My visit to the Luxola HQ in Singapore

Aside from sketching and painting my heart out in Singapore, I got to visit the office of the top online beauty retailer this side of Asia - Luxola! Luxola began as a small start-up in 2011 led by a woman who couldn't fathom why unique beauty products are so hard to find here in Southeast Asia. Alexis Horowitz-Burdick then decided to take matters into her own hands and built Luxola from her base in Singapore. She was able to raise 15 million US dollars in the last four years alone, and recently (as in announced two weeks ago), Luxola was acquired by Sephora under the LVMH Group

Exciting times are definitely ahead for us beauty fiends here in the Philippines. There have been so many rumors about Sephora finally making its way here in the country, but that's still what they are as of this time - rumors. IF Sephora products can be ordered straight from Luxola with their free, taxless shipping service, then whoa. Color me stoked. I am wishing so hard for this to happen.

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But back to the Luxola office. It wasn't all what I expected, to be quite honest with you. I thought it would feel like the other beauty offices I've visited in the past: fast-paced, stiff, full of clacking heels. That's not the case. The HQ has this laid-back vibe, with an open office set up (no walls!) and senior management sitting in the same space as everybody else. The people I have met were nice and welcoming; a couple of women were painting their nails because they were trying some new brands out. I love it! 

One thing that matched my expectations though were the amount of beauty products in the office. Some of the more exciting brands I saw were By Terry, Not Soap Radio, Vichy, and Alcina (a German cosmetics brand exclusive to Luxola). Imagine going to work with makeup and skincare around you everyday! Of course, you can find these brands at the online store if you're interested. ^_^

New friends: Weina Leong, who toured me around the HQ, and Paul Dela Merced, who is the Editor-In-Chief of LX Edit.

New friends: Weina Leong, who toured me around the HQ, and Paul Dela Merced, who is the Editor-In-Chief of LX Edit.

At the end of my visit, the ladies (and Paul) shot a few photos of me for a feature on LX Edit, Luxola's magazine. Read up on the feature if you'd like to know what actually came first, painting or makeup, what beauty means to me, what's in my travel bag, and of course a few beauty and blogging tips! Thanks again Weina and Mallika for having me over! Until next time! <3

I'm curious: if you can visit the office of any beauty brand in the world, what would it be and why?

Swatched: New Happy Skin Power Pout Lip Lacquer + Best Date Ever matte lippie

Are you a glossy girl or a matte maven? I roll both ways, but most of the time I wear a combination of both, which is the satin texture. Who said a girl can't have both worlds? ;) Anyway, Happy Skin Cosmetics has just given us more options in the lip department as it comes out with a totally new lippie formula and a permanent line of mattes. These tubes won't be available until August 1 so you'll be one of the first to see 'em online!

You'll remember that Happy Skin came out with their Shut Up & Kiss Me Moisturizing Matte Lippies (P649) last month in a successful collab with Preview Magazine. Those, however, are only limited edition. This time around the Mattes are here to stay, with three uber wearable colors called Best Date Ever (a berry pink), Pop the Question (nude pink), and Follow Your Heart (bright pink). 

I've already reviewed the formula (check the link up there) so I'll just talk about Best Date Ever, which is the shade that Happy Skin sent over.

Best Date Ever is the deeper, more dramatic sister of Naughty and Nice. N&N came out last year as part of Happy Skin's holiday collection, if you'll remember! I really liked its already deep mauve berry hue, but Best Date Ever is simply more alluring. It's the perfect dark date night lippie, without actually scaring off your date! (I.e. you get the drama n' danger without the aswang mode on)

It's matte and opaque in a couple of swipes. Like the original iteration of the matte lippies, this is not drying at all. It's the perfect berry shade for morenas so you must try it if you're looking for something in this color category. 

What everyone's buzzing about, understandably, is the all-new Power Pout Moisturising Lip Lacquer (P699). This is a fairly pigmented, high-shine gloss that is weightless and non-sticky when worn. You know how glosses get all uncomfortable and smeary because of the plasticky texture? You'll have none of that with Happy Skin's lacquer. It's comfortable, and did I mention it's moisturising. Awesome stuff.

