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Beauty, Reviews

Review – TonyMoly Face Masks

August 24, 2016

TonyMoly face masks If you’re just venturing into the world of face masks, trying to pick a mask to begin with can have you wanting to quit before you start, with some masks reaching $30 for one sheet and touting ingredients you’d never think to put on your face. With Tony Moly’s face masks, you can put one foot in the Korean beauty world and another in the world of face masks simultaneously.

In this review, I’m giving you my overall impression of TonyMoly’s I’m Real face mask line so you can make an informed decision about where to start. With most skin care products, it’s generally best to try them for 2-4 weeks before coming to a conclusion, but I’m giving you my second (twice used) impression of their line. They have so many different face masks; some of them really stand out, others I would never use. I list my favorites and why below for you:

face masks Aloe Vera Moisturizing Mask – Smells good, subtly of aloe vera. My skin definitely doesn’t feel dry, and the mask leaves a nice glow without making your skin feel sticky or heavy.

face masks Rice Clear Skin Mask – No smell to the mask, but I wouldn’t expect much of a scent from rice so no surprise there. I’ve been using the whole I’m Real series about twice a week so far and have noticed that my skin has been much more clear and the zits I do get are smaller and fade quickly.

face masksAvocado Nutrition Mask – I love anything with avocados, so naturally I was psyched to put them on my face. Avocado is great for your skin, using it both from within and without.

face maskTea Tree Skin Soothing Mask – Tea tree is an important and versatile ingredient in skin care. This mask mixes tea tree and banana to calm irritated skin and it leaves you with dewy, refreshed skin, which is all I ask for in life. 

face masksRed Wine Pore Care Mask – This is one of my favorite masks so far because you’re immediately made aware of the rich grape smell it has. Though it smells more like grape juice than wine, it’s a pleasant accompaniment to the mask. Don’t expect it to minimize your pores; there’s no face mask currently available to my knowledge that can do that. Keeping your skin clear does help prevent enlarged pores, which I think this mask can help with. It also left my face looking brighter and more radiant.

face masks

These are the masks from Tony Moly’s I’m Real series that I’ll definitely be buying again. The masks are super reasonably priced and are worth it for the results they give. You can start trying them all out here. It’s so relaxing to come home and unwind while still doing something beneficial for your skin. These are the perfect face masks to create a habit of giving some extra love to your skin.

Have you tried any of the I’m Real face masks from TonyMoly? Let me know how you like them in the comments!

Salome Luna Gemme

Beauty, Fashion Files, Reviews

What is Olaplex and Does It Work? Review + Instructions

July 27, 2016

Olaplex

By now you’ve probably seen enough instagrams of long, shining hair dyed any number of beautiful colors partly attributed to a product called Olaplex. I’m constantly looking for the miracle product that will give me strong, frizz free hair; moroccan oil? My hair laughs. Coconut oil? A modest effort. Every deep conditioner under the sun? Small changes that still leave me feeling guilty every time I dare to think of the next color I might dye my hair. 

Olaplex is a league apart from these remedies though. Chemist Craig Hawker’s only contribution to the beauty world, Olaplex was developed in one night after consulting with beauty industry entrepreneur Dean Christal and basically, if your stylist isn’t using Olaplex, it’s time to break up. 

Some Examples Of Magic Made With Olaplex (all by the amazing biancacolours)

 

 

A photo posted by Bianca Hillier (@biancacolour) on

 

A photo posted by Bianca Hillier (@biancacolour) on

 

A photo posted by Bianca Hillier (@biancacolour) on


 
When used in salons, Olaplex is a two part system that minimizes breakage when coloring hair by fusing the broken bonds that result from coloring back together. The first step in the process, No. 1, is mixed with the color that will be applied to hair. After rinsing the color out, No.2 is left on for at least 10 minutes to do added damage control.

Your hair is partly made up of disulfide bonds. Hair coloring and heat styling can break these disulfide bonds, resulting in the brittle, weak hair we try to avoid. Olaplex works by creating new disulfide links between two separated sulfurs, resulting in hair that appears as though it was never damaged (rather, that it’s disulfide bonds were never broken). LabMuffin broke down the science of Olaplex perfectly if you’re craving a more in depth explanation.

