Becoming Sleek

Archive for November 2013

One of my favorite booths at Blogapalooza 2013 was Brownbag Coffee Solutions. I am a coffee enthusiast (nay, addict?) and I love to try out new brands and blends. I have already heard of Brownbag Coffee last year from When In Manila. I was intrigued by the packaging back then but unfortunately I wasn’t able to try it out. Fortunately they were at Blogapalooza and I was able to try them out directly.

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The booth was set up with those large coffee machines/espresso machines that you see in coffee shops or hotels. I made a beeline to the booth and signed up immediately. I was handed a small paper cup of their #2 coffee (Arabica+Robusta blend). While waiting for the coffee to cool, I was able to chat with Enrico Curioso, the Chief Caffeine Junkie of Brownbag Coffee Solutions. I learned from him that they service high end hotels and restaurants. They also have a website to learn more about their products, and they even have some gift suggestions just in time for christmas!

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Enrico gave me a bag of the #2 to take home and try for myself. Awesome! I immediately went and depotted it into a glass container, and I cut out the label to remind me which coffee I put in it. It may seem like not a lot of coffee in there – it’s because I’ve consumed some already, and I am also giving half the bag for my dad to try. He is also an aficionado and he is the one that started me on coffee in the first place!

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Check it out! A cup of the delicious #2 in my trusty KeepCup. Great to take to the office in the mornings, and it doesn’t take long to brew a single cup in my trusty small coffee maker (a gift from my dad, incidentally). The taste is just perfect, not too strong and not too mild either. I like putting in a bit of sugar and some fresh milk.

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This is definitely a hit for me! I can’t wait to try out the #1 (Pure Arabica) and #3 (Pure Robusta), which I plan to get for myself soon! Thanks for letting me try out your coffee, Brownbag!

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Earlier in the year I had an ambitious project in mind, which is to review as many nail polish removers as I can find. At long last I am able to start on this. Here is a sneak peak of all the nail polish removers that I will be tackling.

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There will be three parts to this project, and I will start with the nail polish removers from My Nails, Bobbie, and Lander. All three are available at most drugstores and department stores.

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My Nails Nail Polish Remover with Acetone

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This is my very first nail polish remover, back when I started painting my nails (late last year, I believe!). As you can see I have almost consumed this small 120ml bottle. It is able to remove regular polish without problems, but the acetone makes it a little harsh. It stings if you have wounds on your fingers. It also smells pretty horrible. It performs a little worse for glitter polish; you will need a lot more product to remove the glitter. If I recall correctly, this costs about Php20.

Bobbie Nail Polish Remover with Acetone

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This comes in a big 275ml bottle but is quite cheap at only Php49.75 (bought from Landmark, Trinoma). This remover also has acetone like My Nails, but it seems so much cheaper. It performs similar to My Nails as well with regards to regular and glitter polishes. The drawback to Bobbie is that the green of the polish remover transfers onto the skin for some reason. This is why I haven’t used this up (check out the level of the liquid in the first picture). I stopped using it when I noticed the transferring.

Lander Acetone-free Nail Polish Remover

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In my search to replace the Bobbie nail remover, I found this bottle of Lander nail polish remover also in Landmark Trinoma. This one is a little bit more expensive, at Php129.75 for 250ml. However if you check the first picture in this post, you’ll notice that I have barely used this. The reason is that it has very poor removal ability, even for non-glitter polish. I already used up four cotton balls-worth but the polish on a single nail still hasn’t budged. I judged this one a fail.

Nail Polish Remover Review Series

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As the self-declared expert (aka huge fan) in Celeteque products, my ultimate goal is to review all the products that they offer. I am finally able to present to you the review of the third line I’ve tried after several months of use: the Celeteque Brightening Line. Along with the Hydration Line, the Brightening Line has the most products in its line up (six each). The Brightening line, as the name suggests, is Celeteque’s whitening range. It aims to lighten the skin and to eliminate dark spots, while also helping protect against darkening due to sun exposure.

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Let’s start with the Celeteque Brightening Facial Wash. This is a basic facial wash that contains antioxidants, which fight melanin formation and help lighten the skin. It’s in cream form that lathers up well, and I only need half a pea-sized amount to cover the entire face. I use this almost daily, morning and night. It leaves the skin thoroughly cleansed, with a slight squeaky clean feel, while remaining gentle enough even for sensitive skin. This 75ml bottle (Php150) lasts a long time!

