Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Urban Decay All-Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray: Does it Stand a Chance in Humid Metro Manila?

I don't have to tell you that summer in Metro Manila can be such a scorcher. During days when even air conditioning doesn't seem enough, it's sad how a lot of ladies are walking around like oily, cake-y messes. I've been there once or twice and it ain't pretty. My solution has been to wear little to no makeup as possible: just a hint of concealer for the undereyes, brows filled in and then a slick of sheer lipstick. But there are times when makeup is necessary-- for that, I have the Urban Decay All-Nighter setting spray.

The claim:
This groundbreaking formula mists on, ensuring makeup that won't budge for at least 16 hours.  Color dispersing technology keeps makeup even so it always looks just applied. Weightless but powerful, All-Nighter resists moisture and even has a techy cooling ingredient that makes skin look and feel fresh all night long.

Urban Decay All-Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray

Made by Skindinavia! It says so right there

I haven't been using any primers lately, not even on occasions when I need full-on makeup. I just notice that my current foundation and concealer combo (Revlon Colorstay + Cinema Secrets) look more like my real skin without it. My HG primer is currently the Clarins Lisse Minute which is perfect for blurring pores but I don't need that with the Colorstay so I skip it. That means that for staying power, this UD spray is basically the one thing that keeps it all together and it manages to do that pretty well.

UD instructs that this setting spray should be the last step in the makeup routine. A couple of spritzes in a T or X formation ensure that the fine mist covers every inch of the done-up face. For me though, it's actually the next-to-the-last step because it leaves a sheen on the skin which I tame with a dusting of Guerlain meteorites. For best results, make sure that you give the bottle a good shake before spraying.

As soon as I run out, I will be repurchasing for sure. When you've carefully applied makeup, it makes sense to make sure that it stays put for as long as you need it to, right? I might, however, look into other variants such as De-Slick which provides a matte finish, or go for the original Skindinavia ones. After all, UD has apparently just repackaged Skindinavia's formula. A lot of it will depend on what's locally available from online sellers when I've run out. Neither Skindinavia nor UD has direct stockists here in the Philippines.

I've had this 118 ml. bottle for more than a year. I've bought this from CareFree Shopper about a year ago for around P1500 (?) and a little goes a long way. UD has actually changed the packaging since then.

This UD setting spray pretty much plays nicely with most foundations and face bases: liquid and powder foundations, oil-based concealers, BB creams, etc. Be careful though with foundations that tend to oxidize because the spray seems to aggravate that flaw.

Do you use a setting spray or do you feel like it's an unnecessary step in your routine?

Friday, May 2, 2014

My Green Halo haul

So last Holy Week, I blogged that I ordered a couple of natural crystal bracelets From Green Halo. The bracelets arrived and they were so lovely that I couldn't help but order more! And here I was, feeling rather smug because I had gotten better at not spending :)

But (and excuse me for attempting to rationalize here) take a look at these beauties and if you're a crystal lover, you would perfectly understand why:

Green Halo haul! I really only meant to get ONE
Green Halo is turning out to be quite a treasure trove. First of all, their 40% off sale is still ongoing and then, I managed to unearth their year-old picture album of chip bracelets-- would you believe that each strand is only P200?
This is my garnet strand. This was such a surprise! In dim light, it looks like plain dark burgundy but hold it up and it looks like it's on fire!
The idea behind the crystal strands is that you can customize the energies that you need. For example, if you want more business luck you can combine citrine, aventurine and clear quartz. Citrine and aventurine are so-called 'money stones' while clear quartz magnifies the energy of any stone used with it (see Monica, I've been reading up! hahaha). Or, you could wing it and choose what you think looks pretty, like my stacks below:

Black obsidian, garnet and clear quartz

Amethyst, rose quartz and blue lace agate
As usual, each Green Halo order comes with info regarding the energy of your crystals, how to program it, etc. I don't claim to be any expert so if you have questions, don't be afraid to ask Monica. She really knows a lot, plus she mostly deals with the heavy orders like huge natural rocks and druzees for people who really invest in crystals. You'll find her very nice and helpful too.

Aside from the chip bracelets, the rest of my haul are:
Pink calcite and peridot jasper. The color combination is so Lily Pulitzer. Click on the image to get a bigger view and you'll see the slightly gritty surfaces, which really gives it character.


