This Post Contains No Pictures

I do have an excuse for not posting any new content lately. I had an ugly reaction to a concealer I was testing out early this week and I ended up with red, itchy, painful splotches all over my face. My face is still red and rough in some areas so I wasn’t going to photograph that, much less apply even more (potentially irritating) makeup on top of it.

But you know that’s a bullshit excuse, right?

There are many ways I could have prepared so that this page didn’t go silent. I could have thought ahead and had a few posts queued up (I don’t really like queueing posts although I see how it makes sense). I could have posted some reviews with photos of products alone (who needs to see my face all the time anyway?). Arm swatches do the job well enough most of the time.

Truth be told, I just wasn’t feeling it this week.

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Stocking Up On Old Favourites: My Sasa Picks

Catching a glimpse of Sasa’s pink logo always gets my heart racing and my lips inevitably¬†curl up into a smile. It’s a reaction mirrored only by a¬†Sephora sighting. Sasa (in case you didn’t already know) is an Asian beauty and health store based in Hong Kong and found in many major Asian cities—but not the Philippines. Boo.

Sasa carries a wide array of brands (from Caudalie to Elizabeth Arden to Fairydrops, Bourjois, Canmake and so much more) and is known for selling little sample sizes of products as well as offering things at great prices. Shopping in Sasa is a strange mix of the drugstore shopping experience combined with some higher end options and great deals. I love it.
P1180536There was only really one thing I knew I had to pick up from Sasa on my recent trip to Macau: the Fairydrops Quattro Mascara (120 MOP / approx. 680 Php), which you can see on the far right in the photo above.

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Quick Trip To Macau — What I Packed

This post was supposed to go up when we flew out on Wednesday, but things came up the day before we had to leave so I didn’t have time to actually write the post. Anyway, it all works out because now I can tell you if I actually ended up using the stuff I brought. I find that no matter how long or short a trip is, packing¬†makeup and skincare is always such a tricky job.¬†BrushesLet’s start with the successful part of my packing: brushes! I love using the travel case that comes with the Real Techniques sets (Starter, Core, and Travel). You’ll notice that I don’t have a single RT brush in there. Sometimes I do end up bringing a couple, but mostly I take whatever brushes I want to. The best thing about it is that it folds into a stand that you can set out anywhere.P1180526To house my makeup I used the pretty Revlon bag that came with the Ultra HD Lipsticks I received last week. It’s a thin bag so I was forced to pack as little as possible. Not a major problem because we were only out for 3 days. Inside it I had:

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Shitty Makeup Day

As often as I wear makeup, some days… things just don’t go my way. Today was one of those days.¬†P1180495

I used an old favourite tinted moisturiser for my base and found that it just didn’t work for me anymore. So pink and blotchy. On the eyes, I went too frosty and light. The mascara is also an old fave that just didn’t do it for me today. I looked sick and puffy-eyed. ¬†The only thing that came out semi-alright were my brows, and even they could not¬†save the look. I’m not into the lipstick I used either, but I felt that going for a more solid pink-brown might distract from the rest of the face. Not so. I eventually just let that wear off and I wore my eyeglasses in an effort to hide my face. Ick.

Crappy as I felt, I took this photo because I wanted to post it and ask you guys this: What you do when you have a shitty makeup day (and don’t have enough time to take everything off to do it over again)?

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Keepin’ It Fresh & Minty! How I Stay Cool In The Summer Heat

Most people think that summer in Manila is unbearable and while it can be, there are certainly ways to mitigate the unpleasantness of it all.¬†Mostly people¬†start wearing lighter (and less) clothing or hit the beach (where the barest minimum of clothing is actually acceptable) to beat the heat, but sometimes you just get stuck in the city. These are the little things that I do (or have) that help me get through the 40-degree summer days that I love in spite of it all:¬†P1180489Regardless of what time of year it is, I always keep wet wipes¬†in my bag (I¬†neither like nor understand gel¬†hand sanitiser). They’re useful in many situations but come summer, they are especially great for freshening up the body on a hot, sticky summer day. You can use them to wipe down any part of your body, but here’s a little tip: wipe behind your neck and ears and you’ll feel 1000 times fresher in an instant.¬†Also in my bag, I keep regular old¬†hair elastics. I don’t wear my hair up a lot but when it’s hot, sweeping it off my neck and out of my face really helps.

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Review: Maybelline’s White Superfresh Foundation (05 Sand Beige)

I’ll be honest—when Maybelline invited me to the launch of their new base product, I had low expectations. Their colour products have always been pretty damn good (eyeshadows, lipsticks…) but I used their powders back in college and they were not that great (I used them because I knew next to nothing about makeup back then and a powder was a powder was a powder).

