This Soft Matte Mousse from BLK Cosmetics Is The Absolute Best

Look, I’m not gonna front: I really like Anne Curtis.

One time, a friend and I rode up the escalator just to get a better glimpse of her while she hosted some shampoo event at the mall, then we had to ride back down because our actual destination was on the ground floor.

We may or may not have gone back up and down the escalator a couple more times. Neither of us kept count.

That said, I wasn’t really that keen on BLK Cosmetics at first.

I tend to avoid celebrity beauty brands because most of them just slap some popular person’s mug on a bunch of lipsticks and call it a day. How many times has MAC announced some kind of collaboration only to have the collection fall completely flat?

But then BLK launched its 90s collection, and of course I was interested.

Nothing much piqued my interest, to be honest, but I thought the Soft Matte Mousse sounded interesting. I’m a fiend for lip products, and I’ve tried everything from the dirt cheap to Tom motherfucking Ford. I’ve never tried a lip mousse, though, so I figured, why not give it a shot?

Because these are part of the 90s collection, all the Soft Matte Mousse shades are brown-toned. I picked up Booyah (nude peach) and As If (dusty rose) but skipped Totally because straight up brown just isn’t my best color.

So why do I love this formula so much? Let me count the ways.

The mousse is genius. I initially thought it would be a bit similar to liquid lipsticks, because that’s what it looks like the first time you pull out the wand. The difference becomes immediately apparent the minute you apply the actual product on your lips.

This bitch straight lives up to its name — it’s so soft. It’s lightweight and feels like absolutely nothing when you apply it. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve literally forgotten that I had something on my lips while wearing this.

The finish is beautiful. Because of the mousse formula, this easily fills your lip lines and gives a semi-matte blurry finish that looks pretty natural without sacrificing color. If you hate that cracked butthole look that liquid lipsticks can create, this Soft Matte Mousse will be your new best friend.

Though I wouldn’t call this hydrating, it’s important to note that the formula won’t dry your lips out. Most matte lipsticks require you prep your lips by scrubbing and moisturizing beforehand, but you don’t have to do any of that with this one. I’ve even applied straight to chapped lips and it still looked good.

It’s pretty long-wearing and fades gracefully. In my experience, the Soft Matte Mousse stays on for at least three to four hours or even longer, as long as I don’t wipe my lips aggressively after eating.

It will wear off eventually with regular drinking and talking, but it fades evenly so you don’t get that horrifying ring of crusty color around your lips at the end of the day. I also noticed that this leaves a decent stain, so when I’m lazy I don’t even bother re-applying.

Application tip! The wand is pretty average but it is small enough that it can work with even the thinnest of lips. I find that I get the best possible application when I wipe off the excess (as you do with liquid lipsticks) so you can start with a thin and even layer.

You can get decent color payoff and coverage with just a tiny bit of the Soft Matte Mousse, so working with a small amount lets you get better control and a more consistent application. You can build up to your desired level of intensity, but I find that just a layer or two is enough for me.

There are cons, of course. The shades are limited, currently. I’ve already ordered the holiday colors (Joy and Happy) and I’m pretty excited for that bright red shade! That is, if Shopee will do its job and actually get my stuff to me. Fellow online shoppers, I know you understand me when I say Black Arrow is the woooorst.

Another con: I don’t like the scent. It smells like fake coconut cookies? I don’t know. I am terrible with scents, but this one just smells a little too sickly sweet for me. The good news is that the scent doesn’t really stay and it doesn’t taste gross, so I really only have to deal with the smell while applying.

What else? Well it hasn’t made me look like Anne Curtis yet, so that’s disappointing.

Seriously, though, this Soft Matte Mousse is one of those things that I think is an absolute must-have. It’s great for people who love makeup, obviously, but it’s also an excellent choice for people who find lip products intimidating.

It’s easy to use, isn’t too in your face, and gives just the right amount of pop to brighten any look. If you’re wondering what to get your friends — or yourself — for Christmas, the BLK Cosmetics Soft Matte Mousse is just 349 pesos each.

Definitely worth it.


Featured image by BLK Cosmetics

I Lasered My Face And So Should You

Here’s the thing: you know how celebrities love to talk about their “minimalist” skin care routines and low effort beauty?

Fuck that.

