The Budget/Baller Series: Face Favorites (Notes on How I Keep My Face from Sliding Off after Years of Bad Behavior) & GIVEAWAY

ejlsansmakeup(no makeup via flourishinprogress on Instagram)

Like everything I touch, this series has devolved very quickly. I wanted to keep it classy and share my favorite products and ladylike tips, but then in my first post about Hood+Good Lips, I admitted that when my Tom Ford lipstick broke off and fell to the floor, I just mashed the stick back into the tube and continued to use it. In the Thugnificent Coif edition, I changed the name of the series from Dope Shit for (T)hugs to Budget/Baller because the original name reminded me of a dope dealer I recently met. One day, I want to live a life where no one I know is on parole, evading arrest, or incarcerated, and they will all be employed in fields that are unlikely to lead to the aforementioned possibilities. Maybe my dreams are too big. 

In this Face Favorites edition, I’m going to share exactly why I’m now so meticulous about skincare and none of the reasons are classy or ladylike.

A lot of people think I get some kind of “Asian genes boost.” These people have obviously never met my parents. Both sides of my family are riddled with poor genes and everything that goes along with it. I smoked on and off for 18 years (mostly on). I abused drugs for 9 years. I hate wearing sunscreen. I frequented tanning salons until my early 20’s. My diet is mostly hydrogenated fats and artificial coloring. I lost my Fitbit, so fuck exercise. And I certainly can’t depend on inner calm and peace for a healthy glow. I’m not even sure what those feel like.

I heavily depend on products in hopes of counteracting or reducing the visible effects of the damage I’ve caused. And since I rarely take pictures without any makeup, I decided to take one this morning. So you could see what I really look like.  I felt very self-conscious about it which is weird because my selfie habit on Instagram is pretty strong. Why all this sudden shyness? I don’t try to figure myself out anymore. It’s exhausting.

P.S. This is not a sponsored post. I forrealz use this shit and I forrealz like em.

bbffave1Original/Plain Organic Instant Oatmeal ($5ish for a box-I prefer boxes of individual packets over a large canister): I believe in exfoliation. And Jesus. The two aren’t related, but I’m not afraid to rep good skin AND the Lord. For the past 7 years, I’ve been using my Clarisonic brush as my staple and mixing in new products here and there. Last year, when my skin was too sensitive even for the Clarisonic, I started exfoliating with oatmeal. It seemed like a bullshit tip at first, but after using it 3x a week for a month, my face was noticeably calmer and less red.

Pour 1/4 of a packet into your hand and close your fist under a gentle flow of warm water in the sink for about 15 seconds. Take your fist out of the flow and mash the oatmeal in your hands, creating a paste. Add a little more water if it seems too thick to spread easily on your face. Wet your face and gently rub the oatmeal around the entire face (avoid the eye area), adding more water if needed. Rinse thoroughly and check to see if that shit got in your hair.

Note 1: Place a paper towel over the drain to catch the oatmeal. Note 2: I’m not recommending any particular brand. I just used the above picture because it was the clearest non-angled image I could find on Google. Most were fuzzy. I guess people don’t give a fuck about making oatmeal look good.

ReVive Les Yeux Presse ($185.00/0.5 oz.): I have fallen prey to katrillions of gimmicky face potions and wasted a shitload of money. I guess everyone has their own rules about how they will and will not spend their money. For me, my budget for a phone case is $3. I saw a pretty fly case at Target a while back. It was on sale for $18, and I walked around the store with it, but I eventually put it back. That ain’t me. I ain’t about that life.

I will, however, spend $185 on a 0.5 oz. eye cream. Every time I go to the ReVive counter to buy another Les Yeux Presse, the sales associates try to push a second eye cream, one that has “lasting reparative benefits.” LYP is a quick pick-me-up, and the bulk of its effects only last a few hours. But the effects are MAGICAL. Within a few minutes of applying it under my eye, fines lines are gone, darkness fades, and puffiness disappears.


