There are many joys—and burdens—in getting into beauty in my mid-20s. For one thing, I think I would have been less cautious had I discovered makeup at a younger age; I probably would’ve bought ridiculous glitter eyeshadow, lots of black eyeliner (I blame Avril Lavigne), or overpriced mascara I’d leave to dry after using it for a few weeks. Now that I’m more mature, I stick to neutral colors, really wearable shades, multi-functional items, and products that will really help my skin look good and healthier.
I’m not at that point where I know what really, really works for me yet. I’m new to the game, so I still want to try everything. K-palette eyeliner? That’s a classic. I must have it! That Etude House eyeshadow palette shaped like a chocolate bar? I already have a lot of eyeshadows. But it’s so cute. I must have it! Makeup primer? I don’t have anything like that yet. I must have it! That’s pretty much how my brain works near beauty sections.
Since I buy skin care products and makeup with my own money, I research the hell out of a product that catches my eye before actually buying it because beauty is pain…fully expensive. If I’m going to spend P700 upwards on one product, I make sure I’ll get my money’s worth.
After amassing a small hill of makeup and skin care stuff since 2015 rolled around, I’ve come to love a few things more than others. Hoping this turns out to be a sustainable series on this blog, I’ll stick to featuring around five items that I’m loving and can absolutely recommend to anyone.
1. THEFACESHOP Rice Water Bright Cleansing Light Oil
For as long as I can remember I’ve been using Pond’s Cold Cream to remove makeup because that was what I saw my mother using. Our recent family trip to Korea introduced me to cleansing oil. A lot of people swear by cleansing oil while others find the feeling of oil to clean your skin strange. After a few months of using this product, I’ve concluded that I’m Team Latter, but this stuff is amazing. It removes even the most stubborn makeup like Benefit’s They’re Real! Push-Up Liner. This is my first cleansing oil, and I’ll definitely repurchase again.
Here it is in action:
I liberally swatched lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara on my arm. Pumped a few drops of THEFACESHOP’s Rice Water Cleansing Oil on that hot mess.
Rubbed my arm a few times, and the eyeshadow melts off instantly.
Half a minute of rubbing/massaging + one more pump of oil. When it starts to look really gross, that’s when you know it’s working.
Washed that gunk off with lukewarm water and Human Nature’s Balancing Facial Wash. Look, Ma! All clean!
Cleansing oil is the shiznit. (Shiznit, really?)
A cheaper alternative: coconut oil. I saw a group of Japanese tourists at Landmark the other day. They were going gaga around a shelf of coconut oil.
2. Human Nature Balancing Toner
Human Nature is a pro-Philippines, pro-poor, and pro-environment social enterprise. With the goal of helping underprivileged Filipinos uplift themselves from poverty, Gawad Kalinga volunteers Anna Meloto-Wilk, her husband Dylan, and her sister Camille founded the brand in 2005 and have continuously developed it ever since. Human Nature employs Gawad Kalinga beneficiaries, most of whom have not finished school, and implements a no-firing policy to sustain inclusive growth. They also work with citronella, sunflower, lemongrass, and passion fruit farming communities in Camarines Norte, Negros Occidental, and Davao among others to make all their lovely, cruelty-free products.
Organic and ethically-acquired products tend to be on the pricey side, but Human Nature’s toners, lotions, and shampoos are incredibly affordable and easily accessible in places like Shopwise, Landmark (where I get most of my Human Nature goodies), and other department stores. They’re natural, they’re local, and they’re for a good cause. What’s not to love?
I think toner is the reason why my skin got better moisture-wise. Although I’m trying to keep the oil situation under control right now, it’s an easier concern compared to dryness and red, blotchy skin. This toner smells like oranges, and it never stings. I’m on my second bottle of Human Nature’s Balancing Face Toner for oily-combination skin, and I’m on my way to the third one.
3. Benefit They’re Real! Mascara
When I was younger, I just used to borrow my mom’s mascara since I wasn’t the huge mascara abuser I am today. Now I wear it five days a week and sometimes on the weekends even though I told myself I’d give my face a break when I don’t have to go to work. The Benefit They’re Real! Mascara is the first mascara I conscientiously chose when I got into this business of serious face painting. Since it’s almost always on “best of” lists, I figured it would be a good investment.