Fuck all of that.

I’ve finally figured it out.

See, earlier this year, my face decided to be a bitch and mess up my otherwise uneventful life. My face was red, raw, and sensitive to just about everything under (and maybe above, I don’t know) the sun.

It was a disaster.

I know I sound dramatic, but I swear, my face was just absolutely on fire all the damn time. Everything set it off. My cheeks were red and inflamed with huge pustules pulsing underneath the surface. It hurt to smile, physically and emotionally.

Nothing I used was working. I even went to see my regular dermatologist and used prescribed topical medicine, but it only made things worse.

Eventually, I got tired and just figured I’d ride the entire horrendous journey out and see where it took me. I held off on all potential irritants and later on found great skin care that helped heal my face.

But then here’s the problem: I simply couldn’t get rid of the acne marks. Months after the evil breakout, I still had red and brown spots all over my cheeks. So much that it looked like I was still breaking out, even though my skin was back to its usual healthy self.

Initially I tried to seek topical remedies, but eventually I figured out that a more drastic solution might be necessary. Enter Wink Laser Studio.

I’ve seen them around town, with most branches located in upscale districts of the city, but I just never felt like I needed their services. That is, before I discovered their laser facial.

What is it?

It’s a completely non-invasive treatment that uses actual lasers directly on your face.

(Quick note: Wink Laser Studio uses Revlite and QX Max. I’ve had the treatment done 4 times and I think they used QX Max on me each time. I am unfortunately not a laser expert so I don’t know anything about these machines. Just thought I’d mention it in case it’s helpful to anyone else.)

The laser facial takes about 20 minutes, though you do get a quick 5 to 10 minutes of consultation if it’s your first time.

It’s not painful, though you’ll feel flicks (like getting hit in the face repeatedly with a rubber band) everywhere the laser touches you. I don’t think it hurts. It’s just a little annoying and itchy, but nothing major. Besides, the feeling subsides the minute the treatment is over.

The nurse will repeat the process three times:

  • First pass all over the face with relatively mild strength
  • Second pass again all over the face but quite stronger and more tingly now
  • Third pass on targeted areas, specifically for minimizing pore size and eliminating pigmentation

Word of warning: the laser will burn off your peach fuzz. I personally don’t mind the smell, but just a heads up in case you start to panic and freak out when you get a whiff of eau de burnt hair.

What does it do?

The laser facial treats a number of skin issues:

  • Blemishes/acne
  • Pigmentation
  • Fine lines/wrinkles
  • Dullness

It also helps boost collagen production,  improve skin texture over all, and can even help reduce pore size. Not bad for something that takes 20 minutes.

What else do I need to know?

This is a non-invasive treatment, yes, but there are still a few guidelines to follow before and after treatment to make sure nothing goes awry.

Pre-treatment:

  • No retinol, peels, chemical exfoliants at least a week before treatment
  • Avoid tanning or spending long hours unprotected under the sun
  • No serums or toners the night before
  • Be like TLC, because no scrubs
  • If you have eczema, you’ll have to sign a waiver before proceeding

Post-treatment:

  • Don’t wash your face for at least four hours
  • Stick to cold showers for at least 24 hours
  • No excessive sweating for 48 hours
  • Moisturize regularly
  • Wear sunblock!

Does it work?

This part is entirely anecdotal, so take my experience with a grain of salt.

I have had the treatment done four times so far. I have dry and sensitive skin, but I have not experienced redness, dryness, or irritation after each one. Sure, there’s a bit of redness immediately after the treatment, but it subsides in about fifteen minutes.

The acne marks on my cheeks are significantly less prominent. How do I put this? It looks like my blemishes are blurred and though you can sort of see that there’s a hint of pigmentation on my cheeks, they aren’t as obvious as they were before. I can now go out without makeup on lazy weekends without feeling very self-conscious of my acne marks.

I had a slight “purge” after the first treatment, which is common with laser facials. I didn’t really mind though, because these were the annoying bumps I had under the surface finally coming up for air. The purge for me was just a bunch of whiteheads and they were gone in a couple of days.

One of the most significant changes for me is that my skin feels a lot healthier and less dry. I used to have dry, dehydrated, and irritated skin that would flake and crack regularly. Now it just, well, feels like skin.

