How to prep your skin for a big event

Getting ready for that BIG EVENT is exciting - whether it’s for prom, graduation, debut, or the biggest of big days: your wedding! However, all that prep and excitement can also cause stress, which is one of the factors that mess up our skin. Now we certainly don’t want breakouts or a tired, dull complexion on our special day. To help ensure clear skin and a healthy glow, try this skin prep tips on top of your usual regimen.

What special occasions are you preparing for this year? Got any more tips on how to give your skin some extra TLC? Share them below!

Unboxing: My first order from Althea Philippines

We all freaked out over Sephora and rightly so, but I hope you guys are keeping an eye out for the launch of Althea Korea here in the Philippines on February 15. Its beginnings are actually a lot like Luxola before it got acquired by LVMH/Sephora; it's a company that just recently received funding from a Silicon Valley venture capital firm called 500 Startups. The amount was undisclosed, but it is enough to give Althea confidence to push outwards Korea to the Southeast Asian Market. Currently they are in territories like Singapore and Malaysia; the Philippines is their third stop.

If Luxola then focused on hard-to-find beauty products from the West, Althea is mining South Korea's treasure trove of makeup and skincare. They have trendy things from popular brands like Innisfree, Laneige, 3CE, Etude House, and Banila Co (to name a few) and items from little-known brands like Piolang, B&Soap, and W-Lab. Althea promises that the prices are as low as possible, but there are more attractive features that will make you want to shop your heart out at this new e-commerce player.

For one thing, they offer free shipping direct from Korea for orders over P1,500. When I received my box right on my doorstep, I didn't have to pay any tariffs and it only took four business days from the receipt of my order (that took one business day). So five days in total, not bad! Althea also has a 30-day refund and unconditional returns. This means that you can ask for a refund and return the product if you didn't like it - no questions asked. The return address I believe is a Philippine one.

I received my package in good condition. The box itself is covered by a tough plastic sleeve, and the products are individually wrapped in bubble plastic.

I got the following from Althea's Philippine portal ph.althea.kr (not to be mistaken with my.althea.kr which for some reason automatically comes up):

Innisfree Creammellow Lipstick (P520), Saemmul Browcara (P360), VDL Expert Color Eye Book 6.4 No.4 (P2,380), 3D Face Stick (P600), Skinfood Eyebrow Powder Cake (P180), 3CE Pink Rumour Dangerous Matte Lip Color (P850), Teatree Care Solution Essential Mask (P90).

I love everything I got, especially the VDL Pantone palette! The colors are lovely and rich! It's a bit pricey but the plastic case with the dramatic red cover is so fancy. The Skinfood Eyebrow duo is so sulit at only P180. The Innisfree Lipstick is a winner! I might get more shades of that the next time I order from Althea.

And the contour stick!!! It makes my life easier. I don't know what I've been doing without cream contour, honestly.

I'll review some of the items in the very near future so stay tuned for that! For now, come check out Althea's grand opening promotions on February 15. They're having a big giveaway! They are giving free 300 credits to shop on ph.althea.kr for every new sign up. Free shipping will be given for every P1,000 spent during the launching month. Besides the low prices, there will be Daebak Deals 1+1 and Zero Peso Deals too! You can find more info on their Facebook page.

So there you go. ^_^ I would love to know what's in your Althea wishlist!

Staff Picks: Concealers you have to pry from our cold dead hands

Last month, we turned you on to our favorite foundations. This month, we will be sharing with you our picks for what usually goes together with foundation: concealer! There are many types of concealers in the market meant to address different problems, so it shouldn’t be that hard to find one for us, right? Well, not really! Finding the perfect concealer is tricky - not only does the texture have to be spot-on for our skin type, it also has to match us well! While some of us have not found our HGs yet, here are our favorites for the moment.

Liz: I have so many concealer faves! The NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer is the best for spot concealing, while the Shiseido Perfecting Stick Concealer is what I use for when I need a quick fixer upper. It's the kind of thing I can just swipe and go! For my eye bags, the Happy Skin Eye Need A Miracle Corrector is the bomb since it brightens and lifts that area.

