I get very excited when shopping around for skincare. I'm the one who checks in early at the airport to see what limited edition items are being sold at the duty free shops. Not to mention that I am a sucker for starter kits. I think that every skincare brand should have them. They are not only practical for traveling but recession-friendly on the pocket. If a brand wanted to convert a client into changing their entire skincare routine, this would be the most effective way to do so (and I believe it is more effective to use an entire range of skin care from only one brand). As a consumer, I don't know how many times I wished there was a starter kit available every time I wanted to try a new brand. It can be very expensive to buy regular sizes and what if my skin reacts to the product? I am then stuck with a jar of something that I'll end up rubbing on my elbows and knees instead. I've listed my all time faves below and why. Let me know if I missed out on any!
During a trip to Tokyo, iodine-rich foods decided to wreak havoc on my skin. I looked like prickly heat personified. A sales associate at Roponggi Hills turned me on to REN. Even if I was working for the competing company, what sold me was this woman's flawless skin. But then again, I've not met a Japanese lady with bad skin. My obsession with starter kits began with the purchase of this particular one. Expandable black mesh kit stores flat with snug garters on the inside to hold the refillable bottles in place. I ended up purchasing the regular-sized versions of each a day later when I woke to clear, de-blothced skin sans the prickly heat-like bumps. Includes: Seaweed & Sage body wash, Omega 3 facial serum, Calendula & Arctic Blackcurrant seed cleansing milk, Frankincense repair cream, Grapeseed Jojoba & Shea butter body cream, Hydracalm global protection day cream.
Star product: CALENDULA & ARCTIC BLACKCURRANT SEED CLEANSING MILK this is the stuff that makes sensitive, allergy-prone skin be a thing of yesterday. Smells heavenly!!!
The 2 boys behind this awesome skincare brand left Kiehl's to put up their own unisex line. I discovered the stuff during a press junket when my roommate stashed the goodies on our bathroom shelf. Even with the identical packaging, the color-coding and straight-shooting labels make it easy to reach for when your eyes are covered in shampoo suds. Sold in it's own sturdier-than-zip-lock-case, kit includes peppermint shampoo, vitamin b lotion, grapefruit face cleanser, bergamot body wash, vitamin E face moisturizer, and cilantro hair conditioner. Guess what? It is flight approved, which means you can just toss this in your carry-on bag without having to worry about confiscation at security check.
Star product: DETOX FACE MASK, though not included in this product it is a most-def must try.
Proctor & Gamble launched the brand some 25 years ago and is the first line of skincare to have PITERA as it's main ingredient. A derivative of Sake, (yes as in the Japanese rice wine!) is known to leave the skin as smooth as a baby's butt. Kits are available where cosmetic counters are and includes cleanser, lotion (toner), essence (serum) and treatment (cream). I tried the one also for problem skin purchased in Singapore out of pure curiosity. It was alright, but I wasn't exactly wowed by the stuff. To each his own, I guess.
Star product: FACIAL TREATMENT ESSENCE if you can splurge on just one and skip the rest, this highly concentrated serum is the most effective one of the bunch. I had to remind myself not to drink it!
New York-based dermatologist Patricia Wexler has answered my prayers. Not only do the products work, results are guaranteed in 30 days. Dermatologist to the stars with a no-b.s., no-frills packaging, simple steps for day and night. (All the items packaged in maroon are for night-time use only). Includes cleanser, moisturizer, moisturizer w/ spf, deep wrinkle eye repair, serum, night repair cream, microdermabrasion scrub and hydrator. Entire line is sold in Bath & Body Works across the USA. Star product: MMPi 20 SKIN REGENERATING SERUM which delivers smoother, more even skin tone in the morning and then again throughout the day.
Global warming awareness is not just about recycling and using household products that are free of harmful chemicals. Take a good look at the products in your beauty regimen. May it be your makeup, skincare or shampoo, changing just one product in your routine is a first step to going green in another aspect of daily life.
ECOTOOLS Makeup brushes made from animal-free bristles, recycled aluminum cans and bamboo handles. Versus regular wood, bamboo has a low impact on the Earth's resources as it can grow up to four feet daily. Each brush is sold under $10 and the 5-piece brush set includes a large powder brush, precision eyeliner brush, brow groomer, and foundation brush.
