REVIEW: Clarisonic Mia

Living in Dubai is expensive. From property and food to education and clothes, I can safely say that the only things that are cheap here are petrol, cars and Yemeni honey. I’m comparing this with what we were getting – apple to apple – back in Malaysia.

When we first moved here, I had to make do without months of facial treatment and haircut. One-hour plus facials range from AED250 – AED400 (RM252 – RM403). Haircuts for ladies are at least AED150 (RM151) at a non-fancy salon. Let’s not even bring up manicure, pedicure and massages. Even eyebrow threading costs AED15 (RM15) here! Not unlike the pampering tai-tai lifestyle many imagined, right?

I once went for a facial at a salon nearby where I lived. Not only it was very basic, the extraction lacked thoroughness and was painful, and the therapist left marks all over my face. My face didn’t feel and look clean too. Two days later, my skin felt rough again. From then on, I only get my facial done whenever I’m back in Malaysia. Despite diligently putting on scrub and mask every week, my skin gets congested quickly….until I discovered Clarisonic Mia.

My skin condition
Before I share more about my discovery, here’s a brief background of my skin: I’m not born with genes of clear, smooth complexion but I’m blessed with a non-outbreak prone skin despite its sensitivity, large pores and uneven skin tone. I have a combination skin with oily T-zone and dry at all other areas. My biggest concern is the frequent built-up of black/white heads and dead skin cells around my nose, cheeks and chin, making my skin really rough and dull.

Why Clarisonic?
I’ve came across good reviews about Clarisonic cleansing system and have seen them being sold in Sephoras before but never got a chance to check it out until I passed by its pop-up store in Bangsar Village in November 2014. I sat down for the demo, was impressed with the device but didn’t buy it due to the price. After returning to Dubai, I continued keeping a look-out for such similar device from other brands. After months of contemplation and weighing the pros and cons, I finally chose to go with Clarisonic due to one key reason – compared to others, Clarisonic is gentler and doesn’t twist or spin the skin. In what feels like vibration, it’s actually oscillation cleansing the skin thoroughly.

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Compact and easy to bring along for travel

 

Clarisonic Mia
I got my Clarisonic Mia in Malaysia at a promotional price of RM380 during the Chinese New Year season. I chose the most basic model – Mia – as based on my previous experience getting electrical device with various add-on features such as two speed levels, massage function, travel case etc., I would usually end up using its one function. Compared to Clarisonic Mia 2, the Mia model only has one speed level, one year warranty, a charger and a brush head. I have been using it for over six weeks now and have yet to regret not forking out a bit more money to get the higher range. In short, I chose Mia because it is affordable, straightforward and does its job.

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The entire assemble of Clarisonic Mia of is simple and functional.

How to use it?
Wet your face and the brush, apply some cleanser all over, turn on the device and gently move the brush around your face. While in use, apply only slight pressure on the skin. The device automatically stops after one minute. Rinse off the cleanser and follow with your regular skincare regimen.

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Pros
1. Skin feels squeaky clean and smooth after use. Like after-facial kind of clean. After a month’s use, my pores are visibly finer. My skin seems more radiant too.
2. No more rough surfaces around the skin, especially on my chin where the white heads usually gather.
3. My itchy hands like to squeeze white heads out of my pores but ever since Clarisonic, there were less that oozes out.
4. Because it’s waterproof, I usually bring it into the shower with me. Killing two birds with one stone for full-time mums where time is a luxury!
5.  Very economical in the long run considering that the price of one Mia can get me only one facial session in Dubai. It’s great for skin maintenance especially since I can only get a proper manual facial done every 4-5 months.
6. Easy to charge, light and compact to bring around. It’s just like an electric toothbrush.

Cons
1. It’s recommended to change the brush every 3 months. Each brush costs RM93 to RM110. Ouch!
2. Only one year warranty for the Mia model. No problem with mine so far, but still…why one year for this and two years for the rest? Marketing gimmick!
3. Slight skin flare-up at the beginning but once you get the hang of it, you’ll know how to best use it on your skin.