How To Use It At Home

Olaplex No.3 is sold as an at home version of No. 2. The only difference between them is potency; No. 2 is a 15% concentrate while No. 3 is 12.5%. Naturally I had to go big or go home, so I got my hands on No.2 and gave it a try. To use both No.2 or No.3, shampoo your hair as normal and then towel dry it well. Take the product and comb it through your hair, making sure to spread it throughout your strands generously. Leave it on for at least an hour; two hours if your hair is particularly damaged. Rinse the treatment out and shampoo and condition as usual. You’ll notice immediately how silky your hair feels as you rinse Olaplex out.

Is It Worth It?

Hell yes. I immediately saw a difference in my hair; it was shinier and felt smoother but there was no residue or heaviness left behind. My hair is past the middle of my back and I had about 3/4 of the bottle left after one use, so I find it definitely worth the price. Olaplex truly is the miracle product we’ve been looking for.

Scoop up Olaplex No. 3 or No. 2 and let me know how it works for you!

Salomé

Beauty, Reviews

Mario Badescu Healing & Soothing Mask // Cucumber Tonic Mask Review

May 17, 2016

Mario Badescu MaskI’ve been wanting to get my hands on some of the face masks from the Mario Badescu line and finally found the right opportunity during Ulta Beauty’s 21 Days of Beauty sale, where I happily scooped up two masks at a comfortingly discounted price. The packaging is minimal with a very dermatologist grade style of labelling, similar to Kiehl’s. The top stays on tight, so no worrying about spills if you toss it in your luggage. 

cucumber tonic mask

Cucumber Tonic Mask

The first mask I tried and also the first of any Mario Badescu products was the Cucumber Tonic Mask.

Peeling back the seal, the first thing that strikes me is how liquid-y the mask is; it swirls around in the jar and could easily be poured out like a milkshake, a notable difference from the usual paste like masks I’ve encountered.

The scent is gentle but still fragrant, smelling more like a spa than cucumbers. You don’t need a lot of the product to throughly cover your face, so don’t be put off by the small sized jar. Within 5 minutes of applying the mask, you’ll feel it satisfyingly tightening on your skin. This Mario Badescu mask is made with cucumber extract to calm sensitive skin and clay, which is great for absorbing oil and keeping pores clear. Everyone should have a reliable go-to clay based mask in their arsenal.

The application instructions state you should apply a thin layer to clean skin and leave it on for 15-20 minutes, 2-3 times a week. I apply it for 20 minutes, twice a week and my skin has been relatively clear since I’ve been using it. As with most skin care products, it’s hard to get a true sense of how useful a product is without using it for several months while not changing anything about your skin care routine, diet and location, as all these affect your skin. But a great sign is that I haven’t had any breakouts while using it.

 Rating: ✯✯✯✯ (4/5)

Healing And Soothing Mask

mario badescu maskThis Healing And Soothing Mask from Mario Badescu is great if your skin gets irritated or dry. The oatmeal in this mask helps to calm and heal skin while also moisturizing. There’s no noticeable scent that accompanies the mask, so if you prefer less fragrant products this would be more your style. The consistency of this mask is much more creamy and thick than the Cucumber Tonic Mask, though I found I needed a little more product to actually cover my face with it than I did using the other mask. There’s no tingling or tightening that follows application of the Healing And Soothing Mask, you’re more likely to forget you have it on once it dries.

I leave this mask on for 20 minutes and use it about 1-2 times a week. The Mario Badescu Healing And Soothing Mask definitely leaves your skin feeling moisturized and calmed. However, this mask is straight up difficult to take off, as it doesn’t just wash off. You really have to scrub it off with the help of a cleanser or use a wash cloth. I avoid products that more easily leave residue because it doesn’t matter how many miracles a mask works if it stays on your skin and clogs your pores. While I enjoy other aspects of this mask, I won’t be purchasing it again until Mario Badescu re-works their formula to make it less difficult to wash off.

Rating: ✯✯ (2/5)

 You can grab the Healing And Soothing Mask plus the Cucumber Tonic Mask from Amazon.

