My Skin Care Routine: 2019 Edition

A year ago, I had really bad skin.

My face was irritated and inflamed, with red pulsing cystic acne all over my cheeks. I could barely leave the house and my self-esteem took a serious hit.

To fix my skin, I did three things:

  • Drop chemical exfoliants and other potential irritants like retinol
  • Switch to a thick, reparative balm like La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5
  • Get regular laser treatments and facials to speed up skin decongestion and acne mark reduction

Without these three steps, I never could have gotten my skin back to a healthy default, and I most definitely would not be getting away with the minimal skin care routine I have right now.

I’m telling you this because I want to be realistic. I don’t want to be that bitch who credits her good skin to just 8 glasses of water and a moisturizer, because that would be a straight up lie.

I can’t drop this 4-step skin care routine without context, you know? It just wouldn’t be right.

With that lengthy introduction out of the way, let’s get to it.

Heimish All Clean Balm

If you still don’t know by now, let me tell you: double-cleansing is a game changer.

Your facial wash isn’t enough, especially if you’re coming home with a full face of grimy makeup. An entire day of oils, dirt, pollution, etc and you expect your cleanser to get that all off with one wash? Delusional.

There are many options to choose from for your first cleanse. You’ve got wipes, micellar water, oils, and more. I prefer oils and balms because I find them a lot gentler (no tugging) and easier to use.

Heimish All Clean Balm is a boring little thing, but boring can be good when it comes to skin care. It gets the job done, and that’s all there is to it.

IMG_1438

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

I don’t care what people say: Cetaphil works great and I will use it till the end of time. It’s cheap, it’s gentle, and it’s effective — I have nothing else to ask for.

I know people don’t like Cetaphil’s cleansers for a myriad reasons, but it works for me and I’m not about to mess up a good thing.

(Besides, I’m a serious Cetaphil groupie.)

Weleda Calendula Face Cream

As with most beauty-related things in my life, I discovered Weleda through Into the Gloss.

I started out with the infamous Skin Food but it was just a tad bit too thick for me. I use a tiny bit on my arms if I’m feeling a little extra dry and I can still use it as a sleeping mask if I want to, but it just isn’t the everyday moisturizer I was looking for.

So I switched to the Calendula Face Cream. Yes, the one from the baby line.

Let me start off by saying that yes, it contains alcohol, and yes, it has fragrance — two things that I’ve always been wary of. The good news is that this moisturizer doesn’t irritate my skin at all, and I have to concede that the calendula scent is at least nice and calming.

Weleda Calendula Face Cream spreads easily and absorbs quickly, isn’t sticky, and doesn’t leave me looking weirdly shiny. It makes me look all healthy and glowy, which is all I really want in a moisturizer.

Wink Laser Studio SPF50 Sunscreen

I spent a long time without sunscreen because I simply couldn’t find one that agreed with my skin. Most of the sunscreens I’ve come across are either too oily or too white, and more often than not they straight up refused to play ball with makeup.

When I went in for laser treatments at Wink Laser Studio, they made it clear that sunscreen was a non-negotiable. You could seriously mess up your skin if you go in for laser treatments then spend the next day under the sun with zero protection.

So I picked up their store-brand sunscreen (the same one they use on all clients) and it was fine. It wasn’t anything spectacular and smelled a little weird, but it didn’t clog my pores or break me out, so I stuck with it.

But then. This month they came out with a new version — one with SPF50 coverage. It goes on super smooth, has no weird smell, and dries down to a semi-matte powder finish. On really good days I can get away with just this and no base makeup.

I swear, this sunscreen is so good I simply cannot imagine anything better. I use a lot all the time (all the way down my neck, of course) and my greatest fear is that Wink will run out or discontinue it and I’ll never find anything as good ever again.

Maybe I should head out and get a couple of backups, just in case.

And that’s pretty much how I feel about all of the products in my current skin care routine. I don’t want to run out, I don’t want to switch, and I can see myself sticking to them for a long time.