(I still have a super oily nose, though.)

How much is it?

It’s pretty spendy.

Celebrities like to talk about their minimalist skin care routines. When asked about their ultimate beauty secret, they always have this to say:

Just drink more water!

How helpful.

When you have money to burn on regular facial treatments, your skin care routine would end up pretty minimal and low effort, too.

I started the laser facials a couple of months ago and have pretty much pared down my daily regimen to just cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Who needs toners and serums and potions when a laser can give you better results in just 20 minutes?

To be honest, I never would have considered getting laser facials if I didn’t have a bit of extra cash. Imagine just how beautiful your skin could be if you had all the cash to burn and various skin care treatments to undergo every week?

Just goes to show how celebrity beauty is unrealistic, but I digress.

Wink Laser Studio is a bit more high-end, because there are other places that will offer laser facials for less. However! I do think they’re worth the money because they employ actual nurses, they have top-of-the-line machines, their locations are beautiful and spotless, plus they have excellent customer service.

Wink nurses message you the day after the treatment just to make sure everything is fine. It’s a small thing, but I really like the attention to detail. (And the attention, in general. I am shameless.)

I still have 6 sessions left in my package, and given how my face has turned out so far, I figure I might just keep this going.

Besides, how cool is it to have actual lasers on your face?

Science, bitch!


Featured image by Wink Laser Studio

False Positive: What To Do When You Can’t Trust The Review

By now you’ve probably heard of the sordid Sunday Riley scandal.

As with most things sordid, the entire scandal began on Reddit. A disgruntled ex-employee shared one of Sunday Riley’s corporate memos, wherein employees were required to post a minimum of three positive reviews each to “generate … confidence in the products”.

It’s not like we didn’t know reviews could be fake, of course.

What makes this entire Sunday Riley affair so scandal-worthy is the fact that (a) we now finally have confirmation; and (b) it’s a major beauty brand behind the deception.

The question now is not “who can you trust”, because honestly the answer to that is “no one”. Reviews — whether they be paid for or not — are inherently biased. Individual idiosyncrasies affect everything — from the products you choose to review all the way to the criteria you use to review. You’ll never get 100% objectivity, and that’s that.

(In case you were wondering, yes — that’s Max Weber’s theory of objectivity applied to beauty reviews, and I’m not going to apologize for it.)

I’m  not saying you should just stop reading beauty blogs and watching Youtube beauty gurus altogether, because that won’t bode well for me and the future of this website. I’m just saying you’ll need a bigger grain of salt, moving forward.

Some things to consider:

Know your source.

In another lifetime I was a college professor, and being in the social sciences, research work was one of our major requirements. Apart from no plagiarism — which was a given, clearly — I had two strict rules where sources are concerned:

  • No Wikipedia
  • Know your source

All sources are flawed, to a degree. State-sponsored media, for example, will toe the line and most likely not write anything detrimental to the state. American or European historians writing about Chinese history, on the other hand, may be saddled with unchecked Orientalism or cultural short-sightedness.

Point is, no source is 100% objective, but this doesn’t mean you should dismiss them outright. It just means you have to be aware of certain factors that could affect their output.

The same is true with bloggers and beauty gurus. Certain factors like genetics, climate, culture, social norms, personal experiences, and individual preference can affect how one reviews specific products.

I have my own biases. There are brands that I don’t patronize because I don’t like their public image. I have sensory issues so there are products I dismiss outright because they don’t feel “right”. I hate fragrance. I’m very susceptible to K-drama marketing. The list goes on.

All bloggers have their personal set of biases, and that’s unavoidable. You have your own set of biases. It doesn’t mean that everything you say is automatically untrustworthy, and the same is true for beauty bloggers and Youtube gurus.

As long as you’re aware of your source’s biases, you can read any review and get the information you need.

Weird phrasing is a red flag.

In another, other lifetime I was a freelance writer.

When you look through the writing jobs available on sites like Upwork, it’s very common to see things like “writer for product reviews wanted”.

If you think the company provides the writer with the products for testing prior to review, I have a couple of bridges to sell you.

Usually, the writers are given the product copy with specific talking points already highlighted. Companies want you to focus on certain keywords so the product will appear higher on Google search. That’s SEO 101.

