How to deal with the unrealistic standard of beauty we have today

Have you guys seen the new TV show called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? It's about Rebecca Bunch, a high-powered lawyer in New York who left her job to move to West Covina, California, to stalk her old teenage flame Josh. It's hilarious and wildly fun to watch if you love cringe comedy. She just fails at life so hard that you just can't keep your eyes away from the spectacle of it!

And oh did I mention that people randomly break out into song too? I have a mean case of the LSS with "The Sexy Getting Ready Song" which she sings while preparing to "bump into" Josh at a house party. You must watch it. It has some explicit language though so, yeah. You are warned.

Funny no? But also deeply insightful. I run a beauty blog that basically tells women which products and procedures to use  to propagate that "patriarchal bullshit". I write about how women should wax their body hair, tweeze their eyebrows, wear Spanx, and put on their makeup to be beautiful. For a while I felt guilty about it - I felt like my work added to the disease that is the objectification of women - but soon enough I realized that's not necessarily the case.

Here's the thing about beauty: it is power. Beauty is the grease that makes it easier to convince other people to do what you want them to do. It opens doors where none may exist for less attractive people; some jobs in fact require a certain level of attractiveness (flight stewardship, entertainers, modelling, etc.). Beauty soothes. Beauty pleases. Because of this, you can use your beauty - real or contrived - to advance your prospects in life.

The pain point is that a standard exists. Yes, it is unrealistic and yes it is born out of the patriarchy's desire to control women through something as fundamental as our self-image, but it exists. We can say that we are all beautiful but the truth is that some are more beautiful than others. Some are born with it. It can be achieved or enhanced through cosmetics and procedures.

The good news is that you can choose not to play this game. You can choose not to wear makeup, or wax, or wage a war with the girdle. You can be in a job where personal beauty is not important, where talent and knowledge matter much more than your appearance. You can surround yourself with people who don't care at all whether you groom your eyebrows or not. Or wear the same t-shirt and pants everyday. Or have chapped lips. This kind of life is possible and it is absolutely okay that none of this matters to you. If it makes you happy then that’s really all that counts!

You can also choose to play the game and win it on your terms. You learn how to enhance your own beauty, acquire the products you feel you need, be fit, and transform yourself according to the image you have of yourself in your head. I’m not going to tell you what it is; it is something you have to discover for yourself. But I will caution you against trying to be beautiful to make someone else (say, a man) happy. Remember, use beauty as a tool to acquire more power and happiness in your life. Don’t use it for the sole benefit of someone else because therein lies the road to true misery.

Some people take the obsession with beauty to an extreme. They try all the products, the treatments, the dubious “beauty cocktails” purveyed by sketchy clinics and online stores. They go under the knife to achieve the body of their dreams. It's their body and their money so I don't judge them for their choices, but I sincerely hope that they know what they're doing. The patriarchal bullshit goes deep and is difficult to root out without self-awareness and introspection. 

In other words, to deal with the unrealistic standard of beauty we are bombarded with everyday, it's important to understand two simple things.

1. You can choose not to deal with it at all. Yes, that option exists.

2. You can choose to love yourself and be happy with your appearance. At the same time, you accept that you can use beauty as a powerful tool in advancing your career and relationships.

And that's that.

Commenter of the Month for October and December gift

I'm not exactly sure how I was able to survive the last 35 days. I traveled abroad three times, organized a watercolor fair where 250 people showed up, organized a press event for a client, and all of this while still blogging and playing tennis in between! Well, maybe I didn't play as much tennis as I wanted. I'm not superhuman. That being said, last month was fun but it's not something I would care to do again in the near future!

Anyway, I finally have the Commenter of the Month for October. Congratulations to Kimberly Capeding, you just won the complete Pink Sugar cosmetics line. ^_^ Thank you for all your insightful comments. If you're going to my event tomorrow kindly let me know via lizlanuzo at so I can bring the gift with me.

For December, I have a Holiday 2015 set for the winner from Benefit Cosmetics! She will receive the Benefit Pret-A-Party Kit which contains classic best-sellers from the brand. She'll get a travel-sized Fake Up Hydrating Concealer, full-sized Benetint, full-sized They'e Real Mascara, and a travel-sized Porefessional primer. ^_^ All of these come in a reusable and display-worthy tin.

