunks of rose floating in it. All rose, all the time. Like whoa. Meet RE:CIPE Rose Petal Cleansing Oil, your new favorite floral friend.

Care Cara detox RE:CIPE by Slowganic  (Recipe by Nature) Cleansing Oil - Rose Petal review.

UNT Skincare (Taiwan) now available in the US! Coupon code + a review of their Pore Minissima Super Anti Shine Oil Control Serum

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I have some good news for all the skincare fanatics out there: UNT Skincare now has a US/global website! UNT, for those of you who aren't familiar, started in Taiwan in 2004 and specializes in results-driven products at reasonable prices. For example, one of their most popular products is EX White Laserwave brightening serum (which contains 5% Mandelic Acid and 3% m-Tranexamic Acid), but they have a wide variety of products addressing other skincare concerns (not to mention a whole line of makeup and nail products!)

UNT Pore Minissima Super Anti Shine Oil Control Serum #UNTbeautytalk

I recently got my hands on UNT's Pore Minissima Super Anti Shine Oil Control Serum to try, which promises to blast shine and control oil. Here's the thing: I don't have oily skin all over my face, but I do have classic combination skin. I tend to treat my face mostly for dryness because having tight, dry skin drives me insane, but my nose gets about 10x oilier than the rest of my face by the end of the day even if I don't moisturize it as much (as do my forehead and chin, to a somewhat lesser extent). As I'm sure anyone with oily or combo skin knows, this can be a problem because makeup tends to melt off those spots faster, which looks... odd. I've been on the lookout for an anti-shine serum I could use as a spot treatment of sorts, so on my face Pore Minissima went! Here are all the juicy (but not oily) details.

Unboxing | Olfactif Fragrance Box - August 2015: Earth, Wind, Fire

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If you've been reading my blog for a while, I'm sure you know by now that one of my biggest weaknesses is niche fragrance. Scent subscription box Olfactif has been on my wishlist for a while, so when they reached out to me last month with a box to review, I was delighted to accept! What makes Olfactif unique to the all of the other fragrance subscriptions out there, you might be wondering? Read on to find out!

Olfactif Fragrance Box

14 September, 2015

Self-care tips for the self-employed (and just really busy people)

For those of you who don't already know, I'm fully entrenched in the self-employment lifestyle. For the past two years I've worked 100% from home, by myself (except for occasional meetings and events here and there). That may sound amazing to some of you—working from home does have its perks, like the 24 second commute from my bedroom to my home office and pajama Tuesdays (and Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays should I so desire). In a lot of ways it can be more challenging than a regular 9-5 job though—both in terms of motivation and self-care. It's hard to teach self-motivation (otherwise, wouldn't we all be superhumans who speak ten languages and can break bricks with our bare hands whilst still blazing through a 40 hour work week?) What I can share is a few of the health and wellness-related challenges I face working from home, and how I deal with them. Heads up: A lot of this advice applies to workaholics too, self-employed or not!

Self-care tips for the self-employed (and just really busy people)

Hey, it's the August Etude House Pink Bird Box: Swatches of the new Bling Bling Eye Sticks, Dear Darling Water Tint & More

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One of my favorite things in the world is finding new makeup that's inexpensive, works well, and isn't a total pain in the ass to use. There was at least one thing in the latest Etude House Pink Bird Box that ticked all three of those boxes—but you'll have to keep reading to find out what it is! [Insert gleeful cackle]

Etude House Pink Bird Box August 2015 review and unboxing

13 September, 2015

Unboxing | Memebox COSRX Box (first impressions and testing plans... such plans)

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I have some good news for all the skincare addicts out there: The Memebox COSRX Box ($46) is back in stock! (Or at least it is at the time of publishing this post, anyway.) So if it's on your wishlist, run and go get 'er! Memebox was kind enough to send me one for review, so today I'll be diving into the contents of the box and sharing which of these products I've decided to commit to testing for the long haul. Can you guess which ones? Ooh, the suspense!

Memebox COSRX Box review and unboxing

09 September, 2015

Rebecca Asks | What's your favorite lipstick at the moment?

Happy Wednesday, everybody! The sky is rumbling here thanks to crazy, nasty humidity. Is it fall yet?

art via

I've been going through my makeup collection lately and getting rid of stuff I never use. Feels good. But sometimes tough decisions need to be made: If you have two similar lipsticks that you like, how do you choose which one to keep and which one to toss? As a result of this, I've been thinking about which attributes I really like in lipstick (and other makeup) and what I really hate. Which brings me to this week's question...

What's your favorite lipstick at the moment in terms of look, feel, and overall formula? I use the term "lipstick" loosely—crayons, tints, glosses, colored balms etc. are also included.

