Monday, June 26, 2017

My Current Skincare Routine

I have been getting such nice compliments from random people at the doctors office, friends and family about my skin so I thought I would share my current skincare routine. I've been obsessed with skincare for as long as I can remember, but it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows!  My real passion for the art of skincare blossomed out of a dark period when I hit puberty and my forehead and cheeks blew up with small bumps.  I cried about it to one of my older sisters and soon after that my mom took me to the dermatologist.  The prescription face washes and creams were so expensive so we switched over to Proactiv which luckily, worked like magic for me!  I used Proactiv for about a year and then learned more about my skin and how to keep breakouts at bay! My skin type is combination/oily so blotting is a huge must midway through the day. I have tried countless products, both high and low end, and the list below have been real holy grail items for me.  I hope this list and comprehensive blow by blow are helpful to you in some way!

Cleanser: Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel
Toner: Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater
Serum: Glossier Super Pure
Treatment: Differing Gel (Adapalene Gel Acne Treatment)
Sunscreen: Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen SPF 35
Eye Cream: Skin Laundry Wrinkle Release Eye Cream
Lip balm/everywhere balm: Milk Makeup Hero Salve
Night skin treatment oil: Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate
Moisturizer: Glossier Priming Moisturizer Riche

Step 1: Cleansing

This is a step that I had previously taken for granted.  I used to speed through washing my face to get to "the good stuff" that came afterwards.  Little did I realize that failing to cleanse well (and even double cleanse) makes it harder for the good stuff to penetrate in to your skin - thus wasting your products.  Lisa Eldridge (who is, in my opinion, the #QUEEN of all things makeup and skincare) has a great video on facial massage (link HERE) that I try to do whenever I think of it! This Mario Badescu gel cleanser is great for facial massage because it has just enough slip without being too runny.  Plus it cleanses my skin gently without stripping its natural oils.  I used to look for that squeaky clean feeling when it came to face cleansers but that's not actually what you want if you are looking to keep oily skin in check.  Stripping the skin only makes it over compensate and produce more oil.  I also like that this cleanser has enzymes to help slough off dead skin and make my skin look bright and fresh!

Step 2: Toning

A quick spritz of Mario Badescu's rose water face spray post cleansing and a cotton round are all I need before moving onto serums and treatments.  I like this face spray because it is on the cheap at only $7 per bottle, it smells like roses, it's super hydrating, and its a nice pick me up midday when your face is feeling tired.

Step 3: Treatments/Serums

For day, I use a few drops of Glossier's Super Pure serum formulated with niacinamide and zinc that claim to soothe redness and calm breakouts.  I have been using this for about 2 months now and I really love it.  I have noticed less breakouts and any breakouts that do crop up tend to linger for a shorter period of time.  I like to use it as a preventative measure even when I'm not breaking out!

For night, I use a thin layer of Differin gel, a vitamin A derivative (retinoid) called Adapalene that helps keep pores clean at the cellular level by reducing the growth of keratin on the surface of the skin which can block pores and cause pimples.  One thing to note is this is an all over treatment that you must use regularly to see benefits (it takes between 2-3 weeks to kick in).  Some people may mistake this for a spot-treatment but its really more of an upkeep product to keep your skin clear. Previously only available by prescription, this product was in fact one of the creams I was prescribed back when I first went to the dermatologist in middle school!  I love that they have been cleared by the FDA for over the counter sale and can now reach a much wider market to help everyone battling acne!  It is reasonably priced and the tube lasts a very long time as you only need a small pea sized amount daily.  PSA - you must wear sunscreen when wearing this stuff because it can make your skin very sensitive to burning.  I wear it at night since the sun is also sleeping while this does it's magic on me! Haha

Eye cream is something I use both day and night to help prevent wrinkles and crows feet.  You can never start this step too early in life!  Skin Laundry's wrinkle release eye cream is light and non-greasy so I have been a big fan and will definitely repurchase when it runs out!

Lip balm - something we all slap on at some point during the day and don't even think much of -- but Milk Makeups Hero Salve is so amazing I'm already on my second tub.  I have been known to pick on my face here and there (Tisk tisk) and putting a little of this stuff on the scab helps to heal it quickly without anyone noticing a thing!

