Summer Skincare

My favorite skincare for summer plus reviews of Erno Laszlo!

During summer, additional skincare concerns crop up: blackheads, sunburn, etc. The weather is hot and applying skincare seems heavy to the skin. Here are some easy products to use that get the job done quick and will keep your skin looking great all summer!

For getting rid of blackheads, while living in Japan, I learned a method that they use to keep their skin clean, bright, and moisturized:

step 1: pat your face with a hot towel, carefully, so as not to burn your face. This will open up the pores so that the dirt in them can get dislodged. You can heat water and dip a clean towel in it to heat. Squeeze out some of the hot water and pat face. Your face does not have to be wet and you do not have to pat your face for too long maybe 2 or 3 minutes.

step 2: your face shouldn’t be wet (you can pat dry excess water), then put some cleansing oil on your hands and rub in circular motions on your face. Cleansing oil is a Godsend for Asian skin and people who have blackheads, dry or super oily skin. The reason is that cleansing oil deep cleans but also moisturizers your skin, and depending on the type it can have other effects. Down below are my favorites:

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Sekkisei cleansing oil. I’ve been using this product for years. It used to be sold at Bath and Body works. It brightens the skin and makes it soft and shiny. This is personally my favorite. They have a new version for 28$ Can order online in the U.S.
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As per Tory Burch’s recommendation (she’s in her 50s but looks 30), I tried the cleansing oil and it’s amazing. Tory Burch uses the sea mud cleansing bar from this brand and I got it for my mom and she loves it! This travel set, with a small cleansing oil and sea mud bar, retails for 28$ and lasts a long time.
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Tatcha Cleansing oil, pricey but works! Lasts a long time.

step 3: a final step to take, after rinsing off the cleansing oil is to use a clay mask to further clean. I would only use a clay mask once or twice a week. However the hot towel + cleansing oil routine you can do once a day. I usually do cleansing oil at night, and use a much gentler cleanser in the morning. A long time favorite clay mask is the Lancome white clay mask. It used to be 20$ now it’s 36$ (boo) but it works! I’ve also tried the Borgese clay masks they come in big jars and make skin soft/supple. A little pricey though. But there’s also clay masks from Korean brands that may be more affordable. Check out sokoglam.com for affordable Korean skincare!

Next for summer: Don’t forget sunblock! My favorite sunblocks are Japanese, and if you are lucky enough to be able to buy affordable Japanese sunblock, please let me know your source! Otherwise try my favorite: Shiseido sunblock in spf 50. It has to be spf 50. That will provide ultimate protection from sunburn. I like the milky texture as it makes it easy to apply (there’s also a cream version in a smaller container that’s around 20$). It will give a white sheen to your face but should sink in. It’s easy to apply makeup or other products on top. This product is also recommended by Tory Burch. You can just apply this product and head out for the day, but I recommend putting on some kind of light toner/moisture before hand. It’s very important to do deep cleaning and remove it as soon as you get back indoors for the day, as sunblock can block pores. Your other options are a sun hat, sun gloves, sun umbrella (women in Asia use them, why did American ladies stop? lol), or you can use a car shade (sometimes you can use a child car shade does the same trick). Another option is to use mixed products like sunblock plus foundation, (such as by Laneige with spf 50 foundation compacts), but I’m not sure how resistant they are to sweat.

During the summer the skin can get dry but who wants to have heavy lotions on? You can use a light moisturizer such as an emulsion, like one from Laneige. An emulsion is like a lotion but lighter. Any Korean one should do. You can opt for the Mizon snail cream. It’s light but has so many added bonuses. It’s one of my favorite moisturizers right now. Also if you need touch ups through out the day you can use the Inglot face spray. I have searched high and low for a face spray that isn’t 30$ plus that doesn’t have alcohol (it’s 10$). I actually discovered this product in Milan and love it. Also good for setting makeup. Otherwise you can make your own spray too with rose water, for example. I love homemade!

I hope this list helps you with skincare for summer concerns! Thanks again! #Hotlanta Dont forget to check out my instagram @tehminberry

Milan in a Day

Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't burry thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake up and live.

I originally had no plan to visit Milan this summer. But then after searching forever, I realized that Milan was one of the only cities that had nonstop flights to Santorini, Greece. That being said, I was really amazed by the city, however brief it was! Milan has (obviously) amazing shopping, tons of Italian fashion brands that I’ve never heard of, and practically every brand. I would say that Milan is probably better than NYC for shopping! Not only that the city was beautiful, green, clean, and felt pretty safe. The local Italians were very friendly too, probably because they deal with so many famous models visiting all the time (I saw a male model walking around in front of the cathedral so who knows who you will see when you go)!

