Ten products that rocked my 2013

Products come and products go, but these ten(ish) things are permanently clutched to my heart. I found them all this year alone and trust me, they've managed to elevate my makeup and skincare routine to heretofore unheard of heights. Yes yes I think you get it. These things are awesome and I'm soooo lucky I got to "discover" them! 

Here's my list! (Warning: crazy, gibbering raves are about to explode in your face.)

Shiseido Ibuki Skincare Line. Are you tired of me talking about this yet? I owe the niceness of my skin now to Ibuki. I mean, guys, last night I just went out with just a dab of concealer on my face. I didn't need to powder or apply any foundation anymore. Those blessed with awesome skin may think that it's no big deal, but for someone like me who breaks out every so often, this is like, science fiction.

This is the single best thing that happened to my face. 

Cure Natural Aqua Gel. Aaand this is pretty much the next best thing that happened to my skin this year. Seriously, the Japanese have the best skincare products! If you haven't switched to Japanese brands yet (at least for your face) then you are missing a ton.

Dead skin is actually one of the top causes of our problems - acne, blackheads, even whiteheads. Cure keeps away dead skin like the plague. 

Bifesta Sebum Cleansing Lotion. This is the best makeup remover I've tried. It's water-based but still super effective in melting off the thickest, most long-wearing makeup. It stops short when it comes to waterproof mascara but everything else, it can wipe off within minutes. (I use the Shiseido Instant Eye and Lip Makeup Remover for long-wearing mascara).

My skin feels clearer whenever I use this. Plus, it's inexpensive and can be found in most Watsons.

Lancome Visionnaire Yeux, Advanced Eye Contour Perfecting Corrector. I've had a healthy skepticism of eye creams for the longest time. I thought they were the biggest hoax perpetrated by the beauty industry. I didn't expect them to do much other than moisturize and maintain whatever is left to maintain...but then I tried the Lancome Visionnaire for eyes. It's like a slo-mo moment. 

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My top five perfumes this 2013

It'll be next year in a couple of days - how times flies, I can't believe it, etc. and so on. This was a phenomenal, unbelievable year. If someone told me I'd have a year like this, I wouldn't have believed that person. Actually if you told it to me right now I'd still have trouble believing you.

But let's save all this disbelief for my year-ender post, alright (check out 2012's while we're at it). Today I'd like to list down the five best fragrances I've tried this 2013. I realized that my taste in scents and style has changed drastically in the last 12 months. I no longer favor ultra-feminine, sensual things to wear. Now I prefer simple, crisp, and classic pieces to define me.  

So, here are my five favorite perfumes, plus two runner ups! These scents are floral mixed with green, and warmed by a musky woody base.

DKNY Fresh Blossom Intense. You know I've been a long-time fan of the DKNY Be Delicious scents. I love Fresh Blossom because it's a beautiful warm floral scent with a touch of sparkling apple. It's lovely and complex, just the way I like 'em.

Jo Malone Blueberry and Bay Cologne. I never did get around to reviewing it, but this is one of my most cherished perfumes. I feel somehow powerful and slightly possessed when I have this on; it's almost masculine in it's sharp green-ness. This 30ml slim bottle is perfect for traveling so this is what I always bring with me.

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INGLOT Freedom System Cream Concealer

I never did get into the habit of regularly scheduling posts here on my blog. I do schedule them when I'm out of town or when I have a huge job that'll take up the whole day; otherwise, I more or less blog whatever feels right for the day. Oh believe me, I've tried coming up with posts in one day as if they're from an assembly line! But it just feels so forced. The content I end up finally vomiting sounds fake to me. 

There are bloggers who do scheduled posts and I admire them (it's more efficient, truly). It's just not for me.

I have a couple of meetings today so I'll make this review quick. ;) I've already mentioned purchasing the INGLOT Freedom System Cream Concealer (P475) during the brand's launch here, and have been using it on and off for a few weeks now. How is it? It's okay. It's weird, but okay enough.

This cream concealer is only semi-solid, unlike other pan concealers I've tried before. It almost feels like paste to me, thick, sticky, and wet. I imagine that this formula would belong better in a tube - and INGLOT does have a concealer in a tube - but if you wanna fit a concealer in your Freedom Palette, then this is the way to go.

