My favorite toners (and what I do with them)

Lush Eau Roma Water Toner
Lush Eau Roma Water Toner (Source)

I am not a big believer in toners to tone. I guess there should be a separate post about this, but all the reasons given for the rationale of toners, don’t really convince me, e.g.

  • to remove remaining soils from your face –> errrr, because you did not sufficiently clean your face, ergo it’s still dirty? You probably need a better cleanser, then?
  • to prove that your face is clean –> again, your cleanser and/or your cleansing technique is the problem.
  • to remove residues that comes with the water you rinse your face with –> nope, i have got great, clear, delicious water at home
  • to bring back the acidity (ph) of your face, after cleansing –> yeah, if you still use the harsh cleansers of the 1970s
  • to prepare for your serums and lotions –> if your face is clean, what more do the serums/lotions need? unless you want the natural oils of your face to also be gone, which is not my preference. And actually, toners can be a barrier for the serum/lotion to penetrate, no?

But anyway, that doesn’t mean I don’t use toners, no! Because they’re just too wonderful not to be used. What I use them for:

1. A refreshing mid-day facial spritz or for anytime I need a pick-me-up. My recent favorite for this is a toner I found in Manila, Human Love Nature Balancing Toner. It is the most delicious-smelling concoction ever! The combination of orange oils and elemi oil is just so refreshing to my nose. It’s the ultimate hot day pick-me-up. I always stock up on these whenever I visit the Philippines. Rose toners from local brands Sariayu and Mustika Ratu are also great for this purpose (if you like rose scents, which I do). You can put the toner in a spritzer bottle, which you can also take on your travels or commute.

Human Love Nature Balancing Toner
Human Love Nature Balancing Toner (Source)

2. Sometimes I’m so rushed in the morning that I do not have the time to put on lotion and potions. Lush Eau Roma Toner Water to the rescue! This is probably the most moisturizing toner I’ve ever used. You just need a quick spray around your face (and hair, if so you wish), let it dry while you put on your clothes, then on to sunscreen and makeup, and you’re good to go!

3. To set makeup,especially powder ones. A quick spritzing followed by a little buffing and voila, powderiness be gone! Actually, any old liquid will probably work fine for this, but toners are probably cheaper than the fancy waters of Avene and the like.

4. There’s a few powder masks that I like, and. I mostly use honey to turn powder masks into paste, but I also like to add a little bit of Viva Face Tonic Green Tea in them. This Green Tea Tonic is also a nice alternative for a mid-day spritzing pick-me-up.

Viva Face Tonic Green Tea
Viva Face Tonic Green Tea (Source)

5. To turn powder eyeshadow into paste (to intensify their color) or into eyeliner. Again, the Viva Green Tea Tonic is a favorite since it is so mild and do not sting the eyes (not that it’s ever gotten in my eyes, I think). Another good alternative is Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner.

Kiehl's Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner
Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner (Source)

6. To clean my face. Yup, sometimes when I am staying at home, and my face is not so dirty from the environment, I just use the Burt’s Bees Garden Tomato Toner to clean it, and follow up with a serum, lotion or cream of choice. No water, no cleanser, no cleansing oils. Just this toner, which is very acidic and will break down oils and dirt, so it is ideal for the job. I don’t use this often, though, as it can be drying.

Burt's Bees Garden Tomato Toner
Burt’s Bees Garden Tomato Toner (Source)

7. To dilute thick  body lotions and body butters so they can spread easily, and for this the Viva Green Tea Tonic also works well, as its scent won’t overpower the lotion, and it is quite cheap (since you need quite a bit of it).

8. As a body splash. The local brand toners are so cheap that using them as body splash is not going to break the bank, and they often smell nicer than the body splashes you find in the supermarkets. I like the rose-scented toners from local brands Sariayu and Mustika Ratu for this, as also the Mustika Ratu Sari Sekar Gambir toner, which is jasmine-scented.

I’d love to hear what other uses people have for their toners.


Mustika Ratu Rose toner
Mustika Ratu Rose toner (Source)



Jakarta’s Best Restaurants, my version

A few of my own favorites are below, all of which are basic restaurants with hearty and spicy foods, brisk service and cheap prices. Places where locals go for a hearty meal, and which I’ve personally frequented for more than 15 years. But if you are new to Indonesia, best to visit these places after a few days when your stomach have adjusted to the spicy. And by ‘spices’, I mean not only chilis, but various spices as even the basic Indonesian food can use many types of spices in addition to your basic shallot, garlic and chili. But if you’ve been on the road in Southeast Asia for a while, go forth and conquer!

I’m too lazy to complete the list with addresses and phone numbers; these should be online if you do a bit of googling.

