Tuesday, January 30, 2018

January 2018 Shopping Reflections

I hope that everyone's 2018 is off to a good start! This month was shopping-heavy, both as to my closet and as to beauty products. It wasn't even the post-Christmas sales, as most of my items weren't discounted. My shopping-related "goal" this year, to stick to things that bring me more of the "joy" I get from clothing, was something that could easily lead to  indulging. I don't like spring/summer clothes half as much as fall/winter ones, so hopefully I'm less likely to have shopping-heavy months later in the year.

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The biggest purchase this month was from, er, Taobao, which takes some explaining, as it's weird and would be a waste, if it doesn't go well. I can't, in good conscience, recommend others shop there, as it really is the "Wild West", filled with goods from both legitimate, independent small businesses in China on the one end as well as from... brazen violators of copyright laws on the other. (AliExpress and Taobao are both pretty aggressive about removing counterfeit product listings, by the way, but sellers relist frequently, so there's still a large volume of illegitimate business.) My sweater is from somewhere in between those extremes, it's unbranded, though it may be a knockoff, albeit not a very good one, if the celebrity street style photos they've included are anything to go by. Mine is only slightly slouchy and oversized, and lacks that "dramatically oversized for maximum cool factor" look the photos have. With anything on Taobao, shop at your own risk, generally only if there are many positive customer reviews with photos of the actual product, which was true of this sweater. It's also difficult for an international customer to buy direct, so I use an agent called Superbuy, which buys the item on my behalf, has it shipped to their warehouse, and then sends it to me, which gets expensive.

With regards to the beauty purchases, they were brought about by a "perfect storm" of events. A few months ago, I made the mistake of getting a straight perm that completely fried some of my hair. So far, the best solution is the extremely pricey Alterna Caviar Moisture shampoo and conditioner. It leaves my hair relatively knot-free and smooths away the frizz for about two days after each wash, much better results than a few other fancy shampoos and conditioners I tried. I needed a foundation refill. Then came the cold snap earlier this month, which left my skin suddenly dry and irritated, enough to cause additional breakouts, which required adding several products to my dermatologist-mandated minimal routine of the last several months. Predictably, the cold snap lifted and my skin got less fussy almost as soon as the refills arrived. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $287.40)
  • Taobao Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater - $65.00 + $35.00 shipping - I adore this sweater. It's luxuriously thick compared to most US retail sweaters in this price range, and I was pleasantly surprised that I could wear a turtleneck and find it flattering. I usually avoid turtlenecks for fear they'd awkwardly emphasize my chest. One can't generally trust a seller's representations about materials on Taobao, though price can be an indicator. If it's "too good to be true" cheap, then it probably isn't genuine leather, wool, or what have you. I'm not able to conclusively prove this is cashmere, but it feels right and behaves the same way as my other cashmere items. (Among other things, it's moderately quick to pill.) 
  • Mejuri Zodiac Necklace, Libra - $89.00* - This is an indulgence, but I had browsed the site a few months ago and been quite taken by the Zodiac necklaces. They've come in and out of stock a few times since, and I decided to go for it. It's exactly what I expected from the product description and photos, and I'm satisfied with it. 
  • Uniqlo High-Rise Cigarette Jeans - $39.90 - I've previously implied that one pair of jeans is enough for me, including when my old Rag & Bone skinny jeans (similardeveloped a hole in the rear. Since then, I've eaten my words. I'd gotten rid of that ancient pair of sag-prone Uniqlo skinny jeans barely a few months before, because I hadn't worn them out since getting the Rag & Bones, except maybe on a laundry day or two. But I sure missed having my "backup" jeans after the other pair was gone. We have casual Fridays now, and I desperately missed having jeans these past few Fridays. Because I didn't like Uniqlo's current mid-rise skinny jeans, and the petite Gap skinny jeans I wanted were backordered most of this month, I got these high-rise, more straight leg jeans to tide me over. They're different enough that they'll still have a use when I finally have my new skinny jeans, and it's probably good for me to experiment with different jean silhouettes? They run big (I could wear a 26, though I'm a 27 or 28 for the higher cotton content skinny jeans I've been trying), and stretch out a fair bit between washes, though I don't mind because they weren't meant to have a super-skinny fit in the first place. Oddly enough, these don't require hemming on my short for 5'3'' legs, which could make them strangely cropped on others. 
  • Nordstrom Tissue Weight Wool and Cashmere Scarf - $59.40 - Between this and the last  Nordstrom scarf I bought, in silk-cashmere blend, I have a soft spot for Nordstrom's store-brand scarves when they're on sale. This one is very lightweight, but that's adequate for me. I often don't like thicker scarves because they add bulk around my chest. I actually find both the floaty, extremely lightweight silk-cashmere and this wool-cashmere blend similarly warm enough for most temperatures. (Neither is enough for the coldest days, but I deal with those by zipping up my down coat's knit collar, so I don't need a scarf at all.) 

Beauty - (TOTAL: $144.40) 
  • Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Cushion Foundation - $51.00* - I'd been frustrated with my Nars Tinted Moisturizer because I preferred something with a more matte finish, and ended up trying this months ago when my mom bought one during a buy one get one free promotion. This definitely has a matte finish, and is also heavier coverage than the Nars Tinted Moisturizer. The cushion style makes it extremely easy to apply, but it also runs out quickly, maybe after around four months of roughly twice a week use, give or take. It also oxidizes a bit during the day. By all rights, I should have shopped for another foundation instead, because it's quite expensive, but maybe next time. 
  • Alterna Caviar Moisture Duo Set - $62.06* - This is pricey, and the bottles fairly small. My hair is in a strange state, and most of the shampoos and conditioners I've tried are incapable of helping, so one could say I was desperate. I think this could weigh down and cause excessive oiliness in hair that's in good health, but for me, right now, this has been the best thing. Note that it isn't a miracle product, I still have frizzy days, but generally only a full day or two after washing. 
  • CosRx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence - $14.04 - Best price generally from Amazon. This is great for light moisture and soothing skin that's a little prone to irritation due to topical retinoids or acids. It has an odd, sticky texture, which I attribute to the "snail mucin" content. 
  • CosRx Advanced Snail 92 All in One Cream - $17.30 - Best price generally from Amazon. This doesn't add much moisture on its own, and it's more a gel moisturizer than a cream, but it is also good for layering on moisture and soothing skin that's currently prone to irritation due to topical retinoids or acids, on bad days where the weather and climate have exacerbated dryness and irritation. Like the snail essence, this also has an odd sticky texture.
* Includes shipping and/or sales tax. For both Mejuri and Taobao purchases, shipping ends up particularly expensive. 

Did you find much in the post-Christmas sales? Do you also change up your skincare routine in the winter? Have you, er, ever shopped from Taobao, and/or it's more accessible cousin, AliExpress? I think those platforms are mostly fine so long as one isn't buying from copyright/trademark violators, but I don't know if everyone would agree. In any case, many random, unbranded items on Amazon, say, most of those acrylic makeup storage drawers, are from similar China-based sellers (or from US-based sellers who got their product from said China-based sellers). 

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