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Best of 2016: Skin Care

2016 was all about rekindling my inexhaustible love for beauty and educating myself with the Korean 10-Step Skin Care Routine. If there’s one thing I learned from watching snippets of my mother’s Koreanovelas, it’s that Koreans have the best skin. It’s all about layering! I’ve been a religious follower for months, and my skin has never been better – with the exception of stubborn acne during that time of the month. Texture’s improved so much, and I owe it to these life-changing products. Of course, drinking water is still my number one essential! A useful tip, if you can’t remember the order, apply the product with the lightest to the thickest consistency.

My personal x-step routine – devoid of a holy grail sunscreen and eye cream for now – is all about curating products that work for my (dry to combination) skin and making a conscious effort to follow through every day. Discipline, my friends! It only takes 5 minutes in the morning and 10 in the evening (if you don’t include the occasional masks). It may be overwhelming for beginners but it’s also very exciting especially when presented with a myriad of possibilities from the local drugstore and online beauty shopping platforms like Beauty MNL, Zalora, and my personal favorite, Althea Korea.

I cannot reiterate how important it is to take care of one’s skin. Not only does the process improve its quality over time, it allows make-up to adhere to skin better, and more so, uplift one’s confidence and change one’s lifestyle.

Make-up Remover

Cleansing Balm

Banila Co. Clean It Zero Super Size (Beauty MNL, P1,250)

My two-step cleansing process begins with the game-changing Banila Co. Clean It Zero. If you remove make-up properly – especially when you have a full face like I do every day – you allow your skin to absorb other products and prevent breakouts from occurring. It’s fast, easy, and foolproof! I’ve been using it for the past 3 months and am close to emptying it. The only thing that bothers me is how it blurs my sight when applied to my eye area. It’s a temporary affair but still a very strange sensation.

Read: Unboxing: Banila Co. 

Micellar Water

L’Oréal Micellar Water in Moisturizing (Watsons, P225)

For those on a budget, the recently released micellar water from L’Oréal does a stellar job of removing make-up. I’m so relieved that there are actually drugstore options now including Simple, Garnier, and Bioré. It’s so gentle, almost as if it were really just water; others have a tendency to sting. It’s perfect for removing elaborate eye make-up including budge-proof mascara and even long-wearing lip products. I just find myself reverting to Banila’s cleansing balm because I don’t like wasting cotton pads – the Cuddles Cotton Rounds (P55) and the Cleene Facial Cotton Pads (P65) being my favorites.

Cleanser

Simple Moisturizing Facial Wash (Watsons, P299)

The water-based cleanser I’ve thoroughly been enjoying is the Simple Moisturizing Facial Wash. It actually reminds me of the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser because of the gel-like consistency. It helps remove whatever oil residue remains from the cleansing balm.  It’s recommendable for all skin types and leaves the skin feeling fresh and smooth.

Exfoliator

Collagen by Watsons Moisturising & Gentle Peeling Milk (Watsons, P249)

Now, this is where it gets fun! Exfoliating is always so satisfying especially since you see results quick. The Watsons skincare line is so good, I can’t believe people don’t talk about it. It’s a great local drugstore alternative for skin care products. The Gentle Peeling Milk is the first product I’ve tried from the brand, and it’s incredible. I use it once a week to remove dead skin cells without drying or irritating my face. My skin feels like an actual baby’s butt after use!

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Scrub Foam (Althea Korea, P450)

I can probably live on Innisfree everything. I use the Jeju Volcanic Pore Scrub Foam once or twice a week before the Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask to remove impurities, control sebum, and unclog pores. Every time I have a really long day and get home from a tough commute, I use this, and it immediately transforms my skin.

Read: Unboxing: Althea Korea (Innisfree)

Toner

Watsons Collagen Youth Lock Essence Water (Watsons, P359)

Toning is such an overlooked step on every girl’s regimen. It restores skin’s PH balance, removes impurities and pollutants, and prepares it for the next steps.

