Monday, March 31, 2014

What good have you done today?

Red Ribbon sent my family some of their delicious macaroons last week. Thanks, Red Ribbon! My kids loved the soft, chewy, malinamnam macaroons so much!

So now I'm returning the favor and also giving my readers a chance to sample those yummy macaroons with a fun giveaway!

Okay, this isn't just for fun; it's also for a good cause. Red Ribbon's macaroons are not just good, they're also actually made for a good reason: Whenever you buy a pack of Red Ribbon macaroons, you help Filipino kids get an education! So it's a win-win situation because you get to enjoy these yummy goodies and also help our Pinoy kids go to school. Here's more about it on Red Ribbon's website: Macaroons for a Cause.

That's a great way to do good! Let's always do good, dear readers! What good have you done today? What good did you do last weekend? It can be a big good or a little good—any good is very good!

So here's what Red Ribbon has in store for you if you just tell me what good you've done today:

  • Five of my readers will get free macaroons!
  • One of those lucky five will get to meet the international music star who partnered with Red Ribbon for Macaroons for a Cause!!!

Yup. You get to meet this man.

Okay, since this is a very big deal (guys, you don't get to meet a superstar every day!), there's a lot to do. I'll break them down for you:
  1. Like the Red Ribbon Facebook page.
  2. Like the Topaz Horizon Facebook page.
  3. On Topaz Horizon's FB page, answer this question: "What good have you done recently?"
  4. Tag Red Ribbon and Topaz Horizon.
  5. Use the hashtags #redribbon and #macaroonsforacause.
Kaya naman, diba? Medyo madami but it's not that complicated! Just like Red Ribbon, like me, write something like this on Topaz Horizon's page: "Today, I gave my taxi driver an extra big tip so he'll have a nice Monday. @RedRibbon @TopazHorizon #redribbon #macaroonsforacause" Finished!

Okay, last few important details:
  • I'll announce the winners on Wednesday, April 2. I will contact the winners via their Facebook accounts.
  • The winners will have to claim their prizes in the Ayala Center, Makati, area on the afternoon of April 5, this Saturday. I'll tell you where exactly in my message. Can't say publicly where our Hollywood star will be!
Good luck!!!

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Topaz Beauty: GLAMGLOW facial mask review

It's Sunday! Lemme tell you about my new Sunday beauty ritual. I super duper love it! It's my GLAMGLOW face mask!!! I was so excited when I found out that GLAMGLOW, Hollywood's ultimate favorite facial mask, is finally here in the Philippines!
There are two variants—Supermud Clearing Treatment and Youthmud Tinglexfoliate Treatment. I got the Youthmud because I like the word tingle!

I got a small jar to try out because you never know if a product's going to agree with you. GLAMGLOW is an all-natural product, paraben-free, and vegan. Still, dermatologists warn that sometimes it's the products with natural ingredients that cause allergies most so always test a small area of your skin before using it on your face.

Thankfully, my face didn't react adversely. In fact, my face loved GLAMGLOW!

That star! It means it's Hollywood! GLAMGLOW is the favorite face mask of stars like Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus, Nina Dobrev, Ceelo Green, Beyoncé, Keannu Reeves. There's a lot of them but I'm lazy to Google haha. It's also gotten positive reviews and features from celebrity and fashion magazines like Vogue, InStyle, Glamour, ELLE, CosmopolitanGrazia, Hello!, Marie Claire... just about every major title! And you know me—as long as Hollywood loves it, I love it, too!

The mud mask was invented specifically for actors. While the advent of high-def technology is great for us viewers, that's not so good news for actors who now have to deal with the fact that every pore, every line and every spot on their pretty faces can now be seen. So some unnamed actors asked their friends Glenn and Shannon Dellimore, the inventors of this miracle mud, to make them a skincare solution that will instantly make their skin look camera-ready. Yes, "instantly" is the magic word. Glenn and Shannon accepted the challenge and exceeded all expectations! 

