#2072 | Samsung Note 9 – Hands on, First Impressions, and MOVING FROM THE IPHONE

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Hey guys,

So I just got my paws on the Samsung Note 9 last night, something I’ve been super excited about ever since my Note 8 was unceremoniously smashed my a straggly haired backpacker in the Hong Kong International Airport last month.. Anyway. I set it up within the hour of getting it and here we are, good to go:

Context

I’ve been using the Note 8 for a year now, and I’ve also tested the Samsung S9 for a prolonged period of time, so I am pretty familiar with the Samsung system. I switched from the iPhone 6s+ to the Samsung Note 8 last year because my iPhone kamikaze-d on me the day the new iPhone x was announced. I have long believed that Apple deliberately kills old phones to force you to buy new ones, something which many reports last year also raised, but I was willing to ignore it for a long time. For my phone to not only self-destruct on the day of the announcement, but to also wipe my contacts across both my phones, was the kicker for me. It was clear that my phone was attacked through iCloud, which I pay for. I’m not using the free version of their subscription, I literally give Apple money every month to secure and back up my data and they just screwed me over with my own money. That realisation was what pushed me over, I think, and what finally made me decide to migrate to Android.

My current phone set up

So before I go on, I’m just going to put it out there that I currently and always have used two phones, ever since year two of university. This initially happened by accident – it was because I was using a Windows phone and my best friend gave me a blackberry for my birthday (Yes he is very generous, which I know and am eternally appreciative of), and at the time I also had two phone lines because of some work thing. Anyway, I stopped using my second number, but had gotten used to multitasking on two phones, so when my sister got a new phone and gave me her old iPhone, I gave my Windows phone to a friend’s mum who needed a new phone at the time. So I was using the blackberry primarily, and the iPhone 4 on wifi. And then from there I’ve just always used two phones, and sometime last year I got another number for work on Circles Life, and so I was using an iPhone 6s which I bought at no-contract retail (a real heartache) and an iPhone 6s+ which was a gift.

So for the past year, I’ve been using the Samsung Note8 as my primary phone, but my secondary phone is still my 2 year old iPhone 6s (which I strongly believe is one of the best iPhone models) and it’s running fine cos i havent updated the OS in years. I use the iPhone for the photo and video editing apps because all my paid subscriptions were already loaded on the iOS store, but other than that I use the Note for almost everything else.

Note 9 – first impressions

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Look at this GORGEOUS packaging. Putting the key of the Note series, the stylus, front and center

Fresh out of the box the Note 9 is a thing of beauty. I remember the feeling I had last year when I unboxed the Note8 – I wanted to cry because it was so beautiful but also because I just knew it was a fingerprint magnet (and it is). The Note8 a phone that requires commitment, and because I am not the type of person to carry a microfibre cloth around with me, I have just been rubbing the screen on the back of my jackets. LOL.

But I get the sense that Samsung has changed the screen type of its phones ever since the Galaxy S9, which is significantly less of a fingerprint magnet. This might be a new kind of coating or something, which means it’ll wear away as time passes, but I’m glad the same screen reappears on the Note 9 as well. It’s not as smudgy, making it a joy to type on. And, it’s the biggest screen Samsung has put out yet, a 6.4inch one, which I’m really happy about because I read books on my phone a lot and the bigger the screen the easier on the eyes.

As physical forms go, the Note9 is a thing of beauty. I actually used the Samsung Edge 7 two/three years ago and I really liked it, because Samsung understands aesthetics. The curved sides of the phone are aesthetically phenomenal, and I love that the phone is nearly bezel-less (unfortunately, no manufacturer has figured out how to make a phone that completely conceals the camera and audio receptors yet, but one day). There are a few phone manufacturers that I believe create truly beautiful phones – Samsung is one of them, Oppo is another, and I also like this relatively obscure Japanese phone maker that hardly operates out of Japan called Docomo. I actually bought and hacked a flip Docomo phone once, when I was 16, and while the sim card incompatibilities brought me much pain, I was perpetually in love with how cute the phone was. Thus my priorities are laid bare.

That’s not to say that I hate the form factor of the iPhone – I actually quite like the iPhone’s matte feel, which I personally think makes it easier to type on as compared to the Samsung, which is slicker and so, slipperier. The iPhone keyboard also has a larger space bar, so the transition from apple to samsung means a whole load of typos for the first couple of weeks. Minor things, but things that matter.


