From Madrid to Manila: Menina Step Is Here 

When I found out that Menina Step, a shoe brand of Spanish origin, was coming to Manila, I was excited to say the least. Flats might be available available in abundance, but they’re also the easiest to get totally wrong.  Give me a crappy pair and I’ll feel just that–crappy. Give me a good pair of flats and I will feel as amazing as I would in a pair of stilettos. That’s how I feel in my Meninas.
Menina Step shoes are exquisite. They are handcrafted in Spain by leather artisans and they come in a wide variety of classy flat styles. They are also extremely comfortable to wear; The best thing about genuine leather shoes? They mould to fit your feet like a strangely misplaced glove.

I feel kick-ass and classy in my Meninas, and I’m so very happy to be able to give you guys a preview of the pair I wore at a photoshoot for the brand recently.


Venue: Aruga by Rockwell


Rockwell also happens to be the location for Menina Step’s pop-up launch on May 30 & 31. More details about that at the end of this post! 

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Packing For the U.S.: Skincare, Makeup, and In-Flight Essentials

If you’re seeing this post right after it goes up, I’m probably sitting in an airplane as you read it. I’ll be in the U.S. for the next three weeks to attend a wedding and also to sightsee and visit relatives. I will try to post while I’m there, but if I can’t then I have a few scheduled posts going up. You can follow me on Instagram (@ianabantug) and Snapchat (ianabantug) if you want to see what I’m up to while I’m there! :)

Packing for longer trips is crazy stressful and although I try to “pack smart” and have some sort of a system, I never actually take the same things or employ the same approach twice. For this trip, I tried to take more mini/travel-sized items when possible and also take stuff that I can leave once they are used up (thereby freeing up space to take more things home!).

I’m not going to list every single item because there’s a lot of stuff in this post, but I’ll point out the things I think warrant a bit of an explanation.

Main Toiletries Bag

P1190145This is a Rustan’s brand toiletries bag. I’ve used it for a number of trips now and I really like the size and shape of it. The rectangular shape makes it really easy to pack alongside my packing cubes (for clothes) and the handles up top allow me to hang it up on a hook when I settle into a hotel or at a relative’s place. 

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A Selection of Pixi S/S 2015 Products from Glamourbox

Pixi Beauty has always been about fresh, natural-looking makeup. The brand often makes use of the tagline “makeup to wakeup” and the line was created to awaken and create a naturally radiant “just had a good night’s sleep” look. The ingredients that go into Pixi products are “skin-loving and youth-enhancing” and while I’m not exactly in need of youth-enhancing products (yet), I always appreciate makeup that nourishes the skin while you wear it.

P1190017Pixi’s Spring/Summer 2015 Collection, Spring Into Summer, is all about fuss-free and simple yet highly effective makeup. When Glamourbox (beauty box curators and distributors of brans like Pixi and Eye of Horus) sent a box* with a selection of the products, I could feel the summer glow waiting to jump put of the box and straight on to my skin. Here’s what I got: 

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Goodbye To A Great: L’Oreal Lucent Magique Foundation

Some days are good, some days are bad, and some days are semi-good with overtones of suckiness. Today was that weird blend of sucky and good. There’s never really an explanation for those sorts of things… they just happen. I can’t wait for another day to come and erase this one, but (again for reasons unknown) these are usually the days that stick with you no matter how hard you try to shake ’em off.

At least life’s always interesting, eh?

P1190124Do you know what else is “interesting” (i.e. an absolute mystery)? Awesome products being discontinued.

When I reviewed the L’Oreal Lucent Magique foundation in the past, my feelings toward it were pretty lukewarm. I explained that it made an excellent summer foundation, but it was so-so at other points in the year. Well, I was wrong. At the time I only had G7 (my summer shade) and the moment I got my hands on G4 (next shade lighter), I was happy as could be. This foundation is lightweight, luminous, and photographs well despite having an SPF of 24. AND NOW THEY’RE DISCONTINUING IT.

Ugh. I don’t think Lucent Magique was ever as wildly popular as Mat Magique is now… and I blame everyone who is obsessed with matte skin for this travesty.