Tips
* When I first started using Mia, my skin reacted to the twice-a-day regimen. The skin around my cheeks itched and flared up. After reading up more about it, I dropped the usage to once every two days and shortened the time used on the affected areas. This trick worked for me. As with everything in life, moderation is key. Once my skin settled, I upped it to once daily – applying slight pressure while using it and concentrating more on areas that require attention.

* The Clarisonic devices are generally more expensive in UAE. For the same product, Mia 2 is AED720 in UAE and RM550 in Malaysia. Not surprised!

* From its official website, it seems that the Mia model has been phased out where the lowest range available now is Mia 2. I don’t see the Mia model being sold in the Sephora stores in Dubai too. However, Mia is still selling in Malaysia. If you would like to get one, head over to one of its store or buy online here.

Disclaimer: This is a non-sponsored review. I purchased the Clarisonic Mia on my own and did not receive any free products or remuneration from any party for this review. The remarks are solely based on my observation and preference, and may differ from yours.

iHerb purchase #7

Since my last post regarding my iHerb purchase #3, I have bought and shipped over four more parcels of goodies from them. My recent purchase was the largest, with 95 items weighing over 32kg in total that they delivered the products in two separate parcels. Don’t worry, I haven’t become an iHerb hoarder (although I’m almost there!). This purchase was a combined order with two other friends here to save on shipping cost via DHL Express – International.

My items comprised around 25% of the order, and I paid US$16.40 for my share of postage. That’s around extra RM2 per product. Not too bad considering I usually pay a lot more for the same amount of stuff.

Two important things I learned from this group purchase or rather, buying from iHerb:

(a) If you’re buying a lot at one go, I’d recommend splitting them into 2-3 orders. Due to the number of items and weight of each box, not all our products arrived in pristine condition. One of the boxes was damp and damaged as a bottle of surface cleaner leaked and spilled all over. The bottle was empty by the time it reached me. Luckily for us, most of the items came in proper packaging except for my chocolate bar which I had to throw away because the solution seeped into it. Upon highlighting this to iHerb, they promptly apologized and refunded the amount for damaged items to me.

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(b) For buyers residing in Dubai, please note that a 5% customs charge is applicable for purchases above US$270 no matter which site you are buying from. I only got to know about this when the DHL guy appeared at my doorstep with an invoice of AED149. Darn…

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REVIEWS
Some of the items were repeated purchase. Here’s a quick review on the products we have used before and are very satisfied with:

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1. Everyday Shea, Shea Butter Shampoo & Body Wash, Calming Lemon-Lavender – Both my kids use this as hair shampoo and body wash. I like that it’s chemical-free, mildly scented and contains really gentle ingredients such as shea butter, lavender essential oil and virgin coconut oil. It also has a hint of salty smell due to sea salt being one of its ingredients but it doesn’t really bother me. In fact, sea salt helps with skin health.

2. Dr. Woods, Shea Vision, Pure Black Soap – If you like the smell of baby powder, you’ll like this soap! Hubby and I use this to wash our face and body. When we go on a holiday, I’ll fill this up in a small container for the whole family to use as its all-natural ingredients made it gentle enough for children too. It’s very multi-purpose and can also be used for laundry and cleaning of dishes, floor, toilet etc. Plus it gives a good value for money because one big bottle (946ml) can last us for more than six months. Highly affordable.

3. Nurture Inc. (Happy Baby), happypuffs, Banana Puffs – Xan loves this. E used to, too! She has tried the strawberry flavour too.

4. Nurture Inc. (Happy Baby), Baked Organic Cheese & Grain Snack – Xan enjoys eating this. I personally like it too. Not much taste but still yummy.

5. Hyland’s, Complete Allergy 4 Kids – I’ve stopped E on anti-histamine medicines and give him this homeopathy remedy whenever he shows signs of allergy. It works to a certain extent if taken consistently until the symptoms subside. However, I recently read that the efficacy of homeopathy remedies will be depotentised if they are placed next to strong-smelling foods or go through metal detectors. Since this is shipped from US, they may or may not go through the machine. I’m giving it the benefit of doubt for now.