When we first arrived we took a taxi to our airbnb, we had a convo with our driver and he asked us how we felt about Trump, lol. We said “it’s not good” and he said that most Americans he had asked felt the same way (but then again people who voted for Trump probably won’t be visiting Milan anyway?). Milan has quite a few famous places to eat and shop, but the main square with the Milan Cathedral is right next to the famous mall or the Galleria Vittirio Emanuele II.

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We went shopping at Inglot and a few other places. We got a treat at Cova. I would recommend for breakfast either Cova or Pave’, for dinner/lunch visit Carlo E Camilla or Tagiura Di Angeloti Rino Snc (they have a beautiful covered courtyard and delicious affordable food) or Da Michele I Condurro for pizza. I wanted to visit LuBar a new place to eat inside of the GAM Museum but we just didn’t have the time. Uber exists in Milan. Milan has a good public transportation system and the city is walkable.  It’s a good idea to have reservations for dinner. Most restaurants are closed on Monday and a lot of places have random hours or days that they are not open. So double check! Another option is to visit the Brera design district and walk around to see.

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Fancy Cova! I loved the cannoli!

On our second trip to Milan (after we returned from Oia, Santorini Greece) the taxi driver couldn’t find our new airbnb! Our new airbnb was in a newly build apt complex not too far from the city. A lady (more like an angel) appeared out of nowhere. She said she’d help us find our airbnb. She was with her daughter and spoke English. She was so kind and helpful! Without her help we would have been stuck outside or had to turn back! She invited us into her apartment and out of the heat. When we finally got in touch with our airbnb host, I forgot my phone in her apt! When I realized I forgot it my friend called the lady and she had been waiting outside the apartment building trying to return it! She was a Godsend for sure! It’s moments like these that make travel so special. To see the humanity and kindness of strangers.

At our next airbnb, there had been a place I wanted to eat and had done research about in America before arriving, but felt it was too far away. It had amazing reviews and a beautiful courtyard. It was called da Kico amazingly the restaurant was walking distance from our airbnb! How things fall in place!

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Beautiful restaurant with buffet menu. Not expensive at all for the quality! It was jam packed with locals and served delicious seafood among other specialties of the region (a lot of octopus which I found surprising in Italian cuisine)!

I hope you enjoyed this mini guide to Milan. I would totally visit again (Milan is only a few hours from Lake Como)! Thanks again!

 

Florence Italy Guide

Travels in Firenze Italy

For many years, I had wanted to travel to the Tuscan region of Italy. Florence, or Firenze, is one of the main cities in that region. With beautiful greenery, hills, famous sights, it’s also the home of famous fashion brands, such as Gucci, and has delicious food.

I did alot of my research about Florence, from an American girl who lives in Florence: Girl in Florence. Thanks to her recommendations, me and my friend had delicious food, gelato, and brunch in our time there! Check out her blog for other recommendations!

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The kitchen of our cute airbnb! The lady was so nice! Me and my friend wished we had asked her what she does (I suspect she made jewelry), because she had a amazing place in Florence!

Florence is a city for walking or riding the bus (there is no metro!). Bus tickets are sold at tobacco shops or other convenience stores. Almost everything is closed on Sunday, except for some places to eat, so make sure you buy your bus ticket before Sunday (you can buy your ticket on the bus too, but need exact change, even so by Sunday afternoon they stop selling tickets, even if they still run). Most restaurants are closed on Monday in Italy, so double check if something is open. For dinner I recommend that you make a reservation. This is the rule of thumb I would apply for most cities in Europe (because some will turn you away). Walk in and make a reservation or call (if you have international phone service or ask your hotel). I would suggest you book a hotel or airbnb close to the places you want to see, because really walking is your best bet. Google maps can also tell you which bus to take to get to where you want to go or ask someone.

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Bardini Gardens or Giardino Bardini 
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Many do not know about this park which is a easy climb not too far from the main river. One can see the beautiful Duomo from here. 

There are tons of tourists in Florence (rightfully so)! We went to the Bardini Gardens which I had read about on many blogs of female travelers. I loved the views and the fact that no one was around! It’s not too big and easy to see and walk around with panoramic views of the city! A great way to start your day (most parks are closed by sunset).