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Next we have Celeteque Brightening Tri-Benefit Power Cream. This is a three-in-one product that brightens complexion, acts as anti-aging, and provides SPF15 all in a single cream. Read more about the key ingredients of this cream here. I use this basically as my day cream/moisturizer, and apply it underneath makeup. I’ve been using this for about two months, and I can say that this is a wonderful day cream/moisturizer! My face is kept moisturized and at the same time I get the added benefits of the anti-aging factor and the bonus SPF. In fact, with that SPF, I can use this cream alone on a lazy day. It doesn’t make my sensitive skin react. It comes in a pretty sturdy plastic tub that can definitely be reused once the product is consumed. It costs Php599 for 50ml, which is not quite cheap but not overly expensive either.

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This next product is the Celeteque Brightening Radiance Body Cream. As the name suggests, this is actually a body lotion that aims to lighten the skin as well as make it more even-toned. It is a very thick lotion but doesn’t give a greasy feel. It also has SPF so it can be used as the daily sunscreen for the body. While I cannot vouch for the whitening aspect, I can say that this body cream moisturizes the skin quite well and keeps it that way for the day. This 200ml bottle costs Php270 which is fair for the amount of product you are getting.

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This next product is the Celeteque Brightening Eye Tuck Plus Dark Circles Lightener, and is basically Celeteque’s eye cream. It aims to reduce the puffiness around the eyes, and at the same time lightens the skin. Check out this page for more information about the ingredients. I’ve used up most of a tube of this and unfortunately, it didn’t really do much for my dark circles. It does do as advertised for the depuffing of eye bags, and makes me look less tired and puyat. This 15ml tube costs Php299.

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I already reviewed a fifth product in this line (Celeteque Brightening Multi-Benefit BB Cream) so you can just check out the link provided.

Pros: reasonably priced; available in most supermarkets and drugstores; a little goes a long way; effective in their respective areas

Cons: brightening part of eye tuck+brightening didn’t work for me

Disclaimer: I have received these products as part of the early-bird prize at the Celeteque Loyalty Card Launch. All opinions are mine and I was not required to write anything about the products.

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Blogapalooza 2013, hosted by When in Manila, happened last November 16 at the SMX Convention Center at SM Aura Taguig. It was a business-to-blogger event, where companies and small businesses are given the chance to access more than 400 bloggers in a single place. The idea is to create relationships between brands and bloggers in this convenient and welcoming event. I was fortunate to have been accepted as a blogger participant.

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Small stage at the front for company presentations

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Dozens of booths like this occupy most of the floor

Along with booths from participating brands and companies, there are also presentations lined up as well as a ton of giveaways. The event proper started at 11am, but I was only able to arrive at around 2pm. I went around the booths and visited the brands I am interested in. Among the booths I visited are Brownbag Coffee (very tasty blend and friendly owner), Mind Museum (interesting trivia game), GrabTaxi (I was 75% through the electric buzz wire game!), Enjoy Philippines, and Megaworld (I won a LINE doll from the spin the wheel!).

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My pathetic attempt to copy the smirk of this LINE doll

The giveaways include a bag of really awesome coffee (Brownbag Coffee), a bottle of nail polish for nail art (BYS), a water bottle (Tempura), keychain (Flavors of China), and notebook (Karate Kid), a toy gift pack (Richprime Global Inc.), and amazingly enough, a free trial membership with voucher booklet until March from Enjoy Philippines!

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Food was also being served, and the main provider is Tempura Japanese Grill. Fortuitous, as this is one of my favorite Japanese restaurants.

The presentations and speeches were also very informative. I especially enjoyed the talks by Jason Cruz about blogging and digital marketing, Karen Bordador about constant personal evolution, and the money-burning demonstration by the Mind Museum mindmovers.

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All in all I had a lot of fun at Blogapalooza, and I wish I had more time to spend there. I learned a lot of things from the speakers. I look forward to joining next year’s Blogapalooza!

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For the second edition of Wishlist, I present to you my Nail Polish wishlist. I am listing this by brand, although some brands have several items listed in them. My primary consideration in including anything on this list is that it has to be cruelty-free.