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Burt's Bees Shea Butter Hand Repair Cream

It peeves me when negative things attract more interest than positive ones. People who think other people are stupid, those who are jealous, those who are just a certain flavor of malicious - it's like a snake eating its own tail. They're the source of negativity and they also feed that negativity. They love a story where they can show just how superior they are to all the other people making mistakes, as if they never make one. 

You may not be a negative person normally, but tell me honestly, did your ears prick up with that first paragraph? I notice that I do the same thing whenever I get a whiff of controversy in my circle. I try to be conscious of and try to control it, but sometimes I just can't help it. I wanna know more. I wanna sneer more. I wanna take the high ground as if that's my permanent address.

However, I always tell myself never to judge. Or at least, not to judge harshly. We never really know the full story - we may never do. I think it helps us to be kinder just to know that.

Anyway! Today I'd like to show you the best hand cream I've tried so far: the Burt's Bees Shea Butter Hand Repair Cream (P950 for 90g). I got this as part of a gift set so I'm not sure if 50 grams is the full tube, but I do love the size (update: the full tube is 90 grams, and 50 grams is only P550 but this isn't available at Beauty Bar). It's ideal to bring during the day when my hands get dry!

And boy, do they go dry. I've never had such serious dryness before. When my partner touches my hand now he says it feels like cardboard! Ugh. It must be all the hand washing after scratching my dog's belly, and the dish washing too. I'm lucky not to need to wash my clothes, but I imagine that the dryness would be much worse if it were otherwise.

I've tried other hand creams before but I honestly can't use them as regularly as I want to. They are usually greasy and they take forever to get absorbed! I have this compulsion to always check my phone, my laptop, so ten minutes away is such a hassle. I always end up washing my hands to remove the cream, just so I can move on with my life.

Enter this Burt's Bees hand cream.

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The Rabeanco Sheila Pouch

Quick post! I just wanna pop in to say hello, and happy holidays to you all. ^_^ Hope you're having a grand time so far! I'll be having a staycation with my family in a hotel here in Fort, then probably veg and watch cable TV until tomorrow. All I want is a chill and fun time with my loved ones.

Before I leave, thought I'd show you something I got for myself this Christmas. I think that the best gifts are the ones that you actually purchase for yourself, because no one knows what you want better than you do, right? That being said I finally got something I've been looking for a long time: a pouch wallet.

I'm not that picky with brands when it comes to wallets which is why mine always looks kawawa. But in my defense I really want something where I can jam my cash and coins without thinking, where there's space for my cards. I haven't found something like it in stores - that is, until I saw this pouch from Rabeanco in SM Aura.

It is absolutely perfect.

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FOTD and capsule reviews: The Face Shop Holiday 2013 Makeup

Have you been to a The Face Shop store lately? They have lots of nice gift items at different price levels. You should drop by if you're still rushing to get your Christmas shopping done! They have bath gels and loofah sets, useful for gifting en masse. But that's pretty standard fare. Today I want to show you a look I did using some of TFS's holiday makeup.

Unlike other holiday collections, the color selection here is quite summery. The only exception would be the glittery gold I Wait Rainbow Me:Ex eyeshadow. Nevertheless, the collection looks pretty festive when used together. I did a look that brightens the eyes and gives skin a healthy glow - gold cat eyes, peach cheeks, and rosy lips.

I'll shortly review each item, for your reference. I don't have the exact prices at the moment but there is nothing above P600 if I remember correctly.

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Manicure Mondays: Deborah Lippmann Polish in Glitter And Be Gay

Talent is cheap. There's tons of people out there with a natural talent for certain things, but the fact is that unless they spend hours and hours honing that talent, it's just potential. It's like oil under the ground. We have to dig for it, pump it to the surface, and refine it until it's ready to sell and use. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's way too easy to be mediocre. Good, but never good enough. That's how I feel about the things I do, most days.

But on to lighter things! Specifically, a shiny gold glitter polish from Deborah Lippmann called Glitter And Be Gay (P825). This is part of the fall collection but I think it's a perfect holiday nail polish as well!