1. Beautika, Hang Lekir (Kebayoran Baru) and Abdul Muis. a Manadonese restaurant serving hot and spicy fares. If you have a strong stomach and tongue, just run with it. With everything. Everything is good and authentic. The Hang Lekir branch has the better selection of deserts and sweets. A place where locals go for a rewarding meal.

2. Tinoor, Jl Cik Di Tiro, Menteng. Manadonese with no reserves (pork, dog, bats galore). Very good pork dishes. Where I go for a rewarding meal. Their food are ready cooked, and served buffet style where you line up to choose what you want, so go a bit early before they run out. Best to go for lunch, as their dinner offerings are pared down.

3. Seulawah, Jl. Bendungan Hilir. Aceh food, almost like a hole in the wall and somewhat suspect from the outside, until the foods start showing up and you wonder why the place hasn’t moved up in the world. Avoid ordering from the ready stock meals in the window, but opt for freshly cooked items from the menu (‘mie aceh’, or the fried birds with lemon leaves (‘burung puyuh’), or if you have the time and energy for it, the noodle with crabs (‘mie kepiting’).

4. Medan Baru, Pasar Baru. Aceh food, again. Very busy, best to avoid lunch hours (come a bit earlier rather than later as things may run out). Basic fare but good, though not something I seek out specifically since it is out of the way of most business travelers. If you’re a fan of picking through a gigantic head of a snapper, this is your place.

5. Daeng Tata, Casablanca road around its Tebet portion. South Sulawesi cuisine. Spacious but basic space, right by a very busy road. They’ve got two locations on either side of the street, almost facing each other, so whichever way you’re going, they’ve got you covered. The barbecued ribs are what it’s about. But the soups are also good, as well as the interesting drink of caramelized Pepsi colas.

6. Lapo ni Tondongta. Senayan or Pramuka branches. North Sumatra Batak food. The barbecued pork is delish. Two servings of that and a bowl food of pork soup will fill you up for a couple of days. A carnivore’s playing ground, though the chopped cassava leaves in coconut milk (‘daun singkong‘) is also a hit with my foreign friends

7. Ikan Tude Manado, Kelapa Gading and Blora. Simply the best Manado seafood in Jakarta (though they also have meat dishes). The corn fritters (‘perkedel jagung’) is a meal unto itself; ask for a freshly fried batch, and you’ll earn respect. Their hot sauces can be very hot (this is one place which can actually make my ears ring), but over the years I think they’ve down-graded their hot-ness (or else, I’ve up-graded mine, ha!). Ask for the ‘rica’ to be served on the side (rather than sloshed on top of the dish) if you’re not sure of your threshold. Otherwise, go wild! Everything is good and they all go well together.

8. Kubang. You will notice there’s a few Kubangs around town; this place originated in South Sumatra and have branched out nationwide though by no means are they all related or within one franchise, and indicate more a type of cooking. They use ‘rendang’, meat cooked in coconut milk and a bucket of spices, for their signature dishes (‘martabak’, fried rice or ‘nasi goreng’, etc). They’re all pretty good, but the place I like is on Saharjo, Tebet.

9. Gado-gado Cemara. Tanah Abang V. Probably the only one on the list that is Javanese in origin. I don’t generally like Javanese food as they are generally too sweet for my taste buds. But this is one is not bad, though I have not been to their new location in Tanah Abang (it’s a bit out of the way compared to their old locations of Cemara and Wahid Hasyim, near Menteng). The signature ‘gado-gado’ is of course worth trying (steamed vegetables in peanut and cashew nut sauce) but my favorite is their Jakartan style lontong (‘lontong cap go meh’), a soupy dish with steamed rice cakes, some veggies, egg, shrimp crackers small and large, etc. Which reminds me I have to visit the new location soon.

10. Bakmi Gajah Mada (Bakmi GM). Many branches in Jakarta. Their signature dish is the bakmi, a noodle dish. They indeed have very good noodles, but their best dish is the ‘pangsit goreng’, fried wonton that is thick, soft and crumbly with no sign of grease at all. It comes with a sweet and slightly sour red sauce, and together they are a match like Ricky and Lucy. Their other dishes are basic but everyone, from toddler to your 90-year old grandma, can find something they like, which is why this is a very popular family restaurant in Indonesia.

Let’s go go go!


Best Indonesian Restaurants in Jakarta (via MSN)

Jakarta’s one (and only?) redeeming factor, I think, is its culinary offerings, so one should take advantage of it to the max. MSN listed the best Indonesian restaurants in Jakarta, which I re-list below along with my comments (only those I’ve tried). Note that I can’t vouch for these addresses and phone numbers; you might need to re-google to get it right.