Red coral, black tourmaline and onyx. To be honest, I don't know which ones are onyx and which ones are tourmaline. 
Pardon the picture-heavy post but some Facebook friends were curious about the quality of the stones. Green Halo owner Monica shares that she sources hers from the US, to make sure that they are authentic. In my experience, authentic stones feel so distinct from synthetics; first of all, they feel cold rather than warm (like how a stone floor feels) and they have a certain heft to them.

What are your favorite kinds of accessories? Are you into crystals too?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Guerlain Rouge G Rose Barbare and Gwen-- A Quick Review

I'm one of those who prefer to do away with out-of-the-house retouches for my makeup. I'd rather go the extra steps (primer, layering, Skindinavia finishing spray) than be endlessly worried about fading blush, melting foundation, etc. I draw the line at lipstick though-- I know there are some all-day formulations that are quite popular like OCC Lip Tars, Lime Crime mattenes and Revlon ColorStay liquid lipstick but in my opinion, they don't really last all day unless you don't mind having junky-looking lips. In order to help staying power, those lipsticks need to have less 'slip' and more pigments which basically ends up sucking moisture on the puckers. Plus, they're a pain to take off so unless you bring some makeup remover, you won't get a freshly-applied look when it's time to top up. A friend of mine uses nothing but these all-day formulations and by the end of the day, her lips look like an old woman's, complete with fading color that has considerably settled into the lip lines.
Guerlain Rouge G  in Rose Barbare. This is Limited Edition, I think. Do correct me if I'm wrong.

Packaging-wise, Guerlain Rouge Gs are pretty hard to beat. But I don't know what to do with the case once the lipstick is finished. There's been rumors that Guerlain will start selling refills soon, but then again, that rumors been around for years. 
Guerlain Rouge G in Gwen

These two Guerlain Rouge Gs mostly live in my purse along with a packet of oil-blotting sheets. Rose Barbare is a sheer pink lipstick that gives my lips a very sweet, plump appeal while Gwen is a full-on red for those (rare) days when I'm not in the mood for pink or peach. Locally, Guerlain Rouge Gs retail for P2500 each, but you might be able to score better deals from online sellers like I did. 
Guerlain Rouge G Rose Barbare swatch

Guerlain Rouge G Gwen swatch

To be honest, I mostly bought these for the packaging. I know there are some of you who feel that Rouge Gs are unparalleled but I've tried lipsticks that have the same feel-- not all of them high-end too. Rose Barbare actually reminds me of a Revlon lip butter. But hey, the experience of slipping the lipstick out of its sheath and having that mirror pop up is something that no other brand gives you. I just feel so grown-up whenever I do; retouching is actually a pleasure.

As you can see from the swatches, the Rouge G formula has a lot of moisture. It's the sort of product that a woman might not buy for herself but which she would love to receive as a gift. With Mother's Day coming around, this would be a cool gift idea too.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Anastacia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade in Dark Brown - First Impressions and Swatches

Anastacia Beverly Hills Dipbrow is just the latest must-have brow product that has made its way to cult status. Before I went brow product shopping last week, I had just cleaned out my own makeup stash and realized that while I was perfectly happy with my Elf Brow Kit (I have it in Dark), it's gotten too dark for my recently colored hair (I used the Hortaleza Pro Hair Coloring Creams and will do a review on that later) plus its no longer as creamy since I've had it for more than a year now. Rather than simply picking up another one, I thought I'd go ahead try something new.

Anastacia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade in Dark Brown

I've been hearing a lot of raves for the MUFE Aqua Brow and since me and WB are headed to a week-long stay at the beach next month, I thought it would be nice to get  something long lasting and water resistant. I didn't have the time to schlep over to the MUFE stores down south of the metro and so I turned to online shopping yet again. Long story short, I ended up with the Anastacia Dipbrow Pomade from The Makeup Box (if you are interested in the long version, read the postscript at the end of this post). She sells these for P1200 per pot, not bad considering that a pot of MAC Fluidline, the last time I checked, goes for P1100.

Anastacia Beverly Hills is well known for being the queen brand for brow grooming, from pencils to powders to brushes. The Dipdown Pomade, in particular, is described as:

Waterproof brow color ideal for sculpting, defining, and carving perfectly precise brows that won't fade. Smudge-free, creamy formula glides on skin and adheres to hair. Must-have for oily skin and humid climates. Tighten cap to prevent drying.

Oily skin? Humid climates? Check and check.