I’m really excited to try out more products from the Mario Badescu line because I’m fairly impressed so far. What the Healing And Soothing Mask lacks, the Cucumber Tonic Mask really made up for. Have any of you tried their masks before? Let me know how their products have worked for you or if you’re thinking about giving them a try soon in the comments!

Salomé

Foodophiles, Reviews

Kebab Indian Restaurant in Miami – Review

September 3, 2015

Miami in RestaurantMy version of comfort food is Indian cuisine that I don’t have to cook myself for a change. While Miami is a budding foodie haven, sit down Indian restaurants are not yet in abundance so I was thrilled to drive by Kebab Indian Restaurant and add it to my list of places to check out. A rarity in Miami, this spot has been around for over a quarter of a century, first opened 1976.Miami RestaurantMiami RestaurantThis is one restaurant in Miami you can feel comfortable eating at while wearing flip flops. While it’s a casual atmosphere, Kebab Indian Restaurant would still be a chill place for a family dinner. Opting only for older Indian songs played at a low volume, this place doesn’t push an overly stimulated atmosphere. Their decor is not overbearing but it also leaves a little to be desired.Miami RestaurantMiami RestaurantMiami RestaurantMiami RestaurantI’m all about the appetizer menu and so is Kebab Indian Restaurant. There’s a large, varied selection and vegans or vegetarians can easily eat well here. I went with vegetable samosas (how could you not?) and bhujia, which are spiced vegetable fritters. While the bhujia was underwhelming, the samosas were perfectly cooked to give them a crunchy, flaky exterior.
Of course the first thing I ordered when I stepped in the door was a cup of masala chai, but sadly I think this restaurant has curbed the spice of their dishes to fit the palate of their usual customer base. This isn’t really a bad thing if you prefer less spicy dishes or don’t usually eat Indian food, though you can probably just ask them beforehand to spice your food up.Miami RestaurantMiami Restaurant Miami RestaurantThe goal is to always order enough food to fill the entire table, which is never hard to do at a restaurant in Miami. I made sure it happened by ordering coconut vegetable curry with a side of vegetable rice plus aloo naan (bread stuffed with spiced potatoes) and my boyfriend had malai kofta which came with a side of rice. My dish was a little less flavorful than what I expected, but it was good and filling nonetheless. Both of our curries came in awesome portions and the aloo naan was soft and addicting. 

Recommended Dishes

  • Aloo Naan
  • Vegetable Samosa
  • Mushroom Bhajj
  • Malai Kofta
  • Gulab Jamun (little puffs of heaven really)

Miami RestaurantMiami RestaurantCan I just do dessert reviews? My favorite part of the meal is whatever comes from the dessert menu and Kebab Indian Restaurant delivered on the sweets. The kulfi (Indian ice cream) was traditional and great, but the gulab jamun was out of this world amazing. Sure, I’m probably completely biased because I really love this dish to begin with…but this restaurant served them with just the right sweetness and a soft, crisp but spongy texture that is so central to gulab jamun. If you’ve never actually had this dish, gulab jamun is a juicy, deep fried pastry with honey syrup and rosewater. It’s time to stop depriving yourself!Restaurant in Miami

✯✯✯ (3/5)

This is the type of restaurant you will leave satisfied from. It’s not overly decorated, there aren’t any fusion/novelty dishes but the food is good, the portions are large and it’s priced fairly. If you’ve yet to try Indian cuisine, this is the perfect restaurant in Miami to get acquainted with its goodness. If you regularly eat Indian dishes like me though, you’ll find their food lacking in the robust flavor we’re accustomed to. The service here was what good service should be – friendly, helpful waitstaff who are attentive. Kebab Indian Restaurant also does take out, which I’ll drive out of my way for on certain lazy occasions, but like I said, this is the best comfort food there is.

