February Beauty Favorites

WOAH, can you believe that 1/6 of the year is already over?! I swear 2016 has just whizzed by me super fast. Before you know it, I will be veering towards the end of wedding planning, and I am so excited. For March, we are already going to meet with our photographer and I am going to start shopping for my dress (I already tried on a few dresses at David's Bridal in January to see what styles would look good on me). I just wanna share with everyone a few of the products I have been going back to in February.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush "Fearless": This is my first Tarte blush (okay...well, second because I returned Blushing Bride) and I have to talk about how impressed I am with this. I thought it would be too light but I was wrong. It is so pigmented even at the first swipe. I am looking forward to using this as a staple for the spring season!

NYX Contour Palette: I want to get more into contouring without having to spend on Anastasia Beverly Hills, Kat Von D, LORAC, etc. and for $25, the NYX Contour Palette does just the trick. I still have to experiment with it more, but so far I like the bottom 1st and 4th shades to contour, and the top 3rd shade as a "banana powder" to set my eye concealer circles.

Carmex: Lately, I have been suffering horribly from chapped, cracking lips with spots of red, and the inner lip looking completely peeled off. So when I wear liquid lipstick, it looks like I am sporting the ombre lip because the skin on my bottom inner lip is just not there. I tried piling on Vaseline, FRESH Sugar Lip Treatment, or Aquaphor and they haven't worked. I bought good ole Carmex for 0.97 at Walmart and wow it totally does the trick! I am so happy to rediscover this, and I love the mint tingle as well!

Beauty For Real Blush + Glow Stick: I was so excited when I found this in my February 2016 Boxycharm. I have been using this a lot, and it's really nice to see a double-ended cheek product. The warm reddish rose blush along with the rose gold highlighter compliments my skin tone very well, and it is great value for it being $24 (I have cream blushes and highlighters alone that cost that much).

NYX Intense Butter Gloss "Spice Cake": This deep plum is one of my favorite shades from the NYX Intense Butter Gloss line. I know the weather is warming up and deeper vampier shades are not "spring-appropriate" but I don't care! This is one of the few shades that look good on me. I just wish it wasn't as messy, but these are good to wear when you want to take a break from matte lipsticks.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams "Paris" and "Budapest": I mentioned Budapest on my January Favorites, and once again it makes a debut here. That's how much I am in love with this shade. I have also been reaching for Paris, the hot pink lipstick on the left.

What beauty products have you been drawing yourself back to in February?

Shea Moisture Peace Rose Oil Moisturizer

moisturizer box


After using the LUSH Skin Drink moisturizer for over a year (yes, it lasted that long with how heavily-moisturizing it is compared to LUSH Imperialis, which lasted 4 months for me), I was in search for a new night facial moisturizer that didn't break the bank, had a mild scent, and was eco-friendly. Upon strolling around the green beauty aisle in Target (which holds brands such as Pacifica, Yes To___, and Burts Bees), I came across this beauty: Shea Moisture Peace Rose Oil Complex Sensitive Skin Facial Moisturizer (phew! what a long name!). This fit all of my criteria. I love almost any product with some sort of rose in it! And for $11.99 at 2 oz. it sure beats LUSH in the price area (Skin Drink is $24.95 for 1.5 oz).

Shea Moisture is a "green beauty" (I put quotations because not all green/eco beauty products have all natural ingredients) brand, committed to make their products affordable to those of all socioeconomic backgrounds. They gather their ingredients globally to concoct high quality products that nourish, comfort and heal. It's interesting to learn that it was started by Sofi Tucker, who started off selling Shea Nuts at a village in Sierra Leone in 1912. However, at 19 (and a widowed mother of 4 to boot!), she started expanded to creating and selling beauty products such as Shea Butter and Black African Soap. The information can be found on their website here.

What I love about Shea Moisture is that they are passionate about their philantrophy. 10% of their sales go to supporting women's small businesses. They also support and fund education, breast cancer awareness, and teaching organic farming. They have the cruelty-free bunny logo certified by PETA, meaning that they do not conduct, commission or pay for animals for their products. They are also certified with purely organic ingredients.

Okay, enough about the history and back to the brand. What attracted me was the packaging: cute pink little box with tibal print: feminine, global, and natural come to mind when I glance at this product. 

