A librarian on a holiday

One of the (way too many) reasons I love going to Tokyo is to watch what people are wearing. The Japanese have this inborn appreciation for beauty, an eye for detail, and a sense of weird humor. These things flow into how they dress and I feel so inspired just seeing that! Everybody is effortlessly stylish, like they just threw on their clothes without really thinking about it.

Last month I observed that the fashion revolved around the academia. So think schools, libraries, and university sporting events! Many of the girls were in loafers, oxfords, crisp shirts, thick cardigans, and full skirts. I love the look so lately I've been hunting down pieces that fit into the narrative. 

Here's what I've got so far!

The gum-soled black loafers from Forever 21 will be my favorite pair for a while, I think. They're a bit challenging since I need to plan the outfit around them but I think that's what makes a good Shoe-Of-The-Moment. It should embody the style you're trying to emulate, and should force you to think of new ways to use your old things. It's how you stay current yet true to yourself!

Thrifted top, Zara satchel, Forever 21 skirt and shoes

Thrifted top, Zara satchel, Forever 21 skirt and shoes

Case in point: the rose pussy bow blouse is an old thrifted one that I dug out of my closet. I only wore a gold watch since the skirt is already quite intricate and shiny, while the top already looks busy.

So that's what I wore yesterday! I was at Manila Peninsula for Procter & Gamble's thanksgiving lunch. They also re-introduced Everyday Me, the lifestyle portal of the company. You must visit it if you're interested in finding awesome ideas about food, shopping, beauty, family life, health, and home-making. As it happens they have a nice set of holiday-related tips for y'all looking to make your Christmas more fun and stylish. ^_^ 

Enjoy! 

Love: the Lancome L'Absolu Rouge

This is the year of glossy, juicy lipsticks. I guess tastemakers have decided that women have had enough of solid swathes of color on their kissers! Don't get me wrong though, I love my mattes, but there's always a spot in my kit for shiny formulas since they never fail to make my lips look plumper and softer. If you have thin lips, my advice is to gloss 'em up whenever you can.

Anyway! Recently Lancome Philippines sent me the new shades of the iconic L'Absolu Rouge. I don't recall ever trying out a Lancome lipstick before so I didn't have any expectations. Well, let me be honest. I had one expectation: that they be awesome. I looked forward to nothing but excellence from Lancome and I wasn't disappointed. ^_^

The Lancome L'Absolu Rouge (P1,600+) features a moisturizing, satin-bordering-on-glossy formula that is enriched with Vitamin E. I don't even use lip balm underneath! I love how my lips look like they're plump and perfectly shaped whenever I'm wearing the L'Absolu.

The pigmentation is sheer to heavy - it depends on how many layers you put on really. I usually takes two layers to get the intensity that I want. The texture is ultra smooth and glides on like butter so there's no skidding as I apply it. It feels quite luxe on the lips, a bit cushy, just the way a high-end lipstick should. ^_^

Staying power is pretty good at about 3.5 to 4 hours plus it leaves a strong stain for a long time after. It's a pretty reliable lipstick IMHO. It's something I take with me when I know I'll be out all day since it requires minimal retouching.

Here are the four colors I have! I believe that these came out in time for the holidays.

212 Nude Peach is sheer, but it surprisingly evenly covers up my lips. There are no bald spots or streaks which are typical of shiny semi-sheer lipsticks. I don't think this will work if you have pigmented lips though! The color is best for fair to light-medium skin

386 Lancome Rose is a vibrant blue-based fuchsia. It makes me think of spring and watercolors - anything light, fun, and fresh!

349 Rose Carousel is a cherry pink that's warmer compared to Lancome Rose. If you're more yellow-toned, this would suit you better (but both would look great either day).

160 Rose Grand Amour is my favorite! Such an intense true red. This is the ultimate holiday lip color if you ask me! I failed to take an FOTD when I wore this last Saturday, but here I am with Angela during the beauty blogger Christmas party. So nice with a little black something no?

The packaging is a sleek, curved black bullet with a magnetic closure. It makes an audible metallic click as the cap slides down the base. Very elegant.

Overall, I love the Lancome L'Absolu Rouge's moisturizing, glossy formula as it is super low maintenance during the day. The colors are chic yet classic, and the tube! So nice to bring around when you're feeling fancy. I highly recommend this to those with dry, thin lips. 

Let me know what you think! Have you tried Lancome lippies before?

What I want you to know

I grew up in a small town without the benefit of a particularly good education, beauty, connections or a lot of money. These things however didn't stop me from having a clear image in my head of who I want to be and how I want my life to be like. I didn't have room for doubting myself, or the luxury of fearing failure; I didn't have time to waste. 

