The Revamped Return of Ellana Minerals | Pressed Products Now Available!

Ellana Minerals was one of the first Filipino makeup brands ever to impress me in terms of value for money and not at the expense of quality either.  I don’t even use powder all the time but their powder formulas never fail to impress me in terms of coverage and smoothness.  They rose in popularity for the wide range of mineral makeup shades they offered that suited varied Asian complexions (especially for powder foundation).  I just made a friend last Christmas (a fellow “Inglesera” painter friend who studied in I.S.) and she got surprised that I had Ellana loose foundation in my “kikay kit” during dinner.  She said “You have it, too!  You know that’s the only one I’ve found locally that works for me.  I don’t even know much about makeup but I put it on and I like it.”

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Ellana Minerals’ beautiful new packaging illustrations are by talented artist, Soleil Ignacio

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ELLANA MINERAL POWDER FOUNDATION Php460.00This powder product put Ellana Minerals on the map.  I still prefer the loose foundation over their new pressed versions, but I feel that their pressed powder compacts serve a new vital purpose for me.  You can apply your loose Ellana mineral powder at home using a kabuki or dense buffing brush at a level of coverage that you can control, then bring the matching pressed powder along with you for easy day-to-night touch ups and less mess on the go.  My MAC cosmetic shade is NC30 (a yellow medium/fair).  My spot on shade in Ellana’s range would be right in-between Hazelnut Latte and its lighter step-up French Vanilla Latte. 

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Hazelnut Latte is the closest to my skintone but just a bit too dark, it’s actually my summer shade.  French Vanilla is a tad bit too light naman but still okay for evening looks and can suit NC25-NC30 girls (mac shades).  There’s a bit of a jump between shades but what’s awesome about Ellana’s range is there’s a warm range and also a cool range of light to deep tones we can choose from, which is mainly why I love them.  I’m considering getting Chai Latte to see because its tone looks like it could sit between Hazelnut and French Vanilla even if it’s slightly cooler.

Ellana mineral powder foundations provide moderate to heavy coverage, are fragrance-free, suitable for sensitive skin, and provide intensive oil control.  The powders also, apart from covering a multitude of flaws,  really photograph immaculately well with no flashback.  I actually blogged about the brand a couple of years ago here.  I felt Ellana ease out of the limelight for just awhile, but I figured they would never totally leave the beauty biz since such a huge market (myself included) loved their range (comparable to Bare Minerals in the U.S.).

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The brand got a pretty makeover and while they still have their loose powder available they’ve finally bravely put out pressed compact versions of their well loved mineral powder foundation, it provides the same product but in an easier to apply compact that allows you to control sheer to moderate coverage, primarily for touchups.  BUT WAIT (that tone), there’s more!  They came out with eyeshadow and blush compacts, too.  Read “more” to get the full post, more photos (with and without flash) and see me wearing Ellana Mineral loose powder makeup in a more or less complete look.… To full post & COMMENTS...

NEW Nivea Protect & Bronze Sun Spray | Get Safely Sunkissed for Php599

As you probably already know from Instagram (@blessmybag) I’ve just returned from a press junket at Palawan where NIVEA PH revealed the new product that’s bound to rock our summer boat.  NIVEA is a world market leader in affordable sun protection formulas that are good for the skin.  They’ve also been around 120 years so there are no buts about how established these guys are.  Another thing that I didn’t happen to know is that NIVEA actually invented the SPF system standard.  They do up-to-date research coupled with frequent safe testing on human volunteers (using the back of the hand) to ensure the quality of their products.  Way before I ever became a beauty blogger NIVEA was in our bathroom and yes, mostly in the form of sunscreen for my baked brother who is currently one of the country’s best teenage football players.  They’ve brought in a special spray lotion product for summer this year that aims to jumpstart a healthy, natural tan without “fake tanning” you and more importantly does it with sun protection.  They’ve had the regular Protect & Bronze lotion before but now you can spray on this light lotion. This product is actually the solution to my dilemma as someone fair-skinned.  I’d like to tan but I hate having to choose between tanning oil and sunscreen or combining them in doubt that I’ll ever get properly sunkissed.  This product boosts your own tan while protecting you, plus it smells nice, not annoying.  Interesting, noh?

