Product empties: Neutrogena, Shu Uemura, Origins, etc

I've been gathering a basket of empty products to share with you guys. Considering how many things I'm constantly trying out, I alwa...

I've been gathering a basket of empty products to share with you guys. Considering how many things I'm constantly trying out, I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I get to the last bit of something! Read on for short reviews on some of the hair care, skin care, and makeup I've used up.
I'm more conscious of using up skin care products because since they're all liquids and creams, they will expire quickly. So the only makeup bits I've used up recently are:

NYX Cosmetics Soft Matte Lip Cream in San Paulo. I discovered this product while shopping at a department store in Davao, then maybe a year later, it started exploding all over the beauty community. Many of us absolutely love the Soft Matte Lip Creams, myself included - I think I have 10 other colors waiting to be used up. I haven't met one shade that I haven't liked.

NYX Cosmetics Stay Matte But Not Flat powder foundation in 02 Nude. A good lightweight powder that I favored for setting concealer / corrector on eyes. I probably will not repurchase, though, because I really just used this on my eye area, and I have other powders that can do the same job.

MAC brow gels in Girl Boy and Beguile. I remember everyone going crazy over Girl Boy, but I actually prefer Beguile. I think MAC brow gels are in better packaging now; the wands on these definitely needed to be smaller, as they picked up and packed on too much product. I may repurchase if these have smaller wands now, but then, there are so many cheaper alternatives that basically do the same thing.

Benefit Cosmetics They're Real mascara. This is one of those mascaras that are better when they've dried up a little after a few weeks. The spiky ball on the end of the wand does help with grabbing and coating smaller lashes. I'm not one to splurge on mascaras because they're the type of things you cannot keep for too long, so I wouldn't classify this as one of my must-haves.

Deja Vu Lash Up mascara. A gift from my half-Japanese friend who got it from her other home country. This gives really pretty long, separated lashes without clumps. The only down side is the brush is huge, so it could be a problem for those with short eyelashes.

For hair, face, and body care:

Pantene Pro-V 3-minute Miracle Total Damage Care 10 conditioner. A thicker conditioner that may help those with dry or damaged hair. This is more expensive than a lot of drugstore conditioners, though. It's not a bad product at all, but there are cheaper ones that have a similar effect.

Neutrogena Pore Refining daily cleanser. It took several weeks, but about halfway through the bottle, I started to notice that my pores seemed to be less obvious on the areas beside my nose. It's hard to find a product that can noticeably reduce pores, so I would recommend trying this if that's a skin concern you want to address. I used this only in the morning. At night, I would use...

Nature Republic Jeju Sparkling Mud foam cleanser. It says it "contains Jeju mountain Sanbang springs carbonic water and French mud." After removing makeup, this gave my skin a good cleanse. The 150ml tube will last you a long time. Don't forget to cut it open when no more product can be squeezed out; you'll be amazed how much more product is stuck on the sides of the tube.

Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkle Resist 24 night emulsion. I brought this on trips until I used it up. You're supposed to follow emulsion with moisturizer, but I felt like I didn't need that additional step with this. I usually just bring the essentials when I travel because I hate lugging heavy bags, so this did well as my night-time moisturizer.

Shu Uemura Skin Purifier cleansing beauty oil. I only buy this in travel sizes because I just can't bear to spend that much on a big bottle. Also brought this on trips until I finally used it up. If I was only going away briefly, this served as both makeup remover and cleanser. You really can take off a full face of makeup with maybe eight drops of this, more if you're wearing full eye makeup. There is basis to this being a cult product for many years!

The Body Shop Moringa body butter. I've been using The Body Shop's body butter since I was 15. Nuff said.

The Body Shop Shea Butter shower cream. This is very moisturizing, but it wouldn't lather! I prefer the shower gels from The Body Shop. I just feel cleaner somehow when I see bubbles when I shower!

Bath and Body Works Shea and Vitamin E lotion in Passionfruit Kiss. Another product I've been using since high school in various scents. Again, nuff said.

Belo Essentials Whitening Anti-perspirant Deodorant in Shower Fresh. A good enough daily deodorant and anti-perspirant, but I prefer Dove for keeping underarms soft and bright.

Origins GinZing refreshing eye cream. My new holy grail eye cream. I've had dark circles since I was in college, no matter how well rested or hydrated I am. This does not feel sticky and will not clump under eye makeup. I noticed after maybe two months of use (this l5ml jar lasted me several months!) my under eye circles were not as dark. I've heard of eye creams that help minimize dark circles, but usually at twice the price or more. My cousin bought this for me in Hong Kong as a gift (thanks, Kuya!) and I've just received a new jar to love (thanks, Origins Philippines!). We don't have Origins just yet in Cebu, but definitely get this if you're in Manila (currently retails for P1,400) or if you spot an Origins counter overseas. Highly recommend!