You should have seen me in high school. Big hair, bad skin, thick glasses, even thicker braces, and  questionable taste. Now I'm working in an industry where the superficial reigns supreme! At the end of the day though, I feel that what I do inspires people to aspire for beauty in their lives. What I do makes it possible for others to transform themselves the way I transformed myself into who I am today.

With it, I've achieved a modest amount of success. It's enough that I can live independently, travel, and pursue my other passions like watercolor painting. 

At my first ever art exhibit in SM Aura last November for Fountain Pen Day. Still can't believe this happened, sometimes.

At my first ever art exhibit in SM Aura last November for Fountain Pen Day. Still can't believe this happened, sometimes.

My point? There are many things that seem impossible from where you stand at the moment. I just want you to know that nothing is out of reach as long as you work hard, do the time, and maintain your presence of mind (i.e. focus). Find courage. Take that leap of faith, for sometimes it is the only available means of transportation. 

Smell like candy with The Body Shop Glazed Apple Body Butter

Lately I've been obsessed with making everything in my life smell extra good - my clothes, my house, my self! I'm not quite sure why. Maybe it's a phase. Maybe it's just my tita instinct coming alive, although I'm technically not an aunt of anybody. Nonetheless. I've really been enjoying finding new products with wonderful scents that make me feel happy whenever I get a whiff.

One of my go-tos is The Body Shop, as you know. I loved pretty much every body care-related stuff they came out with or repromoted with this year: remember the Honeymania Collection, the Olive Shower Gel, the Spa Wisdom Ximena & Salt Scrub, and the Fijian Water Lotus Body Lotion and EDT? These are all mainstays in my routine. Now I've got a new one: The Body Shop Glazed Apple Body Butter!

I didn't use to enjoy super sweet body moisturizers but now, well, a girl can change her mind. Glazed Apple smells exactly like its namesake. It also sticks to the skin, turning anyone who wears it into a walking candy wonderland, haha. Obviously it's not for everybody but I guarantee you will like this if you like sweet-scented things.

PS, I skip perfume when I wear this since it smells quite strong on my skin already. I like to think of this as a scent more than just a body cream.

The Body Butter formula is a classic; it's a heavy cream moisturizer that's best used sparingly during the day. Use more if you're looking for intense moisture! I love to slather this on since my skin is tad dry this season. If you have oily skin that tends to sweat a lot though, it might end up feeling greasy.

So there you go, something new to try from The Body Shop! ^_^ Any Body Butter fans out there?

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P500 (and under) gifts for your kikay friends

So you want to give a nice gift to a friend who loves prettifying herself. However, you don't have a big budget to get the usual holiday kits or even a popular high-end item. What to do? Worry not, for Ate Liz is here to help you! Lol. I saw a comment earlier asking me about 500 peso beauty-related gifts so I thought I'd rummage through my stash to find good suggestions.

And found them I did. These are products that I would recommend to anyone, because they're the kind that would surely be used again and again. They're not throwaway items just for the sake of giving something; I feel the receiver would appreciate the thought that went into your gift even though it wasn't that expensive. Of course, don't forget to write a nice note!

Here ya go!

For the friend who is serious about makeup. Get her the Ellana Brush Cleaner (P400), a must-have for any makeup maven and professional MUA. This cleans and conditions brushes stat! It also has a pleasant melon scent which is totes different from the usual paint solvent smell of brush cleaners.

You can also get the Lip & Cheek Duo (P460) specifically the Icon / Illusion combination. These two colors work on ANYONE; they sheer out into a gorgeous flush on the cheeks and looks like lipstick on the lips. 

For the friend with dry lips. Yes, we all have one person in our life who can't seem to find a lip balm that gets rid of the flakes. Get her to try these limited edition Burt's Bees Christmas ornaments! They are not only decorative, they also feature intense conditioning lip balms. The Refresh (with Grapefruit) and Rejuvenate (with Acai Berry) are both only P325, while the Ultra Conditioning (with Kokum Butter) is P375.

This is a nice gift for guy friends as well! Burt's Bees is available in Beauty Bar.

For the friend who loves to travel. The Charm Pocket Brush Set (P500 at Beauty and Minerals) is the perfect size to bring around anywhere. Whether she's tramping in an azure beach or freezing in, IDK, Europe, this set is something she can definitely use! It has five handy brushes for applying and retouching a basic look.