There are three shades available: Hear Me Roar (a red orange), Royal Treatment (nude with a lilac undertone), and Strong & Sexy (a nude pink) which is what I have. It's like a cross between Summer Fling and the Liz Uy Style Icon lippie! Very pretty and most importantly, much more flattering on me than SF and SI. ^_^ Pleased with this! And I like that it didn't streak.

The catch? The Moisturizing Lip Lacquer doesn't really settle; it's in a constant state of wetness, which means that it won't get top marks in longevity. I give this an two hours, tops, before it transfers to whatever you're drinking from.

Ah well, compromise is the spice of life! Try this out if you've always been put off by gloss, but like the juicy finish. 

Now, where to find these? The Moisturising Matte Lippies and Power Pout Lip Lacquers will be exclusively sold in Zalora.com.ph from August 1 to 9. The first 200 shoppers to purchase two new lippies (one matte and one lacquer) will get two Mini Gel Eyeliners. After August 9 you can go ahead and purchase these at Happyskincosmetics.com and in the brand's retail location in Rustan's, Beauty Bar, Plains & Prints, SM Store, and Landmark.

Soooo - what do you think? Are you getting anything from this new collection?

You're invited: The Estee Lauder Nutritious Collection Experience

Here's an event for Estee Lauder fans out there! The brand is about to launch an exciting skincare line in local counters, and you're invited to come try it out. The Nutritious Collection is a high-performance skincare created line for the younger generation - our age group, 20s-30s - that promises to energize our skin and to give it the radiance we've always craved for. I just used the Radiant Vitality 2-in-1 Foam Cleanser followed by the Rosy Prism Radiant Gel Emulsion last night and I swear, my skin looked soooo good this morning. I have high hopes for this line; I hope that you can experience the Nutritious for yourself too.

The event is happening this Saturday, August 1, in Rustan's Makati. Just contact Jane at 09175067700 to reserve a slot. ^_^ Hopefully I can drop by in the afternoon and perhaps I shall catch you there! Let me know if you're going!

How to make the most out of your facial mask

While I was packing for my trip last week I was grumbling (internally) about how bulky my skincare bottles are. I don't have sample sizes of them nor did I have time to properly depot everything, so I was forced to hurriedly stuff full-sized tubes into my Beabi travel pouch. Suddenly, my eyes alighted on my Holy Grail face mask, the Leaders Coconut Bio Mask, and a light bulb dinged to life in my head.

I realized that masks are actually perfect to bring on trips due to their compact, flat shape. If you're not going out any time soon though, I also realized that you can use the leftover essence in the packaging as legit skincare. Like, scoop some out with your fingers, slather it all over your face like moisturizer, then pop the opened pack in the fridge. With this ridiculously simple tip I was able to use one pack of mask four times - one with the actual mask, and three times without!

Before, I slather the leftover essence on my neck, arms, and legs, but I didn't stop to think that it can be stored for future use on my face! Seriously. I might be the only person in the world who hasn't thought of that. -_- In any case, my skin was so nice while I was in Singapore because it was like I was masking up every night.

If you happen to have a big pack with several facial masks inside, you can get what you need for your trip then place them inside a Ziplock bag. Now you have your toner, moisturizer, and serum in one product that doesn't take up much space.

I'm sure I'm not the first one to realize this but man, these "discoveries" blew me away! And yes I am mask crazy lately. I am trying out a Japanese brand now and it's pretty good - cheaper than Leaders too. I'll loop you in on that soon!

Hope you found this useful! Do you have more tips on maximizing masks? 

Quickie: Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer

One of my pet makeup peeves is seeing someone with obviously mismatched and unblended concealer. I'd even go so far as to say that it's worse than a bad foundation shade since the skin looks mottled and uneven. Better to have a floating face than a speckled one, if I had to choose!

My advice is to choose your concealer shade carefully and to spend some time blending it down until it looks like skin. This is particularly important if you're wearing heavy coverage concealer, like the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage (P1,750 from BeautyMNL). I got this a few weeks back, so here's a quick review. ^_^

I'm sure you've seen this Laura Mercier concealer around - it's that popular. Makeup artists and bloggers all over the world have raved about it at some point. Its fame comes from the fact that it's one of the heaviest concealers out in the market, with coverage that is completely opaque and a staying power that will not move throughout the day. 