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“Protect & Bronze sun spray combines immediate protection with a natural looking tan. *The formula contains a natural plant extract which helps support skin’s own melanin production (in-vitro). Use regularly for an even and natural looking tan. Contains no self tan.” PRICE: Php599.00 for 200ml, available in leading groceries, department stores, or pharmacies that sell Nivea skincare.  NIVEA PH site shows they also have the SPF10, 20, 30 and spf 50 but that’s depending on availability I guess.

(At the press launch we were given SPF 20 which is still safe even if it isn’t as high as 50 as long as you frequently reapply and layer it on like I did, I didn’t burn but just take note it isn’t summer yet.  )

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LAGEN ISLAND, PALAWAN <Email: / Direct Landline: (632) 7503957>

Truthfully, two days in Palawan is not enough time for someone as fair as me to get a full on medium-well tan that will last (someone like me needs over a week at the beach).  What I liked about NIVEA Protect & Bronze is without using tint I managed to generate a healthy sunkissed glow within the first few hours.   I also applied every 2-3 hours to stay protected and to help build my tone.  What it does initially if you don’t have as many days at the beach is it takes the edge off pale skin and encourages your skin with a botanical extract to develop a well-rounded natural tan, no tints or harsh chemicals.  I actually somehow saw a subtle difference within minutes from applying it indoors even before heading out into the sun.  I’m nowhere near tan at the moment, but I’m not a sickly pale shade anymore either (bathing suit provided by Roxy PH).


Disclosure: I had to adjust this photo’s brightness and hue from the camera shot to properly match the actual sunkissed me in real life, mobile phone photos tend to need some help in capturing real life color sometimes.  Please be assured that my skintone in the photo is properly exhibited, also don’t mind the shadows from the coconut trees overhead.

The lower SPF variants of Nivea Protect & Bronze like 20 and 10 are actually great for outdoor brides who don’t want to look pasty on their wedding day and want an overall healthy glow.  P.S. I do NOT have a tummy ache lol, I just really don’t know how to pose.

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By the way, I personally asked one of NIVEA’s global bosses if it is safe enough for the face because the instructions that say “Don’t spray on face” might confuse you.  The formula IS SAFE for the face, you’re just not supposed to spray the product directly from the bottle onto your face to avoid getting it into your eyes.  Spritzing it onto your hands and applying on the face is the correct way to do it.  You can develop a deeper tan with this given you’ve got more time under the sun.  NIVEA Protect & Bronze Sun Spray is available for Php599.00 in leading local department stores, groceries, and selected pharmacies/beauty floors.… To full post & COMMENTS...

Nature Republic Botanical Mandarin BB Cream | My Bourjois Healthy Mix Dupe

In the past I’ve never found a mid-range BB cream that I was really comfortable with that perfectly matched me in terms of shade and formula.  The proof is in the pudding, only one or two BB creams in the past were ever mentioned on this blog.  To me BB creams can sometimes tend to be scary ingredient cocktails topped off with higher SPF, the veritable cherry on top.  One or two BBs in the past have broken me out into rashes within minutes which is why I often keep away from BB land and stay close to my Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer for normal days.  They’re not particularly popular among people with sensitive skin but many active individuals who spend a lot of time outdoors commuting or doing other activities have made BB creams a daily staple.  BB creams are most popular in Korea and Japan respectively.  Many branded BB creams hailing from those countries sport anti-aging ingredients in conjunction with UV protection.  They’re basically souped up tinted moisturizers, or in terms of coverage they fill the Asian-pop niche between sheer tinted bases and classic liquid foundations.  BB Coverage is generally expected to be sheer to moderate but the level does vary from brand to brand.  In Korea and Japan even a good handful of men don’t shy away from the regular use of BB creams.  Korean brand Nature Republic have been around a couple of years locally.  While Nature Republic is not quite as big as FACE shop or Etude House here and are somewhat under the radar I still quite like the look and textures of their cosmetic range.  I happened to be in Landmark, Makati and while waiting for an appointment I came across Nature Republic’s mod but also classic looking botanical BB Cream with SPF35 PA++.  Immediately after I swatched it I got it.  It’s that good, plus it’s mineral oil and paraben free.


