Best of Beauty for over a Decade

top beauty products over a decade

The true test of quality is when you repurchase an item over and over again for years, despite other similar products in the market. Here are some products I’ve used and repurchased for at least a decade.

1.   Lush Magnaminty

I am a devotee of Lush skincare. I got introduced to the brand when I lived in the US, and at that time, there were no Lush store in the US. I ordered my first batch from Canada, and ever since that first package, I got hooked. There’s a few staples from Lush that I always stock, but Magnaminty, the clay mask+scrub in one, is one that is unique, and I have not been able to find a comparable product in other brands. Sure, there are lots of clay masks around, some with even exfoliants mixed in, and I’ve tried most of the popular ones like Glam+Glow, Queen Helene, etc, but Magnaminty is still superior in its deep cleansing and exfoliating power. Since Lush closed their shops in Indonesia, I have had this ferried to me from numerous cities across four continents. Anyone heading to a city where there is a Lush store will receive a request of Lush goodies by me, and most often Magnaminty is in the list.

2. Lush T’eo Deodorant

T’eo is another one of my staples from Lush. It is a gentle deodorant made of baking soda and lemon+lime concoction, and it’s a great one to be used at home and during days of low impact activities indoors.

3. Burt’s Bees Repair Serum with Attar of Rose

This has been a staple ever since my first encounters with the harsh winters of the north. I had initially thought a heavy duty night cream will work, for my oily face. A few days of that and my skin was peeling. The Burt’s Bees Repair Serum is a saver of a night cream, and I use it from face to neck to decollete. A decade ago, face oils weren’t so much of a trend, and the Repair Serum is one that was affordable and easy to obtain. I still have this in rotation as a night cream, although I rotate that with others. But after trying a few face oils, I still think this one is a winner that hydrates, tones, and protects the skin.

4. Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat

Seche Vite is a fast dry top coat for the nails. I probably got introduced to it around the mid 2000s, and after a few trials and errors with other top coats, fast dry or otherwise, this is the one that I go back to again, and again. Seche Vite really lets me get on with life 5 minutes after I put it on. Some people find it harden quickly in the bottle – well, that’s what it’s designed to do, to harden with exposure to air. The key to keeping it a nice consistency is to drop a bit of polish thinner (I use Seche Restore, but other nail polish thinner will work) in the bottle after a few uses. Don’t wait until it hardens, but just as it gets too gooey for comfortable use, drop some thinner in and shake.

5. OPI Nail Polish

My oldest OPI nail polish was probably from 2003 and it’s still as good as when I got it. The key is keeping them closed tight. Sure, they harden, but nothing that a bit of thinner can not remedy. OPI nail polish are consistent in their formula, have a great variation of colors, relatively long-lasting, priced competitively, and most of all, I love their brush that is perfect in length and width. Perhaps I am just biased because I’m so used to them (there was once a Caroline New York nail polish brand, and I like the brush on their nail polishes as well), but I think the key to a polished nail look is half the color and half the application, so a brush that you like is already half the success.

What are you tried and true products?


Review: Original Source Shower Gels

Original Source shower gels left to right: Lemon and Tea Tree, Vanilla and Raspberry, and Lime
Original Source shower gels left to right: Lemon and Tea Tree, Vanilla and Raspberry, and Lime

Not bathing twice a day is considered an anomaly in Indonesia. I, on the other hand, believe that bathing twice a day is a remnant of a peasant way of life, where one toils in the sun and sweat all day. In this day and age where most middle and upper class existence is climate controlled, there is no reason to do so, especially given impending water scarcity. Ha!

My once a day bath time, however, is sacred to me. It is a pleasant experience that I savor, usually at mid-day if I am working from home, or evening when I run about outside. At any one time I have 5-10 different shower gels in my bathroom.

My favorite shower gels ever are from Lush: ‘Flying Fox’, ‘Solid Death Monkey’ and ‘Slammer’. However the British pound has escalated wildly, and even I don’t fancy $40 shower gels. Which is why I perked up when I saw these brightly packaged shower implements at the local drugstore.