SONIA KASHUK MINERAL PALETTE The brand sold exclusively at Target has already launched it's mineral palette. I love the simplicity of the packaging and no-frills labeling for fool-proof application.
TEENS TURNING GREEN A complete range of natural products which include masks, facial cleanser, toning mist, spot-clearing soap and hand-sanitizer. Now available at Whole Foods Market.
PHYSICIAN'S FORMULA ORGANIC WEAR On a budget or not, this brand does not disappoint. One of the few drugstore brands that I absolutely love to use on myself and on clients. Must try: Bronzing powders.
PANGEA ORGANICS SKINCARE A complete range of body and skincare using customized-blended botanicals. Sourced from organic farmers and fair-traders, each product is hand-blended to soothe or stimulate the senses.
JOHN MASTERS ORGANICS HAIRCARE Must try: Herbal cider hair clarifier. A complete range of organic shampoos and conditioners. $17 per bottle.
ALISON RAFFAELE MINERAL MAKEUP My hands down favorite among all mineral makeup brands. Easy to blend, long-wearing, great coverage and affordability. Available at Beauty Bar.
Most Filipinas shy away from red lips. The common reason being is that the women I've spoken to seem to end up with the wrong shade of red, so they just give up the search altogether. Thing is, I find this look so easy to pull off especially when done right. I've always been either a dark lipstick girl and bare face or smokey eyes and pale lips. The safe, in-between neutrals don't look good on me, in fact every time I attempt a nude face people wonder if I am sick or under the weather. Here are my tips for the woman who wants to try the red lip, or the woman who has always wanted to try but never had the guts...
fair-skinned Georgina Wilson
"morena"-skinned Patty Ortega
sometimes fair & sometimes not-so-fair Daphne Paez
freckly & fair-skinned Cheska Garcia-Kramer
check out the photos from top to bottom, they pretty much represent the Filipina skin tone. Georgina Wilson - who is super fair-skinned, Patty Ortega - who is "morena", Daphne Osena-Paez - an even split, can get really fair or tan depending on her sun exposure, Cheka Garcia-Kramer - who's fair and freckly. Pick out the photo which best represents your skin tone and look closely at all their lips and notice the difference.
Red lips will make your skin appear fairer. Two ways to warm up the skin are using a shade of foundation darker or dust your face with a bit of bronzer. If you stick to your usual shade of foundation, your complexion will appear whiter. Trust me, everytime you gaze into a mirror you might end up backing away from your reflection. Warm up your complexion to appear more approachable and feminine.
Now that you've picked out the photo that closest represents your skin tone, the shade of red I used on each of them will pretty much narrow down your choices of the right red for you. Georgina who's the fairest looks best with reds that have a hint of brown. Patty's morena skin is enhanced with reds that have a hint of orange. Daphne looks best with reds that have a hint of pink. Cheka gets a dose of red that has a hint of coral.
Can't decide on what texture works best for you? First consider the overall condition of your lips. Are you prone to dry, chapped lips? then stay away from matte textures. Do you tend to eat your lipstick? then avoid glossy textures which will have a tendency to slip off easily. Also consider the over-all look you are going for. Georgina is wearing a matte lip but that's because I used a gold shimmer on her eyelids. Patty is wearing a sheer satin texture to complement the "monochromatic" look I gave her. Her eyes and cheeks are stained with the same lip color. Daphne is wearing a super creamy long-wearing red to bring out the fullness of her lips which goes so well with her doe eyes lined with black liner. Cheka has the trickiest look to pull of - the glossy red lip paired with a single shade of matte eye shadow and one coat of mascara.
Unfortunately, the best way to find your perfect red is to try try try. The best reds are from CHANEL, MAC, DIOR, SHU UEMURA (best selling shade world-wide is Red 170).
Stay away from reds if: your teeth are yellowish, stained or discolored, reds will only magnify the condition of your teeth. Reds will also emphasize or make zits and breakouts more obvious so proceed with caution!