I've only had this for a week but as I'm loving it so far. It's too soon to say if I will love it enough to repurchase once it's gone but it's creamy, it applies like a dream and it can last the whole day, surviving the occasional (not too hard) dabbing and swiping near the eye area. It does manage stay on if you run water over it, just don't use soap  :)
This will pretty much stay on my hand for the rest of the day

During the day, it won't smear or fade. I applied the product on my brows and managed to sleep with it on and when I woke up, most of the product was gone so it just looked like my natural brows but slightly darker. They say it doubles as a gel liner and I did try that, and as far as I could tell, it behaves exactly like MAC Fluidlines. As for the color, its pigmented and you do get a minute to clean up if you've made a mistake in application. Dark Brown is a bit darker than I wanted but the cool-toned medium brown will suit most Pinays, I think. You need very little product (just a dip for each brow) if you want to keep it natural. The swatches show how the color can be controlled depending on how much pomade you use.

Overall, I like it and it's highly likely to be one of the products in my staple kikay kit. The only bummer is that this is not locally available (as far as I know).

I just want to say kudos to The Makeup Box for excellent customer service. Like I said above, I ordered the MUFE Aqua Brow initially but when I got it, it had hardened up and separated inside the tube. I informed Mary Ann about this and she promptly told me to just send it back so she can refund. We agreed that I would simply purchase Anastacia Dipbrow instead of being reimbursed. Unfortunately, the dried-up MUFE tube got thrown out from my room so I told Mary Ann that I'm not going to get the refund anymore, since I didn't have a product to return now. Instead of cutting her losses, Mary Ann simply told me to not worry about it, and she still sent me this replacement. Seriously, how awesome is that? It goes without saying that from now on, The Makeup Box will definitely one of my favorite online shops for beauty shopping.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Are you into crystals? Green Halo is having a Facebook sale

If you've read my post about the Farah Abu bangle that I got from AVA, then you already know that I love chunky hand-made jewelry, especially those that feature semi-precious minerals. Green Halo happens to be one of those that I stalk regularly because they do have cool pieces. Green Halo used to be a Zalora vendor but have since pulled out. Luckily, I liked the Green Halo Facebook page before that, so I still saw their inventory on my news feed every now and then.

Yesterday, Green Halo posted an 40% off album, dubbing it their Mother's Day sale (it's on May 11, so better make sure you get your moms something!) and long story short, I saw something that I loved:

Green Halo pink calcite and peridot jasper bangles

I couldn't believe that both bangles were selling for only P690! These are made with pink calcite and peridot jasper. With shipping (P40) plus a 5% surcharge because I opted to pay through Paypal rather than through bank deposit, it still came down to less than eight hundred pesos. Such a steal. If you like it too, the bad news is that I got the last pieces. The good news that there are others just as lovely, like this one made with blue calcite and black tourmaline:
Green Halo blue calcite and black tourmaline bracelet
Just so you know, Green Halo uses natural minerals for their pieces, not synthetics. In fact, when you order something from them, you get info cards telling you how to 'program' the crystals so you can use reap their healing and spiritual benefits. I have to admit that when it comes to crystals, I do wear them primarily for their beauty but hey, if it helps me be more grounded and creative even a little then yay.

The photo above was grabbed from Green Halo's sale album. Since Holy Week non-working holidays have officially started, courier operations will resume next week so I don't have my order just yet.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Shoutout to Single Moms Everywhere

Last July, I wrote this post about an article that I've read about mom who leaves her small children inside the car so that she could buy make-up at Ulta. Some of you commented and expressed horror at such carelessness and I totally agree with you all. Today though, I read about another mother who also did the exact same thing-- and I've got nothing but sympathy.

Shanesha Taylor is mom to a 2-year old toddler and a 6-month old baby. She left them in the car with the car windows cracked open while she went about her own business. But what makes Shanesha's situation very sympathetic to me is that she is a single mom, and her errand was to go on a job interview that would have helped her feed her kids if hired. She couldn't find or afford a babysitter for her kids, and felt that she had no choice but to leave them inside her car. More on this story here.

What resonates with me about this is that I'm often in the same dilemma myself: as a single mom who has to put food on the table, there have been a lot of times when a legitimate work commitment necessitates juggling with child care concerns. Unlike Shanesha though, I count myself very lucky because I live in a culture where child raising is considered more of a village effort rather than a solo/couple gig. I have extended family whom I could rely on (coerce? haha)  to cover the basics on the few times that I've been in a bind, we generally have all-around help who can pinch-hit in an emergency, and I am honestly not above using TV or the iPad to keep the Wonder Boy entertained for a couple of hours. But this is only now that I've been able to breathe more easily, since the WB is already four and has mostly become independent. It was a real train ride when he was two or younger.

