Thursday, November 24, 2016

A DIY Brightening Facial Serum

DIY Facial Serum - Lumière & Lens
A DIY brightening facial serum.

Today, I want to share a DIY brightening oil based facial serum.  Now that winter is just around the corner, my skin is in need of extra TLC and radiance.  The summer tan has faded and there's been a lot of erratic temperature changes (hot during the day and bitingly chilly at night in Los Angeles).

I was having a browse at nourishing skincare recently and was intrigued by facial oil serums.  I came across two products that were $20 and $38 for 15 mL.  I flipped the bottles over to look at the ingredients and noted the blends: grape seed, jojoba, argan, avocado, lemon, rosehip oils, etc.  IMHO, the products were a bit costly for their composition.  Since I have a lot of the ingredients at home, I decided to make my own facial serum.  If you're into DIY skincare, read on!

DIY Facial Serum - Lumière & Lens
DIY Facial Serum - Lumière & Lens

Ingredients for 1 fl. oz. / 30 mL Facial Serum

5 mL, Jojoba Oil - Trader Joe's
15 mL, Avocado Oil - Now
10 mL, Argan Oil - Pura D'or
1 Drop, Lemon Oil - Now
Small Beaker - Pyrex
1 ounce Amber Bottle with Dropper - Vivaplex

I get USDA certified organic oils when I can, but I generally trust skincare products from Trader Joe's and NOW.  The process is beyond simple: pour in relative proportions of the carrier oils and stir with the tip of the dropper until oils are well mixed.  A beaker is useful for measuring the oils, but you can eyeball it, too.  For brightening, I also added a drop of lemon essential oil.  Lemon essential oil is pretty strong so I wouldn't recommend more than a drop to prevent skin and nose irritation.  After mixing, I poured my facial serum into the amber glass bottle.  It's a good idea to store this in a tinted glass bottle since some of the ingredients are light sensitive.

DIY Facial Serum - Lumière & Lens

That's all there is to it!  Do you ever DIY your skincare?  What do you want to make or see made on Lumière & Lens?  Do let me know what you think in the comments! 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday #27: Angel City

Arts District, Mural, Los Angeles
Mural in the Arts District of Los Angeles.

It's the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I, for one, am glad that this coming week is on the shorter side.  I'm writing up this post before I head into lab for a few hours.  However, it's chilly, I'm cozy, and it's hard to leave the house.



I went out last to the Arts District in Los Angeles with my roommates/friends last night for a bar crawl.  I don't drink, but I do like good company!  We went to The Pie Hole to get pie and then Angel City Brewery.  I went pretty snap happy all night and ate A LOT of potatoes in the form of tots and fries.  See, got my vegetables in!  The Arts District is a pretty cool area: there's a lot of murals, spray paint art on the sidewalk, and plenty of interesting bars.  We ended up at Wurstküche before heading home, buzzed and with bellies full.  

The Pie Hole, Los Angeles, Arts District
The Pie Hole, Los Angeles, Arts District
Get the apple crumble pie!
Angel City Brewery, Los Angeles, Arts District
Angel City Brewery, Los Angeles, Arts District
Angel City Brewery, Los Angeles, Arts District
Angel City Brewery, Los Angeles, Arts District
Angel City Brewery, Los Angeles, Arts District
I don't know these people, but they looked happy.



I am on my last set of trays for my Invisalign braces!  I had braces as a teenager, but made the terrible mistake of  not wearing my retainers so my teeth moved out of place.  Moving teeth led to occlusal trauma.  Hence, Invisalign.  I got fitted for a permanent retainer on my bottom teeth that will sit under my retainer trays.  Apparently, a metal wire costs a pretty penny.  Between the metal retainer and the three plane tickets I have to buy to visit families in December, my bank card is crying.  However, I've got straighter teeth now, so yay?  Also, maybe I should've become a dentist!




My best friend, Gina, defended her thesis and is now a bona-fide Doctor of Philosophy in chemistry.  We met in our undergraduate years which seems so long ago.  In that time, she's published, grown as a scientist, and person.  Congratulations (because I know you read here)!  Proud and happy for you!



I had the opportunity to write my first guest posts recently.  Check out my makeup decluttering tips over at Gweni's blog, G Beauty.  I also wrote about positive ways to motivate yourself to exercise at Michelle's blog, Daisybutter.  Huge thank you to both Gweni and Michelle — this was an opportunity I really appreciated!

