A #SmartLife with iFlix

I like to think that it's almost impossible to be truly bored in this day and age. Smart phones alone provide endless sources of information, entertainment, and communication. You must be a bit of a brick to be completely bored with one in your pocket! Aside from phones, there are also lots of amazing literature, toys, and art materials to fiddle with if you prefer to be offline. We live in a golden time, and I intend to make the most of it.

In that vein, I recently I signed up for iflix, this region's first video streaming service supported by Smart. It contains thousands and thousands of hours worth of shows and movies, and I pay only P99 a month to watch it all 24/7! I'm a Smart subscriber so I get a discount; it's normally P129 otherwise. 

I got addicted to watching Boys Over Flowers last week and, guys, you really need to keep me away from Koreanovelas. For my sanity. I also use iflix to watch old Adventure Time (aka the greatest show on earth) episodes. It's pretty awesome! I've noticed that iflix has been adding new content everyday. You can watch shows like The Big Bang Theory, Homeland, Arrow, and Revenge, to name a few. Old movies are there too, like Harry Potter and Star Trek.

I usually just connect my Macbook via HDMI to my TV and spend my free time watching. ^_^ Try iflix soon too! I believe you get 14 days free trial so there's nothing to lose. I hope in the future that they'll have more current content but I imagine that they will do so, in time, as more subscribers watch with them. For now I enjoy the convenience of being able to stream anything that catches my fancy - it's a #SmartLife indeed!

This post is brought to you by Smart.

New cleansing BFFs

Ola! It's another gloomy day and I have a passport renewal scheduled today. Life is rather hectic lately but it's fun and exciting. Can't ask for more really! Speaking of exciting, I have quite a few new things in my skincare routine. Products that I didn't think I'd like, I'm liking now. I'll post more about what's new in my routine soon, but for the moment, let's talk about my new cleansing favorites.

I've had The Body Shop Camomile Gentle Eye Makeup Remover (P550) for some time now. I didn't find it all that impressive compared to Bifesta or Bioderma at first, but perhaps it just needed the right cotton pad! (More on that in a bit.) I like it because it's not as drying as my fave micellar waters. It's a wee bit oilier and thus makeup is wiped off with ease. It also has no scent at all - a surprise considering it's named Camomile.

It's supposed to be used for the eyes alone but I use it for my whole face. :P It's effective in removing pretty much everything except waterproof mascara. Tough, but water-based cleansers like this can't do much against that kind of formula. Try this if you hate your eyes getting stung by makeup removers! I'll probably finish this bottle. I love having options.

I got the Nippon Facial Patting Cotton (P100 for 100 pads) just last week and guys, it was love at first sight. I adore how thick and big the pads are! It's the perfect size as it covers more of my face when I pass it over. It's also the perfect thickness - not too thick as to waste product, but not too thin that it unravels after a couple of rough passes. 

The cotton feels so soft on my face too. I'm definitely getting more! I use only two pads for my whole face even when i have heavy, everything-on-it makeup. It's more expensive than what you can find in say, Watsons, but I imagine this will last longer. It's also more impressive to use on clients if you're a makeup artist. *wink* You can buy these pads at http://www.nipponesthetic.com.

And that is that. Do you have new cleansing products you're loving too? Sound off in the comments!

Money matters

My philosophy when it comes to money is simple: either earn considerably more than what you spend, or spend considerably less than what you earn. I never drop a large amount of money without having at least three times of it squirrelled away in my savings account. I only think I can "afford" something not when I can pay for it right now, but when the amount doesn't cause me to worry about my bills for, say, the next three months.

I'm a huge believer in emergency funds. I always have three or more months worth of living expenses stashed in my account and this I never touch. As a freelancer, it's extremely important to have a reserve when clients are slow in paying or when I can't find any presently. I've had major windfalls but I've also had periods when I am close to dipping into my emergency fund. That's just how it is, and I've learned to expect the ebb and flow of cash.

I like buying nice expensive things, but I also know the difference between an investment and luho (unnecessary luxury). I've learned that a designer bag is not an investment because its resale value is typically lower than the retail price,  i.e., you don't actually earn anything back from it (unless you make it a business). I also personally don't get that much joy in carrying one as I dislike having to fuss over a bag.