At the launch (which you can read about here), I made it a point to keep an open mind. White Superfresh was introduced to bloggers and media as an affordable, oil-absorbing, no-need-for-touch-ups, long-wearing foundation. Exactly what college Mariana needed back in 2009-12ish and what a lot of girls in college today would love, no doubt. And guess what? After a few weeks of getting to know this foundation, even NON-college Mariana (i.e. me, now) loves this foundation. This review will tell you why.

P1180386 Overview of The Product

Maybelline’s White Superfresh Foundation* (299.00 Php) is the “no touch-up powder foundation” that claims to last for 12 straight hours without need of a touch-up. It’s an Asia-exclusive that was formulated with our hot, sunny weather in mind (hence it also has an SPF of 34 PA+++). The powder is enriched with mineral perlite, which¬†supposedly allows the powder to absorb moisture five times better than regular talc.

Needless to say (but still very much worth pointing out), this is a foundation best suited for girls with combo/oily skin or those who find themselves in hot, sweaty situations¬†often. I myself have combination skin, so I need to moisturise my cheeks properly before using this just so they don’t dry out by the end of the day.

There are four shades of this foundation available locally: 02 Nude Beige, 03 Natural, 04 Honey, and 05 Sand Beige. It’s a rather limited selection with none of the shades catering to deeper skin tones, so that is the one major flaw of the foundation. I initially received shade 02 and had to wait until I could pick up shade 05 before I could test out the product properly. You will see three of the four shades later on in this post.

I still find it hard to believe that a product like this is available for only 299.00 Php. That’s roughly 7 USD. Now, get ready for a pretty wordy and (hopefully) thorough review… you know I get excited when I really like something. Haha.

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New This Summer: Vaseline’s Water-Based Serum Sunblock SPF 30 PA+++

Have you stepped outside recently? It’s scorching hot. And I¬†am loving it. I was totally born to live in a tropical country so I welcome the summer with open arms. There are days when it gets to be a bit much, but I’d much rather be battling the heat in a pair of shorts and a loose top than wearing layers in a colder country. If I can hit the beach and wear just a bathing suit and cover up, that’s even better.

With all that skin exposed, I do have to use a lot of sunblock, which can be uncomfortable and sticky. This summer there seems to be a new trend that addresses that discomfort: serum sunblocks. They’re a lot thinner in consistency that your usual lotions and they settle into the skin much quicker as a consequence. Just last week (absolute perfect timing) I was introduced to my very first one, by Vaseline.
P1180224The Vaseline Water-Based Whitening Serum* (Php 249.00 for 180mL) might have just an SPF of 30 PA +++, but that’s actually enough to block out 96% of harmful UVA and UVB rays. That’s a scientific fact (not just marketing bullshit), but you will have to reapply your sunblock more often if the SPF is lower. I’d say once every 2 hours is ok, but already stretching it. It stands to be a bit of a hassle, but the formula really isn’t sticky so you won’t be making yourself more uncomfortable.

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In Print

When I was¬†in high school, my biggest dream was to be a “real” writer. And what I thought being a “real” writer meant was to be a published author, a poet, essayist, a literary critic… the kind of writer¬†that produces¬†substantial¬†content, be it artistic or critical. You probably already know where¬†I’m going with this considering that there’s a photo of a magazine below. I never thought that writing for magazines was “real” writing. To my mind, being involved with that sort of fluff meant selling out.P1180211

I knew I was being completely elitist but I was not willing to change my views. Real writing just couldn’t be found in fashion or lifestyle magazines—really, how could it? But then I realised (gradually, definitely not over night) that every single person who wrote for those publications was more of a writer than I. I allowed the writer in me to die the moment I stopped practicing the craft and sat on my lazy ass, expecting a literary masterpiece to brew over the years even without putting the work in.¬†Writing is about sitting down and doing just that, and then maybe trying to get your work published and read.

The truth is that you can find good (and yes: real) writing in all sorts of mediums, although I will still insist that our local publications have quite a way to go in terms of overall quality. But then who am I to say such a thing? Not a writer, for sure. A critical reader, maybe. Still, not a writer. Hence, this:

P1180207I¬†actually freakin’ wrote something for a publication so totally out of my comfort zone. And I liked the process. And I’m flattered to see my name in print again (it’s been years). And I don’t feel like I’ve sold out because even though I had to alter my voice a bit to suit the magazine and accept some minor edits, it’s still¬†my work. It was a nice exercise in writing and I missed that so much without knowing it.

Becoming a writer is still my biggest dream and while I’m not saying that this particular piece¬†is phenomenal (or even very good), it takes me one step closer to seeing myself as a writer again.

