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Affordable Beauty: Dollar Store (L.A. Girl and L.A. Colors)


(L.A. Girl Luxury Crème Lipsticks in [1] Kiss & Tell, [2] Tell Me Lies, [3] Fling, [4] Rendezvous, and [5] Endless Kisses) 

When I was an art student in university, my knowledge on anything related to beauty was very limited. I had few resources, and whatever money I earned from my freelance work, I’d spend it on clothing as a (clueless but utterly devoted) fashion magazine intern. I’d rely on the generosity of my mother – a moisturizer only type of gal – and Titas who brought home branded palettes as pasalubongs, which, of course, I didn’t know how to use. Man, if anybody just told me I could’ve gotten make-up this cheap (and so good!), I would’ve started beauty blogging earlier.

As much as I thoroughly enjoy the likes of Daiso and Japan Home Centre for cheap thrills (I probably don’t need but still purchase), I haven’t gone to the Dollar Store in years. There aren’t much branches around the metro, and I had doubts on product safety and authenticity. I mean, how can make-up cost so inexpensive? Then, upon further research on YouTube – the endless black hole of everything beauty and babies – I learned that there are actually good products in store. It costs the way it does because of the tacky packaging (which isn’t particularly appealing but I’ll live) and the amount the brands spend on advertising. They also get the products directly from the manufacturer. I also asked around, and they restock products every month so rest assured, these aren’t old or expired. You best believe I was on the hunt for some gems, and I wasn’t disappointed!

L.A. Colors Mineral Pressed Powder in Toffee (P149)

Aside from every Filipina tween’s Johnson & Johnson’s Pure Essentials Pressed Powder history, the L.A. Colors Mineral Pressed Powder was the first I owned. It’s cheap, and it does the job of mattifying the face. However, I recommend the Nichido Loose Powder (P150) since it does a better job but almost costs the same. It’s just really obnoxiously fragrant.

For this particular color, I use Toffee as a bronzer – as with any matte powder a couple shades darker than my skin. This gives my face a beautiful, sun-kissed look. It’s heavily pigmented so I just need very little product. There are also more colors from the range available, which you can’t find elsewhere.

L.A. Girl Pro Conceal in Fawn (P169)

I got my very first Pro Conceal in Pure Beige at the beginning of the year – because everyone talked about it. This is definitely cheaper at the Dollar Store (P169) than in Watsons (P299). I also appreciate how they carry a wider range of colors since they only have 1-2 shades in the mall. I’m not in love with it as a concealer since it doesn’t conceal my acne on bad days but I do enjoy it to highlight darkness on my soul, I mean, my face. I do find that Fawn is especially good as a cream contour. Just use a beauty blender, and you’re good to go!

L.A. Girl Luxury Crème Lipsticks in Kiss & Tell, Tell Me Lies, Fling, Rendezvous, and Endless Kisses (P99)

For my favorite discovery from the bunch, the Crème Lipsticks are unbelievably good. They’re reminiscent of the Wet n Wild MegaLast Lip Color (P299), which are a bit more stiff, waxy, and drying on the lips. These are definitely lightweight but creamier. For P99 each, these are a bargain! Pigmentation is great especially for the darker shades; it can even leave a stain. Lighter shades like Tell Me Lies and Fling can look sheer but it still covers my lips, which are naturally dark. Nonetheless, a con is that the product may move around, the more product you apply.

These are gorgeous everyday colors. The range carries tons of shades from nudes, pinks, reds, oranges to plums. I appreciate how there are actual testers in the store! The wear time is around 2-5 hours (with meals and drinks included). It also smells super sweet. I make sure to carry it with me throughout the day for touch-ups.

Beauty Treats Perfect Powder Blush in Pink Flush (P99)

I’m a big fan of pink blushes so I knew I had to get the blush quad from Beauty Treats (not L.A. Girl nor L.A. Colors but affiliated with the company). I find this incredibly pigmented. The two lightest shades on the left seem to be the most wearable of the four. They’re all matte which I adore since some shimmery shades highlight my blemishes.

If you’re on a budget or just on the look out for some really great, inexpensive gems, the Dollar Store is definitely the place to be!

The Dollar Store can be found in Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall, Shoppesville Greenhills, Market! Market!, and Alabang Town Center.

Unboxing: Banila Co.


Banila Co. is a prominent Korean beauty and skin care brand which interested me upon hearing rave reviews about the cult favorite cleansing balm, Clean It Zero. Many claim it’s the best make-up remover in the market. FYI, one is sold every 4.8 seconds. I’m done buying cheap foaming washes and facial cleansers that just don’t do the job for me.