 Nature Republic Botanical Mandarin BB Cream, 30ml, SPF 35 PA++, Php680 -10% = Php620

(Does NOT contain/Free of: Parabens, Tar, Mineral Oil, Benzophenone, Talc, and Triethanolamine)
Made in Korea (2 shades: #21 & #23–only #23 sold here)

KEY INGREDIENTS: Water, Glycerin, a combo of silicones, Niacinamide (one of Ruth Crilly’s aka AModelRecommends’  fave good ingredients for skincare bases), with fruit extracts of Satsuma Orange (Jeju Mandarin), Guava, Mango, Grapefruit, Coconut, Kiwi, and Papaya.

STORE BRANCHES: SM Megamall, SM North Edsa The Block, SM Fairview, Festival Supermall, Landmark Trinoma, Landmark Makati and Sta Lucia East Grandmall.

The product bottle with a pump appealed to me instantly.  I noticed its packaging similarity to  Benefit’s Hello Flawless liquid foundation.


Considering they only sell one shade locally I think I’m pretty blessed that it’s such a great shade match for me, don’t you think?  I swatched Nature Republic’s Botanical Mandarin BB Cream on my hand and the thin formula with medium coverage and a soft, fresh, radiant finish instantly reminded me of Bourjois Healthy Mix’s Gel Serum foundation (UK) but this contains SPF35 and Healthy Mix Gel has no SPF.  Read “more” to get the full post, more information and see some “before and after” shots with this BB Cream on, plus testing it with and without flash photography.… To full post & COMMENTS...

My Nationwide Valentine Giveaway 2014 | Until Feb. 6, Mga SAD Diyan Sumali Na

This Valentine’s I want you to smell great, look great, and plan a lifetime of love everyday you wake up alive.  To SAD (Single Awareness Day) Club members don’t be moping about waiting for the sun to rise, this giveaway ESPECIALLY goes out to you guys.  Remember the “Relaks Pag-Ibig Lang Yan…” planner I blogged about here a few weeks ago?  It’s here in all its swoon-y looney delight!

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I personally think that this giveaway is the most quirky love shove yet.   One mushy winner takes all after this NATIONWIDE giveaway closes on Feb. 6. <3  Click “more” to jump to the full post with close-up photos of the prizes and to join via Rafflecopter.… To full post & COMMENTS...

5 Ways to Relax Before 2014 Hits High Gear

The month of January is drawing to a close and while it may have been an already hectic month for some of you for many others it may just be the last mellow month before the year truly kicks into high gear.  I wanted to share 5 simple ways to relax before truly swerving into the “rat race”.  It’s okay to prepare to speed up, but there always is a calm before the storm and I think before you make speedy decisions it’s important to clear out that mind.


Illustration: Kathleen Jennings “@tanaudel”