I guess that’s when you know it’s real, right?

The best part is that all of these things are relatively affordable, especially when compared to the stuff I used to buy. SK-II, anyone?

I’m gonna try and keep this happy equilibrium going for as long as I can, but it would be super fun to check in about 6 months from now to see if I still have the same routine. Stay tuned.

Summer Must-Haves When You Don’t Like Summer

Summer is here, and I hate it.

I don’t like the beach, I don’t like swimming, and I sure as hell don’t like the sun.

It’s a little problematic if you live in a tropical country like I do.

See, you’re not just dealing with the oppressive heat; you’re dealing with unrelenting humidity. It ruins your hair, your makeup, and your day, leaving you looking like that poor dumb Nazi bastard at the end of Raiders.

The good news is that I now have a trusty arsenal of summer favorites to make this horrendous weather a lot more bearable, at least until the rainy season rolls around in a couple of months.

Life in monsoon Asia — what a blast.

Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint

There’s really no point in wearing a full face of makeup in this weather.

Admit it: your makeup will never look as fresh as it did this morning. The traffic situation in Metro Manila would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic, and there’s no way your face beat will survive both the summer heat and the MRT.

Avoid makeup meltdown by sticking to a light base and then doing pinpoint concealing as necessary. Glossier’s Skin Tint barely has any coverage, but it does have a blurring effect that helps blur out blemishes and texture.

I also find that the dewy finish keeps me looking healthy and glowing throughout the day, even when my nose inevitably oils up.

BLK Cosmetics Creamy All-Over Paint in Peony

I have naturally flushed cheeks, which sounds cuter than it really is. I’m not talking about that girly peach-pink hue that offers a youthful glow. No. The tiniest amount of exertion leaves me bright red, like an elderly Maru-chan.

Fighting the redness in this heat is an uphill battle that I’m not prepared to face, so I’ve completely given up. You know what they say, right? If you can’t beat them, pick a blush that enhances that natural flush and just run with ’em.

Catchy.

BLK’s Creamy All-Over Paint in Peony perfectly mimics my natural flush, so a few dabs on the apples of my cheeks gives me that healthy and vibrant post-workout glow. (A magnificent lie, to be honest. I always look like I’m two sets of Russian twists away from death after I exercise.)

I have to use a light hand with Peony, though, otherwise I’ll quickly go from sun-kissed to sun-stroked.

Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer in Inda Sun

Here’s the tea: I didn’t buy this for bronzing; I bought it to contour.

For the longest time, I thought I wouldn’t ever need to mess with contouring, because I’m not a Kardashian and don’t plan to be one anytime soon. But then I saw Tiffany Young’s Vogue video and it was a lightbulb moment.

Like most people of East Asian descent, I have a flat face. I normally don’t mind so much but when I apply base makeup, there’s always a tendency towards exacerbating that flatness, which looks unnatural.

Watching Tiffany’s video, I finally understood that contouring isn’t about that overly chiseled Instagram look; it’s about adding dimension!

The trick, really, is in finding the right shade. Too warm and you could end up orange; too cool and you could end up grey. Thankfully, Inda Sun is the perfect neutral-warm shade that fits my complexion exactly.

I lightly brush the bronzer along the perimeters of my face (but not the forehead, because mine is tiny as it is) to minimize the overall flatness. For added dimension, I apply a little more along the jawline and right under my cheekbones.

Voila, I am 3D.

It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s efficient — especially during hot summer days when I want maximum impact with minimal effort.

Batiste Original Dry Shampoo

The battle against humidity is no joke, at least as far as my hair is concerned. I could shower in the morning, leave my hair untouched for a couple hours, and still find it flat and Snape-y by mid-afternoon.

No one wants to be Snape, just so you know.

So I finally found a dry shampoo that I don’t hate! That’s major. I’ve tried a lot of them, but this one from Batiste works best for me. It isn’t too smelly, it doesn’t look weird and it doesn’t make my hair stiff. It doesn’t lead to unnecessarily weird tangles, either.