Lemon and Tea Tree Shower Gel
Lemon and Tea Tree Shower Gel

The brand is called ‘Original Source’ and as far as I can tell it is a UK brand manufactured in Thailand. There’s a few variants, and upon taking a whiff in the store, I found the scents very pleasant. The ‘Lemon and Tea Tree’ and the ‘Lime’ shower gels remind me especially of Lush’s Slammer, a mouth-watering zest of citrus. Lime is so mouth-watering that I can feel drool collecting in my mouth even as I am writing this. I also got ‘Vanilla and Raspberry’ shower gel, to round out my purchases. They each cost about Rp30,000; which in Lush-speak barely covers the cost of shipping a bottle from the UK.

Vanilla and Raspberry Shower Gel
Vanilla and Raspberry Shower Gel

A couple of distinguishing features of this brand is the recycled container and the quirky claims. “Ten real zesty lemons” go into the Lemon and Tea Tree concoction, and “forty zingy limes” into the Lime bottle. “Eighty two British sunrises” go into the Vanilla and Raspberry one!

Inspection of the list of ingredients reveals the Lemon and Tea Tree shower gel does contain real lemon (Citrus Medica Limonum) peel oil, orange (Citrus Sinensis) oil, bergamot (Citrus Aurantium Bergamia) oil and tea tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) oil, and they do not seem afterthoughts in the last line of the ingredients list. Whether it is really 10 lemons is hard to assess but at least oils were used as opposed to synthetic  fragrances. The Lime version also lists lime and orange oils, while the Vanilla and Raspberry concoction includes raspberry and vanilla extracts.

Original Source Lime Shower Gel
Original Source Lime Shower Gel

The texture of these shower gels are not thick, and they lather very poorly if you do not use a sponge or washing cloth. The scent is very strong while in the shower, but unlike Lush shower gels, do not last on the skin. The Vanilla and Raspberry gel has something gritty in it, and gives a rather mild exfoliating action.

Original nal Source Lime Shower Gel
Original nal Source Lime Shower Gel

Overall, I am impressed and will be buying more. Their claim of natural scent is justified (with the Vanilla and Raspberry smelling the most ‘synthetic’ of the three), as also the content of real oils.They are not as good as my beloved Lush gels, but for the price, is good value for money.

Have you spotted and tried these?

Lemon and Tea Tree Shower Gel Ingredient List
Lemon and Tea Tree Shower Gel Ingredient List


Vanilla and Raspberry Shower Gel Ingredient List
Vanilla and Raspberry Shower Gel Ingredient List


Original Source Lime Shower Gel Ingredient List
Original Source Lime Shower Gel Ingredient List




Makeup Space-saving Tips for When Traveling


Lush Toothy Tab 'Sparkle'
Lush Toothy Tab ‘Sparkle’ (Source)

The ‘travel’ part of the blog is languishing, I know. But it’s infinitely harder for me to put together travel tales that aren’t overly tip-y or hippy. And I do not want to be giving yet another passé travel tips that everyone knows. Plus I know my happy hippy kinda traveling aren’t for everyone. So finding a balance is hard.

But anyway, I have an overseas trip coming up in a few weeks. It’s a 3-day work thing at a very posh hotel, so I can wear all matter of unpractical finery. However? I will also have to lug more than 30kgs of equipment and supplies for the trip (at one similar trip, my total lug was close to 60kg of 3 separate pieces, all by myself; I still have a thumb that has not recovered from that trip). So I will not have room for much personal luggage. Usually, skincare and makeup take a back seat to shoes, bags, clothes, as I can wear the most unpractical makeup even in the heat of my commute, atop multiple transportation vehicles, anytime. But stiletto booties and lambkin bags? The sterile Shangri-La is their home.

What I do to save space.

1. Lush Toothy Tabs instead of toothpaste

This is the latest of my space-saving gadget. Lush Toothy Tabs are toothpaste in compressed, tablet form. You only need one for each brushing session, so for a 3-day trip I need only 5; heck I’ll even bring one extra to spare. I don’t even bother to take the whole box, just ones that I need, wrapped snug in a paper. Don’t worry that they’ll crush, they’ll still be usable (you actually crush them in your mouth prior to brushing).