Here's what it looks like. It's a greenish gray slush that's grainy and speckled with leafy bits. That's a concoction of green tea, crushed pumice and other minerals, and French sea clay. You have to stir it to mix all the ingredients. Remember to use a spatula or a coffee stirrer (like the ones you get at cafés) to avoid contamination. Don't use your finger!

All you need is a thin layer! So this tiny jar should last me about three to four uses. That means this jar is a month's worth of masks.

The mask smells fresh and minty and like astringent. The smell is strong but it doesn't assault the nose. The sensation is cold and it also stings a bit. But that's expected of a product that's called Tinglexfoliate, right?

After 10 minutes, the mask dries up. You really can't move your face! Anyway, time to rinse! Don't go beyond the prescribed time. What I do is I wet my hands with a bit of water then I rub the re-moistened mask into my skin in small circular motions to exfoliate. Then I rinse off everything thoroughly.

Okay, I won't show you the after because I had a big pimple on my left cheek when I took these photos haha but please believe me when I say that my skin looked absolutely fine. And by fine, I mean my skin looked polished and super clean! Like all my pores shrunk!

Sorry, no photos! I get queasy when I see macro pics of noses and wrinkles. It grosses me out haha so I'm not going to show you my nose! But trust me when I say my skin looked amazing after using this mask. That's just from two uses (last Sunday and today). If I actually use GLAMGLOW twice a week, I think I'm going to start looking like a Hollywood star haha! Oh, and that big pimple on my left cheek? It calmed down and dried up the very next day!

Summary

I LIKE... 
  • My skin is softer, smoother, finer, better. It's so touchable! The first time I used this mask, I kept touching my face that whole day because it was so nice!
  • I can use it with my regular skincare products. 
  • My skin really did glow! It's crazy! The glow lasted for about three days. You can use GLAMGLOW twice a week, but I'm being very frugal with it because...
I DON'T LIKE...
  • It's not cheap! A regular jar costs Php 3,750! 

MY TAKEAWAY: While I think it's pricey, it's also effective. Extremely so. I'm buying myself a big jar! Facials at the derma or at a beauty spa usually costs about Php 1,500 to Php 3,500. This is Php 3,750 for a lot of uses and you can do it at home, too. So it comes out as totally worth it.

WHO'S IT FOR: Just about everybody! This mask is for both men and women. The scent isn't feminine or masculine. The mask targets all sorts of blemishes—enlarged pores, pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and ingrown hair for the guys (or girls!) who shave/wax/thread their mustaches and beards.

You can buy GLAMGLOW at the Beauty Section in SM Makati, SM Mega Mall, SM Aura Premier; at Fresh Fragrance Bar in Eastwood, Alabang Town Center, Century Mall and Glorietta 5; and Art of Scent in Shangri-La Plaza Mall and Resorts World Manila. More info at GLAMGLOWMud.com.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Love in the age of consciously uncoupling

Until I see this happen between Gwynnie and Chris, I won't believe they're consciously uncoupled.


Miranda and Orlando? They are the most consciously uncoupled exes ever.

Oh wait. There's also Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, who are so involved in each other's lives, I think it's weird for whoever they're currently in a relationship with. Hilary Duff remains the Disney good girl so much so that even when she and Mike Comrie divorced, it was so nice and friendly, they're still dating, er, going out together as friends.

Let's see. Who else?

Oh, there's Amy Poehler and Will Arnett, who divorced because they said they were more best friends than hubby-and-wife, which supports my belief that you should never describe your spouse as your best friend—even if he is—as that immediately desexualizes your relationship. After all, everyone in Hollywood described Brad and Jen as best friends, hence Angelina's dismissal of that marriage: "It was clear he was with his best friend, someone he loves and respects."

On that note, Brad and Jen are still friends. Brad told W magazine that, "We still check in with each other. She was a big part of my life, and me hers. I don't see how there cannot be [that friendship]. That's life, man. That's life."

