Reader question: What is a good, affordable contour powder and highlighter?

Hello Liz! I am into cosplaying, and recently I have also been into putting make up on my other cosplayer friends. I just realized how essential bronzers and highlighters are, especially if I want to put some effects on their faces, to look more anime-ish.
Can you recommend highlighter/bronzer brands? I am quite on a tight budget at present so I would appreciate affordable ones.  - Karumichan

Hi Karumichan! Oh, you must share your cosplays some time! I admire the dedication that cosplayers have for their craft. I can only imagine all the resources and detail that go into creating just one costume! Of course, makeup is an important part of the whole look. You're right in saying that bronzers and highlighting powders can alter a person's appearance dramatically - I think it'd take considerable facial sculpting to copy certain characters!

I know you requested for shimmery products, but might I recommend a matte contour powder and highlighter? Matte powders are more realistic in person and more photogenic. Traditional bronzers/highlighters tend to look too shiny in photos, therefore taking away from the intended effect. 

Currently, my fave sculpting duo is the Happy Skin Feeling Sculptacular Face Contour Kit. It's sheer at first pass so it looks more natural, just like you were born with a defined bone structure. It's quite pricey at P1,199 though. You might wanna check out the Ellana Mineral Blush Dup in Light Roast/ Butter Rum Coffee (P460) instead! It's less than 500 bucks and you get A LOT of product. I have another Ellana duo which I use regularly but I haven't even made a dent yet.

Light Roast is a warm, toasted brown with a slight copper undertone. It's the kind of color that would suit most skin tones as it doesn't lean too orange. Butter Rum Coffee, on the other hand, looks like a chalky white at first glance but it actually has super fine gold shimmer that gives a nice glow. This is intended as a highlighter but I also like to use it as an illuminator all over my face, after foundation.

The formula is super smooth as you can see in the swatches. ^_^ I like applying this with a typical fluffy blush brush to get a more diffused effect - this is rather pigmented so use a light hand. Staying power is quite nice at 4-5 hours in case you're wondering.

This pressed mineral compact can be a bit powdery so just make sure to tap out the excess before applying the color to your face.

And that's that. Hope you found this useful, Karumichan! PV readers, please recommend your fave contour/higlight duos as well!

Pale n' pretty: the L'Oreal Color Riche Collection Star Lipsticks

How's your nude lipstick collection? Mine is dismal. I have hundreds of lipsticks at this point but I only have a small amount of true nudes that suit me. Even then, I barely wear them out, as they tend to be unflattering in photos. They look great in person but they make my face look larger once they're captured on cam!

So I hope you understand why I am burnt out with nude lipsticks. I'm not talking about MLBBs or just pale lipsticks ha - I'm talking about true nude colors that blank out my lips and blend in with my skin. That's why I was hopeful to receive a press kit of the L'Oreal Color Riche Collection Star Lipstick (P625), an Asia-exclusive collection of five colors that promises to be the perfect nude for our warm skin tone.

How different can these be from all the nudes I've tried before?

Quite a bit, it turns out.

 

Each of the five shades were picked to be five beauty icons' perfect nudes: Jennifer Lopez's "Barely Greige", Doutzen Kroes' "Barely Pink", Fan Bing Bing's "Barely Coral", Sonam Kapoor's "Barely Plum", and Gong Li's "Barely Moka". I find all of the colors beautiful - but are any of them actually a true nude on my lips?

Well, no. I don't think that's a problem though as long as you go in a L'Oreal counter being totally aware of that. Otherwise you'd be disappointed! If you take the marketing speak out of the equation, these lipsticks are all lovely in their own right. The colors as well as the packaging are both impressively sophisticated, so much that you wouldn't have guessed they're drugstore. I mean, look at them! The gold bullets are sleek and classy with each celebrities' signatures on them.

I find the formula a bit streaky though. I don't have pigmented lips which means I've given passing rates to other streaky lipsticks, but for shades as light as these, streakiness can be a deal-breaker. I recommend using a lip liner or a lip primer to get the three lightest shades (Greige, Pink, Coral) to look solid. A base would also increase the staying power of these lippies - otherwise, they just last about 2-3 hours on me.

But I'm just grousing. They are streaky up close, but appear totally fine when you look at the whole face. And check out the pretty colors! I've said this time and again: I don't mind a so-so formula if the color is interesting enough to wear. These Collection Star lippies don't disappoint in that regard.