I'm not saying that those who love luxury bags should not - I'm just saying I don't. Different things give different people joy. It's useful not to delude yourself into buying something thinking it's an "investment" when it's really just because the item gives you joy. There's nothing wrong with that as long as you've got the cash for it and you can call it as it is. It's your money, after all. Just know that you're in trouble the moment you try to justify it as an investment, therefore going past your means to afford it. That never ends well.

I love to travel and I love buying high-end art materials. I know these aren't investments - gosh, far from it - but I derive joy from spending on these things. I am a little overdue for a new MacBook though and this I consider an investment. It will increase my productivity, streamline my work, thus paying for itself and much more. That's probably my next big spend after my trips this year.

I have very little credit card debt. I only use my credit card for Uber rides and payments for online services. I also don't typically borrow money even from my parents. Like I said above, if I can't afford it, then I won't go beyond what I'm capable just to pay for it. It can always wait.

I feel that my attitude towards money is fairly good, as I'm pretty happy with my savings and checking account. I do have weaknesses though. I am aware that I need to invest my money into mutual funds and/or a business, as well as pre-need systems. I am giving myself six months to work towards these things.  

How about you, what is your philosophy when it comes to money?

Sign up: The Project Vanity Beauty Workshop on July 11

The more I do these workshops, the more I love and admire Project Vanity readers. I'm serious. Everyone whom I've met so far are amazing women with great careers or would-be careers! They're all so smart and fun to converse with too! I'm really lucky to have spent an afternoon with them. I feel like I'm the one who comes out of it inspired and more confident, instead of the other way around.

Anyway, I have another Project Vanity Beauty Workshop this July. This time it's sponsored by Ofra, Pixi, Eye of Horus, Pop, and BeautyMNL! Are you ready for intense makeup geekery and lots of freebies? Then sign up here! You can choose from two sessions, the 9am-12nn or the 1pm-4pm. There will only be eight slots per session so that I can be hands on with each attendee.

The workshop fee is P2,200. I'm still finalizing the venue - I will update this post when I do. ^_^ Can't wait to meet you soon! Slots run out quickly so hope you can make it! 

Last Saturday's batch was a lively one! Aside from makeup, we also talked about personal growth and our love life haha. Fun times.

Last Saturday's batch was a lively one! Aside from makeup, we also talked about personal growth and our love life haha. Fun times.

What I think of bloggers who sell the freebies they get

One of the hot topics among beauty bloggers these days involve those who like to sell the freebies they get from brands. To be frank, we get so much stuff that it's truly impossible to even use everything, much less open most of what is gifted to us. Some bloggers see nothing wrong with selling while some prefer not to do it. In this post, I'd like to discuss the ethics of publicly selling gifts given and how this is perceived by both the bloggers and brand managers I've discussed this with.

First of all, let's not judge or condescend to those who choose to sell their press gifts. Many of them simply want to avoid waste and clutter in their house (believe me, it literally piles up!), and earn a little cash on the side too. Some just really need the money for more pressing priorities. It's just how it is. 

They believe that the transaction between brand and blogger is finished once the blogger has written or posted on social media about the product/event/campaign. Once the feature is up, then the blogger thinks that she can do what she wishes with the products given to her. This is quite true but it's a bit different when it comes to selling the stuff. Some brand managers don't mind this, since they've gotten their desired exposure, but some mind.

Why? The main reason is that it devalues their brand, which then makes their effort in reaching out to the blogger rather a waste of time and resources. I mean, would Product X be good enough to buy if the beauty blogger who got it for free don't even want to keep it to use it? A good percentage of things sent to us will go to the discard pile because of incompatibility with skin type and personal preference, which is totally fine, but once we sell them on a public forum then we're basically saying "I don't want this." In public.

This is especially awkward when the blogger sells the product after a rave review, or after specifically requesting them from the brand. A recent example: a Fashion Blogger hinted heavily on a cosmetics brand's Instagram that she would like to try their products. Brand Manager then creates a kit of best-sellers specifically for FB. FB Instagrams it, doesn't even blog about it, and then sells the whole thing on Facebook after just a few days. BM is understandably upset because she cares deeply about her brand and took time out of her hectic day to arrange an unscheduled and unbudgeted press delivery. She also lost a few thousand pesos in sales because the customer bought from the blogger instead of her counter.