Katsy: I have one go-to concealer for years now - MAC’s Studio Finish Concealer. Before that I used Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage but never got around to repurchasing.

Marielle: My dark circles have always been tricky to conceal, so I like to use a full-coverage concealer on them. After trying K-Palette Zero Kuma Concealer, I’ve decided to repurchase. It brightens up the problem area instantly. Plus, the consistency is actually great for baking with powder.

Nikki: During my young, acne-prone college years, I heavily depended on ArtDeco’s pan concealer. It’s heavy and opaque enough to cover dark blemishes, and I remember not being able to go out of the house without wearing it!

Image via atfirstwink.com

Image via atfirstwink.com

Stacie: I want to talk about my favorite lip concealer - the AritaumWannaBe Cushion Lip Concealer in Clair. It is a must for people who love gradient lips, like me! It conceals my lips well and gives my tints a beautiful blank canvas. Bonus: it smells like chocolates!

Kathleen: I have two favorite concealers. The first one is Covergirl + Olay Eye Rehab. It is wonderfully moisturizing for the under eye area, but it is too sheer and emollient for my blemishes. The second one (that is my all-around) is the Missha Signature Extreme Cover. I love how pigmented, blendable and buildable it is. It can be applied thin or slightly thick depending on my needs. Blended properly, it doesn’t cake up. The only thing I dislike about it is the super limited shade selection

Den: My number one problem has always been my dark undereye circles, which are aggravated by allergies and late nights. I apply Skinfood Salmon Dark Circle Concealer with a fluffy foundation brush to brighten the area, lightly buff it in, then set it with my current powder foundation.

So there you guys! It's time to share yours too!

Monday Musings: What it means when I skip the eyebrow makeup

"You know we're true friends if you've seen me without kilay." I say this as a punchline in any random conversation, but I am deadly serious. Only my closest friends have seen me without eyebrows in person (bare eyebrows on the blog doesn't count! Because before/afters must be legit!). It means that I trust them not to give a shit about my face because they know me so well that how I look is ultimately inconsequential to our relationship.

We all wear masks. Some masks are thinner and more real in front of other people; some masks are so opaque that you can't tell who is underneath. Some masks become our core, overtime, and become part of our identity. I don't think that's a bad thing. I believe that it's necessary to wear different faces to cope with different types of situations and people. It's not being fake to show one facet of your personality at a time, it's just practical. And it's still you. Just not necessarily all of you in one go.

Dissolution / Watercolor on paper by Liz Lanuzo

Dissolution / Watercolor on paper by Liz Lanuzo

So really, don't worry about the times you feel like you're not being "true" to yourself. There's a difference between lying about who you are and merely showing a part of who you are. 

I just read this to James and he pointed out that this keeps us from forming deep relationships with other people. My answer is that yes, my love, that is why I take my eyebrows off in front of those who matter to me.

And don't draw them back on.

Five kiss-proof picks for your Valentine date

There's no better time to make ourselves "battle-ready" for that inevitable kiss that, really, both of you should be fervently looking forward to. Here is a list of candidates that would make for a smacking good time (pun intended) without unnecessary clean up post-lip lock, in order of pigmentation (no, seriously)!

Tinted lip balms like Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Honeysuckle make for a great primary choice. It can be applied without much fuss while providing just enough coverage, and would be a great complement to a dramatic eye evening look.

Powder lipsticks like L'oreal Tint Caresse are relatively new, and if you haven't tried them yet, you most definitely should consider doing so! It applies with a small sponge that captures powder from the cap, and the pointy tip allows accurate dabs on one’s lips for just the right flush of color.

Matte lipsticks, like those of MAC and Happy Skin, come in plenty of shades and would make for an almost impervious layer of color. By their very nature and lack of shine, an even shade is poised to be the focal point of your Valentine's ensemble.

