Browsing Tag



Skincare Favorites of 2014

Earlier this month, I shared my beauty favorites of 2014 with you all, and so enjoyed all of your product recommendations. I’ve already ordered some since, and have discovered some great items that I think will be showing up on my list for 2015!

Today, I’m following up with some of my skincare favorites of 2014. Enjoy and please share yours! I am a skincare junkie – more than beauty by far!

Skincare Favorites

Clinique Superdefense SPF: Still one of my favorite morning SPF + moisturizers in one, although over the years as I’ve aged (sob) I’ve had to transition from the oily skin version to the dry. Such is life. The only downside is that it’s a little expensive, which is why I’ve also used…

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti Wrinkle Cream: Quite effective, I like that it has a light dose of retinol, and the tube it comes in is much more sanitary I have to say than Clinique’s jar format. Continue Reading

Beauty Style

September Favorites

Hello from Africa! It’s simply amazing here, and I’ve temporarily broken my “don’t check the internet” ban to post and say hello. While I’m away and posting less, I thought I would share a few of my favorite discoveries and purchases over the last few months.

Rag Bone Nakamura Field Jacket

The perfect utility jacket. I’ve been searching for the perfect utility jacket for some time now. I have a version from J.Crew that I quite like, but it’s a bit large and also the material isn’t very soft. It works best over heavier layers like sweaters.

I finally found my perfect jacket about a month ago on sale, from Rag & Bone. It is super soft, just a teeny bit of padding (not too thick, since I’m in California), a great green that is more on the black side than brown since I wear lots of black. An inner drawstring waist, and more! I’ve already worn it lots here on safari.

PS: If I hadn’t purchased my Rag & Bone, this jacket would have been my second choice – at under $100, with petite sizing and good reviews I think it’s quite nice!

J.Crew’s classic Field jacket is also always a good alternative which seems to suit many different people.

Aztec Gary Jennings

The fun read. I’m sharing with you an old favorite of mine from years ago that I recently went and unearthed and re-read this month, Aztec by Gary Jennings. I heard this was the “Da Vinci Code” of it’s time but in my opinion Aztec is superior, more interesting story, better writing (by a bit) and I loved learning about the Aztec culture! This isn’t the type of book that will be winning The Booker Prize but it’s better than you think and you will never be bored. Plus it’s nice and long – when a book is good I never mind a few extra hundred pages.

Tatcha Oil

The beauty oil. I am addicted to using various oils as an extra layer of moisturizer on my face, and Tatcha’s camellia oil is one of the best I’ve tried so far. It comes in a huge lovely bottle that should last for a very long time, and has flecks of 24K gold inside. Gorgeous on your vanity! The scent is very nice and super light (while I love a nice fragrance, I don’t necessarily like it in my skincare – too irritating).

I know that Tatcha’s price point may not be for everyone – as an alternative, the next oil I’m going to be trying is Fresh’s Seaberry version which comes in at $50 for a generous bottle.


Please share some of your favorite discoveries if you’d like (especially books!). Hello and goodbye from Africa until next time!

Beauty Travel

Beauty Essentials: Travel

Over my years of traveling long haul flights, I’ve gone back and forth on my plane beauty routine. There was a period where I just wore my normal makeup – only to land at my destination with raccoon eyes and gross feeling skin. Then I started going makeup free entirely – but to be honest, I generally like to have at least a little bit on for confidence. Plus, during my single periods, there was always the chance that you’d end up sitting next to someone really good looking (which over my hundreds of flights…has yet to happen).

Over the years I’ve perfected a stash of products that I have ready in a little Kate Spade pouch to be dropped into whatever handbag I happen to be traveling with. Here are some of the favorites in my plane travel kit!

Travel Beauty

Evian Facial Spray. Despite several attempts of mine to substitute some water in a spray bottle and save some money, nothing beats these little sprays. They are the perfect size to tuck into your bag, never spill or spray accidentally and are great for hydrating your face. I use one of these whenever we’re about to land – the cool spray wakes you right up. Plus, they’re also great on the ground to help keep you awake when jetlag hits!