If you are a fellow fan of this foundation, you can get the remaining stock at 50% off (around 400 Php). I got myself another G7 and will probably be buying G4 again when I come across it.

How I Like To Use My Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps

Dr. B BottlesIf you’re into browsing the aisles of drugstores and groceries just for the heck of it, you’ve probably seen Dr. Bronner’s Magic Pure-Castille Soaps before. They’re hard to miss — the bottle might be standard in shape, but the coloured labels are some of the busiest, most packed-with-text that you’ll ever see. In Manila they are available at Healthy Options (sad edit: Healthy Options no longer carries them! HUHU) and I definitely took a few minutes to just stand there and read a label one day. It was quite interesting.

There is a lot to say about the Magic Soaps (read about Dr. Bronner’s legacy, quality soaps, and ethical sourcing), but what most people know and see on the label is that they are multi-use (18-in-1!) liquid soaps that are highly concentrated and also biodegradable and nature-friendly. They are so highly concentrated that they are only a few percent away from being a solid. That makes them highly economical as one bottle can be divided, diluted with water, and used for different purposes.

The Magic Soaps do have a presence in the world of beauty, but mostly as a brush cleaner. I don’t particularly like using them to wash my brushes because I feel like they leave the bristles way too dried out, but I do love my Magic Soaps. Here are some of the ways I like to use them:


1. As a foaming hand wash. I bought some foaming soap pumps from Muji, but I’m sure you can get them at other home stores too. I then took my Peppermint Magic Soap and diluted it with some mineral drinking water

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Fight Of The Century FOTD

I woke up this morning with the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight on mind.

I don’t normally watch boxing — but I’m Filipino, which is an explanation for my excitement and anxiety in itself. I remember being in New York a few years ago and whenever a taxi driver and I got to talking and they found out I was Filipino, they would nearly always scream out “PACMAAAN! I love that guy!” and of course I would beam from ear to ear and agree: everyone loves Manny; he’s an incredible athlete with a tear-jerking rags to riches story behind him and he’s a fun-loving guy to boot.

Now I wouldn’t be keeping true to myself if I didn’t mention that I don’t admire Manny in all aspects. I don’t think he’s a good public servant and the company he keeps is often questionable. As an athlete, it’s undeniable that he’s brilliant. I just wish he had stuck to being a boxer and kept his hands out of politics, but not much to be done about that anymore. There were even rumours flying around that if he had won today’s fight, he would have run in the 2016 elections. Uh… if my choice is between Binay and Pacquiao in 2016, I honestly have no clue what I will do. Bury my head in the sand, perhaps.

ANYWAY. Manny lost today. And really, I was rooting for him as an athlete. Mayweather fought dirty and brought all sorts of BV to the fight, while Manny put up a good fight but fell short in terms of adapting to the situation and being aggressive. I couldn’t help but feel down after the decision was announced. Still, the whole thing was quite the spectacle and I enjoyed watching it on PPV with my family. We had white sangrias and some pica-pica during the fight, and a full lunch of paella, prawns, and grilled chicken afterwards.

I’m getting to the makeup part of this post now, don’t worry. Haha. I did try to match my look for today with the occasion, but after sitting at my vanity for a few minutes I knew I didn’t want to go too literal by wearing blue, red, and yellow (our flag colours) on my face. So I threw on a blue top instead and decided to go for a very golden look on my face (never mind the red lol) … because Manny is the golden boy of boxing and I wanted him to go for gold (even though there technically is no gold medal up for grabs–gold belt, pwede?)! Get it? Bit of a stretch? Haha! I do what I can. P1190071Keeping with my golden theme, I used my L’Oreal Lucent Magique Foundation in G7 (my summer shade) mixed with my Myra VitaGlow BB Cream* in Ivory to get a very glowy base. 

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Introducing: L’Oreal Miss Manga Mascara & A MEGA SALE ANNOUNCEMENT (May 1 – 31)*

So, how is everyone faring in this summer heat? Admittedly, I’ve taken to putting the air conditioning on from around noon to 3pm when I’m at home. On other days, I mooch off mall air conditioning… which isn’t technically mooching because I end up paying for parking and maybe also getting an iced coffee anyway.