In the Sunday Riley email, they wanted employees to highlight keywords like “radiance” and “non-drying”. Given that most reviews on online review platforms are kept relatively short, you’ll easily notice weird phrasing that attempts to repetitively shoehorn specific keywords in.

The result is  a very unnatural review that reads more like an extension of the official product copy than a genuine evaluation. You might not have noticed it before, but now that you’re aware, spotting these awkwardly worded reviews will be second nature.

Skip the positive reviews.

Most people are bastards, and the negative reviews on various e-commerce sites reflect this reality. Have you seen those weird one-star reviews that complain about shipping rather than talk about the actual product?

People are so dumb they’ll get a recipe, tweak it till it no longer resembles the original, then complain that it tastes like shit. They’ll even go back to the recipe site to complain and leave a one-star review, because they’re dumb.

So why read the negative reviews? Aside from those one-star dicks being infuriatingly funny, there’s also the reality that no company will pay for negative reviews.

Don’t waste your time reading the four or five star ones. They might be genuine, but that doesn’t matter. Instead, you want to look into the 2 or 3 star reviews, because these are bound to be more balanced and will offer both the pros and cons.

Of course, this being the Internet, it’s perfectly understandable if you opt to not believe anything I wrote here in this post. I’m just a 35-year-old highlighter-obsessed woman… or am I? For all you know, I might be a 50-year-old man from Wisconsin living with 90 cats, or a dolphin with particularly good wi-fi under the sea.

No one knows.


Featured image by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Eczema and Your Moisture Barrier: A Tragedy

Eczema is a bitch. A really testy bitch.

It’s chronic so there’s essentially no escape, and it somehow always flares up at the absolutely worst times.

A bitch, clearly.

Here’s the thing about living with eczema: you’re dealing with a damaged skin barrier, right off the bat.

Normal people with healthy skin have to do a string of really dumb things in order to compromise their skin barrier, like maybe exfoliating twice a day before heading to the beach without sunscreen.

When you have eczema, all it takes is one tiny misstep before it all goes straight to hell.

Here’s the tea: your skin barrier is everything. It prevents moisture loss and protects skin from irritants and allergens. Having eczema means you’re born with a defective one, so you end up with dry and very sensitive skin by default.

This means that even without the flare-ups, taking care of your skin automatically becomes an uphill battle. You’re much more susceptible to environmental attacks and the slightest irritant could set off your skin and leave you red and peeling.

Dealing with the body is a tiny bit easier, as there are thick lotions to rely on. Sure, you’ll still have to pick products that are free of irritating essential oils, but overall you can just pick the thickest, fragrance-free lotion on the market and call it a day.

On your face? Not so much. The usual recommendations from dermatologists are focused on combating dryness, but this means you could end up with a moisturizer that is way too oily and could potentially clog your face.

After more than three decades of dealing with eczema’s bullshit, I’ve come up with a shortlist of reliable facial moisturizers. Before we dive in, I’d like to offer a few friendly reminders that can help strengthen your skin barrier, even if you were genetically burdened with a damaged one.

Dab, don’t rub with a towel. It’s so tempting to just smoosh your face into your towel after a nice shower, but resist. That rubbing motion can be pretty harsh on your skin, so it’s better to just dab lightly instead. In fact, any sort of scrubbing, rubbing, tugging — avoid them all. Your skin will react at the slightest provocation, so tread lightly.

Be careful when dealing with chemical exfoliants. We’ve all noticed the shift to chemical exfoliation, right? Chemical exfoliants are more efficient and generally less abrasive, so savvy individuals have been switching to acids to slough off dead skin.

A compromised moisture barrier, however, means that you’re more susceptible to irritation and damage. I can’t use glycolic acid unless I want to see my skin erupt in angry red rashes and spots.

If you really want to give chemical exfoliation a shot, try the milder options like mandelic or lactic acid. Even then, it’s best to do a test patch or to keep the exfoliation to once every fortnight until you’re sure your skin can handle it.

Wash your face with cold to lukewarm water, never hot. It dries out your skin. Don’t do it.

Learn to read the ingredients list. Figuring what works and what doesn’t can be a matter of trial and error, so people with eczema should be doubly guarded when using new products. After a lot of experimenting, I’ve learned that lavender essential oil can burn my skin in under five minutes, resulting in rough and slightly raised red patches.

