A Face-ful of Fenty Part 2: The Base Makeup

So obviously it took me a lot longer to write this post. It’s definitely a lot easier to review brushes, because you use them a couple of times and you can figure out if they’re good or not.

Base makeup takes a little more time and testing. You’ll have to run a few combinations till you figure out what works and what doesn’t. I feel like if you don’t test foundation several times (at the very least), you’re doing the product an absolute disservice.

So what do I think of the Fenty Beauty primer, foundation, and concealer? Let’s get to it.

Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer


Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer

This is a vanilla marshmallow cloud of a primer, and I love it.

Fair warning: this is a very silicone-y product. I personally have no quarrel with silicones; my skin reacts to coconut esters but not dimethicone. If you’re sensitive, though, you might want to steer clear.

Moving on: why do I love this primer? Let me not count the ways. First, it smells very faintly of marshmallows. The smell isn’t overpowering in any way, but it’s there and it just has a very calming effect on me.

Second, it leaves my face super soft and smooth. I don’t think it actually fills in pores (I’ll talk about this more in a second) or extends the life of my foundation, but it does function as a great smoothing base that you can build on. Plus, I gladly apply a lot but it never pills.

Finally: it does have that blurring effect that we all want from modern primers. It’s not gonna be a straight up filter, but the light pink tint softens imperfections and neutralizes redness.

On a good skin day, you could get away with this primer, a bit of concealer, and a nice finishing powder.

It’s not all fun and marshmallows, of course.

It doesn’t stop my nose from oiling up, and it doesn’t stop the foundation from sinking into my pores. The weird thing is that this pores thing only happens around my nose, where my pores are tiny. The exact same thing happens to Youtuber kathleenlights, who also has dry skin like me.

It however prevents the foundation from sinking into the huge pores on my nose. Weird.

Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation


Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

Before anything else, I want to focus on the best part of this foundation: the shade.

I bought all my stuff from Sephora.PH, so that means I never had the chance to test shades on my actual face. That’s a dumb thing to do, but it worked out fine. Plus, I actually wasn’t going in completely blind.

About a couple months earlier, I got a sample from Sephora that had a range of shades. 150 was the closest match, but I found it a little too yellow for me. I went to the Fenty website and checked out the light warm and light neutral shades. Plus, I did the Sephora match test and (using Y225 for MUFE) I got shade 140.

Let me tell you, 140 is a flipping perfect match. It’s warm but not overly yellow, which is a common problem for East Asian people. It matches me perfectly like no foundation ever has before.

The closest shade for me is Makeup Forever’s Y225, but it is just a hair lighter than my normal color. Fenty 140 is the sort of shade where I can straight up skip applying on my neck (don’t skip, though, for texture uniformity) and people won’t see the color discrepancy.

My problem with this foundation is that’s it’s both matte and full coverage — a combination that can look mask-like, especially on dry skin. The good news is that it doesn’t leave me looking cracked or parched, thanks to the high humidity of Manila.

I do have to make sure I prep my skin, though. The primer is not enough to keep the foundation looking nice and smooth on me. I have to make sure I apply my moisturizer or facial oil, let it sit, apply sunscreen, let that sit, and then the primer. It’s a lot of work.

The foundation looks really good and covers everything I’d like to cover with just one layer. It also looks better as the day wears on and some natural oil shines through a tiny bit.

My problem is that when I get super up close to the mirror, I can see how the matte finish really emphasizes every bump, uneven texture, and flake that my face has to offer. My consolation is that no one will stand two centimeters from my nose to inspect my makeup. What’s important is that at arm’s length my makeup looks flawless.

The Fenty channel recommends adding a drop or two of facial oil in the foundation to make it less matte, which I might just try one of these days.

This isn’t my favorite foundation because of how much effort it entails, and how matte it is, which breaks my heart because the shade match is beyond awesome. I’ll continue using it, though, because gripes aside, it does look pretty good on me.

Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer


Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer

This is a great concealer for dark circles. I find that the best method is to apply this straight from the wand by making tiny dots on the darkest part of your under-eye area, then blending with either your finger or the concealer brush. Small pats work best until you’ve achieved the coverage you want.

I find that it doesn’t crease as long as I don’t over-apply. There’s no weird patchiness, either, and it doesn’t really set into the fine lines under my eyes.

That said, I don’t like this concealer for blemishes. It’s way too dry and doesn’t have enough coverage. My go-to concealer is MUFE Full Cover Extreme Camouflage Cream, which also has a weird learning curve that almost made me give up on it.

It took some effort to figure out how the MUFE concealer worked, so I tried to do the same for this one from Fenty. Sadly, I just couldn’t make it work for actual blemishes. It doesn’t have that good coverage, especially for obvious bumps.

Now discoloration? No problem. Just dab a bit of the concealer on the dark areas under and around your nose.

