Is it worth it? Reviewing the NxtGen mask

Since we went into community quarantine nearly a year and a half ago, I've been experimenting with different reusable masks because I do...

Since we went into community quarantine nearly a year and a half ago, I've been experimenting with different reusable masks because I don't want to add more waste to our landfills. I encountered issues with several fabric masks I bought online: too big, too hot, so unbreathable they made me dizzy, so muffled that the cashier at the supermarket couldn't understand what I was saying.

My friend Mike Acebedo Lopez was the first to tell me about the NxtGen mask, but when I checked the price online (it was P5,000 at the time), I backed off.

Months later, I was fortunate enough to receive the NxtGen mask from PR. After wearing it for a few weeks and being able to appreciate its benefits, we bought another one from

This below was the clincher for deciding to buy another mask. Look at the dirty filter on the left, compared to the new one on the right.
Left: Filter after about 15 days of use.

I work in real estate, which involves going to construction sites, warehouses, and open fields. It's a lot of dust and a lot of walking, so I really need a mask that can withstand the dust, the sweat, and the cardio, and the NxtGen has been able to put up with it all.

NxtGen masks come with medical grade HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which means they can filter even tiny particles. NxtGen filters are reusable for about 30 days, but as you can see, they may need to be replaced sooner with heavy use.

The NxtGen mask is made of medical grade silicone so it fits snugly on the face. Since it's silicone, it's lightweight and washable. If I'm out the whole day, I'll wipe off the mask with alcohol and tissue if I take it off to eat or drink, but I always wash it with soap and water when I get home. 

Because it's lightweight and breathable, I'm not muffled when I'm talking. I'm not further out of breath by my mask even if I have to climb up and down several flights of stairs in buildings under construction. I have worn it without issues while brisk walking outdoors.

I did change out the original ear strap of the NxtGen, which is designed to wrap around your head and the back of the neck to prevent pain from ear loops. I found it personally annoying because the elastic wraps around the head like a visor, and no matter how tightly I fastened it, it would still slip down. 

Instructions from

I don't think other people have had issues; this is just my personal preference. I'm not prone to pain from ear loops anyway, so I just changed out that part and I'm happier for it.

NxtGen masks and filters are currently on sale on and immediately available in Cebu, so you may want to check it out if you also need a high-performance mask. If you are really staying home most of the time or only go out for brief / important errands, you may not need this. But if you are perhaps a triathlete, in the medical field, in construction, or other industry where you are exposed to a lot of allergens and cannot afford any sort of hampered breathing, then the NxtGen mask is a worthy investment for your health as part of your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

Empties: Neostrata toner, L’Oreal micellar water, Clinique eye cream and more

Here’s an overview of mostly skin care and a couple of makeup bits I’ve emptied recently: Xbrow eyelash serum I may be saddest of...

Here’s an overview of mostly skin care and a couple of makeup bits I’ve emptied recently:

Xbrow eyelash serum
I may be saddest of all about using every last drop of this lash serum. From the same maker of Xlash, which almosut doubled my lash thickness and added 50% in length, this was the brow serum that really worked to thicken my eyebrows. It has unfortunately become too expensive to import this from the U.K. so it is no longer distributed in the Philippines. 

The Body Shop lip and cheek tint
The OG lip and cheek tint that I have been using since high school, since its rollerball packaging days. It’s still the perfect tint in terms of color and wearability for me, but it is quite pricey and there are tons of Korean and local options now that are more affordable and very similar in wear and application. 

Aritaum Style Pop brow mascara
I bought this quite a while ago from Dara Beauty, but it took a long time for me to use up because I liked to bring it while traveling since it’s so small. It’s a good brow gel as the spoolie gives good control without depositing too much product. I would repurchase. 

Missha Green Tea lip and eye makeup remover
This is the second Missha lip and eye makeup remover I’ve emptied. It’s the best that I’ve used and works better for me than some expensive high end removers I’ve tried for taking off the most long wearing lipsticks and waterproof eyeliners. It doesn’t leave an oily film and doesn’t sting at all. You’d think that would be a basic requirement for something made for your eyes and lips, but I’ve encountered eye makeup removers that sting if you get it into your eye. 

Neostrata Refine oily skin solution with 8 AHA
AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid, which was amazing at refining my skin texture and smoothing out my pores. I got this as a sample from Bodyworx Medical Spa, and made sure to use it sparingly when I found out that a full size bottle costs more than P2,000! 

Clinique All About Eyes Rich eye cream
It also took me a long time to go through this because I’d use it for travel. It’s a good nighttime eye cream especially for cooler climes, but the full size is quite pricey. I’d rather spend money on my HG Origins eye cream because that’s been the best for fading my dark circles. 

L’Oreal micellar water
This is a good micellar water that’s available in most department stores and Watsons. I honestly felt no difference from the much more expensive Bioderma. I would repurchase, but I still have other Korean micellar waters in my stash to use up. 

Neutrogena Deep Clean foaming cleanser
If you’re wondering why this has Chinese characters on it, I bought this in Hong Kong. I don’t know if the formulation has been improved or adjusted for the Philippines, but this cleanser did not deep clean my skin. Even if I had used makeup remover before this, I would still get traces of makeup on my cotton pad when I followed with toner, meaning it hadn’t done well melting off and washing off the remnants of my makeup. 

Human Nature Nourishing facial wash
I received this from PR and I like to use it as morning facial wash when I’m traveling since it’s a gentle cleanser with a nice (not sweetly artificial) scent. I think this is a good cleanser for normal skin, but may not be potent enough to thoroughly wash off makeup if like me, you wear BB cream / foundation and powder most of the time. 

