Review: T3 SinglePass Styling Iron

T3 SinglePass Styling Iron ($160)
Provided for consideration by Folica.com

Features (from website):

  • Tourmaline ceramic plates emit far infrared heat to seal in moisture and reduce static
  • Digital T3 Tourmaline SinglePass™ technology monitors plate temperature in real-time to deliver fast, accurate heat
  • Maximum temperature of 450F
  • 9 foot swivel cord
  • Dual voltage ( plug adapter is necessary when used outside the US)
  • Beveled edges for styling versatility

Pros:

  • Tourmaline ceramic plates for heat transfer and reduction of frizziness
  • Temperature control dial for 170-450 degrees
  • Indicator light for heating and hot
  • On/Off switch
  • Thin and compact (comparable to GHD); very lightweight
  • Includes heat resistant mat
  • 2 year warranty

Cons:

  • On the expensive side ($160)
    • I personally purchase from Folica and subscribe to their newsletter. They frequently send out promotions and coupon codes that help with the price of these styling tools.
  • Plates do not move to conform to hair, as some other irons do
  • Neutral comment – there are some decorative crystals on one side which really serve no purpose to me. Maybe it adds a bit of grip? Not sure. I could do without them :p

Compared to Solia/Sedu:
+ More compact
+ Less pinching on hair
= Comparable price
= Comparable heating time

Compared to the g.h.d.:
+ Adjustable temperature
+ Lower in price
= Comparable size
- Takes longer to heat up
- Not as effective (for me)

Would I recommend?
I always like an adjustable temperature dial and on/off switch, both features found in the T3 iron. Also, this iron is nice and thin/compact, being comparable to the g.h.d. However, this is an average styling iron for me due to overall performance (keeping in mind that I have thick, coarse hair…so I’m a bit pickier about my styling tools). For the same price, I would rather recommend the Sedu straightening iron, unless the slightly larger size of it really puts you off.

Disclaimer:
This item sent to me for free by Folica.com for consideration as a part of the Folica Review Program but the views and opinions are that of my own. I did not receive any compensation or benefit for this review. For details of my full editorial policy, please click here.

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Current fitness regime: DIG DEEP!

(Image from Google Images)

For about the past 4-5 months, I’ve been training on and off for my first half marathon (22km / 13mi). I say “on and off” because I’ve been pretty diligent and consistent when I’ve been “ON”, but have also been riddled with unexpected injuries resulting in “OFF” times.

I sprained my ankle, which kept me out of training for about 5-6 weeks, and several weeks after that were spent slowly getting back into it. That was followed by shin splints on the opposite leg, most likely due to additional stress and impact from favouring the injured ankle. I’ve been to a couple physio treatments for this, and have been doing light strength training to help reduce the pain.

So throughout this whole ordeal, I started trying an alternative workout program at the recommendation of a few co-workers. Has anyone heard of Insanity?

(Image from Google Images)

What is it?
The best way I can describe it is as a similar daily workout program to P90x (produced by the same company), with strength training and dynamic movements — except with more emphasis on cardio training.

I haven’t been following the daily schedule, but I’ve been doing a workout at least 3x per week. With my work and travel schedule, sometimes this means waking up at 5:30am to work out before my day starts! I’ve also had to take it easy on some of the high-impact, jumping exercises…just to be cautious about further aggravating my injuries.

The Real Deal
The thing about workout programs like Insanity or P90x is that they’re not easy (understatement of the year). P90x in particular assumes you are already pretty fit to begin with. If it’s your first few times doing Insanity, don’t expect to complete an entire workout video without taking more breaks than shown. If you CAN finish it on your first try, holy crap you’re in shape and I hate your guts.

The first few times I did Insanity, I was cursing at the screen and wanting to die. And I assume I was already in some decent cardio shape from running (was averaging around 20km per week). The most important thing is to know your limits and make sure you are keeping in good form. Let the video push you, but not beyond what is safe and effective.

So true.
(Image from Google Images)

Results?
Like I said, I don’t follow the daily calendar to a T, but I do make it a point to do these workouts regularly (at least 2-3 times per week). Even then, I actually HAVE seen results. The workouts have become less of a struggle to complete, which I hope indicates strength building and cardio conditioning. I’ve trimmed down in the belly region, and am starting to see the formation of abs (which is a combination of ab muscle building and losing fat).

A few other reasons why I like this workout?:

  • You don’t need any equipment at all
    …Except maybe a mat, to soften impact and for floor exercises).
  • It doesn’t take up much space
    You don’t have to go to a gym to do this workout. I pretty much do this workout in my apartment or hotel room, unless I’m doing it with someone else…in which case some more space in a gym or outdoors might be needed.
  • Focuses more on cardio conditioning
    There’s definitely some strength training involved, but there’s more emphasis on cardio than in P90x, which has a ton of strength training and upper body conditioning that I’m not interested in and can’t complete anyway.