Here are my lip swatches and color notes! ^_^

Barely Greige is a frosty, semi-sheer beige lipstick with golden shimmer. Sounds like a bad idea on the get go, I know, but it surprisingly works for me! As long as I wear heavy eye makeup, that is. Greige is the color that's the most nude on me out of the five. 

I look surprised in this picture because I AM surprised. I take random shots of my face when I try out something new. I totally expected greige to make me look dead in the picture, but on the contrary - it looks fab! I'll try wearing this out next time. I chose another lipstick to go with this FOTD because I needed something long-wearing.

Barely Pink is a white-based, pastel, Nicki Minaj pink. This would be a nude lipstick for you if you are alabaster fair. I wouldn't recommend it to typically warm Asian skin tones, unless you're going for Ms Minaj's statement look.

I like pinks like this but they just don't love me back, ya know?

Barely Coral is my favorite out of the five! It's a peachy coral with a white base - it reminds me of MAC Peachstock, actually. I'll show you an FOTD with this one time! It looks so streaky and blah in the close up swatch but I swear it's more fabulous when zoomed out.

Barely Moka is a gorgeous reddish chocolate shade that would be the perfect nude for dark skin tones. If your fair to mid-toned though, it would be a nice throwback to the 90s lip. It's chic and perfect for the upcoming fall season.

Barely Plum is my second fave shade. It's a pale mauvey color that gently toes the line between gorgeous lips and zombie lips. I think I'd go for gorgeous, haha. It's warm and pigmented enough to work for my skin tone.

Overall, even amidst all my complaining, I do enjoy the L'Oreal Color Riche Collection Star Lipsticks. ^_^ I highly recommend you check out Barely Coral, Barely Plum, Barely Moka, and heck, even Barely Greige just for the spirit of adventure! Just remember to wear a base or to bring a tube to retouch during the day. 

Thoughts? What's your bet?

Singles unite! My picks for the best one-eyeshadow look

Many women are intimidated by eyeshadows because of the seeming complexity that goes into applying them. There's a lid wash, a crease color, a brow bone color, and goodness gracious - even an outer-v! What's the frick is an outer-v? Is that a hipster restaurant serving gourmet chips? Haha, seriously though, eyeshadows can be confounding when you're just starting out with makeup. I feel you. 

Even if you're well-versed on the topic, however, ain't nobody got time for doing full eye makeup every single day! But here's the thing. If you have an extra minute or two, I highly recommend wearing a single eyeshadow just to contour your eyes, perhaps brighten them, and make them stand out more. It doesn't take a lot of time to put on a single eyeshadow. I swear you can even just use your fingers!

When I do it (and I do it A LOT), I choose these ones from my collection. ^_^ Check 'em out!

Bronze and taupes are the best colors for single-eyeshadow looks. They contour the eyes, giving them depth and a bit of sparkle. My absolute favorite single would be MAC Mulch. It just works so well to deepen my eyes plus it flatters my skin tone.

The Ellana MMP is awesome because you can also use it as a lipstick topper, as a bronzer, and as body shimmer when mixed with lotion. And yeah. the L'Oreal Bronzed Taupe and Maybelline Bad To The Bronze look almost alike, but they are vastly different when it comes to formula. BTTB is quicker to use because it's a cream; BT is more blendable since it's a powder.

Beiges and golds are amazing lid washes. You can wear them all over to just dispel the darkness in your eye area. What a lot of people don't know is the lids darken too, just like eye bags. If you don't conceal them and/or add some sort of eyeshadow on top, they make your eyes look droopy and tired.

So yeah, spare some time to add a lid wash, at least! These four are the best lid washes I've come across.

Some color notes: the Inglot #11 is a sandy gold, MAC All That Glitters is a champagne, Shu Uemura Soft Gold is exactly what the name says, while Inglot #15 is a gold duo chrome that flashes a bit orange. All are amazing!

Pink eyeshadow also does wonders to brighten the eyes. It gives off a sweet, dainty vibe, perfect with cute and feminine outfits. Finish off your look with a demure pink lipstick and you will be irresistible like candy! Well maybe not but I trust you got my point haha.

I usually apply single pinks on my lids, blending up to the crease (same with bronzes). It's too weird to apply pink all over the eye area.

Clinique's Pink and Plenty is a beautiful peachy pink with super fine gold shimmer. Maybelline Inked in Pink is a cooler, silvery pink. Both look great on my skin tone!