Salomé

Foodophiles, Reviews

Waffle-era Tea Room in San Juan – Review

August 12, 2015

Restaurant in San Juan

The first morning in a new city is purely a mission to find the perfect breakfast spot. Luckily Waffle-era Tea Room is a centrally located restaurant in San Juan so it was easy to find. This quaint brunch spot served as my go-to breakfast place for most of my time in San Juan so I had to share it with you guys!Restaurant in San JuanRestaurant in San JuanRestaurant in San JuanRestaurant in San JuanThe open floor plan in Waffle-era is welcoming and lends just the right amount of casual lightness that a brunch place ought to have. They have a neutral color scheme with an understated antique decor that doesn’t beg for attention and lets the food take center stage. Dishes are made from a kitchen with glass paneling that makes it easier to stare in anticipation while trying to guess whether that’s your order they just finished making. It’s okay, we all do it. 

Restaurant in San Juan

Salmon Breakfast: manchego cheese, smoked salmon, egg, cherry tomatoes & capers

Restaurant in San Juan

El Caneloide: pecans, cinnamon, cream cheese & maple syrup

Restaurant in San Juan

Pami’s Breakfast: yogurt, granola, cinnamon, honey (or maple syrup) & berries + added fruit

Restaurant in San Juan

Custom dish: smoked salmon, capers, manchego cheese, cherry tomatoes & chives

Waffle-era serves either half or whole waffles, encouraging you to order two different halves – which I happily obliged. Every dish I tried was delicious and showed an expertise in melding flavors together. I judge dishes topped with ingredients like bacon or cheese harshly; mistakes and lack of creativity can easily be hidden under heavy flavors and I’m not impressed by an otherwise ordinary dish smothered in cheese or bacon (not that I’d ever eat bacon). Both their savory and sweet waffles were creations a chef should be proud of, as well as meals that would have me back the next day. Dubbed the “foodie-schoolhouse” by its creators, Waffle-era gives you the option to build your waffle from scratch by experimenting with a large list of ingredients to choose from. It’s nearly impossible to make a bad waffle so you get to play chef without risking your meal! While not being the most vegan friendly restaurant, vegetarians won’t have much trouble here.

Restaurant in San Juan

Restaurant in San Juan

Ceylon Coconut Tea

Restaurant in San Juan

A truly great tea room is a rare find, and I definitely didn’t expect to find one that also happened to serve amazing waffles, but Waffle-era Tea Room is just that place. With over 30 organic whole leaf and herbal teas that can be ordered hot or cold, you’re bound to find something you love and something you’ve never ever heard of. I tried out their Ceylon Coconut, hot of course because I can’t have my tea any other way. This tea is a blend of Ceylon Black tea with coconut shavings added to the cup. It was perfectly brewed and had such a smooth flavour to it; I wish I could’ve taken it home with me! Restaurant in San JuanRestaurant in San JuanRestaurant in San JuanRestaurant in San Juan

✯✯✯✯ (4/5)

This is one restaurant I do and don’t wish I lived a block away from. It’s probably best for my waistline this restaurant in San Juan is not next door to me because I would have no self control…plus they’re just a bit on the pricey side. But whenever I’m back in Puerto Rico I know exactly where I’ll be having my breakfast.