6. Nature’s Way, Alive! Whole Food Energizer Multi-Vitamin – Hubby is on his third bottle already. I noticed a surge in energy if he takes this on a daily basis. He no longer appears tired or complains of fatigue. He falls sick less frequent too.

NEW STUFF
I’m always keen on trying new stuff! Below are the other items that I have bought but never tried before:

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7. Amazing Grass, The Amazing Trio, Barley Grass, Wheat Grass & Alfalfa – Thinking to add this in my daily beverages. It was on a very cheap trial price.

8. Chocolove, Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate – Read rave reviews about it. Being a big fan of chocolates, I have to have it!

9. Nurture Inc. (Happy Baby), Organic Baby Food, Gobble Gobble – My emergency food for Xan just in case we can’t find anything for her to eat in London. Very unlikely but better to be prepared. I don’t think she will enjoy this though.

10. Yummy Earth, Gummy Bears, 4 Flavors – I love to spoil my kids once in a while. Since real, sugar-packed candies are a big no-no to me (as if there’s not enough sugar in our daily food!), this is a good alternative.

11. Bragg, Liquid Aminos, Alternative to Tamari & Soy Sauce – I use a lot of soy sauce in my cooking. Giving this a try because it is supposedly healthier.

12. Bob’s Red Mill, Toasted Carob Powder – A friend told me this is a caffeine-free alternative for cocoa powder. Going to bake chocolate cake with this one day and let you know if it tastes the same!

13. ChildLife First Defense and ChildLife Echinacea – These are for E. I decided to switch to this from his regular Nature’s Plus Animals Parade multivitamins which he has been taking and has had many bottles of it. While Nature’s Plus did good for him and lessened the severity of common cold/flu, he’s beginning to dread eating them every morning. Time for a change!

14. Nurture Inc. (Happy Baby), Happymunchies, Baked Organic Cheese & Grain Snack, Broccoli Kale & Cheddar Cheese – Another flavour for Xan to try.

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15. Seventh Generation, Multi-Surface Cleaner, Lemongrass Citrus Scent – My part-time cleaner uses the surface disinfectant I bought here so quickly that I have to look for a cheaper option. I’m not comfortable using those loaded with chemicals so here’s hoping this will work as well too.

16. Badger Company, Sleep Balm, Lavender & Bergamot – Who needs a good night of sleep? Me! I can’t stop the baby from nursing, but I can help myself to snooze better 😀

17. Munchkin, Auto Seat Protector – This is pretty affordable! We bought one in a baby shop but it was the last in stock and they have not replenished it for months.

18. Giovanni, Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Shampoo – I previously tried Giovanni’s Smooth As Silk Deep Moisture Shampoo but didn’t like it as it made my scalp itchy. I didn’t make my hair smooth as silk too. This one has got good reviews, so I’m going to give it a go.

19. Clean Well, All-Natural Hand Sanitizer Spray – It’s alcohol-free, small and perfect for holiday or outings. Handy when there’s no water around. Will be bringing this to London with us.

20. Xlear Inc, Kid’s Spry, Tooth Gel with Xylitol – I’m trying to stay fluoride-free, and since E hasn’t really gotten the hang of spitting yet, it’s better to get something that’s safe to swallow. Just in case.

21. Blum Naturals, Daily Cleansing & Makeup Remover Towelettes – As I don’t put on make-up often, it makes more sense to buy make-up remover wipes than the cleansing solution and cotton pads. I’m currently using Simple but don’t like how dry it makes my skin feel after that. Not easy to remove as well. This is cheaper than Simple.

22. Ecover, Natural Stain Remover – The cleaning solution for lazy people like me.

Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa

When my father-in-law visited us in August, we took the opportunity to go for a quick getaway. We were looking for a destination that wasn’t too far of a drive, family/child friendly and would not break our bank. We settled with Bab Al Shams after asking around and reading some good reviews on Tripadvisor.