Purples and blues are edgier and therefore more dramatic choices. Most people would use them with other eyeshadows, but I love to apply them alone, blending up to the crease with something like the MAC217. Instant smoky eyes! I prefer them better than just plain black eyeshadows.

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I love the Shiseido RS321 cream eyeshadow - it's kinda transparent, but it somehow makes my eyes look deep-socketed, like they're straight out of a starving Victor Hugo character. The finish is almost matte! The L'Oreal one in Purple Priority is a recent discovery. It's so beautiful, promise. The Clinique Massive Midnight is an old favorite. It's a navy blue eyeshadow that I love to wear as a thick line along my upper lashes for an understated smoky look.

So there you go. Hope you enjoyed the swatch fest! ^_^ Would love to know your favorite singles as well! What eyeshadow would you choose if you can only use one eyeshadow for the rest of your life?

I'd go for MAC Mulch. ;)

It's a taupey sensation: the Joey Healey Luxe Brow Powder

Early this year I cut off all my dyed hair and stuck to my natural, brown-black one. Since then, I realized that most of my eyebrow makeup only just barely look decent on me since most of them have a reddish or blonde tint. Well, I had dyed hair for the last three or four years so that's only to be exepected!

If you tend to mismatch your hair and eyebrows, just, don't. Reddish brows look weird with hair that doesn't have any red in it. Likewise, ashy brows look off if your hair is dyed a completely different color. I think that getting great brows isn't just about learning how to shape and fill them in; it's also finding the right shade for your skin and hair color.

I do fall off the wagon every now and then because I have to review some products, but thank goodness that the Joey Healey Luxe Brow Powder in Corduroy (P1,472 from Luxola) kept me on track. Joey Healey is an eyebrow stylist based in New York. His eponymous brand is, of course, all about creating the perfect eyebrows! His Luxe Brow Powder is a stiff-texture powder that has a soft, natural finish. It can be intensified as needed, but it is meant to be built up in layers.

It also wears well during the day as it barely fades. The formula can be used wet or dry according to your preference.

Yes, it's quite expensive for an eyebrow powder, although you do get four grams of product. This will take you years to finish even if you use it everyday - it's almost as much as a powder blush! I would understand if you get stuck on the price. I mean, if you're not a makeup artist you really wouldn't need this much brow powder in one go.

Corduroy looks like a pale grey in the pan. Once it's on the brows though, it matches my hair perfectly. It's an ashy brown, more like taupe with zero red in it.

Love my natural brows here! I'm happy to discover Joey Healey over at Luxola, but I would honestly not have purchased it for myself if I didn't get it for review purposes. There are a lot of amazing eyebrow products out there for much less, y'know? If you're liking this one though, you must get it using the code LX-LIZ to get 25% off storewide at Luxola. Yes, storewide! Am not sure yet how long this code is valid for, but do use it as soon as you get the chance. ^_^

The future of eyeliner: the Benefit They're Real Push-Up Liner

The beauty blogging world is divided on the subject of the groundbreaking Benefit They're Real Push-Up Liner (P1,200). Some people love it, while some hate it with a passion. And I? I love it. I love what Benefit tried to do here and how, as far as I'm concerned, they succeeded. 

This "lash-hugging gel liner pen" is the first of its kind with a bendy, rubber tip where the black gel is discharged. You need to twist up to get the gel out - I had to do it dozens of times to get the product going - but once it's out there a few twists is all it takes to get the right amount.

I love the bendy tip because it can draw the finest of lines, and thicken them up if I wish. Once this dries, it stays. It might flake a little after five or six hours, but this has NEVER smudged on me after almost two months of using this! I also like that the pen delivers a velvety matte black line that's immediately dark on the get go. No need to layer repeatedly to make it dramatic.

The top photo shows the Push-Up Liner, freshly applied. Looks lovely eh? The photo below shows it after eight hours - that day, I've been out since 9am working on an event, and after (literally) sweating it out for seven hours, I got home by 5pm. You'll notice that the liner's tail end has sort of faded a bit, but there is zero smudging. My eyes look tired and the concealer has creased, but the liner is intact and clean!

The Benefit Push-Up does have a learning curve, however. It's not instantly easy to apply the product if you're not used to the tip yet. But once you learn the right combination of the amount of product, pressure, and angle, it'll be a breeze!