Keep in mind that a strong lip is best paired with a bare face. Make sure eyebrows are groomed and lashes are pumped up with loads of mascara. This classic look, when pulled of right makes a woman appear fresh-faced and feminine, defining the phrase "less is more".
Like most women, I am always on the hunt for a great mascara. What defines "great"? A non-waterproof kind that won't smudge and leave one looking like a raccoon, a waterproof kind you swim can in and won't make lashes grow thin in time. The wear and tear of using an eyelash curler PLUS mascara will eventually thin out your lashes. I should know, I worked for the brand which makes the number one curler in the world AND I've pretty much tried all the mascara choices in the market for the last 10 years or so. Okay, so I have a thing for lashes. It's not just a "thing", let's just say that I am extremely obsessed with them. I've done eyelash extensions, false lashes, and just about every lash-related trend there is. If you too are obsessed with lashes, I've prepared a list of reminders before you make the move on the latest lash trend:
Eyelash extensions are awesome, eliminates the need for a lash curler and mascara. The drawback is that they are glued to your lashes (like hair extensions) which lead to breakage and falling out of your own lashes. Touch-ups are necessary every two weeks. What happens when you have no more lashes left?
Mascara has the shortest shelf life of all the makeup in your drawer/kit. The eyes are the most sensitive area of the face so toss out mascara that's been with you 6 months or more. When in doubt, smell it. If it smells like wax, toss toss toss!
If you only wear waterproof, give your lashes a break by switching to a non-waterproof kind for the evening. I've listed down the best non-waterproof kinds at the bottom.
Condition your lashes. Shu Uemura makes the best lash conditioner which strengthens, repairs and speeds up lash growth fast! Use it at night before going to bed, see results in 2 weeks if used daily.
SHU UEMURA LASH REPAIR
To test run a waterproof mascara for its long wear-ability, hit the gym or get sweaty. If by the end of your work out your mascara has not smudged, then chances are it would stay put all day and all night. I particularly like this one of Maybeline because the bristles on the brush keep it clump-free.
During a recent shoot, fellow make-up artist/stylist Chechel Joson (MAX FACTOR) swapped makeup with me. I gave her some Shu Uemura eye shadows and she handed over the latest mascara by Max Factor. I personally am not too keen on non-waterproof kinds because my eyelids have a tendency to be super oily, but this one does not disappoint. In fact, I just purchased the waterproof version of it because I love it so much. Rinses off easily with a foaming cleanser.
MAX FACTOR FALSE LASH EFFECT MASCARA
There are times though when I just don't get why a star product would be discontinued or renovated. A favorite of many is Maybelline's great lash. Not only is it super affordable, but the waterproof formula is loved by many. It's become a staple and household name throughout the years. Correct me if I am wrong when I say this has been discontinued. BOO...
MAYBELLINE GREAT LASH
Aside from length, I'm a sucker for mascara that gives lots of volume sans the clump. Another rinse off formula is this one from Shu Uemura. The creamy texture reminds me of squid ink and adds ooooomph to skinny lashes.
I get tons of email and Facebook messages on acne advice, therapy and management. Ask anyone who I went to high school with, wait - make that grade school to high school, and they will tell you how much I suffered with acne during pre-pubescent and most of my teenage years. If they remember how bad it was, then they must have been one of those mean boys or meaner girls who constantly teased me about it. It was so bad that I remember bringing a bar of sulfur soap to school and making several trips to the bathroom thinking that the acne would stop if I could just get my oil glands to stop producing oil. Of course it didn't take too long for me to know (sadly, by experience) that stripping your skin off it's natural oils will only make the situation worse.
Okay, so here's the scenario: You're breaking out. You take a cotton ball and scrub away with that toner made for acne-prone skin. You rub away. Repeat 3 times a day (at least). Or substitute the toner with a soap, pimple ointment, cream, or whatever somebody tells you (toothpaste??) will zap that zit. Thing is, our skin really produces it's own moisture. So what's happening is that you end up stripping your skin off that natural moisture. Doing so will result in your skin producing more oil to compensate now for the lack of. I'm no dermatologist, but I have battled with acne my entire life and I have lived through the scars - both inside and out. Guess what? adult acne is WAAAAAAAAAAAAY harder to cure and I have tried every single thing out there in the market. Of course, the solutions I provide here are based on what worked for me. My disclaimer: IT'S NOT FOR EVERYBODY, CONSIDER THE SIDE EFFECTS AND PROCEED WITH CAUTION AFTER SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION.