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Alvarez Guitars, Lumière & Lens, Alyse, Guitar
Alvarez AD710 Artist Series Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Meet my guitar, Eisley.   I've never properly dedicated a post to my guitar, though she's mentioned all the time, and is such a delightful part of my life.  So, hello, this is Eisley, my acoustic dreadnought guitar that is named after the band.  I say "she" because I anthropomorphize my instruments and consider them my babies.

I got Eisley on a summer afternoon in June, during a two hour lab break.  She is the first instrument that ever truly felt like mine and the guitar with which I do a majority of my musical learning.  I briefly dabbled with guitar during my undergraduate years, but abandoned it.  In the first year of my Ph.D. studies, I met the mister and our group of friends.  A lot of them play guitar and listening to them inspired me to revisit it.  For the first month that I had Eisley, I played in secret, too shy (still am) to play in front of others.

Alvarez Guitars, Lumière & Lens, Alyse, Guitar, Girl with guitar

I am primarily self-taught and it is an ongoing process that is both arduous and gratifying.  Unlike some uncertain things in life, I get out of it what I put into it.  I remember struggling with simple chord changes in the beginning that are second nature now.  Finger-picking seemed impossible at one point!  Like any form of education, there is always more to learn.  I reached the pinnacle of hardcore this weekend (no, not really) playing what I've learned of Fur Elise on an electric guitar.

Music inspires so many emotions and having Eisley helped me process many of my own over the years.  If I was going through something, I had the guitar and I could write bits of songs to echo what was on my mind.  At the end of the day, I have something that is completely my own, and that's music.  If all fails and employment doesn't pan out, I figure I can busk for money.  My vocal chops certainly garner reactions!  They include "you sound great," "please don't sing," and people in the car reaching over to turn up the radio.  In other words, I am NAILING IT.

Alvarez Guitars, Lumière & Lens, Alyse, Guitar, Girl with guitar

Since first year, I've picked up a travel sized acoustic guitar and a ukulele.  I do live in a very musical house and have access to keys, bass, electric guitars, and drums, but I always return to Eisley.  As I've gotten busier over the years, I've spent less time playing, but I'm actively making a habit out of it again!

Do you play anything?  Any tips you'd like to share on stringed instruments?

Photography by Jake Kim.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday #26: Ginger, Lemon, Honey

Ginger lemon tonic, tea to drink when you're sick
Healing with ginger, lemon, and honey.

It's that time of the year . . . even though it doesn't feel like autumn here, the seasonal sniffles are starting to make their round.  Yours truly has been hit with the cold since late last week.  I've been drinking ginger and lemon tea with honey like water for days!  The mister's caught it from me, too, and what a lovely pair we make.

AMERICA.  As the whole world tuned in to watch, our country elected it's new president.  Like 48% of American, I was bummed about the results.  I'm not going to clutter up this Sunday post with my disappointment, but you're welcome to read and respond to my thoughts after the election.  A silver lining to this is my own dedication towards being more empathetic and compassion because I don't want to add more negativity in this current climate.

CONFIRMED KILLS.  Confirmed Kills is Iliza Shlesinger's new standup special on Netflix.  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it because it's a feminist and empowering performance.  A snippet: command, not demand, respect through how you treat yourself and other women because "you teach people how to treat you."  I respected what she had to say on how society doesn't allow women to feel proud about themselves and their bodies, which I've long taken issue with.  How often does society complain that insecurity is "unattractive" on a woman?  Yet, when she loves herself and dares to show that, she still receives backlash.  LOVE YOURSELF. 

autumn colors, autumn leaves
Searching for autumn.

WARM TONES.  I'm expanding my photography outside of the usual cool, blue tones.  I've been feeling creatively stuck and I think using one color palette is extremely limiting.  There's an argument to be made for Instagram themes or portfolios, but my real life isn't that curated.  I'm experimenting with some warmer tones, especially since I'm searching for those "autumnal" colors that perpetually green California seems to lack.

SUPER MOON.  Everyone knows about the supermoon?  It's supposed to be the closest our moon has been to the Earth in 70 years.  I managed to get a picture of it in the waxing gibbous phase that I'm quite proud of considering my equipment limitations.  The mister got us tickets to see Car Seat Headrest tonight so I'm going to try to snap a few pictures around that.

I'm off to try to get things done before this evening.  What did you get up to this week?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

After the Election

Yesterday, I woke up bright and early to get to the polls in the morning.  I waited in line for over 75 minutes to get my ballot and punch in my votes.  As I worked from home, I kept an eye on the news, waiting anxiously for 5PM to come, for the polls to close.  Our household gathered after work, watching the results of the election come in live.  Like the rest of the world, we were glued to our screens.  We watched the electoral votes come in with sinking stomachs as the outcome we had neither predicted nor wanted solidified itself.  