S Pen that fits at the bottom of the phone, and charges there too


The Note series also comes with a sPen
that you can click in and out of place, it slots neatly into the bottom of the phone. This was the main draw of the Note series over the Samsung S series for me – I doodle a lot on my pictures, and so having a pen would make this infinitely easier. And it does – since getting the Note8 last year, I havent touched my wacom tablet! The pen also beeps if you leave it out of the phone or bring it too far away from the phone, so that’s a pretty good precaution for preventing against losing it.

Note 9 vs Note 8

Besides the less smudgy screen, there are quite a few differences between the 8 and 9. See:

– The Note 9 has a way stronger battery than the 8. It comes with a 4,000mAh battery, which is 21% bigger than the Note 8.

– The Note 9 has the same camera as the S9+, and the S9 had a freakin amazing camera. Seriously, I was impressed by the 8, but when I used the Galaxy S9 I was blown away. The Pro mode (which debuted with the S9) is fantastic for capturing low light scenes, like dusky sunsets, and it’s come to become my primary go-to camera.

The phone features a dual 12MP rear cameras with a primary dual aperture lens which shifts between F2.4 (for more detail in well-lit shots) and F1.5 (for low light). It’s not the best on the market, I think that goes to Huawei, but this is still pretty damned good.

lololol the Samsung camera is damn good y'all

A post shared by Jemimah James Wei (@jemmawei) on

Minimal editing needed!

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No editing – straight off the Note9 auto mode

Besides Pro and Auto, there’s also an inbuilt hyperlapse, live focus (essentially portrait mode) and panorama mode in the native app. The camera has other cute functions like a super slow-mo video and AR Emoji camera, but I’ve used those exactly.. 1 time in 6 months. Haha.

– The camera is also kind of a smart camera. With the Note8, it prompted you to wipe your camera lens if it detected smudges. With the 9, it apparently also has a Flaw Detection feature that can also spot if you’ve got problems with blinking eyes, blurred images and backlighting, prompting you to retake the photo.

– There’s also a big storage upgrade – the Note 9 now has a minimum of 128GB with an 6gb RAM. It goes up to 512GB with an 8GB RAM. And of course, you can top this up with a microSD card, so if you play your cards right, you might be looking at a phone with 1TB storage on your hands.

STEREO SPEAKERS!! This was debuted on the S9. One of my complaints of the Note 8 was its disappointing sound experience, with one speaker near the bottom of the phone which is easily and frequently blocked by one’s fingers when holding the phone. This has now been rectified with dual stereo speakers by Dolby on the Gen 9 phones, which makes Netflixing a much more pleasant experience. You feel this immediately if youre moving from the 8 to the 9.

– My other main complaint for the Note 8 was the fingerprint sensor placement, which was next to the camera, meaning you often touch the camera lens instead of the sensor, which is really surprisingly bad design given that everything else on the Gen 8 phones were so aesthetically oriented. Happily, the fingerprint sensor has moved downwards, to below the camera, making it easier to reach with one hand given how big the phone is. It’s the same placement as the S9 and Google Pixel phones. I really like this!!!!

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The backs of the Note 8 and 9 (both have a silicon case on)

(Related blogpost: The Note 8 vs Google Pixel 2XL)

Extremely quick unlocking with the face + iris scanner. This is also on the S9, but on the Note8 you only have an iris scanner. Essentially, for the Note9, the phone uses a combination of face recognition and iris scanning to unlock your phone when you raise it up to your face. It was quick on the S9 but I find it even quicker on the Note9. Fast and accurate face recognition is a feature you can find on most new phones though, like the iPhone X, which just goes to show how amazing technology is getting. What a time to be alive!

– The bluetooth enabled S Pen is a real game changer. I’ve long said that the pressure sensitive stylus (made by Wacom!!) is the deal breaker for Samsung’s Note series and the biggest thing that guarantees a loyal following. Many Android phone makers compete year after year to come up with better phones, and it’s easy to see how an Android user might be easily tempted to switch from one brand to another each time they renew contracts. But there is no parallel on the market for the Note series purely because of the S Pen. I use the stylus so much it’s essentially a third arm for me now. And with the Note 9, the stylus is bluetooth enabled, meaning I can use it as a camera remote control. You can also use it to control music or slides (if youre fixing the phone up to a projector for presentations) but the camera remote is the biggest thing for me!