It comes in two shades so that you can mix your perfect match. The catch? Once it's on your skin, it's very difficult to blend. The texture is seriously hard! You have to be able to mix your color on the first try because you won't get a lot of leeway in melting it down. This really frustrated me for a while until I found my correct combination. It's like opening the lock to a treasure box.

The palette I have is SC-5, which is recommended for medium skin. Not one of the two colors match my skin on the get go so I have to use a small, pointed brush to create my shade.

I use a Real Techniques brush from the Core set. I've tried so many brushes from my collection, even following Lisa Eldridge's recommendation to use an eyeliner brush, but this pointed synthetic brush is the only one that worked for me. It's stiff, so it can pick up the product easily.

The concealer + brush in action. I mixed a bit too light on my chin, but the concealer on my cheeks is almost imperceptible.

The concealer + brush in action. I mixed a bit too light on my chin, but the concealer on my cheeks is almost imperceptible.

The Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer is great to try if you have seriously dark blemishes and oily skin to boot. If you just have light blemishes, honestly, it's not worth the hassle. Just pick an everyday concealer with a not-so-heavy coverage and fussy application (like the NARS Creamy Radiant Concealer).

Speaking of, I have a new article up on the BeautyMNL! It's about the different types of concealer and how to wield them to your advantage. Hop on to read it!

The Shiseido Glow Enhancing Primer is for those who want to try strobing, with caution

Have you heard about the new makeup craze called strobing? It's basically a technique where you layer different illuminating products to create a natural glow and to enhance the bone structure without contouring. It's a look quite literally filled with light! The technique has been around for a long time but it's only now that it has captured the makeup world's imagination. My guess is it's because everyone is just exhausted with heavy-looking makeup.

I'll discuss strobing in more detail soon (tutorial? Tutorial!), but for the meantime I've got something that I'm sure strobing newbies would love: the new Shiseido Glow Enhancing Primer (P1,750). This is a transparent, ultra-light, hydrating primer that gets you a subtle glow. It doesn't have any visible shimmer; in fact, it has silicone that mattifies the skin and fills in lines.

That sounds counter intuitive, I know, but this primer doesn't work its magic when you use it all by its lonesome. Once you layer foundation on top of it, you will observe that your skin looks significantly better! Foundation looks less heavy, and you start seeing that promised glow. The primer helps to control oil a little bit so the glow doesn't go overboard even when you get oily. Your skin will just look clearer and filled with a subtle inner light. Your makeup will actually look better a few hours down the road.

I like that it has a hydrating, skin-identical ingredient like glycerin. It also has SPF15 which is acceptable if you're not going to be exposed to the sun long or if you have a separate SPF. It also means that you can use this Shiseido primer during photo shoots - its photogenic properties will not be put to waste! 

It feels like nothing on the skin once blended out evenly. I'd say it's a basic primer that makes your skin look like a better version of itself, and makes your makeup stay on for a little while longer. Can't say there's anything I dislike about it. Oh, and it's pretty affordable for a Shiseido product ha, at P1,750 for 30ml. I mean, to give you an idea, the REFILL of a foundation is almost P2,000. 

Anyway, I'm just rambling now. Go buy the Shiseido Glow Enhancing Primer if you want to try strobing, with caution. It creates a glow that is impressively natural (gosh you should see the their White Lucent Brightener, that makes my face the address of a disco ball running amok!) and it does a good job in keeping your base intact during the day. I like it. Let me know what you think!

Commenter of the month for June and August gift

I've been busy between workshops, traveling, and work, hence the late announcement. I've finally got to screen the comments though - the Commenter of the Month for June is Jeremy Garcia. Congratulations! Please email your shipping address and mobile number to lizlanuzo at projectvanity.com. I hope to ship all my pending packages by Wednesday.

To make up for the lateness of the announcement, I will not have one, not two, but THREE Commenters of the Month for August! BeautyMNL generously gave me this set for the CoM contest. ^_^ It's actually the same one I gave away during one of my beauty workshops, so if you missed it, this loot bag is the next best thing! *wink

Inside you can find a few BeautyMNL exclusives: the MY Multi-Purpose Mattifying Primer, a Leaders Coconut Bio Mask, Tony Moly Timeless Carat cream foundation, a Pro Studio sponge, Lioele Secret Pore Rich Balm and more samples, Kala Milk Soap, and a P200 GC to BeautyMNL. Awesome huh?