I know they have a smaller travel version, but I only have the huge one so I just stick it in my gigantic bag and tote it around as insurance.

What are your summer must-haves?

(No seriously, I am constantly looking for better tools to manage this goddamn heat. Send help.)


Photo by Kent Pilcher on Unsplash

Yes, You Need A Facial

The first time I got a facial was maybe 15 years ago. I had just started working, I had a bit of money, and I figured, why not spend it on my face?

It was some random facial center; I can’t even remember the actual name now. They had a few treatments on offer, but the attendants at the time had no training in performing extractions, so we skipped the manual pricking and just went with some hokey oxygen-based treatments that I didn’t fully understand.

(By hokey I mean they actually hooked me up to an oxygen tank with that nose tube thing — I don’t know why or what for. And a small cockroach scuttled past while I was waiting for the oxygen treatment to end.)

My skin definitely felt cleaner, but all in all — nothing happened. I decided that facials were a bunch of bull and I was better off trying to figure things out on my own.

Until last Monday, that is.

See, I’ve been doing these laser facial treatments at Wink Laser Studio, and I am beyond happy with the results. The treatments got rid of my blemishes and acne scars, taking me from full coverage foundation to just a bit of concealer in ten sessions. Worth it.

I did, however, still have some congestion around my nose and on my cheeks. My nurse at Wink recommended getting a facial just to eliminate these clogged pores and further improve my skin condition.

It took a lot of research before I finally settled on Glow Skin Clinic. I have to admit it was their Instagram account that first caught my eye. Pretty visuals work, what can I say?

glowskinclinic

It did bother me that they didn’t have their own website, though. (Edit: their website is now up and running. Hooray!) I had to go through their IG highlights to find the services they offer. There’s also the confusion with their prices. The HydraFacial, for example, is listed as Php3,500 on their IG and Facebook, but that’s only if you get the package (so Php3,500*5). A solo session costs Php4,500.

At first I just wanted to get the regular facial, but I saw the HydraFacial and figured my face could use a hydration boost. All the services offered by Glow Skin Clinic include the regular facial plus a specific treatment like Clear + Brilliant, Oxylight, etc.

We started with cleansing and a facial massage — a great start to any facial, as you probably know. I don’t enjoy massages that much and I know the aesthetician could feel just how tense I was, but I did like having my face cleansed thoroughly. It’s so relaxing, having someone else remove every inch of dirt and grime after a long day at work.

And then the steam machine appeared. I knew the extraction was imminent, and I briefly wondered if I should ask her to skip the manual pricking. Glow Skin Clinic has the BT-Micro wand to gently exfoliate, which is great if you have sensitive skin or if you just want to keep your session relaxing and chill. (Because, as you know, pricking is decidedly not chill.)

I figured I’d be brave for once, though, since the entire point of me going to get a facial was to clean out my pores properly this time. I did tell the aesthetician that I had sensitive skin and could turn red at the drop of a hat, just to warn her in advance.

Of course it was painful. That’s the entire thing with extractions. The good news is that the aesthetician was able to cleanse thoroughly without getting too aggressive, and I managed to leave the place with minimal redness. Magic. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

With the extraction part out of the way, we could finally get to the actual star of the show: the HydraFacial. According to Allure:

It’s a medical-grade hydra-dermabrasion device that carries out a patented three-part regimen — cleansing, exfoliating, and then infusing skin with intensive serums.

The machine uses several different tips, depending on what it wants to do. There’s one for exfoliating and suctioning out congestion, and there’s another for infusing the skin with customized boosters that target specific concerns.

I didn’t get to choose my boosters, but that’s perfectly fine with me. I wouldn’t really know what to get anyway.

We began with GlySal — a combination of glycolic acid and salicylic acid. It scared me, to be honest. I had just gotten an extraction, and now chemical exfoliants? But the aesthetician didn’t keep it on my skin for long and the concoction was neutralized with water after less than a minute.

