Thursday, 14 January 2021

get fitter this MCO 2.0 & introducing (possibly) the best exercise mat ever!

As we are all bracing for MCO 2.0, this is the chance to set new resolutions to be fitter especially if you haven't done so since the last MCO or new year. No more excuses or procrastination, peeps!

Sharing some of the workouts videos I'm following the past weeks which I super like!


Favorite stretching workout so far!

I had thought the Pamela Reif's workouts are the toughest until I tried this workout by GrowingAnanas and couldn't complete it and even felt super dizzy at the end laughdieme. Though I do feel super muscular the next day lolol Attempt this at your own risk! Just early this week, I tried her legs workout which is made up of combination of some basic moves that totally ramp up the intensity!

Other than the above workouts without equipment, I am trying some workouts that incorporates resistant bands because I just got several from CottonOn Body. Kinda like how they increase the intensity for workouts such a squats, lunges, crab walk, fire hydrants and the likes. The variety also make working out from home less boring.

Since I've started doing cardio/HIIT/Tabata at end of March/April of last year, I have lost several inches on my waist, butt and arms but most importantly, felt much stronger!

Previously I jogged but that didn't seem to improve my stamina nor did much to reduce some stubborn fat. Hopefully with a better mat and consistent workout for the year I'd get to lose a few more inches. Weight-wise, it's a bit funny because I'm still the same weight. I'm told that meant I've gotten leaner and built some muscles  ᕦ(* •̀ ᗜ •́ * )ᕤ “ Hopefully the same for you who does the workout consistently!


Aside from the above, I wanna flex my new mat in this post hahaha 

Tadaaaa °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

Forest Fitness pilates mat

This Forest Fitness mat is a new one I bought with my own money (therefore NOT a sponsored post) at the start of the year and I'm already loving it! As you have probably hear me mentioned, my first workout mat fell apart just 2 months into using but which I didn't part until last month because I didn't know what are the other alternatives that could last. Thinking back, I was quite noob and chose a yoga mat thinking it is the only option for home cardio. BTW I do very little yoga, mostly stretches that incorporate yoga moves (Pamela Reif's vid above) while most of the time its cardio or HIIT. 

Found out later what I need is a pilates mat! Of course, the other option is gym flooring mat but I'd prefer something I can roll up and put aside. With this new mat, I kinda have high hopes for the new mat for the price I'm paying and seeing how the material seems much durable. It is described as a mat "made with heavy duty and premium grade natural rubber built for extreme durability and long term usage".

I think Forest Fitness is a local brand which is only available on Shopee.MY. For that, I went to search on Amazon for yoga mat that has almost similar-looking material and surface with my: here, here (black and navy blue) and here. A lot with this kinda surface are black, I'm not sure why. Of course if you want something prettier, you can go for Lululemon's which apparently offers amazing mats as well.

Close up!

Forest Fitness pilates mat

Pros of this Forest Fitness mat include:

1) amazing grip at the bottom and top surfaces which prevents slipping. I think this is important because it reduces unnecessary friction so you can focus your energy and getting the most of your workout!

2) doesn't sink so very stable when holding poses such as deep lunge

3) absorbs impact better than foam ones so lesser noise when jumping around. I also noticed I bruised less on my knees _it was a frequent thing with my old mat. Besides that, my elbows don't hurt or get scrapped when I do moves like planks or the likes!

4) surprisingly, sweat evaporates off easily and do not leave sweat stains. I was worried it doesn't look like it'll absorb as well as foam one initially. It is also super easy to clean

5) doesn't have too strong rubber smell 

The only cons I can think if now is that its only in one color, it is quite heavy (hovering about 2.6kg on my kitchen scale) if you're looking for something to bring around and definitely to the pricier end. The latter, I wont mind if I don't need to change it anytime soon! So far it hasn't disappoint. Will remember to keep y'all posted on the mat condition after I have used it for a few more months. If you already own this mat or bought it from my recommendation, please do share your experience in the comment!

Friday, 8 January 2021

mini reviews: trying different soap bars

soap bars in Malaysia

In my attempt to reduce plastic waste for the sake of dearest mother nature, I made a switch from liquid soap to soap bars! Mostly because I've read manufacturing liquid soap produces higher carbon footprint and we know plastic packaging aren't recycled much here. So happen that homemade soap bars are all the rage since last year and to cater to the rising demand, I am definitely seeing a lot of local handmade soap stores mushrooming (before Covid19 happened)! There are even classes which I was tempted to join but alas that didn't happen.

Instead I got myself a variety of soap bars to experiment on including locally homemade ones which can cost up to RM25 per bar from The Hive and Tanamera but the most expensive of them is the Ghar Soap, priced at RM35 per bar. This post is me reviewing each of them, took me awhile to go through them all LOL. Without further ado, let's get started!

#1 Ecostore's Lemongrass Soap

My favorite bar because I'm totally loving the lemongrass scent which smells amazing though unfortunately the scent doesn't stick. Priced at RM10.90 per bar at Aeon Wellness and even cheaper on Shopee.MY, this is about 3-4× that of other commercial brand.

Scent: ★★★★★
Sweat Level: ★☆☆☆☆
Long-Lasting: ★★☆☆☆

#2 Aleppo aka Ghar Soap

This was something I was super excited to try this out mostly because it is so unique and there was quite some hype about it among the minimalist and eco-loving community. Read somewhere on IG that someone even used this in replace of toothpaste and it worked. So die die wanna try and bought one from The Hive in SS2 for RM35 (online on Shopee.MY for RM33.90!). For the price, you get a chunk the size of my tiny palm can hold (Yes, I'm very detailed with the dimensions) wrapped up in a magazine page.