Salomé

Reviews, Wanderlust

Hotel El Convento in San Juan – Review

August 5, 2015

San Juan HotelSan Juan HotelSan Juan HotelSan Juan HotelSan Juan HotelThere’s no missing Hotel El Convento. This San Juan Hotel was first opened as a monastery in 1651, El Convento was, as it’s name suggests, a convent. 252 years later the nuns left and the location began operating as a hotel in 1962. As you enter the hotel and follow the classic black and white tiled hallway further, the courtyard appears before you like a serene and verdant oasis. The open-air hallways on every floor offer a view of the flourishing níspero fruit tree from Spain that’s been growing in their courtyard for 300 years. If it wasn’t a hotel, El Convento would definitely have been on your list of museums to visit; it’s actually the oldest member of Historic Hotels of America. Hotel El Convento has preserved the aesthetic of Old San Juan so that you can live it for yourself…“with all the luxuries of today,” as their motto goes.Hotel El ConventoHotel El ConventoHotel El ConventoHotel El ConventoThe decor in Hotel El Convento deserves a 5 star review of it’s own. Keeping in line with the Spanish colonial architecture of Old San Juan, El Convento is adorned with mahogany beams, handcrafted decorative tiles that lead you up stairs, luscious tropical plants, dangling vines and richly colored Andalusian tile floors that emanate the comfort of home most hotels lack. For art lovers, the hotel can serve as a miniature gallery where unique pieces remind you of it’s history and one floor to ceiling mural will have you craning your neck around to observe its details. It was refreshing to see one of my personal peeves about the sanitized art often used in hotels fully blown away.Floral Pattern DressHotel El ConventoSan Juan HotelSan Juan HotelI try to keep my surroundings as green as possible, despite my history as a serial plant killer. Hotel El Convento keeps it effortlessly tropical, with plants lining their many paths. I love greenery, but they take it to a whole different level with their in-house herb garden. Located on the second floor, you can wander through the open patio full of aromatic herbs destined for one of the hotel’s three restaurants. Also a prime insta-photo spot; you’re welcome!
Hotel El Convento is the perfect look out tower for Old San Juan and the bay. While their pool is not one you’ll be doing laps in (it’s a plunge pool), it and the jacuzzi are nestled amongst bright yellow flowers and thick shrubbery on a sizable terrace that offers memorable views of the city and San Juan Bay. Without a doubt, this was my favorite place to lounge around. Make sure you take a camera and watch the sunset; it’s a gorgeous sight. San Juan HotelSan Juan HotelSan Juan Hotel

When you travel often, there are a few basic things you need in a hotel room: a comfortable bed, complete silence, and soft towels. Hotel El Convento gave me all of that and way more. The rooms are intricately decorated with handcrafted furniture, marble bathrooms and every room has classic Spanish louver doors that open to Juliet balconies giving a view of either the San Juan bay, the charming city streets or the lively town square. The hotel retains much of it’s original architecture and effortlessly blends modernity into this antique atmosphere. A heavy wooden door opens up to your room, but a second see-through, soundproof door transforms the room into a peaceful and intimate abode, still allowing for the night owls among us (myself included) to hang out in the cozy sitting areas in front of each room on the open air hallway. I can only speak for the “Queen Deluxe” room, but hopefully Hotel El Convento will invite me back to expose the splendor of their Gloria Vanderbilt Suite. Hotel El ConventoSan Juan HotelSan Juan Hotel

✯✯✯✯✯ (5/5)

I’m always looking for gemmes to share with you guys, and Hotel El Convento is definitely one. Not satisfied with simply being included, El Convento was named the premier Small Luxury Hotel in all of Puerto Rico and I doubt any of it’s visitors would disagree. There are many details that make up the perfect trip and where we recuperate from all day exploration and reflect on the experiences we’ve had is an important one. Hotel El Convento not only provides a place to unwind from a trip but actually offers an experience in itself to add to your trip. Check them out; this is the type of hotel you remember, mainly because you’ll be eagerly thinking about the next time you can return.

Salomé

Foodophiles, Reviews

Kabul Restaurant in Prague – Review

July 22, 2015

Restaurant in Prague

As usual I was late. It was already 10pm and I was getting food-angry looking for a restaurant in Prague to have dinner at. I finally ended up at Kabul because they were basically the only place in Staré Město with a kitchen that hadn’t closed 5 minutes before I walked in. Kabul’s hours are a dream: 11:30am to 11pm, 7 days a week.

Let’s start out with my initial thought when I remember Kabul; “I can’t wait to go back.” 

Restaurant in Prague

The Atmosphere

An easy to find location, Restaurant Kabul greets you with a modest entryway over which a creative sign made to look like an Afghan rug lets you know you’ve found the right place. I wasn’t sure what to expect at the bottom of the narrow staircase that leads you into the restaurant but by this time I didn’t care as long as they were serving great food. Stairs have a way of making surprises that much more surprising and the effort and attention to detail that’s been put into Kabul Restaurant’s dining area was a pleasant one. They’ve crafted a warm, friendly and particularly unique atmosphere with richly patterned cushions and layers of famous afghan rugs throughout the restaurant. It’s great to see a culture expressed without becoming kitsch about the decor as some restaurants do. Plus the servers are helpful and actually seem to enjoy interacting with customers, which is always nice right?Restaurant in PragueRestaurant in PragueRestaurant in Prague