Next she used the wand to gently exfoliate and cleanse my skin further. I think it sucked up whatever congested stuff didn’t get cleared out during the extraction.

Finally, the boosters. I got Britenol: a mix of arbutin and vitamin C to target dark spots and brighten (duh) the skin. I also got HydraFacial CTGF to fight fine lines and wrinkles.

The aesthetician ended the session with a nice, soothing layer of anti-inflammatory cream followed by a thick helping of their moisturizer. The entire experience was just… wonderful.

I felt relaxed (despite my general aversion to massages) and cleansed and fresh and despite the initial pain of pricking, I still found the facial very soothing and calming. I was asked not to wash my face for 6 to 8 hours, which I did rather grudgingly. I didn’t want to mess up the effects of the facial, you know.

I woke up with no redness (okay, maybe a few spots) and very clean skin. For the first time in a long time, I could touch my face and not feel any bumps. It’s been five days and my skin still looks really good.

I do have a couple of small bumps on my forehead and on my right cheek today. Nothing too awful or obvious, though. I had been worried about purging, but that didn’t happen so I’m super chuffed.

All in all, my experience at Glow Skin Clinic was A+. To sum up: here’s everything I love about them (in no particular order):

  • The aesthetician was thorough but not aggressive in doing the extraction.
  • The aesthetician listened and took my warning seriously when I said I had sensitive skin and wanted to avoid redness. (She added red light therapy to help with skin healing and to tone down redness, specifically because it was one of my concerns.)
  • The place is clean and bright but not clinical or intimidating.
  • The price seems expensive at first, but it’s super worth it given the level of service
  • They have iced tea so you can chill while waiting and it is super delicious. (There are two other flavors to try on my next visit!)

glowskinjuice

Will I be back? Of course. Do you know how magical it is to find an aesthetician who knows how to treat your skin the way it needs to be treated? I might not go for the HydraFacial next time, though. I’d like to try something else like their Signature Facial or the famous Clean + Brilliant.

Their juice, too, of course. I’ll be back for the juice.


All images from Glow Skin Clinic

I Found The Best Body Wash For Sensitive Skin

I’ve tried a few dozen different body cleansers over the years, but I never liked any of them.

It’s not that I have impossibly high standards. All I’ve ever really wanted was to smell like a delicious pastry after showering.

Unfortunately, my skin is so dramatic it can’t handle anything with fragrance. Even good old harmless vanilla can leave my skin red and scaly, especially during eczema season.

I’ve tried a few cleansers made specifically for sensitive skin, but none of them really worked for me. Dove bar soap is a classic, for example, but it leaves a layer of “grease”, I feel, so I never feel truly clean after using it.

I’ve dabbled in shower oils, too, which are great at first but never quite hit the mark. L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil comes closest to perfection because it smells wonderful and isn’t straight up drying. Even so, I can only use it for a few days before my arms and legs start getting scaly again.

(At this point I should address the elephant in the room: lotion. Obviously, things would be a lot easier if I just used lotion, but that’s a whole other thing to address. I’ll need something fragrance-free and very, very moisturizing, which is a burden in this weather. Besides, I feel like getting a body wash that doesn’t aggravate my skin is an important task in and of itself. So here we are.)

The good news is that I’ve finally found something that works for me. I feel like I’ve been singing the gospel of this body wash to people who don’t really care, but that hasn’t stopped me.

Anyone who’s ever dealt with the nightmare that is eczema knows that getting the right body care products can be a challenge. Listen, fellow eczema sufferer: this entire post is for you.

Without any more chit-chat, I present to you: Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash.

cetaphil

Not the baby wash, to be clear. Don’t get it twisted. I tried that one and it didn’t wow me at all.

This is a new body wash (new to the Philippines, at least) and it’s the answer to all my sensitive skin prayers.