I’ve said it in other posts already, but the heat is so bad that it really does limit what kind of makeup I use. At the launch of the Miss Manga Mascara, I posted a photo of the product and wrote in the caption that mascara is pretty much the only thing I can pile on in this heat. I meant that, and when you’re going hyper-minimal with everything else, having long and thick lashes makes all the difference.

Miss Manga Colored LogoMiss Manga, formulated especially for stick straight Asian lashes, is perfect for the heat. The waterproof formula ensures that it really isn’t going anywhere. On top of that, you get loads of curl. The L’Oreal Miss Manga Mascara will be regularly priced at 599.00 Php, BUT come May, you can get it at its introductory price of 500.00 Php. Miss Manga won’t be the only thing on sale though, as the entire month of May will be…

The Great L'Oréal Sale

The Great L’Oreal Sale! You’ll be able to get your fave L’Oreal makeup for up to 45% off, plus skincare and hair color will also be discounted. It’s the perfect time to stock up on stuff!

There will be more information about the specials at the end of this post, but I also wanted to give you an idea of what the Miss Manga mascara can do, as well as show you photos of the adorable press kit I got my sample in. It’s a winner (both press kit and mascara)!

The Cutest Press Kit That Ever Was

P1180870This “magazine issue” is the press kit itself. How cute is the Manga Panda on the cover?! 

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Sweet Summer Deal: Stila Convertible Color Trio (2015 Limited Edition)

I have to be one of the last persons on Earth to try the Stila Convertible Colors. Everyone knows what they are and it seems that everyone adores them, too. I was looking through reviews on the product before writing this post and I did not stumble across a single one that might be considered negative. Crazy! And can you believe that the Convertible Colors have been InStyle magazine’s “Best Cream Blush” for ten years in a row? Again: crazy!

I didn’t go out with the intention of picking this set up but when I stumbled upon it one day while browsing through Essences at Rockwell, I thought it was a good deal. I guess that just as clichĂ©s are clichĂ©s for a reason, “cult faves” are cult faves for a reason, too. These are awesome and I wish I had brought them into my life sooner…but better late than never!
P1180656The “Beauty in Bloom” Convertible Color Trio (1,150.00 Php) is a limited edition set for summer that contains three mini Convertible Colors, weighing 2g each as opposed to the full-sized 4.25g Convertible Colors.

The set I chose has the shades Camellia, Peony, and Tulip in it, which are all wearable and “safe” shades. There is also a “Blooming Bright” Convertible Color Trio that has brighter colours, namely Lilium, Petunia, and Hibiscus.

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Face Of The Day: Sunday Test Drive

It’s been a while since I last posted an FOTD — mostly because it’s too hot to wear much makeup and also because I still wear the same look 90% of the time — but today I actually pulled out a number new things and so I thought it was worth documenting.
P1190003It’s a still a simple look; I kept the base light but changed it up a bit with the tone of my lipstick and blush. The eye makeup isn’t even showing up here but that was crazy simple too… wearing glasses tends to make one lazy, hehe.

To read about the products I used, click through!

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Review: Happy Skin’s Eye Am The One Mascara — Is It Holy Grail Material?

Bet you weren’t expecting a review so soon after I posted about Happy Skin‘s “Beauty in Bloom” collection launch party (here)! We were given a few items from the collection on that day, but I actually bought the Eye Am The One Mascara (899.00 Php) well before the party (didn’t know I was going until a couple of days before). That means I’ve had sufficient time to get to know the product and work on this little write up for you guys. P1180590The sort of “subtitle” name of the Eye Am The One mascara is “Holy Grail.” On top of that, the box packaging proclaims that it is “your dream mascara!” You have to hand it to Happy Skin — they really do believe in their products. This fibre mascara is meant to give you “thicker and longer lashes with curls that will never droop.” It’s also supposed to be “smudge-proof, sweat-proof, tear-resistant, and sebum-resistant.” That’s a lot of claims for any one mascara, but Happy Skin took one full year to develop this formula and it’s made in Japan, so there was always good reason to bet on it. 

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