1. Dazzle Dry Esnavi Collection, and Dazzle Dry Bloggers Mystery Collection

Why I Want It: Dazzle Dry is my favorite brand primarily because it dries rock-hard in literally five minutes. This is tried and tested, and the Philippine distributor is so nice! The first collection is limited edition and is a collaboration with the singer Esnavi. It has only three shades (green, purple, and peach) and I want all of them! The Bloggers Mystery is a collaboration with five prominent nail bloggers (the sixth shade being a DD-made one), and is released as the 2013 winter collection. I would like to get all six shades but realistically I would probably only get my top three (white, blue, and green). All three of the Esnavi shades are available at Dazzle Dry PH while the Bloggers Mystery will be available at the end of the month.

Why I Shouldn’t Buy It: Nothing, really. Probably the price, but that isn’t how wishlists are supposed to work, right? 😀

2. OPI Couture de Minnie Runway Minnies

Why I Want It: I’ve always liked Minnie Mouse, as she presents as a strong female character without being over the top. This OPI set (includes four of the five shades of this collection, in mini bottles) seems to capture that idea quite well. In addition I love pinks and starting to lean on reds as well, so this is the perfect set to get started on OPI.

Why I Shouldn’t Buy It: OPI may be cruelty-free, but it is owned by a parent company that tests on animals (Coty). I’m not yet sure how I feel about that, but I figure if a parent company profits from a cruelty-free daughter company then that ultimately supports the animal testing of the parent company.

3. Models Own Nail Polishes

Why I Want It: My experience with my first Models Own made me want to get more shades. It applies well and dries relatively fast.

Why I Shouldn’t Buy It: The local reseller, Glamourbox, only has limited shades available. And among those shades, I probably only want one or two. It’s not “sulit” to order only a couple since I’d have to pay extra for shipping anyway. I’d rather order a bunch for efficient ordering.

4. Deborah Lippman Wicked Collection

Why I Want It: I like fairy tales, and the Wizard of Oz is one of my favorites. While admittedly I have neither read the book nor watched the play, I like the swatches of the Wicked collection I’ve found online. That green polish would fit quite well into my greens collection.

Why I Shouldn’t Buy It: Deborah Lippman is a brand I’ve never tried before. I have no idea if it will work well with my go-to base and top coats (Dazzle Dry) so it will be a gamble if I buy this set.

5. Rescue Beauty Lounge Fan 2.0 Collection Coquette

Why I Want It: Emboldened by my positive experience with Liberty, I want to try more shades from RBL. From the latest colaboration with RBL fans I chose the shade Coquette as the best.

Why I Shouldn’t Buy It: Unlike Liberty, the Fan 2.0 collection was not picked up by any reseller so it is very difficult to acquire this. I’ve never had the experience of importing an item directly. In addition, getting this will only make me more addicted to RBL, which is by far the most expensive polish I own (and is probably not that sustainable, hehe).

6. Picture Polish

Why I Want It: Picture Polish is an Australian brand of nail polishes that produce really interesting shades. Thankfully it is being distributed locally by Polish Please, and has a pretty good selection of shades. I love most of the greens and blues (hence the shade selection above) and would love to try at least a couple of these. I can combine this with OPI Couture de Minnie above to save on shipping fees.

Why I Shouldn’t Buy It: Just like Deborah Lippman, this  is a brand I’ve never tried before and may not work well with my go-to base and top coats (Dazzle Dry) so it will be a gamble if I buy this set.

Bonus Item: Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Image credits: http://seche.com/

Why I Want It: My go-to top coat does not work well with some brands, and I need an alternative. I’ve seen many praises for this top coat which have convinced me that this should be on my wish list even if it’s not a nail polish per se. As a bonus, I can combine this with the OPI Couture de Minnie set to save on shipping (from Polish Please).

Why I Shouldn’t Buy It: Seche is mostly cruelty-free, but they do not guarantee the same for their ingredient vendors. This is not such a big deal for me at the moment, but it’s a point of contention.

Verdict: Dazzle Dry it is, to be honest. Nothing can beat a tried and tested brand, and it already works with my base and top coat of choice (of the same brand, hehe!). I might get the Seche top coat anyway since I do have other brands of polish that I regularly use too.