Lip stains, similar to The Body Shop's Lip and Cheek Stain, would give you versatility. So much so that, with just that and a reliable powder compact, it shouldn't take over three minutes prep time for instantaneous engagements. Quite perfect for that “I Woke Up Like This” look that enhances your natural beauty.

Rounding down the list, we have liquid lipsticks which are all the rage right now. You can find lovely ones from Ofra Cosmetics. They come in last as they have the heaviest pigmentation of the lot. While they seem to be absolutely transferable, once these have dried and achieved their true color, they become practically immovable - as if your lips magically transformed into another color! Ofra’s Laguna Beach is rumored to be Toni Gonzaga-Soriano’s wedding lipstick of choice, so here’s to hoping it'll see you on your way to your very own happy ever after.

While none of these lip picks claim to be absolutely kiss-proof, they have the endurance and quality that would let you enjoy the night without constantly worrying about your lipstick. Do you have any recommendations for that fateful date? Let's talk about it below.

Budget Beauty: Eyeshadow primers under P500

Next to lipstick, the beauty product we tend to collect a lot of is eyeshadow. You can get just about any color imaginable to enhance the peepers, so it’s always fun to play around with an assortment of brands and finishes. Once you’ve amassed a diverse collection, you’ll begin to notice the differences among formulations, particularly in terms of longevity and pigmentation. If you’ve fallen hopelessly in love with a beautiful shade that needs to be layered or have oily lids that cause colors to crease and slip, eye primers are must-have additions to your arsenal. No need to drop big bucks though, because these picks will help keep your shadow play exciting without overly taxing your wallet!

ELF Eyelid Primer (P129.75) ELF offers a creaseless wonder of an eyelid primer. Unscented and super-smooth upon application, the formula glides on to create an effectively even base for eyeshadow. The other thing worth mentioning is the affordable price point, making it an easy decision to reach for a tube.

Essence I Love Stage Eyeshadow Base (P229) Some primers figuratively blur the lines with other makeup categories, because of their added features. Essence I Love Stage Eyeshadow Base is already touched with yellow-toned color, so that it can also double as a light concealer for the eye area.

Image via Essence

Image via Essence

NYX Eyeshadow Base (P460) Eyeshadows have varying finishes, and so do certain types of primer. The potted NYX Eyeshadow Base comes in three colors/finishes, so you can choose how you want to define your eyeshadow. There’s a flat/matte white to create a truly blank canvas, a shimmery pearl to highlight the lid, and a flesh tone shade that works with morena skin.

Image via NYX Cosmetics

Image via NYX Cosmetics

Etude House Proof 10 Eye Primer (P298) Housed in a curvy bottle, Etude House’s Proof 10 Eye Primer is the quick-dry lid primer that lasts all the live-long day. The Proof 10 line itself is being marketed as Etude’s waterproof collection, so it’s looking to be an obvious choice when it comes to longevity.

Image via Etude House Philippines

Image via Etude House Philippines

Jazzy Collection Eyeshadow Base (P299) Don’t let the clear formula fool you! Jazzy Collection’s Eyeshadow Base can bring out the vibrancy of your eyeshadows. It enhances the pigmentation by giving the color something to adhere to. That should also make application easier, as you immediately get a bold swath of color within first few pats of your brush. Sounds like a time-saver, doesn’t it?

Image via Jazzy France

Image via Jazzy France

Have you tried drugstore eye primers yet? Share your favorite below!

What is Reverse Hair Washing, and does it work?

It's not exactly new, but I'm sure a lot of us have yet to try this unique hair washing technique. I've spent the past 2.5 weeks trying out this thing called reverse hair washing, and to compare, I alternated between testing this technique, using just shampoo, and doing the regular shampoo-then-conditioner method. But before I reveal which method actually works best, let's get these questions out of the way:

image via michaelanthonysalondc.com

image via michaelanthonysalondc.com

What is reverse hair washing? Put simply, it’s washing your hair the other way around—conditioner first, then shampoo. There isn’t much to it, really.

