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.

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?