Located just 40 minutes away from Dubai, it was a quick, scenic desert drive there. Along the way, we saw signs warning the presence of camels and horses but never once chanced upon them. The resort was situated smacked in the middle of a desert.

Here are some photos taken during the getaway:

Room

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Facilities

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Activities include camel riding, falcon watching, swimming, spa, desert safari and more.

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In a nutshell, it was a relaxing escapade. The service was good and welcoming, the room was luxurious and comfortable, and the breakfast had ample yet exciting varieties (even honey dripping from its comb!). This resort makes a perfect holiday destination for honeymooners and city dwellers looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. As for families, a maximum of two nights is recommended due to the lack of child-oriented activities, especially for younger kids. Otherwise, the Bab Al Shams is overall, an interesting and pampering experience 🙂

TIPS: The rates are cheaper if you book in advance via the resort’s website. There are no eateries around the area, with the nearest mall around 25-30 minutes away. So do bring along your Entertainer vouchers for discounted dining deals at the resort’s restaurants. We had a satisfying dinner at Masala. If you have the budget, go for the famous Al Hadheera desert restaurant!

REVIEW: Nursing Wear part #2 of 2

Based on my brief reviews on the nursing wear available in Malaysia here, I continued the hunt for something stylish yet affordable. I wanted something that flatters and flaunts, instead of something that makes me feel frumpy. I started looking outside Malaysia and chanced upon Ubermums from Singapore.

After careful consideration, I decided to buy these:

Antoinette Duo Lace Dress
Antoinette Duo Lace Dress

Comfortable, chic and easy to wear. The viscose lycra top material conforms to my body and fits me perfectly. To nurse, just pull down the neckline.

Lilyth Eyelet Nursing Blouse - Light Latte
Lilyth Eyelet Nursing Blouse – Light Latte

There’s a zipper at each side as nursing access. I don’t quite like the material as it crumples easily.

Tia Duo Tank - Aquamarine
Tia Duo Tank – Aquamarine

This is very easy to wear. To nurse, just lift up the flap.

UM Nursing Poncho
UM Nursing Poncho

I love Ubermums’ nursing poncho because they are long enough to cover my torso and allow me to lift up my shirt without showing any skin. The fabric is also soft, thin and breathable. I own both the Soft & Stretchy and Lite range, and especially love the latter.

I saved on the postage cost by mailing the items to my cousin who is working in Singapore and had him bring them back to Malaysia. Here’s a rough estimation on postage, as explained by the owner, Edwina:

“For shipment to Malaysia, please refer to the Singpost website. On the left side of the page, click on Select Country and input the weight. A dress is average 270g, and a top is about 180g (these are estimates, may be more or less).

So for example, for 2 dresses and 1 top = 720 g, the postage by Air Parcel 6-8 working days S$16.45. They have options for faster delivery but will be more expensive.”

Service was excellent! I had requested Edwina to have the items delivered to my cousin within a tight deadline as he would be returning to Malaysia that weekend itself. She gladly helped and had my stuff hand-delivered a day before my cousin left. She also kindly offered me a nursing top that is higher priced as the one I’ve initially ordered was out of stock. FYI, she didn’t know I blog or was going to write a review.

Thankfully, the service and quality of clothes remained consistent during my second purchase, comprising another nursing poncho and the following dress for CNY:

Issa dress
Issa dress

Another purchase that fits me well! The polyester spandex material flatters my figure, giving the much needed boost of confidence. It think it would look even nicer if it’s slightly shorter (because I’m vertically challenged too).

► Pros: Stylish nursing apparels that don’t look like one! Although the nursing range comes in stand-alone type and duo maternity-nursing type, the designs are flattering to non-pregnant moms. They are also reasonably priced and of good quality. Price range is comparable with 9 Months, after currency conversion. Service is fast and personalised as well. I’ll definitely continue to buy from Ubermums.

► Cons: It would be good if they have more individual nursing range with more flattering cut, shape and perhaps shorter hem line too for petite moms like me. We mamas like to look hawwwwt! It would be good to offer a flat rate shipping to other countries too.

