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Bargain Beauty

2 Jan

I love the discovery of cheap products that function well. I don’t want to buy very expensive makeup that would probably be predictably good, because

  1. I don’t wear makeup often.
  2. I have other purchases to make besides makeup.
  3. I should live below my means.

And I was surprised to find this works:

Nichido Eyeshadow (L) in Sugar Berry and Blush (R) in Sunkissed

Nichido Eyeshadow (L) in Sugar Berry and Blush (R) in Sunkissed

Why I like them:

  1. Swipe your finger on the product in the pot and it feels smooth and finely-milled.
  2. Transfer of product on skin (not on brush) is immediate, ergo
  3. Color is solid and even: one swipe can be enough.
  4. Lasts: does not wear off or wipe off easily.
  5. No adverse reactions from skin.
  6. Cheap!
L-R: saizen ellefar eyeshadow (darkest hue); nichido eyeshadow in sugar berry; nichido blush in sunkissed

L-R: saizen ellefar eyeshadow (darkest hue); nichido eyeshadow in sugar berry; nichido blush in sunkissed


THE Ingredients. (Sigh)


Of course, I may yet try this one by Human Heart Nature:

Mineral Eyeshadow

But I think the only thing good about it is THE Ingredients. (Sigh.) One review on their website confirmed what I always experience on a tester at cosmetic counters: it’s difficult to get any semblance of the color on the palette—you have to rub your finger repeatedly on the pan to get some color.

I think their blush has more promise:

hhn blush

On to other cheap but good, and cheap but not good:

saizen cosmetics

The eyeshadow quad at right does not apply evenly AT FIRST, but definitely blendable with a brush:

top row of swatches: applied with a finger; bottom row, applied with finger and then blended with a brush

top row of swatches: applied with a finger; bottom row, applied with finger and then blended with a brush

AND it doesn’t last, AND it had a metallic smell. Not to mention all the scary ingredients that are sadly quite common:

saizen ellefar eyeshadow quad

The foundation at left (three pictures above) came in a blister packaging but was discarded before I could take a photo. Anyway, this was the only kind that had ‘Chiffon Foundation’ printed on the compact. GOOD: applied with a brush, it left me with a light, smooth, even, and lasting finish/coverage. AND IT’S ONLY 88 PESOS (about 2 USD).

If I had known long before, I wouldn’t have bought this—my ONLY concession to expensive makeup (hehe, so far):

shiseido perfect smoothing compact foundation

This is a refill that already cost me almost php2,000 (about 47 USD), because the one with a case was about php3,000 (about 70 USD)! — bought early this year.

AND THEN I checked their website just now, and the cased one is just USD31.00 shiseido perfect smoothing compact foundation

What the bell?! I am so not in a good mood right now.

So, on with another great Nichido buy: their eyeliners. Namely:

top: mineral kohl pencil in ONYX; bottom: nichido minerals eye pencil in TIGER EYE

top: mineral kohl pencil in ONYX; bottom: nichido minerals eye pencil in TIGER EYE

Goes on EFFORTLESSLY. No fear of pulling your skin just to get solid, continuous application. AND IT’S ONLY php138.

top swatch: Nichido minerals in tiger eye;bottom swatch: NIchido mineral kohl in onyx

top swatch: Nichido minerals in tiger eye;
bottom swatch: NIchido mineral kohl in onyx

What not to buy in Saizen:

saizen eyeliner

This time the product is MIA and I am left with the packaging. But take my word for it, it is almost like trying to use drag a pencil that’s made to write on paper to draw a line on your skin. The words ‘drag’ and ‘skin’ shouldn’t even be used in the same sentence.

Aido seems good as well. Ever Bilena, not so much.

What I don’t like with these local inexpensive brands are their LIPSTICKS. They’re either too matte or too bright.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Makeup is like fashion. As long as it has the basic, proper elements— as with makeup, an even color/shade application/coverage; and with fashion, a nice fit and finish of the sewn details—and that you wear it with confidence, cheap can be tasteful.