The Food

The owner’s wife is the chef at Kabul, and she really adds the comforting sense of a home cooked meal to every dish, something that’s very welcomed when you’ve been traveling a while. Restaurant Kabul’s sign offers you kebabs and pizza; there’s no pizza on the menu but there are plenty of kebabs. This isn’t the quicky kebab stand on the corner though, Kabul is more upscale than not and probably left the pizza but not the sign behind at their previous, smaller location.
Portions are fair, the food is served very quickly and is moderately priced ($$/$$$$). It’s not like you’ve had much Afghan food anyways so give this restaurant in Prague a try; Kabul offers a good variety of main courses and plenty of delicious side dishes. Definitely vegetarian friendly, vegans will struggle a bit but can also eat here with a little negotiating of the menu. 

Check out the full menu here.

Recommended Dishes

  • Mains: Bolani, Dal, Roast Zucchini
  • Sides: Roasted Potatoes (with yogurt dressing), Chalau, Afghani bread
  • Dessert: Ferni (it’s A+)
Restaurant in Prague

Ferni and Baglawa

Restaurant in Prague

Dal and Chalau (spiced Basmati rice)

Restaurant Kabul: ✯✯✯✯ (4/5)

With some restaurants you can feel the pride and effort their owner has put in and it makes for a genuinely enjoyable dining experience. Kabul is that restaurant and I hope it’s around for a long, long time. Like I said, I can’t wait to go back.  Give Prague’s only Afghan restaurant a try and drop your own mini review in the comments for me.

Salomé

Reviews

Blue Moon Hotel in Miami – Review

May 6, 2015

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Miami HotelI jumped at the chance for a staycation in my city of Miami at the beautiful Blue Moon Hotel. I was searching for a Miami hotel that was less club, more lazy pool lounger and I knew I found the place when I scoped out Blue Moon’s worn wooden floors, pristine white walls and furnishings that invite you to unwind in every corner of every room. Blue Moon is a boutique hotel that gives off the feel of being at a private beach estate. The relaxation begins as soon as you enter this modernized art deco building, where you’re greeted by the most helpful and friendly staff imaginable; it feels like you’ve just arrived at a house full of good friends.
Miami Hotel

Location
You’re just a 5 minute walk from everything you could want; the beach is a block away, the hotel is surrounded by restaurants, bars and clubs. As a native to Miami, I can vouch that this hotel is well located. Just know that you’ll probably need the $25/day valet service for your car because parking is limited and pricey.

Miami HotelThe Room
You will have serious trouble getting out of bed in the morning. If I could steal a mattress, it would be from the Blue Moon Hotel. My only regret is not investigating where they get their pillows. I’m a picky sleeper; I need graveyard level silence, cushions like clouds and I better not end up on the edge of the bed. This Miami hotel gave me all of that. The only real issue was an unresolved key card malfunction (partly unresolved because I left before it became a problem).

Miami HotelI stayed in a queen room, which was just large enough to enjoy and not feel boxed in. The overall decor is neutral and contemporary. As a total glutton, I did regret the lack of a refrigerator. The bathroom, however, was exquisite. Even the toiletry products offered were actually worth taking home, though put lavender or mint in anything and I can’t resist it. Room rates start at $139/night.Miami Hotel

Amenities
Yes, there is a pool! It’s a comfortable size for a boutique hotel and lends a much needed air of calm intimacy to contrast the constant movement of Miami. Miami HotelThe Blue Moon Hotel offers concierge service, a 24 hour front desk, valet parking and an in home bar that serves craft beer. The restaurant has a well curated selection with a colorful breakfast menu (pork belly benedicts, rock shrimp & stone crab omelets, Cuban paninis and Rice Krispie-crusted French toast) but no vegan options and not vegetarian friendly overall. Miami Hotel

 The Blue Moon: (4/5)

I would happily stay at this quaint, comfortable hotel again. The Blue Moon hotel is the perfect choice for a tranquil stay in a wild city. Have a look; this Miami hotel helps to make your trip as comfortable and relaxing as possible.
Miami Hotel