1.) TURN OFF/LIMIT TECHNOLOGY– I’m sure this image already suggests that with flying colors.  I am so obviously not helping in this department at the moment LOL, but right after this you should get out of here.  I myself did this last week.  If this isn’t possible for some of you because of your jobs (especially if you’re in the internet industry this needn’t apply) at least restrict yourself to PMs, DMs, email, and SMS messages for work, or set a time of day when it’s time to switch off once work is done.  Better yet charge your laptop and tablets outside of your bedroom.  Also stall the selfies for awhile.  One of my uncles has actually prohibited his daughter from taking selfies of herself until she’s 18 and no, she’s not even one of my celebrity cousins.  She’s allowed to take pictures of herself WITH other people.  To some it may sound absurd but I believe that limiting self-consciousness in children and adolescents is wise…it expands compassion and encourages a consciousness towards others.   I wouldn’t expose my future children to interactive technology until they’re after the age of 5 or in Grade 1.  I know it’s easier said than done but the experts have found many problems with toddlers addicted to gadgets.  New studies from the world’s top experts have shown that premature exposure to touch and video technology in toddlers is inhibiting their proper mental development and exercise of their motor skills.  The rampant use of technology to amuse children is also fueling rage and impatience at an early age.  They grow up believing there is a shortcut or button for everything.  Some experts are even calling exposure to videos and apps “baby crack” which dopes them and entertains them to make them stay put, but it is highly unhealthy.  In the end, for us adults, life’s not all about your best profile photo.


Stay away from YouTube, 9GAG, Vine and the usual places you go to try and be amused or entertained by sometimes irrelevant information, yes even blogs.  I was only on YouTube last week to look at some possible recipes and also to follow workout sessions.  The mind isn’t a bottomless pit and it can get crowded and the excess won’t help especially during times when you need to be able to think clearly for work…the net junk will reduce decision-making quality. There, there, don’t sob now, LOL, it’s not forever…I’m only saying that temporary abstinence flushes the mind.

2.) TRY COOKING OR MAKING A SIMPLE MEAL FROM SCRATCH –  If you can read, you can cook, if cooking’s complicated try baking.  If none of that is simple enough, make a sandwich, salad, multiple dips (guacamole for example), or soup.  Don’t use a mix that’s jampacked with fillers and MSG, really COOK something.  Some may have natural talent but with practice others who don’t can still feed themselves and other people…seriously.  If you have any doubts check out Jamie Oliver’s apps, YouTube channel, and books.  If you want local kitchen tested recipes look no further than Nora Daza’s easy to follow books.  There’s also an economic relevance that will boost your health when you cook it yourself, because the unhealthy stuff (rich dishes, deep fried dishes) are more difficult to make and clean up after than healthy stuff (salads, soups, steamed, grilled, and boiled stuff).  Watch this video here.

I’m late in the game but finally discovering that I enjoy being in the kitchen and have a palate (sense of taste) that impresses my family…now I need to develop the regular habit of planning meals and buying the ingredients.  I baked a lot a few years back but it’s been way too much of a hiatus. This culinary motivation might also be related to the book I’m reading by Banana Yoshimoto called “Kitchen”.  Which leads me to my next tip.

3.) READ A BOOK, A BOOK WITH REAL PAGES – Gadgets put strain on the mind because they offer too many options for you to change your mind.  Press this to go here, tap this to do that, jump here…jump there.  Our minds have become like Mexican jumping beans because of too many options presented.  Pick up a real book and there’s nowhere else to go but to the next page…and sometimes that’s exactly what we need.  One story, one path, one direction, one thing…what makes you beautiful…*cough*.  Read it in  bed, in your favorite chair, or in a tub…it’s nice to know if the book falls into the water all you need to do is hang it out to dry…you break nothing.  Also…don’t read it with music on I suggest, we’re trying to train the mind to do one thing undividedly.


4.) GO OUT AND SEE @SOMEONE IN THE FLESH – This might be my favorite one yet.  There’s nothing like two or more souls meeting up and having a good time outside of Viber, Snapchat, iMessage or whatever else we use from day to day to connect.  Nothing compares with a real, personal connection with someone whose face you can squeeze.  Surprise someone by actually calling them up and rallying the flash mob.  SEE A HUMAN BEING, STOP STARING AT AVATARS.

5.) REALLY WRITE, DRAW, OR SOMETHING – You needn’t laugh, some kids today don’t even know how to draw or write anymore sadly.  Even if you’re not an artist you should know that committing something to paper physically actually unwinds the mind. … To full post & COMMENTS...

Aeropostale “Live Love Dream” Hand Lotion | Holy Grail Hand Cream, Batman!