I've enjoyed Bite Beauty's Luminous Crème Lipsticks for a while, but I'm really digging the shade Bellini (which I think they released last month?) lately. I picked up a full-sized tube on a whim and don't regret it at all. The formula of those lipsticks is great in general (creamy, long-lasting, non-drying) and Bellini is a great color for me—a bold, vibrant pink that isn't heinously neon. Would recommend (assuming you feel comfortable wearing bright pinks). My only complaint is that the Bite lippies don't really smell like anything in particular, but I guess I'd rather have an unscented lipstick than one that smelled cloyingly sweet.

So... how about you? What are your lips loving these days?

08 September, 2015

The return of Use It Or Lose It: "Shop Your Stash/Decluttering" edition

It's ba-aaaack! (Sort of.) Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while may remember my Use It Or Lose It series, AKA the monthly posts in which I would use up random samples I had been hoarding and write about them. For whatever reason that series fell by the wayside over the past few months, but I've decided to revive it... with a twist!

I've been trying really hard to declutter my life lately. I sold a bunch of stuff that I never use and made something like $400, which is crazy... why did I hang on to that crap for so long? (And even move with some of it?) I look around my cluttered little apartment and remember how I lived out of a single rolling suitcase for two years of my life, and wonder... where the hell did all this stuff come from? But even knowing all that, it's still hard for me to get rid of stuff.

Now, I have no immediate plans to live out of a bag again, so divesting myself of all my belongings probably isn't necessary. But I do have a lot of stuff that rarely gets used, so I'm reviving the Use It Or Lose It challenge as a means to use it and see if I really want to keep it (or lose it).

Here's how this is going to work:
  • Around the first week of each month, I will gather a small box or bag of stuff. (This will include both beauty products and other random stuff that's taking up space in my life.)
  • I will attempt to use and evaluate all the items in the box over the course of four weeks and determine whether I really want to keep them or not.
  • If I don't get around to even trying something in the box, that's an immediate LOSE IT! (AKA donate it or throw it away)
  • I will write a blog post sharing my thoughts/experiences/mini reviews after the four weeks, and introduce the next set of items to enter the UIOLI box.

Since this is my first month reviving the UIOLI challenge I don't have any mini reviews yet, but I can show you what I've selected for my box this month:

Beauty stuff:
  • Susan Posnick Color Eye Define Liner
  • TonyMoly Tint Crayon - Neon
  • Maybelline liquid lipstick (I forget the exact name of the product)
  • Essence Kajal Pencil (Fuchsia)
  • Wet n Wild Megalist Lipstick - Pink Suga'
  • Missha Signature Real Complete BB Cream
  • A-True Vanilla Black Tea Silky Soft Hand Cream
  • NYX Jumbo Lip Pencil in Pecan
  • Fyrinnae loose eyeshadow - Are You My Mummy?
  • Notoriously Morbid loose eyeshadow - Bram
  • Bare Mineral Marvelous Moxie lipstick mini
  • SD Hair 7 Days Hair Pack
  • Haus of Gloi Moondog fragrance sample
  • Sweet Anthem Phoebe fragrance sample

Non-beauty stuff:
  • Penzey's Spices BBQ 3000 seasoning 
  • Starlight Chandling Blue Skies wax tart
  • Yankee Candle Wild Lilac wax tart
  • De Atramentis Magenta Violet fountain pen ink sample

Random enough for you? This list includes a mixture of samples, full-sized products I've had for a while but have barely (or never) tried, and items I'm thinking of destashing but am on the fence about. In the future I may also use the UIOLI as a way of conducting "should I repurchase this?" tests. Ooh, the suspense! In any case, I'll be back sometime around the first week of October with a blog post describing what I did with all this shit, and in the meantime, I may post little thoughts on Instagram with the hashtag #UIOLIChallenge. If you like the idea of this challenge and want to join in, do use the hashtag (or at least tag me) so I can spy on your progress!

What do you think of the new version of Use It Or Lose It? Do you ever feel the need to declutter?

Getting ready for fall (lipstick): My thoughts on the Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste System


Here's a mini confession: I can be sort of self-conscious about my teeth. Truth is, I'm totally in love with coffee, tea and red wine (AKA the tooth staining triplets) and my front teeth seem to be the perfect canvas for collecting stains, so there are times when I hold back some of my toothier smiles. But of course I do occasionally freshen up with whitening treatments. Fall is one of those times of year when I want my teeth to look bright and polished—I feel like I always end up meeting new people in the fall. In the past I always met people when I started a new semester of school, and even as "grown-ups" a lot of people tend to move house or start new jobs around fall. Best to greet those new friends with a smile that's lovely, not scary.

Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste System fall lipstick #GetPolished

Fall is also the time of year that I tend to bust out slightly warmer-toned lipsticks—think slightly browner reds and berry hues. If you're anything like me then you know that yellow tooth stains do NOT go with warm lip colors. And if that's not a reason to do a little tooth whitening, I don't know what is. I've been testing out the Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste System recently to get my smile ready and polished for fall—keep reading to see the results!