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Note 9 – favorite features

And as far as things to get used to go, you could do a lot shabbier than the Note9. The phone is truly a monster. Beyond being gorgeous, the phone is also insane in terms of what it can handle. I do find (and i think that this is true of most android phones) that the more you use and adapt the phone to your patterns of behaviour, the more the phone performs the way you want it to. When I first started using the Note8 last year, a huge issue for me was battery life, but after I turned off the Always On Display (which means the screen always displays a clock, even if it’s been locked and put away for awhile) and auto-brightness, the battery life lasts quite a long time. I could go a full day without a midday charge, which I think is pretty good since I’m a relatively heavy user. Things like that.

– Obviously, the earphone jack bears a mention, in an age where they are gradually going extinct. The phone also comes out of the box with AKG tuned earphones which are anti-tangle, and the earphones are really, really good. It’s a nice surprise to get such good earphones for free with the phone, and I think this will satisfy most casual music listeners. And if you’re not a casual listener, chances are you probably already have a pair of really good headphones that you can just continue using with the Note9’s earphone jack anyway.

– The Note 9 also comes out of the box with a standard protective casing, which is a basic clear case which will do nicely to protect your phone till you get another case. It’s got enough grip to stop the phone slipping out of your hands too. I dont really see a huge need to change the case either because this lets you show off the pretty colors of the phone if you opted for the copper gold or ocean blue variations.

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Copper Gold version with no case

– One of the best things about the Note9 is also how it turns into a personal assistant of sorts for you. I’m not talking about Bixby, the Samsung equivalent of Siri, because I found that super annoying and turned it off the minute I figured out how. I mean the fact that the phone is built for productivity, which makes the neurotic side of me really happy. The widgets let me have my mail and to do list on the home screen, as well as a dual city clock and weather report (you cant do this on the iOS unless you jailbreak it, and for someone who travels frequently, this is ace). They also show me at immediate glance how much data I’ve used for the month, what my upcoming appointments are, that kind of thing. Love it! iOS has something similar with their latest left locked-homescreen widget panel, but its still quite new so it’s not as refined yet.

– The edge display also lets you pair apps to multitask together, which is really awesome. Already the multitasking function that allows you to open and run two apps side by side is great, but the app pairing on the edge display is fantastic because if youre already habitually using two screens together (your notes + school documents, for example), then this allows you to start both in split screen with one swipe, which is pretty neat.

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I really love how customisable the phone is. WIDGET ESPECIALLY. I LOVE WIDGETS! Here you have one of my home pages, which has currency exchange screens for countries I’m visiting, a shortcut optimiser button, and a quick shortcut to my notes.

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The left swipe screen of my home screen is just a giant translucent calendar for a quick glance at all my events for the month

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All my other apps are kept in the app drawer, allowing my homescreen to stay uncluttered/ allowing me to prioritise the apps i use most.

– The phone comes with the office suite, so you can run Microsoft word, excel, etc, all off mobile. This is very useful for people who work on the go.

– The huge and VERY high res screen means watching Netflix on the go is insane, and also, I get a better reading experience out of my mobile Kindle app, especially since the phone comes with a blue light filter option that makes it easier on the eyes.

– And lastly, the amount of precise doodling you can do with an inbuilt pen is awesome. See above re: S Pen being a game changer. For freelancers like me, the benefits of the sPen isnt just limited to creative expression, it also allows me to sign on contracts and send them back immediately, instead of having to print, sign, and scan back contracts. Dealing with contracts is something I do on a near-daily basis, so this feature has legitimately changed my life better and is SO useful. Nuff said.

iPhone to the Note – transitioning

*Speaking from my experience transitioning from the iPhone to Samsung last year*

The fact that I was using both the Samsung and the iPhone with two separate numbers meant that I felt my brain nearly cleave neatly into two, switching from iOS to Android and back nearly fifty times a day. Honestly, after the first week I called my boyfriend and I was like I WANT TO CRY I CANT GET USED TO ANDROID I MIGHT GIVE IN AND BUY AN IPHONE AND HATE MYSELF FOREVER FOR HAVING WEAK FLEXIBLE MORALS. (See above re: refusing to give apple money for destructing my 6s+) I was mad frustrated because I kept making typos, I couldn’t understand how to change the clock display, and for the life of me, I COULDNT FIGURE OUT HOW TO COPY AND PASTE TEXT. It was driving me mad, I felt useless, I felt old and felled by the new fangled movements of technology which had upped and left me in the dust. I thought: let me tuck my morals away, quietly get an iPhone, and shut up for the rest of my life. But no. Both a sense of loyalty (my friend had gotten me a phone, I at least had the obligation to stick it out and figure out if I could love it) and pragmatics (getting a new phone when I had a perfectly fine one would be prohibitively expensive, and the broke student in me was wilting at the idea).