So how do I use it? I find that a tiny amount peeking out of the tip is enough for one eye. I don't actually need to apply a lot of pressure, although my instinct initially told me to rub it in since the formula is quite thick, like your typical gel liner in a pot! But I only get skid marks on my lines when I glide the tip on too hard. I only need to use a gentle hand to get a smooth, even line on my eyes.

We're living in the future.

We're living in the future.

The formula dries up quickly so it's important to work fast. Once it sets, it's a pain to remove. I must mention that the formula is non-washable which means that you need a proper makeup remover to take it off.

A few more tips: clean the rubber applicator with a tissue or wipe after every use. It's tougher to apply when the product has crusted on the top! You also must screw on the cap tightly once you're done. The gel liner inside dries up too easily so exposing it to air might ruin it.

Overall, I highly recommend the Benefit They're Real! Push-Up Liner to anyone who loves the matte, intense, and easy-to-control look of gel eyeliner but has so far not mastered it using the traditional brush and pot setup. This liner makes the whole thing a lot easier, IMHO, after a bit of practice.

The formula is long-wearing on me but it bears to know that some women have complained about it smudging like crazy. IDK how that could be when this sets into a solid crust! Well. Different strokes for different folks I guess!

Love this stuff. Let me know what you think!

My top 10 favorite finds last July

I almost forgot about this monthly list! Last July I did actually fail to jot down my favorites, so this one is sorta like a comeback. I've found quite a few that I really like last month. It'd be a shame if I didn't give them another push.

Let's go!

This is probably my best find in the last few months: the Burt's Bees Daisy White Facial Toner. This is an amazingly gentle toner that did wonders in brightening up my skin! I've been using a few new other skincare stuff (I should blog about my updated routine soon), but I think that this toner is key to how nice my skin is today.

Recently I got a bottle of the Burt's Bees Tomato Toner, which is a more intense product compared to the Daisy White. If you've been reading this blog a while then you know I was crazy about that one! I love them both to bits. Can a girl use two toners interchangeably? YES. (But not in one go ok?)

The Estee Lauder Pure Color Crystal Lipstick in Crystal Baby is the ultimate "my lips but better" lipstick for me. It's so sweet and subtle and makes me look like a nice person. Haha. I get a kick out of just opening the cap and marvelling at the packaging. This is a staple!

Another new lipstick that I'm digging Pixy Lasting Matte Lipstick in Be In Love. It's just 300 bucks but you guys, the color and the formula is quite nice! It's the perfect doll pink that's warm enough to be flattering - think Pink Nouveau but wearable on Asian skin.

One reader bought a tube because of my review, although she was wondering why it didn't look as pigmented on her as it did on me. Well, I have pale lips so I can get away with paler colors - yes, even if they run a bit streaky. If you have pigmented lips, my suggestion is to wear a nude or coordinating lip pencil underneath lippies like Be In Love to get maximum opacity.

One of the perks of having good skin is that we don't need to wear a lot of makeup. Unless I'm going to a long-haul event, I've given up heavy liquid foundations for sheer ones like the Bobbi Brown Oil Free Tinted Moisturizer SPF15. This is a hydrating tinted base that has a decent SPF15 for daily wear. I either apply sunscreen underneath or dust a powder foundation with higher SPF on top.

I like the brightening, barely there finish. This enhances my skin nicely without looking like I piled on the foundation.

Still in the sheer zone, I have been enjoying the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder. This is a great setting powder that gives a poreless, flawless finish while offering a bit of oil control!

For quick contouring, I've been turning to the Stila All Day Bronzer in Light. It warms up my skin like a bronzer should - just without the shimmer! That and the light, nutty shade makes it ideal for contouring. ^_^ I also like that this is fairly long-wearing even in humid weather.

I am and will forever be a fan of the Bifesta makeup remover, but for quick jobs, the Burt's Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes is my favorite. It's just a really convenient way to remove a day's worth of makeup without going through a LOT of cotton pads! What I do is, I add a couple of pumps of Bifesta to the wipe to boost its cleansing power. Neat trick. Try it out. ;)

I've been obsessing about the Zoeva Luxe Complete Brush Set since I got it. It's just so...what's the word, AWESOME. I love each brush and have been using them almost exclusively in the last two or three weeks! You must get this set once they are restocked in Luxola.