YSL Touche Eclat. For years I’ve been looking for the perfect dupe for this fairly pricey highlighter. I’ve tried quite a few, yet keep coming back to the original (I love #1 and #1.5). I never wear foundations/heavy powders when flying and try to keep my skin as bare as possible so it can breathe. I dab Touche Eclat around my eyes before landing to brighten my face and it always does the trick. By the way, if you are looking for a cheaper version – make sure to check the quantity! YSL’s pen comes with a fair amount of product while the drugstore versions often have half the amount.

Tarte Cheek Stain: I’m a bit of a blush addict and loved it so much when I first discovered it back in high school that I definitely had a few clownish days freshman year (all captured in the yearbook). I love Tarte’s blushes and their Cheek Stain is super easy to apply (I just swipe on and use fingers), and it lasts forever. I usually have this on already for flights and just do a light re-application if necessary towards the end. Continue Reading

Beauty Interview

Interview with Vicky Tsai of Tatcha

Today’s interview is with the beautiful and accomplished Vicky Tsai – founder and CEO of the beauty company Tatcha. I first heard of Tatcha over a year ago when a friend who founded a beauty company handed me a packet of Tatcha’s now famous Aburatorigami oil papers as a gift. A connoisseur of oil papers myself (yes I’m basically saying that I’m oily), I thought that the Tatcha papers were absolutely amazing! On par or even better than my favorite Yojiya’s from Kyoto.

I’ve followed Tatcha ever since, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Vicky. She is gorgeous, intelligent and knows a whole lot about not only beauty, but building a brand and a successful business. Random fun fact – we also went to the same business school! Enjoy meeting Vicky.

image via Tatcha (Miki Chishaki)

Who are you? Where are you from, and where do you live?

Hi, I’m Vicky. I was born in the States, soon after my parents moved here from Taiwan. We lived in Texas when I was growing up, and now I live in beautiful San Francisco (when I’m not traveling!). And, I’m a mom!

Can you share a little bit about how you started Tatcha? What was the thing/event that prompted you to start your own business?

Growing up, my mother made a lot of our own skincare treatments from traditional Chinese herbs. I resisted using our concoctions even though they really worked because they smelled medicinal, but she always said that it originated with geisha, and if it was good enough for them, it was good enough for us. Fast-forward fifteen years: I was working for a high end skincare brand which involved testing a lot of products, and I developed acute dermatitis. It was not pretty – my face, lips, eyelids, everything was bleeding and blistering and peeling. It took a year of topical and oralsteroids and antibiotics, but my skin hasn’t been the same since then. That was a wake-up call. I worked later for a start-up called Good Guide, which rates products based on health, social, and environmental benefits.

Vicky’s book of geisha beauty rituals

There, I learned that there is no regulatory environment for skincare in the United States; the FDA has no oversight since technically cosmetics are neither food nor drug. I tried using ‘green’ and ‘organic’ products, but they left quite a bit to be desired from an efficacy and sensorial experience. To add to all of this, I was thinking of having a child, and the last thing I wanted was to be putting chemicals in my skin that would be passed on to her. That’s when I remembered my mother’s stories about geisha and I started traveling back to Asia. My travels ended in Kyoto, where I have had the rare opportunity immerse myself in a world of pure beauty, artistry and heritage like I’ve never known. These experiences reminded me how much beauty and goodness there is in the world, which I try to share with others through Tatcha.

My favorite Tatcha Aburatorigami papers

I know that before you were in brand management for SK-II and Starbucks. How were those experiences? What were some of the biggest learnings that you’veapplied to your biz now? 

I have been fortunate enough to learn the ropes with some of the best brands out there. SK-II is one of the handful of beauty brands for whom I’ve worked, and from them I developed a strong technical understanding of skincare formulations, and how our skin works as an organ. At Starbucks, I learned about the importance of customer service and human connection. Brands can represent more than the product they provide; they can also stand for values.

I love that the evening size papers are designed to fit into a clutch perfectly!

How scary was it to start your own business?  (I read that you sold your engagement ring!) And what were some challenges that you faced that were harder than you thought?