Transitioning is hard, and I’m saying that both literally and figuratively, based off the internet’s tales. Anyway.

The part where I come in with personal experience is here: it’s hard, but it’s rewarding. The Note is a phone I’m sure android users will love off the bat, but for a seasoned iOS user, it takes about two weeks of daily intensive use before you love it – and it’s a gradual love, a slow simmer. I must admit that I started out a skeptic, because I thought that no amount of impressive hardware or technical statistics would be able to impress me when the apps I needed were all from the iTunes app store. I dont need a fancy phone, you see, I just need one that works for the purposes that I need. But the Note8 was a monster of a phone: its capacity for multitasking, organization, and its absolutely sick camera kills me. It really does. Because of the way I started out using the Note8 (subconsciously convinced that I wouldnt be able to adapt from iOS to Android), I was super perplexed and confused when I started liking it, I was like, what are all these feelings?! A bit dramatic, but you get what I mean. And the Note 9 is even better.

My attitude towards the Note now is the same as my attitude towards the infamous iOS 8 change – you may feel incredibly strongly about something, but for better or for worse, you’ll get used to everything in the end!

Note 9 – Upgrade?

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The Note 9, unlocked

The Note 9 is coming in with a really good pre-order deal from now till August 21st, where you get the 512GB version for the price of the 128GB one with a pre order. This is great because pre-order deals normally throw in extras like wireless chargers or headphones, all of which are nice to have, but not essential to the phone itself. A storage upgrade is fantastic, especially for people who are heavy users or trigger happy photo takers.

Still, the phone is expensive. It’s retailing at SGD1398 which is slightly more than the Note 8, before telco deals. And when considered together with the fact that the Samsung’s 10th generation of phones is just a year away..

The Note 8 and S 9 phones are already very, very good phones. I think if you’ve gotten either one within the past year, you might wanna hold out till the 10s come out since theres a good chance the 10s will be a big deal. The new features are awesome but I’m sure they will still exist with the 10 phones. But if you’re in the market for a new phone (perhaps if youre upgrading from a 6 or 7), and are the kind of power user which the Note 9 is catered for, then you’ll be very happy with the 9 I’m sure.

Note 9 – Conclusion

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First photo taken with the Note9 on the front facing camera! No filter or edits made.

Overall I’m actually super happy with the Note 9 – I adored the Note 8 and I’m certain I will love this one as much, if not more.

The days when new phones cost a hundred bucks with a basic student recontract line seem far away and a dream, almost. Anyway. The flagship phones from all the big players all cost a pretty penny today, and if you’ve decided to get one, you’d best make sure it’s a solid investment. Whether a phone is worth the price often depends on your priorities, and for me, anything that maximizes my productivity is a solid win. It’s just such a big plus point that the Note9 does this while being absolutely gorgeous, too.

x
Jem

Disclaimer: I was seeded the Note 9 as part of a media drop and am not paid for this post.

#2071 | World Lipstick Day! Favorite Lip Products

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Hey guys,

So the other day whilst we were on shoot, Roz picked up my handbag and casually asked if I made a habit of just carrying a brick around. Honestly, how heavy my bags get has long been a mystery to my friends and I, right up till Roz followed up with asking if she could borrow a lipstick before we started filming..

I started pulling lipsticks out of my bag left and right and trust me no one was more surprised than me. We counted a total of nine lip products in my tiny crossbody. My producer couldn’t believe it, she asked, are you a vending machine or what. And to nobody’s surprise suddenly my bag was significantly lighter. Ohhh.

Anyway, it’s world lipstick day and it seems I am a bona fide lipstick addict. So here are my favorite lip products on rotation! I more or less decided to write this on the fly, so I didn’t have time to swatch all the products. As a result, all the photos here are pulled from a quick google images search, and I take no credit for them! Also, I wish I could include more products because honestly, so many brands have great lip products. This is by no means an exhaustive list. But here are the ones that have truly impressed me over the years:

1. Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil in 01 Honey


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I only recently started using Clarins because I always thought it was a more mature brand. I now see that that impression stemmed from the fact that all their strengths are rooted in solid, classic skincare practices. It’s something I’m appreciating more now, especially since I’m increasingly looking for makeup that has skincare enhancing properties. I’ve tried a bunch of products from Clarins over the last couple of months, and the ones that stood out were their SOS primers, shaping facial lift, and the water lip stains. All of them are products designed to enhance rather than stand out, so you’ll find that they’re reliably good in making you look like a glow-ier version of yourself.