Glitter And Be Gay has gold, holo, and blue glitters of several sizes suspended in a warm yellow gel base. This is meant to be used as a topper, specifically for its sister, Fake It Till You Make It which I am also wearing here. I love the dimension of this glitter polish, and how it changes color in the light due to the holo glitter. I received a lot of compliments when I had this on!

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Ellana Cucumber Melon Makeup Brush Cleaner

When I took Ellana on as a client, one of the first questions I asked them was, "What are your best sellers?" The foundations were, of course, the runaway favorites, but the brush cleaner was also surprisingly high on the list. Why? Well, this is why.

I've tried three brush cleaners before it - Parian, Cinema Secrets, and J&C brush cleaners to be exact - but this Ellana product is the only one that's silicone-based. The other ones had high alcohol and solvent content, which makes sense because you wanna sanitize and melt of the makeup, right? I love these cleaners and have no complaints.

But there is another way to do it. Ellana did it with its Cucumber Melon Makeup Brush Cleaner (P400 for 120ml)

The main ingredient of the Ellana Brush Cleaner is cyclopentasiloxane, a slippery, lubricating silicone ingredient that is commonly used in hair products. It acts as a solvent by loosening up all the dirt and makeup in your brushes and thus making them easy to wipe off on tissue. It conditions the bristles, making them feel silky and supple as it cleans.

It also contains tea tree extracts and triclosan to sanitize and prevent fungal growth on the brushes. Finally, it has phenoxyethanol, which is a preservative. These ingredients are safe for cleaning your brushes and are in fact commonly used in many skincare products

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My mini beauty haul from Tokyo

You know what (and this is just an observation, not a complaint) having a beauty blog and getting sent a lot of free stuff takes all the fun out of makeup shopping. Whenever I see something that makes me go "oooh-I-want-that-looks pretty-awesome!", that enthusiasm is quickly followed by a dour practicality "But-I-have-like-twenty-of-those". 

Every so often I do buy something because I feel that I absolutely need it and don't have something like it yet. However, it ends up getting buried by all the other products that I still need to start using and reviewing. I told you. It's sometimes not at all fun to be a beauty blogger.

Image credit: muza-chan.net

That's why when I went to Japan a few weeks back, I only grabbed three beauty products for myself. These were things I felt I needed at that time. Besides, they were inexpensive so it'd be totes fine if I don't use them often or like them at all. :P

I stopped by Matsumoto Kiyoshi in Akihabara to look for some pabili and to check out the drugstore beauty stuff (of course). Here's what I got!

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Stila Holiday 2013: Portrait Of A Perfect Eye Palette

I like myself the least when I'm obsessing something. It starts slow and steady, a passing thought, a random craving. Then it slowly builds in intensity and irritates me endlessly unless I give in to it, or in this case, have it. Sigh. But whatever! Let's discuss another holiday collection, this time from Stila. ^_^

Stila has these awesome gift sets that are pretty good value for the price. Like this box of glosses - you get nine tubes for P1,750! That's basically P195 per lip gloss. Crazy. I love that they are also boxed in mini-sets so you can give two and keep one for yourself. Or the other way around. *medyo evil laugh*

I will review these glosses next time. For now though, I'd like to show you the Portrait Of A Perfect Eye Palette (P850), a neutral eyeshadow compact with gorgeous warm shades. Yes, I'm also surprised that it's only P850 for like six colors! This is precisely the reason you should keep track of holiday collections. Brands often sell some items for slightly cheaper than the average price. ;)

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Digging for the perfect accessories at L'Indochine

The only neck accessory I've been wearing for the last four months is a gold necklace with a heart pendant. My dad gave it to me, so it has sentimental value, but I also love the simple aesthetic of the piece. Lately though, I'm feeling bling-y. I miss having a donya necklace to complement my plain tops!

So I went to the donya paradise: L'Indochine. It's one of my favorite stores in SM Aura, for it sells beautiful home accents, clothing, and accessories with an Asian theme. In fact, the items are sourced from all over the continent. They are also arranged in such a way that makes you feel like you're hunting for The Find, that one special item that you'll cherish for a long time. It's a great visual merchandising tactic, one that drives home the experience of shopping in an exotic flea market.