When I opened the container and took a whiff, I was taken aback at first, it felt like an older lady smell. But as time grew, I got used to it and actually found that it was not that strong. Plus, I like moderate–strong scents. So that is something to consider if you have a sensitive nose (I have a very weak sense of smell). It contains Peace Rose Oil Complex (a blend of Alpine, Damask, and Musk Rose Oil for soft hair and skin), Date Palm Extract to protect skin, and Camellia Leaf Extract to calm skin (raise your hand if you have sensitive skin!)

While the packaging is gorgeous on the outside, it's all about inner beauty, right? Well, you will glow inside and out with this. I don't know if you guys have tried this, but inside the container is a white, soft concoction. I have tried so many moisturizer that feel so heavy, sticky and greasy afterwards (including LUSH). Not this one. It looks AND feels like whipped cream. That is how light-weight it is.

Despite it's softness and lack of grease, it still gives you baby-smooth skin. I like to apply this before going to bed.

Would I recommend this product? I would say a big fat YES if:

  • You don't mind floral or earthy scents
  • You want to be more aware of the ingredients you are slathering on your face and body to prevent doing more harm than good
  • You want to support a company that contributes to various causes that benefit the less privileged
  • You want to support a company that does not test on animals and makes the environment a top priority
  • You are looking for a nourishing and moisturizing product that doesn't feel greasy or sticky
  • You want to incorporate more green beauty into your routine on a modest budget

Do you have this product? Or have you tried Shea Moisture's products?

**NEW SHADES** NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams

NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams

NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams

I wanna give a shout out to Nouveau Cheap for keeping up with all of the beauty news, especially when new products come out. It's not easy catching up, researching, collaborating and posting about it! So when I found out through her that NYX added new shades for their Soft Matte Lip Creams, Butter Lipsticks, Butter Glosses, Matte Lipsticks and Intense Butter Glosses, I squealed with joy! As much as I love some of the original Soft Mattes, a lot of the shades have the same pinks and nudes (with the exception of my 3 favorites: Copenhagen, Monte Carlo and Prague), and I was craving for variety. And variety is what I got!

The original shades are: Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Athens, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Cannes, Copenhagen, Ibiza, Istanbul, London, Monte Carlo, Morocco, Prague, Sao Paulo, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo, Transylvania, Zurich.

The 12 new shades: Berlin, Budapest, Dubai, Havana, Madrid, Manila, Moscow, Paris, Rome, San Juan, Seoul, Vancouver.

I was lucky enough to get Budapest, Madrid, and Dubai at Ulta when they first released (they only sold half of the shades though). I ordered Paris and Manila online!

For references, here are the swatches on my hand:

 NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams swatches
Left to right: Paris, Manila, Dubai, Budapest, and Madrid

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream Paris

Let's talk about Paris. Paris is always a good idea. This is a medium bright bubblegum pink with bluish undertones. I love hot pink lipsticks, so it doesn't come as a surprise that this was one of my first choice shades. It is a lot creamier and glides on smoother than some of the original Soft Mattes, but there is still a bit of patchiness and there are some parts that don't cover my whole lip, so I have to go back and pat those with the applicator. I have to say that this shade is much better than Addis Ababa (another hot pink shade), you never EVER hear me talk about that shade because it was too freaking dry and patchy and one of the worst shades among the Soft Mattes for that reason. So Paris is an improved version.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream Manila

I had to get Manila for obvious reasons...I was born in Pasay City! (one of the cities among the Metro Manila area). This is a light coral, bright enough to remind me of the tropics of the Philippines. I wasn't too hot about it at first because it did look weird on my skin tone. But I grew to like it the more I tried it on. It reminds me of the Too Faced Melted liquid lipsticks in Coral and Melon. It photographs better and shows up more as pink whereas in person it is more orange-y. But this is a fun summer shade, and I feel that those with fair skin can easily pull it off. This one is on the patchier side.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream Dubai

I have to say that I was really impressed with Dubai. I usually do not do well with neutral/nude/brown-ish lipstick shades. But this gorgeous medium brown seems beige under cloudy natural light (it was cloudy when I took these photos) but under the sun (and once it dries completely down) it appears darker. This shade pleasantly surprised me a lot, and goes on so so smooth.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream Budapest