There are many famous sights to see, try to book online in advance to save time (you may have to pay a few Euros more), and don’t believe individuals standing around trying to sell you a ticket or telling you you will have to wait a long time before you can go in, unless you buy their ‘special’ ticket.

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What I love about Tuscany is the green hills and beautiful homes. Florence is also known for a famous bridge called the Ponte Vecchio. It has nice jewelry shops, though expensive. 
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Per recommendation from the blog I mentioned above, we tried Gelato from My Sugar. This dude who makes the gelato (fresh by hand) won awards for his unique orange-cinnamon flavor. I usually don’t care for fruity ice cream, but it was so good! I also loved his pistachio and hazelnut flavors!  We kept going back it was so good!
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Brunch at Ditta Artigianale. It’s popular with foreigners and locals. I ordered a Turkish breakfast with a side of pancakes and a couple of lattes. So good! It’s also not too far from the famous sights and has multiple locations. 
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The beautiful Duomo
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Naked David. This is the original David carved by Michelangelo. Statue is located in Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze  that can be seen in about 15 to 30 minutes. He’s amazing to look at, but I find it weird that some were taking selfies with his big ‘package’ in the background (ahem). 
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We had our dinner at this beautiful restaurant. Make sure to have reservations for dinner! They also have a bar with desserts on display! 

I would suggest that even if you are on vacation it’s a good idea to have one chill day out of the week. We actually used that day to go do laundry, lol. Now coming from Atlanta, most people do not use a laundry mat unless their’s is broken or they broke. In other big cities it’s normal to use one and looking back for the long trip we had (or if you don’t like to travel with too much luggage), I’m so glad my friend pressured me into going. We went to a local grocery store called COOP, bought detergent packets, zip laundry bags, and I bought some things like, locally made coffee beans and soaps that made such neat gifts! We got fruit to snack on and went to a cafe for coffee that was inside the store. Let me tell you, I had such relief to do our laundry, be chill, and do as the locals do. Traveling can be exhausting. It was a lot of fun to see all the cool ingredients for Italian food that they use in their home too! The laundry mat’s in Euro are super fancy: they have music playing, a coffee machine, and are pretty cheap (the one we went to had a machine that exchanges bills into coins).

To get to Florence you can ride a train into the city from most other cities. We flew from Berlin to Bologna, Italy then rode a 35 minute train into Florence. I bought my ticket online in America before arriving. I chose that route because it was difficult to find affordable flights straight into Florence from Berlin. Florence has a main train station the Santa Maria Novella train station (but no train stops throughout the city). Most of the famous sights are not too far from this train station. Also I suggest day trips into the Tuscan countryside, check out the Girl in Florence’s blog I mentioned above!

For shopping: the lady I mentioned also suggested a bunch of stores whatever you are looking for. I love Italian bags so I suggest going to Mia Bag. They have a store right by the Duomo and they are so stylish and trendy. Most of the bags are in the 200~range or below, but I feel like for the price you are getting a beautiful bag that other more known brands would double if not triple the price. There’s also Liu Jo which sells beautiful clothes and bags that are little more affordable. Mia Bag also has a store in Milan.

Well I hope this guide helps in your next Italian adventure! Stay posted for my trip to Milan next mA! Thanks again!

Islam vs. the Patriarchy: how Islam fought for women’s rights, and how Islam is being used by some Muslim ruling elite and Non-Muslim elite alike to push for war

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Islam tried to get rid of the patriarchy, and in many cases it worked. Islam put limits on how many wives a man could marry, as long as a man treated his wives equally, but being a humanistic religion, the Koran says a man will never be able to treat them equally. I believe the reason it says this is because what Islam wanted, eventually, was to have a society where men only would want to marry one woman. But if Islam imposed just one wife plus celibacy until marriage, no man at that time would convert. At that time men had harems of women, plus mistresses.

Women could divorce if they wanted to, did not have to die if their husbands died, and could remarry as many times as they wanted to. Women in Saudi Arabia and many parts of the world did not have these basic rights. After Islam, women could inherit property, buy/own/sell property, vote, and their husbands had to provide for them, while if a woman chose to work, he could not, nor his family, take anything from her. Even if a family is poor, the husband has no right to take anything that belongs to his wife. In some cases women inherit more then men, but other times men inherit more, because men have to provide in Islam. For women they can choose to work or not work.