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. For this round, this year's CoMs are not qualified to win, to give others a chance to win too. ^_^

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

Just in: Sleek Makeup is now in Manila!

I am Facebook friends with Mutya Laxa-Buensucesco, the Country Manager of Luxasia. I saw a post of hers this morning and guess what, one of the UK's most famous drugstore brands is finally here in the Philippines! Sleek Makeup, a mainstay in the UK beauty shelves because of its pigmented and trendy color cosmetics, now has a counter in SM Makati Department Store. From the looks of it, it's quite spacious and carries all the best-sellers!

I don't have any info about the prices yet. However, the blogger launch is next week so I should be able to have more information for you then. In the meantime come by and check out this exciting new development! ^_^ You heard it here first!

Here's a couple of my reviews on Sleek products:

Sleek MakeUP True Color Lipstick

Sleek iDivine Eyeshadow Palette in Me, Myself, and Eye

What I got in Tokyo - Autumn 2015

I've hit a nice cozy spot where I can't think of anything else I want to buy. I'm just kidding, I can still think of a couple of things haha! I want to update my wardrobe and perhaps pick up a designer purse in the near future. These are not important, however. I'm sure the desire to accumulate unnecessary stuff will die down in a few weeks. Or rather I hope so.

Anyway, I just want to quickly show you what I got in Tokyo last week. As usual I got some art materials from my favorite stores and a few beauty products. I also got a Macbook Air because as I mentioned earlier my old one died on me. :( I'm still sad about that. That computer and I have been through a lot. 

Moving on. In Ito-Ya Ginza I got another Bism case, some limited edition Winsor & Newton Paints, a compact water bottle, and the Holbein pan in Opera. I was *this close* to grabbing my dream Sennelier palette but I knew that I want it more than I need it. Hay. Adulting is hard.

I am really loving Bism cases - I got a black brush roll in Osaka and I've been carrying it around since then. This new case is smaller but has more pockets. It should fit some travel brushes, small paraphernalia, a paint box, and an A5 sketch book. It was expensive though, for a case! I got it for 1,500 yen or roughly 700 pesos.

In Loft Shibuya I just got a Midori notebook plus a cover for it. The Midori is also a bit pricey for a notebook but they take fountain pen ink really well. The paper is so smooth too! I like to use my Midoris as journals but this one will be my anything-goes-notebook since it's small. Oh I also picked up a Pilot Frixion pen.

When I saw pictures of the Pigment Tokyo store in Shinagawa, my mind was blown. I knew I had to see it for myself! Pigment sells, well, pigments, glue bases, ink sticks, ink stones brushes, paper, acrylic, and watercolour. It also sells paraphernalia related to nihonga painting and Japanese calligraphy. The store was beautiful! I took a few pics.


Some items can get seriously expensive there but there were also a few reasonably priced products. I got color ink sticks, an ink stone, and a Menso brush. These are for sumi-e calligraphy but I plan to use them for painting. Well, I think they really can be used for painting.

As for skincare, I just picked up a couple of Skilabo cleansers and a facial wash. I'll let you know if these are any good.

I'm bummed out about my dead laptop but I guess it couldn't have died at a better time. It was a nice experience buying from the Apple Store in Shibuya, plus it was cheaper there! I didn't get charged an 8% sales tax because I'm a tourist; all I needed to do was show my passport. I was able to save a sizeable amount so I'm happy na rin even though it was a semi-unexpected expense.

I was undecided about getting a Macbook (the gold of course!) and a Macbook Pro but at the end of the day I know I don't need a lot of power. All I do with my computer is blog, use social media, and sometimes watch things. A more tricked up computer would be wasted on me if I were to be completely honest with myself.

So the Air it was. I got a 13" one this time! I'm loving the bigger screen. I also realised how much I dreaded working on my old, slow Macbook Air so much that it affected my productivity. In its last days I would always need to reboot it and it would lag whenever I edit pictures or open a heavy website. Now it's fast again to work. So yay!

(This is me trying not to feel bad about spending so much huhu. But really, yay.)

So that's that. ^_^ I hope you liked looking through my haul!

Top four lip picks this autumn

I like autumn more than spring. Spring is vibrant and joyful, full of hope for the year that will be. Autumn is more somber and thoughtful, almost nostalgic for the year that was. Both are beautiful at their peak but autumn is my jam because of the fiery, moody colors and the reflective nature of the season. 