All in all, I can’t say I’m 100% into the foundation and concealer. They’re not bad, and I’m sure for certain skin types they are more than excellent. For my dry skin, though, I feel like there are better options for me. It’s just the shade match that’s keeping me in this Fenty life.

All images from Fenty Beauty

A Face-ful of Fenty Part 1: The Brushes

I don’t know how it happened, exactly, but one morning I woke up and realized I was an absolute ho for Fenty Beauty. The brand has taken over 80% of my makeup routine and every time Rihanna calls I come running.

It’s like, a whole thing.

I don’t have everything, obviously, but I have enough Fenty stuff to write two whole reviews. I guess I could stick them all into one post, but I’m so wordy you’d be begging for the sweet release of death before I’m done.

So, two reviews.

I was going to talk about the base products first, but I wanted to be as thorough as possible so I’m still testing a few combinations/scenarios just to be sure I’ve got every angle covered. Instead, we’ll start with the brushes.

I’m not gonna lie: the primary reason why I bought the Fenty brushes is because they’re pink. Sure, I saw really good reviews online, but I wouldn’t have been as easily swayed if they had been another color.

The good news is that they’re really awesome, and I think they’re well-worth the price. See, I know there are people who think expensive brushes are unnecessary, and I agree to a certain extent.

That said, I still think that when it comes to brushes, you get what you pay for. Real Techniques and Zoeva are both wonderful brands and they’re not very expensive, but there’s a noticeable difference in application that makes using Fenty brushes a lot more pleasurable.

Anyway, enough chitchat. Let’s get to it:

Full-Bodied Foundation Brush


Oh, this brush. I have to admit, it took me some time before I understood how this one worked.

See, it’s unlike any other foundation brush I’ve ever seen or used. For the longest time I stuck to the Beauty Blender, and then eventually I switched to a dense dome-top brush. I’ve tried a stippling brush in the past, and of course I know the OG paddle brush.

This one, though — it’s different. It looks like a super fat paddle brush. It’s very dense; the bristles are soft but there’s minimal yield when you push against them. Fenty Beauty calls it a “paw”, and I suppose that really is the best word to use to describe it.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to paint your face with your cat’s paw? (Minus the talons, of course.) This brush gives you that experience, I think, although with less struggling and meowing and angry hissing.

If you watch the myriad videos on Youtube you’ll find that people have different ways of using this brush. My own preference is to paint broad stripes on my cheeks, forehead, and chin then use short, soft strokes to spread the foundation evenly all over my face. On certain parts (like my nose) I use a dabbing motion to get better coverage.

The brush isn’t scratchy, it doesn’t leave any unsightly streaks, and it’s super easy to use for medium to full coverage. Better than harassing your cat, I bet.

Cheek-Hugging Highlight Brush


I mentioned this in my 2018 favorites, so you already know that I love this brush. I am a fiend for highlighters, and the best way to get excellent payoff is to use the right application tool.

There are many wonderful highlight brushes out there, and choosing the right one will depend entirely on the finish you want to achieve. Some people like fan brushes for a more diffused finish, while others prefer a small tapered brush for controlled and targeted application.

This Cheek-Hugging Highlight Brush is dense so you get a really strong highlight. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I dig it. I personally don’t feel like I’m ready to leave the house unless my highlight is bright enough to blind the aliens watching us from outer space.

What really sets this brush apart is its weird “shark tooth” shape. The groove fits perfectly over the cheekbones so it’s very easy to get that beaming highlight with minimal effort. I initially thought it would be hard to work with because of this shape, but now I can’t imagine using anything else.

Precision Concealer Brush


A lot of people skip concealer brushes because they’d rather use their fingers, and I totally understand that. Fingers are perfect for warming up the concealer, applying with precision, and getting into all those nooks and crannies that brushes can’t quite get to.

The problem with fingers, for me, is that they tend to lift up the concealer that I’ve already carefully laid down. Plus I can never get the level of coverage that I want.

This concealer brush from Fenty saves me from that hassle. It’s angled so it mimics my fingertips, making it super easy to cover redness and blemishes especially in the harder to reach grooves like the sides of the nose.

It’s dense, too, so there’s no trouble getting enough coverage. I do a mix of tap and sweep to blend and the entire process takes very little effort.

The best part is I can use it under my eyes! Normally I stick to fingers for my dark circles, because brushes have a hard time applying concealer to the inner corners and the lines under my eyes without ending up a patchy mess. This one from Fenty, though — it actually works.

Powder Puff Setting Brush


Oh sweet baby Jesus this brush is the flipping best.

It’s so soft. So, so soft.

So soft, in fact, that I originally thought it wasn’t picking up any of my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder. So soft that I kept going and going and going, only to realize that I had over-powdered my face and now looked like a glistening mess.

No matter.