That's consciously uncoupled, man. That's consciously uncoupled.

While I don't subscribe to the GOOP bullshit that since we live longer lives now, marriage is no longer the relationship ideal, I do think it's admirable when two people who shared their lives can go on their separate ways and remain friends. That says a whole lot of good about them.

Sigh. Miranda and Orlando, please get back together!

UPDATE: Gwyneth and Chris are on a "break-up-moon" or a honeymoon after people split up. Again, they didn't invent it. Brad and Jen were famously (or infamously) making out in Anguilla the week they announced their split!


*photo from News.com.au

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Topaz Fashion: My top picks from schu's new shoes!

I am on shoe-shopping mode. I haven't bought shoes in a while, mostly because there was no reason to buy new shoes last year since I hardly went out last year.

Woah. Did I just say there was no reason to buy new shoes? There is always a reason to buy new shoes! Who is this woman who says there's no reason to buy new shoes?!

Well, the old me must've stirred from her style slumber because I feel the itch to scratch the credit card on shoe shopping, and the first shoes that caught my eye are schu's new styles. Here are my favorites:

For daytime events...

For nighttime events...

For errands...

For meetings...

For when I want to feel pretty...

There are so many more colors and styles so perfect for the summer! You can check out all of Chocolate schubar's Spring-Summer 2014 line and the TYCA line at their Facebook page. But be warned: That's what I did and now I'm a mess, just thinking about shoes! All the styles are available at all schu shops so I guess I'll bump into you at schu if you shop for shoes, too!

*all photos grabbed from schu's Facebook page

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Shailene Woodley on women vs women

Shailene Woodley, star of Divergent and the upcoming The Fault in Our Stars (and Hollywood's newest It Girl), has a point.
Quote from a TIME article on Shailene.


I always told Vince, "We women are our own worst enemy," since we seem to be the first in line to pull down, put in her place, insult, shame a sister. I have been a victim of this for as long as I can remember. That's why most of my friends as I was growing up were boys. Of course, being surrounded by boys who really were just friends made the girls even nastier towards me. I have always tried to be supportive of other women. The only times I remember being nasty towards another woman is when Angelina Jolie got together with Brad Pitt, and when Kris Aquino was being annoying. But I have long since realized the error of my ways. Live and let live!

This Women's Month and forever after, let's please be kinder and more encouraging and more supportive of each other. We have to stop the hate. Peace, love and light to all!

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bag lust: Modalu Pippa

I know I've been saying since forever that I want no other bag than the Tod's D Bag. Actually, there's this other bag that I've been eyeing since the royal wedding of William and Kate in 2011.
It was the maid of honor's fault, when Pippa Middleton was spotted carrying the Modalu Bristol Bag in Shark. After she stepped out of their hotel the morning after the wedding toting the Modalu bag, she sent fashion watchers into a frenzy. The bag was sold out and was renamed Pippa in her honor.

I just found out that Modalu is now available in the Philippines through PoshDated. Thank you, Facebook friends!

The Pippa Grab is GBP 229 (PHP 17,100). Sigh. It's so perfect!

The Mini Grab is GBP 199 (PHP 14,845). Sigh. That vivid orange lizard skin!

The Small Grab is GBP 185 (PHP 13,828). Sigh. The perfect size for 5'3" me!

PoshDated is selling the Pippa Grab in all the sizes plus the shoulder and crossbody versions, too. But not all the colors are available. The bestselling Shark, for example, is not in the lineup. Neither is that fab orange lizard. But I'm still thinking of buying one! I think I'll buy it for me as my late Christmas gift to myself or an advanced Mother's Day gift. Here are my picks:
Mini Pippa Grab in Tan
Pippa Small Grab in Black
If I get the Small Grab, it's just PHP 2,172 more expensive than if I buy from the Modalu website. Modalu is of course in London. If I get the Mini (which is actually bigger than the Small, weird), then it's PHP 1,155 more expensive. But since I have to take into account the shipping and other customs duties, if I buy from PoshDated, it will come out as super cheap!!!