With this in mind, I carefully chose the lipstick colors I brought with me in Tokyo. The Japanese don’t really favor bright shades on their lips. They prefer natural, barely there lippies with loads of shine! Lately though, I’ve noticed that they like chocolate-y shades and deep colors if they’re doing a full face of makeup. Here are a few new lip products that are MFEO for autumn in the city!

It’s Skin Macaron Lip Balm (P470 on BeautyMNL). Before applying colors, it’s important to hydrate and prime your lips with a lip balm. The Macaron Lip Balm by It’s Skin is a basic, nice-smelling lip balm that works. Nothing fancy, except for the cute packaging! It’s so kawaii and fun to whip out in public.

Full Glamour Lips in EX05 Creamy Mocha (P1,650). I’m crazy about this color and formula! It’s a peachy mocha that glides like butter on the lips. It’s a good way to get into the chocolate-lipped bandwagon without committing to something overtly 90s. It has a creamy finish which makes it more modern.

Swatches: Creamy Mocha, Desire, Fall In Love

Swatches: Creamy Mocha, Desire, Fall In Love

Pink Sugar Creamy Matte Lipstick in Desire (P349). This is a deep berry with a decidedly earthy base. It’s a dramatic color, but it’s not too dark and vampiric. It’s pretty wearable! Note though that this won’t go over easily if you don’t use lip balm. It has a bit of a satin finish when freshly applied but turns matte when it dries.

Happy Skin Lip & Cheek Mousse in Fall In Love (P699). I wanted something punchy and happy in my kit too, so in went Fall In Love. This is a beautiful peachy pink, also with an earthy base. It’s bright enough that my skin looks fresher with it on without going near overboard. Love it. This is a nakakabata shade.

So there you go! What are your favorite lippie colors lately? 

Come to my Estee Lauder Lip Party this Saturday!

I'm back and I have another Project Vanity event for you guys! Estee Lauder, our favorite luxe beauty brand, asked me to host a Lip Party this Saturday in SM Aura, 4-6pm. It's a fun afternoon where you can try out the super awesome Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Lip Potion, get a Nutritious Facial (that is my fave skincare line this year!), and learn how to do EL's famous 3-Minute Beauty Techniques.

Everyone will of course get to take home some freebies. Best thing - there is no fee to join. Exciting right? I hope you can come visit so we can hang out and talk about anything beauty-related under the sun. Bring friends too! I can guarantee an amazing kikay afternoon. ^_^ Sign up at this form here and see you!

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What's in my Tokyo travel beauty kit

Good morning! It's a cloudy day in Tokyo and we're about to explore Shibuya and Shinjuku later. I'm blogging from my phone because argh my MacBook died on me last Friday and so now I need to buy a new one later too. Semi-unexpected expenses suck but I've been using that machine for four years and it's time to replace it anyway. It's been on its very last legs for a few months now!


Anyway, thought I'd share the kikay kit I brought on this trip. It's a lot more than what I usually pack but that's only because I have a new, large Beabi case and didn't plan to shop a lot. (Which I btw largely succeeded at except for a few irresistible art materials and skincare).  


This Beabi case was a press gift from Unilever. I love how big yet boxy it is so it fit in my luggage neatly (very important!). It has holders for brushes and other vertical items too! While I was packing I just basically threw in the items I use everyday. Didn't have a lot of time to curate but well, isn't that the point of having a tight daily routine? You just use what you need.


Here are the reliables I have with me:

Face Base: The Make Up For Ever Srep One Primer with the NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation is a winning combination! I can tramp around all day without worrying about retouching. I just blot and I'm good! I brought the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer for spots but the foundation is actually more than enough to conceal them. 

To set the wet stuff, I use the L'Oreal Mat Magique Powder with a Charm travel buffing brush. 


Blush and Countour: I have rekindled my love affair with the Benefit Rockateur blush. It's so pretty plus it's impressively long wearing. I also brought the Lunasol Coloring Creamy Cheeks in EX01 in case I wanted the nude dewy blush popular in Japan right now.

For contouring, need I even say it? I have my HG here, the Happy Skin Sculptacular!