Isotretinoin or Roaccutane
3 years ago, my acne came back with a vengeance around my jaw line. It didn't take me too long to know that my hormones were raging. I went into a slight panic just reliving the idea of acne in high school from a not so distant past. More importantly, I would lose my job. Okay, I'm over-dramatizing that. What I mean to say is, it's just not acceptable for a make-up artist to have bad skin. It would almost be like having an orthodontist with crooked teeth. I mean, seriously. Isotretinoin (generic name) or Roaccutane is considered the silver bullet. It is the most drastic form of acne cure in the market. It's serious side effects have made it controversial albeit effective. I was desperate and I needed a quick fix. I had absolutely no time to dilly-dally and frequent trips to the dermatologist was not something I could fit into my hectic schedule. Not to mention, the downtime and cost that comes with facials. More importantly, I was afraid of scarring. The thing is, I started having acne at the age of 11. I was an early bloomer and developed quite faster than the other kids in school. The earlier you get acne means less scarring and more time for your skin to recover. People often joke that I'm making up my acne bout with minimal proof that I have suffered from it. So I turned to Roaccutane for fear that my adult acne would leave permanent marks now that I am much older. I wanted a fast solution with no attachments that came with a gruesome skincare regimen.
Roaccutane can't be purchased over-the-counter. Obtaining a prescription entails a series of medical procedures which resemble a general check-up. In other words, you must absolutely be fit enough to handle the side effects. Women must submit a negative result pregnancy test or exam each time you get your prescription refilled. Speak to your dermatologist or physician if you would like to consider taking this route.
What to expect:
Extreme dryness everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. Load up on lots of lip balm, lotion, eye drops, and drink lots of water. Lips may be prone to peeling and cracking.
Acne break out in the first 10 days of treatment. The medicine forces out all the acne from your system so don't plan on attending parties, or even be seen out. I swear, this will the your ugliest, most depressing time on this treatment, but be assured that the worst will soon be over.
Shrinkage of pores or no pores at all. Drastic reduction of oil and sweat.
Increased sensitivity to the sun. Bump up your daily SPF to 25 and for prolonged outdoor activities, do SPF 50.
Liver sensitivity so refrain from very little or completely abstain from any alcohol.
Women cannot, absolutely not, get pregnant while on this treatment. Pregnancy while on roaccutane will result in infant deformities and abnormalities.
As you are getting off the treatment start maintenance with a bi-monthly or monthly diamond peel which you can get with mostly any dermatologist. I go to the Zen Instititute at Fort Bonificio Global City. They offer total body and face treatments and you will see the results instantly.
My mom took me to every dermatologist in Manila from the age of 12 to 16. She and I were getting quite weary and frustrated that nobody could offer me a single solution. A doctor noticed a mole on my nape and suggested we see this dermatologist to see if I should have the mole removed. Dr. Verallo (VMV Hypoallergenics) took one look at my mole, then one look at me and told me to see a gynecologist. After my mole was removed, she very much as-a-matter-of-factly said that my acne was due to my raging hormones and wanted me to get a go signal from an OB-gyn to get on the pill. 3 months later, all my acne had disappeared. The two most effective pills for me are Yasmin and Diane 35. At 16 I was put on Diane and then I switched on to Yasmin when I turned 27 and needed a lower dose pill.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
Bloating and weight gain.
Migraines and severe PMS.
Shorter but regular mentstrual periods.
I still get occasional break-outs but at the age of 34, I pretty much know how to keep them at bay. I know what food causes me to have pimples and also know which activities (overdone or the lack of) make me break-out as well. They key to great skin is knowing what makes your body tick. I'm no longer on any of the acne treatments I have listed above. I combat zits and skin allergies with a daily doses of natural bee pollen, virgin coconut oil, Lysin with bioflavinoids and multivitamins from an awesome health brand called Life Extension and time-release L-Carnitine.