  • It’s fragrance-free. Fragrance additives can be really bad for sensitive skin, so it’s absolutely wonderful that this cleanser is fragrance-free. Even so, it has a sort of clean non-scent that I really like.
  • It’s very thick but lathers up easily. The texture of this body wash is wonderful! It almost feels like you’re applying lotion all over your body, which is obviously incredibly soothing. Then you add a little water to lather up.
  • It leaves no weird film after showering. The cleanser washes off easily in the shower, and you never feel like there’s a layer of grease left behind. We’re not looking for squeaky clean, of course, but actual clean is a good start.
  • It doesn’t leave skin dry. Okay, here’s the testimonial part of this program. I’m by no means an expert, so all I can really tell you is what it has done for my skin. See, I normally have very dry and scaly upper arms. Same thing goes for my lower legs. Ever since I started using this body wash, though? Gone. My skin isn’t baby smooth like it would be if I actually used lotion, but it isn’t dry and scaly anymore, either.

It’s a little more expensive at Php668, but I don’t mind because it’s a huge bottle and obviously my skin adores it. The one major con is that it’s hard to find. I had to go to three different supermarkets before I finally found it.

Next up: finding the best fragrance-free, eczema-friendly body lotion. Any suggestions?


Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Cover Girl: My Guide to Concealers

The thing about good skin days is that they don’t last.

Fine, fine. Yes, I’m being melodramatic. It’s just that I had a nasty breakout… right before a family gathering. Those evil little buggers know exactly when to make a grand entrance, don’t they?

Ugh.

The thing about my breakouts is that they tend to be of the cystic kind. I don’t have acne-prone skin most of the time, but when my skin gets clogged, it gets clogged. I get one or two pimples that are just huge and red and pulsing, like neon signs for the seedy bars along Kalayaan.

Still ugh.

My first instinct — and I guess this is probably true for most people who aren’t makeup artists — is to cover everything up. I want to reach for the most opaque of foundations and just paint my face blank.

Honestly though, that only makes things worse. Painting a thick layer of foundation is never flattering, and will only make you look weird and unnatural. It’s the exact opposite of what you want.

Instead, stealth is the key. Sleight of hand, my babies — we will vanish those pesky pimples with magic.

Or maybe not magic, but the right concealer.

See, I know you’ve seen the wide variety of concealers available on the market. You’ve got creams and liquids and sticks and tubs and pens and wands and, well, you get the point.

Figure out the right tool for the job, and those ugly buggers are no match for your makeup skills. Let this be a short and sweet guide.

Dark Circles

All those Youtube tutorials and Instagram influencers have made highlighting under the eyes a thing, but if you’re dealing with dark circles, applying a lighter concealer without correcting first will absolutely make your eyebags look gray. Not cute.

Depending on the color of your dark circles, you may or may not want to get into correctors first. I have brownish dark circles (others have noticed blue-ish or purple under eyes) so I can get away with a concealer that’s just a tiny bit peachier than my actual skin tone.

Even so, I prefer using a combination: Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid in Peach + Glossier Stretch Concealer in G11. I have to make sure I apply a light layer of both, though, so the end result isn’t thick and cake-y.

You can even add a brightening concealer, especially on the small grooves near your nose. Remember that you highlight to bring the area forward, so a bit of glow under your eyes can brighten the sunken parts and make you look more wide awake.

A final note for anything near the eyes: never use anything dry or matte! A thick, opaque concealer has its uses, but it will only make your undereyes look old and crepe-y. The Glossier Stretch Concealer is a little oily, which makes it an excellent choice for the eye area.

If you’re worried about the concealer melting off by mid-day, you can set with just a small amount of powder before leaving the house.

Redness

So let’s say you’ve got super ruddy cheeks, or a smattering of old acne marks that are healed and flat but won’t just straight up disappear. It doesn’t mean you have no choice but to use foundation!

Liquid concealers are best for this kind of job, because they’re easier to spread and can be sheered out to cover larger areas without getting too thick and obvious. You can just dot a few dabs on the area then sheer out carefully until you get the coverage you want.