The best way to protect your skin is to steer clear of formulas with a lot of unnecessary ingredients, like fragrance and essential oils. Don’t be fooled by “natural” products, because natural doesn’t mean it’s automatically better for sensitive skin. Lavender is natural, and it’s the devil’s essential oil as far as I’m concerned.

Avoid sheet masks. This one is a pretty painful realization, given that I used to have like a minimum of 30 sheet masks at home.

It’s not that you can never use sheet masks, but you have to know that soaking your skin with serum for an extended period of time can be highly irritating if your skin barrier is already compromised. Even if you pick a mask designed for sensitive skin, the entire process is already problematic, so you’re still exposing your skin to unnecessary harm.

Pick a moisturizer that heals and strengthens your moisture barrier. There are a lot of pseudo-medical options available, but they are usually thick and oily. I have tried creams from Cetaphil, Physiogel, and even Mustela, but they all broke me out because they were too heavy.

I’ve come up with a list of reliable moisturizers, and I would like to share them with you.

KIEHL’S Ultra Facial Moisturizer

The gold standard of plain, this is the moisturizer to beat when it comes to no-frills efficiency. It is completely fragrance-free and does not have unnecessary additives that might accidentally trigger your eczema.

I prefer this over the Ultra Facial Cream, because this moisturizer is thick and perfect for those days where your skin feels like it’s two seconds away from a tantrum. If your skin is looking a little red or you’re noticing the first signs of irritation, just apply a thick layer of this and you’re good to go.

The cream version is just as (if not even more) moisturizing, but it has the tendency to sting when applied on irritated skin.

YOUTH TO THE PEOPLE Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream

I mentioned this moisturizer previously when I did a short brand review of Youth to the People, and it has since become one of my favorites.

First of all, it’s completely fragrance-free. Second, it’s moisturizing yet very light! If you hate that thick, tacky feeling that some moisturizers have, then this Adaptogen Cream is perfect for you. It absorbs quickly no matter how much you apply, which means it also works great under makeup.

I’ve been getting my face lasered to get rid of my acne marks so I’ve pared down my routine considerably. Now it’s just Cetaphil, this Adaptogen Cream, and thick sunscreen I got from the laser clinic.

Laser facials require some after-care, meaning you have to make sure your skin is properly moisturized and protected from the sun. This cream does the job and then some. In fact, I like it so much that I’ve already ordered back up, and it can’t come soon enough.

Squalane Oil

Notice how I didn’t mention a brand? That’s because brands don’t really matter when it comes to oils. I’ve used Squalane Oil from both local and foreign brands and they perform pretty much the same.

I chose Squalane Oil because it’s light, non-comedogenic, and it absorbs fast. It’s also an excellent moisturizer. When your skin is compromised, using something that contains just one ingredient is the best way to eliminate any potential irritants.

[Quick note: I really like the Squalane Oil from Japanese brand HABA, but it’s important to know that there are two kinds available. HABA Squalane is extracted from shark liver, while Squalane II is from olives. I bought the olive one because I don’t see why we need to rope the poor sharks into this when olives are right there for the picking. Of course, you can just buy squalane oil from a bunch of brands that don’t touch sharks AT ALL.]

I’ve found Squalane Oil works great for my skin, but it honestly isn’t the only option. Sunflower Oil is another great choice, even though I personally dislike the smell. There are so many oils out there so you’re guaranteed to find one that works for you.


Featured image from Dan Gold on Unsplash

Only 90s Kids Will Remember: Makeup Edition

There’s been a spate of 90s-inspired makeup lately, which I suppose shouldn’t really be surprising. The kids of the dial-up era are adults now, and the 90s is finally ripe for nostalgia.

Can you believe it’s been two whole decades?

I was 16 in 1999, trying desperately to look like I wasn’t trying. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to be a teen in the 90s, look no further than Channing Tatum’s character in 21 Jump Street. Basically, to be a cool kid in the 90s:

Never let them see you try, and never two-strap your backpack.

That one-strap thing was so accurate I think I still have the uneven shoulders to prove it.

I wasn’t very into makeup as a teen, but what cosmetics I did use pretty much still fell into the “didn’t try” category. You want to be effortless like Cher in Clueless, because making an effort is, like, super tragic.