Female infanticide was abolished. Islam did not abolish slavery, but in the Koran, it says over and over, to free a slave in order to earn good deeds or seek forgiveness from God. I think it would have been too difficult to abolish slavery because people would not convert as it would hurt their lifestyle or businesses, or so they thought. Eventually slavery ended, (but a modern form of slavery persists in the world) as people began to realize it was wrong. Slaves were given rights, a slave-master could not force himself on a female slave. And if a child was born, the child was legitimate, could inherit, and had to be treated like any other child of a man. There is no concept of a illegitimate child in Islam. Labor had rights, they had to be paid before their sweat dried. Anyone could become Muslim, ALL races were equal. Animals had rights. Children had rights, for instance once a child was a teen a parent cannot force a child to practice Islam. A young person can practice and their conviction or oath of faith is accepted if they can tell the difference between right and wrong.

Even so in 2017, some Muslim and non-Muslim societies are ignorantly against the basic concepts of Islam and human rights are abused. Sometimes Muslims treat other Muslims badly. There is such a thing as a self-hating Muslim. It’s hard to not wonder if the faith is messed up because of a few rotten apples. For instance, a lot of people question why did the Prophet marry Aisha who was so young? Here is my take on it:

Aisha was not just any girl off the street: she was the daughter of Prophet Muhammad’s best friend. His friend was rich, and from a wealthy family. What did he have to gain from the Prophet when the Prophet was poor? Nothing. Then why would a father let his daughter marry someone if he thought it was bad? He wasn’t in a unfortunate situation and Prophet Muhammad barely could give Aisha anything for the wedding. Maybe connections? Politics? Maybe. But Aisha’s father had been Prophet Muhammad’s best friend for years. He already had a solid relationship.

Aisha was the only person who was very young that he married. Everyone else, was either a widow or a divorcee. If he had a ‘thing’ for kids he could have married many more if he wanted to, but didn’t.

Prophet Muhammad, didn’t have children with any of his wives except his first whom Aisha was jealous of, even though she had died many years ago. Prophet Muhammad’s first wife was Khadija, she was 40, his boss, a widow, and SHE proposed to him when he was 25. Even in 2017 these are unusual things. He accepted her proposal and he loved her the most. He had 7 kids with her. After she died, he was devastated. He practiced contraception with his future wives because he didn’t want them to have to raise children alone as he had so many commitments. At that time, a man desired many wives, and many children, especially sons. All of Prophet Muhammad’s sons died during or after birth, so for a man of that time doesn’t it make sense that he would want a million sons to secure his future? But no he doesn’t try with any of is wives even when he was young and could easily have remarried to do so.

At that time, (we are talking about 1400+ years ago) child marriage was completely the norm, in Asia, Africa, and Europe. In Europe it happened all the time even up until the 1900s (check link). Reasons for this happening are numerous, but Islam makes a difference between forced and consent. In Islam a woman, man, or child cannot be forced to marry. But a very young person is old enough to know whether they want to marry or not, and Aisha was engaged to another man prior to Prophet Muhammad.

Aisha was a warrior, she lead a battle, she worked, she would ride camel’s/horses herself, and was a leader in the community. Long after Prophet Muhammad died she carried on as a distinguished figure in Saudi Arabia. She never said anything bad about Prophet Muhammad even after many years past his death.

Even so it is 2017, and the world has changed. I don’t agree with child marriage, but then again children are having sex. I’m not saying they should marry, but if elementary school kids are having sex, that means they have the desire. If they are sleeping with kids their age that’s one thing, but if they are sleeping with someone older then it’s bad? It’s still all bad and sad to me and this is happening in America, including the rest of the world. Talk to any doctor and they will tell you they have had a patient come in where the child was in elementary school and she was pregnant. Problems are everywhere in every society, pointing fingers won’t solve the problems. Terrorism is not a new thing and is not solely carried out by people who claim to be Muslim, but unfortunately America continues wars that will only lead to more death and destruction. In Islam indiscriminate killing is not allowed and though there are quotes of killing, that is under the context of war with very strict conditions that have to be met. People of course will have their own interpretation and will misquote the Koran in order to serve their agenda or vision of hate, including those who claim to be Muslims. It’s called politics, in the sense that if you have an enemy, isn’t it easier garner support to get rid of them if you can claim moral superiority or convince people to your interpretation of the law? Isn’t it easier to further an agenda for a country by claiming its a common threat to national security? That’s why there are so many dictators who were once Army generals who thrive on power because of a system of hatred spewed by the media to convince the masses that the dictator is needed for security and war is the only option on the table to deal with the “kafirs, terrorists, heathens, pagans, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Minority XYZ, Salem Witches, etc”? In fact, in Syria, the reason Assad claims to bomb his country is because it’s been infiltrated by terrorists. Or it could be what the media in America wants us to believe is the motive for why Assad is bombing his country. Terrorism is now the blank check for getting rid of whoever you want or need.