Tips:
For budget-conscious moms, you may also wear regular clothes such as a blouse and pants/skirt with a nursing bra inside. I find that the highly raved Genie Bra works very well as a nursing bra and is also easy on the pocket too (replica ones are cheap and nice). Just make sure your nursing poncho is long enough to cover your torso when you’re sitting, then lift up your tee, pull down your bra and breastfeed away…anywhere you want! However, if you’re a dress person like me, investing in proper nursing dresses will go a long way!

Have you come across a brand that sells trendy nursing apparels at a great price? Do share your experience!

Disclaimer: The above review is based on my personal observation and preference, and hence may differ from your views and choices. I paid for all of the above items and did not receive any commission, gifts or rewards in exchange for this review.

P/S: For a better gauge of Ubermums’ sizes, the above dresses and tops are in size S. I’m 155cm tall and weighs 50kg.

REVIEW: Nursing Wear part #1 of 2

Over my years of breastfeeding, nursing apparels have come in very handy especially when I was on the move with baby where nursing in public was frequent. My eldest child E was breastfed for 1.5 years. Having witnessed the tremendous benefits of breastfeeding in him, I aspire to breastfeed Xan for at least two years.

I struggled but survived breastfeeding E without a nursing poncho, making do with only several pieces of nursing wear which over the time have shown signs of wear and tear. A search for stylish, practical and affordable nursing wear in the local Malaysian market proved futile – they were either too overpriced, too Aunty-like in design or lack of quality in material.

Here are some local brands I have previously considered or bought from:

Baby Loft

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Pros: I own 3 pieces of the nursing tank in different colours. It’s very easy to wear – you can wear it on its own as a camisole or pair it with a cardigan. It also makes nursing very convenient – all I had to do was unclip either side of the top and nurse.

Cons: Before it started gaining popularity, I used to pay RM40 to RM50+ max for the nursing tank but the price has soared to RM80+ now. Quite steep for a simple tank top like this. Because the paddings are rather thin and wear out easily, nipples tend to show and can be quite obscene/thought-provoking. You may want to replace the paddings with thicker ones.

Spring

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Pros: Good and comfortable material with longer lasting quality. Some are relatively more stylish, though most are simple looking.

Cons: Ka-ching…expensive! I bought this top when it was on 30% off at RM80+. Frankly, I wouldn’t have bought it without the discount; the original price was just not justifiable.

Autumnz

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Pros: Affordable! Each design comes in choices of colour (although boring ones!) and the price ranges from RM29.90 onwards. The variety of designs is relatively more than other brands too.

Cons: Design is rather Ah Soh-like. As if having productive, frequently engorged boobs isn’t enough to make us feel Auntyish, there they go and make our clothes looking frumpy too! The quality of material is poor too. I own 2 pieces of Autumnz nursing wear and both went out of shape after one wash. Sigh~

9 Months

Pros: This brand is probably the only one in Malaysia that offers both affordable yet quality nursing wear. I must say that their maternity range is wider and more appealing compared to their nursing collection. I bought quite a number of my pregnancy clothes there and have been very pleased with the quality. Relatively reasonable price range – not too expensive, not too cheap to the extent of compromising the quality and design.

Cons: I do not own any nursing wear from 9 months, simply because I couldn’t find anything I like despite repeated visits to the boutique. Most of the nursing clothes there double up as maternity clothes, where the cutting and style are more skewed towards accommodating pregnant figures – making them less flattering for nursing moms.

Fabulous Mom

Pros: Another affordable range with almost similar concept like Autumnz.

Cons: This brand is probably the one that offers the most Ah Soh design of all. I really intended to buy a piece or two to try but after browsing through its website again and again, nothing appealed to me. No point buying something I wouldn’t wear at all right? I’ve heard that the nursing bras are comfortable and reasonably priced though.

Stay tuned for part #2 where I’ll be sharing a brand which offers stylish, quality and affordable nursing range.

Disclaimer: The above review is based on my personal observation and preference, and hence may differ from your views and choices. I paid for all of the above items and did not receive any commission, gifts or rewards in exchange for this review.