Review and how to use KokoClear teeth whitening powder

A lot of friends and readers found my old entry on Crest Whitening Strips helpful, but some found it difficult to find the strips in Cebu,...

A lot of friends and readers found my old entry on Crest Whitening Strips helpful, but some found it difficult to find the strips in Cebu, found it uncomfortable for sensitive teeth, or found P2,500 for a box too expensive for teeth whitening.

Good thing we now have a cheaper, locally made alternative for brighter, whiter teeth - KokoClear teeth whitening powder.

It might look daunting at first glance, but this black powder is completely odorless and completely tasteless. It's 100% natural and made in the Philippines.

There are two ways I use this product:
1. Brush teeth as usual, then rinse.
2. Dip damp toothbrush head in the powder then rub all over teeth.
3. Let it sit while I take a shower, then brush off and rinse thoroughly.

Or -
1. Dampen toothbrush head, put toothpaste on it, then dip in the powder.
2. Brush teeth for at least 3 minutes.
3. Brush off and rinse thoroughly.

After the first use, my teeth felt really polished and clean. Usually, my gums near my left canine bleed after brushing my teeth, no matter how careful I am. After one use, this bleeding stopped completely.

After a week, my teeth started looking noticeably brighter. It has been about a year since I last used a box of Crest Whitestrips. Here's a photo after less than a month of using KokoClear every night:
A "no edit, no filter" photo of my friends Ivy, Rae Anne, and myself 

KokoClear is priced between P450-P600, depending if it's on sale. Considering you only use a toothbrush-head-sized amount each time, one tub will definitely last you a long time! Order from and find more details at

Review: Althea Korea Petal Velvet Powder

Congratulations are in order to online K-beauty shopping haven, Althea Korea, for its first-ever in-house product. Similar to how Sephora is...

Congratulations are in order to online K-beauty shopping haven, Althea Korea, for its first-ever in-house product. Similar to how Sephora is a cosmetics boutique that has its own brand of makeup and tools, Althea Korea has been busy with product development to come up with the Petal Velvet Powder.

According to its product information, the Petal Velvet Powder is designed for / with:
     1. Makeup setting and long wearing
     2. Micro-fine particles and soft, smooth texture
     3. Natural and cruelty-free ingredients
     4. Sebum control and pore blurring

The powder comes in a simple shaker-type tub with 3 grams of product, and a pillowy soft puff. It's small and light enough to take in your bag.

I've been using this loose powder since it was released last month to see how I really feel about it. I'm surprised how Althea can offer this for only P210 considering how silky and fine the powder is. It's translucent so it has no color, and no white cast. It disappears immediately into the skin with a few dabs and makes skin look smooth, yet not flat. It has a floral scent that is not at all obtrusive to me, but makes it that much more enjoyable to apply with the super soft puff.

The only part that didn't quite work for me is the sebum control. I get oily very quickly on my T-zone, so with this, I have to touch up after just a couple of hours. But if you have less oily skin, you may not have this issue.

Overall, I find it to be a beautiful and natural finishing powder that behaves more expensively than how it's priced.

Read more about the Petal Velvet Powder ingredients and purchase it here. Althea Korea still ships door to door for a minimum purchase of only P999 for the Philippines - always an important factor to me because I can't be bothered to pick up parcels at the post office!

Product empties: Lush Cosmetics, Ole Henriksen, Sooper Beaute, etc.

I've got an overflowing basket of products I've emptied out since my last empties post in April , so I need to get this blog post up...

I've got an overflowing basket of products I've emptied out since my last empties post in April, so I need to get this blog post up so that I can finally throw these away!

My sense of accomplishment in 20-something empty products.

Hair and body care empties

Palmolive Naturals Intensive Moisture shampoo and conditioner. Love this affordable, available-everywhere hair care product for making hair softer. I've been using it on and off for years. This has fetched compliments from someone behind me in the office elevator that my hair still smelled good at 6 p.m.

Suave Professionals Almond and Shea Butter shampoo. It's supposed to be a moisturizing shampoo for dry, damaged hair, but my hair doesn't feel much softer or smoother with this. But I do prefer using this for a deeper clean than the Palmolive one gives me for when my scalp feels particularly oily.

Lush Cosmetics Helping Hands hand cream. Good for those who don't like heavy hand creams. It does still feel a little greasy to me, so I only wear this before going to bed. I use it on both my hands and feet.

Lush Cosmetics Glogg body wash. This is a limited edition release that I honestly forgot about in my backup stash, but amazingly, it still retained its sudsiness over the years. Nothing super special about this except for the addicting mulled wine scent.

Myra hand and body lotion. I think most Pinays have used this at some point. It's an affordable, lightweight lotion that's good for our tropical weather. If you have particularly dry skin, though, this might be too light to be effective for you.

Belo Essentials clinical strength anti-perspirant and deodorant. Works as it says it does, but I don't really feel it being much more effective than Belo Essentials' other roll-on deodorants to have the "clinical strength" label on it.