Photo credit: Toto Labrador, grabbed from The Happy Lab

I love the store's modern ethnic taste. I bought a bag charm and a necklace in L'Indochine before - beautiful items in their own right, but they are also such successful conversation starters! Anyhoo, here are a couple of things I purchased from L'Indochine a week or so ago:

 

This necklace is ostentatious and crazy and I love it. It's kinda pricey at P1,599 but I'm pretty sure I won't find the exact same thing in a tiangge. :P That's the problem with accessories these days - almost everyone sells almost the same thing! I don't mind springing for a statement piece that's fairly hard to find.

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Reader Question: Updated top foundation picks

Hi! Can you please post your top foundation picks as of 2013, particularly ones that are great for our humid weather. Thank you! - CM

Hi CM! Great question. I have a newish rotation of foundations so this is quite timely. ^_^ There's lots of amazing bases but there are only a few that I use regularly. This narrow selection is what I feel matches my skin type (combination-oily) and preference (demi matte to dewy) perfectly. They stay on for a minimum of five to six hours which I think is average for face bases in this tropical humidity.

Here are my current favorite foundations. I wanted to list only five but I didn't want to cut down any more than I already have, hehe. Also I have yet to review two products (the Ellana and Happy Skin ones) in this line-up so you'd have to be contented with a summary. :P The rest, you can find full reviews linked to their names.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Foundation (P2,650). This is my most reliable foundation, ever. It looks great no matter how bad my skin looks, it's photogenic, and lasts all freakin' day. It's a pain to apply unless you have a Beauty Blender. So get a Beauty Blender sponge if you want to maximize this particular base.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Compact (P2,400). And here's the no-fuss version of the liquid foundation. This requires very little blending or layers.

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Sebamed Repair Shampoo

I hate to think of myself as a hair expert because my hair (scalp, too) and I ARE NOT ON THE SAME PAGE. You hear that, hair? You’re a crazy piece of dead skin. Sometimes I feel like I want to shave you off and just wear a wig 4evr. Yes, that’s a threat. You better not forget it.

Anyhoo, I’ve been sticking to only one shampoo for most of this year - Head & Shoulders, so boring I know, but it’s the only one that doesn’t break me out. Every time I try a new shampoo and it seems to not give me pimples I get all excited. Finally, something that doesn’t dry my hair like crazy! Could it be the one? But it never is. 

This time I’m really liking something from a brand that I have tried and enjoyed before - Sebamed. I've reviewed the facial wash and shampoo if you remember! I like Sebamed's products because they're formulated for sensitive skin; they're are gentle while still being effective for babies and adults. Sebamed used to be hard to find before, but now you can spot one in major Watsons branches. There's a prominent display in SM Aura Watsons.

Okay, let's talk about the Sebamed Repair Shampoo. It's meant for dry, stressed, and damaged hair. I don't think of my hair as damaged because I barely style it, but it is very dry and very stressed. The Repair Shampoo helps a ton! It moisturizes, cleans, and softens my hair.

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Bee Merry with Burt's Bees gift sets

Can we just get one thing straight? Everybody, and I mean everybody, needs lip balm. And we don't need just one lip balm. We need at least three, one each in our pocket, desk, and bag. With that universal truth (humor me!) established, allow me to present some of the best stocking stuffers you can give this Christmas: Burt's Bees sets!

Beautiful packaged and thoughfully chosen, these Burt's Bees babies are great to give and receive this season. They're quite inexpensive yet still "branded", so to speak, and yes women (even guys) of all ages would find them useful! You can get the ornament lip balms above for only P325, while the boxed sets range from P650 to P1,250. 

Here are the details plus my suggestions on who you can give these to. ;)

For teens who love fruity sweet scents: Nourishing Lip Balm with Mango Butter (P325)

For your lolo and lola who need to take care of their lips more: Ultra Condition Lip Balm with Kokum Butter (P325)

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Happy Skin Get Cheeky With Me Blush in Summer Fling

Back then, I used to be able to remember exactly what makeup I wore. I never had to take down notes as to what lipstick, eyeshadow, foundation, or lipstick I have on. These days, however, I simply can't seem to remember a lipstick I wore a week ago. :/ Either I'm too distracted or I have too much of the same thing. Or I'm getting older-er?