I know some magazine editors and writers also sell the things they get, but you don't see them putting it up on Facebook (or do you?). That's really the main issue: as a public personality, the minute you sell a used, free product publicly then you're undoing part of the work of those behind the brand. I've done PR for many companies and while I don't get upset about things like this happening to me and my client, I feel a twinge of regret that I didn't do my job better and chose more discreet people to work with.

It may be argued that this issue is just part of the cost of doing business. For bloggers, it's just a way for them to earn something back from the effort they put into running something as time-consuming and resource-draining as a blog. Because it is a LOT of work to create content, promote it, and be consistent about it. We have bills to pay. Most of the content we make is unpaid for by brands - versus print editors and writers who get a regular pay check - and a little cash never hurts. Blunt, but it is what it is.

Personally, I prefer not to sell the freebies I receive, publicly or privately. I do however give away products that don't work for me to my friends, family, and my readers. I only have limited space in my condo and I like making people happy with new things that just might work better for them. I don't announce this online. Everybody wins.

If you're my blogger friend and you sell what you get, then I've probably told you this in person: I get it. Do what you need to do, but perhaps exercise more caution and discretion.  

Thoughts?

Affordable finds: City Color Contour & Define Palette and Contour Brush

I admit I can still be a snoot sometimes when it comes to makeup. I tend to judge an unfamiliar brand by the price tag, which is silly, because I of all people should know that there are so many affordable and good cosmetics out there. Forgive me. I am spoiled for choice considering my job and I really should know better!

I haven't heard of City Color Cosmetics before Maye of Makeupholics sent me a few products. It's not yet that popular here in the Philippines but it's very promising, considering the quality and the price tag! City Color is apparently a Canadian drugstore brand that launched in 2011. It boasts of highly pigmented colors and a wide selection of products to make any makeup nerd's heart skip a beat. Still, I wasn't impressed, until I got to try my first City Color loot!  

I got the City Color Contour & Define Palette (P530 from Makeupholics) and Contour Dual-Ended Brush (P450). The packaging of the palette is rather blah but the shades and the formula of the powders are verrrry nice! It has a warm brown Contour shade (matte), a light neutral tan Bronzer (also matte), a peachy earthy Blush (sateen), and a white champagne Highlighter (shimmer). Used together, these make my face look sculpted to perfection!

The staying power is also great. The Blush and Highlight last about 4-5 hours on me, while the Contour and Bronzer stays on for 5-6 hours. The texture is a bit powdery but it goes on smoothly with no streaking. Each pan has about 3.88 grams of product, almost as much as a full-sized blush for example.

At first I was using the Contour color to contour my face, but I realized it's much too intense for my skin tone. It's a bit hard to control because of the pigmentation! I've found that the Bronzer does a much better, natural-looking job. It's actually darker on skin compared to the pan. I use it to sculpt under my cheekbones and the sides of my nose, while I use Contour for my jawline since I need a lot of contrast in that area.

The Blush doesn't show up in the photo below but it's pretty on my skin tone. It rather blends too well because of the earthy undertone though; I would prefer something more pink or peachy but it looks good nonetheless. The Highlight blends nicely and doesn't look too harsh on my cheekbones and bridge of the nose.

I'd say it all looks lovely! Let's talk about the Contour Dual-Ended Brush. Honestly, I don't like the angled, flat-top side - never did like this shape for contouring my face - but the wide tapered edge is perfect, and I mean PERFECT for contouring the nose. The best nose contouring brush I've found so far is the MAC 217, but it requires a controlled hand, a lotta layering, and a lotta blending. With the City Color nose brush, I just line my nose, blend any visible edge outwards, and I'm done! I LOVE IT.

It would be really cool if City Color just sells this brush separately. You must get one if you love shaping your nose!

http://www.shopatmakeupholics.comOverall, I highly recommend the City Color Contour & Define Palette and Contour Brush (at least the nose part) to anyone who loves creating dimension on their face. The pigmentation, texture, and staying power of the powder is ace, while the nose brush is my new best friend. Love 'em!  The brush btw is on sale at P338 instead of P450. The contour palette is not available online for now but it can be found in the retail locations below.

Thoughts? Do you like contouring your face?