Sooper Beaute Complexion Refining Kojic Acid lotion. Really nice for making skin smoother. After a few weeks of daily use, my skin got that nice sheen that smooth skin shows off. Sooper Beaute products are natural and Philippine-made. They're always affordably priced, but they have sales pretty often if you want to save even more.

Curious by Britney Spears perfume. This also took me a long time to use up because the scent started getting boring for me, but apparently, it's one of the best-selling celebrity perfumes of all time. It's girly but not too sweet or cloying. The bottle is pretty, though I don't leave out my perfume bottles on display to protect them from dust and sunlight.

Bath and Body Works Wild Citrus Sunflower body lotion. I've been constantly using Bath and Body Works lotions for more than a decade. The fragrance lasts a long time but isn't too strong as to interfere with whatever perfume you layer on top.

Facial and nail care

Bobbie nail polish remover. Another staple in many Pinays' manicure sets since it's affordable and available everywhere. It does still leave white marks on my nails, but it's nothing that a proper wash and lotion won't cure.

Skinfood Black Sugar Perfect First serum. Such a good nighttime product to remove the last of the dirt on your face, and refines and softens the skin. Highly recommend! I will repurchase, but much later in the future because I still have a bunch of other products waiting to be tested in my stash.

T.N. Dickinson's witch hazel. Several of my friends and I swear by this as a facial toner or to soothe blotchy skin. Those who've bought it upon my recommendation have also said that they love it. Available at Healthy Options.

Neutrogena Deep Clean long-last shine control facial scrub. A good facial cleanser that can remove dirt and makeup and won't dry skin out. I only used this at night before bed, though, so can't really vouch for the shine-control part since I only get oily when I'm out and about.

Ole Henriksen Vitamin Plus mattifying creme. This is probably the most disappointing product I've encountered in a while. It's not a bad product - it worked fine as a facial cream. But for $50+, I was expecting a lot more, based on the Sephora reviews that this is best for combination skin. The only thing it has going for it is that it's lightweight, but I saw no dramatic effect on my skin. I'd say save your money for something else.

Sooper Beaute pore minimizing serum. An affordable one to try for blurring pores. Absorbed immediately by skin and you won't feel it after application if you hate any sort of weight on your face from facial products. For me, also helps with oil control on my T-zone.

Urban Decay eyeshadow primer potion in Sin. I find that Urban Decay eyeshadow primers work best with Urban Decay eyeshadows, but not that great with other brands. Sin is a shimmery primer that amps up the, well, shimmer in your shadows, but it's actually also pretty on its own.

Maybelline Define-a-Brow pencil in Medium Brown. These brow pencils have already been phased out - who knows why, when these are the bomb. Perfect for creating on-point brows if you want that clean and sharp line. The tip is fine enough to lightly draw on strands if you like the gradient brow effect that feathers out at the front. The annoying thing with this is that the tip breaks off so easily, so you have to make sure that you only twist up just enough...If you can still find these online, anyway.

Etude House Drawing Eyebrow. Needs no introduction among Pinays; just about everyone I know uses this pencil. Can't count anymore how many of these I've used up.

K-Palette 1-Day Magic liquid eyeliner. Super long-wearing, smudge proof, and with a tip that's not too skinny that doing your eyeliner will take half your day. The liner stays jet black, unlike other liners whose applicators absorb product and start fading over time.

L'Oreal Miss Manga mascara. So gorgeous for a long, fluttery lash effect. Not particularly thickening so you may not be a fan if you want bold, really voluminous lashes, but very pretty for a soft, eye-opening look.

Any thoughts on these products or have something to recommend? Let me know! I always love hearing about new things or products that have always been around that I've yet to discover.

Hair makeover: warm to cool at Piandre Salon Cebu

I was quite fickle about my hair last year. I went from my usual golden brown shoulder length to a blonde bob, then a burgundy lob. It was ...

I was quite fickle about my hair last year. I went from my usual golden brown shoulder length to a blonde bob, then a burgundy lob. It was burgundy for all of two weeks, but apparently, red tones don't stick well on dark hair, so it kept washing out. Not satisfied, I tried a more purple shade that came from a box, which alas, also kept coming off on my towel after every shampoo.

After giving my hair a rest for a few months (you should color only once every three to four months to avoid more damage), my strands were several different colors - my natural brown-black, a faded light brown, and some areas that were threatening to turn orange. I wanted my hair to look healthy again!  

Piandré Salon at Oakridge Business Park immediately came to mind. They did a great job before with a deep conditioning hair treatment that left me with coveted "rich girl hair," so I wanted to see what they could do for my color. 