I’d love to know what else is out there. (Elf is a bit overrated, I think.) Here’s to a frugal 2013!





For The Hair Up There: Tresemme, etc.

1 Jan


It’s always a good thing when new products come out in trial sizes. Consumers would be less hesitant to try it out, or give it as gifts.


So I got a pack, tried it out, and liked it. It was good for my thick, coarse asian hair, the kind that doesn’t fall back in place when you shake your head, and fluffs up in humid conditions. Bleh.

My hair also loves the Pantene (and this conditioning mist) and Rejoice products (Procter & Gamble), Dove, and the less expensive, commercial Loreal line (Elseve / Total Repair). Ironically, the pricey Kerastase didn’t work well on my hair — it left my hair a bit sticky and heavy..

Not surprisingly, just like the others mentioned above,  Tresemme (Unilver) contains a lot of these unhealthy ingredients:


tresemme conditioner

Apparently, the bad stuff makes my hair softer. Because unfortunately the good stuff doesn’t make my hair as soft:

human heart nature

Of course, this would probably work well on finer, naturally smoother hair. However, I want to try this so much:

100% Natural Smoothing Hair Serum

And even though I already tried this, and it’s not greasy and doesn’t weigh hair down, I’m just going to stick with using it on my skin:

Sunflower Seed Beauty Oil *

Or maybe I will still use it to apply on hair, like a treatment, before I wash my hair. I love Human Heart Nature because their products are non-toxic and they don’t cost an arm.  Check out their website to see why they don’t use certain ingredients. And if you want to take it a step further, like using the simplest ingredients to wash your hair — baking soda /vinegar / apple cider vinegar / lemons; egg / honey / olive oil / bananas / avocadoes to condition, etc. — you can start with these websites:

care2 website

the daily green website

And a lot of other websites that inform about green living, or at least do-it-yourself natural bath and body products. Because unless we encase ourselves in a plastic bubble, there will always be something toxic in what we’re using, breathing, eating, etc. So we do what we can to make up for those little bad elements that could add up. Here’s to a healthier 2013!

Nail Vanity

27 Dec

A 200-peso bottle of nail polish is a splurge for me. php300? Maybe. php500? That’s a bag of groceries.

About a month ago I got this Revlon one (color name: Mischievous. price: php225, or about 5bucks) at a department store because I wanted to try on the stone-colored/mud-colored polishes that are in this cold, holiday season. Length of time to decide to buy: 30 mins.

And then about a week ago, I saw this small bottle of Sassy putty-colored polish called Coffee Brown (very milky coffee) at Watson’s SM Annex for 19 pesos or about half a dollar. Length of time to decide to buy: 2.5 seconds.

I also got a brownish-maroon polish at php100 (or about 4 dollars) at a kiosk called Girl Stuff, which only sells nail polish. The saleslady said they have the same composition as the bag-of-grocery equivalent, and that the polishes are formaldehyde-free and toluene-free. I like that. Length of time to decide to buy: 10 seconds.

L-R: Girl Stuff, Sassy, Revlon

L-R: Girl Stuff, Sassy, Revlon

L: Sassy Coffee Brown, R: Revlon Mischievous

L: Sassy Coffee Brown, R: Revlon Mischievous

Sassy verdict:

  1. Turned out to be more flesh-colored than cement-colored
  2. Formula seemed a bit thin or diluted, you need to apply at least 2 coats so color will look even.
  3. Ease of application: ok, but only because the formula was very fluid.

Revlon verdict:

  1. Had a bit of bluish tinge–but only very slightly.
  2. Color is more concentrated, formula is thicker, and you can get away with just one coat.
  3. I found that application gets a bit more challenging as the formula gets thicker. It was still not easy applying it evenly– I would either be over- or under-applying.
  4. Toluene- and formaldehyde-free: Yay!

