A session with Bioré charcoal self-heating mask

I absolutely love face-masks. It is my go-to skin pampering routine. It does not matter if am wearing a face mask and working on my research as long as am indulging in the act of self-care. I do not by any stretch of imagination mean to say that self-care is limited to skin care, pedicure or a massage. To me self-care is anything you do to set aside time for yourself and make yourself your priority. The most important thing is that it has to be self-initiated. It requires breaking away from everything else to focus on one thing – you and your wellness. Much of what we do may help us function but what we need is that which helps us flourish. Self-care is also not a one-time thing. It is a habit, a constant loop of little things that together make you feel a sense of calm and bring out the best in you – emotionally, physically and mentally. And as long as you are taking steps to ensure that, you are fine as there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

One of these little habits for me is applying a face-mask. I love trying new face masks. I have a combination (dry on cheeks and ok on T-zone) kind of sensitive skin that is prone to break outs when I use certain very strongly scented products. I am yet to figure that out but I have been kind of lucky with face masks. When I was in the US for a few months earlier this year, I ordered the Bioré charcoal self-heating one minute mask off Amazon. I had forgotten to take my usual Himalayan charcoal face mask by Bodyshop (one of my favourites for exfoliation and cleansing) and when I saw this on Amazon, I thought of giving it a shot. I loved it enough to buy a back-up pack before I returned. I have tried the single use packs that come in a small package.

There are 4 sachets in one pack. The instructions are to apply the mask on a wet face (as it is activated by water). You apply the mask (you can add some water to it, it is quite a thick paste) with dry fingers (you can use a brush if you want to). You then massage for a minute and wash it off completely with water. My favourite part is as I massage, the mask heats up and it leaves a fantastic sensation on the face as you work your fingers on it. I do not feel any tingling sensation. On washing however, I feel like my skin feels super fresh and weirdly, very minty and cool. I also love how smooth and clean it feels. This mask does not brighten my skin (it does not claim to either) but I love its effect on the texture and the way my skin feels nourished and clean. I do not have a lot of visible pores but everyone has them and I feel this helps clear them all up. I then pat dry and follow-up with my moisturiser. The product does say it is hypoallergenic, so that is good for sensitive skin types like mine. I wish I had bought more of these.

Have you tried this mask? Would love to hear any similar recommendations. I have not seen these in the UK but if I do, I will definitely repurchase them.

P.S. The post is not sponsored and all opinions are my own after having tried 5 sachets of this product.

 

Little touches.

A week or two back, as I chopped some cabbage to make some palya (Kannada for a dry vegetable stir fry dish – there are a zillion varieties), I realised yet again how much of my mother resides in me. In the past month or so, I am increasingly beginning to take notice of this. Of how far I have come and yet how much of home lives in me.

Ma used to never hurry or half-heartedly make anything. We may not have had elaborate and extravagant meals that seem to flood social media these days where a regular meal has half a dozen fantastic looking (and tasting) dishes. What we did have was one fantastic regular meal that was cooked with panache. I say this because ma always had some idea of up-ing a dish – maybe a different oggaraNe*(Kannada for seasoning) or some ground paste or a not commonly thought of vegetable combination. We were not big foodies (I am a foodie now thanks to K) but we appreciated good food. But it was not just about good food with ma. It was about giving yourself and giving it all when you take up something. Cooking, cleaning, making flower garlands, saying a prayer, meticulously looking at bank statements – everything was done to completion and to the best of her abilities. It did not matter as much to her how perfect the outcome was so long as she had given her best. And not a thing has changed. The lesson stays on.

So, as I chopped the cabbage and then pictured a possible paste that would amp up this palya, I thought to myself, “I will make it the way ma makes it, that would go better with…”, and then caught myself smiling. It is strange how these things rub off on you unwittingly. Which is why I do not feel as disappointed when something does not work out inspire f giving my all. But if I feel disappointed for something I haven’t worked for, I catch myself and remind myself of how it was more about me and not the circumstance. This mentality has helped me a lot and I am so grateful for it.

Small little actions that we did not notice as much back then but they have now become part of us, my brother and I. It warms my heart every single time I realise how close my parents are to me inspite of being thousands of miles away. And I cannot emphasise how beautiful that feeling is.

P.S. The featured image is the palya and it was great, incase you were wondering.

Taking the plunge.

It has been almost a year since I “started” this blog. I find it funny that I am writing now considering how this has been on my mind for so long. I have been toying with the idea of what my first post on this blog would look like, sometimes looking at photos from my travels this year (there have been quite a few of those this year, I tell you) and making repeated mental notes to write about them. Or, like yesterday when I was rearranging my wardrobe and wanted to write about this saree. Yet, it has taken this long, why?

Sometimes I wait too long. To make that perfect beginning, to want keep this place a reflection of my best. Now, this is really funny because, I intend for this space to be an honest me. After all, it is my life and times. Yet, I crave for a fantastic start. Like, when I start writing in a fresh notebook. I cannot tell you the amount of effort I put in making sure that the first page is my best writing, my best work. Sometimes, it takes too long. And something snapped. I don’t want to be that person anymore. I want to just start – and let it flow, uninterrupted by my unnecessary obsession for a “great” start.

So.

We moved. Again. From Singapore to UK. Surrey.  I still travel to sunny Singapore, am still a graduate student. And well, Singapore will always be my home, wherever I am. I found a third home I guess. At least I am warming up to the idea of UK being home. Before the big move, we heard all kinds of jokes from friends in Singapore about the 5 days of summer that London has, on how we must enjoy the sun while it lasts yada yada. Even the electrician who came to fix some stuff in our UK home didn’t understand why we would move from Singapore to England. I wish I could thrust this weather at them and see what jokes they make now. It has been so hot and sunny for two months now, sans the humidity that Singapore has in abundance (that we do not miss at all). I am not a sunny person. I mean, I enjoy sunshine but it does not decide my mood. I dislike hot and humid. I love winters (okay this maybe coming soon, but for now, I love them). It has been okay so far. I do like sunlight until 9 PM, so we are enjoying it (while it lasts).

We have found a home, all our shipment is unpacked. It was pretty daunting to see how much two people who do not have a hobby of collecting anything, can accumulate. I am not looking at you, books. Tsundoku is my thing, it adds value to our lives. At least I have convinced K of it. Seriously, all the travel and moving has made me watch videos on small homes and minimalism. I have not shopped for 2 months now, or maybe, three. It is liberating. That’s fodder for another day.

The thing is this. You don’t need much else to be happy about, in Surrey. There are so many wonderful surprises you encounter on a random walk in our neighbourhood, like this.

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If random walks lead to a gorgeous sunset behind that veil of green climbers, I am all for you, Surrey. I cannot wait to see what you have in store for us and what we make of you and our time here.