Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Marking milestones

This post is brought to you by UNOde50.

I just turned 39 a couple of months ago but I have big plans before I turn 40. Well, maybe not so big for many people but for me, I have plans to get my life in order before the big four-oh. I'm sharing my plans with you so I can have accountability because, honestly, I've been meaning to do some of these things for, I dunno, decades now. Decades! 

I just think that it's high time I do some—if not all!—of everything I've been meaning to do. And I finally wrote them down (and published the list!) because I was browsing the website of an online Spanish brand I love for women necklaces and other jewelry and accessories, and thinking, "I don't need new jewelry even though I want new jewelry..." and then it just came to me—I'm going to reward myself with a piece of jewelry for every milestone achieved! Here is what I plan to do before my life begins again at 40: 

Get flawless skin. As I keep mentioning for years on my blog now, I've always had bad skin. I accepted it as a part of being me. But last year, I decided that I can't subscribe to the "inner beauty matters most" excuse anymore. Honestly, I'm beautiful enough inside already!!! Time to take care of the outer beauty for once!

What better way to frame flawless skin than with big gold earrings? I love the shape of these!

Get fit. Forty years old is old for many people. Like, they dread it. I never have, but now that it's on the horizon, I feel it. Creaking bones, aching back, sore muscles. I can't be unfit. I have three young children! I need to live at least 30 more years and those years need to see me in tip-top shape!

Eat healthy. At 39, my metabolism is still pretty fast. Yes, that's my excuse for being skinny because if you saw what I ate on a daily basis, you'd freak out. I eat lots of meat, carbs, fats and sugar. Veggies and fruits? On a rare day, they show up on my plate. I should eat better because my body deserves it. Plus, it's hard to teach my kids to eat healthy when their mama doesn't! 

I don't own a leather-strap watch so let's mark the passing of time with this one!

Get a physical check up. Well, because of what I said above! After years and years of abusing my body with stress, unhealthy food, and sleepless nights working, I really ought to check if everything's okay. I haven't had a physical since 2010! 

Own a streamlined wardrobe that flatters my new body. I'm getting rid of most of my clothes and shopping for new ones—clothes, bags and shoes that fit my age, my work as a blogger and freelance writer/editor, and my life as a mom. But I'll shop for clothes when I have that new healthier body! Hopefully, in 6 months!

My busy life needs a simple wardrobe... which means statement accessories like this chunk of rock!

Take my whole family on a trip abroad. Our last family trip abroad was to Hong Kong Disneyland in 2013. Back then, there was just Vince, me, Vito and IƱigo. No Piero yet. Actually, Piero was already in my tummy but we didn't know it yet! So I guess you can say that was our first family trip abroad! But I want an official trip abroad, hopefully before Piero turns 2 so his plane fare will be free.

Launch a new and improved Topaz Horizon. My blog turns 10 in May and I want it to be bigger, better and more beautiful! I'm working with a great team to make this happen but I have a LOT to do before we can launch. For one thing, I need to delete dozens of blog posts—those that used uncredited photos and those that were negative and nasty. Yep, I wasn't a responsible blogger when I started 10 years ago! So those have got to go. Deleting posts is hard, though. That's what's really slowing me down in the whole migration to Wordpress! 

I want an interesting bangle so I'll be inspired while I type! Love that silver pearl solitaire.

Learn to play an instrument. One of my few regrets is abandoning my piano lessons. I come from a musical family. An extremely musical family. Everyone knows how to play an instrument or two, or sings and dances, or writes music. I'm the only one who stands out as being unmusical. I didn't care for the longest time but now that I have kids, I regret that I can't pass on that legacy. But it's not too late! I can still learn something! Maybe piano or guitar!

Reach my crazy financial goal for the year. I have a new business that I started with fellow moms, entrepreneurs and bloggers Martine de Luna and Ginger Arboleda. Beauty Biz Bliss has a ton of activities lined up for working women this year and I hope you can support us! If BBB becomes a smashing success on top of my blogging career, I won't need to go back to a 9-to-5 job ever again!

If my business takes off, I'm going to indulge in a chunky chain neck piece.

Teach Creative Writing. I've always always always wanted to do this! I'll teach a writing class here at my home. My husband knows I've been dreaming of this for years but I just never got to doing it because I had a demanding job back then which was replaced by demanding children! But this year, two of my kids will be in school so maybe it's time! 

Okay, that's a lot. Ten to be exact. I'm pretty sure I won't be able to do all in 10 months! 