Two of the best liquid concealers I’ve tried are NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer and Fenty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer. Both offer great color options, medium coverage, and smooth texture. I find that using a Beauty Blender (or whatever sponge you prefer) works best for applying light and thin layers.

Pimples

Ah, the scourge. I know I’m not supposed to be too bothered by pimples, but I am. I can’t help it. I see those pimples on my face and I can’t stop worrying about them. It really messes with my head, and sometimes I get a little obsessed.

No matter. I now have a bullet-proof solution for covering up even the ugliest of these pimples. Sure, they’ll be visible if they’re bumpy, but the right concealer can make them just a tiny bit less obvious.

First up: never use a creamy or brightening concealer. The Glossier Stretch Concealer is excellent for brightening the undereyes, but it can only make cystic pimples a lot more noticeable. Remember what we said about bringing things forward by highlighting?

So you want a matte concealer instead. It’s a visual trick, really. Matte makes it just a little bit less visible.

Second, you want something that’s straight up opaque. No medium coverage bullshit here! For really angry and red pimples, you need a concealer that can cover those bad boys up with one layer so you can keep it looking “natural”.

Finally, you need something that stays put the entire day. No one has time to keep retouching, you know. But where exactly do we find this perfect concealer?

Makeup Forever Full Cover Extreme Camouflage Cream exists and it is magical.

To think I almost gave up on it! I thought I could use it like regular concealers, applying with a finger and dabbing it all over my face. Wrong. To get this concealer right, you have to use the right tool for the job.

Here’s how I use it:

  • Small amount squeezed out on the back of my hand
  • Zoeva Concealer Buffer Brush picks up a small amount
  • Dab a little on the back of my hand to make sure I don’t pick up too much concealer
  • Dab lightly on and around the pimple I’d like to cover
  • Buff the edges if necessary

That’s it! I find that if I apply a light enough layer, I won’t have to really set the concealer. I do dab a bit of powder on the area if I want extra assurance.

Can you get away with just one concealer for everything? Sure, if you don’t have really dark circles or if you don’t have a lot to cover. If you want to be excellent at finessing your base, though, having a number of concealers to choose from is definitely perfect for your needs.


Photo by Karly Jones on Unsplash

Kilay Clash: Glossier Boy Brow vs Sunnies Face Lifebrow Grooming Gel

Before we start, take a second to look at that picture of me on the right hand side of your screen. Look at my brows.

I have good, thick brows. Slightly unruly, but definitely the sort of brow that seems to be popular right now.

Thank goodness they survived the 90s. That’s largely due to my mom’s absolute obsession with tradition, which holds that unmarried women are not supposed to tweeze, pluck, or shave their brows.

It was such an annoying thing back then, given that I had really bushy brows when everyone in the 90s tweezed theirs into oblivion, but it’s obviously a wonderful thing in hindsight. Thank you, mom. Thank you, weird Chinese tradition.

So now why do I even bother with brow gels? I like having nice, natural brows but they can get a little unruly sometimes. I trim the underside occasionally, or if I feel like it’s moving away from thick to actual thicket.

Glossier Boy Brow is one of the most life-changing beauty products on the planet because it grooms and really gets those fine hairs to show up, so you get that runway model brow without a lot of effort. That said, I don’t like having to ship the products through a third party, as it needlessly complicates my life and it probably isn’t very good for the environment.

So I decided to try out Sunnies Face Lifebrow Grooming Gel. It’s local and it’s inexpensive — two things that I am decidedly very into.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how we ended up with this comparison post. But first, the tale of the tape:

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 6.05.08 PM

Statistics are only half the battle, though, so we move on the crux of this post: can the Lifebrow actually replace my Boy Brow for good?

Packaging

It’s no secret that the Sunnies Face owners took a lot of inspiration from Glossier, and it definitely shows — especially in the packaging department. That said, I don’t understand why the handle for Lifebrow has to be that long? It’s not really serving anybody, and we could do just fine with a shorter one.