Interested?
Give it a try for at least a few weeks if you’re interested. If you want to throw Shaun T out the window and swear at the screen while you’re working out, don’t worry I think that’s normal. But I’ve seen results more quickly than I thought, so maybe you will too.

The website has a 90-day satisfaction guarantee on the DVDs, though you might want to look into the fine print first. Or you could always borrow them from someone else or download the videos online, then support the company by buying the DVDs afterwards if you like them.

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Review: GHD Gold Professional 1″ Styler

GHD Gold Professional 1″ Styler ($225)
Provided for consideration by Folica.com

 Features (from website):

  • Includes protective plate guard to cover hot plates for easy storage and travel
  • Cooler, lighter body
  • Smoother plates
  • Professional finish
  • Ceramic heaters
  • Contoured plates
  • Rounded barrel
  • Heats up to 374F
  • Sleep mode
  • Universal voltage
  • Authenticity guaranteed
  • 2-Year Manufacturer’s Warranty

Pros:

  • Heats up very quickly
  • Plate guard helps for travel and storage (no need to wait so long for plates to cool down!)
  • Super thin, light, and compact
  • Smooth plates
  • Automatic Sleep Mode feature is great for safety
  • 2 year warranty

Cons:

  • Price reflects the “professional salon” quality ($225)
    • I personally purchase from Folica and subscribe to their newsletter. They frequently send out promotions and coupon codes that help with the price of these styling tools.
  • No adjustable temperature dial

Compared to the g.h.d. Classic Styler ($185):
+ Slightly better performance
= Heats up very quickly
= No adjustable temperature (one setting only)
= Automatic Sleep Mode feature available in both
- 20% more expensive

Overall Comments
I bought the g.h.d. Classic Styler about 1-2 years ago, and it was already my favourite straightener. This is hands down my new favourite iron for straightening only. I know $225 is a lot to pay, but if you’re like me and constantly on the lookout for the perfect iron, this could very well be The One. For most people, buying this iron at this price point is unnecessary – you can get great (or maybe even equal!) results with the g.h.d. Classic Styler… or even other irons if they work well enough for you!

Not having adjustable temperature doesn’t make a HUGE difference to me, because my hair is quite thick and coarse, so I use a pretty high setting on adjustable irons anyway. However, for those of you with finer hair, you’re better off looking for an iron that allows you to use a lower temperature setting.

The auto Sleep Mode feature on the g.h.d. irons is a great safety check that gives me peace of mine.

When it comes to curling…this iron claims to be easier to use to create flawless curls and waves. To be honest, yes it was a bit easier to get nice looking curls, but it wasn’t so much easier that I would recommend getting this iron for that reason alone. This would be a non-deciding factor for me.

Would I Recommend?

Only for those who are having a difficult time finding a styling iron that performs well on their hair. For most people, I think the g.h.d. Classic Styler would be sufficient (at $40 less, too!). I wouldn’t recommend this for people who have fine hair who are already able to see good results using a lower temperature setting on other irons.

 

Disclaimer:
This item sent to me for free by Folica.com for consideration as a part of the Folica Review Program but the views and opinions are that of my own. I did not receive any compensation or benefit for this review. For details of my full editorial policy, please click here.

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Hardware Upgrade! :)

I still remember over 4.5 years ago when I finally decided to take the plunge and switch to Apple. My dad helped pay half (since it was also for education-use) of my white Macbook.

Since then, the cost of technology (as always) has gone down quite a bit, and you can get a lot more now, for a lot less.

As you can see, my Macbook was very well loved, and has a few battle scars to prove it.

This laptop has served me so well…and I’m still amazed that after 4.5 years, it’s still running decently! I’ll probably use it as an “around the house” machine :)

Now…let me introduce you to my new friend…

Isn’t that just SO freakin sexy?!?! This time, it was Nima helping me out with the purchase…as my early birthday / Christmas present (thanks boo! <3)

It’s so sparkly and new lol!! And it’s so damn fast too (upgraded to 8gb RAM)…I practically THINK a command and it does it :P So so so happy about this…been waiting a long time to upgrade cuz I could never justify the splurge, since moving costs and everything this past winter have been so expensive!

Any other Mac lovers out there?

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miss.erica on Being a Career Woman

I often cite “work” as a reason why I disappear from YouTube / blogging for months at a time. To give you some insight on why, I’ve decided to provide a very high-level peek into the career life of miss.erica.

What is it that I do? I’m a technology consultant.

What does that mean? Could mean anything…ha ha ha :)

Where do you work? Not something I’m willing to disclose publicly online! Haha!

I often work bizarre hours. Working with clients who are based all over the world means taking meetings or conference calls at all hours of the day. When your typical “business hours” don’t align with those in, say, Asia-Pacific, you learn to be flexible and accept that work trickles into your home/personal time.