Anyway, my absolute favorite product from Clarins thus far is their lip comfort oil, which is so lush. It contains jojoba and hazelnut oils, and works great on its own or as a top coat. I do a lot of camera work, and I find that the sheen, while pretty irl, looks amazing on camera. My favorite is the honey shade, which smells like a dream. Your lips definitely feel protected and moisturised after, and I find it makes for a great mid-day lip moisturiser for people who work in air conditioned office environments.

+ points for great packaging (super gorgeous metallic top with clear body.)
– points for not very hygenic applicator (it’s a doe foot applicator, which means if you’re using this as a top coat, you’ll see it being stained by other colors over time.)

2. Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor in 610 Addiction


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This has been a mainstay in my handbag for a really long time.. maybe too long, I feel like it might actually be expired. Haha. Anyway, the Ultra HD matte line is so great – it’s a matte liquid lipstick that really stays on forever, with a really intense color payoff, and the 610 Addiction shade is just so flattering too. It instantly makes your skin tone look cooler, and the dark pink is (i find) a more interesting look than an outright bold red.

The Revlon Matte Balm is also very good, as is their Superstay Lustrous range. Actually Revlon as a brand is just damned good, especially for lip products. The best thing is, Watsons is always having random buy one get one sales for Revlon products, so I’ve gotten the Matte Balm for as low as $10 a few times already.

+ points for sexy bullet packaging, the frosted glass style matte body really stands out
+ points for great value for money
– points for not being very hygienic with the doe stick brush applicator

3. Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

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This isn’t really a lipstick, but you can mix it in with your lipsticks or use it as a primer, even. The lip sleeping mask has long been one of Laneige’s bestsellers, so it’s not like this is a hidden gem or anything, but it still bears a mention because it’s so damned good. It comes in a thick, silky consistency, which doesnt feel greasy at all. Apply a layer before you sleep and you’ll wake up with baby smooth lips, which stays nice and moisturised even post-morning cleanse. I bring it on flights with me all the time too, I find it really helpful because flight air is so drying. I like the apple-lime flavor, which approximately no one else likes, but the original is the most popular.

+ points for uniquely cornering the market in this genre – I think this is the only product that comes to mind when you’re thinking of an overnight lip product
+ major points for being so damned good
– points for not very hygienic application style – it comes with a little brush, but realistically, theres nowhere to keep the brush so it gets lost really fast and youre always dipping your little finger in the pot to get the product out anyway.

4. Laneige Stained Glass stick in 02 Rose Quartz

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This is a recent release from Laneige, and i feel it’s one of their better lip products. Laneige is one of those brands that has consistently good products, including some majorly underrated ones like their quad eyeshadow palette, their silk intense lipstick range, and their eyebrow cushion cara. But the thing is, although they have great products all around, people tend to overlook korean brands in favor of their western counterparts when it comes to bold looks. Whereas when it comes to the soft, girly looks, none of the western brands can really compete with Laneige (and other korean brands).

This particular line is impressive because despite looking like a balm, it’s really a stain – the initial payoff is a smooth jewel like shine, which over time fades to leave color-stained lips. The watery finishing is very natural, it looks as if you just had a cold drink. It also smells amazing, and there’s zero tug when you apply it. It’s a good alternative to the dior lip glow – also a great product, but pushing it slightly at $48. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t like this – it’s a great product, very classy and understated, even for non habitual lipstick wearers.

+ points for cool metallic bullet packaging
+ points for the quartz like gem at the end so you know what color youre getting even before opening the product
No minus points

4. Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color in Bitten, Baby, and Babe

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I’ll admit I have a soft spot for the crushed lip color range because I hosted their launch last year as their resident #girlcrush. Hoho. But yes, I have a lot of love for this product as well. In the same way that the Laneige glass stick looks balmy and works like a stain, the Bobbi Brown CLC looks like a lipstick but works like a balm. The finishing is really pretty too, it’s very casual and cool, like lipstick that’s been blotted and lived-in already. Because of this, you actually dont need a mirror to apply the crushed lip color, just swipe and bite your lip, and youre kind of good to go.

It’s the very definition of wearable – it sits comfortably on your lips without any of that waxy feel that comes with intense pigment. The product does not bleed at all, so it’s perfect even without a lip liner. I really like the packaging too – it’s a simple black bullet, with a color band running through the middle so you know exactly what color youre getting. Because of its effortless finishing, I find it works best in rose to nude shades.