EDIT: Actually, MSN translated this article from this website, The Culture Trip. MSN did reference the site, but I thought that it clarifies the author’s affiliation rather than indicating the actual article as an outright COPY. Geez MSN. Thanks to beautyintheeyesofbeholder for pointing this out!

    1. Angke Restaurant, Jl K.H.Zaenal Arifin Blok B I/1, Krukut, Tamansari, Tel. 6343030.
    2. Bandar Djakarta, Jl. Pantai Indah Pintu Timur, Impian Jaya Ancol, Tel. 6455472. Specializes in seafood, located on the waterfront inside a huge amusement park complex. Very, very busy during holidays and weekends (thus best avoided if you are anti kids running around, people shouting over the din of kids screaming, bad random person singing on the stage, etc). Food is generally good, just make sure you order very different types of dishes, since a lot of them taste almost the same. But good. You can choose your own dining victims, many of which are still crawling/swimming in the various aquariums. For the food quality and ambiance, the price is surprisingly reasonable, bordering cheap.
    3. Harum Manis, Jl. KH Mas Mansyur Kav. 24, Karet Tengsin Tanah Abang, Tel. 57941727
    4. Ikan Bakar Cianjur, Jl. Cipete Raya 35, Tel. 75900222
    5. Pondok Laguna, Jl Batu Tulis Raya No 45 Pecenongan, Tel. 3459993. Chinese style cooking with great seafood menus. The place is always busy, but they’re very quick and usually efficient, so you should not have too long of a wait unless you have a large group (in which case, reserve and order ahead).
    6. Dapur Babah, Jl. Veteran 1 | 18 – 19,  Tel. 7060 2256. If you’re a novice to Indonesian cuisine, this is a good place. The decor is interesting, the food is delicious in a tame sort of way.
    7. Lara Djonggrang, Jl. Teuku Cik Di Tiro 4, Menteng,Tel. 3160288. This is another best enjoyed for its ambiance, and to impress the newly-arrived foreigners.
    8. Seribu Rasa, Jl. Agus Salim No. 128,Tel. 392 8892. This place is the happy medium between ambiance and taste. The food is delicious and hearty, but not overly sharp. Given the extensive menu, however, if you are a novice to Indonesian food, choosing what goes together well, might be tricky. But mostly, your money will be well spent.
    9. Sate Khas Senayan, many locations in Jakarta, take your pick. I believe this is the first franchise of Indonesian cuisine. Menus have been tried and tested for decades, but honestly they are not too tame. The best value for money in this list, and although there is an extensive menu, dishes generally complement each other well. One could dine here for a few days in a row without being bored.
    10. Sampan Matsuda Sentra. Jl. Teuku Cik Ditiro II No. 1, Gondangdia, Menteng, Tel. 31924617.

The one I would add to the list above is Tesate (Pacific Place Mall, Plaza Senayan, and Menteng). This is the up-market sister of Sate Khas Senayan. There is a twist of western flavors and sensibilities, while keeping the Indonesian characters of the food.


Film mengisi liburan

Gwanghae movieSumber: Wiki

Sebagian besar isi televisi gratis di Indonesia adalah sampah. Tidak menarik, tidak menghibur, tidak mendidik, dst. Most times, it is just background noise for me. Suatu malam di libur panjang Lebaran ini, iseng2 nonton tivi, ada film berjudul ‘Ke Yogya Mencari Cinta’. Akting para pemainnya bagus, alami dan believable. Pemain utamanya Anjasmara (salah satu aktor Indonesia terbaik menurut saya, sayangnya under-utilized) dan Debby Kristy (yang rasanya belum pernah saya lihat dan tahu sebelumnya). Pemain pembantu juga semua aktingnya bagus. Alur ceritanya logis dan cepat; agak terlalu cepat mendekati akhir film tapi dimaklumi karena ada  konstrain waktu. It was a pleasurable few hours, such a treat.

Film lain yang sempat saya tonton di televisi adalah dua film Korea di NetTV. Pertama, ‘Masquarade’ (atau Gwanghae: the Man who became King), tentang seorang entertainer jalanan yang diminta menyamar sebagai raja ketika raja yang sesungguhnya sakit (karena diracun). Ternyata sebagai raja oplosan, dia lebih negarawan dibanding raja yang sungguhan. Aktor utama Lee Byung-hun betul-betul hebat dalam film ini, padahal ini peran pertamanya dalam sageuk (historical, costume movies/drama).  Incidentally, Byung-hun baru saja menikah weekend kemarin dengan Lee Min-jung, aktris Korea juga.