Eye Definition: I have also recently "rediscovered" an old Benefit fave, the Brow Zings. My hair is quite red right now so the color is perfect for me. As for eyeliner, of course, the K-Palette liner in Brown Black is in the bag.

I also brought the Benefit Roller Lash Mascara and the Pink Sugar Eye Candy Palette (the neutral one). The PS palette is just sigh so perfect. You should really grab one if you haven't yet! 

Brushes: The MAC 217, a Smashbox double ended brush, Zoeva Blush Brush, and Charm travel buffing brush all suit my needs. 


Skincare: Just the basic stuff. Shiseido Cleansing Oil, Shiseido Perfect Whip facial wash (in jar), Laneige Water Bank Moisture Cream (in jar. It is such an excellent moisturizer in cold weather), Biore UV Aqua Rich SPF50PA++++, Lush Shampoo Bar, and L'Oreal Mythic Oil.


The Souq Really Good Hair Oil is not just good for the hair, I also love using it as a body and hand moisturizer. Really handy now that my skin is drying out like crazy in this cold weather!


Lip Stuff: Now this is another story entirely. Seriously it is so stay tuned for my post about my top lip picks this season. ^_^

With James <3

With James <3

Hope you enjoyed looking through! How was your weekend? What are you excited about this week? 


Beauty blogging Snaps: The Pet Angel Detangling Grooming Brush

Hai guys, my name is Snaps and I'm here as your beauty blogger for the day! My super best friend Liz is in Tokyo (without me, blargh) so I'm taking over her blog today. She promised she would get me some yum yums there. I'm a simple dog. I love yum yums.

So okay, I'll tell you a secret: I don't wake up like this every morning. I know! It's hard to believe! My hair flattens down and becomes this stringy mess, which means that I need Liz to brush me thoroughly. Sometimes I get tangles behind my ears too, which makes me self-conscious because I don't feel handsome :( . But it's ok because Liz uses two brushes: a big one to remove major tangles and a smaller one to refine and fluff up my look. 

When she heard about the Pet Angel Detangling Grooming Brush, she got one for me. It has soft rubber bristles that help fix pet hair and make it shiny. It also has antibacterial-protected bristles to make sure it's hygienic to use. I really like it because it detangles without hurting me. It also seriously fluffs up my fur!

Here's how Liz uses it. First she brushes me following the direction my hair is growing. Then, she turns me around and brushes AGAINST my hair growth so that I get majorly fluffy. Finally she gets to my face and ears, following and then opposing the direction of my hair. 

See how much cuter I am after the brushing session? The Pet Angel Detangling Grooming brush is the secret to my lush pomeranian coat. (Editor's note: Uh how about me Snaps? Am I not the one actually brushing you?) Don't mind Liz because she's just jelly of my natural good looks.

Okay that's it. My nanny is about to walk me and feed me. Hello to your pets too and let me know what you think about this brush! Bye bye!

How get a quick derma consult - for free

Many girls come to me with a skin problem. While I can recommend products and treatments that have worked for me in the past, I can’t help solve persistent and severe issues because I don’t have the training, sadly! That’s why I always recommend seeing a proper dermatologist if you want to know what’s really happening to your skin. It may be pricey but it’s a good investment towards the health of your biggest body organ. I mean, if you’re going to spend on products anyway, it might even be more cost-effective to stop randomly experimenting and start with targeted treatments and products.

However I understand that sometimes you just have a quick question or are too lazy to look up a dermatologist in your area. That’s why I love the new feature of Skin Matters. Skin Matters is a website under Unilever that talks about how to get your skin in the best shape possible. Its Editor-in-Chief, Nicole Romero (who is also a beauty blogger and a friend of mine) comes out with fabulous articles that are relevant according to top searches on Google. Yes, they’ve partnered up with Google! Their most recent collaboration is with the Philippine Dermatological Society, the licensing and regulatory body for dermas in the Philippines.

The Skin Matters team!

The Skin Matters team!

This partnership enables us to ask a skincare question on Skin Matters just by filling up the form that will appear on any article. Our questions will then be coursed through PDS’ licensed dermatologists who will provide an answer within 48 hours. 

I tried it the other day with a concern about these annoying pimples around my chin, and here is their answer:

It has enough information for me to tackle the problem from an informed direction, but of course it can’t be too detailed since face-to-face consultations are still the best way to go about it. This is why they’ve provided a button where can book a derma through PDS if you want an in-depth and specific solution to your skincare issue. Unfortunately the PDS website is down currently so you can’t check out this feature.