Go check out BeautyMNL.com to see more of these unique finds!

So, it's the same mechanics as before! Every month, I'll pick a commenter on my blog. She must be able to leave useful comments, such as sharing feedback about a product I reviewed. It can be a "thank you" comment, or maybe a really good question (I love good questions). A big factor would be the frequency of the reader's comments. Does she always visit? Does she read through the site? At the end of the day though, I always value quality more than quantity. Consistency is key.

Comment away! Am hoping to hear from you. ;) I'll pick the winner by the end of August. Good luck!

Hello from Singapore + new travel faves

I am writing this just before I start preparing for the Urban Sketchers Symposium today. I can't believe that I actually made it, after all the suspense about my passport! I almost didn't get it in time. Well, I actually did NOT get it in time which meant that I had to book a new flight that arrived at 12 midnight, but that's beside the point. I'm here. I'm going to be able to catch the watercolor workshops I signed up for. I'm so happy! 

Before I go, I just want to quickly talk about some new products that I added in my travel kit. I have my staples, but I like adding up more convenient or better versions of what I like to bring. Here are five! 

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Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede Cologne. This smells incredibly lovely and sweet, and the 30ml bottle is just PERFECT for traveling. It's small but it gives a fine mist worthy of a full-sized bottle.

Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foam Cleanser. I actually got this last year from EL's gift promo, but didn't get to try it until recently. It cleans thoroughly and leaves my face smooth; no breakouts so far.

I also adore the travel size. I don't enjoy putting facial wash in travel jars because I always place too much, thereby wasting precious product, and it tends to leak out a bit. It makes more sense to just bring a legit travel-sized tube!

Lush Shampoo Bar in Honey I Washed My Hair. It's hot and muggy in Singapore, so I need a good shampoo that will keep my hair smelling fresh the whole day. If you've ever smelled the Lush shampoo bars then you'll know why I defaulted to this! It also comes in a small travel-friendly tin. It can also be used as body soap!

I read an interesting travel tip the other day: if you want your clothes to smell good during and after a trip, pack a bar of great-smelling soap in your luggage. Don't put it in plastic so that the scent permeates through your clothes.

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Benefit Lollibalm. I'm never without lip balm whenever I travel. My lips dry out in the arid cabin air so I have to keep on retouching if I want to avoid chapped skin. I like the Lollibalm because it's thin on the lips and it has a nice rosy scent; the metallic lavender packaging also makes it easy to find in the mess that is my bag.

It's the small things, really. 

Imation Link Power Drive. I had meant to write about this a loooog time ago but yes, this is probably the best gadget I've found this year (other than the iPhone6 of course hehe). This is not just a power bank - it's also a storage device, so I can move pictures and videos when I need to save space on my phone. I can also save movies here, which means that I can watch pretty much anything on my phone even when I don't have wifi or LTE. Awesome right?!

It can store up to 32gig and is also incredibly light. It also has its own USB and lightning cords so no need to bring a separate one. It just needs a plug.

I believe you can find this in major gadget stores for P4,000 or 5,000 (I don't have the exact price)!

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And that is that. ^_^ Hope you enjoyed looking through my new travel faves. Gotta roll out now! See you on Instagram @lizlanuzo! I'm using the hashtag #LizInSG.

Up your makeup game with the Suesh Vanity Case

Every girl, at some point, has dreamed of her transformation from an ugly duckling to a beautiful princess. My feminist self would argue that its totally fine to be ugly, and princesses are an unhealthy ideal for young girls anyway. Still, I have that girl inside me who wanted to be pretty just like in the fairy stories. It's part of who I am. It's one of the reasons I fell in love with makeup to begin with - it places in my own hands the power to look as I wish.

That aside though, its good rollicking fun to play with makeup as if they were toys for big girls. I love testing products and new looks; I've also been doing beauty workshops, so this Suesh Vanity Case makes me ridiculously happy. I was in such awe when I picked it up from the store and set it up in my home. It's so...perfect! I feel like a princess whenever I do my makeup in front of it.