Rulers use faith, identity, society, the constitution, nationality, money, whatever the people identify with the most, that’s what a corrupt ruler/organization/media/family/ruling elite/etc., will use to get the masses to agree to something. It’s just history repeating itself over and over, with a few changes in names, places, and faces. Some Muslim rulers or the elite class, will abuse Islam and bend the rules in their favor, but try to convince others that their interpretation is the factual one. The media in America also presents its own interpretation of Islam, in order to serve it’s own agenda And different organizations/individuals many of whom are not American and/or are from abroad have paid millions to push a negative message (check link).

There will always be a new enemy, a new war. It was Hitler, the Japanese, The North Koreans, The communists, the Russians, the…and the list will go on. After ISIS will the war end? Here’s a quote:

“The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.” George Orwell
English essayist, novelist, & satirist (1903 – 1950)

T.

Venice Italy: Short Guide

We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.

Once when I was a child, I read a piece about Venice Italy in National Geographic. As I looked at the photos, one stood out to me: of a long-legged woman dressed in all black walking on a narrow path with both sides lined in water. A city on water. I also read that the city, because of global warming, was slowly sinking, and I imagined that woman running out of space to walk…the beautiful Italian architecture gone. That’s when I made a small wish to one day see that city.

Venice has huge appeal and is known to be a romantic spot, but one doesn’t have to wait till their honeymoon (or romantic interlude) to visit. Venice itself is very close to the mainland, and the Marco Polo airport (Marco Polo was from Venice!) is a short bus ride away. You can purchase your ticket to ride the bus without having to make reservations in advance. I’ve also heard of trains going into Venice from other cities. Once in Venice I would say just roam around and enjoy the views. It is hot in the summer, and cools down in the evening. There’s walkways and bridges everywhere so it’s easy to get around on foot. Try to get a hotel close to the entrance of Venice, that way you don’t have to lug your luggage around as there are no cars/roads in Venice! Me and my friend stayed at the Venice Hotel Arlecchino . It was right by where the bus’s drop off from the airport. You can see the famous sights in a day. Gondola rides are kind of expensive, almost 100$ but you can split the cost with up to 6 people.

Venice is known for some things, such as glass products, but what I love about Italy is: the cheap coffee,  delicious food, desserts, and Gelato! You will see leather goods too, another thing I love that Italy is known for (if you buy from a local craftsman or lady, the prices are really good, some leather products being less than 100$). There were also some affordable clothing stores as well. The only thing I regret not doing is seeing the Bridge of Sighs and the Da Vinci Museum however there are other Da Vinci musuems such as the one in Florence. Here are some places I went to eat and try that I observed were less touristy (I’m not a snob! Lol what I mean is I observed Italian’s eating from these places):

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A nice break from walking. I think that the cafe was called Hausbrandt (as written on the dishes) Their dessert was fresh and delicious! In Italy you drink coffee at the counter. Take away/table service is an additional charge. 

 

 

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This is a chocolate shop that makes other things including pistachio spread: Italy has amazing Pistachio’s! I bought some chocolates to gift to my family, and they loved it! 

Drugstore Gems: Cheap Skincare

Skincare

Alot of people say I do not look my age, and ask me for skincare recommendations. I don’t mind dishing out the deets: I actually like it. Unfortunately, a lot of skincare is very expensive, and there can be pressure to look a certain way for women. However, I have been using a combination of skincare products, and drugstore products do work!

I have been using skincare products since maybe middle school. I would as a child watch my mom taking care of her skin. I have been doing some basic things which have probably helped a lot: wash, moisturize, protect. Here are my suggestions:

Cleansing: In the morning/night I use Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser and every once in a while I use the Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash in Pink Grapefruit. The Cetaphil is very gentle and slightly moisturizing but it will not wash off makeup. It comes in a huge bottle that lasts forever so it’s worth the price. The Neutrogena is stronger and great for washing off most makeup or for preventative measures against zits/pimples. I never had acne growing up, but its a good cleanser, though a little strong. I have to apply some toner or moisturizer after using the acne wash, but I usually do anyway.

