Jan 28, 2015  •  In Art/Design, Movies

35 Movies of 2015, Each Symbolized by a Single Image

Can you recognize these anticipated movies of 2015 from just a simple icon? (Hint: the numbers represent sequels.)

2015_movies_by_single_image

See my answers in the comments section below. I couldn’t find the answer to row 6, image 4 (the orange one with the suitcase). I know it’s a sequel since it has the number 2, but I have no idea what it could be. Any guesses?

Via Sploid.

Jan 23, 2015  •  In Asian, Beauty, Korean, Reviews, Shopping

Where to Buy Korean Skincare & Beauty Products

I’ve been getting some great feedback on my Korean skincare posts — thank you! But one thing that keeps coming up in my discussions with friends and readers is: where can I get this stuff?!? Admittedly, any idiot knows to Google a particular product, but aside from eBay and third-party Amazon sellers, which are the best online stores to procure these items?

Before I start, I should mention that while eBay and Amazon (via third-party sellers) certainly carry the widest selections (at great prices, to boot), you need to be careful when placing your order. Aside from checking the sellers’ ratings, you should check to see where they will be shipping the items from — more often than not, they will be shipping from Asia, and sometimes it can take up to 6 weeks for on order to arrive!

Fortunately, the popularity of Korean skincare products has brought us consumers some wonderful online retailers, both here in the U.S. and Asia. :-)

My two favorite U.S.-based stores are Soko Glam and Peach and Lily. They were both founded by, and run by women who are passionate about Korean skincare and beauty, and travel to Korea often to learn about the latest trends and innovations.

soko_glam_logo peach_and_lily_logo

These two retailers carefully curate their offerings — meaning that they do not just sell anything and everything Korean beauty on their sites. Rather, they only feature products that have been researched and tested by the owners and staff members, so it’s safe to bet that you will be receiving some quality products! And although their prices are a bit higher than other retailers, the fact that they ship from the U.S. (i.e., much faster shipping times) and the assurance that their products are genuine and trustworthy more than makes up for it.

glow_recipe_logoAnother U.S.-based shop I recently discovered is Glow Recipe. They differ from other K-beauty retailers in that they offer only “natural, harsh-free Korean beauty products” by ensuring that the brands/companies use environmentally-friendly and sustainable practices, the ingredients are safe and free of potentially harmful chemicals, and every item is thoroughly tested by their staff and an outside panel. I have not had a chance to order from them yet, but I do love the idea of their store and have heard great things about them!

momomango_logoMomomango is another North American-based retailer, but unlike the others listed above, it is based out of Toronto. As such, it has a fairly large Canadian and American customer base. It is probably the largest North American online store I’ve found in terms of product selection. In fact, its website is set up very much like Korean online beauty outlets!

Now, onto the Korean stores! Here is a (relatively) short list of my favorite ones:

The biggest advantage that Korean retailers have over the ones mentioned above is the price. They do not have to deal with international tariffs, and they can often obtain their products directly from manufacturers at discount prices. (In fact, many of them offer wholesale options themselves!) Which means that their prices will be some of the lowest you can find — sometimes they’re even cheaper than in the physical stores in Korea!

honestskin_logo testerkorea_logo w2beauty_logl

Many of the stores on this list also sell samples (usually in packs of 10) of popular products. Samples are a great way to try out new products before committing to them. What’s more, you usually pay a lot less for the same amount of samples than the actual item itself, because you won’t be paying for the pretty packaging. And when I recently took my trip to LA, I ordered a bunch of samples of my favorite items to save room…and IIRC, I just stuck the sample packets into my makeup bag, not my 3-1-1 liquids bag, and TSA didn’t even bat an eye!

Additionally, Korean stores tend to be a lot more generous with FREE samples. The U.S.-based stores usually send me 2-3 samples per order, but the Korean ones include handfuls of samples. This past holiday season, I ordered just two items from HonestSkin and look how many samples I received!

honestkin_samples

That being said, shipping can be a killer. Regular shipping usually take 2-3 weeks, but it is not uncommon for a shipment to arrive 5-6 weeks after placing the order.

(Luckily, the longest I’ve had to wait was 2.5 weeks. One time, it only took a week for an order to arrive from Korea…via regular shipping!)

wishtrend_logo beautynetkorea_logo roseroseshop_logo

Many stores offer expedited shipping — usually via EMS — but even that can take up to a week. Additionally, some of these stores can take a while to collect, pack, and ship your items…I have heard too many stories where an order doesn’t ship out until a week or two after it’s been placed. (This is especially prevalent during large sale events and holidays.)

So in the end, it comes down to your own personal preferences. Do you prefer to receive your orders quickly, with the peace of mind of knowing that each item you receive has been carefully vetted…albeit at a slightly higher price? Or do you not mind waiting longer for your shipment to arrive (or pay a lot more for shipping), because you will be paying less for each product, and you will most likely receive a lot of samples?

The choice is yours. :-)  None of the above are affiliate links; I honestly want to help you in procuring the best products for your skin and beauty needs!

Lastly, I came across a thread on /r/AsianBeauty yesterday titled “How do you save on AB?” There are so many great tips and suggestions on there that I had to share it with you guys. (And yes, /r/AsianBeauty is a great resource for all things Asian beauty-related! Be sure to check out its giant list of Asian Beauty sellers for more retailers, and its “Resources” section on the right sidebar for much, much more useful information!)

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Questions? Comments? Please let me know in below!

Jan 21, 2015  •  In Beauty, Infographics, Information, Personal

100 Years of “The Perfect Body”

One of my favorite sections from Tina Fey’s 2009 bestseller Bossypants deals with body image:

I think the first real change in women’s body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom — Beyoncé brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful.

Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyoncé and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.

I know that in this day and age, we women are taught that true beauty shines from within, that our happiness, health, and confidence are far more important than our physical attributes. But let’s face it — I have not come across a single woman in my life who was 100% satisfied with her body, all the time.

And how can we, when our society’s perception of an ideal body is every-changing as well?

To illustrate this point, The Greatist has put together a series of images that outline just how much the American standard for the “perfect body” has evolved over the past 100 years. Take a look!

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Continue reading »

Jan 20, 2015  •  In Entertainment, Music, Reviews

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Thanks to the expansive trove of treasures offered by Netflix, I have been introduced to various cable shows I would have never watched otherwise. I’ve gone through almost all of USA Network’s original programming (some of the best cable shows out there!), and now I’ve moved onto Syfy TV with the likes of Z Nation and Haven.

There was an episode of Haven last season in which a relatively unknown cover of an old song served to heighten the emotionally bittersweet conclusion. The song and the scene continued to play in my mind for days on end, so I did what any nincompoop would do and looked it up online.

I present to you: “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by Sweet Talk Radio.

Isn’t it hauntingly beautiful? Months after tracking down and listening to the track in its entirety for the first time, this song still plays repeatedly in my household, my car, and in my head. It’s perfect for those contemplative moments wherein one becomes lost in memories and possibilities.

Or, even just to have on in the background as you take a moment to relax. :-)

Do you know of other covers where an artist takes a popular song, totally rocks it, and makes it his/her/their own? (The first that pops into my head is Tori Amos’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”)

Jan 19, 2015  •  In Books, Entertainment, Geek, Reviews, Star Wars

Marvel’s STAR WARS #1

This past week was a big one for us Star Wars nerds fans.

Even if you’re not into the greatest sci-fi franchise ever created, you may have heard about a certain comic book already breaking records before its official release date. ;-) 

That’s right — Marvel’s Star Wars #1 was released on January 14th, 2015!

Did you know that these days, major comic book releases almost always include different cover variants? And that there exist illustrators who make their living just from doing comic book cover variants?

So with Star Wars being such a popular franchise — and because Marvel’s acquisition of the comic book rights is such a big damn deal (previous Star Wars comics were published under Dark Horse) — it seemed that every major variant artist, comic book store chain, distributor, etc. was clamoring for its own exclusive cover…resulting in 69 different cover variants (as of this writing).  8-O 

Here are my favorites. Aren’t they fantastic? And I’m sure my fellow female fans will find the Kings Comics variant by Joe Quinones — where Leia carries Luke as they swing their way to freedom — particularly satisfying. :-) (You can see this cover at the bottom left of the matrix below.)

star_wars_comic_variant_j_scott_campbell star_wars_comic_variant_john_cassaday star_wars_comic_variant_movie
star_wars_comic_variant_alex_ross star_wars_comic_variant_scottie_young star_wars_comic_variant_john_tyler_christopher
star_wars_comic_variant_john_cassaday_personalized_premiere star_wars_comic_variant_john_tyler_christopher_action_figure star_wars_comic_variant_blank
star_wars_comic_variant_hasbro star_wars_comic_variant_forbidden_planet star_wars_comic_variant_comixposure
star_wars_comic_variant_dcbs star_wars_comic_variant_frank_cho_comic_cards_collectibles star_wars_comic_variant_stephanie_hans_rebel_base
star_wars_comic_variant_joe_quinones star_wars_comic_variant_tidewater star_wars_comic_variant_gabrielle_dell_otto_lootcrate

And because I am such a devoted fan, you can bet your arse that I managed to get my grubby hands on a copy on launch day. :-D

Correction: I managed to acquire 10 different variants on launch day. :mrgreen:  Of course I wanted more (ideally, all of them!) but depending on the availability, some of the variants cost hundreds of dollars. 8-O 

star_wars_cover_variants

The Skottie Young variant even came with a print!

star_wars_skottie_young_print

Look how happy I look with my favorite cover by Alex Ross!

star_wars_cover

Are you still there? Because I’ve got more! Two days after gingerly touching each comic and reading it cover-to-cover 3 times in a row, I trekked to Midtown Comics Downtown to meet Jason Aaron (author) and John Cassaday (illustrator) and got their autographs!

I still can’t believe I stood in line for almost 3 hours in sub-30ºF (that’s -1.1ºC for you metric folks) temperatures with biting wind to get these autographs. My neck and shoulders are still sore from being scrunched up and shivering for so long!

But it was sooooo worth it.  :mrgreen: 

star_wars_comic_signed

And look at all the free swag I got from Midtown Comics!

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Not to mention, being in a line full of Star Wars nerds who were clearly as — if not more — enthused as me by the momentous event. A small group of your typical sci-fi/comics nerds stood right behind me in line, and I truly enjoyed eavesdropping on their conversations. They formed intelligent (albeit nerdily obsessed) discussions about my favorite Marvel and DC characters. They exchanged theories on popular cliffhangers, such as Arrow‘s winter finale cliffhanger. And, of course, they debated various Star Wars issues, questions, and areas of contention.

I was with my people. :-) 

But back to Star Wars #1. Marvel (and Disney!) did a marvelous job with this first issue. This new series is set between episodes IV and V, and is meant to be canon, not just another supplement to the Star Wars expanded universe. You can read a fantastic article titled “Why Marvel’s New Star Wars Comic Book Series Matters” over at /Film.

I personally can’t wait for the next issue — not only because this first book ends with a cliffhanger (don’t they all?), but also because from what I’ve read, it will only continue to get better from here.

And this new series will certainly whet my appetite for Episode VII.  :-P