If you made it this far, thanks so much for reading through! Do let me know if you have thoughts on these products as well or if you have others to recommend.

How to clean makeup brushes

A necessary evil. That's what I think when I have to wash my makeup brushes. It's a chore that I tend to put off as much as possible...

A necessary evil. That's what I think when I have to wash my makeup brushes. It's a chore that I tend to put off as much as possible, but it comes to a point that you keep buying new brushes to avoid washing the old ones...and then you end up with 50 dirty brushes, and quite literally two hours of your time down the drain.
Wouldn't it be nice if makeup brushes could stay magically clean all the time?

Some people may find it relaxing, but I find washing brushes to be such a chore because it eats up so much time! However, it is a necessary evil because it is an absolute must to keep brushes clean. You don't want gunky old makeup stuck to the bristles. Your skin will not like this. Makeup colors will no longer translate well when applied. And I find keeping both brushes and makeup clean and sanitized extends their life spans by leaps and bounds.

If you tend to procrastinate with this chore like me, the first piece of advice I would share is to wash 5 or 10 at a time instead of tackling an entire pile all at once. If you have a job and family and friends and hobbies and a life in general, two hours washing brushes is a lot to ask. But if you work with makeup on a daily basis, as a makeup artist or as someone like me who wears it probably 360 days a year, you have to make time for it. I've found myself much more willing to do the job if I only wash a few at a time, even if it's over several sessions. (Having Spotify on helps!) If you prefer to deal with it all at once, I salute you!

Do not wash your brushes too frequently. Always exposing them to water and soap may cause the bristles to fall out. To keep your brushes clean at all times, spot clean with a spray cleanser. You can DIY, but I find it too much of a hassle so I just buy ready-made ones. Spray on the bristles, wipe off on a face towel and see the gunk come off. Some people opt for paper towels, but clean old towels are way more environmentally friendly.
Spot clean between washes with spray cleansers.
Got these from Beauty Manila, Bonmarchepage, and H&M in Barcelona.

I know all bloggers and YouTubers have their makeup standing in cups on their dressers, but I live in a dusty city (sigh). My makeup brushes live in a drawer to keep them protected from dirt.

I deep clean my brushes by washing them with shampoo once a month, but you can do it twice a month if you're an even bigger clean freak than I am.

To avoid wasting running water, dip dirty brushes bristles-down in a cup of water when you're getting ready to wash. Just like the hair on your head, shampoo works much better when hair is totally soaked instead of just wet. Make sure the water level isn't far up past the ferrules (metal part of the brush) or you'll loosen the glue holding the brush hairs together.

Brush shampoos from Beauty Manila, Althea Korea, and the classic Johnson's baby shampoo.

I wash my brushes using Johnson's baby shampoo or any of these brush shampoos I've picked up here and there. Just a drop is enough for a small or not-so-dirty brush, but you'll definitely need more for foundation brushes. Those are the toughest to wash, by far! Massage gently on your hand or use a brush egg to rinse out dirt and pigments. I've even used this silicone potholder from Daiso as a cleaning surface, just to prevent my hands from getting raw. But your fingers are still the best bet for working through bristles to get brushes really clean. Be gentle and don't pull on the hairs, and always wash brushes bristles-down to prevent water from seeping into the ferrules.

If you find that a brush is still not clean enough, simply wash again with Ivory bar soap. I've been double washing for years and Ivory bar soap will not hurt your brushes or make them stiff. Don't forget to wash the handles, too.

After washing, rinse really well, then (gently!) squeeze out excess water from the bristles. Lay flat to dry overnight on a towel (or one of those brush trees if you're fancy). Then be proud of yourself and get on with the rest of your life!

Swatches: Clinique Pop Liquid Matte Lip Colour

I've got swatches of six shades of the Clinique Pop Liquid Matte Lip Colour + Primer here! Couldn't resist swatching these on a visi...

I've got swatches of six shades of the Clinique Pop Liquid Matte Lip Colour + Primer here! Couldn't resist swatching these on a visit to the Clinique store at SM Seaside City.
 Swatches on NC25-30 skin:
Flame Pop, Black Licorice Pop, Sweetheart Pop,
Candied Apple Pop, Petal Pop, Cake Pop
Each shade is true to color from what you see from the rectangular frosted tube. Each swatch was just one smooth and easy swipe. Check out how pigmented each one is, and how evenly the color glides on.
The wands are itty bitty since these come in your regular lipstick size instead of the longer tubes that liquid lipsticks normally come in. The tiny wand means lots more control, and the applicator picks up enough product to coat the lips with one go.

I can't review this product just yet; I held myself back because I still have many liquid lipsticks to use up! (Yes, I exercise self control sometimes with makeup shopping.) I try not to hoard liquid products because those spoil so easily. But believe me, I was super tempted - Sweetheart Pop and Candied Apple Pop look right up my alley! I wasn't surprised to hear that Cake Pop is a bestseller, since it's a safe "everyday" color. 