The brand is available online through Beauty MNL, Althea Korea, and Zalora but I purchased the products from their (Philippine) website since they grant you 10% off on your first purchase – with free shipping for orders over P1000. On top of that, you get to be part of a rewards program wherein you can accumulate points and use it as discount later on. (Click here for 2500 points instantly!)

Aside from the balm, I purchased the So Strobing Stick – I take highlighting very seriously – and a travel-sized Clean It Zero Foam Cleanser that came with the set. I expected much from the products, and they did not disappoint!

Clean It Zero Cleansing Set (P1,250)

One way I take care of my skin – along with my tedious routine I won’t trade for the world – is to make sure to rid of all my make-up. A facial wash and toner combo is not enough! There is still so much make-up left after such a basic routine. (This may be one of the reasons you’re breaking out.)

The set includes the supersize Clean It Zero and a travel size Clean it Zero Foam Cleanser. I chose the classic version of the balm because I use a lot of make-up on a daily basis. It’s also available in Purity, Radiance, Resveratrol, which cater to specific skin types and concerns.

Scoop an ample amount using the tiny plastic spatula (included in the set) onto your hand. Massage it onto your face until all your make-up – stubborn mascara and liquid lipsticks included – melts. Wash it with water or wipe it off with a tissue; I prefer the first option. For those trying it for the first time, a warning, it will leave your eye sight blurry. It’s a temporary state that goes away when product is washed off but it’s still uncomfortable (and alarming on the first try). To avoid discomfort, I close my eyes when removing eye make-up. This is the only thing I dislike about it.

After a month of incorporating it to my regimen, I’m convinced that this is the best make-up remover around. I tried testing it by wiping my face with an immaculate white towel after the entire process, and it stays white! It is definitely more expensive than what I usually buy but I no longer have to worry about clogged pores caused by residue. My face is so much cleaner! Plus, it doesn’t strip your skin off moisture. It also lasts months because of how little is needed to take off make-up.

I use the Clean It Zero Foam Cleanser after the entire shebang. It’s a good basic facial wash suitable for all skin types because of how gentle it is. It can be regarded as the second step of the double-cleanse (part of the Korean 10-Step Routine).

So Strobing Stick (P865)

I first got attracted to the So Strobing Stick because of the hologram pink packaging. It also reminded me of my holy grail highlighter, Benefit’s Watt’s Up!, which gives the most beautiful golden glow. Upon swatching and application, this is more similar to my favorite drugstore highlighter, Essence’s Soo Glow. It has a really creamy consistency – the creamiest I’ve tried thus far. This gives a subtle glow, which shows pretty well on my morena skin but I believe this would also look amazing on women with fair skin. It makes my skin look healthy and awake! It’s also available on pen form, So Strobing Pen (P865).

All in all, I really loved the products, most especially the Clean It Zero. I’m pretty sure this won’t be my last haul from the brand. *winks*

*You may also buy the items separately: Clean It Zero (100ml, P875), Clean It Zero Supersize (180ml, P1,250), Clean It Zero Foam Cleanser (150ml, P575).

I discovered Adrian Tomine last year. I have Shortcomings, Summer Blonde, and Sleepwalk in my collection. I love his illustrations but his “realistic” portrayal of love doesn’t appeal to me. His works depress me, IMHO. If that’s your type of thing, you can purchase his graphic novels online at Book Depository.

Beauty Haul: Random K-Beauty (Leaders, Holika Holika, Etude House)


The past few months have been a personal beauty reawakening of sorts. I do so much research on brands, products, and techniques that I find myself committed to make-up and skincare more than I’d choose to commit myself to a person – right now. (That’s a story for another entry.)

My relentless obsession started a month ago when I discovered the Korean 10-Step Skincare Routine, which led me to Althea Korea. With all honesty, I realize that I’ve been such a snob when it comes to Asian brands because of my Western influences. I disagree with so much of our beauty standards that I limited my collection to brands like MAC, NARS, Maybelline, L’oreal, Rimmel, etc. Getting out of that bubble took a while but it finally happened, and it’s not only changing my skin but my life!

I’ve been trying brands I’ve never encountered before but hear so much rave about like Leaders Insolution and Holika Holika. I recently did a haul at this Korean pop-up store (I plan on writing about when they’re online), and of course, I had to share my thoughts on each product!