Swatches and review: Penshoppe Beauty Pop Hydramatte lipsticks

No one seems to be talking about them, but the Penshoppe Beauty Pop lipsticks are definitely worth a try, especially for only P219 each for ...

No one seems to be talking about them, but the Penshoppe Beauty Pop lipsticks are definitely worth a try, especially for only P219 each for 3.6 grams of product.

I have them in two shades, Very Berry and Party Fever:
Party Fever (top) and (Very Berry) bottom

They come in plastic sky blue and baby pink ombre tubes, which I think is really pretty and better than expected for such an affordable lipstick. The only down side is the plastic stains quite easily, so if you’re not careful, the lipstick is going to stain it. 
Although the colors appear quite dark and vampy in the tube, Very Berry is a medium red while Party Fever is a toned-down magenta. Both of them apply very smoothly with good pigmentation and have a powdery matte finish that isn’t drying. Because they are not too bright, I find them wearable enough for daytime and even at the office. 

Both shades last around a similar amount of time on me, but I noticed that Party Fever transfers noticeably more than Very Berry. It definitely stained my coffee cup, and it’d be a good idea to wipe it off first before changing out of your office blouse or uniform.

Overall, I am pleasantly impressed with these. You can buy them in Penshoppe stores or 

Empties! Maybelline foundations, Benefit babies, mascaras

Foundations These are the only two foundations I've emptied in my life, both by Maybelline. Dream Satin Skin (shade PO3) and Fit Me ...

These are the only two foundations I've emptied in my life, both by Maybelline. Dream Satin Skin (shade PO3) and Fit Me (shade 235) are both great foundations for those who like medium coverage with a natural finish. Both are super easy to blend in and widely available, so I highly recommend these for those who need an easy, affordable foundation for everyday. Fit Me wears on me better with my combination skin; it's the first time I've repurchased a foundation.

Mascara is something I use nearly everyday, and it's something you must dispose of after 4 months (6 at an absolute stretch), so I go through a lot of tubes. The Cover Girl Super Thick Lash and Make Up Forever Excessive lash do the job okay, but aren't really remarkable for me. I have repurchased variations of the Maybelline Great Lash and L'Oreal Voluminous over the years. Great Lash is great for everyday, while Voluminous creates a longer, more dramatic lash while still looking sleek and feathery, never clumpy.

Benefit Cosmetics
Browvo is a unique product that I used as brow grower, though it is called a conditioning primer. It's a good product, but it's quite pricey for only a few ml, so I won't call it a must-have. Posie Tint is a pretty liquid cheek tint if you have fair skin and just want a touch of pink. Though there are endless cheek tints available on the market now, some of them are just too red or pigmented on pale skin. Posie Tint is great for an oh-so-subtle flush.

Lastly, Nichido Tinted Brow Gel in Ash Blonde. This color was great for me when I had lighter hair. The brush picks up a bit too much product, but nothing you can't manage without a spoolie. A good brow gel you won't feel guilty for using everyday as it only costs around P240 for a tube that will last about 3 months.

Bodyworx Medical Spa: A stylish, personal touch to skin care

Entering Bodyworx Medical Spa feels more like entering a hotel lobby rather than a skin clinic, with its sophisticated high-ceiling, stone...

Entering Bodyworx Medical Spa feels more like entering a hotel lobby rather than a skin clinic, with its sophisticated high-ceiling, stone-finish reception area.

The husband and wife tandem behind Bodyworx, aesthetic medicine practitioners Andy and Sugar Mantilla, had their humble beginnings providing skin treatments in their apartment. Three years later, to accommodate their growing clientele and range of services, they have recently opened this beautiful, full-fledged clinic in Cebu Business Park with four treatment rooms and dedicated areas for IV and nail treatments.
Doctors Sugar and Andy Mantilla of Bodyworx Medical Spa

We are accustomed to choosing from a menu of services, but one of the things that makes Bodyworx unique is the thorough analysis that will be done on each client in order to determine what service would be most effective. In the same way we go to our regular doctors, we don’t tell them what needs to be done; we get a check-up and are then advised what to do.

Aside from the patient information sheet, clients will be asked to go into detail about their skin concern, what products they use for skin care, and what past procedures they have tried. Dr. Andy and Dr. Sugar make sure that they are able to consult with every patient for a thorough assessment, and take the time to educate their clients on everything from product ingredients, to how a certain type of laser works. They aim to provide personalized, effective treatments that their clients can enjoy in a very clean and comfortable clinic. 
The Visia face analysis machine checks patients' skin condition
as part of the pre-treatment assessment.

Though both Andy and Sugar are doctors, they differ from dermatologists in that their treatments do not require pathologic testing. The services at Bodyworx are cosmetic to enhance the health and vibrancy of the skin, rather than medical, which focuses on treating diseases.

Facials are Bodyworx’s trademark treatment, and often last up to two hours. Those who regularly go to skin clinics will recognize state-of-the-art machines like Ulthera, Pollogen, Mesobiolift, and Opera; these are all offered at Bodyworx for less compared to other clinics. Other face and body treatments target pigmentation, scarring, acne, fat reduction, and hair removal. 

In a separate area, clients can avail of several types of IV vitamin therapies (popularly known as drips), and nail services including the fun and unique 3D nail art printing. Each lounge chair in the nail area even comes with a tablet so you can Netflix and chill while having your nails done.
Nail lounge with individual tablets

Choose from top nail polish brands like Morgan Taylor, OPI, and Cuccio.

IV therapy area

Bodyworx is located on the ground floor of Solinea Tower One, Cardinal Rosales Avenue. It is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Contact them at

A version of this post was published in Sun.Star Cebu on July 5, 2019.