It’s a bit tricky to find a hand cream you like in a tropical country, and the least thing you expect is to find it in a clothing store.  Day in and day out for most of the year anyway we “sweat it out” and the weather is generally quite sticky at planet earth’s waist.  Hand lotions from abroad usually end up making hands feel like they’ve got a greasy layer over them when worn locally, especially if some of the richer formulas were developed for the international markets that get winter.  During the first few days of January I did a bit of post Christmas sales shopping for upcoming bridal showers and birthdays and I, quite typically, ignored the clothes at Aeropostale and floated over to the fragrance counter to test the Live Love Dream scented stuff with no expectations.  The packaging was, to be expected, teeny-bopper-y (mild gag) but when I looked again…it wasn’t too bad, but what surprised me most of all in the range was the hand cream/lotion itself.


INGREDIENTS: Water, Butylene Glycol, Sweet Almond Oil, Fragrance, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Isopropyl Myristate, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Avocado Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Ceteareth 20, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Shea butter, Sodium Polyacrylate, Ethyhexyl Stearate, Vitamin E, Trideceth-6, Limonene, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Sodium hydroxide, Lilial, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Alpha – isomethyl-lonone, Geraniol, Citronellol.

Individually, the 50ml hand lotion sells for Php285.00, they don’t carry a bigger size but a little more than pea size amount of this cream is enough for both hands .  I stalled with the tester in my hand after first application and had to apply a bit more…it felt akin to the Victoria’s Secret Body Lotions which in my 90s teen era experience smell great but also delivered back then in terms of skin softness.   I wasn’t imagining things, the LIVE LOVE DREAM cream moisturized my hands just enough but I didn’t feel like I was left with a “glove” of ingredients sitting on top of my fingers.  The scent…oh my golly gosh, that slightly universal but bright, non-annoying fresh scent didn’t leave my hands for hours.  Note though, if you’re not open to tart fresh scents you won’t like this.  Later on in the day while walking about the city if I smelt something I didn’t like nearby I’d put my hands up to my face to smell them instead.  Read more (click “more”) for the full review (yes, told you I liked this hand cream) and a sneak peek at one of my upcoming Valentine giveaway prizes!… To full post & COMMENTS...

“Fast” Food 2014| For Us Who Can’t Go “Food-less”

Okay, consider this a cheat post, but actually…not really because I’m primarily fasting from beauty blogging.  The main reason why this could not at all wait ’till next week is simply because almost everyone who is fasting will be done by the end of the month or even next week…which would render this post with food suggestions useless.  I know there are many of you like myself who are anemic and cannot go  on “food-less” or 100% juice fasts.  In fact my doctor, Roberto Salvino (Spanish for “savior”), who actually saved me from my second bout with dengue over a year ago said because of my blood with naturally low hemoglobin I’m required to eat “lean” meat (fat and offal NOT recommended with the exception of liver) at least 3 times a week with iron supplements.  So this January, actually at the beginning of this week I began my “fast” by trimming indulgence and sticking with this more or less balanced diet to detox and lose Christmas weight.  I put on 3 or 4 lbs because of no exercise last Nov/Dec and mainly because we ran out of oatmeal for breakfast and Tipco juice so my morning meals were greasy again, that detail of a different breakfast, plus instant Milo instead of Tipco juice, with no exercise every morning really put on the pounds.  I’d like to call this post “Fast” Food, pun intended, so it’s basically just a purer, healthier selection of eats that actually taste good in my opinion (you don’t have to agree about V8, I know more than half the world hates tomato juice, but I love it). I originally planned to stick with this lot just for a week but I now plan to extend ’til the end of the month so it will make more of a difference.

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V8 Low Sodium Original vegetable juice  – 8 veggie juices in tomato base, I add Tabasco to spice it up, don’t get this unless you like tomato juice.

Silk Chocolate Soy Milk – No GMOs, so I get my chocolate milk fix without actual “dairy”, my brother likes the Vanilla flavor in a purple box.  This is so, so yummy and it tastes like the right kind of chocolate.

