The year that was 2012

I scanned all my posts this 2012 - roughly 600 of them - to get a feel of how my year has been. Mostly it was a blur. Things that happened in January feel like they happened only last week! I wish I am just exaggerating to make my life sound more important than it actually isn't, but true story, I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that it's 2013 tomorrow.

In a little over a month (February 7) I will be turning 25. Quarter of a century. I don't feel old, but I don't feel young anymore. It's around this point when people start thinking about what they want to do with their lives. I've already figured out what I want to do with my life, barring unexpected changes. The so-called mid-life crisis shall be lost on me (or am I speaking too soon?).

Anyway, here's a quick trip down my memory lane. Some of the fun things I did in 2012!

Organized and hosted a Pinkbox party early January. It's my first event for Pinkbox! <3 I love Ms Nelly! She's my peg in life. I also enjoy working on Pinkbox because it' pink! But seriously, I love the people there, and how the brand keeps on coming up with new creative things for us girls to wear. (Photos grabbed from Angela). 

I met Maggie and Annie, daughters of Jean and Jane Ford (founders of Benefit Cosmetics) on my birthday. They were so awesome! And nice! And tall haha.

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Satchels are for ever

The satchel bandwagon has come and gone, but I for one don't care. I still like the structured, prim look of this particular style, and how convenient it is with handles and/or body straps. For me, satchels make casual preppy outfits look more sophisticated, more put together. My casual clothes fall under that category so satchels are no-brainer choices. :D

I first read about Cuzo leather bags some months ago at Topaz Horizon, one of my favorite blogs (hi Frances!). I learned that the products were locally made, and that the leather Cuzo uses is real. Still, the prices are very reasonable at less than P2,500 for most bags. You can understand why I had to grab my own Cuzo bag at, and on sale too.

The green Ann Satchel was originally P2,250 but it was 30% off so I was able to score it for only P1,500. There were other designs but all of them are sold out - except for the maroon Ann! You should get it before it goes out of stock.

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Reader question: Tips for sensitive skin

Hi Ms. liz! I'm nineteen and I'm starting to be interested in makeup. The thing is, I'm afraid of getting breakouts if the makeup doesnt agree with my skin. Sometimes we use two or more beauty products the same time, so it's hard to know what's causing the breakouts. Would you happen to know what brands are good for people with skin like mine, or what ingredients i should avoid? You would be a great help. I love your blog by the way :) -HAA

Hello! If you ask me, 19 is a great age to get into beauty stuff. I was 19 myself when I started tinkering with skincare, foundation, and colors on my face. It's fun and fulfilling once you find products and techniques that work for you, but the downside with experimentation is that you will break out. Yes, even with highly recommended products. It's hard to predict what will improve or wreak havoc on your skin due to the uniqueness of our genetic makeup combined with environmental factors.

I don't believe in fear-mongering, so I won't name individual ingredients that the Internet says will cause you cancer or some I don't know, brain disease. Most cosmetics only have trace amounts of what are supposed to be (but not conclusively proven) harmful ingredients - parabens, for example.

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MAC Mineralized Charged Water

How do you feel about face mists? I don't use them all the time but they're nice to have around. Say, you over-applied your foundation or powder and would like to take the thickness down a notch - spray some mist on your face. You want to intensify your eyeshadow or powder liner? Mist your brush before dipping it in the color. You want to moisturize your face in the middle of the day without actually removing all your makeup? Mist up! See I told you it's handy. ;)

Now there's an argument to be made for simply filling up an atomizer spray bottle with water. But I swear it's not the same. Proper face mists - the one you buy off the shelves for a price that sounds ridiculous for what is basically bottled water - is better than a DIY attempt. That's not to say that a DIY mist is not any good, I'm sure it will work fine, but it's not going to be quite as nice as a cosmetic mist.

The MAC Mineralized Charged Water is water infused with diamond powder (supposedly) and a nice citrus tea scent. It delivers a very fine spray to distribute the water evenly all over the face.

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Clinique Moisture Surge Intense

The weather has been cold and windy lately. It's a great fashion opportunity (layering and cute boots, anyone?) but it's not so kind to our skin. I'm sure some of you have been suffering from dryness and even flakiness on the face and hands! I would too, if I haven't been using the Clinique Moisture Surge Intense (P2,600) this past month.

I usually get very dry come December up to February, when the season is colder than average. It's worse on my cheeks and sides of the mouth/ nose. It's kind of ridiculous that I didn't think of using a heavier moisturizer than I normally do but then again, I don't like that many moisturizers as much as the original Clinique Moisture Surge. So yes, the Intense version is a brilliant idea for people like me.

The CMS is a great moisturizer for oily skin in tropical weather like ours, but the thing is it doesn't give the necessary moisture once the weather turns. Intense is heavier, creamier, and is almost unrecognizable from the CMS gel formula except for the trademark pink jar.

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All I want for Christmas...