So, why should you consider it? To understand it better, it helps to know how conditioners work. According to cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller in his Beauty Brains podcast, hair conditioners work by smoothing the cuticle layer.

If you look at human hair under a microscope, cuticles are the small scales that layer the hair shaft. In healthy hair, the cuticles lay flat and create that smooth texture. But when these cuticles are splayed, the hair is considered damaged and would need the smoothing power of conditioners. The conditioner is designed to stick to those damaged spots, coat the hair shaft, and stay on the hair even after rinsing.

Image via nisenet.org

Image via nisenet.org

I guess we can all agree that conditioners are important products to add in our hair care routines, but before I tried reverse hair washing, I didn’t normally use hair conditioners all that much. For reference, I have thick, dense hair and a very oily scalp. Due to this, I find that most conditioners weigh down my hair. When I use conditioner the regular way, my hair looks like an oily, clumpy mess with no volume. It’s as if my hair hasn’t seen the insides of a shower in three days! When I don’t condition however, I will get volume, but my hair will look dry and dull.

So when I heard about reverse hair washing, I thought it might be the perfect solution. After all, you supposedly get the benefits of using a conditioner, but without that heavy and greasy build up. My theory is that some of the conditioner stays on the hair even after shampooing, but the excess goop that makes the hair flat and clumpy is washed off.

How to do reverse hair washing

1. Get your hair soaking wet before applying conditioner, so it will be easier to spread the product on every inch of your hair strands. However, if your scalp is oily like mine, avoid putting too much conditioner on the roots of the hair.

2. Leave the conditioner for as long as it says to on the label. I’m not the most patient person though, so I use this waiting time to cleanse my face and soap the rest of my body.

3. Shampoo your hair. If it's difficult to work up a lather, you can wet your hair a little bit but make sure not to rinse off all the conditioner before you shampoo. The key to get the best results out of reverse washing is to have some conditioner left to coat the hair.

I find that different sets of shampoos and conditioners don’t yield the same results. I did several trial-and-errors to find which combination of products work well with each other, and at what quantity. Reverse hair washing seems to work best with conditioners that are thicker and harder to rinse. My favorite combinations are Head and Shoulders Cool Menthol shampoo and conditioner, and L’Oreal Ever Sleek Shampoo + Pantene 3-Minute Miracle Conditioner.

I also had to tweak the amount of shampoo I use. I had to use less shampoo normal so as not to totally strip the conditioner off my hair. With thinner conditioners, like most organic ones, I used way less. 

So, does reverse washing work? YES!

My reverse-washed hair is comparable to my second-day hair, but cleaner and nicer-smelling! It also looks shinier and healthier, and has more volume. But it’s not a perfect system. Over time, I felt some product build up. There are days when I feel the need to deep clean my hair with a clarifying shampoo. To get the same second-day hair effect, I shampoo, condition, then shampoo again.

Even then, I would definitely recommend this to women who also have oily hair and struggle with using conditioner. I imagine that this would also work well for fine hair that has a tendency to look flat!

If you’ve already tried reverse hair washing, please share your experiences and tips in the comments. I'd love to know which products you used, too!

The Weekly Poll: What type of lipstick do you wear on a date?

weekly poll.jpg
What lipstick formula do you wear to a romantic date?
 

Single or not, it's always fun to go out with someone and maybe trade a few smooches in the process. Right? *wink* We'd love to know what the consensus is when it comes to kissable lip colors. Do you go for stains, rock-solid formulas, or normal lipsticks? Do you go bare?  

Personally, I like getting my baddest, reddest lipstick, dotting it all over my lips and then blending it with my fingers. I'd leave that on for a minute to allow a stain to develop, then slather a clear lip balm afterwards. Once this mix dries, it doesn't transfer too much and stays on even after some action.  My lips feel soft and kissable, but the color remains. 