Wand

When it comes to brow gels, you want a wand that will grab even the tiniest eyebrow hairs. Precision is key!

Both brands offer excellent wands. Glossier’s is short but a little wider, while Sunnies Face has a wand that’s thin and tall. With these wands, applying the product on the brows is a lot easier and takes very little effort. You don’t have to worry about smudges, either.

Color

Boy Brow comes in Clear, Blonde, Brown, and Black. Lifebrow is available in Ash Brown and Warm Brown. (I use Black and Warm Brown, respectively.)

Black can get pretty intense, especially if I’m a bit heavy-handed. The color really does show up. Warm Brown, though, isn’t as visible. This probably isn’t a fair comparison, because clearly I have dark brows and Warm Brown won’t be as obvious on them. I don’t know if Lifebrow is coming out with new shades in the future, but it looks like they really are going for something a bit more muted.

The Actual Product

The most crucial difference between Lifebrow and Boy Brow? Lifebrow Grooming Gel isn’t enough to recreate that Boy Brow finish.

Boy Brow grabs the brow hairs and thickens them, so you look like you have thicker brows. I don’t have to use a pencil to fill in the gaps, I just brush my brows and go.

With Lifebrow, it looks like you really need the matching pencil if you want that thicker finish. To be fair, the brand does sell them as a duo, and nowhere in their product literature do they say that their brow gel volumizes or thickens.

It does work great if you just want something to fluff up your brows and give them hold. Lifebrow is no way a one-stop-shop like Boy Brow, though.

Conclusion

Glossier’s Boy Brow remains undefeated, and I may have to keep ordering it for the foreseeable future. That said, I could get the matching Lifebrow pencil and see if it works out better. It’s just that I’ve never used an eyebrow pencil (don’t really need to), but it might just be the missing ingredient to take Lifebrow grooming gel to the next level.


Photo by A L L E F . V I N I C I U S Δ on Unsplash

A Recipe For Glowing Cheeks

Can we please talk about The General’s Daughter?

Local television can get mind-numbingly repetitive most of the time, but this show is different. It’s so good! It’s fast-paced, the story is riveting, and the entire cast is beyond excellent.

I have to admit, though. I sometimes lose track of the story because I get distracted by Angel Locsin’s face. Seriously. Looking that good has to be illegal somewhere.

Her look on the show falls into no-makeup makeup territory — understandable given she portrays a soldier/rebel/all-around badass. Ain’t no time for fancy face beats, you know? In lieu of heavy coverage we get naturally radiant skin, with cheeks that look lit from within.

Magnificent.

I’ve since spent every waking minute wondering how to replicate this angelic look. I’m sure her actual makeup artist has a ton of professional tips and tricks that I’m not privy to, and my version is incredibly pedestrian, but it’s the best I can come up with and it actually works for me.

I’m not saying this recipe will make you look like Angel Locsin, okay? It will, however, make you look like you drink water and eat vegetables and do yoga and have healthy hobbies that don’t involve obsessively analyzing celebrities’ faces on television.

Let’s go.

Get your base right.

It’s not that you have to skip foundation altogether, but I can tell you from experience that a lighter base just works better for this look. I’ve tried this with a full on Fenty face, and though it looks really good (thanks, Fenty Beauty) it won’t give you that natural “no makeup” radiance.

Use a sheer foundation, tinted moisturizer, or skin tint — the important thing here is to let skin look like skin. (Tip: if your favorite foundation is a little too matte or heavy for this look, mix it with facial oil or moisturizer.)

Even on the show, you can sometimes see Angel’s skin texture or minor blemishes peeking through and that’s perfectly fine. It doesn’t diminish her beauty — it makes her look more fresh and radiant.

If you do have some really red spots that you want to cover up, just use a concealer instead of going full face, or color correct the areas that need a little help.