I only have a limited amount of time to browse stores - online and offline - so I would rather look for my friends' recommendations than aimlessly Googling what I want to buy. I also check the blogs I trust for their recent purchases and features (like Manila Fashion Observer). It's easier that way! 

That said, I've been following ever since it opened. It came in at a time when everyone in Manila was coupon/discount crazy. AVA was different because it was the only one that offered luxury fashion brands like Chanel, Prada, and Burberry at a discount. I can't afford them even at the sale price, but I always watched AVA just in case something irresistable turns up!

And they do turn up. There were crazy price slashes on Melissa shoes and Aranaz bags but I often logged in too late to get the things I actually want. :(

Today AVA has evolved into a curated fashion store that offers premium hard-to-find, indie brands. There are still flash sales but those are for a limited time only; the store itself stocks up on carefully-chosen items from new, intriguing names.

I actually got a Cuzo bag recently from one of the sales - imagine, P1,500 for a leather bag, at 30% off! Such a steal. I will blog about it soon. ;) For now, I want to show you my AVA wishlist for Christmas!

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Be posh and plush with the Benefit She's So Jet Set box

I used to not like makeup sets before with products that are in way smaller sizes. I mean, how can I enjoy something when I'm so conscious about finishing it up quickly? And what if I like it, what am I going to do then? But now that I'm older, wiser, and more liquid (lol), I have seen the wisdom of buying sets and smaller sizes. 

Small tubes and bottles are great if you want to carry stuff around. It's not smart to bring full sizes of stuff in your bag because of the heat here - it can spoil/dry up makeup faster. Also, if you're like me who doesn't usually bring big bags, every bit of space is valuable real estate. That's not just applicable to when we're travelling y'know!

Thus, boxed sets like the Benefit She's So Jet Set (P2,100) is perfect if a.) You travel a lot b.) You want mini-sizes of your "Bene-faves" for your daily bag c.) If you have never tried Benefit before and would like to start now. This contains four lovely and pigmented eyeshadows, illuminating powder duo, mini Porefessional, They're Real Mascara, and lip gloss. 

I understand that this is part of Benefit's limited edition holiday sets!

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Christmas Tree nails

What do you plan to do on Christmas? Me, I just want to eat all my favorite things, and maybe go out to watch a movie with my family. ^_^ All very straightforward. I want to finish reading the books on my list and just relax during the holidays.

Of course, Christmas is not complete without the requisite red and glitter upon our persons. I'm celebrating this whole weekend with my Etude House nail set in Christmas Miracle!

Christmas Tree is a set of three polishes that is designed to give a gradient glitter nail effect. The red base has some fine gold shimmer - absolutely gorgeous - and is opaque in only one coat.

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Hot from Estee Lauder

Estee Lauder is not just your mother and grandmother's staple brand. There's always something new and exciting in the Estee counters, something for everyone who loves luxe beauty! Here I shall present some of Estee Lauder's latest products, and my quick impressions about them. I'll be reviewing some of them in separate posts in the near future so do let me know which one you're most interested in, ok? ;)

First off, I have the Estee Lauder Pleasure Eau Fraiche (P2,800). This is a floral, powdery scent has top notes of pure white lilies and violet leaves. The floral heart of black lilacs, white peonies, pink roses and exotic karo-karounde blossoms comes down to a spicy after-glow. It's quite fresh and young along with the simple yet colorful packaging.

If you're more into nails then you should check out the Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer Collection (P900/ bottle).

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Tutorial: Makeup for girls with glasses

Hello Ms. Liz! I just want to ask you some tips on how to pull off a look even if you have glasses. I can't literally see without them and I'm not accustomed into using contact lenses. And because of it, somehow I don't have enough self confidence whenever I dress up, since I kinda look like a manang because of the glasses. :( - Elle

Hi Elle! I've been wearing glasses since 5th grade (too much reading!) so I totally know where you're coming from. Now, the secret to looking stylish in glasses is simple: don't think of them at all. That is, don't feel conscious of whatever you think they stand for. Style is more about attitude than the clothes and makeup we wear. Stand straight, look everyone in the eye, and smile as if you mean it. You'll notice that people will start treating you differently, in a positive way.

But those are just words. You'll realize these things on your own soon. :) The immediate solution to your problem is updating your look - get a chic pair of glasses, a fun hair cut, and trendier clothes that fit your personality. Of course, you can also start with a makeup look that can turn a geeky face to a sexy one! 

(Not that there's anything wrong with being geeky. It's nice to switch things up though.) Here's a tutorial!

Step 1: Eyebrows become more of a crucial issue when you're wearing glasses. Your glasses literally frame your whole face, while your eyebrows frame your glasses. Make sure to get glasses that compliment the shape of your eyebrows well. To start off, they should have more or less the same arch.