The Mini is the most sulit—it's not only bigger, the price difference also comes out cheaper. But PoshDated's owner posted a photo of her toting the Small Grab in Black Croc, also still PHP 16,000.

Sooooo now I can't decide! What do you think? Mother's Day is still a couple of months away so I have time to mull over this! Help me!!!

*Pippa Middleton photo from Princess Diana Remembered, Pippa bags photos from Modalu and PoshDated Facebook page.

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Women, we've come a long way... but we're not there yet

I was at a lunch hosted by P&G Beauty at Manila Polo Club. They were celebrating Women's Month (yes, March is Women's Month!). It was a small party for magazine editors, newspaper journalists, editors of lifestyle websites, and then there was little old blogger me.

I haven't been attending events the whole of 2013 (save for a few blog advertiser events because, well, I had to attend those!). It was my first year to be a stay-at-home mom and a full-time blogger. I tried working as a freelance writer and newspaper columnist, too, but, boy, I realized I can't juggle too many things after all. Something's bound to suffer, and I've since accepted that I am happier and more effective if I just slooooow down and just relish my awesome life! It won't be this slow forever (I doubt I'll be a housewife all my life) so I will enjoy this phase while it lasts.

(But it was still kinda nice to see old friends again!)
Big perk of being pregnant? Everyone wants to give up their chair for you, so that's how I ended up sitting between P&G's Country Communications Leader Clint Navales and super host Issa Litton.

The lunch was P&G's way of picking the brains of the media, especially the women of media who create media for women. P&G said they did a nationwide survey of Filipinas from all socio-economic backgrounds and found these surprising beliefs:

  • Women believe that men should still get the higher paying job. In fact, between a man and a woman with the same intelligence and credentials, women think the job should still go to the man. WHY? Because men are the breadwinners so they should get more opportunities and more money.
  • Women also think that, for the same job, it's okay for men to earn more than women, and to get promoted faster. WHY? Same reason as above.
  • Women use beauty products not to attract and keep men, but to hide their age. WHY? Because young girls want to appear older while mature women want to stay looking, I dunno, 25 maybe! Just reinforces the issue that women are ashamed of their age!
  • Men are hired and promoted for their potential, women for their experience. WHY? Women need to prove they can do the job. Men just need to show up.

There were actually more but I'm reeling. I am in total shock. It's the 21st century and the Philippines is a modern country but apparently our beliefs are still medieval.

I am living in a bubble.

Dear readers, I don't think we women should subjugate men. Neither do I think women are the superior sex. I just believe that we should be given the same opportunities, the same rights, the same accolades, the same encouragement and support, the same appreciation. I'm lucky to be married to a feminist who encouraged me to pursue my ambitions and then respected my choice to be a full-time mom when I decided on that. He never put me down or put me in my place or told me I can't do things because I'm a woman. I hope all men can be like my Vince and all women can have a dad or husband or mentor or friend like Vince!

Don't let anything hold you back, ladies!


Let's celebrate Women's Month by destroying the boundaries and beliefs that hold us back!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Topaz Beauty: At my first Shiseido beauty blogger event. Ever!

Apparently, I've been using my Shiseido Ibuki all wrong. Remember my Ibuki review and I said, "Just a little product goes a long way. I've been using my Ibuki for 4 months and I'm just halfway through my bottles." Well, they're not supposed to last that long! The bottles have a pump and each pump dispenses the correct amount of product to massage into skin. If I use too little, it's not as effective. And I've only been using half a pump all this time!

All this I learned when Shiseido invited me to their beauty blogger event at Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences. It was my very first beauty blogger event, by the way! And I think I only got invited because I did the Ibuki review haha. I'm not a beauty blogger, you see, and I think you can see that from my picture above. I mean, I didn't even put on makeup or brush my hair haha.