Tipco Broccoli  juice – This is NOT yucky at all, looks suspiciously green BUT tastes just like apple juice :) the kids at Brent school love Tipco. 

Comida Rica Kaffir Lime Dressing – THIS makes me eat lots of salad, if you’re tired of European vinaigrettes try this Asian inspired one available from Echostore.  I can safely say we’ve gone through about nearly 10 bottles of this stuff in the past few months.  It’s the perfect vinaigrette partner option along with that roasted sesame Asian cream dressing everyone likes.  Now the vinaigrette people can be happy, too.

Quaker Whole Grain Rolled Oats – If you’ve hated oatmeal all your life it might just be because you were eating the instant variety…that used to make me gag, I had bad memories of being force-fed instant oatmeal by some yaya.  When I tasted REAL oatmeal that wasn’t instant I started eating oatmeal everyday and I shed unnecessary flab just by changing my breakfast.  Mix it with honey and fruits if you still can’t take oatmeal “neat”.

Sweet Spring Country Farm Organic Salad Greens – In case you didn’t know my uncle, Kiko Pangilinan leveled up from Senator to Farmer and our family now has regular access to organic salad greens every week.  We buy our fresh salad greens from him, here the tomatoes are also from his farm in Alfonso, Cavite.  Check out their Facebook page here. “farm stall is located at Robinson’s Summit Ridge along the Tagyatay Nasugbu National Road in Tagaytay city. We are open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 8pm.” Mobile: 0932 846 1572 Email:

Kimchi – Korean kimchi (spicky pickled cabbage) always adds lots of excitement to my meals.  I like anything pickled actually.  This gives added oomph to mealtime especially when seafood is the main.  A simple pickle you can put together that I ALSO love which is more Tagalog is radish ceviche (ensaladang labanos) the thin, shaved or sliced white radish (labanos) slices steeped in white vinegar , salt, a bit of sugar and pepper, together with some sliced red onion and tomatoes to make the dish blush a bit, an added touch would be chopped spring onion, just a little. :)

White Fish –  You can switch for local fish like boneless bangus (milkfish) which I super love or tilapia.  This one here is River Cobbler filets from S&R, huge double filet in a Php150 frozen pack. 

Free range/organic eggs – In case you have a sudden hankering for meat eggs are the lesser evil. You can whip up something quick with them or use them in vegetable dishes for added body in dishes.  You can go yolk-less and stick to using the white if you’d like to restrict yourself more from dairy.

I’ve allowed myself mainly seafood and chicken for protein, lots of fruits & vegetables, salad, real (not instant) oatmeal sweetened with organic honey, pure juices, water,  and soy milk.  I am forbidding myself to take heavy red meat dishes, instant noodles, sweet junk (chips I don’t really like, anyway, except for Piknik), pastries.  carbonated/softdrinks, and powdered drinks are a complete no-no.  What I’ve forgotten to include in the picture is Apple Cider Vinegar and Tabasco which I use a lot for seasoning in conjunction with some of these.  For those of us who still need to eat but want a safe detox I think sticking to these is great. For munchies dried fruits and nuts are a good option but I try to drink juice or water instead when I feel the urge to munch, less calories.  Just remember it’s much better to consult your doctor if you’ve never drastically restricted yourself from certain foods and if you have vitamin supplements don’t quit those during the fast.  This is pretty much a low sodium balanced selection with no red meat.… To full post & COMMENTS...

Before the Blog Fast | Jessica Chastain for Disney’s BRAVE

I’m going for a one week blog and YouTube fast but I thought I’d let you guys know instead of just disappearing. I’ll still be shooting and collecting content (as well as preparing my Valentine giveaway items) so as far as the wait goes you’re still in for a treat. I thought I’d leave you with something breathtaking. Jessica Chastain’s Disney dream portrait as Merida from “Brave”. Makeup by Kristofer Buckle, shot by Annie Leibovitz.

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