Johnson’s Baby Powder

Dewy who? The only “dewy” we knew back in the 90s was the Dewey Decimal System. Matte ruled the day, and I don’t think I moisturized till I was in my 20s. True story.

Pressed powder fell in the try-hard category, so everyone was pretty much toting bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder instead. Don’t ask me why; it just made sense at the time.

All we needed was the powder, a handkerchief, and a body young and strong enough to withstand clown lung. Hey, at least our noses weren’t shiny.

Clean and Clear Oil Control Sheets

Speaking of shine, the biggest challenge of our teenage years — aside from the impending end of the world on 01/01/2000 — was grease.

Oiliness is next to ugliness, we would all sagely agree, passing around the ubiquitous blue sheets. The Clean and Clear Oil Control Sheets were prime high school commodity, much like kisses and pad paper.

If you had friends in the 90s (fingers crossed) then you know that the ritual of sharing these blue sheets meant you had to compare the post-nose application results. Getting grossed out together by all the captured oil was pretty much a cornerstone of teenage social relations in the 90s.

The Body Shop Born Lippy

I went to a pretty strict school. So strict, in fact, that Santa Claus was banned from the premises lest he steal the spotlight from Baby Jesus. Harry Potter was public enemy number one, and back-masking cassette tapes of rock music to search for subliminal messages was an actual thing.

Makeup, obviously, was a no go so we all settled for the next best thing: tinted lip balm. I’m pretty sure there were a lot of brands available at the time, but there was none more coveted than The Body Shop’s Born Lippy.

Those tiny pots of tinted lip balm were pretty expensive for high school girls, but we found ways to buy them somehow because roughly 70% of the batch would be reapplying between classes and during recess.

I don’t remember Born Lippy being particularly good for chapped lips, but we weren’t exactly buying them for lip care, duh.

HerBench Pretty When Pinched Lip and Cheek Tint

This patchy, streaky mess was a rite of passage for teen girls in the 90s. We all remember the first time we carelessly dotted this lip and cheek tint on our faces, only to realize a few seconds later that it

will

not

budge.

Pretty When Pinched was our first brush with actual color payoff, I think, and what a lesson that little red purple gel stain was.

Maybelline Fruity Jelly Lip Gloss

Ah, lip gloss. It’s not practical, it gets all over your hair, and you have to re-apply every few minutes because the goop refuses to stay put.

Still love it, though.

The lip gloss of today is so much more sophisticated. Fenty Beauty’s Gloss Bomb is a masterclass in what lip gloss ought to be: high shine, great texture, non-sticky formula.

We didn’t have any of that back in the 90s, but we sure as hell didn’t care. It was all about the gloss all day every day.

I can’t remember all of the glosses that were available back then, but this tube of fruit-scented shiny goop was my personal favorite. Nobody is born with shiny lips, man, so clearly it was the Maybelline.

But enough with the nostalgia. I honestly don’t miss being a ball of angst at 16, and I’ve moved on to better cosmetics.

I’m 35 now, and 450 pesos is no longer my threshold for expensive. I still hate looking like I’m trying, though, so I guess some things just never change.


Featured image from Digital Spy

Treat Yo Self: What To Get From The Sephora Private Sale

We don’t have a physical Sephora in the Philippines but that hasn’t stopped me from getting a package from them at least once a week.

It’s an addiction and I’m not proud of it.

I made Black earlier this year without really meaning to, and every week I’m inching my way closer to Gold. I’m not there yet but let’s just say… I’m on track.

The good news is that being a Sephora member does have its perks. Gold members (heh) get 20% off on everything, and they get to shop one day early.

For the rest of us plebs, the sale starts tomorrow, October 4. Black members get 20% off, while White members get 15%. Not bad, all in all.

Except it can get a little overwhelming, especially with a lot of the hot items selling out at the speed of light. (It’s true; I’ve been trawling the site since yesterday.) You have to be quick if you want to get your hands on the popular products.

Here’s a tip: put the products you want on your wishlist now, so you can load them in your cart ASAP and checkout like a pro tomorrow.

To help you get started, I’ve got a few recommendations for you to check out. These are a bit pricey, I admit, but that’s why you should pick them up during a sale! Get on it, people!