If I have to name names, I'd pick up something like the MAC Russian Red or the L'Oreal Color Riche in Pure Rouge. I would choose a lip balm that dries; I don't want anything too emollient as it might take the stain off after a while. The La Mer The Lip Balm, Burt's Bees Lip Balm, or Nuxe Reve De Miel Moisturizing Stick are my go-tos for this technique.

Hope this helps! Let us know what your kissable colors are!

 

Beauty books every makeup junkie must have in the library

When YouTube tutorials and how-to blog posts are aplenty, one would think there’s no use for beauty books nowadays. But even with the constantly evolving beauty industry and the fast-paced innovation of makeup techniques that can easily be shared online, we still have a soft spot for actual, tangible books in our hearts and our coffee tables. Why, you ask? For one, we can’t help but get inspired every time we crack open our fave books, plus they look amazing on our bookshelves. Here are some of our faves to help you start your beauty book library!

The Classics

Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin. Millennials may not know of Kevyn Aucion but he was the one of the most important makeup artists in the '80s and '90s, not to mention probably being the most well-paid in history. He worked on several cover shoots with Vogue, and collaborated with Revlon in a groundbreaking makeup line for all skin tones. Kevyn believed in the philosophy of helping women feel beautiful, with makeup as a tool to help them discover themselves.

For his book, he worked with big stars such as Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, and Elizabeth Hurley alongside everyday women of all colors and nationalities to show step-by-step illustrated makeup tutorials. What makes it stand out as an instructional makeup book is his historical take on the different makeup looks that worked through the decades, such as the '50s lip and '30s thin brow, film noir, and Hollywood bombshell looks.

Some find the techniques in his book a little dated - like his penchant for too-matte foundation - but Making Faces is a classic that we just can’t help going back to whenever we need to relearn the basics.

Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual: For Everyone from Beginner to Pro. A perfect read for teenagers who are just starting to discover makeup or enthusiasts who want to make it in the beauty industry as an artist, the Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual packs all the necessary information one would need about makeup.

It has the usual full color pages of how-tos, including the fresh-faced no-makeup look that Bobbi Brown is known for, but what makes it an interesting read are the insider tidbits about the makeup industry. For example, did you know that M•A•C was born because the makeup that was coming out that time were too shimmery and bad for photography? Or, do you need tips on how to break into the makeup industry and work with a celebrity or a photographer? All these questions are answered in a positive and empowering voice. Burying your nose into its pages is sure to give you the confidence to say, “Yes, I can master a smoky eye!”

BONUS: If you loved the Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual, you’ll also love Bobbi Brown Beauty: The Ultimate Beauty Resource which has topics such as "Learning to appreciate your own beauty", "How to do makeup fast", "How to handle bad beauty days", "How to get out of a makeup rut", "How to make lipstick last", and "How to wear foundation correctly".

The How-Tos

Makeup: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success - Online and Off by Michelle Phan. It was almost natural for YouTube makeup guru Michelle Phan to release a book. But when she was approached by a publishing house to come up with a coffee table book, Michelle, in her infinite passion to teach more than makeup, decided to write a life guide instead. And we couldn’t be happier!

The book follows Michelle's inspiring evolution from a girl who loved makeup into a successful businesswoman. Although there are tips on skincare, makeup, and style, Michelle also throws in valuable tips on relationships, how to turn passion into a profession, how to become an entrepreneur, and online etiquette.

Bloom: A Girl's Guide to Growing Up Gorgeous by Carmindy. Aside from Bobbi Brown, there are not a lot of books that talk to tweens and teenagers. In comes Bloom: A Girl's Guide to Growing Up Gorgeous by makeup artist Carmindy, a New York-based makeup artists who is famous for her stints in What Not to Wear and Good Morning America.

The book may not be targeted for more mature ladies, but it is still a good read for moms, aunts, and big sisters who want to teach younger women about makeup. The 10 chapters in this book  cover topics and issues teens usually deal with, such as: basic skincare, eyebrow grooming, the 5-Minute Face, and even how to’s on zits and body odor.

We also find it endearing that Carmindy included awkward adolescent photos of herself and her team, plus bare-faced shots of the book's teen model.