After quite a bit of discussion with the colorist, Rheymonn (hope I got that right!), who listened to exactly what I wanted and gave his suggestions without imposing on me, we decided on a chestnut brown base with ash highlights. This would darken my color overall and give it a cooler tone to counter the orange hue that dark hair tends to get when it's fried from the summer sun. I've wanted to try ash brown for ages since my hair has always been on the warmer side, but dark hair has to be bleached first for ash to translate well. With the ash highlights I didn't have to bleach my whole head, while giving the dark chestnut base more dimension. Rheymonn did a literally very fine job with the highlights as he bleached the tiniest, finest sections before applying the ash blonde. 

Piandré uses all Lakmé hair products from Barcelona to prevent damage while coloring and improve hair health, from the pre-color scalp protector to the dye itself. Lakmé products for every possible hair condition and conundrum are available at the salon. I picked up a few to help maintain my new hair color and softness and they work wonders, especially when hair is blow dried.

Even with two people working on me, the whole coloring procedure took five hours with several rounds of wash - rinse - dry for base, bleach, highlights, then toner to finish. Thank God that aside from its extremely clean, comfortable interiors, the salon is well stocked with up-to-date magazines and plenty of water and tea. The competent, knowledgeable staff made the whole experience a mini vacation from reality. You know you're in good hands when those hands aren't scrubbing your scalp like a kitchen pot, and hair is blow-dried expertly and carefully. 

Rheymonn trimmed my ends and gave me some fun loose curls to finish the look. I felt like a movie star! It was just too bad I didn't have a party to go to. 

Here's the before and after:

The real result for a color job is a week or two after you leave the salon. My hair looks healthier than before and isn't brittle or dry at all, considering the color and highlights it went through. My base color is the same, with the highlights now slightly more pronounced. It's just what I wanted! My hair feels healthy and looks so much more sane now, thanks to Piandré. Contact the salon at 412-1824.

A version of this post was published on April 21, 2017 in Sun.Star Cebu.

Review and swatches: Benefit They're Real Double the Lip

One of Benefit Cosmetics' newest and most innovative releases comes in a type of lip product that I haven't owned or seen before: A...

One of Benefit Cosmetics' newest and most innovative releases comes in a type of lip product that I haven't owned or seen before: A lipstick and lip liner in one tube. Interesting. Very interesting.

Benefit's They're Real Double the Lip Lipstick and Lipliner in One comes in eight shades: Pink Thrills, Lusty Rose, Revved-up Red, Flame Game, Fucshia Fever, Juicy Berry, Nude Scandal, and Criminally Coral.

Since this is part of the They're Real family, the slim tube is in the shiny pewter color that its older sisters, They're Real eyeliner and mascara, came in. 

These lipsticks are really unique, even just looking at the teardrop-shaped bullet. The "double" here doesn't mean a separate pencil and lipstick come in one box or tube. The bullet itself has the darker color on the tip of the teardrop-shaped bullet that acts as the lip liner, and the lighter color on the lower curve that acts as the lipstick. Who doesn't want fuller-looking lips in one product?  
Pink Thrills, Lusty Rose, Revved-Up Red, Flame Game
Fuchsia Fever, Juicy Berry, Nude Scandal, Criminally Coral
 Fuchsia Fever, Juicy Berry, Nude Scandal, Criminally Coral

Pink Thrills, Lusty Rose, Revved-Up Red, Flame Game

Whoever does product development at Benefit did some good thinking behind the unique shape of these bullets, as the point containing the darker color is not too small like the size a lip pencil would be that you would see no difference upon application. 

The first use feels unusual as you don't normally turn lipstick upside down when applying, but the shape hugs the line of the lip so well to finish the job in a couple of quick strokes.

Some colors are more obviously two-toned than others. See what I mean in the swatches:
Pink Thrills, Lusty Rose, Revved-Up Red, Flame Game,
Juicy Berry, Nude Scandal, Criminally Coral

Overexposed, but this shot may help if you have super-fair skin!

I know I only have seven swatches of the eight - sorry! Fuchsia Fever was feeling camera shy during class photo day and did not emerge from one of my handbags until days later. I'll try to do this again when time and sunlight are simultaneously cooperative!

I'm wondering if there's an Asian lady behind the team that thought up these lipsticks. Even though Benefit was born in California, these colors are all very wearable on Caucasian or Asian skin tones alike. (I must admit that I found Flame Game the most difficult to wear, but that's generally the case for me with orange lipsticks.) My personal favorite is Revved Up Red, a pretty, wearable strawberry red.

The lipstick formula feels creamy with a satin finish. All shades make my lips appear soft and full, and are very comfortable to wear the whole day. It's doesn't tug when applying and goes on smoothly and evenly. All shades have good pigmentation - the swatches were done with a single swipe. Lusty Rose and Nude Scandal are the less pigmented of the range, which is just fine for those who prefer subtler lipsticks. These two had the least staying power for me, though. The bolder shades had about four to five hours of wear and all left pretty stains after. Which ones do you like?

These lipsticks are available online or in any Benefit Cosmetics boutique around the Philippines. In Cebu, Benefit is located in SM Seaside City.