+ points for smart packaging, with the color band
No minus points

5. Maybelline’s Color Sensational INTI-MATTE NUDES in Hot Sand, Purely Nude, and Beige Babe


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Maybelline is another drugstore brand that is not-so-secretly excellent. I’ve found them to be really good for mascara and lipsticks, and their Their Inti-Matte range is actually fantastic. I do really badly with nude lipsticks, they usually wash me out and make me look really ill. I’ve only been able to wear nudes from four lines – maybelline’s inti-mattes, urban decay’s heat capsule collection (fuel), revlon’s super lustrous line (bare affair), and sephora’s house brand lipstories series (brunch date).

The Inti-mattes range are, firstly, all matte nude shades, but more than that, they’re all warm tones, so they’re very flattering. The formulation is really creamy, so you dont get dried out lips – which is normally the problem with strong mattes. If you’ve already got dry lips I would suggest layering a lip primer (or the laneige sleeping lip mask) underneath it anyway.

The only thing is, I find their color swatches to be pretty inaccurate. The product itself is great, but many times I’ve chosen a lipstick based off the printed color swatch and found the actual product to be a totally different color. Sometimes the difference is really too big to be ignored haha. So I would go to the store and try it out instead of buying it online!

+ points for punny name
+ points for great value for money
– points for inaccurate color swatches

6. Urban Decay Bad Blood Matte Revolution Lipstick

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I’ll have to admit that I no longer have this because I was on my second or third tube which melted in my handbag after leaving it in the sun.. and I’m trying not to buy new lipsticks until I finish the ones I’m currently using. But as far as red lipsticks go, the UD Bad Blood has always been the most iconic red lip for me. It’s a universally flattering deep red with a cool undertone, and the matte formulation is surprisingly non-drying. Urban Decay’s strengths have always been in pigmentation, and this one gives you a great color payoff with just one creamy swipe – no need to slowly build the color up. It’s also doesnt get patchy through the course of the day, although the color does bleed a tiny bit. All in all I feel like this is the red lipstick for me, and I’ve already repurchased it several times.

+ points for great price point for a cult product
+ points for long lasting formulation

7. MAC’s SIN lipstick

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Despite the Taylor Swift Ruby Woo hype, I actually find that MAC shines when it comes to their darker lip colors. SIN is a cool toned deep burgundy berry, and it’s a very sexy shade. It’s easy to apply because of it’s intense pigmentation, which gives you great color payoff in one swipe! It’s definitely a darker, bolder color than the Revlon 610 I mentioned above, but it’s not unwearable at all. I’ve grown up using MAC lipsticks because they’re one of the first brands you reach for when phasing into “adult” brands, and they’ve been consistently reliable.

*Mac is also giving away a full sized lipstick with any purchase today, in honor of lipstick day.

+ points for intense pigment, and all round iconic colors
– points for being drying, combat with lip primer or moisture balm before.
– points for not being able to tell what color youre using before you open the product, all the MAC lipsticks come in the iconic black and silver bullet so if you have more than one you wont be able to tell which is which when the cases are closed.

8. 3CE MOOD RECIPE #221 Mellow Flower

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I honestly bought this in Korea because of its extremely gorgeous packaging. 3CE really knows how to market – I’m lowkey in love with all their models, and every time I see a new post from them on instagram I just want to stab myself for not being a korean. But it’s a hit and miss brand for me – I’ve tried several products from 3CE previously which I didnt like, leading me to feel like they’re more a cult brand than anything. Still, I cant help but reach for their products whenever I’m near their booth in the duty free store..

This product was really a sleeper hit for me. It reminds me of the Kylie Jenner lip collection with its sultry mauve shades meant to emulate a certain moodines, and it has a great formulation that goes on smoothly. It’s pigmented, though not as intense as the Urban Decay or MAC pigments, which means you can actually blot it out for a blurry effect. This color in particular is somewhere in between a pink and a red, and the final color kind of depends on your skin tone. For me, I find it’s a bit orangey-red (although you dont find that description anywhere on their main site), but you’ll see from their official website that it can come off cool-red or pinkish too. The kicker? Everytime I wear this, someone asks me what lipstick I’m wearing. That’s got to be a good sign.

+ points for cool name
+ points for aesthetic packaging


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So those are my favorites! To be fair, I’m also including some lip products that I did not like so you know what worked and what didn’t work for me. Some of the following products are really highly raved about too, which just goes to show that there’s no one size fit all for beauty products.