I’ve cropped out the article and left my big-ass fez in there so that if you are so inclined, you can pick up Cosmopolitan’s March issue and give the piece a read. It’s mostly about girls not being able to take a compliment, but there are some bits in there about the local beauty blogging world as well. Most of it was cut out because there was a word limit, but I’m genuinely interested to hear your ¬†personal¬†thoughts on the beauty blogging atmosphere in the Philippines.

Right. A post that was simply meant to say “Please pick up a copy of Cosmopolitan’s March issue¬†turned into this. Haha! Thanks as always for reading my personal ramblings if you have made it this far!

Nude, Natural—Boring?

So, after putting¬†my “Makeup Moment” post up about¬†loving all things nude, I had a bit of a crisis because… well, I felt boring. As many variations of “natural” makeup there are out there, they all kind of photograph the same. I¬†know that various¬†combinations of different tones of brown on different days makes for different looks… but do other people know that? Can they see it? Most of the time, they can’t.

In essence, I was stressing about looking the same. All. The. Time.¬†That led to my trying out loads of more daring looks in the past three weeks or so… most of which I detested. Some were alright, but more along the lines of meh than anything close to good. They certainly didn’t make me feel good, or happy, or like I was having fun with makeup. So I gave myself a pat on the back for trying some new things out, but decided that I was happier doing whatever made me feel comfortable.

That decision doesn’t mean I won’t try new things in the future. It just means that you guys will have to deal with these nude FOTDs a while longer. Haha. I do promise to explain as best I can how each look is different though, so if you’re the type who just skims over text and lingers on photos instead, you might want to pay attention to the explanation behind the looks a bit more. Not that they’ll be long-ass—will do my best to keep it short! P1180170When confronted with the possibility of being photographed, most people stick to what they know works for them. I am like most people, so here is the bronzey-nude look I wore to an event today. What sets it apart is the sheer amount of bronzing products I used. The event called for summer attire, so¬†I went for it with the makeup as well. These¬†are the products I used that are normally part of my routine, but after the second photo you’ll find what I used to get my skin to look like it’s been in the sun a bit:

“The Usuals”

  • VMV Hypoallergenics Face Cover SPF 45
  • MUD Blue Corrector #2
  • K Palette Zero Kuma Concealer (Type 1) (review)
  • Myra VitaGlow BB Cream* (on the cheeks and down the bridge of my nose)
  • Ellana Minerals Finishing Powder in Espresso Con Panna**
  • Shu Uemura Hard 9 brow pencil in Seal Brown (review)
  • VMV Hypoallergenics Ooh La Lash mascara

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Navigating MAC’s Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation Shade Range: My Personal Journey

MACSF6The Range

Anyone who isn’t a MAC makeup artist is going to be slightly overwhelmed when first faced with the Studio Fix Powder Plus shade range. The naming system involves a combination of letters and numbers that denote¬†undertone and depth respectively. While most popular brands stick with relatively simple descriptive shade names, MAC, being a pro brand, uses a system that allows them to be precise in their description of a wide¬†selection of shades. The numbers increase with depth and that’s about the easiest part to explain. When you get to the letter designations for undertones, it gets slightly more confusing:

C-¬†“Cool ” – best for¬†yellow/golden/olive skin
NC-¬†“Neutral Cool” – best for¬†golden beige skin
N-¬†“Neutral” –¬†beige skin
NW-¬†“Neutral Warm” –¬†pinky beige skin
W- “Warm” – best for¬†pinkish skin

Looks pretty straightforward, but you may have¬†noticed that although “NC” stands for “Neutral Cool” the NC shades are geared toward women with warm, golden skin tones. The same goes for the “NW” shades applying to cool skin instead of warm. The reason behind that has something to do with the colour wheel and colour theory. I don’t fully understand it so I won’t attempt an explanation, but I read on someone else’s blog that it helps to think of NC as “not cool” and NW as “not warm.” A former MAC makeup artist, Sharon Farrel, explains it all much more clearly in this useful post.¬†
Studio-Fix-Powder-Plus (1)This¬†little chart is also from Sharon’s blog.¬†I take no credit for it and it’s missing some shades, but wanted to include it here to give you a visual of the Studio Fix Powder Plus range. It is one of MACs most well-known and loved products, so most people who take an interest in makeup will probably check it out at least once in their lives. Many also use their MAC shade match from the Studio Fix range to describe their foundation colour in casual conversation.

Note that the shades don’t translate exactly across formulas–even the Studio Fix Fluid foundation (which is meant to simply be the liquid version of this) behaves differently. Other foundations from MAC (Matchmaster, Face and Body, Studio Sculpt, etc.) make use of different naming systems altogether, which can make finding a good match¬†a dizzying affair. This post will solely be about the Studio Fix Powder Plus foundation and my experience finding a shade match.

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