I finalized my travel plans this weekend and I can not wait. I'm already planning what to bring and off the top of my head, I'll probably be sneaking a couple of duos from the Charm Double Duty Makeup Brush Set in my suitcase. While this isn't something I'd use for my daily makeup routine (Zoeva is still the best set), these Charm brushes are must-haves for traveling.

And here's another cool brush: the Mary Kay Skinvigorate Cleansing Brush. I find this to be a great addition in my skincare routine since it cleans up any product build-up thoroughly. My pores have never been this purified since, well, ever. With this Mary Kay mechanical brush and the Cure Aqua Gel, I just might never have to get a real facial again!

Yes I will blog about my skincare routine, okay! Any new finds on your end lately?

OOTD + FOTD: It's a neutral situation

I bought this black romper from Promod last year for like 4,000 bucks. It was more than I would usually spend for one piece of clothing - a "onesie" at that (sounds so disgusting) - but I needed something to wear for the Preview ball. I'm so glad I coughed up the money. I've worn this piece countless of times since it has a flattering fit and deep pockets (!), it doesn't need ironing, and is thus perfect for traveling! I'll probably wear it until it quits on me!

Anyway, I thought I'd post this look since a lot of you gals asked me what I wore. ^_^ I recently got this white jacket from Stradivarius for P3,300. Yes I know it looks like a trench coat but it's made of rather thin material. It's really more of a long jacket! Here's an actual trench coat I got from the same brand.

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As you know I LOVE shopping in Stradivarius. I'm there at least once a week! They have lovely basics as well as pieces that can turn up the sophistication of any look. I hope they keep up the great merchandising. Right now I like them better than Zara.

Since I was going for a clean, streamlined look, I only wore a ring and a watch by way of accessories. The nude pumps are from Ferretti! So comfy, as usual.

Here's my face that day. I wore rather heavy makeup because it was an evening thing and I expected that the event will run a bit long. True enough, we were there from 5:30PM to 9PM. I chose only long-wearing, tried-and-tested makeup for this face because the venue was also outdoors - no aircon wah! Let's run through the products quickly:

Face. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Compact, MAC Studio Finish Concealer blemishes), K-Palette Zero Kuma Concealer (eye bags) Shiseido White Lucent Spot-Control Foundation to set

Cheeks. Ellana Kitten mineral blush, Happy Skin Feeling Sculptacular Contour kit for contouring

Eyeshadows. NARS Pro Prime, Lorac Pro Palette (Garnet on the lids, Deep Purple on the crease, Taupe to blend the crease, and Cream for the brow bone)

Eye definition. K-Palette eyebrows pen, MAC brow mascara in Quiet Brunette, Heavy Rotation liquid eyeliner topped with the pencil liner for the blackest black line, Heroine Make Long & Curl Mascara (yes I didn't wear falsies!)

Lips. Happy Skin Shut Up & Kiss Me Lippie in Honeymoon Glow.

And that is that. ^_^ Hope you like the look!


The fountain pen cabal

I don't drink, smoke, or party (unless it's work-related). I'm probably one of the most boring people you'll ever meet, because I have no wild stories to tell about a drunken evening with a stranger, or an amazing trek to a misty mountain. I'm one of those people who turn inward. I find something in there, then put it out for the world to see as a solid object. Lol I sounded like an asshat there.

Recently, I got into a new "hobby" - I use quotation marks because I would hate it to be the real thing. I take hobbies seriously. Makeup is a hobby, and now here we are. Watercoloring is a hobby, and now here I am with a library of books and up to my ears in supplies. I devour information and spend serious money on serious hobbies!

That's why I don't want fountain pens to be a hobby. Some people go crazy with their pen collection, easily spending P10,000 to P50,000 on a single pen. I can see myself doing that - but I'm still in the early stages of this "hobby" and I think I won't be able to bring myself to do it when the time comes. (But who knows? Ugh Liz don't think like that.)

Fountain pen cabal: Panache, Sailor, nameless fountain pen from National Bookstore, and Sheaffer

Fountain pen cabal: Panache, Sailor, nameless fountain pen from National Bookstore, and Sheaffer

Anyway, I just wanted to show you my humble pen collection - I have a Panache pen with interchangeable nibs, a basic Sailor fountain pen, a P250 fountain pen from National Bookstore that has no name, and a Sheaffer pen, also from NBS. I'm happy with these as I just really need them for my journal! Lately I find it useful to write with ink on paper. The act organizes my thoughts more efficiently and there's no pressure to show it to anybody. 