Serums/Moisturizers: It took me a while to find a good moisturizer from the drugstore. They were either too heavy or too light. You can technically use any toner or even rose water for instance, then apply serum and moisturizer (day and night). I really like the Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Restorative Night Cream. Using in conjunction with a toner and the Loreal Revitalift Volume Filler Serum it really works! I use the cream during the day, and at night I use the the toner+serum+moisturizer. It makes my skin smooth and soft looking, not greasy at all. The Aveeno cream is I believe 15$ and the Loreal Serum is 20$, both at Target.com. Other options that I loved from Target were Korean brands, like Laneige. However they have moved, from Target and are available on their website and will become available at Sephora later in the summer.

Other Gems: Target or drugstores have other gems that I have been using for years. I really like Physician’s Formula powders. I use their translucent powder to set my makeup using a Sonia Kashuk powder brush. The brushes last for years and are a bargain. Buy the individual brushes, they are better quality. Sonia Kashuk is only available at Target, and Physician’s Formula usually has a section in most drugstores/Target. I also really like the Ivory Body Wash if you need a recommendation there. If you need a body cream to help get rid of dead skin/bumps on your skin a dermatologist recommended to me the Eucerin line (advanced repair or smoothing repair) that has AHA in it. However AHA will make your skin sensitive to the sun so wear sunblock.

Some additional good news: Peach and Lily will be bringing some Korean skincare lines to CVS Pharmacy soon at different price points and affordable items too! Check out their website/blog for more details.

*Pro-tip: skincare is not just about what you buy and apply to your skin. It’s mostly about your lifestyle: stay hydrated, sleep well, eat well (but not too much), exercise, wear hats/sun gloves/put car shades/wear sunglasses/ or just avoid the sun. Keeping clean. Don’t drink/do drugs/or smoke. Too much caffeine is bad for your skin and fat free dairy products affect skin too. Don’t stress yourself out. I think out of all of these, sleep is so important to skincare, low stress, staying hydrated, and avoid the sun. You can fake a tan! It’s not worth the permanent damage. It’s better to get some sleep then stay up thinking at night or playing on your phone (as tempting as it is), waking up at a reasonable time, and then try to find solutions to your problems. Just saying. I know it’s hard, but you will feel so much better. Everyone has problems (no matter how perfect their social media accounts) or fat their bank accounts. Even so, if things are going well for others wish them well. If things are working out for others that means there is hope. Think of that.

I hope these suggestions help as they can save you time and money given the convenience.  Thanks again and check back soon!

T.

Atlanta: city guide

NYC

I have lived in Atlanta for almost twenty years. I moved from up north, down here with family, and though at first had mixed feelings about my home city, I came to really appreciate it after living in DC for a year (and traveling all over the world). For one thing people are really friendly here (out of all the cities I have visited in America), the weather is great, lots of food options, and (if you have a car) its got culture too. The thing is that there is urban sprawl so you may discover a neat place in a random corner of the city. It’s got a little bit of everything with different (though smaller) unique hoods. Whatever your tastes, background, and style, there’s something for everyone.

Pro-tip*: Atlanta has gotten to have really bad traffic. So if you are out of town here are some suggestions before beginning your travails: You can take the train to the airport and to other parts of Atlanta, but not all sadly. Traffic is low between Mon-Wednesday from 10 am to 2:30pm. Before and after that it gets crazy, but traffic dies down after 8pm again. Try to coordinate your plans during those times. Thursday and Friday people seem to get out early so those days are kinda busy. As for the weekend, Saturday popular areas will get busy by 2:00pm as people go out for lunch. Sunday is usually the best day to do whatever you need to. Start early.

Where to grab coffee: Chattahoochee Coffee Company,  6640 Akers Mill Rd SE, Atlanta, GA 30339

They have a few locations, but this location is situated inside of a apartment complex right by the Chattahoochee river. They have great coffee and the views are beautiful, a really unique experience. They are open Mon-Fri to the public and have limited parking. Come early!