Have you tried/owned any of these brands? Which would you recommend/not recommend and why, or would you rather recommend something else?

In my October haul I bought this Girlstuff Nail Polish in Going Green at the SM North Department Store for Php99. It’s a pretty bright leafy green.

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The formula seems good, and applied evenly. I used two coats for this swatch, no top coat.

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I also bought this gold striping tape, this time from the SM Megamall kiosk for Php50.

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I decided to give it a shot and did a gold-and-green mani to show it off.

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I used two stripes on each finger (except ring). I applied it on after the nail polish dried, and cut it off using some sharp scissors. As expected, I could only do this for my left hand. I used Essence Gold Fever for the accent nail on my left hand, and all nails on the right.

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I would say that Girlstuff Going Green is a really great nail polish. Except that when I took it off two days later, this happened:

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I think that this particular polish has some strange staining ingredient in it, and made all ten of my fingernails look sick and ugly. I did use a base coat to protect my nails (Dazzle Dry Base Coat) but it didn’t help much in this case. If you guys know how to remove the stains, please let me know!

One of the mainstay items in my makeup routine is In2It Waterproof Eyebrow Colour palette in ER01 Eyebrowns. I bought this all the way last August, from SM Megamall I think, for Php299. It is currently my go-to eyebrow powder.

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Let’s talk about the palette. It comes in a small handy plastic palette with the brand printed on the cover in gold, along with some interesting flower design. Its top half is transparent and lets you see the actual product inside. This is a pretty sturdy palette and doesn’t seem cheap. It is a little hard to open, which means it’s pretty safe to tote along on a trip.

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At the bottom you will find ingredient information, directions for use, and the dates of manufacture and expiry.

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Upon opening the palette you will see the three shades side by side in a metal pan, and a tiny brush in its own compartment. The brush is actually pretty useful, and I use it as backup when I wash my primary eyebrow brush (Artist Studio). It does pick up a lot more product though, so I have to be careful otherwise I’ll be sporting a pretty dark brow when that happens. The inside of the cover sports a tiny mirror.

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The eyebrow powder comes in three shades, and I use the darker two mostly. The darkest shade is the one I use to fill in the gaps in my brow, while the middle shade goes to outline and shape my brow properly. Here is the swatch of all three shades on my arm.

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And here is the product applied on my brows.

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In2It is available in major department stores. I have no information on their animal testing policies.

Pros: versatile eyebrow powder, comes in three shades; affordable; great looking compact case; portable; has mirror and brush; availability

Cons: none really

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As you may know by now, central Philippines has been battered by the super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) and many have been left homeless and in dire need. I am putting up a link in my sidebar to Red Cross PH for the rest of the year. If my dear readers would like to contribute, any help is greatly appreciated!

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In other news, I will be attending my first big blogger event hosted by none other than When In Manila! If you are also attending, then I’ll see you there!

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Here are my favorites for the month of October.

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1. [Skincare] Avon Anew Genics Gen-Protect SPF15 Treatment

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When I unboxed this last month (Glamourbox Beauty SOS) I didn’t really give this a big deal. Fortunately it turned out to be a really good day cream! I have been using this since I received this and I love this to bits! It has made my skin quite manageable and it definitely did not make it react negatively. As a bonus, it has SPF15 so theoretically you can go out with just this on your face (and I have!). I love the luxe glass bottle with pump as one pump gives out the exact amount of product for the whole face. This would definitely be a mainstay in my routine even at Php1299 a pop, but unfortunately Avon is not cruelty-free.

2. [Lips] Ofra Lipstick #202

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Glamourbox has a double-whammy for me this month! My favorite lip product is the Ofra Lipstick #202, from the same Beauty SOS box. It is perhaps my best red in my collection so far. I love how it feels on the lips, and it looks quite good with my skin tone.

3. [Face] Etude House Baby Choux Base in Mint Choux

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My favorite face base this month is my newly acquired primer/facebase, the Etude House Baby Choux Base in Mint Choux. I’ve recently just reviewed it. The factor that made it my favorite this month is the versatility of this product. I mostly use it as a substitute for BB cream/foundation, but this performs really well too as a primer and face base. It’s not a very expensive one at that too!