Step 4: Moisturizer/oils

I used to think that I didn't really need moisturizer since my skin was already making enough of its own.  However, skipping this step is the fastest way to getting yourself a leathery face (next to skipping sunscreen!).  Glossier's Priming Moisturizer Riche has been such a soothing addition to my skincare routine.  The soft texture and lavender scent is lovely day and night.  I only use a small amount of this stuff as it is quite rich (as the name implies).

Another nighttime fave - Kiehl's midnight recovery leaves me with plump soft skin when I wake up in the morning.  I'll admit I sometimes forget this step - but in the winter months, this is a step I rarely forget!

Step 5: SUNSCREEN!!!

No matter what time of year, the sun is always out (even on the cloudiest of days) so don't be fooled and skip this step.  I wear it everyday and my tinted moisturizer even has SPF in it so I like to think that I'm doing double duty.  Getting my husband to remember to put sunscreen on is another story...I put a tube by his keys hoping he'll slather some on before leaving the apartment (I think it's starting to work!).

Bonus - Pimple Fighters (not photographed above, because I forgot -_-)  the Missha Speedy Solution Antri-Trouble Patches are my absolute favorite along with Proactiv's sulfur face mask!  I swear by both of these whenever I feel the slightest tinge of a pimple coming on, I quickly throw on a pimple patch or a dab of the sulfur mask to fight it into submission!

Et Voila!  That is everything skincare!  If you have any questions or comments please leave them down below -- I love gabbing on and one about this stuff (as you can probably tell from the long post!).

Alexa P.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

IMC: The Mini Metropolis

I'm starting a new series that I'm calling "Inside My Closet" (IMC) where I'll be sharing some of my most used, loved, and highly rotated pieces.  This first installment is dedicated to the Furla Mini Metropolis crossbody bag.  

I remember the first time I laid eyes on it -- we were at dim sum in Flushing and this super chic girl strolled up in her white and green Stan Smiths and a perfectly coordinated emerald green mini metropolis.  I definitely stared way too hard, trying to make out the brand on the shiny silver clasp as she stared down at her phone (probably instagramming, lol -- good thing too, because she would have otherwise noticed me squinting at her bag).  I can't be the only one who's done this, right? 

After months of pining after this bag, I went for the convertible version which allows you to change the flap according to your mood, the days of the week, whenever you damn well feel like it.  I love the versatility, plus it gives my husband an easy way out during Christmas -- there's a huge selection of flaps available ranging from the classic and simple to fur-trimmed and bedazzled.  

I've always been a fan of small bags as I hate lugging around a ton of stuff! It can only fit 5 essentials: 1) wallet (card case size), 2) keys, 3) phone (iphone 7), 4) lip gloss, and 5) compact mirror (I have the BeautyBlender Bloterazzi - obsessed with it, let's save that for another post!).  If I'm lucky, I can get a small concealer and an extra lip product in there too if I'm being greedy!  To sum things up - while this purse is not the one to sneak snacks into the movies with, it's sleek, chic, and the endless possibilities for mixing and matching it to my evolving style make it a staple in my closet! 

What do about you? Are you a big or small bag fan?  Are a you a rare, no bag fan?? Tell me about it in the comments!

Till next post!
Alexa P.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Live on Etsy - AlphabetstewJewelry!

Yay!  The time has finally come -- all 5 styles are now live on my Etsy shop (link here)!  Here's a little preview of what you can expect on the site... ((yes my phone battery is running quite low - that's what happens when you edit photos on your phone!))

First up, the lariat -- it's basically a Y-shaped necklace with a drop chain that you can wear either tucked into your top or out, which ever you prefer. You can dress them down in a t-shirt and jeans or dress them up in a plunging button down shirt or blouse. Lariats come in two different styles: Regular (~21") or Choker (~15").  Currently, only The Shining Star Lariat comes in the regular length while the Ghost Chain Lariat Choker and the Round Link Lariat Choker both come up high on the neckline, sitting just at the base of the neck.

The Skimmers are single chain necklaces that measure approximately 16" and layer perfectly with a lariat of your choice.  I also enjoy wearing skimmers by themselves for a simple understated look.