KYPRIS Antioxidant Dew ($55/2 oz.) and
KYPRIS Beauty Elixir III- Prismatic Array ($150/2 oz.): Since my late teens, my skin has gradually become more sensitive, and for years, I had varying degrees of redness or peeling, coupled with bumps and rashes and breakouts. While I’m still excited about trying new products, I’m also cautious because I know that once my skin becomes irritated, it can sometimes takes weeks or even months to calm down. I heard about KYPRIS Beauty through my homie, Bennett, and because I’ve become somewhat adept at sorting through all the bullshit flowery language and checking ingredient lists for potential irritants, I spent time on their site before trying two of their products.

This shit is off the chain.

Travel is always the biggest test for my skin. Recirculated air on airplanes, time zone changes, restless sleep in strange beds…my skin looks horrible when I get home. The biggest benefit to the Dew coupled with Elixir III is the consistent glow/lack of irritation. I’ve had almost no peeling (my chin is always super dry) which makes makeup application so much easier.

Just before I started using these two KYPRIS products last year, I stocked up on 6 bottles of my favorite moisturizer during a rare promotion. Each 1 oz. bottle would last me, on average, a month, so I took advantage of the sale. I just gifted all 6 bottles to my mom. And in the time it would have taken me to go through 4 of those bottles, I’ve barely used half a bottle of the Antioxidant Dew.

I think it’s pretty baller that the entire line currently consists of only 3 serums and 3 elixirs. You know that shit is serious business.

Giveaway: KYPRIS Antioxidant Dew


I eventually connected with KYPRIS founder, Chase Polan, after becoming a huge fan of her products. Initially, I just wanted to give her a fist bump and rave about her line, but I found myself asking if she would be open to giving away a bottle of Antioxidant Dew ($55). Some people might hesitate before asking for things from people they’ve never met, but luckily, I’m not bogged down with nonsense like manners. Chase didn’t even hesitate before saying yes. She seems real gracious. If I hang out with her, will some of that rub off on me?

I was drawn to the Antioxidant Dew because it’s suitable for most skin types and meant to calm environmentally stressed and imbalanced skin. I just pat in four or five drops before I apply any of my other face products, and it’s really helped with hydration.

To enter: Leave a comment below with your best or most uncommon/unexpected beauty tip. Only comments left on this post will qualify. Giveaway entry period ends Monday, April 7, at 11:59 p.m. PT. I’ll pick a winner and announce it in next week’s post.

Holler at me: Flourish in Progress on Facebook, @flourishinprogress on Instagram, @ElizabethJLiu on Twitter
So much not-seen-on-this-blog stuff. An excellent way to waste time for absolutely free.

The Budget/Baller Series: Thugnificent Coif Edition

rainbowhair1flourishinprogress on Instagram

My first post in the Dope Shit for (T)hugs series was all about Hood + Good Lips. I liked the concept (and according to hundreds of Flourish in Progress Reader Surveys, so did you) but I didn’t like the name. Why? Because I recently met a big time d-boy (dope dealer) and now, every time I think about the word “dope, ” I just picture that homie. And his bodyguards.

Hence, Budget/Baller. In each edition, I’ll focus on one category and share products that I love and personally use on a regular basis. Some editions will focus on my budget favorites, while others (like this one) will be decidedly baller status.

P.S. I was not given any of these products for free or at a discount. All of these were purchased with my husband’s hard-earned money.


I kept my hair pretty short until my 20’s. I liked the idea of long hair, but I knew that if I ever grew it out, my go-to hairstyle would be a wet bun right out of the shower. Unlike 99.9% of Asian women, I do not have sleek, straight hair. It’s wavy and poufy. I can’t just throw a little bit of product in while my hair is wet and have it dry into fun, beachy waves. Instead, it looks real electrocuted-like. See:


I use the tools listed below to achieve this:



Parlux 3800 Hair Dryer ($235): I love this bitch so much, but I almost didn’t include it because buying one here in the U.S. was a pain and it colored my opinion of the hair dryer when I initially got it. Parlux is an Italian brand, and while it is sold through several different online retailers including Amazon, I wasn’t going to purchase a $200+ hair dryer without handling it in person first. If you purchase a Parlux online, please make sure the retailer is reputable. And use some sense, folks. If it seems too good to be true, there’s probably a reason why.