Here's how the Clinique website describes these:
"Lightweight liquid lipstick covers lips with lush pigment and a modern matte finish. Wears all day. Moisturizing formula with built-in primer provides a smooth, even glide so lips feel as fresh as they look."

In Cebu, Clinique has a counter at Rustan's Department Store in Ayala Center, and its own boutique at SM Seaside City. Are you heading over to pick up one of these gorgeous lipsticks?

Clinique at SM Seaside City Cebu

Clinique is one of the brands that I have been using ever since I started getting into makeup and skin care. I first encountered the Dramati...

Clinique is one of the brands that I have been using ever since I started getting into makeup and skin care. I first encountered the Dramatically Different moisturizing lotion in high school, and I have been using it on and off ever since. Clinique's just so reliable like that, and I think that's why many have patronized the brand for decades. I don't think its branding is meant for Clinique to have the trendiest makeup, but you'll notice in the past few years that they have really been stepping up their game with more on-trend products (liquid lipsticks, highlighters, etc.) while having their bestsellers permanently available.

The recently opened store at SM Seaside City is consistently Clinique. By this, I mean the store looks just like how its ads are; very clean and simple, mostly white with pops of color, and putting all visual focus on the products themselves (no model, no backgrounds, no fancy typefaces). Take a little tour around the store through the photos below:
Can't miss the bright white boutique. The seating area is awesome for those who want to get off their feet, or to park the bored husband while you test swatch everything.

A fun display of one of Clinique's bestsellers in the Philippines and worldwide: the Chubby Stick in heaps of colors!

White lighting all around the products make it really easy to see everything. 

Men's skin care in man-friendly gray packaging.

Pep-Start, Clinique's newest line of multi-taskers designed for millennials who are always on the go. (Here's one who maintains a blog, writes two newspaper columns, and works a full-time office job...yours truly!) 

Pep-Start eye cream, exfoliating cleanser, and moisturizer.

Wonderfully neat rows of makeup! (i.e. what my makeup table will never look like)

So easy to differentiate each product and each color. The only confusion is which ones to buy without spending all your money! I was so tempted to get the highlighter stick and the bottom-lash mascara. Soon, perhaps :)

A glass table in the middle holds more makeup testers. These are the ultra pigmented Clinique Pop lipsticks.

A wall of bestsellers beside a vanity area with great lighting.

The smiling store supervisor has been with Clinique for 11 years - and of course has perfect skin!

Monthly favorites: Forever 21 cotton pads, Morphe 35T palette

January zipped by super fast! In month-end/start-of-the-month fashion, I thought I'd share with you some old and new favorites in the p...

January zipped by super fast! In month-end/start-of-the-month fashion, I thought I'd share with you some old and new favorites in the past few weeks.

Forever 21 cotton pads
I picked these up on a whim from one of the bins of knickknacks that Forever 21 traps you with while you're queuing to pay. I swear I'm not obsessed with these just because they have the cutest little bunnies embossed on them. With my usual night toner and serum, these pads do an awesome job at lifting off the last makeup and dirt from my face. They somehow do it better than the cotton balls or other cotton pads I've used, without using more toner or serum. I only wish they were cheaper. These are P160 for a box of 110 pads. That's still not really expensive since 110 pieces will last for about three months with daily use, but that's more than I usually spend for cotton pads.

NYX Cosmetics blush in Taupe
My skin is too light at the moment to use my orangey bronzers, so I've been reaching for my trusty old Taupe powder blush by NYX for my cheek contour. If you have fair to medium skin with neutral to cool undertones, this is a good affordable powder to contour with. It's not heavily pigmented, so most people won't be able to tell you've been sculpting your features with this!

K Palette Real Lasting Eyebrow pen
I previously reviewed and have since used up the K Palette two-way eyebrow pen, but I think I like this one better without the powdery eyebrow base. If you hate the dark, ultra sculpted brows that were all the rage last year thanks to a certain Jenner, you'll love this super natural-looking pen eyebrow pen that lasts all day and through Zumba class. Natural brows are much more 2017, by the way! 

Morphe 35T eyeshadow palette
This is a recent acquisition, but I loved it from first use. Many people talk about the 35O palette, which is all warm neutrals, but the purple, bronze and taupe (the "T" in 35T) colors in this palette are more appealing to me. This is my first encounter with Morphe eyeshadows and I'm definitely already a fan. Some are more pigmented than others, but they apply evenly and blend so incredibly smoothly together. On me, these shadows last all day. You don't always get that softness and longevity from less expensive palettes. The 35 pans in the palette are as big as single MAC shadow pans, but you get this entire palette for the price of two MAC singles. 

A version of this post was previously published in SunStar Cebu.