With regard to the chains - they are made of high quality brass.  I have worn mine in the shower by accident a few times and have not experienced any tarnishing or discoloration.

The Shining Star chain is the boldest of all the chains I work with -- it's bevel cut links catch the light at every turn.  I like to layer this statement making chain with something lighter like the ghost chain skimmer.

The Ghost Chain,which I consider to be my signature chain, is very delicately constructed and features a twisted chain link pattern.  It seriously glitters against your skin; even in dimly lit rooms, this chain seems find the light somehow!

The Round Link is a bit thicker than Ghost and features rounded-off, flat links that almost look like tiny hollow silver coins strung together!

Let me know if you have any questions!  I'll be posting photos of me layering and styling these pieces in different looks.

Happy shopping!
Alexa P.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Update Update Update!!!

It's been a loooong time since my last post and quite a bit has changed since then -- a lot a bit actually!

April 28th marked my final day at my job.  This end date has been set since late last year as my husband and I were planning to move back to California soon after he defended his PhD (April 2nd).  However, as circumstances would have it, my end date drew nearer and we were nowhere close to moving back to California just yet.  Instead of extending my end date - I (along with the loving support of my husband) decided to really call it quits with my day job so I can focus on more creative ventures that I've longed to work on over the past few years and that is to start my own small business selling handmade layering chain necklaces!  Eek!  It's so exciting and scary at the same time to type these words and have them be seen by others because it makes it even more real, but I am so stoked to work on something I'm passionate about.  If not now, then when? #amiright?

I started making jewelry for myself about three years ago and absolutely loved every aspect of it, from design, to going out and selecting my materials, and finally the creation phase (my favorite phase!!).  I made some for friends and family and have lovingly made a few for my mother-in-law to give as presents to her closest friends.  She was actually my very first customer and one of the biggest supporters I've had since embarking on this journey!  I cannot stress enough how meaningful it is to have the support of friends and family as I continue to move forward building up this business!

Two necklaces my mother-in-law ordered from me last Christmas.  
I also painted the packaging and plan to incorporate this service as an option for future orders!
A naturally very reserved and shy person, it has taken a lot for me to come to terms with the fact that my dream job is to create, inspire, and share with people around me!  Whether it's the jewelry I make, recipes or food porn that I share on IG (anyone that knows me, knows I also love to cook), or makeup/fashion tidbits that inspire me-- I just want to pour that all into this blog.  So I'm making moves and going places that make me feel uncomfortable because I'm realizing now more than ever, it is that very feeling that helps you grow and realize your full potential.  I hope you'll join me on this this crazy ride as I open up my Etsy Shop (AlphabetstewJewelry) and begin blogging again.  My pseudonym, Alphabetstew, is a fun twist between nicknames I've been given since childhood (Alphie, alphabears etc.) with 'stew' which is not only a tasty dish that I love, but is made of random odds and ends you can chuck together to make something absolutely delicious, comforting, and warm!

Here's to serving you some alphabetstew as often as possible!

With love,
Alexa P.

Connect with me on my socials below:
Instagram: @alphabetsew
Snapchat: @alphabears

Thursday, September 8, 2016

milk makeup firsts

Milk Makeup is a fairly new brand on the market that caught my eye with their minimal and futuristic looking packaging. Non-fuss, multi-purpose, and over all cool girl vibes are words that come to mind when I think of this brand. 

For some reason, lip products always speak to me first so I got their lip marker in the shade Boss. This is a serious lip stain that doesn't budge. You only get 0.07 fl. oz. for $20 which seems pretty steep, but it could be because you really don't need much at all to get full color pay off. Boss is a gorg red shade that I'm excited to don this fall. 

I also picked up the Hero Salve - a universal skin salve you can use on lips, cuticle, etc.  I meant to pick up the exclusive Urban Outfitter Rose version but I grabbed this plain one on accident.  I have a ton of salves (including the famous Balm dotcom by Glossier) so I'm a little bummed out - but these always come in handy especially during the cooler month which are fast approaching.  I might still go back for the rose salve (addiction to lip balms is I right?)