Holika Holika Pig-Clear Make-up Zero Sherbet Cleanser (P995)

I purchased the cult favorite, Banila Co. Clean It Zero, a few weeks ago (a separate review will up soon). It works so well for me that I had to get the Holika Holika Pig-Clear Make-up Zero, which is a very similar product. I can’t say it’s a cheaper alternative because they almost have the same price. Don’t mistake it for a facial cleanser because this just thoroughly melts off make-up – even your stubborn waterproof mascara. It cleans your face and prepares it for the next steps: cleansing, toning, and moisturizing.

It comes with a tiny plastic spatula to scoop the product out of the container but you can also just use your hand. You can start off with a dry or wet face. Massage the balm until all traces of make-up disappear then wash it off with water. I tend to do a double take (with a smaller amount) just to be sure. I find that this is more comfortable than a cleansing oil or micellar water. You also don’t need to use a ton of cotton pads, which I find to be such a waste. This also has a sweet scent which I prefer over the Banila Co. cleanser. The product claims to soften skin, which I don’t necessarily see nor feel. I have other products like a good moisturizer (currently the St. Ives Collagen Elastin Moisturizer) to do that job for me.

Holika Holika Wonder Drawing Browcara in 03 (P355)

I am finally convinced that doing my kilay changes my entire look. I talked about the P165 Nichido Eyebrow Gel on a recent Everyday Make-up entry. As much as I love the color, it doesn’t stay the entire day and it has this obnoxious shimmer, which I have to tame down using a mascara brush. It also transfers to my nails when I touch my face. It’s annoying!

On the other hand, the Holika Holika Wonder Drawing Browcara is brilliant. It doesn’t transfer and stays on the entire day. The color on the photo is better for when I have red hair so I picked up 01 which looks amazingly natural on my present hair color (brown). Of all the items on my haul, this is definitely something I’ll keep repurchasing.

Holika Holika Magic Pole Mascara 2x (P510)

My Maybelline Lash Sensational and Fashion 21 Double Up mascaras are both drying up so I purchased the Holika Holika Magic Pole Mascara 2x. This is the waterproof version; it lasts all day and doesn’t smudge. This has such a unique wand. The circular part (magic ball) brushes and separates while the thin end (magic wand) coats and lengthens lashes. Both parts complement each other and should be used together. On my first try, I only used the ball that I found the product to simply do an okay job. When I got around to using the product correctly, my lashes looked so full and long! I love it so, so much! Just have cotton buds prepared to clean the eyelid since application can get messy because of the wand size.

Holika Holika Cover & Hiding Liquid Concealer (P345)

I’m giving my tiny tub of the Catrice Camouflage Cream a break so I’m using the Holika Holika Cover & Hiding Liquid Concealer. This sticks to dry spots but is good for highlighting, especially dark circles. I can’t say this covers my acne so I wouldn’t consider this a full coverage concealer. I’m sure there are better in the market for the job.

(I got my hands on the best-selling Aqua Petit Jelly BB from the brand, which I can’t wait to review on a separate entry!)

Etude House Bling Bling Eye Stick in Sunset Star, Sunbeam Star, and Rose Star (P190)

I have mixed emotions for the Etude House Bling Bling Eye Sticks because the colors are so unique, rich, and pigmented yet the formula is not the best. Upon swatching one on my hand, I immediately had to get three shades. Sunset Star reminds me of my favorite eyeshadow ever: Just A Rose from the Zoeva Rose Golden palette.

Never use it on its own. I tried, and it creased so much that my eye make-up looked horrible. This is best worn with a primer or an eyelid primer. The E.l.f. Essential Eyelid Primer is cheap, good, and available everywhere. I personally find that it looks better with an eyeshadow base and patted on with a finger than used directly from the container.

Leaders Insolution Mediu Amino Moisture Mask (P128/piece)

I am absolutely, passionately in love with the Leaders Insolution Moisture Mask. Before I got obsessed with skincare, I’d get sheet masks as gifts from friends, and I’d use them just for the sake of finishing them. I never understood why I needed them until I actually did my research.

Leaders Insolution is such a popular brand for sheet masks in Korea that I had no doubts if I should get these. Because of how expensive they are, I only use it once a week. The recommended use is around 15-30 minutes but I personally use it until it dries up (which takes an hour or so because of how much product is on the sheet). I don’t throw away the packaging, I slather the remaining liquid on my face after. It works so well on my dry skin that it becomes so moisturized and supple. I can’t wait to get to a point in my life when I’m so financially stable that I can use a face mask every single day; I’m waiting it out.

Read: ITG’s Favorite Sheet Masks via Into the Gloss

Have you tried anything from the haul? Let me know in the comments!

*All items may be purchased on Althea Korea (except Leaders Insolution) and BeautyMNL (except Etude House). Prices and product availability may vary.