I start with Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer all over the face, let it settle a bit, then color correct my dark circles with Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid in Peach. My skin has gotten a lot better thanks to regular laser facials, but if I get a really bright red spot, I cover up that sucker with Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer.

Stick to cream or liquid blush.

I’m sure professional makeup artists can do just as well with powder, but personally I find cream or liquid blushes much better suited when trying to get a natural blush on your cheeks.

Cream blush is easy to work with, melts into your skin, and you can either diffuse it or build it up to the intensity you want. You won’t look like you blushed; instead you’ll look like you just got back from a run and you’re just perfectly flushed and gorgeous.

I have several cream blushes that I really like. Glossier Cloud Paint is great and definitely lives up to the hype. I also like the NARS Liquid Blushes, but they do require a little more effort to apply.

My current favorite (and the most affordable one at that) is BLK Cosmetics Creamy Cheek Paint. I have 3 of the 4 shades: Strawberry, Apple, and Candy Cane.

It’s very soft and smooth, easy to apply, and the color payoff is bomb. I know some people have compared it to Cloud Paint, but I find the latter more of a gel-cream while Creamy Cheek Paint is… well… creamier.

Word of warning, though: the huge applicator should never touch your face unless you want to have very, very, very bright cheeks. Dab a bit on the back of your hand, tap tap tap a few times before applying on the apples of your cheeks. You can always add more as you go, but scaling blush back is a lot harder.

Set your face with a finishing powder.

One of these days I’m gonna do a more in-depth post differentiating the two, but basically setting powder helps keep your makeup in place, while finishing powder helps to “perfect” your look. Finishing powder blurs your pores, softens up the look of fine lines, adds a bit of glow, etc.

If you have oily skin, you want to lightly set with your favorite setting powder, but dry-skinned people like me can skip that and go straight to the finishing powder.

I am ride or die for Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light, as you may already know, because it brightens up my face and adds a subtle touch of healthy glow without getting too overwhelming. A light dusting all over the face is all I need to get that Instagram filter in real life.

 Apply highlighter. Lots of it.

The secret to beautiful, glowing cheeks? Highlighter, of course!

You may have noticed that I apply finishing powder first before highlighting. That’s because I am extra when it comes to highlighter, and I want it to be the last thing I apply to a finished face so I can really go ham with it.

I’m a fiend for highlighters, and my normal go-to is NARS Highlighting Powder in Fort de France. These days, though, I’ve been experimenting with Sunnies Face Glowboss in Hey, Girl and I am loving it!

It glides so easily on the face and I swipe a little too generously on the cheekbones, tapping slightly to blend the edges. The best thing about this stick highlighter is that it looks wet, so if you’re looking for that glass skin life, this is all you need.

The only thing I don’t like about Glowboss is that it has visible golden flecks, which can really mess with the whole “natural” vibe. Even then, it’s not chunky glitter so it still works.

If you’re feeling a little extra, pop some of the Glowboss on your brow bones, on your temples, and at the center of your eyelids. You’ll look like you take vitamin C regularly and sleep eight hours a day minimum.

Bonus: groom your brows and blur your lips.

Forget Instagram brows and perfectly lined lips. The best part about this “no makeup” makeup illusion is that everything can (and should) be a little off-kilter. Use a pencil to lightly fill the sparse areas of your brows then fluff ’em up with a brow gel or pomade like the legendary Glossier Boy Brow.

I have naturally thick brows so I skip the brow pencil. I just use Boy Brow to brush everything up and make it look like I’ve never met a pair of tweezers in my life.

As for lips? Apply the lipstick of your choice — straight from the bullet — then blur out the edges for a more carefree and natural look. If you prefer lip tints, dab a bit of it on the center of your lips then tap to get a just-bitten flush.

And that’s it! You can of course swap out the products I mentioned for makeup you already own and enjoy, but I highly recommend checking out local brands BLK Cosmetics and Sunnies Face if you’re in the Philippines. They’re relatively inexpensive but have great quality products to offer.


Screenshot from The General’s Daughter via iWant.PH