And psssst...it'd be lovely to be remembered as your friend is traveling. ;)

For the friend who loves styling her hair. Lucido-L is quite popular in Japan. It's a rare drugstore where you won't see it in the shelves! Anyway, this set is the perfect gift for someone who's vain about her hair. You know what I mean. Some of us obsess about brows, some obsess about hair.

This set is only P295 - separately, each full-sized bottle is P295 but it's basically on a buy 1 take 1 this season. The one I have here is the Curling Milk and Repairing Oil. There are lots of other variants available in Watsons.

For the beginner in the art of kilay. Have a friend who's clueless about shading her brows? Is she daunted by all the options out there? Or do you just hate seeing her with undone kilay? Loljk. Half joke. I get a little tiny bit peeved with girls who don't fix up their brows. Just a little though, everyone can do whatever they want really.

ANYWAY. The Heroine Make Quick Eyebrow (P345 in Watsons) is a fool-proof product. The pigmentation is light and the pencil is slim; nonetheless, when you're done layering, it will look super polished and effortless. Plus, it pretty much stays on all day. Try the 01 shade!

And that is that. Do you have more suggestions? What are you getting your kikay friends this Christmas?

See inside: The December BDJ Box with COVERGIRL

A friend on Facebook asked on his wall: Does "aiming for a bigger audience" always have to mean "selling out"? I said, you can't really sell out if nobody wanted to buy into it in the first place. If you have barely any audience then you don't have a compelling product; if you don't have a compelling product then there is nothing to lose by tweaking your content to suit your target demographic.

My two cents. ^_^ Anyway, today I want to show you what's inside the December BDJ Box, which I got just the other day! It's an exclusive one with COVERGIRL. If you've been disappointed lately with BDJ's luxe samples and mixed drugstore skincare products (lol hard to please?) this is BDJ's way to make it up to makeup lovers!

This month's box contains full sizes of COVERGIRL cosmetics that's worth P2,365 in retail. Considering the box is only P580, this is a crazy steal! I guess the occasional too-good-to-be-true box like this one is the reason lots of people are huge fans of BDJ. Not to say that the service isn't worth it - in fact, it's still pretty great even if sometimes you get "grocery" finds. At the end of the day, BDJ always gives you a box worth at least triple of the amount you pay. Still a good deal if you ask me.

So, let's see what's included from COVERGIRL this month! I don't have swatches yet but I plan to do a capsule review as the brand separately sent me a similar kit earlier.

TruBlend Liquid Makeup (P645, 30ml). A liquid foundation that provides full coverage for a flawless natural look.

TruBlend Pressed Powder (P425, 11ml). A silky-smooth formula that adapts to your skin tone.

Cheekers Blush (P395, 3g). This is a sneak preview as it'll be out February next year! It promises an easy and natural rosy silk flush in a portable compact.

Smiky Shadow Blast (P525, 4.6g). Easily create a bold smoky eye with the two specially contoured ends.

LashBlast Fusion Water Resistant Mascara (P595, 12g). This is supposed to be super-volumizing! I've always liked LashBlast and I'd like to try out a water resistant version.

So there you have it! Did you manage to grab a December BDJ Box? Will you be continuing or starting a subscription with BDJ this 2015?

DKNY My NY For Women

Here's an open secret: if you want to smell unbelievably good, use the same scent in three layers. First as a shower gel (you might even want to put some on your hair), then as a body lotion, and then finally as a perfume. It's a lot of effort and you might even underestimate how considerably better you'll smell (for longer too) when you do this, but it's worth the work!

Now I don't layer my scents regularly, but when I want to feel like a special unicorn, I take the time. It's something I do when there's an event or meeting where I need to feel my best. Doing the three-layer thing technique leaves a trail of subtle scent that should give people a better impression of me, you see. ^_^ Sounds shallow yes but scent is powerful - people might not remember what you wore, but they will remember how you smell like.

Currently I've been loving the DKNY My NY For Women, an energetic, spicy scent that is Donna Karan's love for New York bottled up. Its top notes feature a blend of raspberry, pink pepper and galbanum, coming down to a heart of Egyptian jasmine, freesia and orris. The base is a warm patchouli Heart LMR, vanilla absolute, musk and ambergris.

This scent is surprisingly spicy upon first spritz, but not unpleasantly so. It quickly simmers down to a cozy, grown-up floral that can be worn from day to night.

The latest flacon is heart-shaped, celebrating the New York skyline in the upper part. It's a rather interesting shape but it fits the hand without any awkwardness.

As for the Shower Gel and Body lotion - wow! They smell quite intense, sticking to the skin for more than 2/3rds of the day. Topped with the EDT, the scent practically lasts all day. You must try these out if this is the effect you're going for!

