Guardian Sheet Masks at Rose Pharmacy

A sheet mask is just a sheet mask, right? In the case of Guardian, there’s more to sheet masks than meets the eye. The brand has made it so...

A sheet mask is just a sheet mask, right? In the case of Guardian, there’s more to sheet masks than meets the eye. The brand has made it something of a mission to provide a variety of sheet masks to provide different benefits for the skin. The variety of Guardian Happy Masks exclusively found in Rose Pharmacy outlets can rival or outdo those available in Korean beauty stores. 
Guardian Happy Masks

Jeju range. P49 each

These may be the first range I noticed available by Guardian, and the first ones I tried out. These AquaPlux sheets provide ultimate hydration and are free of parabens, mineral oil, and colorants. Jeju comes in Lily, Green Tea, Lotus Flower, Tsubaki, Seaweed, and Aloe Vera to replenish daily nutrients your skin needs, and to address complexion concerns like dullness or dryness. 

Premium Truffle range. P79 each

For more mature skin or if your face needs some extra TLC, White Truffle brightens and strengthens the skin with niacinamide, while Black Truffle makes skin supple with ultra-moisturizing hyaluronic acid.

Sleeping Mask. P79

These are not sheet masks that you only leave on and dispose after 15 or 20 minutes, but for overnight application just like a night cream. These come in translucent gel or milky cream textures, and deliver benefits like reinforcing skin’s natural lipid barrier for dry skin, or antioxidants for protecting the skin and keeping it healthy.

Berries Garden: Antioxidant, Vitalising. P59 each

Berries Garden: Hydrating, Rejuvenating, Brightening. P59 each

Marine Jelly Essence range. P79 each

If the Jeju and Berries range take inspiration from the garden, the Marine Jelly Essence range turns to the sea. Sea Cucumber revitalizes skin for a healthy-looking complexion, Seaweed smooths and soothes, and Jellyfish makes dry skin soft and supple.

Not only are these masks easily accessible since you can pick one up anytime you’re buying medication or personal care products, but they’re so affordable you can use them once a week or even more frequently, if you're feeling extra indulgent!

A version of this post was published in Sun.Star Cebu on September 21, 2018.

Review and how to use Althea Korea Skin Detoxers in Rose, Mint

Althea Korea has been on a roll with introducing their own brand of products. In time for the online store’s third anniversary is the relea...

Althea Korea has been on a roll with introducing their own brand of products. In time for the online store’s third anniversary is the release of Althea’s collaboration with Get It Beauty, the top beauty show in Korea. The Althea x Get It Beauty Real Fresh Skin Detoxer comes in Rose for daytime refining and Green Tea for night-time purifying.
Althea Korea Real Fresh Skin Detoxers in Rose and Green Tea
Roses have been incorporated in beauty routines for maybe 1,000 years. The Rose Detoxer contains real rose petal pieces and rose water to gently balance skin’s pH levels. This doesn’t use just regular roses, but specifically the May rose from Grasse in the French Riviera, which Conde Nast Traveler writes blooms for only as few as three weeks every year. It’s five times more potent than the regular rose for skin nourishing properties. I like the rose scent, which is noticeable but not irritating. 
For your night-time routine, you need something to soothe your skin from the day’s stress and prep it for sleep, when your body, including your skin, does its self-repair. The Green Tea Detoxer contains baby green tea leaves from a Jeju plantation to cleanse and relieve tired skin. Green tea contains five times more vitamin C than lemons, for antioxidants and brightening the skin.
The instructions are to apply a sufficient layer (not too thin, not too thick), and leave on for 10 seconds as a mask pack. Then simply wash off as you would your regular cleanser. Personally, I leave it on while I proceed with the rest of my shower. From the first use of the detoxers I noticed that my foundation looked better all day and my skin looks healthier, plumper, and more dewy. Obsessed! These are definitely staying in my skin care routine and I am going to repurchase once I run out.
Despite these natural and potent ingredients, Althea Korea makes the Fresh Skin Detoxers affordable so that we don’t have to stress over affording our skin care. Even better, you can currently get both products on a buy one, get one free offer for just P1,100 until stocks last.
A version of this post first appeared on print in Sun.Star Cebu on August 3, 2018.

Sephora Collection #Lipstories lipstick

Beauty can be dangerous to your health. My heart pounded when I saw that Sephora Philippines had followed me on Instagram. My breath caught...