We shall see how these perform! ✌🏽️

I also love the cute stickers that came packaged with the salve (among other products in the line). The premise of this brand reminds me so much of Glossier just with more beauty product choices/options. If you're a fan of minimalism in your beauty routine - this line may be for you!

Have you tried anything from Milk?  Any recos are welcomed! 


Sunday, January 17, 2016

That winter glow tho

I've been obsessed with keeping my skin hydrated since the temperatures have taken a plunge. Though my water intake is still a work I progress (getting those 8+ glasses in every day is a challenge) - a few skincare products have really made a huge difference!

Some of these are old staples and some are new additions that have really boosted my glow lately! 

1. Mario Badescu facial spray with aloe, herbs, and rose water - this has been a staple in my routine and I've repurchased it about 4-5 times. It smells so fresh and is a great pick me up any time of day. I particularly like to spritz this on after washing my face as a toner before applying serums and moisturizer as it prepares the skin and adds another layer of hydration to be locked in by moisturizer. I also keep a travel size of this in my purse for on the go pick me ups. 

2. Kate Somerville Exfolikate - I got a small tube of this as a sample from Sephora ages ago and absolutely loved how soft and refreshed it made my skin feel. It's effective yet gentle and smells slightly of nutmeg which I love. I use it about once a week when my skin is feeling exceptionally grimey. Not to mention the rest of your skincare products absorb so much better after you've sloughed off that dull layer of dead skin. 

3. Iope Moistgen Serum - this is a new addition to my routine. As I entered my late twenties I figured it was time to add a more concentrated serum. This really feels deeply hydrating without feeling greasy and I've noticed a difference in the texture of my skin in the last month that I've been using it. 

4. DHC deep cleansing oil - this is a real miracle worker for my oily dehydrated skin. I've found that foaming cleansers tend to strip my skin of its natural oils and leaves my skin feeling oiler and tight to the point where it feels uncomfortable to make funny faces! This oil is the exact opposite and washes clean without feeling greasy! This teeny tiny bottle went a long way and I can't wait to repurchase. It removes stubborn waterproof makeup and rinses clean! So in love with this. It's also perfect for facial massage (YouTube "Lisa Eldridge facial massage" for reference). 

5. Elizabeth Arden 8 hour lip balm - with spf 20 this is a purse staple. It's not sticky but doesn't disappear after you put it on which makes it a winner. It has a light ointment scent but it wears off and is basically unscented - which is how I prefer my lip products. 

6. Simple replenishing rich moisturizer - I wear this day and night. It's moisturizing gel like texture agrees with my skin and is suitable for even sensitive skin. It does not contain spf so a separate sunscreen is required for day time (the only con really)

7. Clarisonic Mia 2 - this has been the biggest addition to my routine and I absolutely look forward to using it every night. While some suggest using it only a few times a week, I find that the sensitive bush head used once a day works just fine for me. It has been great at unclogging my pores and keeping my skin happy and ready to absorb all the goodness I mentioned above. Fingers crossed - I haven't had any major breakouts and I really credit that to this cleansing system. 

Another little non skincare gadget I use to stay hydrated is my portable desktop humidifier at work. People pass by my desk and are always curious about it. It's super cute and available on Amazon!

What are your skincare saviours?! Share them below - I love experimenting with skincare :)


Sunday, October 4, 2015

So long Summer, hello Fall...

With summer officially out of the picture, I packed up all my strappy tops, sundresses, and sandals and swapped them for knitted sweaters, coats, and boots. I look forward to this time of year because it means we can dress up again without sweating up a storm!

Though it's getting colder, the crisp air, pumpkin spiced lattes, changing leaves and knee high boots more than make up for it. 

The dramatic change in weather over the last few days (temps plummeted by 20 degrees - ka-ching!) got me excited to pull out my over the knee boots! I'm sure I'll want to curse myself for saying that once winter arrives 😁. I'm loving the look of tall boots for fall and winter and if I had longer legs I would want a pair of thigh highs too. #petitegirlproblems

Sweater: TJ Maxx // Skirt: H&M // Tights: Nordstrom // Boots: Ralph Lauren (Maiya Tall Stretch)
What clothing item or accessory are you most excited to rock this season?