I've been to beauty events, of course, but in my former life as a print editor. Beauty blogging events are more nerdy and take a much longer time. Why? Beauty bloggers ask so many questions! I understand this because when I read product reviews on beauty blogs, they're very detailed and comprehensive. Plus, since every blogger has to have great photos for their blog, they really go up close and shoot away, and even ask the presenter/model to do things slowly or again and again so they can get the perfect shots. Interesting!

Here are some of the bloggers at the Shiseido event:
My dear friend, Nicole Romero of Beauty & Sparkle.
From left: me, Rowena Wendy Lei of Animetric's World, Liz Lanuzo of Project Vanity, Nicole,
Tara Cabullo of Chronicles of Vanity, Kikay Trekkie, and Shiseido's Momoko Isibashi.
Shiseido's Momoko Isibashi is here in Manila for a few months to help launch Shiseido's store in SM Fashion Hall. She also gave us a few beauty tips (with the help of Donnarence Masilungan of My Lucid Intervals):
There's a proper way to remove makeup. There's even a proper way to fold the tissue so that it's efficient and clean. Anyway, always use makeup remover before cleansing. Start with pressing the tissue moistened with makeup remover on eyes and then gently wiping off. Gently wipe off the makeup on the rest of your face.

Always use a spatula when taking out product from a jar. This is to prevent bacteria from getting into your creams. I never use a spatula!

For firm and healthy skin, massage your face. This is a model's secret. They love having their faces massaged. It not only keeps their skin firm, it also helps drain the face of fluid so puffiness goes away. I wanted to show you the massage via a video but I'm not so gorgeous today so I'll just do the video when I'm pretty again haha.

Donnarence said she loved how her face felt warm after the massage. I tried it, too, and my face also felt firmer. Momoko says you can massage your face every day!

And here's Donnarence fully made up again after the facial! It's just a very light makeup that anyone can do.

If you want to know more about Shiseido skincare and makeup, get a skin consultation and free makeover, get certified beauty training and more, check out Shiseido's beauty fair this weekend at SM Megamall Atrium. Have fun!
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kisses



This was all over Facebook today but I'm blogging it so I can always have it to remind me that Vince and I also were strangers when he and I met, then talked on a hotel rooftop in the chilly Baguio night, and finally melted into a kiss that sealed our fate 15 years ago.

I didn't even really know his name. When my Papa asked me if I met anyone at the writing workshop, I said, "Well, there was this guy. His name is Vince Salas or something. Basta Vince."

"Is he someone special?"

I stopped for a while, thinking of the kiss. "Yes. Yes, he is. Possibly. Not sure yet. But we finish each other's sentences. That's something, right?"

And Papa said real quietly before he said good night, "Well, you better ask him his name again. You just might end up with it."

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Jejeje


I like the red, black and white color motif.

Hehe. Yun lang p0h!

*Oscars photo from WSJ, local version from Philippine Star

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Sunday, March 09, 2014

Topaz Beauty: Unboxing my Epilady epilators!

Okay, I know it all seems to be fashion and beauty on this blog lately. And books, too. Well, I'm a stay-at-home mommy who's getting a wee bit too pregnant to roll her round self all over the city so I have nothing exciting to talk about except for my fabulous fashion and beauty finds!

Anyway, I'm super duper excited to finally get my Epilady!!!

I bought them from CashCashPinoy last week. My friend, Nicole of Beauty & Sparkle, knows I've been looking for epilators but I balked at the prices in PCX (heller, 7K!). So when I saw that CashCashPinoy had a bunch of these on sale, I snapped them up for only P3,898!
Grammar edit! Correct: "is". The subject is "payment"!

An epilator is a device that removes hair. I used to own one in the early 2000s but it conked out on me around the time I got married (one must be hairless on one's honeymoon and my honeymoon lasted almost three years so the poor device died on me!) so I've been looking for Epilady since.