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I also wanna quickly rave about a Jacinto and Lirio notebook that I got from Scribe Writing Essentials. It's just P175 but it is the creamiest, smoothest notebook EVER. The ink doesn't bleed through it, plus it doesn't buckle even with watercolors! I don't recommend it for watercolors though as it's just too smooth. Do look for it if you love notebooks.

I'd love to hear about your hobbies too. ^_^ Have a great Sunday ladies!

I went through the Vitress Catwalk and survived

As a kid who had curly, frizzy hair, I grew up with the Vitress Hair Polish and their Cuticle Coat. I didn't really have a lot of options back then, but you know what, it didn't matter! Vitress worked perfectly for my ridiculously thick hair then; it was the only brand that could keep it from flying away in all directions. You know what I mean if we have the same hair type!

Anyhoo, I'm happy to share that Vitress has expanded its line of products, and introduced two new endorsers as well! Manila's "it girl" Solenn Heussaff has been working with the top hair grooming brand for some time now, even creating her own product called the Vitress Solenn Cuticle Coat. She helped formulate it and even co-designed the packaging!

How does she use her very own Cuticle Coat? "After I shower and while my hair is damp, I put a small amount to make it easier to comb. Once my hair is dry, I add a few more drops to boost shine. I also apply it when my hair’s in a ponytail to hide the baby hair that sticks out," says Solenn. It's an excellent tip. I'd do that everyday if it guarantees me hair like hers, haha.

In an event last week, Vitress revealed two news endorsers joining Solenn: cover girl and host Kim Jones and star volleyball athlete Gretchen Ho. Kim loves the Hair Repair Cuticle Coat since it keeps her locks from being damaged by constant styling, while Gretchen adores the Heat Protect Cuticle Coat which she needs for her active lifestyle.

During the same event, Vitress dared a few bloggers to walk the catwalk while their hair is being blown away by huuuge electric fans. I partnered up with Nikki Tiu (only the sweetest and nicest beauty blogger ever!) to take on those crazy fans - how hard can THAT be, right?

Apparently it is quite a challenge. I have super fine, thin hair now so I avoid the wind as much as possible. When I'm out I even face the wind so that my hair will at least be blown back instead of to each side! It's a nightmare when that happens. It's so hard to fix, plus I can't comb my hair because it will just frizz up.

After that hair-raising experience (lol) Nikki and I went to the Vitress station to have our hair transformed. It only took half a minute to put the hot mess that was my hair to rights. It looked smooth and coiffed again!

We stopped to have our pictures taken by the adoring paparazzi. Humor me! Hahaha I didn't think this whole experience would be so fun. If you want to try out the Vitress Catwalk as well, there's another leg happening on August 22 at Eastwood Citywalk Activity Center. Do follow @officialvitress on Instagram to see more info.

So that's what's new with Vitress. ^_^ Congratulations again to Solenn, Kim, and Gretchen and the Vitress team for a successful event!

This post is brought to you by Vitress.

I got lighter knees and underarms with the A Bonne Spa Milk Salt (Shower Formula)

I grabbed the A Bonne Spa Milk Salt (P140) on a whim while shopping in Watsons. I've seen these tubes around for a few years now. I've read the raves in a local beauty forum I used to frequent, but I never bought it until a few weeks ago. Why? Well, I was skeptical about the hype. But since I had some GCs to blow, I decided to try it out since it's similar to the The Body Shop Spa Wisdom Ximena & Salt Scrub which I love. I was really just looking for a cheaper substitute.

But this A Bonne product is not just a substitute. It's The Thing I Need In My Life. I actually just bought my second tube yesterday! After just three weeks of usage, my skin is a lot smoother - as in I always touch it because I couldn't believe it. I also noticed that my knees and armpits are way lighter. I didn't even realize it until last week as I was looking at some pictures!

Guys, this thing smoothens and lightens my skin, as advertised. No BS here ha. I got results.

This salt scrub, like the Body Shop one, has salty bits suspended in a thick, creamy moisturising base. It's a bit more abrasive than TBS and not as rich/thick but it works well enough! The scratchy salt isn't uncomfortable for me. If you have sensitive, thin skin though it might be too much. Best to try it on one area first to see if you can take it.

I wash with a shower gel or soap first before this scrub. Then, I use a sizeable blob for each limb to coat them entirely - too little and the water will just dissolve the product. The more the better! I don't feel so bad though because one tube is fairly inexpensive.