Still, when I was window shopping online at the fashion UNOde50 jewelry website this weekend, I was inspired to finally get off the couch and make my life better! If only for new accessories!!! You know that I reward myself with jewelry whenever I have a big milestone (if you don't, then click this link for a brief history: "About push presents"). But when Piero came along, I haven't really bought myself anything. So no push present for his birth yet! Must get a ruby ring for that big event, and for the other milestones mentioned above, fashion jewelry will do just as nicely!

How about you? What are your perpetual plans? And how do you reward yourself when you reach your goal? Do share!

*photos from UNOde50 website

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Benefit hosts the launch of Beauty & Sparkle's beauty videos

Last weekend was a fun celebration of my friend, Nicole Romero. She's many things to many people—friend, sister, aunt, editor, writer, fitness enthusiast, baker, makeup artist, blogger, and now beauty vlogger!

Nicole's blog is called Beauty & Sparkle: A Real Girl's Guide to Looking Pretty + Feeling Good. Nic's seriously one of the most professional, most amazing, most fantabulous beauty bloggers I've ever read. All her blog entries are well written, grammatically correct (she's an editor!), fun to read, inspiring, helpful, relatable, and her tutorials are friendly and easy to do. Her blog looks great, too!

And now she's into beauty vlogging! Check out her YouTube channel, Beauty & Sparkle!

I love how cute and pretty and helpful all her videos are! And the music she uses just makes me so happy, makes me do a little dance while I watch my friend, and follow her instructions. I love ALL her videos but these are my favorites:

She's my friend but when we're together, I don't, like, stare at her face. But because of her videos, I get to do just that and OMG doesn't Nicole have the MOST FLAWLESS SKIN ever?!? Seriously. I want to have skin as perfect as hers. And her hair? So lush and fab! And I'll tell you a secret and she will kill me for revealing this—she's naturally that way!!! God was doling out perfect skin and hair the day she was born, I bet!


Beauty brand Benefit celebrated Nic's new vlog with a party last Saturday at their boutique at SM Megamall. Did you know it's the biggest Benefit store in South East Asia??? You should go visit! It's chock-ful of beauty goodies and there are areas for spa treatments. So fab for girls like us and so perfect for a pretty party! Check out these pics I grabbed from Nic's Instagram account:
We definitely felt like VIPs!
Beauty blogger extraordinaire!
Nic and newly engaged Alyanna Martinez.
Nic, Nikki and me! 
Just a few of Nic's family, friends, readers, followers and subscribers!
All the guests went home with a Benefit loot bag!
Here are my photos:
Checking out the products.
My message to Nic and all my readers!
Nicole introducing her videos.
Selfies with her fans.

What a fun party, Benefit! Thanks for having us at your fabulous store and for supporting Beauty & Sparkle!

And because unboxing videos are SO HUGE on YouTube now, let's check out the unboxing videos that Nicole made of Benefit products:

Love your channel, Nic! Congratulations, dear friend, on your successful vlog launch!

Read her blog: Beauty & Sparkle
Like her on Facebook: Beauty & Sparkle
Follow her on Instagram: @beautyandsparkl
Watch her on Snapchat: @beautyandsparkle
Subscribe to her YouTube channel: Beauty & Sparkle

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review: Flawless Acne Control Advanced Facial

This post is brought to you by Flawless Skin & Body Clinic.

Today I will do a super happy review of the Acne Control Advanced Facial of Flawless. But first, a background...

Around the time my youngest child celebrated his first birthday in July last year, my skin started popping up whiteheads. At first, they were a smattering here and there, but within a month, they were everywhere. My cheeks looked like a cauliflower. Observe:

Nakakaiyak siya grabe. I went to a derma to have the whiteheads extracted but my skin got irritated and exploded into full blown inflammation. I had a serious case of acne! Now I've always had pimples. In fact, that's how I know my husband fell in love with the real me because when we met, all Vince saw was a pus-riddled face. I seriously don't know how he saw through that!

Anyway, so sanay na ako sa pimples, right? And kahit ganyan yung face ko, someone still fell in love with me (and married me pa!). So my face wasn't a huge deal. Then in my 30s, my face miraculously cleared up. The only times my pimples came back were the first trimesters of my three pregnancies, then my skin will return to perfection. I have never felt so confident and beautiful in my life! Iba pala talaga ang acne-free skin.