Film terakhir yang memberi kesan, ditonton di NetTV juga, ‘Woochi’ (atau Jeon Woo Chi), sebuah fantasy action movie, versi paling menghibur dari segala macam genre film yang ada. Ceritanya berkaitan dengan monster, seruling, reinkarnasi, dan time travel. Jangan nonton dengan otak kiri, tapi dengan otak kanan (atau terbalik ya, tapi kurleb begitulah). Musiknya bagus sekali, terutama yang ini, cocok untuk mengantar kembali ke aroma kerja setelah liburan 1-2 minggu.

Happy Monday!


Products local beauty brands should be developing

nail polish stash

Having been a faithful and (mostly) indiscriminate consumer of the beauty industry, I am somewhat disappointed that the local Indonesian brands are missing out on a lot of opportunities for growth. They churn out the same products again and again and again (and help me god if i hear another word of ‘khatulistiwa’ in a marketing spin!).

Off the top of my head, these are what we seriously lack:

1. Nail polish

If you’re in the United States or Korea, you’ll find that every makeup brand and their sister has a nail polish line. Indonesia has none, not one. The last time I checked, there are more than 80 million women over the age of 15 in Indonesia. It’s like the whole country of Germany not having their own nail polish: 80 million sets of 20 nails. It is mind boggling.

2. Oil cleansers

If you aren’t using oil cleansers you are a moron. I was such a moron until a few years ago, always feeling that the oils I tried leave too much of a filmy residue, and that double cleansing is too much trouble/too stripping, etc. Until I found my holy grail of oil cleansers, the Muji for Sensitive Skin. I may or may not do a review in the future, but the term ‘holy grail’ should suffice to reflect the gravity of my love for oil cleansers: it cleanses the face with its slimy, slippery goodness, avoiding any tugging, dispenses with the cotton ball (and more tugging), gets into the crevices of your face including inner lash line without stinging (most of the time), and washes away squeaky clean clean clean,with WATER. It is also a repeat buy. Really, beauty brands, YOU. WILL. PROFIT.

3. Mascara

The best mascaras are still the foreign brands, from Maybelline to Majolica Majorca, and everything in between. I don’t understand how it is so hard to make mascara?? Black pigments and some emulsifier, and there you have it. One can even copy the brushes galore. What is so hard? This is also a repeat buy; apart from facial powder and lipstick, it is one decorative item that people are likely to buy a few times a year. It’s a necessity,

4. Primers

It is 2013 and where is my locally-made siliconey goodness of priming apparatus?? Again, what is so hard? Just schlep some silicones, aloe vera what-nots, perhaps even some zinc oxides for sun protection, and there you have it. La Tulipe has an eyeshadow base, praise them, but it’s a wee bit draggy, ensuing in some pulling of the eyelids that we all can do without.

In the last few years, I’ve seen development in the are of sunscreens and eyeliners, so I’m not going to bitch about these. For now. But really, it’s taken you this long, brands? Must I go and develop these myself?!

Anyway, if you decide to make them, and make the profit, you know where to find me. I have more ideas where that’s coming from.

Salah kaprah tentang rambut dan kuku

Seperti kuku, rambut yang sudah ada di atas kulit, adalah sel mati. Mati. Killed. Dead. Apakah benda mati bernapas? Makan? Minum? Ikut lomba lempar lembing??

Bila demikian, apakah berarti tidak ada gunanya dan tidak perlu perawatan? Tentu tidak. Tapi salah kaprah kalau perawatannya untuk memberi nutrisi, membiarkan bernapas, etc. Memangnya dukun, mau membangkitkan benda mati? Plus kalau memang mau dibangkitkan ya mbok yang lain gitu, yg lebih berharga dan menarik misal err…..

Jadi bagaimana perawatannya? Ya tentu apa tujuan yang dikehendaki? I’m a nail polish addict, so my nails are the canvas I need to show off the polish. Jadi harus kuat, keras, dan permukaannya smooth. Kuat dan keras berarti pori2nya harus diisi. Pakai apa, ya macam-macam, perlu eksperimen. Karena contohnya nih, sponge mandi kan berpori-pori sehingga bisa menyerap …sesuatu. Untuk melakukan … sesuatu. Bisa menyerap air, minuman anggur, darah, dll. Kalo tujuan untuk lap jendela, yang mboros banget kalo diisi Sangria kan. Kecuali memang Sangria anti kotor dan kaca bisa bersih berminggu-minggu, boleh deh dilakukan. Or unless you have so much money you don’t know what to do with it.

So it’s a waste to shower nails and hair with nutrients, etc, because they’re dead. Killed.

Nutrisi itu diperlukan sebelum rambut atau kuku keluar dari permukaan kulit (killed!). But that’s for another blog post.