I sometimes work long hours. In my line of work, it’s pretty much expected that you work til the work gets done, and done right. This doesn’t mean I work 20 hours a day, every day (like some people unfortunately do :( ), but it does mean sometimes I pull 12+ hour work days. Then again, sometimes I work your average 8-9 hours too, so it’s not always predictable.

I sometimes travel. When your clients are located outside of your home city, or they need you to visit other office locations, or for whatever other reason (training, conferences, etc.), it means you travel. For the past 5 weeks, I have pretty much only been home for weekends, flying out on Sundays and not returning til Friday evening. It isn’t always like this, but sometimes it is. In my line of work, it’s expected that you’re prepared to travel, sometimes at very short notice. Traveling for work may sound glamourous, but let me tell you, it can be exhausting (mentally and physically). And don’t mistake traveling for work as the same or even similar to traveling for vacation!

I try to maintain a healthy work/life balance. When I’m not working, I like to find time to unwind by either being totally lazy (less often) or being active (more often). Traveling lots, working lots, not necessarily eating the healthiest (but making an effort to!) means it’s extra important I take care of my physical health. I go running or do interval training to make sure I’m still looking & feeling great.

Family and friends are important to me! Aside from all of the above mentions, of course it’s super important to me to spend time with my family, friends, and Nima :) Surrounding yourself with people you love (and who love you!) is a great way to spend your leisure time. Nuturing and maintaining those relationships whenever I can is extremely high on my list of life priorities.

That being said, it’s not that YouTube / blogging is not a priority to me, or isn’t important. However, filming/editing/posting videos is such a time consuming process that requires a lot of dedication! Sometimes I just don’t have enough hours in a day (or energy in my body) to keep it up. However, blogging is a much easier outlet for me to still express myself without having to dedicate entire days at a time for 1 post. Thank goodness for blogging!

On being a career woman… It’s no secret that career is high on my priorities at this point in my life. At this point in time, I’m not too concerned about getting married or having kids. I’m not too concerned about caring for a husband or being a homemaker. Maybe in time.

For all of you strong, empowered, independent women out there who are driven by your career, don’t let social pressures force you to fit a certain stereotype or play a role that is the superficial definition of a “woman”. Pursue whatever excites you and follow whatever you have a passion for. Do things that challenge you, and challenge those who tell you otherwise.

You go girl.

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What on earth have I been up to?!

Well, life took over for me again. I’ve pretty much been on the road at least 4-6 days per week for work, which is actually pretty typical for my line of work. I can’t seem to wash the stale smell of airplane from some of my clothes :(

Other than that, Nima and I took a short 4-day vacation to Las Vegas! Yes, Las Vegas again seems a bit boring, but we went especially for the Electric Daisy Carnival dance festival. Actually bumped into a lot of people we knew, and met a lot of people we didn’t know. It was tons of fun, but I won’t bore you with the details.

PIX OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN!

 

A couple of pix before Night #1. We weren’t quite sure what to expect…

My shirt says “I love my DJ”…not “I love my D” lol…

A couple of the stages (there were 5 in total):

And to give you an idea of how packed it was (about 100,000-150,000 attendees each night, they estimate):

Touristy daytime picture:

AVICII pool party at Marquee (Cosmo):

Yes, this is us right in the front row. You can see how close we were to AVICII!

Overall an amazing experience. Am I glad I went? Yes. Would I do it again? I’m not so sure…I’m glad I experienced it once, but once might be enough for my lifetime lol!

I do want to talk in general about the EDM scene and about some of the controversial issues around it that drives a lot of negative publicity…but more about that another time!

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Social media doesn’t give us all an excuse to be mindless sheep

I have followed Xia Xue for a long time… I love that she’s so candid and doesn’t give a sht what other people think.

Her views on the social media phenomenon of KONY 2012 are very interesting. I particularly enjoy her calling out all the “slacktivists” and self-righteous people out there (IMO, many of whom don’t really even understand the depths of the issue, and haven’t even stopped to think about it before retweeting, posting, or liking).

Whether you agree or disagree with her (and let’s be very clear that I don’t agree with all of it, because I do strongly believe in charitable giving to causes you support and believe in), it’s an interesting read from “the other side”: http://xiaxue.blogspot.com/2012/03/invisible-and-visible-sympathy.html

I’ll be totally honest with you, I did not “Like”, tweet, or post anything whatsoever (here, Facebook, YouTube, whatever) about KONY 2012 because there’s a lot more depth about this issue than what’s included in the video, and I refuse to support a cause based on a single view presented through viral media. The issue is a lot more complex than the video portrays, and some “facts” presented in the video are outdated by years.