I recommend you use it 2-3 times a week! Remember, use a generous amount to see better results.

It leaves a sort of slinky film on the skin once all the salt bits are washed away. Sometimes, I don't use a moisturizer anymore since this *feels* hydrating enough. I still recommend using a moisturizer or better yet a body oil to get softer results. Try argan oil, it will make your skin feel unbelievable.

Like I said above, I noticed that my under arms and knees noticeably lightened after three weeks of using this. I didn't use any new scrub or moisturizer ha! This was the only new thing I added to my routine. Here's a picture of me last week - my knees used to be about two or three shades darker than the rest of my legs, but now they're almost the same color (of course barring the natural shadow in this outdoor scene).

Seeee? Crazy. Yesterday I wanted to hoard this scrub, but unfortunately it was the last tube in stock at Watsons SM Aura. :( I hope they stock up soon, I would hate to run out again! I highly recommend this to anyone who needs something to even out their skin tone and just improve skin overall. Of course, I can't guarantee that you'll get the same results I did, but there's no harm trying. That's the good thing with affordable products. You don't need to commit too much.

Let me know what you think of this, if you've tried it! I'd love to hear your reviews.

Weigh in: Should you hire a bridal makeup artist for your wedding?

One of the regular readers here (hi Marithe!) asked me what makeup she should use for her wedding as she doesn't plan to hire a makeup artist. I promised to help her with a tutorial, but I think there's an underlying question here that needs to be addressed: should the bride do her own makeup, or should she hire a professional?

I think there's a lot of women opting out of pro MUAs as they find their services too expensive, and some people too "pushy" or uncomfortable to work with. It's just makeup, they think. Why do they have to shell out P5,000 up to P75,000 for a few hours of a makeup artist's time? They suspect that MUAs charge a lot more only because it's a wedding. 

What some might not understand though is that makeup artists have done the time and invested thousands of pesos on their gear. They usually have the experience of doing countless of faces, in different lighting, using different products to suit the requirements of the clients while thinking of the weather conditions. There are so many things to learn and do in order to be a capable makeup artist! If you've heard of her (or him), it's only because she was tireless in starting from the very bottom doing shoots that paid nothing up to the time that she can command a fee for a wedding.

Makeup artistry is a tough business to be in. There's a lot of costs involved as with any freelance service-oriented job. The MUA has to invest in training, research, products, gas (or commute), toll, and the actual time spent on the venue with you. That's including the consultations and subsequent calls you make to each other in preparation for the actual event! It's a lot of work. Many of them charge way below than what they're worth just to get more referrals and photos for their portfolio.

On the other hand, young women getting married today grew up during the explosion of the Internet as a valuable source of information and means of communication. There are YouTube gurus sharing amazing tutorials - some are gifted amateurs, while some are celebrity makeup artists with decades of experience. There are beauty bloggers reviewing products in detail so you know what works and what doesn't. Information on how to do wedding makeup plus which products to use can be had in just a few clicks! The only difficulty would be the amount of information you have to wade through to get to the really useful stuff.

We're also now at a point when there are lots of innovative, fairly affordable products that perform well. You can step in a Watsons or SM Beauty Store right now and you can find products that will suit an event such as a wedding. Of course, I would still recommend you invest in the good stuff just because they feel better and work better overall. I'm just saying that if you can't splurge, then saving is most definitely an option.

If you're the type of future bride who is interested, even skilled in makeup artistry after some time researching it online, then I do think you should do your own makeup. You would have already known a bit beyond the basics and are on the pulse when it comes to the latest developments in the beauty world. You probably also have a solid makeup collection at this point and may even be ready to invest now that it's going to be for your wedding.

I think it's more practical to do your wedding makeup if that's the case. You already know what works for you - you just need to acquire a few more things, research more, and practice more for the day itself. I believe that if you don't need it then you don't need to pay for it! When my wedding day comes, I'll definitely do my own face.

However, if you're completely clueless about makeup and aren't particularly interested in learning it, then hire a professional. If you don't want to worry or feel pressured about doing your wedding makeup even if you know how to, then hire a professional. You'd save yourself a lot of grief for (comparably) not a lot of money! In the end, it's really up to what you feel confident about doing. Don't think about saving money - think about what will make you feel happy and comfortable during one of the most special days of your life.

Weigh in! Will you hire a pro MUA for your wedding? Why or why not?