Beauty can be dangerous to your health. My heart pounded when I saw that Sephora Philippines had followed me on Instagram. My breath caught in my chest when they sent me a DM to ask for my details so that they could send me something. I had a mini heart attack when the PR box arrived, and I opened it to find 30 (THIRTY!) lipsticks inside.
Sorry if I can't appear blase and collected about this. Beauty addict that I am, I don't think I'll ever get over the rush of receiving beauty gifts, especially if they're from brands that I have been patronizing for so long!

The heart-attack-inducing coffer contained 30 shades of Sephora Collection's #Lipstories, a line of matte, cream, and metal lipsticks "for celebrating the wild adventures, best moments, and magical memories in your life." They come in hard cardboard packaging with the top and bottom parts of the tube indicating the shade inside.
Some people may not like that the tube is not made of plastic, but I personally love the packaging. It's the first time I'm seeing lipstick with an illustration on it, and I don't have to memorize what shade is inside each tube, no matter which way I decide to store these in my lipstick library.

Every color has a different picture on it of things that bring joy: food, travel, nature, animals. Here they are, grouped according to their #Lipstories (descriptions from

Brunch Days: These lipsticks were made for brunch days, a.k.a. the best days, a.k.a. the days that start with S.
01 Brunch Date, 26 All Washed Up, 32 Berry-licious, 43 In the Clouds

Wifed Up: These wedding-party-approved shades are all about L-O-V-E. You + Sephora Collection = <3 4-EVA.
03 Oui!, 07 Love Love

Spring Break State of Mind: When you're ready to Get. Out. Of. Here, these shades will transport you back to being poolside in Puerto Vallarta.
06 Tan Lines, 24 Deep Water Bay, 36 Spring Break

Lady Business: These lipsticks were made for gals going big places, like interviews for that promotion to Head Babe in Charge.
09 Labyrinth City, 27 Hong Kong by Night, 45 City Beat

Holidaze: From hometown hangs to winter getaways, these shades were made for the coziest time of the year. These include 10 Yum Yum, 11 Fireside, 44 Woof...and alas, I seem to have deleted my shot of this, and cannot take another one because I have given those lipsticks away!

Pool O'clock: From poolside hangs to permanent brunch, these bright shades will see you through every summertime situation.
13 Coconut Grove

Global Citizen: Buy the ticket, hit the road, etc. These shades were made for travel selfies that'll give your friends FOMO.
14 Twolips, 25 First Class, 46 Ice Breaker

Hashtag Throwback: Dive into that nostalgic feeling with shades that'll inspire your future #TBT pics.
22 A Little Magic, 29 Malt Shake, 35 Take a Bite

Top Down Life: Music's on, top's down - these shades were made for road trippin' with your ride-or-die chicks.
31 Golden Gate, 33 Wanderlust

Festival Vibes: Whether you're in the band or waiting in the GA line, these shades scream "FESTIVAL-READY."
39 Desert Trip, 42 No Cell Service, 50 Trippin

And the others not listed on, as some of the shades available in Asia are not available in the U.S., and vice versa:
02 Landing in Shanghai, 17 Carnival Fun, 19 Street Style, 20 Buzz Me

#Lipstories lipsticks are available on at P497 each for 4 grams of product

Staycation luxuries from The Body Shop, LaMer, Xlash, Benefit, and more

Working a full time job, writing two weekly newspaper columns, trying to maintain this blog, spending time with people in my life, and trav...

Working a full time job, writing two weekly newspaper columns, trying to maintain this blog, spending time with people in my life, and traveling all bring me joy and satisfaction, but sometimes, my energy levels can no longer keep up. After two activity-packed weeks in London followed immediately by a full week of work, I needed to stop and do nothing.

So I did nothing except loaf overnight in an air-conditioned hotel room, watching TV and Netflix, leaving the bed only to have a cup of coffee or tea, take a shower, have dinner and breakfast, and pamper myself. Here's what I had with me:
I've been using The Body Shop body butter in whatever variant or fragrance for years; this one is Olive. The lip balm is Cherry, while the body scrub is Pink Grapefruit. I've been patronizing The Body Shop since I was 15 (half my life now) and these three in particular - the body butter, lip balm, and body scrub - are never absent in my personal care arsenal.

The soap tin is a souvenir from Marseille, France, which I discovered during my trip there in 2016 is a region very known for its soaps. I bring this little memento with me wherever I travel because plastic ones are usually super bulky or might break. And this design is prettier than anything else I've seen in stores, so.