City Color Contour and Define Palette.jpg

Makeupholics Locations:

http://www.shopatmakeupholics.com

Dear Kate, 3rd Floor Shoppesville, Greenhills, San Juan  || Kara Zapatos, 2nd floor, SM Center Las Pinas

What's inside the exclusive Bioderma x BDJ Box

Bioderma, the French pharmacie brand, is most famous for its micellar water cleansers, but did you know that it also has an extensive skincare line? Bioderma believes that the skin carries inside it the capacity to heal itself - therefore, the brand only uses ingredients that activate that power and mimics the resources naturally found in the skin. "Biology in the service of dermatology" is not just an empty motto. It's what Bioderma has been living by for 45 years now.

I've actually been recently trying out a tube of the Pore Refiner and I'm loving it! It's such good timing that I received the exclusive Bioderma BDJ Box for July just yesterday. I'm very curious about the rest of the brand's products and there's no better way to try them out than with a boxful of samples.

Yes, almost everything is sample sized except for the full The BodyShop Lip & Cheek Tint tube and P200 GC. It's quite out of place, but I understand that subscribers want full-sized cosmetics. I suppose BDJ included the TBS stuff to keep everybody happy! It does make the box more appealing especially to those who aren't really looking to try new skincare.

Here is the list of the Bioderma samples inside:

Sensibio Tonique (P1,658), Atoderm Cream (P1,598), Sensible Eye Contour Gel (P1,248), Sensibio AR Cream (P1,668), Atoderm Preventive (P1,998), Sebium Global Cream (P1,318), Atoderm Intensive (P1,418), and Cicabio Cream (P998).

The prices aren't too bad for such an internationally respected brand, no? I remember Julia raving about the Cicabio Cream so that's on my list to try. It's also always nice to have a travel-sized eye cream for, well, traveling. 

You can find Bioderma in select Watsons stores (I know of one in the SM Aura department store) but most of the skincare products can only be had from dermatological clinics. Some are supposed to be prescribed and are not available over-the-counter. Here is the list of clinics carrying Bioderma. You can open the image in a new tab so you can zoom in.

Hope you found this informative! Did anyone get the Bioderma BDJ Box this month? How do you like it?

Browzinga! The Eye of Horus Dual Brow Perfect gets you your dream arches

Honestly, there are way too many eyebrow products out there. It's so tough to decide especially when you only have a limited budget and don't have time to go to stores just to swatch up a storm. But have no fear, for Ate Liz is here! I've found a new product that should simplify and level up your eyebrow routine. 

The Eye of Horus Dual Brow Perfect (P990 at Glamourbox) is a double-ended pen with a waxy, slanted tip for shading and tinted brow mascara at the other end. It's pretty much my brow routine but in one product - it's got something to sculpt my brows, and something else to set and hold 'em down. So convenient! I also love the color selection. In fact, these are the exact same colors as the original Brow Define (a stalwart fave!).

The Dual Brow Perfect differs from the Brow Define in several ways, however. It's softer, waxier, and therefore not as scratchy as it's being applied. It covers more ground more quickly due to the wide slanted tip of the shader. The downside to that though is that you get less control when it comes to drawing precise hairs.

The spoolie end of the DBP is the same as the BD - it's an excellent brow makeup blender and I'm glad they kept it! - but the DBP dips into a brow mascara. The brow mascara is thin, watery, and feels light on the eyebrows. It tames the hairs nicely but I wish it has more color to it. It's practically sheer! It can't shade by itself, which I suppose makes sense as you get a coloring tip anyway.

So which one should you go for? Go for Dual Brow Perfect if you have hard to tame brows and want a softer pencil. Brow Define is ideal for those who want precise yet soft brows. If you've got gaps and a lot of unevenness, you would want to get the BD as it covers up bald areas better due to the harder texture.

Above are swatches of the three shades, plus the barely tinted mascara. Husk is a light ashy blonde, perf for natural-looking brows, while Dynasty is browner, warmer. Nile is an ashy charcoal which I find too dark for my hair color. I recommend Husk if you have light dyed hair and Dynasty if you're a typical warm Filipina brunette.

In the left picture I'm wearing Husk and on the right I have Dynasty on. I normally wear Husk for my day-to-day engagements, but I go for Dynasty when I want more bongga brows. I like thicker brows for events since they show up better in the light and on cam!

Overal, I highly recommend the Eye of Horus Dual Brow Perfect if you're looking for brows that appear effortless yet clean. It's hard to mess up with this product as the colors, level of pigmentation, angle of the tip, and even the mascara will conspire to help you achieve the eyebrows you want, noob or not. ^_^ Really neat. Try it soon from Glamourbox

Have a great weekend guys! Lemme know what you think of these EoH stuff, as always.