I’m wary of buying beauty tools on Amazon after discovering that two (possibly three) Clarisonics I purchased from the site were counterfeit. I don’t buy items sold through third parties on Amazon. I will only buy products that are sold directly by the site or “sold by ____, fulfilled by Amazon,” which means that it comes from one of Amazon’s warehouses even if an outside business technically owns the merchandise. Amazon was totally cool about offering refunds for the two counterfeit Clarisonics I still had (I threw another one away after it stopped working), even though one of them was more than a year old. Because of their customer service, I’m still shopping on their site, but I now only buy expensive beauty tools from a brand’s authorized retailers. These can usually be found on the brand’s website. Most companies no longer honor a warranty if the product was purchased on Amazon or eBay. The more you know, motherfuckers. 

I purchased the hair dryer from a brick and mortar store, but I’m not going to name it because they quoted a price for the dryer that was $70 HIGHER than the listed price on their own website. I confronted the owner about this discrepancy because I don’t fuck around when someone is trying to take a grip of my dolla bills that don’t even belong to them. She matched the online price and acted like she was doing me a favor. Bitch, please. I shoulda just walked out with my head held high, but that dryer was way more important than my pride. Before I even opened the box, I decided to hate the Parlux 3800 and call it ugly names.

I am, however, finding it extremely difficult to hate on this hair dryer. It started off at such a disadvantage that it could have spun my hair into gold which I would cut off and sell for katrillions of dollars and it STILL would only end up at point zero on the scale. But the Parlux 3800 has cut my drying time in half and I no longer have those random ornery hairs that stick out. It’s so much lighter than other models comparable in size. And it’s pretty quiet. I can’t hate it…cuz I love it.

Jilbere Instant Heat 12 Roller Ceramic Hair Setter ($39.99, but I got mine for less cuz…coupon): I used to buy a lot of hair care products when I was poor at Sally Beauty because it was real cheap but still decent. I never got the hang of curling irons (it takes too long, and also, this one time, my friend Ginna burned herself near the eye and she looked stupid). I’ve purchased and returned countless other hot roller sets, both budget and baller, but I always come back to Jilbere. The above picture is for the 6 roller travel set because I could not find a clear picture of the 12 roller set. Super ghetto but works super good. I’ve never replaced a set because they stopped working. The lid is pretty flimsy so it cracks easily. I occasionally buy myself a new set because I don’t like cracks and I’m worth it.

Acca Kappa Professional Pneumatic Nylon and Boar Bristle, Oval ($42.00): I do enjoy me a nice Mason Pearson nylon and boar bristle brush, and it’s the one I keep in my purse, but the Italian brand, Acca Kappa, is legit as fuck. The only brick and mortar Acca Kappa store in the U.S. is in The Venetian Grande Canal Shoppes in Las Vegas. They used to have a store in L.A. I tried to keep it open by buying a lot of shit, but the task was too great for one lone thug. The oval pneumatic brush is good for brushing after styling. I also use the Acca Kappa beechwood comb ($30) to detangle my hair after bathing. The first gift I ever gave Harv was an Acca Kappa hairbrush. He’s hard to shop for, so the rest of his gifts have been kind of shitty, but that brush was on point.

Olivia Garden NanoThermic Ceramic+Ion 2.125 inch ($19.99): I blow dry my hair level by level and section by section (I can’t explain this good in writing but I will show you in person if we meet). I own four of these brushes so that I can leave them in after I’ve dried a section. If they won’t stay on their own accord, I use the hot roller clips to keep them in place. Each level of hair is usually four sections for me. When I am done drying all four sections, I take out the brushes, and not to brag or anything, but that shit looks sensational.
Now you now all of my hair secrets. For more Budget/Baller editions in the future, subscribe to Flourish in Progress through Feedly or Bloglovin.

Also, I can help you waste time at work. “Like” the Flourish in Progress Facebook page or follow along on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). Or….Twitter (@ElizabethJLiu). But I don’t really give a fuck about Twitter so don’t worry about that one.

ADVISE THE IGNORANT: I’m not very computer savvy, so I used an app on my phone to make the tools collage picture above. Do you have any recommendations for phone apps or computer programs (is that what they’re called?) that are simple and easy-to-use for adding text to images, creating collages, creating graphics, and other stuff I don’t even know about but should? Nobody suggest Photoshop. I said EASY. Thank you for your help and thank you for being smarter than me.