Favorite products of 2017

Happy New Year to us all! Here are the top three products that I discovered and loved in 2017. Origins Clear Improvement Mask, L'Ore...

Happy New Year to us all! Here are the top three products that I discovered and loved in 2017.
Origins Clear Improvement Mask, L'Oreal EverCurl leave-in hair cream, Morphe eye palettes.
(Thank you to A-list Events, PR, and Advertising for the personalized pouch!)
Best Skin Care Product: Origins Clear Improvement Mask

This “active charcoal mask to clear pores” is the second product I’ve tried from Origins. I was just as impressed by this as I am by the GinZing eye cream that I swear by.  From first use, this mask makes my skin look and feel really clean and refreshed without drying it out. For those who apply makeup frequently and live in a polluted city like I do, a daily cleansing routine is just not enough to lift off excess dirt and oil. I honestly only use this maybe thrice a month, though you can use it up to twice a week, but I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in my skin condition since I started using this mask. I am just not sure this is compatible with sensitive skin because there is a bit of a tingling sensation for me, but I would recommend this for those with normal, combination, or oily skin types. I purchased mine in Bangkok Duty Free. Origins is available in several SM malls in Manila.
Best Hair Care Product: L’Oreal Paris EverCurl leave-in cream

Of the many hair products I've tried over the years, this is the best so far for keeping my wavy, colored hair silky and much less frizzy than normal, without weighing it down or making it sticky. I purchased mine in Landers (where it's frequently half off for only P175), but it might also be available in other stores where L’Oreal’s sulfate-free lines are carried.
Best Product for Eyes: Morphe eyeshadow palettes

You’ve probably seen these in many a YouTube beauty tutorial. While not sold in stores in Cebu, some online sellers carry Morphe, or you can always ask your cousin in the US to buy you one for the next time she comes home. It’s kind of unbelievable how much eyeshadow of really good quality you can get for only about $30. I have the 35T and 35O palettes, and while some shadows are less pigmented than others, they still perform just as well or even better than other more expensive palettes.

A version of this post first appeared in Sun.Star Cebu on December 29, 2017.

Review and swatches: Faith Hope Love Argan Tint and Blush

Faith Hope Love Skin Food is heaven sent for those who love locally produced, organic, and cruelty-free products. Last year, I reviewed thei...

Faith Hope Love Skin Food is heaven sent for those who love locally produced, organic, and cruelty-free products. Last year, I reviewed their Argan Glow lip and cheek balm, and this year, the brand owner kindly sent me a few more products to try out, including the new Argan Tint and Blush.

This comes in gold and clear lipgloss tubes with doe foot applicators. I find these easier to use and tote around than the lip and cheek balm. The Argan Tint and Blush comes in 8 colors with either a Juicy or Soft Matte finish. All of them are fully pigmented but almost weightless, and leave a mild cooling sensation on the lips when applied. Those who like tints or liquid lipsticks but hate a heavy feel or overly made-up look will appreciate these.
 Faith Hope Love Argan Tint and Blush
Shades: Without You, After All, Linger

Without You (Healthy Matte) is a mauvey nude that looks good with either a no-makeup look or to lightly complement a smokey eye. A unique shade that is different and more subdued than the usual brighter pinks or reds that lip tints come in. This only lasts about 3 hours on me and does not leave much of a stain behind.

After All (Juicy) is a pretty cherry red and my favorite of the three. Even if it's called Juicy, it dries down shine-free. Pigmented so one coat is enough, but you can layer on for more intensity. This wears the longest on me of the three and works well worn alone or if you want to layer lipstick or gloss on top.

Linger (Healthy Matte) is a gorgeous brownish cranberry color that would look most natural on darker skintones, or bolder on paler skin. I love the shade, but the formula is unfortunately very frustrating. I do not have particularly dry lips, but these clung to every line and made my lips flake. I tried layering this under creamy lipsticks and it still didn't work out for me. The applicator also picks up too much of this particular formula and is easy to get messy on the lips. It comes off like crazy on my coffee cup. However! The owner has informed me that Linger has been reformulated, so I may purchase another tube to check because I do like the color.

These are priced at P280 for 9ml each and available on Beauty Manila (although frequently sold out there). Find out more about Faith Hope Love and order directly from their website, fhlskinfood.com .

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 kokoclearph@gmail.com and find more details at kokoclearph.com.

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.