04 September, 2015

Add some “Zing” to your afternoon: An easy DIY iced green tea latte recipe


I have a confession to make: I’m not really a morning person. Or even an afternoon person. If I could stay up all night and sleep until 5PM every day, I probably would—but most of the world doesn’t operate that way, so I work during the daytime. Crazy, I know.

Add some “Zing” to your afternoon: An easy DIY iced green tea latte recipe #AmaZINGStevia

My number one staying awake during the day strategy probably won’t surprise you: Caffeine. Delicious, energy-giving caffeine. Strong coffee is usually my choice in the mornings, but afternoons require something a bit gentler in the caffeine department (assuming you want to eventually fall asleep at night, anyway). Lately I’ve been enjoying iced green tea lattes as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up—they’re caffeinated, cold (important during this late summer humidity), and sort of like a sweet treat and drink in one. Even better, they’re extremely easy to make—and today I’m going to share how I make mine!

How To Stay Hydrated When You Hate Drinking Water: A free printable + fitness giveaway!


Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SipandBeFit #CollectiveBias 

Over the past couple of years, I've become a lot more health-conscious. Maybe turning 30 (GASP) struck some fear into my heart about taking better care of my body. Or maybe all those years of people saying "take care of your body, you only get one!" to me finally sunk in. Either way, I've tried to eat healthier, sleep more (when I can) and just generally be good to myself.

How to stay hydrated when you hate drinking water #SipAndBeFit

One of the simplest ways to take care of yourself is to make sure you're staying hydrated. Personally I find that I feel better (fewer headaches!) and look better (soft skin!) when I'm chugging down water on the regular. Even though it's relatively simple, I still used to struggle with it in the past... either I got bored with the taste of plain water, or just got distracted and forget to drink anything for hours. Not good! Today I'll be sharing a few of my techniques for dealing with water boredom and forgetfulness—and there's a coupon and fun sweepstakes in it for you too!

03 September, 2015

At long last, the July 2015 Etude House Pink Bird Box: Play 101 pencil swatches, post office weirdness & GIVEAWAY!

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So here's a funny story that's not actually that funny: Etude House sent me this box in July (as one might expect), but it never showed up at my doorstep. After a while I contacted them for the tracking number to see if I could hunt it down, but by the time I got it, it was already listed as "returned to sender" because they had tried to deliver it so long ago. (Except nobody ever tried to deliver it, or if they did, they didn't leave one of those little pink missed delivery slips that American postal customers enjoy so much.) Don't you love it when that happens? Anyway, I thought it was long gone, but when my boyfriend went to the post office to pick up a different package a couple of weeks later it was somehow magically there. I don't even know anymore. In any case my local post office is awesome, and I finally have the July Etude House Pink Bird Box to show you!

July 2015 Etude House Pink Bird Box

02 September, 2015

Rebecca Asks | What's your TV guilty pleasure?

 Happy Wednesday, everybody!

pic via

You may or may not have noticed, but I was pretty absent from this blog a lot more than usual last month... I intentionally took a mini hiatus at the beginning of the month, but afterwards I got kind of sick and ended up spending several days dozing off to crappy TV instead of writing. Oops? Life goes on. Anyway, that brings me to this week's questions:

What's your favorite "guilty pleasure" TV show? The one you love watching, but don't necessarily brag about to others.

Let me say this first: I think the term "guilty pleasure" is sort of funny, because I never feel guilty about watching shitty TV. But when I meet someone new I'm not necessarily going to lead with the fact that I watched every single episode of Big Brother 9 UK, you know? (And what a productive summer that was!) Anyway, while I was out of commission in August I discovered that many, many seasons of The Real Housewives franchise are on Hulu. Not sure if they've been on there for a while or what, but I hadn't seen any of them before so down that rabbithole I went. (I may or may not be half-listening to an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills as I write this.) Crappy TV really is the best when you're sick or distracted: Zone out for a while and you probably haven't missed too much.

OK, now that I've shared my current favorite form of mindrot—what's yours?

01 September, 2015

6 UNDER 6: A collective review of six low-pH body washes (plus tips for finding more!)

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Bodies are weird. I spent a lot of time taking care of my face, but the skin on my body has its own issues too, so lately I've been trying to give it some extra TLC. One of the ways I've been doing that: Switching to slightly acidic, low-pH body wash instead of harsh soaps.

6 UNDER 6: A collective review of six low-pH body washes (plus tips for finding more!)

Some of you may be wondering why I care so much about the pH level of my body wash. There's been a lot of buzz in the beauty community lately about using low-pH cleansers on your face as a means of maintaining healthy skin. (Your skin is naturally acidic, at around pH 5.5.)

A couple of other bloggers already wrote really good posts on the subject, so rather than try to rehash and summarize I will leave these links below—I recommend reading them if you're curious about skin health as it pertains to acidity.

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