HOURGLASS Ambient Lighting Powder

I spent a long time resisting the siren call of the HOURGLASS Ambient Lighting Powders, but I finally gave in.

To be honest, I was worried that the powders wouldn’t actually do anything obvious, like the infamous GUERLAIN Meteorites. Don’t get me wrong — I love Meteorites, but it’s just a tiny bit too subtle sometimes, and I think for the amount of money involved, I wanted some assurance that the Hourglass powders would be, well, more visible.

Well the proof of the pudding is in the eating (I don’t like pudding, so I don’t know why I went with that phrase, but whatever), and I can gladly vouch for these Ambient Lighting Powders.

I went from owning none to owning a palette. That’s how much I love this. I have Diffused Light, which gives a clean and bright finish to the face, but the winner for me, hands down, has to be Dim Light.

I wore Dim Light for a week straight, and in that span of time I had people complimenting my face non-stop. That right there’s the pudding, no?

These Ambient Lighting Powders blur out imperfections and make you look just a little bit more together. A light dusting over my foundation gives me that airbrushed, almost Photoshopped look and only a dummy would not fall head over heels for it.

MARC JACOBS BEAUTY Enamored Hydrating Gloss Stick

I have to be honest with you: the real reason why I bought this was because I thought the packaging was insane. The good news is that the product inside that packaging is pretty good, too, so still a win for magpie me.

The name says it all: it’s a lip gloss in stick form. Personally, I think of it as a glossy balm, since it’s pretty moisturizing, too. This is pretty sheer, especially for the nude-tone shades like Sugar, Sugar. For a pop of color, you’ll be better served by the bright and punchy Candy Bling.

Word of caution: this stick doesn’t twist back down. Don’t go twisting all the way up to check the amount available because you won’t be able to reverse the product back into the packaging. Just twist up however much you need.

URBAN DECAY Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid

When it comes to base, you want to work smart, not hard. The last thing you want is a thick layer of foundation. Nobody like’s cake face!

Color correctors can target discoloration so you don’t have to go overboard with the foundation and concealer. Use a green corrector to camouflage red spots, or peach to cover up brownish dark circles. (For blue or purple circles, go with pink.)

The URBAN DECAY correctors are lightweight but very pigmented, so you only need a little to cover up specific blemishes or discoloration. They’re also very easy to blend — I just dot it on my face and tap the product in with my ring finger.

Apply the correctors first (after primer) and you can get away with just a light layer of foundation and barely any concealer. No more cake face for you.

FENTY BEAUTY Gloss Bomb

I’m a 90s kid, so obviously I spent a large chunk of my teenage years re-applying lip gloss. My aesthetic was lechon realness, and it was poppin’.

The FENTY BEAUTY Gloss Bomb is lip gloss 2.0. It’s moisturizing, it’s non-sticky, and it’s very, very, very shiny.

The original Fenty Glow is a universal rosy nude, while new contender Diamond Milk is straight up glitter. Both are beautiful and worth your coin.

SUNDAY RILEY Luna Sleeping Night Oil

I managed to get two (yes, two) deluxe samples of this face oil at 5ml each and I’m telling you: this stuff is bomb.

I was going through a rather unfortunate breakout earlier this year and by the time I received the samples, I felt like my face had pretty much calmed down but still wasn’t in its usual healthy state.

I didn’t have any new pimples (thank goodness) but I could still feel so many of them lurking under my skin. Big, cystic pimples that were just wasting for the right moment to surface. Ugh.

So I warmed up a couple of drops of the Luna Sleeping Night Oil on my palms and pat it all over my face. I swear: it took barely 60 seconds for everything to absorb. The next day I woke up and the cystic pimples were gone.

Seriously.

Many of those under-the-surface pimples became tiny whiteheads and disappeared from my face in two to three days. Now that’s magic.

Luna Sleeping Night Oil has a milder, less irritating form of retinol, which accounts for the results I got. I’ve used Differin for years and though I like the acne-clearing effect, I’ve always found retinol and its ilk very irritating. Luna is the solution to that very drying problem, and I’m glad to have found it.

The only reason I haven’t bought it yet is because the deluxe samples are going to last me a very, very long time. The minute those run dry, you can bet I’m scooping up a full-sized one.