Give the DKNY My NY a sniff next time you pass by a fragrance store! It retails for PHP 3,650 / PHP 4,650 for the 50ml and 100ml bottles respectively. I'm not sure about the prices of the shower gel and body lotion but they should be available locally as well.

Commenter of the month for November and December Gift

It's 2015 in a few weeks. Have you thought about how your year was? The high points, the lows? It helps one's overall well-being to internalize those things just before the new year rolls in. If there's anything you can change to make the current one better, then perhaps you should do that now and have no regrets. I need to think of what that would be for me!

Anyway, the Commenter of the Month for November is none other than Abigaill Villacruz. Congratulations! Please email your name, address, and mobile to lizlanuzo at projectvanity.com.  For December, I thought I'd give away some hand picked products + art materials! For a change. I want to share my love for painting too!

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This is quite a lot of stuff from my personal stash. I've got some Heroine Make, Ecotools, Revlon, MeMeMe, The Body Shop, L'Oreal, Covergirl, Sally Hansen, and Burt's Bees for the winner. I also included a cute tote bag from Tokyo (llamas!) and of course some art stuff.

I've included sable hair watercolor brushes from Singapore, a Nikko nib from Tokyo, Prang set, a watercolor pad, and gift tags from Tory Burch. This should get you started with your painting.

So, it's 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 mid January 2015. Good luck!

Get good vibes with the Nippon Amber + Plumeria Natural Soy Candle

Living alone is neither as fun nor as liberating as it sounds. It's mostly a lot of sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, and bills, bills, and more bills! Sometimes when the weather is grey and wet like today, it's easy to get stuck in a funk because you have nobody to talk to (except your dog if you have a dog). It can get really quiet and you will start missing your mom fussing over you. 

In other words: you're lucky if you live with people who love you. It might be that there's never enough space but it is certainly less lonely. And less expensive LOL.

ANYWAY I didn't want to be in a mood today so I lit up my Nippon Amber + Plumeria Natural Soy Candle (P600). This is one of the latest products from Nippon Esthetics - surprising choice for a brand that mainly sells disposable applicators but it's a welcome change.

The candle smells fantastic! Plumeria is apparently another name for frangipani, so imagine a jasmine-like scent overlaid with homey notes of amber. So lovely in this weather. My office feels so cozy because of it!

In the background I'm playing some thoughtful acoustic songs and all is again right in the world. Sometimes, our problems are never really as melodramatic as they initially sound. A candle, a bit of music, and lunch should solve them. ^_^

What's making you feel good today?

You can purchase Nippon products in the following locations.

New from Nivea: Gentle Facial Cleansing Wipes and Exfoliating Wipes

Not to brag but lately my social life is insane - in a good way. I've been meeting a lot of new people and reconnecting with old friends, going to dinners and drinks and parties more often than I normally would. It's fun, but also quite exhausting. One of the functions of my job is PR, still, I get low batt quickly in social situations! Do you feel that way too?

Most nights I'd rather just plunk down on the bed and snooze. Yes, it's mortifying considering all the makeup I would still have on my face, but when I'm tired I'm just...tired. I literally fall face down in my clothes and makeup after a long night! Good thing I still wake up later on to wash my face haha. Otherwise you'd be reading Project Pimples here, where I will discuss the rise and fall of my acne just because I don't cleanse before I sleep. :P

As you know, I love my micellar makeup removers, but when I need a quick way to take off my face gunk I turn to wipes. They are just so convenient! I don't even have to soap my face afterwards. A quick rinse with water is enough and I'm off to bed.

Currently I've been using the latest from Nivea: the Gentle Facial Cleansing Wipes (P140) and Exfoliating Wipes (P140). So far, I'm impressed! These are probably some of the most affordable drugstore wipes out there but they just work. I love them both for different reasons which we will discuss below.

The Nivea Gentle Exfoliating Wipes are the most fascinating of the two because they feature two sides: a smooth one for taking off the top layer of makeup and a textured one for removing deep-seated dirt and oil accumulated during the day. These wipes formulated for oily, troubled skin!

I like using them when I have thick makeup on or when my skin is flaky; they combine the makeup removal process with exfoliation. One wipe is enough to take off everything - and I mean everything - save for waterproof mascara, of course. I add a few drops of a separate oil-based makeup remover to the wipes to efficiently remove that stuff. In any case I don't use waterproof products often anyway to save myself the trouble.

I like the raised dots on the textured side of the EW because they mean business, but they don't rub my skin raw. In fact, they are still gentle on my skin even when I apply pressure. 