2. Your usual skincare, just enough of it

I’m not really a fan of bringing sample sizes of new skincare that I haven’t tried before, even though my skin is a hardy thing. Because I just can’t risk or afford the discomfort when I’ll be busy, and without my usual home arsenals. So what I do can be one of several modi operandi, depending on how much space wiggle room I have. One is to bring skincare in the last vestiges of its life. In fact, whenever I have skincare that I almost finish, I usually don’t use it up completely but leave a few days’ worth. I bring these on trips, and use them up while I’m there. And the packaging waste? Becomes the problem of the host country! Yes it’s a little teeny bottle, but oh so satisfying to know that it’s their problem now.My sister does the extreme of this. She brings used batteries (a dangerous chemical waste) on her trips to first world countries, so that these become their problem.

Another modus operandi is to bring sample sizes of your usual skincare. Well this one everyone knows to do, I guess. What I am not a fan of, is to depot skincare/haircare to travel containers, they risk spilling and oxidation. Well except for shampoo and the Burt’s Bee’s Orange Essence Facial Cleanser, which I do need to depot. But facial creams/lotions/serum? No depoting for me.

3. Don’t lug water around!

Bring as much as solid products as you can (e.g. creams instead of lotions). You don’t want to be lugging water around when you have luggage space limitations! If you need the spread, use it later on damp skin. That’s why I like Lush solid shampoos; these don’t really agree with my scalp in the long term, but for one or two shampooing occasions? They’ll do.

4. Bring makeup in pencil or pen form

I love the fact that all manner of makeup now comes in pencil or pen form: eye and lip products, blush, even foundation! They’re so easy to transport and takes no space at all! I haven’t yet found a good foundation in pen form, but I know they’re out there; I just have to find it.

Burt's Bees Radiance Serum (Source}
Burt’s Bees Radiance Serum (Source}

5. Makeup that are multifunctional

I love Becca’s Beach Tint. They double duty as lip color and lip hydrating apparatus, check color, and eyeshadow base! So is Burt’s Bees serums, such portable size!. I like the Burt’s Bees Radiance Serum for trips, it is amazingly hydrating, yet not at all sticky, and absorbs fast! During trips I use it day and night all over the face, including eyes. Makeup tools are also perfect targets for double or triple duties. I like the Ecotools Retractable Brush, which I use for basically everything except washing the undies (e.g. putting foundation, blush and powder, and touching up). The Beauty Blender makeup sponge is also a key multifunction item that weighs almost nothing!

So what are your makeup/skincare space-saving techniques?



A Zambian Honey Bath

Lush Fair Trade Honey shampoo
Lush Fair Trade Honey shampoo (Source)

Lush fresh handmade cosmetics is a beloved company of mine. I first discovered their products in 2001, buying online from their Canadian website to be delivered to my humble abode in the US. They later set up shop in Indonesia, but closed them a few years ago, unfortunately. I now get mine directly from their UK online shop.

There are products I’ve been using for more than 10 years, and I will review them separately one of these days. Right now I want to alert you to my latest Lush crush: Fair Trade Honey shampoo. I love honey. I drink it daily in my drinks (tea, lemonade, lime juice, etc), use it for masks a few times a month, and pour it over my various breakfast dishes. When I travel, I search the traditional market and bring back jugs and jugs of honey. IF I live a long, healthy live, honey would probably be the culprit. *hear, hear!* So yes, I love honey: the taste, the smell, the golden color, even the dead bees floating in a raw jar of honey.

As a shampoo, this product do not agree with my head, it leaves my scalp and hair too dry for my liking (as most Lush shampoo products). However, as a body wash? This is DA BOMB!!  I got a small bottle to try, and now I am ready for the 600gr of commitment. The scent is an amazing mix of the smokey, sweet and lush. An absolute pleasure in the bath.

A key ingredient in Fair Trade Honey? Zambian honey. It pleases me no end to know that only a few months ago, my honey wast just dangling over some Zambian forest. Lush did a great video on honey harvesting in Zambia here, check it out.

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)