I'm sad to announce I find this bar of soap very disappointing. It's definitely a unique soap with interesting color _ golden on the outside and olive in the inside. Also, fair for the price, it's bloody durable thanks to the proportion of ingredients used and the amount of time to dry it out (up to a year!).

But it is oh-so-o-boring because there isn't a scent. Sure, I feel clean enough after using but because I'm so used to scented soap (think Dove, Shokubutsu and others), I feel the need to wash up with scented ones afterwards just because! On top of that, it doesn't lather on its own so not fun for me. It does lather with the help of a foaming net or used Liese hair dye dispenser (I just found out recently!). Still the foams are boringly scentless so much that I resorted to adding my Muji's Bergamot essential oil...

If you're not so particular about scent and wouldn't mind one-soap-for-all (you can wash your face and hair with them) and think want an economical and super minimalist soap, this is the one. You'd be impressed to know that even after soaking the soap pieces (they broke when I sliced it with a cleaver) in the bottle, they dont melt completely for weeks! 

There are also a bunch of articles that vouch for the benefits of using ghar soaps such as resulting to youthful feeling skin, great for eczema or fungal infection and even dandruff and a hundred other benefits apparently. I just don't think this is my thing... Quite a letdown considering how excited I initially was!

Scent: ☆☆☆☆☆
Sweat Level: ☆☆☆☆☆
Long-Lasting: ★★★★★

#3 Old Sage Soapworks' 
Grape Slushie & Roses on the Porch Soaps

Very fancy names, I know. Again, got them both from The Hive for RM25 per bar. I truly think these are made using hot process from the clumpier texture. I find these kinda messy, the dye stains my soap dish with bits of soaps. They're washable, just messy. I'm not sure if it's the same with cold process soaps but these break down and shapeshift (oh my vocab!), like a slime. I use half a bar at a time because obviously it's too big for my grip. My first half lasted less than 10 days, and the smaller it gets, the faster the bar melts.

Unintentionally, I left the other bar on my table between testing out other bars, during which it had time to dry out further. I found out it lasted a bit longer that way. I guess that's partially how ghar soap could last so long_ they're left to dry for a year after all. The other reason is the composition of ingredients used.

For the price and how fancy they are IMO they're great if you want to pamper yourself once in a while. At least for me because on a longer term, I'd choose practicality, with nice enough scent and without the mess.

Scent: ★★★☆☆
Sweat Level: ★★★★★
Long-Lasting: ★☆☆☆☆

#4 Tanamera's 
Toning Green Coffee Body Soap

Tanamera is a local homemade brands that boast all natural plants ingredients in their products and offer a handful of options of bar soaps. I opted for the Toning Green Coffee Body Soap which scent I find most bearable among the soap bars (their liquid one is quite nice)! This is available in Isetan or Shopee.MY at RM30 (100g).

The packaging definitely screams "luxurious".

It does feel like you're in a spa treat when using this soap LOL. I happen to test their liquid hand soap and think its actually nice. Worth the price for the spa-like experience!

Scent: ★★★☆☆
Sweat Level: ☆☆☆☆☆
Long-Lasting: ★★★☆☆

#5 Sabun Society's
Loofah Soap

I love the scent that reminds me of the beach (literally!) so that feels amazing. However, the soap is super slippery and with more use, the newly exposed loofah can be really rough to the skin. I'm sure exfoliating won't turn my skin so red all over. To minimize this, I used the foaming net (very useful!) to wrap and lather up the soap. This one bar can last about a month.

I got this together with a care pack so I don't know the price for just the soap. I looked up their Facebook page and didn't see this listed so I cannot be sure if this is made specially for the care pack or they have discontinued the loofah soaps edition.

Scent: ★★★★★

Sweat Level: ★☆☆☆☆
Long-Lasting: ★★★☆☆

#6 Maitre Savon De Marseille's
Lily of the Valley 

This French brand soap offers a whole variety of scented soap bars _ Lemon, Rose, Green Apple, Olive, Goat's Milk, even Donkey's Milk, Marine (which smells like the sea water! Beach lovers, anyone?) and the list goes on! in two sizes, the 100g bar at RM18.90 and a larger bar approximately RM25 (I don't remember!) from Isetan.

La Corvette Marseille is another brand that carries similar-looking bars but priced higher at RM23.90 for the 100g and RM38.90 for the 200g bar. You probably won't be able to tell these two brands apart when they're placed side-by-side and looking almost alike down to the packaging! Because they're both like hard candy kind (similar to Sabun Society's) and doesn't sweat, they last a good while. Not too bad but its a bit to the pricey end.

Scent: ★★☆☆
Sweat Level: 
Long-Lasting: ★


When I shared with a friend about my plan of trying soap bars especially homemade ones, she raised a concern about the quality of homemade soap that is unlike commercial ones that have more stable PH value. I've read that depending on how homemade soaps are produced, their PH varies and sometimes may be unsuitable for use such as being overly acidic to sensitive skin. So they're fun to try unless you have super sensitive skin.

After trying so many types of soap bars, I have decided that I prefer something without fancy dyes or scents but not totally scentless like the ghar soap! Scent-wise, my favorite among the ones above gotta be the lemongrass and Sabun Society's! Though the most economical ones and  lasting gotta be the commercially available brands such as Shokubutsu (probably the nicest scent besides Dove!). In fact what I have now are mostly supermarket-available brands.

I've got no idea why I stocked up on so many at a time!

Lux, Dettol & Shokubutsu soap bars

On Instagram

© voguelyvivien. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.