The Coffee Table Books

Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself by Francois Nars. Penned by François Nars himself, founder of well-renowned cosmetics giant NARS, Makeup Your Mind ups the ante for other makeup instructional manuals by using breathtaking makeup transformations and dramatic makeup editorials. So even if it is technically a how-to book, this is one makeup manual you’d want to put on display to be appreciated everyday. A plus - each makeup spread has a clear acetate that overlays on the model’s face, showing readers where each product - all NARS cosmetics of course - should go.

Miles for M•A•C. Who would have missed the avant garde and revolutionary M•A•C advertising campaigns that graced billboards, storefronts, and magazines? If you have, Miles for M•A•C compiles some of the best M•A•C campaigns shot by celebrated photographer and artist Miles Aldridge in collaboration with James Gager, the Senior Vice President and Creative Director of M•A•C Cosmetics. This 200-page coffee table book showcases Aldridge’s otherworldly and surreal world of M•A•C. While not instructional, it makes for great eye-candy that you can draw makeup inspiration from

The Biographies

Free Gift with Purchase: My Improbable Career in Magazines and Makeup by Jean Godfrey-June. Have you ever wondered how it is to live a beauty editor’s life? Well, you can find the answer in Jean Godfrey-June’s autobiographical book. You may be surprised to learn that it’s not always gift baskets and free moisturizers. Sometimes you have to endure makeovers from hell, “acne breakfasts”, and test shelves upon shelves of products on yourself. How do they deal? Read this book and go behind-the-scenes of the beauty editorial world.

Bonus: Jean Godfrey-June honestly and candidly answers the question “Is Creme de la Mer is worth it?” Aren’t you curious to find out?

Paul Starr on Beauty: Conversations with Thirty Celebrated Women by Paul Starr. No other industries are joined at the hip more than makeup and Hollywood. There’s even an ongoing joke that actresses confess more to their makeup artists than to anyone else. This is the same concept that goes behind Paul Starr on Beauty: Conversations with Thirty Celebrated Women. Paul Starr pairs original and revealing interviews with photographs of his favorite muses such as Cameron Diaz, Iman, Salma Hayek, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Renée Zellweger. Varying in ethnicities and ages, Paul’s interviewees talk candidly about makeup, beauty, and aging, with each interview having a commentary of how Paul achieved the look. Our favorite looks and interviews? Ellen DeGeneres, a young Britney Spears, and an even younger Lindsay Lohan.

No matter how awesome you think you are with hair, makeup, and skincare, there’s always something to learn from these beauty books you should definitely add to your reading list. So which ones are you looking to pick up on your next bookstore run?

Video Tutorial: Strobing 101

When I was very young, my dad had the strange habit of constantly pinching my nose. He said it was to make my nose "matangos" but fast forward to many years later, I still don't have that perfect nose he wanted for me, hehe. In the absence of less than perfect features, a lot of us have turned to the Kardashian method of adding a play of lights and shadows on our faces. Contouring became the adult woman's color by numbers, as we obediently followed diagrams and covered our faces in tape to map out different areas.

But who has the time to do all that? When you're trying to squeeze an extra few seconds of shuteye but have to dash out before you get stuck in the morning traffic rush, you're going to need to cut down on your beauty routine. Strobing is basically an easier and faster contour method for those who are always on the go, just starting to learn about makeup, or much too lazy and impatient to go the traditional route (that would be me).

Instead of looking for fifty shades of brown that perfectly suit your skintone, all you need for strobing is a bit of highlighter. Simply apply it to where the light naturally lands on your face (or what they call high points), lightly blend out, and you're ready to go! The result is a subtle lift in your features, plus fresh and radiant glow that seemingly take off years from your actual age.

Highlighter used in the video: Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer

When strobing, remember to keep the rest of your face matte to prevent you from turning into a disco ball. This trick can give you better selfies because of all the added light. Do give it a try, and let us know if strobing has changed your makeup game in the comments below!