Aside from the Watsons Collagen Youth Lock Essence Water, I really love the Nivea Mattifying Toner (P174), which I abused in the beginning of the year. The Essence Water is almost like a toner-and-essence combo because of its thick consistency but I prefer having 2 separate products since I’m a crazy skin care lady. I also prefer toners with more natural ingredients and less alcohol; it proves to be more refreshing and less drying. I plan on purchasing the much raved about Son & Park Beauty Water (P,1850) when I finish this – maybe in the year 2058 because this contains so much product.

CosRX One-Step Pimple Clear Pad (Watsons, P665)

If you’re lazy and having 65 steps on your routine is simply unintelligible, I recommend having the award-winning CosRX One-Step Pimple Clear Pad on your top shelf. It delivers instant results! These convenient pre-moistened pads removes impurities from skin, wipes away excess sebum, and helps treat and prevent breakouts. It has two sides: the textured for exfoliating and the other for a gentle cleanse. It’s not only great for days when I’m struggling with major skin issues but it’s good for daily use.

You get a ton of product on each pad (70 pieces/pack); it’s more than enough for your face and neck! Because of how expensive it is, I only use it at night and use the Watsons Essence Water in the morning. Saving tip: You can cut the pad in two. You can also purchase this on Althea and Beauty MNL but for a heftier price tag. I plan on exploring the brand more in the future. Of course, it’s a plus that the packaging design is really swell!

Serum

Collagen by Watsons Youth Lock Intensive Serum (Watsons, P349)

Serum is still a mystery to many but I find this step to produce instant results! As with essences and ampoules, it usually addresses specific skin care problems. The Watsons Collagen Youth Lock Intensive Serum retains the suppleness of skin and makes it extra firm and smooth. The product comes out looking and feeling like a moisturizer but more lightweight. I’m really impressed by the Youth Lock line from the brand; it’s so underrated!

Moisturizer

St. Ives Collagen Elastin Moisturizer (Watsons, P249)

I’ve never enjoyed a moisturizer as much as I have the St. Ives Collagen Elastin Moisturizer. It’s not at all greasy or sticky. This seals in all the other products applied previously. It definitely changes how my make-up applies. When I’m lazy, I also use it as a lotion. It also comes in a huge tub which will last anyone a really long time.

Masks

Face Mask

Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask (Althea Korea, P560)

Masks are my favorite. When I feel like pampering myself at night, I apply the Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask once a week for around 10 minutes. It rids my skin of filth and excess sebum, makes my pores smaller, and exfoliates! It’s also super cooling.

Daiso Charcoal Face Mask (Daiso, P88)

The Daiso Charcoal Face Mask is the first mask I’ve ever tried. I started using it this summer (once a week) and am surprised how it isn’t empty yet. I leave it on my face until it completely dries and peel it off to reveal cleaner skin. It dries my skin unlike the Pore Clay Mask but nothing a good moisturizer won’t solve. Did I mention that it’s also P88?

Sleeping Mask

The Face Shop Jeju Aloe Fresh Soothing Gel (The Face Shop, P195)

The Face Shop’s Jeju Aloe Fresh Soothing Gel completely changed my skin! I’ve been struggling with strange, tiny bumps on my face for months until I watched a video on how to get clear skin. I tried it every night for a week as a sleeping mask and in just a few days, the bumps decreased. It absorbs to your skin which leaves you with a very smooth canvas.

Aside from using it as a sleeping mask, this multi-purpose gel can be used as an all-around moisturizer. It hydrates skin and retains moisture. It also calms the redness and inflammation of pimples. Major plus, it also helps relieves insect bites and sunburn. What a miracle worker!

What were your favorite skin care products from 2016? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know!

P.S. Use my discount code for Althea! Click here.

P.P.S. All my favorite sheet masks require a separate entry. Wait for it!


Unboxing: Banila Co.

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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.


Unboxing: Althea Korea (Innisfree)

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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?