My point is that single moms out there have it tough. You worry about everything because here is no one else to share the burden. You worry about the money, about disciplining, about the housework, etc. As far as single moms go, I've been fortunate to be in the situation that I am in and I am so grateful for that everyday.

So my takeaway from Shanesha is that maybe it's time for us to be more sympathetic to a single mom who's doing her best. As for me, there's this single mom I know who takes in laundry and does odd jobs around the neighborhood to help make end meet. The next time I see her, I think I'll give her a small amount of money and arrange for a Jollibee dinner for her and her brood. And while I'm at it, I'm getting myself a treat too.

And let me share something that I saw on Facebook:

It's a holiday here in the Philippines today. How are you spending your time off?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Zoya Magical Pixie Dust in Lux Review

It's definitely shiny. WB actually called it 'fabulous'--- and I have to agree.

Zoya Magical Pixie Dust in Lux, a rose quartz sparkle (Click on images for a larger view)
I love Zoya Pixie Dusts (especially Stevie) and for the past six months. They're sparkly, they don't need base coat or topcoat, and when they get dinged up or a bit dull, you just swipe on another coat if you can't redo your nails for that day. So when I saw US nail bloggers posting about the latest collection a few weeks ago, I just knew I had to have at least one. Other than Lux, which Zoya describes as a rose quartz sparkle, the Magical Pixie Dust collection for Spring 2014 also includes two more: Vega (blue opal sparkle) and Cosmo (silver crystal sparkle). 

My pictures don't nearly show just how awesome these are, and you can head over to Polish Hound and Manicurator to see the whole collection swatched but let me just tell you about what Lux was like for a rookie nail polish lover. Some of the blogs reported that this collection was harder to apply than the other Pixies but for me, it was simple enough.

The first coat is not really that rough but for the second (and third ones) you might want to do a dabbing technique because the formula is a little thicker and tends to drag. But you don't really need to push the glitters around-- it's chockful of sparkly, pretty bits with some larger hex-shaped ones thrown in. When it dries, it's really textured and I imagine it would snag on pantyhose but you can smooth it a little bit by laying a coat of Seche Vite on top.

This glitter is hungry though, so even with a top coat it will still be textured. Plus, a single layer won't really change the appearance that much. This is currently my favorite nail polish, because it makes my hand look really dainty in a glitzy sort of way. And I do love sparkle and blingy things every now and then.

Like my other Zoyas, I bought mine at Polish Please! for P425 plus shipping.

April Fool's Day prank: The "magic potion" that will turn into treasure

I'm planning to stay away from social media today, just because I expect that a lot of people will be trying to post something outrageous in the spirit of April Fool's. Sadly, I don't know a lot of witty boys and girls so for the most part, these pranks are going to be mostly lame (i.e.I'm pregnant! joke, hahaha).

I have, however, been plotting a prank of my own for the Wonder Boy (WB), to start off something which I hope will be a playful tradition between us for the years to come. Earlier today, I've arranged for him to anonymously receive a package containing a vial of "magic" potion, and a set of simple instructions which he can read and follow all by himself. Long story short, he'll have to pour the potion into a bowl and then take a nap to 'activate' the magic that will turn the potion into treasure.

Between you and me, the potion is simply some diluted food coloring and the treasure will turn out to be a bowlful of candy, chocolates and small toys. The best part is that when he gets a bit older, he'll figure it out eventually-- and hopefully it'll turn into a fond childhood memory down the road.

Do you have any loving traditions-- April Fool's or otherwise -- that you've started for your kids?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Away from the Madding Crowds: The Perfect Weekend at Nagsasa Cove, Zambales

I hate travelling but somehow, I found myself heading out of the city once or twice a year ever since I had a kid. As much as possible, I've limited the stress by scheduling hotel staycations more often than not, or by travelling with other family members. As it so happens, my son has been bugging me for a swimming trip ever since last year and while I've managed to fob him off with swimming lessons and the odd hotel stay or two, he's been craving for a real beach camping experience. And we found that in Nagsasa Cove, Zambales.
I've been driving myself crazy figuring out how to pull this off when luckily, my google searchings led me this blog which shared an awesome, hassle-free beach camping experience via the Gone Wild Campers (GWC) group. For a flat fee per head, they'll take care of van transportation to and from Manila-Nagsasa Cove, pack everything you need AND fix the food for you. The last is especially important; I didn't want to go all the way to the idyllic paradise that was Nagsasa Cove only to subsist on canned food. I read the travel guide they had up at their website, verified that all I needed to do was to basically just show up, and proceeded to get all excited and feel very adventurous.