The Nivea Gentle Facial Cleansing Wipes on the other hand have a uniformly smooth surface and wetter towel. It's also thicker and more dense compared to the other makeup wipes I've tried. It feels soft and luxe on the skin because of this! It smells good too - clean and slightly powdery (almost the same scent as the EWs).

These wipes are formulated for dry, sensitive skin, although all skin types could definitely use this. I pick it up more often than the EWs simply because it's more moist and therefore works quicker, but I still keep the textured wipes around for those days when I need extra rubbing power. 

All that gunk, gone! Tip: Fold your wipe in four sections and use each section for different parts of your face. You don't want your eye and lip makeup getting on your nose and cheeks! That's like a surefire formula for clogged pores.

All that gunk, gone! Tip: Fold your wipe in four sections and use each section for different parts of your face. You don't want your eye and lip makeup getting on your nose and cheeks! That's like a surefire formula for clogged pores.

I need only one wipe to remove a full face of makeup and then just add a waterproof makeup remover to it if I need to. Otherwise this is enough for long-wearing foundation and lipstick, primed eyeshadow, water-resistant eyeliners and eyebrow makeup.

Gentle Facial Cleansing Wipes vs Exfoliating Wipes: My advice, get both, and use them as needed.

Gentle Facial Cleansing Wipes vs Exfoliating Wipes: My advice, get both, and use them as needed.

So there you go! I highly recommend these new Nivea wipes because they're effective, efficient, and affordable. I was actually surprised to find out these are only 140 bucks - I mean seriously, I actually thought they were around P300-P350. Not bad at all! I daresay you won't be disappointed in these as quickie makeup removal tools.

What do you think: would you go for the Gentle Facial Wipes or the Exfoliating Wipes? Or both?

The Happy Skin All Eyes On Hue Eyeshadow Palette

This is party season, which means it's the best time of the year to start dusting off your eyeshadow palettes or even acquiring new ones just because they make you happy. Eyeshadows are super fun to play with, plus they make your eyes look more photogenic. Trust me. You don't want to be without smoky eyes at an evening soiree with dim lighting and flash photography! Your eyes would look tiny and blah (unless you don't mind of course).

Anyway, one of the palettes that recently fell in my lap is the Happy Skin All Eyes On Hue Eyeshadow Palette (P1,299). This contains four carefully curated shades that are intended to be worn from day to night. You must be thinking, man, yet another neutral palette? What does this have to offer?

Well if you're an eyeshadow whore then perhaps you will have similar colors in your collection already, but if you're just starting out or just ambivalent about eyeshadow in general then this is golden. The four colors can be worn alone and they will look fantastic; they're the type you'll wear again and again, too.

Oatmeal is a beautiful sandy champagne - I love to use it as a lid wash or brow bone highlight. Biscuit is a matte pinkish beige that when used all over the lids, gives them a hint of translucent pink shadow. It's actually nice as a blending color. Hazelnut is a mid-toned bronze that's excellent for deepening the lids while Espresso is a chocolate-y shimmery coffee color that's perfect for creating smoky eyes.

The texture is smooth and silky. Pigmentation is pretty good except for Biscuit which is intentionally semi-sheer, I think. The pigment is packed tight so there is very little fall out as you apply the shadows. Even so I will still recommend an eyeshadow primer just to hold the colors together all day and to reveal their color even more.

The quality of the shadows are comparable to Lorac and Bobbi Brown, if you ask me. They apply in a way that pops out without looking immediately intense from the get go. They are easy enough to layer though, if you're looking for something opaque on your eyes.

On my eyes: applied Espresso on my lids right below the crease, then added Hazelnut on the crease to soften the darkness of Espresso and blend it out more. Then I placed a combination of Oatmeal and Biscuit on my brow bones to get a less shimmery highlight.

On my eyes: applied Espresso on my lids right below the crease, then added Hazelnut on the crease to soften the darkness of Espresso and blend it out more. Then I placed a combination of Oatmeal and Biscuit on my brow bones to get a less shimmery highlight.

The eyeshadow tutorial included in the palette is pretty useful if you're an eyeshadow noob. As I am not, I would have preferred a mirror so I can work without having to hold another one in my hand.

Overall, the Happy Skin All Eyes On Hue Eyeshadow Palette has a great selection of colors for beginners and pros alike. This should look good on every colouring, and is a breeze to apply and blend due to the uber silky formula. ^_^ Try it out if you're looking for a basic, everyday palette that won't fail you no matter what the occasion.

What do you think? You can find this at Happyskincosmetics.com's online store or in the following branches.