I bought my first one from Watsons but they never restocked. So I've just been going to Strip for my hair-removal needs. But Strip is soooo expensive. So I can't be hairless all the time. Then hooray for online shopping!

See all those tiny tweezers? They make for super fast and painless hair removal. Well, painless for me because I only use this for my body but not for my nether areas. I hear from fellow epilator owners that that kind of pain removal is intensely painful!!! So for that sensitive area, I still prefer going to the waxing salon.


I also got a facial epilator for the imaginary hairs on my face. Yup. I must really get rid of that magnifying mirror. So now I have shopper's regret because there's really no hair on my face. I used it on my (imaginary) unibrow but I darn near pulled out all of my eyebrows.  

But I'm happy! Super happy! Now I don't have to spend a ton just to be smooth and hair-free! So freaky with waxing salons because they charge you by the body part. You know, like lower leg, whole leg, underarms, chest, tummy, forearm, whole arm. And since it's so pricey, I always just say, "Just the lower legs please."
But now with my Epilady epilators, I can do my whole body in the privacy of my own home for soooo cheap. Hooray!!!

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Friday, March 07, 2014

Dapper threads from Hugo Boss

Vince and I have been attending a lot of weddings lately. We love dressing up, especially for weddings, because it's not just a reflection of our style but a show of respect for the wedded couple and the occasion. But it's really hard to look perfect  in a a suit and a dress when you're chasing after two little boys. I just tell myself that we're going for the British look lately—stylish but disheveled.

Then I saw these at Vanity Fair's Oscar after-party.
Reese Witherspoon in a black-and-gray paillette embroidered silk dress from the new Fall/Winter 2014 BOSS runway collection. I love her hair! But if I'm to wear this (and not to a wedding hehe), I need to not eat for a month.

Adrien Brody in a perfect Hugo tux. Sigh! He reminds me of Vince! I really like skinny guys with prominent noses!

Stylish but disheveled just doesn't cut it anymore at weddings! Vince, since we're at that strange time when people are getting us to be ninong and ninang sa kasal, I think we need to go get new clothes from Hugo Boss. And leave the kids at home so we can look like movie stars!

*Images courtesy of HUGO BOSS.

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Post-Oscars fashion thoughts

While the OK! magazine staff have all gone our separate ways and are all the better for it, when something big happens in Hollywood (like a hook-up, a marriage, a divorce, a birth, a death), we all still discuss it like we're still making a living out of it! The current discussion was, of course, on the recently concluded Oscars red carpet fashion, and started, of course, by our former red carpet columnist, Jay Santiago, with this video.



I am oh so glad that my fashion idol, Hal Rubenstein of InStyle, finally said what I've been thinking all along: that the red carpet is oh so boring!
"The myth is that the Oscars is the biggest fashion show in the world. Not true. When we go to a fashion show, what we're looking for is innovation, fresh ideas, new concepts. The red carpet is about familiar garments, the glamour that we were brought up on in the movies. Do something odd, do something different, do something tilted, and the viewers get shocked."
I couldn't say that when I was still a Hollywood celebrity magazine editor haha. I mean, what kind of editor would say, "Oh hey, guys, it's red carpet season again and guess what? It's all so boring!"

Since the rise of the stylist, there is no personality on the red carpet anymore. Save for fashion-forward stars like Tilda Swinton, Kate Bosworth, Sarah Jessica Parker and my favorite Cate Blanchett, there's just glamour on the red carpet. Just glamour. Style is gone. Gone are the swans of Bjork, the men's shirts of Sharon Stone, the safety pins of Elizabeth Hurley, the threads of Rose McGowan, the homemade designs of Demi Moore.
Ok, these are not all from the Oscars red carpet but just wanted to point out that style can be crazy!