Practically speaking, I use this professional-worthy train case for storing the products I demonstrate in my workshops. It also gives me great lighting for taking FOTDs and styled product shots for my blog. Should I need to do a demo outside of my home, I've got a mobile storage and display in a box that folds up and turns into a luggage I can pull on wheels. 

So yes, I feel this case ups my makeup game to the nth level! It's quite expensive, but if you're a makeup artist or someone who works closely with cosmetics like I do, then this is a sweet investment. It's also pretty good furniture at home, lol!

Here are more pictures!

The case has telescopic legs that pull out from the back. They're stable and supports the weight of the box well. 

The case has telescopic legs that pull out from the back. They're stable and supports the weight of the box well. 

There are two tiers that open out, and a spacious area on the bottom and back for placing brushes and other bigger products.

There are two tiers that open out, and a spacious area on the bottom and back for placing brushes and other bigger products.

The LED lights never heat up - they also come in yellow and blue, to mimic natural light. There's also a plug on the bottom left side of the mirror for curling irons, blow driers, etc.

The LED lights never heat up - they also come in yellow and blue, to mimic natural light. There's also a plug on the bottom left side of the mirror for curling irons, blow driers, etc.

Due to the bulk and weight of the case though, it requires two people to set up! There are handles on three sides to ease the process.

Due to the bulk and weight of the case though, it requires two people to set up! There are handles on three sides to ease the process.

If this vanity case is out of your budget, Suesh also sells smaller cases at every price point. You can get them for personal use, or for gigs if you're a budding makeup artist. ^_^ You can order them at Suesh.com or visit their stores below:

Ground floor, Trinoma || Mobile #: 09332404876

Lower GF, Alabang Town Center || Mobile #: 09273161769/ 09323892775

34 Wilson Street, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila || Tel Nos. 09258857206/ Landline: 8068013

2F Glorietta 5, Makati || Mobile # 09227503213

Upper Ground Floor, Building A, SM Megamall || Mobile # 09425652481

Love: L'Oreal Color Riche Collection Star Matte Reds

There's something about red lipstick that says, "You can't touch me." Perhaps this is why some people feel that they can't pull the color off. It requires a certain badassness, a pronounced distance from what is weak and boring. If you can't summon that aloof attitude then red lips will just make you feel like a clown who is ungainly and overdressed. That's what I think anyway!

Red lipstick is often additionally intimidating because there's a perception that it's hard to find a flattering one for your skin. Well, it's true that it's hard to find the most perfect possible match, but it's not going to be significantly better on you than the next flaming red. It all comes down to preference and the prevailing trend. Right now, the reds are as matte and as deep and shocking as the brands can make 'em. Right now, if you're going to wear red, you must turn heads!

That's probably what L'Oreal was thinking when they came out with the Color Riche Collection Star Matte Reds (P525). This line of seven lipsticks in Asia features intense reds that have a solid matte finish. These go on opaque after just one swipe, and even though they have the dry texture typical of most matte lippies, they're not drying. They're not hydrating either so do use a lip balm as needed.

I have three shades with me: Pure Ruby, a bright red with pinkish and bluish undertones; Pure Rouge, a warm, fire-engine red; and Pure Garnet, a deep wine red. It's easier to see the difference when they are swatched side by side, but when worn, there's not much of a marked distinction between Pure Ruby and Pure Rouge (unless your eye is sharp and trained to see it that is).

Here are full face swatches. Pure Rouge looks just a tad warmer than Pure Ruby. Pure Garnet is deeper, plummier than the other two. My favorite would have to be Ruby because it really stands out. Like its name, come to think of it! Garnet I like on principle. It's dark and dramatic just the way I like it.

The staying power of these matte lipsticks are pretty good at about four to five hours. They don't fade away in streaky rings. Instead, they leave a nice, even stain on the lips. For the fairly cheap price it's like you're getting something from a high-end brand! I'm pretty happy with the formula and colors, but yes, if you're buying several you have to loo closely to avoid getting ones that are too similar.

Go grab a tube or two from the L'Oreal Color Riche Collection Star Matte Reds if you're hankering for a new loud lip. I think you'll be pleased with these. ^_^

Rhetorical question: How many red lipsticks do you need in this lifetime?