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The road to great hair is paved with Kérastase

A "holy grail" beauty product is something that is irreplaceable - at least, as far as you know. It's something that you use all the time, finish off, replace, even hoard. It makes you feel beautiful. The word "love" is loosely thrown around in beauty writing, but it approaches the truth when you love your ultimate HG find.

My holy grail hair conditioning and styling product is the Kérastase Elixir Ultime. I won't go into the nitty gritty because I've reviewed it already, but to summarize all that: it's the best thing that ever happened to my hair. It keeps my locks shiny, soft, smooth, and bouncy all day. It's also economical as I've had my bottle since last May and I'm only less than halfway through. Take note, I use it every single time I go out!

Now the success of the Elixir Ultime led Kérastase to bring in three new variants in the line. The Grand Crus Collection is composed of scented serums that target specific needs - the Millenium Rose (fine sensitized hair), Imperial Tea (color-treated hair), and Immortal Moringa (damaged hair).

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What I will wear to the end of the world

I often think of end-of-the-world scenarios. I wouldn't call myself obsessed, but let's just say that when I walk the dog I look for manhole entrances and good hiding places to slip into when everything goes to hell in the near future. Am I crazy? Come now. I'm just practical.

I grew up reading grand old science fiction novels. Almost all of them predict that the world as we know it will end - horribly - at some point, so if I'm lucky enough to survive the first wave of death and destruction I want to be ready! Perhaps we can discuss how I plan to survive in a civilization that has fallen apart at another time. For now I want to show you what I will wear to the end of the world (provided I have a few minutes to get dressed).

My must-have pieces of clothing if I must survive the apocalypse:

1. Military-style jacket. This is actually a man's jacket that shrunk in the wash. Now it fits me perfectly! It has lots of pockets and a hoodie I can tuck in at the collar. Great for when I feel cold or need to be protected from a light rain.

2. Cardigan. I just want an extra layer of clothing on top of my black shirt. It can also double as a blanket, cushion or spare top.

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Reader question: How to deal with limp hair

Hi Ms. Liz! I'd just like to ask what hair products you use on yourself (if any). Perhaps a mousse or volumizing spray? I have long, straight, and limp hair and I'm looking for a product that can give it a little lift. Thanks in advance! -Rapunzel

Hi "Rapunzel"! Love the name you picked for this question haha. I happen to have very thin hair that goes limp at the slightest provocation, so I'm careful about the products I use on it. I'm a big believer in the adage "less is more" - for hair at least. Lighter products and less stuff overall keeps hair looking bouncy, shiny, and volumized. Here are a few tips to revive your hair, and later on you'll see the products I love to use.

Use conditioner only once or twice a week and never let it get to your scalp. Conditioner helps hair become shinier and softer, but since it's heavy with rich oils it tends to deflate your hair. It drags down the roots so hair looks flat. Also, conditioner does absolutely nothing for our scalp so it makes no sense to let it go that far! Just apply it at most 3 inches away from your scalp. Concentrate on the tips of your hair instead since that's where you need the conditioning the most.

Use a shampoo that's not too oily. Same concept as using conditioner. You need a shampoo that can remove the oil and product build up in your hair without drying it up. This involves trial and error as it really depends on your skin and scalp condition.

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Concealer concentrate: Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer

The Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer (P1,200/5ml at Stuff in Style) has completely done away with modesty and went straight to being blunt. "The world's best concealer", it says on the box. That's quite a hefty claim! It's a tiny tube of concentrated concealer that's so pigmented, you must use it with a pencil eyeliner brush. It's also incredibly pigmented so you can cover pretty much anything.

I heard about this concealer when beauty bloggers abroad started raving about it. I didn't know it was even available in the Philippines, so it's a nice surprise to know that Stuff in Style carries it.

Here's my review and demo!

What I love about the product

  • Covers all manner of dark marks and imperfections, including eyebags. It's pigmented and opaque. You only need a small dot to cover everything. Yes including dark circles.
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My weekend in Instagram: Benefit, BU4, my mother, and menudo

I told you, I would be posting A LOT of Instagram photos now that I have a new phone with a great camera. :P That said I had a busy weekend going to events and spending time with my family. My gahd, can I just say, it's such a hassle to shop these days! But there are so many new drool-worthy pieces that I just sucked it up and fell in a loooong line at the cashier. I didn't even go to the fitting room anymore!

Here are some of the things I got. That stringy object is a skirt. It looks terribly fun to wear, but I hope I won't regret it when I have to make it work! I'm also on a pastel kick, again. Conversely I'm trying to find more emerald green clothes/shoes to wear because that's the color of 2013. However, it looks like most local brands haven't caught up yet.

I'm curious, does the Pantone Color of the Year appeal to you? I mean, do you buy stuff in that color?

And this my dears is Benefit's newest product: Fine One One! It's a lip and cheek tint that has a highlighter on the side. Yes it's three shades in one tube but the colors blend easily as they're meant to be initially sheer. Fine One One is coming out on January so look out for it then. ;)

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