Still, I find it expensive at around P1,300. And I’ve learned that mascara is one makeup product you don’t have to splurge on. A lot of drugstore brands and cheaper mascaras are just as good as the expensive ones, sometimes even better.
Sometimes when I’m applying this mascara, I brush it too close to my eye or I just give into the urge to blink, so I end up hurting myself a little because the tiny bristles are made of hard plastic. But what I do like about this mascara is the wand. I’ve read a lot of articles that say the wand is really the star of the mascara. Some people would even re-use the wand of one mascara brand because they like it so much with a different or cheaper formula. The tip bristles of the Benefit They’re Real! Mascara wand fan out, which makes it so easy to coat the tiny eyelashes on the sides of my eye with product. Basically they keep me from poking my eyeball trying to cover every lash.
4. Happy Skin Shut Up & Kiss Me Moisturizing Lippie
Happy Skin is another local brand created by beauty experts Jacqe Yuengtian-Gutierrez and Rissa Mananquil-Trillo. They’re all about wonderfully packaged, complexion-nourishing makeup that’ll make Filipino women of all skin types and tones look effortlessly beautiful. Happy Skin uses ingredients such as cherry blossom leaf extract, shea butter, and argan oil to name a few in their makeup formulas to help improve your skin and make it “happy.”
A friend recommended Happy Skin to me, particularly their lipstick. The fact that it’s local was enough of a prompt for me to try their stuff. Happy Skin, Human Nature, Snoe, Ellana, Fashion 21—these homegrown brands make great, affordable products specifically for Asian skin. They need a lot of love, you guys.
I immediately went to Beauty Bar and bought one of Happy Skin’s Shut Up & Kiss Me Moisturizing Lippies. All Happy Skin products are cleverly named like this, which I think is such a great marketing move. Who wouldn’t want Don’t Get Mad, Get Even Foundation or Eye Love View Pencil & Marker Eyebrow Duo? I do.
Honeymoon Glow is one of the more natural shades in the permanent line. I hesitate to say that the color of the exterior is the actual color of the lipstick because I realized when I got home it’s a tad darker on the inside, but still, it’s very moisturizing, and it glides on like a dream. Plus it doesn’t have a cloying lipstick smell like the ones from Ever Bilena (sorry) and Snoe (sorry) do. This lipstick is one of my favorites, and it has a permanent spot inside my makeup bag.
5. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara
There was a lot of hype around this product when it came out a few weeks ago. Maybelline is known for its great mascaras, and the Great Lash is one of their award-winning, iconic classics. A lot of beauty professionals consider this a holy grail product, and it has sustained a global cult following since it came out in 1970. The Maybelline Great Lash Mascara made its comeback in the Philippines in celebration of the brand’s 100th anniversary. I think this mascara was largely unavailable to the Philippine market since the early 90s, but now it’s back for a limited time (maybe April to September this year) or until stocks last.
I got a tube in Landmark last March and have been keeping it close to me every day since then.
I’ll just tell it like it is: It was love at first swipe. It’s lightweight all around, from the packaging to the formula. The wand is this cute little, innocuous thing that separates my eyelashes really well. The Great Lash mascara keeps my straight eyelashes curled all day, something even Benefit’s They’re Real! Mascara wasn’t able to do. When I’m wearing the Great Lash mascara, I don’t feel like I’m wearing mascara. In my opinion, it’s a “My eyelashes, but better.” product. I have four tubes of mascaras right now, all from different brands, but the Great Lash is my favorite child. I use it the most, love it the most. And when I run out, my heart will not rest until I have another tube of this stuff in my life.
I leave you with a partial shot of my mug wearing two coats of Great Lash (and after I learned how to get rid of a few spots on Photoshop). But I’m still serving up some non-beauty blogger realness with unwashed hair, wild eyebrows, and not a dot of concealer for miles around. ‘Sup.
My 2015 second quarter favorites will feature some Korean products I lugged back with me from Seoul (i.e. Innisfree!). Stay tuned.