To borrow from The Sound of Music, these are just a few of my favorite things. The reason I’ve gotten obsessed with Sephora in the last couple of years is because it offers a lot of new brands that we don’t get locally.

Your beauty options don’t have to be limited, and when sale season comes around, you better be ready to make the most of it. I know I am.


Featured image from Retail In Asia

How To Dig Yourself Out Of A Sallow Grave

I like to think that I’m teflon when it comes to most insults, but there is one word that cuts deep, deep, deep into my very soul:

sallow.

The Chinese call it “黃臉婆”.

The literal translation is “yellow-faced woman”, though I will argue that replacing “woman” with “hag” is more accurate and better captures the biting essence of the phrase.

As a child I found the insult baffling, because us Chinese people are, as you know, yellow. But the “yellow” in 黃臉婆 isn’t about skin color — it refers to a pale, sickly tinge of yellow commonly associated with illness and aging, otherwise known as a sallow complexion.

Sallow skin is wan and lackluster. It is the absolute opposite of a radiant, healthy glow. Sallow skin is everything you do not want for your face, but frighteningly common among East Asians given our natural skin color.

[Side note: a sallow complexion can be the result of actual illness, but frankly I’m not qualified to discuss that. I’m pretty sure I flunked the science portion of NSAT; I have no business talking about serious medical stuff.]

If, like me, you sometimes wake up looking a little more pale and yellow than usual, here are a few things you can do:

Color Correction

Fixing your sallowness problem can be as simple as knowing your basic color wheel. I know, I know — we’ve all seen those Instagram people who took “paint with all the colors of the wind” a little too literally.

Color correcting doesn’t have to be overwhelming, though.

You just have to pick the color opposite the one you’re trying to camouflage. Green cancels out redness so it works for active pimples and rosacea. For brownish dark circles and old acne marks, go with peach.

If you want to get rid of that sickly yellow tone, you need purple.

No, it will not make you look like Grimace. (If it does, you’re probably using too much.)

One option is to color correct with a primer, giving you a more neutral canvas before you go in with the rest of your makeup. A lot of Korean brands offer purple primers, thanks to the aforementioned East Asian penchant for sallowness, but most mainstream Western brands now offer them as well. From ELF to Chanel, there’s a purple primer for every budget.

Another option is to use a tinted finishing powder, like HOURGLASS Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light.

moodlight.jpg

Understand Undertones

If you’re looking a little sallow, the last thing you want is to enhance the yellow tinge even more.

You can neutralize that sallow complexion by using makeup with cool or blue undertones. A blue-based red lipstick like NARS Dragon Girl (my personal favorite), for example, can do wonders and brighten your sallow skin ASAP. It works so fast it’s like turning a light bulb on.

Avoid anything warm-toned or yellow-based like orange or peach lipstick. Same goes for blush. Opt for brighter pinks or lavenders to combat the sallowness.

I know it goes entirely against conventional wisdom. We’ve all seen the countless articles about sticking to yellow-based color makeup for warm undertones. When dealing with sallowness, however, going the reverse route is the best course.

Neutral Foundation

Here’s the thing: just because you’re Asian, doesn’t automatically mean you have warm undertones. I figured that out the hard way, after extensive and expensive trial and error.

A lot of makeup artists and sellers will automatically reach for the warmer shades when they get Asian customers. I had the great fortune to come across a much more astute sales associate, thank goodness, and finally learned that I had neutral undertones, leaning slightly warm.

All those years of using warm shades made me look either sallow or outright orange, and neither is a good look. Although I do still lean warm, choosing a foundation shade with neutral undertones made my skin look more balanced overall.

The next time you go foundation shopping, ask to try out both the warm and neutral shades. Don’t go a shade lighter or deeper; the key here is to focus on the undertones, not your surface color. More importantly, apply it on your face. Not your arm or neck or chest. Face.

Of course the best way to avoid sallowness — as long as it’s not the side effect or symptom of an actual illness — is to keep your skin healthy. Maintain a solid skin care routine, eat well, get enough sleep, and drink enough water.

But I will be the first to tell you that life happens, and you get stressed out, and you eat a lot of Royce chocolate, and you sometimes have to stay up till 2 AM watching Beastmaster on Netflix, and it’s okay. There’s always makeup.


Featured image by rawpixel on Unsplash