It’s like powdering your face with a cloud. My makeup routine is 1000x more pleasurable with this brush in my life, and we all have Rihanna to thank for it.

Next up: bases.

All images from Fenty Beauty.

Marie Kondo and The Unnecessarily Large Lipstick Collection

I read Marie Kondo’s book in 2015 and decided it was time to clean out my skin care and makeup stash. It was not fun.


That’s not all of it, even. Boxes of face masks, bottles, lipsticks, old foundations that never worked for me, etc.

It was too much.

Confronting the reality that I had spent way too much on things that didn’t actually work — or that I ended up not liking after a couple of uses — was a bit gut-wrenching. That’s a lot of money burnt in that one picture.

The good news is that I’ve been able to keep my stash smaller since. I no longer let things get out of control, and try to finish the stuff I bought. Sure, I still have a few purchases I regret, but I think I’ve been a lot more circumspect in the last couple of years, so I don’t have much to destash when I do my annual cleaning.

Besides, with the regular laser facial treatments, I no longer have to use a lot of skin care products. I just have my cleanser, makeup remover, moisturizer, and sunscreen. No more mucking about with two thousand toners and serums.

That said, my biggest problem area has to be lip products.

I think one reason why I easily accumulate lipsticks is because they’re a lot safer. I don’t have to worry about some ingredient in them breaking me out, because they don’t actually go on my face. They’re cheaper than other makeup items (generally speaking) and there are so many to choose from.

You can have lipsticks of varying shades, textures, and finishes so having more than one is a given. It’s like having a wardrobe for your lips!

The problem for me is that I only use a handful of the lip products I own, which I find rather wasteful. I can count on one hand the lipsticks that I actually use on a daily basis, and the rest languish on my desk and drawers.

I’ve already gotten rid of a bunch, but even with this pared down collection I still have way more than I regularly use. So, I figured I might as well do a KonMari evaluation on my lipsticks, aka does this spark joy?

Here are the ones that make the cut:

NARS Velvet Matte Pencil in Dragon Girl

This is it, the holy grail of red lipsticks. Orientalist name aside, I’ve been obsessed with this lip pencil for at least five years now.

The Velvet Mattes are easy to apply, precise, and will never feather or run. It takes very little effort to get maximum color payoff and it’s incredibly long-wearing. More importantly, I get compliments every time I wear this, so what’s not to like?

Dragon Girl is a bright blue-based red than leans slightly pink, and people who want a true red won’t really enjoy it. In my case though, it’s exactly the right color for my complexion. It’s my perfect red and I love it with all my heart.

JEFFREE STAR COSMETICS Velour Liquid Lipstick in Doll Parts

I went to newly opened beauty emporium Freyja to check out the Jeffree Star highlighters, but they didn’t have any. Instead I found the liquid lipsticks.

I wasn’t too keen on getting them because I don’t have a lot of love for liquid lipsticks. They tend to be drying and take a lot of work.

But then I saw they had Doll Parts available, a color Trixie Mattel had mentioned at some point. (Was it on Unhhhhhhh? I’m not sure.) I picked that shade up and life hasn’t been the same for me since.

Remember what I said about blue-toned shades? This one is absolute perfection. It’s a lovely muted pink with just the right amount of blue in it, so I get the most wonderful barbie shade on my lips.

I call this my “everyday” shade, which cracks my sisters up because Doll Parts is pretty bright and isn’t subdued at all. For someone who wears red lipstick to the grocery, though, it’s my “I’m nice and sweet” color.

BLK COSMETICS Soft Matte Mousse in Joy

I’ve already talked about the Soft Matte Mousse multiple times here (and in real life) because I’m flipping obsessed with it. Earlier I mentioned that I was having trouble getting hold of the Holiday shades (Joy and Happy) because of a delivery snafu.

Well I got fed up and cancelled my order with Shopee. I went to the Glorietta store and bought Joy (but not Happy, because I didn’t like the swatch that much) in less than 10 minutes. Goodbye, Shopee. I’m done with you.

Back to the lipstick. This is a beautiful red — still a bit blue-toned, but a lot more true red than Dragon Girl. It’s the sort of red that is bright enough to lift your spirits on dreary days.

Because it’s a brighter shade, you have to be slightly more careful with this than the other Soft Matte Mousse shades. It still has that soft blur to it, though, so it has a more casual, lived-in vibe than most red lipsticks.

I think when Marie Kondo asks, “does it spark joy,” she doesn’t mean this Joy, but it works anyway.


I got a deluxe sample of this from Sephora and I must admit I just wanted to try something from the brand after hearing so much about it for so long. I thought it would be some regular nude lip gloss, but it’s more. So much more.

For one, it’s so opaque that it fully covers your natural lip color. Vintage is a dusty pink shade that works great on my skin tone, sort of an MLBB. There’s a lot of shine here, too, so you get that real flashy pout that lip glosses are known for.