Another option I like is Rev Coffee in Smyrna by Cumberland mall. They have ample parking in the back. The only thing though is that it’s a suburban kind of location, so they may be out of the way for some. For those looking for a something closer to the city try Octane. They have a few locations including one by Lenox Square mall, one right by the High museum of art, and one in Grant Park.  If you are a animal lover, like other cities Atlanta has jumped onto the cat cafe bandwagon: Java Cats Cafe and I’m so happy! Must make reservations (can find link on their Instagram).

Where to get a unique cultural experienceBuford Highway. It’s basically a long road with Asian cafes and restaurants. Check out the Buford Highway Farmers market: they have international offerings and fresh Korean food served everyday. If you want bubble tea check out Quickly, hot pot check out Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot or traditional Korean food Cho Dang Tofu House-Korean Restaurant  . I personally love Asian food and this area has it all.

If you want a Euro experience try Chateau Elan , it has a winery, spa, and beautiful grounds at just an hour outside Atlanta. I’ve been many times and they have excellent food.

Atlanta, historically, is known for the civil rights movement, civil war sights, Gone with the Wind‘s author Margaret Mitchell House, and my childhood favorite Etowah Indian Mounds about an hour outside of Atlanta. Many native American cultures are represented in GA.

Now the next recommendation is something I try to take everyone from out of a town: a 24/7 Korean sauna/spa Jeju Sauna this would be a great option for travelers as it is a cultural plus spa experience for every gender. They have a mixed area and then a private area for the sexes. Just be prepared to see naked people on whichever side you enter. But when you get out to the main area you’re supposed to wear the pjs they provide for you (ladies the pjs are a tshirt and shorts, so if your legs arn’t waxed I would recommend wearing leggings under the shorts, when going into the mixed area). They also have Korean food to eat (not included in the admission price) but it’s pretty cheap. I believe the cafeteria closes at 2 am but double check if you’re coming in late and need food.

Where to get dessert: This is a place that does not compare nor exist in other cities! A European cafe with delicious dessert selection including, cheesecakes, cake, pies, tarts, and sometimes tres leches, not only that they have delicious drinks, and are open late with reasonable parking: Cafe Intermezzo . Their food is ok, but much prefer their dessert. If you are looking for ice cream try: Yogurtland they have the best fro yo flavors; this a brand originally from California.

Where to eat: I suggested some authentic Asian places above. I would generally avoid places where tourists go because the lines are crazy. Here are some great suggestions: For burgers Bocado get the herb fries they are worth it (and supposedly the place serves halal), a famous spot is The Varsity, and we got a Shake Shack too. Pizza: For Italian style I like Antico Pizza (though usually busy), Fellini’s, and the reliable Mellow Mushroom. For southern food try JCT Kitchen, Empire State South (pricey), and The Southern Gentleman, all are super fancy and the last one is located in a luxury shopping area. Cheap sushi? Try: Ru Sans. Another southern tradition among the fancy/cultured set is High tea or afternoon tea. I have yet to try that out here.

Where to Play or go out: Top golf, great for groups. Crescent Avenue has a bunch of clubs, as does Buckhead area. There’s some places on Edgewood, but if it’s early, the weather is freezing, or there is no major celebratory event (like Cinco de Mayo), it’s usually empty at night. Ponce City Market has a rooftop golf area. Run/walk see the Beltline, it’s basically a long road that cuts through different areas but on google its called Eastside Beltline Trail. Count on southerners to give their own name to everything. The website I provided gives more things to do along that route.

Where to shopBridge Boutique a small shop with different brands. It’s very small, but I’ve gotten some unique pieces. Besides Lenox Mall which is a favorite (it’s like one of the best malls I’ve been to in America, for one it’s not too big, and it has a range of stores), luxury brands are in Phipps Plaza and The Shops Buck Head Atlanta, there’s also a Nordstrom Rack not too far from Lenox Square mall. For ethnic clothing (like Pakistani), there aren’t a lot to choose from as there would be in Chicago or online. Imitation jewelry would be Kendra Scott (pricey), Tootsies for gowns/party wear (pricey, but great sales). I haven’t really checked out second hand shopping in Atlanta as Atlanta usually has great deals throughout the year. For cheapest brands of shopping try Cumberland Mall or t.j. max and/or marshalls.

There are many areas of Atlanta with their own reliable staples for food, fun, and entertainment. The main thing that Atlantans like to do is spend time with close ones either at home or on their porch sipping tea or lemonade, I guess that’s why so many people are moving here, besides the weather of course. I hope you enjoy my suggestions. Thanks for reading!

T.