Do not like:

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink

I love Maybelline, but this line just did not work for me. It’s a liquid lipstick line with extremely saturated colors (and I actually love the packaging because it’s matte with a huge color swatch out on the front), but I really disliked the application. It doesnt dry quickly, and when it does, it settles into the lip lines, giving a kind of stretched out, dry look. I find it has kind of a patchy finishing as well as time goes by. To be fair, it is very long lasting, which is what its name promises. But overall it just didn’t work for me.

Colorpop Lippie Stix

I kind of hate the Colorpop lippie stix although I think the Ultra Matte Lip is really good. It smells funky and I’ve always found it to be a bit chalky on the lips. And when I apply it I always feel like I’m a child at risk of eating some crayons and getting food poisoning for months after. Anyway, Colorpop’s main draw is its price point, but I feel like there’s no point paying any money at all for a product that’s so weird when there are so many good alternatives.

Etude House Dear My Glass Tinting Lips Talk

Etude house has so many great products but this is just not one of them. It has a super cute interchangeable packaging, but that just makes me wish it followed up with an equally cute product. In reality when I put this on I just felt confused. It’s not an outrightly bad product, but it doesnt feel comfortable on the lips either. It claims to be a lip tint, but it’s super sheer, so it’s more like a balm? The sheer color also made me feel like there’s such a thing as a product being too buildable – you have to go over it again and again to get a pigment close to the promised swatch, and after all that fuss, the product doesnt stay on for long (which to be fair, is true of most glossy lipsticks). Also, the name is too long.

FENTY MATTEMOISELLE in up2nogood

It breaks my heart to say this because I adore Rihanna, and I love what she’s doing with her make up brand. But this is a classic case of loving the message more than the product, because nothing from Fenty has worked for me so far 🙁 I hated the foundation, felt impartial towards the highlighter, and the lipstick also didn’t impress. I found that the colors weren’t flattering, and application was just alright, a bit uneven, which required blending out.


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This post has gone on for a bit too long, but there you have it – my hits and misses. I’m sure I’ll discover more products that I love and hate along the way, but for now, these are the ones that have stood out to me. Feel free to send me recommendations if you have them, and if you’ve tried any of the products above and liked them, tell me too so it doesnt feel like I’m perpetually shouting off into the void. Yeah? Yeah.

Happy World Lipstick day, yall!

x
Jem

#2070 | IZAWA Gyukatsu in Seoul

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Seoul, Korea

One of the best meals I had in Tokyo was preceded by a 45 minute queue winding down a tiny stairwell and spilling out into the streets of Shibuya. It was a katsu joint, but instead of them delivering a readymade katsu meal to you, you were served meat and a hot stone where you could sizzle the meat to your personal levels of perfection. The meal was so incredible to us that my sister ordered an extra 150g of meat despite being totally stuffed, and when I pointed out that she’d been complaining about totally overeating the entire trip, she told me to stop being a hater.

Good times, in other words. My sister and I sometimes remniscence about that meal fondly, but I never thought I’d be able to have it again unless I could somehow find my way back to Tokyo. Which explains why I was so suprised when I saw it sitting in a quiet alley in Myeong Dong during my trip to Seoul in March, and doubly explains why obviously I had to go in.

Now, I’m not sure if this is related to the Tokyo eatery I went to, but it shared the same concept. It was located in the basement of a building which was accessible by street level stairs, and you could order gyukatsu which came with a hot stone as well as unlimited refill of miso soup and salad. There were other options too, like pork donburi and beef bowls, but both Martin and I opted for the Gyukatsu because it was featured on the signboard and so was probably the signature item there.

I’m just going to say right away that Martin did not enjoy the meal, he was perplexed at the concept of having to cook his own food (“isn’t that what you pay service charge for?! The service of cooking!?”) and he likes his meat well done, so the option to control the level of rareness is pretty useless to him and just an additional step of trouble. Which are all perfectly fine reasons to dislike a meal. But I personally like my beef done medium or medium rare, and I also find it pretty fun to cook my own food because I like gimmicky things. So I loved this.

That’s all I really had to say about this place, I’m really just documenting this meal here because many people wrote to me to ask about it after I featured the meat on my instagram stories. It was a good meal for me and I would definitely go back. All the slices of meat I cooked tasted delicious to me and gave me a sense of validation that if I were ever to change career tracks, I would obviously have a great level of success as a chef. This may be a totally false belief, but the happiness I got from it was real, okay.

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I will say one thing about the meal, to end off this post. How on earth do they cook the outside of the cutlet to such great crispness while leaving the meat inside totally rare? I know I can probably find the answer pretty quickly by running a google search, but then some of the magic would be lost, methinks. Thus I continue to wonder occasionally about the perplexing complexities of culinary science, and life goes on.