Everyone looks gorgeous and glamorous and divine. Well, that's what movie stars are supposed to look like! I'll just watch the Grammys then. You can always count on musicians to be authentic (Rihanna! JLo! Lady Gaga!) and to give us all a spectacular show!

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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Topaz Beauty: Shiseido Ibuki review

I started using Shiseido Ibuki in mid-September last year when BDJ Box sent me samples. I was encouraged to use the line after Project Vanity's glowing review. And you know what? I'm now an Ibuki girl! I love it sooo much!

Ibuki is the new skincare range from Japanese beauty giant Shiseido. They launched it mid-last year. I started using the samples from BDJ Box in September, was wowed so much that I bought the full-size products in October. I've been using it exclusively since.

Ibuki is meant for anti-aging so its market is young women (and men!) in their mid-20s who are working too hard or too long, live in the polluted city, and enjoy life a wee bit too much. You're still young enough so that your skin can take all that abuse but once you hit your 30s, BAM! You'll look awful. So Ibuki aims to build the skin's resistance to our daily stress, protecting it from pollution, UV rays, dryness and unhealthy lifestyles. Now, I'm 37 years old, 36 when I started using Ibuki, so I'm not the target market but I tried it and loved it! So I decided to do a review!

Important note: This is not a sponsored review. All the products featured here I bought with my own money. Here's proof!
Haha, defensive! Sorry, this is my first real beauty review ever and I don't want it to be tainted just because I'm sooo in love with Ibuki!

Okay, here are the products that I got. The only one I didn't get from the Ibuki line is the eye cream. I know, I know. I should use an eye cream. I'm nearing 40, for heaven's sake. But I keep skipping it! So, knowing my beauty habits, I didn't get the eye cream since I didn't want to spend an extra P1,800 for something I'm definitely not going to use.

Gentle Cleanser - P1,495 for 125ml tube
Most beautiful lather I've ever experienced. Ever! It's almost poetic how such a small pea-sized amount can transform to something so soft and creamy and light but dense and cleansing and perfect. My skin loves this cleanser! My skin feels really clean but not tight and dry.

If your skin is oily or you wear a lot of makeup, Ibuki has another facial wash, the Purifying Cleanser.

Softening Concentrate - P1,600 for 75ml bottle
"What is it? Is it a toner?" That's what people keep asking. Since we Filipinas are more familiar with the Western way of skincare (wash-tone-moisturize), a softener is confusing because it's another product to add to your regimen. But to Asians, especially the Japanese and Koreans, a skincare regimen has five to even eight steps (read this mom's skincare routine, for example!). Crazy, right? But their skin looks perfect!

So what's the Ibuki Softening Concentrate? It's a lotion that softens your skin after cleansing (and toning, if you do that) so that the next products you apply will be better absorbed. If you notice, skin can get a bit tight after cleansing and toners tend to close pores so the softener is the pre-moisturizer because it helps prepare your skin for the serum/treatment and moisturizer. Wow, right?

If that all sounds unnecessary, it isn't. Trust me! This is my ultimate favorite Ibuki product. My skin really drank this up and I'm so soft and smooth because of it! If I don't have any budget, I'll still scrape together something just to buy this again!

(Day) Protective Moisturizer - P1,950 for 75ml bottle
I like that this is light on my face and is easily absorbed. But I don't think I'll buy this again. It only has SPF 15. How is that supposed to protect me from the Manila sun?! So I always need to add sunscreen on top of this and I really don't like piling on products. I'll finish this whole bottle but I'll switch to a moisturizer with a stronger sunscreen (SPF 30 at the very least) before the summer months come rolling along.

(Night) Refining Moisturizer - P1,950 for 75ml bottle
I love this moisturizer! I use it at bedtime and the scent is so relaxing. I feel like I'm giving myself a spa treatment. I love that it's light and easily absorbed, too, since I don't like pulling and tugging my skin just to get the product absorbed. This one penetrates quite quickly.