Girl Stuff verdict:

  1. This may be toluene and formaldehyde-free, but it gave off a stronger (unpleasant) smell than most other polishes.
  2. Very thick formula, so it was a bit tricky to apply.
  3. This was the only color I liked in their line, so I don’t think I will repurchase. So to start getting some of my money’s worth, I ended up putting this one on 🙂


I still like nail polishes in these colors, very flattering to my skin color, and very Berenice Marlohe.


Well, kind of. I am not going to sport dark polish on long nails.

And to make your polish last, I recommend Etude House Jelly Pop top coat.

top coat to use: Etude Jelly Pop (L); base coat in photo: San San colorless polish from HBC

top coat to use: Etude Jelly Pop (L); base coat in photo: San San colorless polish from HBC

Then I use an acetone-free polish remover from Lander, which I only see in Landmark department store:


Acetone-free is supposed to be good.


It may contain methanol instead, which this article says is even more harmful than acetone, especially when it comes into contact with skin.

YIKES. Now I have a dilemma. Because I can’t give up nail polish yet, especially on my toes. I try not to leave the house wearing open-toed shoes without nail polish on. And I rarely wear closed shoes.

So until my favorite local healthy-beauty company comes up with a line of nail polish, I’m just going to have to make up for that toxicity by using other less-toxic products in my beauty routines, and eating healthy, etc.

For the meantime, I’m loving my painted toenails.



Off with the heads! Etude Green Tea Nose Pack Review

17 Dec


It’s time. Blackheads have never failed me, they have been with me since grade school and never left my nose. My only effective alternative to painful derma extraction was the Pond’s Nose Strip that has been AWOL  for a long time now.

Then suddenly, there was the Skinfood Black Bean Nose Pack for me, tried it, and forgot about that Pond’s watchamacallit. But I have to have alternatives to the alternative in case  the latter becomes AWOL as well.


As usual, richly-colored, sticky side protected by the plastic sheet is the side you stick on your skin. Rough side is exposed to air. These products love a very wet nose to adhere to. Smooth it down on your skin, making sure it sticks to every millimeter of skin area, especially the ones covered by blackheads, and get into the valley on either side of the nose.

Now find a place to hide while you wait for that strip to stiffen up and dry out. Your boyfriend or husband does NOT need to see these routines.


Mmmm, smells like mildly green tea-minty, mashed adzuki beans.


Hope you weren’t eating when you saw that.

Another great blackhead-removing strip. Two down, four to go.

Pantene Natural Shine Booster Essence

7 Dec

DSCN0938 I have a case of the grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence. I envy long, smooth, soft manes that thick and wavy but not poufy. My hair is thick but buhaghag. When I move my head to shake my hair around, the hair is NOT going to fall back in place.

It was long and I had it rebonded. But I am tired of the high-maintenance rebond, the long and painful process, the cost of a good product/salon, and I got scared na of the chemicals.

So nagpakatotoo na ko. Since I outgrew the rebonded hair, I cut it short at lumabas na ang kulot. But I still want soft, shiny hair.

I wanted to adopt a natural, chemical-free lifestyle pero hindi pa ko ready to wash it in beer, coat it in eggs, or smear it with mashed fruit (avocados, bananas…). I’ll take some artificial ingredients for the meantime.


So after 20 minutes in that grocery aisle, holding a product, putting it back on the shelf, getting it back…I swear the security guard started to frequent roving that aisle then. Sige na kinuha ko na. (Php200 at Parco.)


I thought it was going to be a purchase fail because the previous similar products (including a leave-in conditioner from Pantene also) I bought that came out in white cream form made my hair feel greasy.

But this didn’t. It did feel a bit lotion-y when applying it on hair, but after leaving it alone na, the product probably settled into the hair already so my hair feels softer, even at the ends/tips. No greasiness, no icky heavy-residue feel, not even that weird velvet silicone weigh-down feel. It may have given my hair a bit more shine, but nothing so spectacular, especially since it’s called a ‘shine-booster’.