Brush up in style: Charm Travel Pro Set (Suzie Edition)

My next out of the country trip is less than a month away and I'm already planning what to bring. It's going to be in humid Singapore and I'll be bringing lots of art materials with me...which means that I won't have a lot of space for kikay stuff. Still, I need to be presentable. Agh! If only girls can look fabulous (not naturally beautiful ha) with like three products max. As it is, primping requires many, many steps. Still fun though.

Anyway, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be finding space for the Charm Travel Pro Set Suzie Edition (P2,750) in my luggage. It's wide but thin and the brushes are properly protected, so it won't be such a hassle. You know that I've always loved the brush selection in every Charm Travel Pro set. I can be assured that I'll have all the brushes I need in this one set - I always forget a few every time I pack.

The brushes are stored in a lovely rose gold case. It has a wrist strap or sorts in the back so you can hold it comfortably as you work. No need to remove the brushes from the protective case! It also has pockets behind those inner flaps. You can store some compacts and pencils in the case for convenience.

The Suzie Edition has 14 brushes, five for the face and nine for the eyes and lips. Here's a rundown of the function and review of each, from left to right.

Stippling Brush. This is for applying liquid bases to create a soft focus, barely there finish. Dot and then sweep the product all over your face. Charm stippling brushes have been much raved about, for good reason! It's the perfect density and type of material for the function.

Powder Brush. This is for applying powder to set your foundation. It's fluffy and can be used for both loose and pressed powder. I wish it was larger though, but I just personally prefer big powder brushes.

Angled Blush Brush. This is your blushing and contouring best-friend. I would prefer it to be denser but the size is juuuuust right.

Foundation Brush. This paddle-shaped brush is meant to be used with liquid and cream foundation for maximum coverage. I love how dense and finely shaped it is.

Concealer Brush. For concealing those stubborn spots and eyebags, you'd want something small and dense like this brush.

Pencil Point Brush. This eyeshadow brush is for depositing concentrated amounts of color on small areas. A must have for smoky eyes!

Blending Brush. This fluffy loosely packed brush is excellent for blending out any sharp edges you've made before.

Angled Eyeshadow Brush. This is valuable for precision and for playing hazy layers of color on the eyes.

Wet/Dry Eyeshadow Brush. Want your lid color to really pop? Mist this brush with a bit of water and apply the shadow with it. It'll come out vivid! This is also a great brush for small eyes.

Flat Liner Brush. If you're having difficulty with the typical eyeliner brush, you'd like this. You can carefully stamp the eyeliner instead of swiping it around, therefore getting more control with your application.

Eyebrow Shading Brush. This stiff, angled brush can be used with cream, liquid, and powder brush products. Very handy!

Brow Spoolie. This is for softening brows and brushing 'em up neatly.

Lip Brush. It comes with a cap to keep it clean. I don't often need lip brushes but I pick it up when I want more defined lips.

Overall, I love the Charm Travel Pro Set (Suzie Edition) and will definitely keep it around for both everyday and travel makeup. It's expensive, true, but I've had my other travel pros for years and they keep very well. As long as they are washed regularly and stored in the case they will be fine. ^_^ Not a bad investment IMHO. You can get one now at the Beauty and Minerals online store.

What do you think? Hope you're having a fantastic week so far! I am. I'm liking the cooler weather and have been reading again. ^_^

I'm your newest columnist at BeautyMNL

BeautyMNL first appeared in my radar even before it officially launched. My favorite beauty gurus kept teasing about it and I would see lots of ads on social media! I've always thought of it as more than your average online beauty store; it has carefully curated items, many you can't find anywhere else in the country. It's a haven for pretty junkies like us! That's why I am so honoured to be invited to part of their editorial team.

You can look forward to my exlusive content at the BeautyMNL Magazine, starting with these two that are already up. My first article talked about some common makeup mistakes we unkowingly make, and how to fix them. Click the pic for the link!

I also have a piece on just what the h CC creams are and if we really need one. Curious? I also talked about five CC creams to try now.

I hope you enjoyed reading those articles! Please don't forget to check out the BeautyMNL store for brands like Chanel, NARS, Shiseido Tsubaki, Bumble and Bumble, Mizon, The Yeon, and so many others that are promising but not yet as popular locally. Have fun shopping!