Nonetheless, Skin Matters’ Ask A Derma function is still pretty kick-ass. Who would say no to a free derma consult? Try it today and let me know how it goes!

PS In Tokyo right now and loving the perfect weather. Heading out to Tsukiji Market for the best sushi…so excited! Let’s have an awesome weekend!

Fancy yet affordable: The ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser 5.0

My work involves the Internet and its new technologies but I don’t think of myself as a techie. For example, if I need a new camera I’ll research what the best one is for my budget and study how to use it properly - only on a need-to-know basis haha. I suppose I should learn all the specifics but I’m too lazy to do it. You know what though, I’m completely fine with that! I’m not too hard to please as long as the gadget is up to my standards and requirements.

If you’re like me who needs something fancy yet fuss-free, I think you’ll love the new Asus ZenFone 2 Laser 5.0 (starts at P7,295). This is a beautiful, slim Android phone with a large screen (a ~67% screen to body ratio) that allows you to view your media in good resolution. I’m not going to give you the specs of the phone because you can easily find ‘em here, so I’ll make this short and sweet. Here are its top three features!

8MP PixelMaster camera with f/2.0 aperture. Gorgeous pictures are a must in the social media age. If clear, well-lit ones are non-negotiable for you then you’ll enjoy the way this phone takes pics. It does fabulously in daylight, of course, but it’s not too bad in low-light conditions even without flash. It has zero shutter lag! Expect a bit of graininess but as long as you adjust the settings this is considerably lessened.

Here are a couple of pictures taken indoors with no editing. They’re not Instagram-bright but you’ll see the colors and fine details clearly.

Laser auto-focus with focus speeds of up to 0.3 seconds. This contributes to having great pictures. The camera focuses almost instantly once you point it at your subject. No more blurry selfies or group pics!

Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection. I can’t remember how many times I’ve dropped my iPhone already but I still get a mini-heart attack every single time. I don’t get that with this phone. It’s made with super-strong glass that’s designed to breakage when you drop it! Oh and did I say that the glass is also fingerprint-resistant? I’ve been using this phone for over a week with no case or cover but it barely retains any finger prints even if my hands get oily. So cool.

I will always be an Apple girl, but for a secondary phone, the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser 5.0 is perfect for me. It has two sim slots too, which makes it convenient for work. ^_^ Keep an eye out for this if you’re on the market for a new phone this season!  I find the price pretty affordable for the features and size.

Get a juicy stain with the Etude House Sweet Cherry Tint

How are you holding up under all the APEC insanity out there? It's stressing me out, just like everybody else, as I have a trip this week to Tokyo. The flight was paid for in February but knowing that there's a very real chance that it might be canceled due to APEC, I only paid for the AirBnB yesterday. That was after calling Japan Airlines to confirm that the flight is on schedule. Then just a couple of hours ago I found out that our flight will be delayed by 12 hours. That means I have completely wasted one day of my AirBnB booking.

I know it can be a lot worse but thanks anyway for hearing me vent. That's still money down the drain, if I don't get a refund. Sigh. 

But on to happier things! I want to talk about the Etude House Sweet Cherry Tint (P495), a buttery smooth lipstick that promises a long-wearing stain. This is the love child of the hydrating Dear My Essence in Lips-talk and intense Sugar Tint Balm! Indeed, it leaves a soft stain for 5-6 hours even after eating and keeps my lips in top shape. With it I don't feel the need to retouch - very important when I'm out traveling or playing sports. I'm at an age when I just really want my makeup to be comfortable.

The color I have, #2 PK001, is a juicy pink that's solid upon application and stains my lips a softer pink. I've observed that the more I layer it during the day, the more intense the stain becomes. I'm ok with the original stain but this is nice to note if you want a strong just-bitten color all day. 

The catch is, the lip stick is not retractable. Once you push it up, you can't pull it down anymore! So be careful about only revealing the exact amount of product you need to avoid accidentally shaving off the lipstick when you cap it.

Overall, I find the Etude House Sweet Cherry Tint a good buy if you like staining, hydrating lipsticks in fun punches of color. ^_^ 

Hope you're having a better day than I am!