Unboxing: Althea Korea (Innisfree)


I am finally a believer.

There, I said it. I am a believer in Korean beauty and skincare.

My past skincare routine was (almost) non-existent. I survived the Johnson’s Baby Soap (for my body and face *gasp*) treatment until graduating from university. Mind you, college – fuelled by caffeine while running on 3-6 hours of sleep –  is anything but conducive for good skin. On my senior year, I broke out severely, and I had nothing but my Ever Bilena concealer stick to cover my unrelenting acne and dark circles. I neglected my skin until somewhere in my 20s, I discovered that there’s no point in hoarding so much make-up if my canvas isn’t well taken care of.

Being introduced to the Korean 10-Step Skincare Routine by Soko Glam and Into the Gloss – even trying to memorize it like a creed – completely changed my understanding of beauty. Rachel Nguyen of That’s Chic made a really fun video about this seemingly mad (I mean, who has time for that?) regime. I follow a number of Western beauty gurus on YouTube who are big on bronzing, tanning, and the whole shebang, which I find to suit my look better. I disagree with a lot of Asian beauty standards and practices – porcelain skin, dewy complexion, ombre lips, etc. – until I found something worth emulating: crazy good skincare.

Read: The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Korean Skincare via Man Repeller

I’m entering this uncharted realm which is incredibly exciting. (I want to shout to the world that I get it, I finally get the hype!) Upon recommendations from my amazing readers, I found myself navigating towards Althea Korea which sells unbelievably cheap beauty and skincare products – directly from Korea. The discounts are ridiculous! I especially love how detailed the description is on each product – packaging, skin type, size, purpose, and usage – talk about good information design! Althea also delivers straight to your doorstep with free shipping (for orders P999 or more the entire month of October) after a week (!) of purchasing, and they offer 30-day returns.

Upon further research on b/vlogs – and after two hours eagerly scrolling through the website –  I picked products from the popular brand Innisfree. They’re pretty affordable too! I’ve been using the products religiously, and I can feel a complete difference in my skin. Here are my individual reviews of each!

Jumbo No Sebum Mineral Powder, Limited Edition (P570)

This, by far, is the best loose powder I’ve tried. (I have yet to purchase the Laura Mercier Translucent Powder to, maybe, change my mind.) Don’t let the white powder fool you, it actually warms up my complexion – this has voodoo or something. You can apply it for a number of times, and it still won’t look heavy or cakey. It leaves skin feeling silky smooth.

I’m not one to use a powder puff or a compact sponge when applying loose powders since I prefer using a powder or stippling brush, but I don’t mind at all with this one. It spreads out the product evenly, and it targets parts which are hard to reach. I keep touching my face in the middle of the day to see if I’ve already gone oily on my T-Zone since other powders (Nichido Final Powder and Bourjois Loose Powder) do that but by some miracle, I am completely matte. (Disclaimer: Please know I’m inside an air-conditioned office all day, but I do commute.)

Unfortunately, they no longer carry the limited jumbo edition (15g) but the smaller version (5g, P260) is still available on Althea; it’s just currently sold out. I mean, that’s how good it is! Wait for them to restock – as if your life depended on it. Both are travel-friendly, which I love. On the other hand, if you prefer pressed powders, you can try the Sebum Mineral Pact (P480).

Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask (P560)

The Jeju Volcanic line is perfect for anyone who wants to minimize pores and remove blackheads. The award-winning Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask is targeted towards combination skin. The original Jeju Volcanic Clay Mask (P520) is best for those with smaller pores and more sensitive skin. It refreshes the skin, removes sebum, and exfoliates dead skin cells.

After removing my make-up and using my toner, I apply it then remove it with lukewarm water after 10 minutes – with a recommended usage of 1-2 times a week. It doesn’t dry up to the point that it gets uncomfortable unlike my experience with other masks. It has a cooling effect which I really enjoy. It unclogs my pores, softens the skin, and rids it of impurities.  I’ve seen such an improvement in my skin; it really stays true to its claims!

Jeju Volcanic Pore Scrub Foam (P450)

There was a time when I was completely clueless about skincare – I still, sort of, kinda am. I had the cult favorite, St. Ives Apricot Scrub, and I used it twice a day, every day of the week. My poor face was so rough that I never wanted to use facial scrubs again – until I discovered the Jeju Volcanic Pore Scrub Foam. It’s so much gentler than others but still does an incredible job of removing dirt. It’s targeted towards combination skin unlike the Jeju Volcanic Pore Foam which is better for oily skin. I use it twice a week, and it leaves my skin clean and moisturized.