So when the pimples returned in July and worsened as my 39th birthday approached, I was really besieged by insecurity. Pangit na pangit ako sa sarili ko. Cauliflower cheeks nga, diba. Nakakaiyak. I tried to remind myself that inner beauty matters more but I felt my confidence erode talaga. So I was so happy when a Flawless clinic opened near my house. I went for a skin consultation right after my birthday in November.

Dr. Boyles, the in-house dermatologist who saw me, told me hindi naman daw cauliflower levels ang skin ko. She also promised better skin by Christmas. That's just 6 weeks, or a month-and-a-half, or around 3 facial treatments! I couldn't believe her! But it's true! By the time Christmas rolled along, my skin was so much better. Thanks to the Acne Control Advanced Facial of Flawless!
After 3 facials, no more cauliflower skin! Here I am at makeup-free at Flawless, ready for my facial!

Here's the 12 Steps to Flawless Skin (a.k.a. the Acne Control Advanced Facial):
  1. Aromatherapy. The facial starts with three inhalations of the lavender-scented palms of your facialist. Lavender is supposed to relax you.
  2. Cleansing. It's a simple procedure lang. Your facialist will apply cleanser all over your face and neck and then wipe it off with moistened sponges. 
  3. Eye treatment. Your facialist will apply an Eye-Destressing Cream all over your eye area, then cover them with moistened cotton pads.
  4. Lip treatment. Your facialist will apply a moisturizing lip scrub on your lips. I suggest you press your lips together and move them about to exfoliate your lips in the next step.
  5. Steaming. This is 15 minutes of basking under a warm steam directed at your face to open pores. If you have asthma like me, make sure to mention this to the derma and the facialist so they can make bantay sa iyo. Steam can irritate your sensitive air passages. Dr. Boyles was the one who told me this and I found this to be such a relief and a relevation. Previous spas and clinics (even high-end ones!) never warned me about this!
  6. Hand massage. While your face is being steamed, your hands will be wrapped in hot and dry towels. Then after they're warmed through, you get a hand massage. 
  7. Vacuum. A quick vacuum treatment is applied all over your face. The tiny suction removes dead skin cells that are on top of your skin. It also stimulates lymphatic drainage.
  8. Pricking. This is the painful part. Your facialist will squeeze out with sterile instruments all your blackheads and whiteheads. 
  9. Toner. Witch hazel toner is applied all over your face to disinfect it and to return the pH level of skin.
  10. Laser. Little laser zaps close and tighten pores. You'll notice your facialist will linger over the areas that were pricked most. 
  11. Multivitamin serum. A small amount is massaged into your face to repair and nourish skin.
  12. Oxygenating mask. The final step is a thick and cold mask applied all over the face—even on eyes and lips! This mask solidifies in 10-15 minutes. It can get quite claustrophobic under that mask. Your facialist will give you a back massage naman at the last five minutes of the mask but sana the whole 15 minutes na lang! The mask is supposed to infuse oxygen into skin, reviving dull, tired skin and giving it a glow. The cold mask also calms down inflammation so you don't look namamaga after your facial. 

That's it! This can take a while so prepare to set aside an hour-and-a-half to two hours of your day. This is me after the pricking. Medyo maga pa my cheeks but after the chilly Oxygenating Mask, the redness will calm down.

My tips for the best Flawless experience:
  • Don't wash your face for at least 6 hours after the facial. Your wounds from the pricking, tiny they may be, need to be completely dry before you can wash your face again. Water from the tap has bacteria which can infect your fresh-from-the-clinic skin. If you get a facial at night, pwedeng tuloy-tuloy ka na matulog. If you do it naman first thing in your day, don't put on makeup after. In fact, don't touch your face at all.
  • Set an appointment with the dermatologist. The consultation is free! Might as well get a professional opinion on your skin's condition, diba? She can diagnose what your real problem is, suggest the proper treatment, and give you other skincare tips. Plus, the derma will oversee your facial pa.
  • Dress warmly. Maybe I'm lamigin lang but the clinic gets chilly. I guess kasi nakahiga ako ng two hours so giniginaw na ako after a while. There's a blanket naman but best to bring a jacket or a cardigan, and don't wear shorts. 

I still have acne marks—dark spots and ice-pick scars—but now that the pimples have calmed down, we can now think of other treatments to address the scars and pigmentation. I'm so excited! I'm going to be flawless soon!

The Flawless Acne Control Advanced Facial is just P980. So thorough but so affordable! And most important of all, so effective. Visit any Flawless clinic near you and have your skin checked now!

I'm so happy I chose Flawless to take care of my skin. For more promos and information, visit the Flawless website, like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram (@myflawless).