IZAWA Gyukatsu Seoul
9-3, Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul 04537, South Korea

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Jem

2069| July’s To-watch Recommendation – Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

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Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

The second season of GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) dropped on Netflix a couple of weeks ago and my word it is excellent.

I fell in love with GLOW last year – it was released quietly (relative to other Netflix originals like Stranger Things or 13 Reasons Why) but quickly gained a loyal following for its 80s-rewind retro vibe, fresh concept, and satirical take on showbiz and women in hollywood. The show follows Alison Brie playing Ruth Wilder, a failed actress who auditions for a new women’s wrestling reality TV show called GLOW. The season chugs on at full speed as the cast of diverse actresses hired to play the worst stereotypes of their racial profiles come together and try to film a successful pilot episode, and there’s a lot of glitter, hair spray, and chokeslams. But the real heart of the show lies in the conflict between the two main leads, Alison Brie’s Ruth and Betty Gilpin’s Debbie, long time best friends who fell out because Ruth slept with Debbie’s husband (twice).

Season one establishes the story in a fun and dynamic way, but it never loses sight of the fact that sequins and spandex aside, the story is about the fractured relationship between the two leads. At the end of the first season, after a successful show, Brie asks Gilpin out for coffee, only to be rejected. “We’re not there yet,” Gilpin says, and it’s disappointing, but realistic – a splinter that deep does not get redeemed over the course of one season, closure be damned.

So, season one was great. I would have been ok if it ended there. Second seasons are always dicey, and I didnt think GLOW needed to risk undoing everything with a sequel just for the ratings. But I am so, so glad it got renewed, because the second season is even better than the first.

Season two is not perfect – ambitious and consequently uneven, but it is stunning in its efforts.

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One of my favorite episodes in season two centered around the relationship between Gilpin and Kia Stevens, who’s ring-persona is the offensively titled Welfare Queen

The female friendship between Brie and Gilpin was the anchor of season one, and in season two it is explored even more painfully. It reminds me of Ferrante’s brand of female friendship, one that is not afraid to explore the toxic and competitive tension between women, one that poses realistic yet difficult questions. It is to the showrunners credit that we are never truly able to take a side – because the characters are both so flawed, so deeply real, that you cannot help but empathise. This anchor branches out throughout the season to comment on the modern #MeToo movement, the way female power in the workplace is framed by male authority, the struggles of balancing motherhood and career, and the commodification of women in hollywood.

But beyond that, season two wrestles with larger issues like LGBT acceptance in the 80s, child support and teenage relationships, and it even manages to work in an arc about AIDS, which is present without being ever mentioned explicitly. That is a lot to take on for a ten episode season, which results in aforementioned unevenness. But the attempt to fully flesh out every topic they touch on as well as give all the wrestlers more back story, more show time, more character development, is so earnest that one can forgive the occasional missteps – which occur primarily in the show’s pacing, and not the actual storyline anyway.

It’s sobering that the issues faced by the characters in the 80s are still so relevant to the world today in 2018, and perhaps that is kind of the point. It’s kind of amazing that despite dealing with all these huge issues, GLOW never turns preachy (a problem Orange is the New Black, also by Jenji Kohan, suffered from in Season 5). Instead, it tackles them in the best way possible – by acknowledging the issues, slapping some glitter on, then jumping into the ring with them. The result? Taking season two into account, GLOW is now one of the best shows on Netflix. Watch it.


Season Two of GLOW is now streaming on Netflix.

Looking for more entertainment recommendations? You can read the rest of my monthly pop culture recommendations here

x
Jem

#2068 | yabasic

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Georgina’s 26th

We threw G a super basic birthday party last year to celebrate not just her 25th but also her homecoming after years and years of living in the big apple. One year has passed and she’s still as basic as ever (she brought like, gouda pizza to our christmas party when we asked for pepperoni, and ordered my fried-chicken-lovin best friend an avocado on toast for brunch when he wasnt looking..) and so we thought, same theme, bigger party, more basic.

Rose gold foil balloons, basic bitch catch phrases, matcha dark chocolate cake, cheese and meat platter with wine on one end of the room and fried chicken and nuggets on the other.. of course she loved it. And we love her. Happy twenty sixth, G. Although when she was insisting that she was only 16, we all exchanged looks: who’s going to tell her that pretending to be ten years younger than you are is like, so basic?

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Jem