My skin really became refined. I also don't feel the need to exfoliate anymore, probably because this moisturizer already does that really well. I used to have dry spots on my cheeks and sides of my nose but those are now all gone. My skin looks finer yey!

If your skin is dry, you can use the Refining Moisturizer Enriched cream.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of what I looked like before and while using Ibuki:
Though my skin looks whiter in the right, Ibuki has no whitening effect. The reason why I think Ibuki doesn't whiten is because (a) my foundation shade for both Bobbi Brown and Happy Skin is still the same and doesn't need to be changed, and (b) my acne scars and sun spots are not fading at all. So my skin looks whiter in the right photo because... well, must just be my hair turning really red. That's what happens when my hair is super red—my skin looks whiter. Or maybe my camera's white balance is off? I didn't adjust these photos, you see. No Photoshop! Just my naked face!

It's not really seen in the photos but my skin changed dramatically in just two weeks' use. I started in September. It's now February and my husband has since been constantly saying how soft and young I look. Guys, I just turned 37, and I'm pregnant and exhausted. I'm supposed to be looking rougher and older but I look great! It's not the "pregnancy glow" because my skin always freaks out when I'm pregnant, a combination of angry pimples and dull, dead skin. But with Ibuki, my skin is softer, smoother. I'm not oily at all. I'm not breaking out, except for the occasional pimple now and then that I know is caused by my hormones. My skin does look refined. And though I'm a busy, tired mommy, my skin doesn't look it!

Summary:
Here is my most recent photo with my favorite Ibuki product, the skin softener. Like, I took this pic a few minutes before publishing this post. I'm wearing no makeup, just eyebrow powder. As you can see, my skin looks great. Not flawless—my acne scars are still there (sigh!) and I really do need eye cream for my dark circles and crow's feet.

I LIKE... 
  • My skin is really so nice now! It's firm and yet soft, moisturized yet not oily. I look so much better now! 
  • Ibuki is not cheap but it's not as expensive as Lancome, Kiehl's and Estee Lauder either. Plus, just a little product goes a long way. I've been using my Ibuki for 4 months and I'm just halfway through my bottles.
  • Every review I read complains about the "strong floral scent." I think the Ibuki line has a delicate fragrance. Quite elegant actually, unlike products from some French and Italian brands which are infused with nauseating perfumes. I love the smell of Ibuki! It relaxes me and makes me feel rich haha. 

I DON'T LIKE...
  • Though I really think it's not expensive, I'm aware that for a lot of girls in their 20s, the price of each product is still painful. Just look at it this way: The basic products (cleanser, softener, moisturizer) is like a nice pair of shoes or a good handbag, but the products last for months and months and make you look fabulous every day! That's a great investment!
  • It didn't fade my acne marks and sun spots so boo. 
  • The protective moisturizer has SPF 15. That's ridiculous in the tropics! Not protective at all!

MY TAKEAWAY: I've found the basic skincare range for me! I know it's targeted to younger women (it's supposed to prevent aging and I'm already there haha) so I guess I can still use this for a couple of years or so before I need something more potent.

I'll just use the cleanser, softener and refining moisturizer from Ibuki. Yup, just the basic products. I think I'll need to use my SK-II Facial Treatment Essence again (after cleansing) then add a brightening serum after the softener (I'm looking at Lancome) if I want my acne scars and sun spots to go away. And I'll need another moisturizer with higher SPF for the day (maybe go back to VMV Armada). And even though I hate applying eye cream, I know I need it. I just haven't seen enough reviews of Ibuki's eye cream to plunk down almost 2K for it.

WHO'S IT FOR: Anyone looking for a basic skincare regimen but is willing to graduate from drugstore brands. They're marketing this towards young professionals so if you're in your mid-20s to early 30s, this should do nicely.  

You can buy the Ibuki line from Shiseido boutiques in Greenbelt 5, Greenhills, Glorietta 4, Power Plant Mall, Shangri-la Plaza, Trinoma and Eastwood.

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