4. [Body] Godiva LicoWhite Whitening Lotion

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I was lucky to get a sample of this from Sampleroom, and the one pictured above is the last of the sachets. I really like how this feels on the skin, and I like how it smells too. I can’t quite comment on the whitening part since I’ve only been using it for about three weeks, but I wouldn’t mind buying a full sized bottle to see how it performs in the long term.

5. [Nails/Tools] BK Nails Dotting Tools

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These dotting tools helped me create my most recent nail arts, and I really like how they perform. I would love to feature more dots on my nails, and these will definitely be used a lot. I bought these separately, but both are found in Landmark Trinoma.

Just to try something new, let me show you some of my wishlists. The idea is to write out the reasons why I want to get the things on my wishlists, and the reasons why I shouldn’t get them. In this way, I can judge whether or not it makes sense to buy them with the limited money I have and at the same time, avoid buying stuff that are not on these lists.

This first edition is my eyeshadow palette wishlist. My primary factor in choosing all of these is that it has to be a neutral palette, and as much as possible a good percentage of them consists of matte shadows.

1. Lorac Pro Palette 

Why I Want It: Lorac is known to have really good quality shadows, and most reviews on this palette confirms this. It has a great range of shades, and has both matte and shimmer shadows. It has sixteen shades! If you look at the price per shadow (Php137-166/shadow) it looks to be a ridiculously good deal. It also comes with a small tube of primer! Finally, Lorac is also cruelty-free.

Why I Shouldn’t Buy It: It’s the most expensive item on my wish list, and it will take a lot of budgeting to buy this. It’s not available locally and might be hard to find. There is a big variation in the prices, as low as Php2200 and as expensive as Php2650. In addition, it has no applicator included and the case is made of hard cardboard (as opposed to plastic). This combination makes it a little hard to be portable.

2. Urban Decay Naked Basics 

Why I Want It: Naked Basics is usually on the list of many bloggers’ top eyeshadow palettes. It’s a pretty handy palette consisting of six shadows (neutral of course), and they’re all matte. It’s a great starting point for a makeup beginner like me, and on the whole it’s a reasonably priced palette too. As a bonus, Urban Decay is cruelty-free.

Why I Shouldn’t Buy It: The shade variation is a little meh. Three of the six are highlight shades and will pretty much look the same on the lid. It’s also a little hard to find, and there is a big variation in prices across different online stores. I’ve seen it as low as Php1300 and as high as Php1800.

3. Sleek I-Divine in Au Naturel

Why I Want It: I’ve always wanted to get Sleek Makeup since it reflects the name of my blog, and I did hear a lot of good things about the brand. An eyeshadow palette from them would be a great start, and it’s not really that expensive either. For Php650 you get ten neutral (mostly) matte shadows which is such a great deal! I like how the packaging looks as well.

Why I Shouldn’t Buy It: Some reviews say that the lighter shades aren’t very good. Sleek is also not cruelty-free, which is a big factor to me.

4. San San Single Shadows in Earth Tones

Why I Want It: San San is a local brand that makes excellent makeup and nail polish, and I’ve always liked supporting local brands. They came out with awesomely cheap single shadows (which is definitely not a palette, but I’ll add this here anyway) at Php50 per shadow. I am interested in the five matte neutrals they have, and I’m counting them like a palette. HBC, which sells the brand, is located in a lot of places so this is pretty accessible.

Why I Shouldn’t Buy It: It is not a palette, and I can imagine how messy it is to work with single shadows. It can be fixed with an empty palette like Wild Peach but it would increase the price of the whole thing dramatically. Reviews also say that some of the shades in this line aren’t very good and need a primer. I also have no idea if San San is cruelty-free.

 

Verdict: After writing this all out, it seems to me that I should go and invest in the Lorac Pro Palette if I have the cash for it. The cases against it are not that big a deal (I have eyeshadow brushes, and I don’t need it to be portable). Otherwise, I can start with the San San Singles if I am in a hurry (which I am really not, since I do own a Nichido palette and two Ellefar palettes that are more or less neutral).

Have you tried/owned any of these? Which would you recommend/not recommend and why, or would you rather recommend something else?


Who is Becoming Sleek?

A Filipino blogger interested in all things makeup, skincare, and nail polish. She may or may not also be interested in crafting, cats, and food.

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