I don't ever discuss politics on Lumière & Lens — it's meant to be a place of light, not controversy.  However, it's the day after the election and I am still reeling from the events of last night.  This is less a political essay and more of a post-election catharsis.  Last night, I had hoped that the United States of America would make history by electing Hillary Clinton as our first female president on the heels of our first Black one.  Instead, the presidential glass ceiling remained intact and she delivered her concession speech this morning with grace, dignity, intelligence, and composure.  

I am angry.  I am in shock.  I am in disbelief.  But, mostly, I am filled with sadness and fear for women, the LGBT community, people of color, and the nation.  This was an extremely divisive election where it was clear that education, race, gender, and sexual identity played huge roles in the votes.  The New Yorker dubbed the election results a tragedy and it certainly feels like one.  I had hoped that we were living in more progressive times, but the nation has elected a figure that appeals to the deep rooted racism, sexism, homophobia, and misogyny in the bowel of America.  This very act is frightening because having a person in power who built a campaign off these values normalizes hatred and imparts tacit permissiveness for people to act on such sentiments.  

This election was a huge step back in progressiveness.  I shudder at how many people cast their votes because they didn't want a female president or because they harbored xenophobic beliefs.  Or how much power the uneducated truly have in our legislation.  The age old adage "Knowledge is power" was completely upset last night.  Election night was terrifying proof that a man can openly admit to sexually assault and still win the presidency while a woman's transgressions are never forgiven.  Hate, ignorance, overt sexism, and discrimination overwhelmed and won this election.  

As a woman in science and non-white entity, I can't help but feel like I have a target on my back.  I fear for the future of women's rights, racial and gender tolerance, international relations, and scientific progress, to name just a few issues.  And at the moment, I am not sure of what to do with that fear.  At the same time, I've never felt more grateful for my education or the rights and privileges I still retain.   

This morning, I received and sent many messages of love and support.  Separated by hundreds of miles, loved ones reached out to one another.  I want to believe that love trumps hate even though the numbers have proven otherwise.  I want to hold on to the gratitude I have for the goodness that is around me.  I had a choice when I voted and  I can choose how I want to carry on.  I refuse to take part in hate, discrimination, and intolerance.  I REFUSE.  Push to spread love, unity, and support, not hate.  Be kind.  Educate yourself.  Be greater than the masses who supported hate and bigotry.  Create the better future.  

"Never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it. [...]
And to all the little girls who are watching this,
never doubt that you are powerful and valuable and deserving of every opportunity."
- Hillary Clinton, 11/09/16


Saturday, November 5, 2016

A (Mini) Luxury Skincare Haul

Call it getting older or living in a desert climate, but my skin has been in need of some extra care in the last year.  I try to keep my skin care affordable as much as possible, opting for DIY mixed facial oils and drugstore lotions that have worked for years.  Sometimes, though, products from the drugstore just won't cut it.  Desperate times, desperate measures, right?  Or as my best friend would enable advise me, "Treat yourself! You deserve it."  

Lately, my eye area has been quite dry and I've noticed some tiny wrinkles where my face creases when I smile.  Do I smile less or get some cream for that?  My wallet wants to say, "No smiling ever again," but my sanity told me to just buy the Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Intensive Eye Contour Cream.  I've use this eye cream in the past and it's reliably creamy, hydating, and nourishing on the skin.  Or, as the beauty community would call it, HOLY GRAIL.

I also tried the Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate when I was at the beauty counter.  I don't normally buy serums because they're mostly water, glycerin, and dimethicone with an expensive price tag, but I decided to give this one a try.  I also picked up a mini of the Laneige Bright Renew Original Serum in a trial kit.  The verdict's still out on the long term effects of these serums, but they both make my skin feel smoother and more supple.

Finally, I picked up the Clinique Sun SPF 50 Face Cream after running out of my Clarins sunscreen.  I seem to freckle and tan rapidly in California so sun protection is necessary for both health and vanity reasons.   This sun cream is a rich formula that's not too thick and sinks into the skin without leaving a white cast.  It works well under makeup and is a staple in my morning skincare routine.

Luxury skincare doesn't come cheap, but I also expect these products to last a really long time.  As my skin's grown more dry and sensitive, I'm accepting that it will need more care than before.  I see my skincare products as more of an investment than a splurge.  Like almost everyone, I enjoy a good pamper so it's nice to have a soothing self-care routine every morning and night.

What about you?  Any skincare products you'd recommend?  I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.”
-Ivy Baker Priest