Anyway! Today I'd like to talk about the Happy Skin Get Cheeky With Me Blush in Summer Fling (P699). What a mouthful amirite? That aside, it's a great blush. It's a coral, glowy shade that stays on for a good five hours!

Shade and finish. I think that everybody needs only two blush shades: one, a petal reddish pink and two, a pinkish coral like Summer Fling. This shade can suit fair to dark-medium skin tones, creating a sunnier, warmer complexion. This has super fine shimmer in it to fake a glow-from-within flush. 

 

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Manicure Mondays: OPI Fit to Be Tied in Russian Navy and Polka.com

Welcome to a new series here at Project Vanity - Manicure Mondays! I've been meaning to post weekly nail polish swatches but can't find the right way to do it, so I took inspiration from Jen of Frmheadtotoe.com. I'll be posting NOTDs every Monday if I have something interesting on!

Today I'd like to feature a Holiday 2013 set from OPI called Fit To Be Tied. This set contains two complementing nail polishes plus a bracelet and two hair ties. Cute! It's a great gift for your manicure-loving friends. ^_^ Or, you know, you can keep them to yourself because you're MFEO.

 

The gift sets come in two other variants (more on that later). What I have here is the Russian Navy & Polka.com. Check out the swatches!

Russian Navy

 

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Eye of Horus Goddess Pencils in Bronze Amulet and Serpentine Sultry

You may have noticed that some of the recent reviews have crappy pictures. It's a sore spot for me lately, ugh. I tinkered with my camera's settings but I didn't notice how shitty the product shots are until I started post-processing them.

I can't stand grainy, blurry pictures on my website. However, I don't have time to shoot them again because (1) the items have been used, (2) scattered around the house and (3) THERE'S A LOT OF THEM. So. Please bear with me while I finish off the last two batches of pictures. I hope you can squint when you look at them.

Feels good to vent!

Moving forward. Here's the latest local development from one of my fave eyeliner brands: Eye of Horus recently launched a bigger selection of products and more retail locations! You can now find EoH in a few Snoe Beauty branches aside from the online store of Glamourbox.

The new products include some eyeshadow palettes, a liquid eyeliner (which I will review separately), and new colors of their best-selling pencil eyeliner. I love it and have already done a full review, so now I'll just show you pictures and swatches of two awesome new shades!

Okay, you know I love colored eyeliner as a quick way to get some color onto my lids, but I know that you're not yet completely sold on the idea. One way to ease yourself into bright shades would be applying subdued, yet beautiful eyeliners that flash a certain way in the right light.

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Gift idea: Literally charmed pieces from Holic Accessories

Do you believe in charms and crystals? I do, in a sense. I don't believe in their purported magical properties that can solve all your problems in a hurry. However, I do think that simply knowing what they are supposed to do can influence our actions. At the very least they remind us how we want our lives to be like. 

I mean, it's hard to forget something when you're wearing it on your wrist or neck, right? For example, if you want to remember to stop freaking out about everything, an amethyst crystal would be a nice accessory!

That's why I think that these charmed accessories from Holic are a nifty gift this Christmas. These are handmade pieces with lucky beads and raw crystals, each with a special meaning. Gift them to the people in your life who need a loving reminder from the stones and by extension, you. ;) Don't forget to include a handwritten letter explaining the meaning of your gift!

Here are a couple of pieces that I have plus their interpretations.

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Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick Eye Palette in Sequin

The Bobbi Brown holiday collection is always a treat to look forward to every season. This year, it didn't disappoint with a beautifully-edited selection of luxurious lip and eye palettes, lip glosses and brush sets for the beauty enthusiast who wants to get - or give - the gift of glam.

(I think I fall under the former category, because Bobbi Brown is too precious to just give away. Haha.)

Quick product details:

So that's what's up. I'll review the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick Eye Palette in Sequin (P2,700), a gift I received from the brand. It's a 10-color palette full of earthy, frosty shades. It's a good mix of cool and warm tones. I know you're thinking though: frosty? What?

 

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