Beauty talk: 2 brands I like right now

11 years ago, I started a style blog (and you’ll still find all my posts here). I wanted to document my life and #OOTDs in college. I’ve “quit” this format since 2013, but once in a while I do miss being unapologetically indulgent and vain.

In the grand scheme of things this isn’t important for me anymore, but it’s also a pretty good indicator of where I am and my state; i.e. a) I have some disposable income to spend on makeup and skincare. b) I need to look polished regularly (though not so much lately, since I’m working from home most days now). c) I see my eyebags and dry skin and think of a world’s worth of problems and need a little self care once in a while (tried writing about this before, here). Also, I miss just typing whatever comes to my head. I have all these article / thought piece ideas in bullets in my Notion space but I need a little more time and inspiration to turn them into something more concrete and long-form. I’m in transition now, with a slightly more manageable schedule and that means I can write. If only I will write.

But you don’t need to know all of that. This is a throwback-type post and I just feel like sharing and telling you what’s working for me right now, and hopefully if you’re searching for insight about these stuff online, you’ll find my thoughts helpful.

The Ordinary
Back in January, my wedding makeup artist recommended that I start a semi-serious skincare routine to prep my face for the big day. I’ve never had serious skin problems like acne or oiliness, but lately I’ve noticed that my skin is on the dry side. I’ve also gained a little discoloration and some burst capillaries from sun exposure and age. She recommended The Ordinary. There were so many products, and after a bit of reading I zoomed in on two vials: Hyaluronic Acid, for moisturization; and Niacinamide, for brightening and blemish control. It’s already June and I’m just barely halfway through my tiny bottles. I alternate a few drops of the two, 1-2 times a day. While my skin didn’t magically become dewy and plump on its own, I did notice that it was brighter and more “quiet.” I also got less to no breakouts during my periods. The price point (less than PHP500 for a bottle that lasts months) is also hard to argue against. But to be honest the effect feels so subtle; I apply the recommended 3-4 drops and it gets absorbed by my skin so fast; there are no immediate results. I’m kinda suspicious that my skin got to its current state simply because I’ve been leaving it alone save for these mild products. As soon as I use these up, I’ll probably be on the lookout for something more hydrating and anti-aging.

Ever Bilena
Since my last serious makeup-themed post I’ve actually been able to invest in pricier / branded makeup like MAC, Smashbox etc but the products that consistently give me joy are really just the most affordable items from good old Watsons or SM Beauty. For example, I’ve been using Features and Shades’ (formerly Fanny Serrano) two-way cake for six years now! One evening I watched one too many Youtube videos and got sucked into a black hole of make up reviews. EB’s Advance Glow Out Highlighter was in every other video, with a whole bunch of local vloggers basically going through the identical motions of swatching this shimmery foil powder on their forearms w/ matching gasps. So I got curious. But what made the purchase decision seem much more enticing Rihanna’s entertaining-as-hell GRWM video for Vogue. There was something so gratifying about how happy she was while putting on her own makeup — especially her highlighter — that I somehow got convinced that I should do the same to look and feel the same. So I went and did. I actually bought the golden Candlelight shade first and was pretty happy with it until I realized it was the Strobe shade that everyone was raving about. It was sold out everywhere but I lucked out in Watson’s Ali Mall (yes! Tip Alert!). And TBH even if I hardly go out, I open the white and and pan put on some of this highlighter pretty much everyday. Because it is truly magic. It truly makes you smile when one swipe makes your nonexistent cheekbones pop. And it’s only PHP199 so there’s nothing guilt inducing about it. And my selfies look bomb.

Actually I’m impressed by this brand’s ongoing renaissance – they have such a lot of good products lately. I also have their matte liquid lipstick – a gift from a friend – and eyeliner from sister brand Careline (both pictured above). Both are also super high quality while being dirt cheap. The matte lipstick actually settles into a sticky finish, but it looks matte and is pretty much budge-proof. It also doesn’t dry my lips out like Colourpop or even matte bullet lipsticks. The Careline eyeliner goes on like a marker, actually looks like a marker on my lid and stays put for hours (even the packaging is all but telling you that it is simply a fine-point marker LOL).

I hardly consider myself a “beauty girl” and my eyebrow game is a work in progress but due to necessity I’ve already settled on a multi-product routine to look decent for events or going out. Sadly my skin isn’t as poreless as it was in high school, I have uneven skin from too much sun, and my jawline and cheekbones need a lot of attention so that I do not look ten pounds heavier in photos. Now I can’t imagine leaving the house without at least swiping on a lip color or putting on concealer. On one hand I feel almost sad that it has come to this, a point of no return. On the other hand, every afternoon when I’m working from home, I find myself putting my pencil down, stepping away from the laptop, and spending a few minutes practicing my blush or contour technique. It’s almost as if I’m playing. Putting on my “face” is now one of the few acts that I get to do for myself exclusively, and in spite of my self I enjoy it.

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