Volcanic Black Head Out Balm (P280)

I had greater expectations for the Volcanic Black Head Out Balm but it’s just okay. From the entire haul, I’m least impressed by this. Before using the Clay Mask and the Pore Scrub Foam, I apply this on my nose to loosen my black heads. It doesn’t give instant results, maybe the Jeju Volcanic Nose Pack and Jeju Volcanic Blackhead 3-Step Program are better for said endeavor.

I’m honestly so happy with my entire Althea Korea experience. I’m eyeing so many goodies for my next haul including the Innisfree Tinted Dual Brow, No-Sebum Blur Primer, Green Tea Pure Cleansing Foam, Jeju Volcanic Pore Toner, and Soybean Energy Essence.

If you’re convinced to shop all things Althea, on top of the P150 discount and P150 rebate on your first purchase, click this link for an extra P50. Also, amazing life hack, try Shopback to get a percentage back from your online shopping (including Althea Korea, Zalora, Sephora Philippines, and Lazada). You’re welcome!

What’s on your Althea Korea to-buy list? Anything you’ve tried from Innisfree you want to recommend?

Beauty Haul: Bourjois Paris


(Bourjois Paris Radiance Reveal Healthy Mix in Dark Beige, Loose Powder in Peach, Little Round Pot Blush in Radiant Rose and Frosted Rose, Rouge Edition Velvet in [1] Happy Nude Year, [2] So Hap’pink, and [3] Pink Pong)

Make-up, my late love, how I’ve missed you.

After a long beauty hiatus – my last entry was in January – I am back with a number of exciting hauls; first on the list: Bourjois Paris!

The French cosmetics brand is a cult favorite amongst the YouTube beauty community because of the Healthy Mix Serum. So many gurus gush about the foundation – a holy grail from the drugstore (or the high street, as Londoners would say). During my recent trip to Malaysia, I freaked out when I saw a row solely dedicated to Bourjois on a spontaneous visit to a Watsons. It stood out alongside other drugstore brands like Maybelline, L’oreal, Essence, and Silky Girl. After a full month of incorporating the products to my daily routine, I can honestly say that I am in deep, mad, undeniable love.

Radiance Reveal Healthy Mix Foundation in Dark Beige

To be frank, this foundation is the product from my entire haul I’m least impressed by. It’s good but from all the rave reviews, I had such high, too high, hopes for it. It’s most ideal for days when you don’t want to have too much on your face – a great alternative for those who prefer BB creams and cushion compacts over (full-coverage) foundations. It gives sheer to medium coverage; a concealer is needed to cover blemishes. It’s lightweight, glides easily without being greasy or sticky, and wears comfortably. It’s available in eight shades but Watsons only carried one. Dark Beige is not dark enough for my morena skin. I have to mix it with another foundation (currently: Jordana’s Complete Cover 2-in-1 Concelear and Foundation in Golden Caramel).

Little Round Pot Blush in Radiant Rose and Frosted Rose

The reformulated blushers do smell like roses; it reminds me of fond childhood memories with my Lola. The beautiful packaging comes with a mirror and a small brush but I prefer using my Elf blush brush to apply the product. I dust a little bit along my cheekbones for a subtle, radiant shimmer or build it up for a (contoured) sun-kissed glow. I put this on top of my bronzer to complete my look!

Loose Powder in Peach

I’ve definitely noticed a big change ever since I started using the Bourjois loose powder; I’ve become less oily! Setting the powder after my foundation and concealer makes my skin silky smooth. It doesn’t cake up even after reapplication. It definitely makes my make-up last longer, a great alternative to more expensive powders like the Laura Mercier translucent loose setting powder.

Rouge Edition Velvet in Happy Nude Year, So Hap’pink, and Pink Pong

My relationship with the velvet lip creams went from from ‘I hate this with a vengeance’ to ‘I need all colors in my life’ real quick. These are my favorite from the haul. It’s incredibly pigmented, wears comfortably, and lasts the entire day (more than eight hours). It dries semi-matte but the texture remains creamy – very similar to the Nyx soft matte lip creams. It takes, at the very least, three swipes to get the full opaqueness. I’ve been alternating between the three – Happy Nude Year being my favorite – and I keep getting compliments every time I wear it. It’s a brilliant product for those who want the lasting power of a liquid lipstick but refuse to sacrifice moisture on the lips.

Anything you’ve tried from the brand? I’d love to get your recommendations! Also, look out for my next beauty entries: my Sephora haul and Maybelline (Rosy, Creamy Mattes) review.