Did you know Joseph Kony and the LRA haven’t been operating in Uganda for several years now? (source)

Did you know Invisible Children did a showing of this video in Uganda, and  that ”Uganda’s government has taken to the Internet to correct a “false impression” about the country it says was created by a U.S. celebrity-backed online campaign to hunt down fugitive warlord Joseph Kony.”? (source)

Did you know that ”The BBB Wise Giving Alliance has tried for six years to get Invisible Children to cooperate in a charity review. Since 2006, BBB has sent 18 letters (12 via Certified Mail) to the non-profit behind the Internet phenomenon Kony 2012 video, but has received no response.”? (source)

Do you know how much of your donation actually gets donated to the cause, and how much is used to cover salaries, production costs, administrative overhead, etc? “Last year, the group raised about $8.7 million but only 37 percent — about $3.3 million went to support programs in central Africa.” (source)

I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t support this cause — that decision is totally up to you. I’m saying with the power of the Internet (and the power of any choice, really), each of us has to THINK and EDUCATE OURSELVES before we mindlessly go clicking “Like” or re-posting stuff all over the web.

Although we all know there are tons of complete Internet fuckwads out there who hide behind the veil of a computer, for those of us who actually have something productive / meaningful / intelligent to contribute to the interwebs, don’t forget that Social media doesn’t give us all an excuse to be mindless sheep.

Do your research and use your own brain to form an opinion. It’s easy to get swept up in a social media frenzy, but even though you are one of many, your stand makes a difference (whether it is one way or the other).

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Tutorial: Doe-Eyed Makeup (inspired by Aria from Pretty Little Liars)

This tutorial is inspired by Lucy Hale’s character (Aria) from Pretty Little Liars. Here’s the non-funky-fied original photo hehe :) :

Please don’t mind the chicken hair…growing out the bangs :P

The eyeshadow is pretty straightforward (any standard brown look), but Aria’s signature look is her giant, gorgeous doe-eyes and full, thick lashes…the type of eyelashes I don’t have but wish I did…and the type of bottom lashes that are essentially non-existent for me :(

 A couple of pointers for this look:

  • Don’t use black eyeliner…it will look too harsh. Use brown eyeliner instead, and if you want, go back over it again with black/charcoal eyeshadow.
  • Lining your bottom waterline with a light coloured pencil is key in making your eyes look bigger. White is often used, but beige/nude colours are great too. I find it can look more natural than white!
  • Only line your bottom lash line with brown on 2/3 or 3/4 towards the inside.
  • Aria’s eyebrows are always very strong. Don’t forget to define your brows and make a statement with them.
  • Lips can be anything you want, but in this tutorial I use a bright pink that I often see the PLL girls wearing in the show :)

Check out the YouTube tutorial here or below!

 

Products Used:

  • Foundation: Maybelline Fit Me – 220 Natural Beige
  • Primer: UDPP – Sin
  • Base: NYX Jumbo Eyeshadow Pencil – Dark Brown
  • Shadow: NYX Palette – Champagne & Caviar
  • Shadow (inner corner): MAC Pigment – Lithe
  • Gel Eyeliner: e.l.f. Cream Eyeliner – Coffee
  • Pencil Eyeliner (for beige waterline): Chromagraphic Pencil – NC15/NW20
  • Brows: e.l.f. Brow Kit – Dark
  • Brow highlight: MAC Eye Shadow – Femme Fi
  • False lashes
  • Bronzer / Contour: MAC Powder Blush – Equilibrium
  • Lipstick: MAC Sheen Supreme Lipstick – Ultra Darline
  • Lip Gloss: DiorKiss – Cotton Candy

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Tutorial: miss.erica’s “Go-To” Makeup

This tutorial is what I call my “Go-To” makeup look — meaning when I wear a full face of makeup, this is the look I most often default to. It’s a simply smokey brown that’s great for any occasion!

I don’t wear this every day, because honestly, I can’t be bothered to wear a full face of makeup to work every day. I prefer a bit of sleep-in time :) But if I have a reason to wear full-faced makeup (going out for the night, special occasion, just feel like feeling pretty lol, etc.), this one comes up the most often!

Check out the YouTube tutorial here or below!

 

Products Used:

  • Foundation: Maybelline Fit Me – 220 Natural Beige
  • Primer: UDPP – Sin
  • Base: MAC Paint Pot – Dangerous Cuvee
  • Shadow: NYX Palette – Champagne & Caviar
  • Gel Eyeliner: Stila Smudge Pot – Black
  • Pencil Eyeliner: MAC Kohl Pencil – Feline
  • Brows: e.l.f. Brow Kit – Dark
  • Brow highlight: MAC Eye Shadow – Femme Fi
  • False lashes
  • Bronzer / Contour: Benefit – Hoola Bronzer
  • Blush: Cargo Blush – The Big Easy
  • Cheek Highlight: MAC MSF – Refined

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