As crazy as it sounds, it was never actually scary. I think fear comes from now knowing whether your next step is the right one, but once I discovered these treasures in Japan, I developed tunnel vision. All I could see was the possibilities. Entrepreneurs are all probably a little crazy in that way.  I also had this amazing support network behind me – my co-founders, husband, my parents, my friends. I’ve never felt alone.  That said, there were and continue to be challenges, every day. I worked four jobs at one point and started Tatcha when I was pregnant, so it was really a game of stamina more than anything else.

Vicky in Kyoto (image via Tatcha; Miki Chishaki)

Can you share a little bit about your style? I’d love to hear your aesthetic given how beautiful Tatcha products are. Any favorite clothing/accessory items?

Between my two-year old daughter and all the time I spend on the road, I value simplicity. As long as my skin looks good, everything else is about comfort. I do have a pair of real riding boots that have traveled around the world with me and back. They even have a ‘taxicab yellow’ smudge on them from when I got into a recently-painted cab. They’re the most comfortable things I can wear, from traipsing across Kyoto’s cobblestones to rushing across New York City grates – and they can be dressed up or down!

image via Tatcha

What about “dream” items you’d love to add to your closet one day?

I have a friend who is a retired geisha who works with clients design incredible kimonos.  Each one is a work of art – hand painted and full of personal meaning.  She took me to one of her favorite kimono artisans in Kyoto and I fell in love with this one that is black as night with the most exquisite pink and white peonies on it.  Each petal was tipped in gold.  It was on “sale” for $40,000. I wouldn’t mind hanging that in my house as a piece of art one day.

What is the one product you’d say people absolutely have to try from Tatcha?

If I can only recommend one step in our ritual to everyone, it would be our Rice Enzyme Powder. It’s a cleanser, exfoliant and treatment in one, with three different strengths for different skin types. It also increases the efficacy of anything that you use after it, and immediately leaves skin with a baby-soft glow.

image via reBloom

Can you share some of your favorite beauty products that are non Tatcha?

That’s a tough one! For me, beauty is looking well-rested and put together, even when I’m not.  So my favorite non-Tatcha beauty products are things that help me fake the funk, like ReBloom, an all-natural sleep aid – and Visine.

What are your top, not-well-known beauty secrets and tips?

SPF is a necessity, and people should absolutely wear it, but my number one beauty secret is a hat and/or a sun parasol. Photo-aging can be extremely damaging to the skin – look at this man.

Tatcha muse Kyoka-san, geisha in training, with no face makeup on (image via Tatcha)

In skincare and makeup – you obviously know a lot. What should we splurge on, and where can we save?

Splurge on skincare, across the board. Treat your face like it’s the only one you’ve got. If you have good skin, makeup is just the icing on the cake. If you have bad skin, no amount of makeup can fix it.  For makeup, powder-based color cosmetics like blushes can be a save. Anything around your eyes, though – mascara, liner, so forth – should be a splurge. Eye products are more technically difficult to formulate so you generally get what you pay for.

Beautiful Vicky – image via W (Miki Chishaki)

I know that you are very inspired by Kyoto and geisha/geiko. What are a few things that we could all learn from the geisha?

In Japan, there is a philosophy called kodawari. It translates to the quality of being sensitive to details, but the philosophy represents the pursuit of perfection, even in minor things. It’s similar to what my mom told me growing up: anything worth doing is worth doing well. The reason that I think geisha are badasses, and still highly admired in Japan, is because they take kodawari – this idea of committing yourself to your art – to a whole different level. From them, we can learn how to fully commit ourselves to whatever we choose to put out into the world.

Can you share a piece of life advice?


Finally – please share something surprising about yourself!

I’m not Japanese?


Since I recently returned from my own trip to Japan, I feel that I can really identify with Vicky’s philosophies. The attention to skincare, simplicity and desire to execute even the smallest details to perfection were some of the ideals that made a huge impression on me. Thank you Vicky for bringing some of the best of the East here to us and for sharing some of your thoughts and beauty philosophies here today. For more of Vicky and Tatcha, check out the site here.