The Origins Clear Improvement mask is a favorite of mine; I talked about it as one of my favorite products of 2017.

The Hiddencos Korean sheet mask came from a box sent by Althea Korea, one of my go-to sources for having all the bestselling and latest K-beauty products delivered from the skin genies in Korea straight to my doorstep. This mask smells exactly like a latte; good enough to eat (or drink)!
Benefit Cosmetics' Browvo! conditioning primer can be used on the brows to prep before makeup application, but it didn't work well for me that way (it tended to clump with foundation), so I use this every night on my brows. This is pricey (I bought it for P1,600) but it's the only brow conditioner that makes my sparse eyebrows fuller, compared to at least two brands of castor oil that I've tried.

Xlash eyelash serum is developed in Sweden and has become recently available in the Philippines. Find some incredible Before and After testimonies and find out more about this lash lengthener on If you're convinced and want to try it for yourself, get a 12% discount when using the code JOANNAXLASH upon checkout, on top of free international shipping!
This jar of La Mer was generously sent to me by Shop LCP and Zee magazine. Yes, it's nothing short of miraculous. Yes, it costs about USD200 a jar. I kept it in the fridge at home to keep it fresh while using up my other opened products. You do only need a little at a time, and you can see and feel the effect immediately. But yes, USD200 a jar.

And here is what the bed looked like before I melted into it and messed up the tight, pristine tucking:
Grateful to Quest Hotel and Conference Center on Archbishop Reyes for such a cool, clean, and comfortable stay. I would highly recommend it for the location (just across Ayala Center Cebu), excellent service, and awesome breakfast buffet at a seriously competitive price. Book directly with the hotel at

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) at Mogambo Springs, the Spa at Plantation Bay

Although it sounds alien to most of us, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is an established medical treatment that’s been used for decades as...

Although it sounds alien to most of us, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is an established medical treatment that’s been used for decades as an alternative treatment. With HBOT, a patient breathes almost 100 percent pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. The pressure inside the chamber increases the concentration of oxygen to our lungs and the rest of the body, repairing it as our tissues need oxygen to heal. 

HBOT is now available at Mogambo Springs, the Spa at Plantation Bay, as an amenity for those seeking overall wellness. 
Inside Mogambo Springs, the Spa at Plantation Bay in Marigondon, Mactan Island, Cebu
The procedure is highly recommended for divers experiencing decompression sickness, or diabetics whose wounds take a long time to heal. But just about everyone can benefit from HBOT, as it is known to increase antioxidant production, stimulate collagen and elastin production in the skin, enhance the immune system, improve the quality of your sleep, and many other health-enhancing effects. 

The HBOT chamber is inside a private spa suite:

Some people might find it claustrophobic being in an enclosed space, but the HBOT chamber is not at all restrictive. The patient is advised to wear 100 percent cotton, so I changed into one of the spa’s yukatas, lay down in the chamber, and it was zipped up. It takes a few minutes for the chamber to become fully pressurized. You will feel pressure in your ears, but simply adjust as if you were on a plane by yawning or popping your ears. You are also provided a sort of headset that expels a stream of oxygen for you to breathe in through the nostrils. 
The HBOT chamber when fully pressurized.

If the thought of being inside a pressurized chamber makes you nervous, the key is simply to relax. Ask the spa therapist all your questions about what to expect before stepping in. The therapist is on standby for the whole procedure and will check on you through the viewing panel from time to time.
A-OK inside the HBOT chamber!

I was perfectly content lying in the chamber for half an hour reading a magazine. The chamber then takes a few more minutes to depressurize, and out you go. Some people may feel lightheaded or tired after an HBOT session, but I had no such side effects. 

I did not notice any immediate effect, but later in the day, I saw both my skin and hair were noticeably smoother and softer even if I had not used any new products. That was after just 30 minutes, so imagine (and see) the benefits of multiple one-hour HBOT sessions. 

Guests can fully rejuvenate and relax with Mogambo Spa’s treatments and five-star spa facilities, and complement the visit with an HBOT session. The HBOT package price for the recommended 10 sessions won’t jolt you out of your relaxed state, either, as it is offered at far less than what local medical centers charge.

For more information, visit or e-mail
A version of this post was published in Sun.Star Cebu on March 16, 2018.