I used it when I haven’t washed my hair for a few days, and on the day that I did. Both times the product worked. I do believe I’m going to finish the bottle. HOWEVER: the good effect doesn’t last, because at the end of the day, the product in the hair seems to stiffen up a bit like there’s product buildup.


Alba Botanica Green Tea Eye Gel

7 Dec


An eye cream is a must-have skincare item for me. And nowadays I am very picky about how possibly toxic food and skincare could be for me and my family. So my top two choice stores are Healthy Options and Human Heart Nature. No manufactured product is possibly, totally free of any artificial or chemical-based ingredient. So it just boils down to which has the least potentially harmful ingredients 😦


So I got this Alba Eye Gel and I like it! Plus for the price point — it’s only around 400 pesos, compared lang kasi with others. Pero grabe, Healthy Options, nagtaas pa kayo presyo ha. When I was just scouting for a new eye cream, parang this one cost less than a hundred bucks in your store. Then when your tv ads came out, ayun na. Kaya scary when a company starts beefing up their advertising efforts.

Pero bumili pa rin ako. Haynako.


Product is in clear gel form that comes out through the pump dispenser bottle. Very mild, almost undetectable, sweetly citrus scent.

One drop/pump is all you need to spread product around eye area (matipid!). Remember to apply by smoothing product along the skin surface and briskly tapping with fingers–I believe that this drumming technique aids blood circulation as well. Avoid using motions that pull the skin. Use religiously twice a day–in the morning after bath, before makeup, and before (preferable early) bedtime, after washing your face.

Alas, I like to sleep around midnight, so I think this product works because ordinarily, when I keep staying up this late, Iwill look like death warmed over the next morning. Somehow this product keeps the dark circles and wrinkles at bay by keeping the skin supple. I like it and will repurchase. Might try other brands in that store but this is the cheapest among them. So until that other store comes up with an eye cream, I will stick with this one.


Review: Skinfood Black Bean Nose Pack

1 Dec


Blackheads have always been the bane of my face’s existence. I’d get the occasional pimple or two but the blackheads. are. just. always. THERE. On my nose.

Tried so many peel-off products but the old Pond’s nose strips win over them hands down, as in nothing even comes close. You might as well just stuck scotch on tape on your skin and peel that off. Too bad there’s no more Pond’s nose strips on the market.

But I found a good substitute! Yehey!

Shown top of photo is the black part of the nose strip (protected by a plastic film), the side that you stick on the skin. The photo below is the other side, the rough part that gets exposed to air.

Now for the gory details.

DSCN0829 ***1 Peel off clear plastic film on strip, revealing the dark, sticky

part. ***2 Apply dark, sticky part on very wet nose–smells like burnt nuts that was ground into paste.  ***3 Wait for it to become all

stiff and crackly. ***4 Peel off carefully (it really holds on to your skin) , starting from a corner at the side of your nose. Halfway up,

pick up the other side and peel with other hand.

Then when it’s about to meet the other lifted side, finish pulling with both hands at the same time. ***5 Be rewarded with the sight of

miniscule body wastes you just extracted from your skin. Yum.

DSCN0831 Voila! I’d say that’s effective. Yes, that’s how bad the blackhead situation is on my nose. But it still doesn’t get everything (sa lagay na yan), and what’s left, I like to remove it with a tool I bought from HBC (homegrown Watson’s—your friendly, neighborhood vaciador).

Just the round part, I never use the pointed part–bad. Bought this a loong time ago, so I don’t know if they still sell this particular piece.

DSCN0885 And a couple of other members of my arsenal of blackhead-removers:

DSCN0884 Queen Helene wash-off Mask bought from Healthy Options, and a highly-absorbent sponge to wash off the mask with.

Bought the Skinfood Black Bean Nose Pack on the local ebay for half price of retail (retails around php60 in the mall).


Bought others from same ebay seller, which I will use for the first time and review, one at a time, as soon as the blackhead association congregates again on my nose.

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