There are already a lot of blogs detailing the beauty and the simplicity that is Nagsasa: no electricity, no cellphone signals, and no other way in or out of the island except via the boats or the mountain hiking trail so I would leave it at that. However, let me just give you a quick Kikay Mom rundown on this trip.

Is it doable with a small child?
Yes, very, especially since we went via private van which drove us directly at the Pundakit jump-off point where you take a 45-minute boat ride to get to the cove itself. If you were doing this DIY, you would normally take a bus to get to Iba, Zambales and then ride a jeep and a tricycle to actually get to the shore where the boats for hire are docked. I didn't need to deal directly with the boatmen since everything was taken care of in true GWC style but I have read that a boat which could fit 10-15 people goes for P1500 to P2500 depending on negotiations.
This is in Pundakit. Pundakit in itself is quite a popular beach spot, with its share of tourists and cheap lodging areas. Surfing is definitely doable, as you can see, because of the waves but at the risk of sounding like a snob, it's not for me. Why bother to go out of the city only to end up with the crowds, the grime, and the noise?
I would, however, strongly recommend that you bring a quality child-sized jacket just because the ones provided on the boats are ill-fitting, not to mention a bit weathered. The route between Pundakit and Nagsasa Cove is not really that isolated so even if the boat should somehow capsize (not that I've heard of any incidents recently) you can probably be rescued within minutes but you want to make sure that your kid can keep safely afloat. I'll sound a bit preachy here, but travelling with kids is a lot of responsibility and it pays to err on the side of caution.
This is towards the front of the camping areas. See the pine-like agoho trees? 
Is the food good?
It definitely was; for me, beach food is grilled food and we had our fill in the two days that we were in Nagsasa. Definitely no complaints on that score, especially since I didn't lift a finger to prepare any of it. We even had an evening bonfire with marshmallows and chocolates, which the Wonder Boy definitely loved.
These boys kept us well-fed for two days.

Sleeping in a tent, even without pillows or mattresses, was surprisingly comfortable because the sand was fine and not pebbly. It was a bit like sinking into a memory foam cushion that didn't spring back up. We just used a sarong for a sheet, and another one for a blanket and we had a perfectly good nights' rest.
No matter how careful you are, sand WILL get inside your tent. The GWC boys showed me how to de-sand the inside of the tent (it involves going inside the tent and putting it on its side) and when I did it, the other tour mates thought our tent was being carried off in the wind and hurried over to rescue me.

Here's me (I'm the one holding a coffee cup) with some of the tour mates. Since it was just me, my kid and little sister, we were joiners on this tour. These guys are from JP Morgan and Chase, out on a team bonding weekend. I didn't really mind being on this trip with them although we were, for all practical purposes, the 'outsiders' because they were so friendly and welcoming especially with the Wonder Boy.

So what's there to see in Nagsasa? Since our campsite was basically in the middle, to the right lay the mountain trail (which was sadly closed for visitors during our stay) and the picturesque rocky area of the beach. 

To the left lies the river, and since it was summer, the water was not as high as it could be. It did reach up to the waist after the far bend though. My boy was all about playing in the waves and digging in the sand so we didn't really stay that much on the river side.

I don't have any pictures of the bathrooms but it was decent enough. They were concrete and tile enclosures with a toilet bowl and running water but that's it. You'll have to hang your towel on makeshift bamboo rods and bring a candle or a flashlight at night.

Nagsasa Cove is beautiful, no doubt about it, but I can already see it being slowly ruined by irresponsible travellers. All along the beach are cigarette butts and plastic packs of junk food, discarded bottles and other trash. When my kid and sister woke up early in the morning, we headed over to the rocky beach area to bum around before lunch and on the 10-minute walk there, we collected a big bag of trash by just picking up whatever was right in front of us. It's sad how idiotic people are sometimes.
See this wide expanse of beach that we had all to ourselves? I expect it will change in April and May and we are definitely glad to have gone before then.

We definitely want to come back to Nagsasa Cove. Other than the trash, there is just beauty everywhere. And at night, there are no city lights so you get to lie down on the beach and gaze at the stars, if that's your thing. I did that with my kid for about five minutes, then we went back inside the tent and I pulled out my Kobo while he played with his iPad until he feel asleep.

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