The best part, though, is that it stays. It’s something you don’t normally expect from glosses, because glosses are — by nature — not long-lasting. It’s why we were all constantly re-applying in the 90s.

This one from ABH, though, really sticks. It’s so odd, to be honest. A tiny bit wipes off every time you dab your lips with a tissue, but when you check in the mirror, it’s still there.


Of course it’ll wipe off completely eventually after multiple drinks and eating non-stop, but it stains so you’ll still get a nice fade of color even if you don’t re-apply. I seriously don’t understand how it works, but it works so I love it.

FENTY BEAUTY Gloss Bomb in Fenty Glow

Ah, Fenty. I am seriously in love. Sure, not everything they produced works for me. Stunna — I have three — isn’t really something I reach for. The formula just isn’t my thing despite the many glowing reviews.

But this lip gloss, though. When they say universal, they aren’t joking. It’s a great rose gold shade that fits everyone. It works great for dried and chapped lips, so I use this any time my matte shades get too drying.

I also have Diamond Milk, but it just isn’t the same. It’s the rose gold color that really makes this an excellent lip gloss for anyone who wants some 90s shine. The only downside is that I find the scent rather cloying with regular use.

Which reminds me. I just got the new shade Fu$$y, so…

I don’t even know why I ever talk about downsizing my lipstick collection.

Featured image by Jakub Gorajek on Unsplash

Best of 2018: My Beauty Favorites

With 2018 coming to a close, I’d like to share five of my beauty favorites with all of you. There are no categories, in case you’re wondering. I don’t really want to do one favorite item for each type of product, because that’s a lot of work and I am way too lazy to do any kind of work during the holidays.

It’s taking away from my ham-eating time, you know?

The only category here is that I like these beauty things, and they made 2018 a lot prettier and happier for me. If I had to KonMari my stuff — which is something I do (or at least feel like doing once a year, usually January) — these are the ones that will survive the cut.

Let’s get started.

Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream

I’ve talked about this several times because this really is one of those moisturizers that just work. I have very dry skin, so I need moisturizers that can keep my face from cracking but still be lightweight enough to not congest my pores and break me out in this tropical hellscape.

The Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream is fragrance-free, light, non-greasy, and absorbs in like two to three seconds. I’m not a very smart cookie so I don’t know if adaptogens really work as they say, but this moisturizer does help calm down skin redness and irritation. A worthy addition to any skin care arsenal, if you ask me.

Fenty Beauty Cheek-Hugging Highlight Brush

I didn’t mention this in my original post on brushes because I didn’t own this yet back then, but this like, totally came in clutch. It’s one of those brushes that I didn’t think I could like, because the shape is weird.

How do you even use it?

It’s easy, turns out. When they say cheek-hugging, they aren’t lying. The groove really does fit right over the cheekbone, making this an excellent choice for anyone obsessed with highlighters.

Note: this isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s pretty dense, which means that you get a really solid highlight when you use this. I’m running out of words, so I’m just gonna say… magical.

BLK Cosmetics Soft Matte Mousse

I spent an entire post gushing about these, so I don’t really have much to add. The only thing I can say is that I have added the holiday shade Joy to my collection and it is the most wonderful blue-red in the world. It’s the shade I’m wearing in the photo on the sidebar.

I love it, and I have used it almost daily ever since I bought it. It is my most prized possession (not really, but you get it) and I hope never to run out of it ever ever ever.

NARS Fort de France Highlighting Powder

I started my highlighter collection this year, and this one is my favorite so far. It’s not chunky or glittery. It doesn’t really emphasize texture (if you’re not super heavy-handed, of course) and has a beautiful almost wet-looking finish.

I apply it on the top of my cheekbones and i just look like I drink more than 8 glasses of water daily and exercise three times a week. I don’t do any of those things, but this highlighter more than makes up for it.

Fort de France is their more popular shade (I think) because champagne works on practically every skin tone. I still have a few other highlighters in my collection (and I just bought a new one from Ofra) but this is the one I reach for when I need something fool-proof.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders

This. Is. Magic.

I don’t know how it does it, but these Ambient Lighting Powders are just… incredible. I have gotten way too many compliments (far more than I deserve, to be honest) and isn’t that exactly what you want from makeup?

I know there are people who dismiss these for being “invisible”, but honestly I can see the difference and given the compliments, I guess other people can, too.

My favorites are Mood Light and Dim Light because they work best with my skin tone. I like Diffused Light, too, but the other two just work 1000x better with me. I know these are expensive, but these powders will last you at least two years with daily use, so they’re pretty worth it.

Also, the compliments. So many compliments. I should write a thank you letter to Hourglass, maybe.

And that’s it for my 2018 favorites! What are yours?

Featured image by Steven VanDesande Jr on Unsplash

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.


  • 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


  • 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

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




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.


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.


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:


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.


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