Out of all of the shades, Budapest is my absolute favorite. I like to call this rich deep mauve shade love at first swipe! I was so so lucky when I went to Ulta, at the time (late December) they only released half of the new shades. I was bummed because I only saw Budapest as a tester, but someone dumped a tube of it (still new in its plastic glory) in another aisle, so I snatched it. This is the shade I've been wearing the most. It is the perfect fall shade, but I don't care, I will wear this baby all year. Out of all of the shades, this one also glides on the softest on me.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream Madrid

This sexy deep red shade, Madrid, feels like a dupe for MAC's Russian Red. I wish it was darker, but I do like how it looks on me. It is similar to Monte Carlo. Again, here goes the patchiness issue :( but part of it is because I've been suffering from dry lips and have been struggling to paint my inner bottom lip as it fades away.

Of all of these shades, my favorites are Paris, Dubai and Budapest. I am hoping to get Berlin soon, which is a warmer version of Budapest.

Do you have any of the new Soft Matte Lip Creams? Which of those (or the originals) are your favorite?

And for fun...which of the cities (based on the Soft Mattes) have you visited? I have been to Paris, Rome, Manila, Zurich, and Vancouver. My mom has been to all of those cities (in addition to Madrid, London, and Seoul—she was a flight attendant in the 80s). I really would love to go to Madrid, London, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Cannes, Prague, Athens, and Sydney.

February 2016 Boxycharm: Rush to Relax

Getting my Boxycharm is like a monthly treat from Santa! I'm always giddy when I get it, and since I resubscribed in January (I also got the December 2015 box, so so far I have 3 boxes) I have not been disappointed.

This month's theme is Rush to Relax, with the tagline: From stilettos to slippers, get ready to work hard and rest easy!

And I would say that the products reflect on that tagline, with the amount of skincare and body products there are. I don't know about you, but even though I have been really lazy with my skincare (and breaking out because of it), I find it pampering and relaxing when I keep up with my routine. And all in all, my skin feels so much cleaner.

1. Spongelle–You Have My Heart on a String ($15): Finally, I am in need of a new loofah or bath sponge because the ones I have are pretty old (I don't want to say how old they are, but I've been putting off buying them! This is so adorable because of course, the heart shape is fitting for Valentine's Day! Another bonus? It is also infused with olive oil and other toning extracts, and there's a soft and a coarse side on each sponge. The softer side is to cleanse and tone whereas the coarse side is to exfoliate the skin in circular motions. So basically you are killing 3 birds in 1 stone. Win-win!

2. OFRA Banana Powder Godet ($12): When I first saw this, I was like,"What is this?! I don't wear yellow eyeshadow!" until I read the little sheet of paper that lists all of the products you get, saying that this was a banana powder, but you can use it as a regular face powder, a way to set your under eye concealer, or an eyeshadow. I can see myself using this to conceal my dark eye circles. I have heard of the Ben Nye Banana Powder and I would love to get it someday, but right now this would be a good tester. I would love to try it for "baking" and getting Kim Kardashian's contour on fleek as well.

3. Freeze 24/7 Anti-Aging Eye Serum (sample size–full size is $58): I'm happy to get another eye cream, especially to compare it to my Murad Eye Cream. The description on my little Boxycharm sheet tells you to "say goodbye to fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles and puffiness with this ground breaking, lightweight eye serum." It's easy for me to hide dark circles, but the puffiness is a lot trickier. I am hoping this will do the trick. Unlike my Murad Eye Cream (which is white and thick), this one is clear with a gel/liquid consistency.

4. Beauty For Real Blush + Glow Stick ($24): If you like dewy skin and a natural glow without extra fuss, this is your babe. This is also perfect for traveling, as it will take up less space in your bag. For $24, this is a great bang for your buck because it has 1 blush and 1 highlighter on each end. My Benefit Watt's Up Highlighter is $30 alone! I am not sure if it well work well for those with oily skin though. While it looked very subtle in person, I look shinier in the picture. The highlighter is rose gold-ish (reminds me of a cream version of Champagne Pop) and the blush is warm medium red. I am in love! The only thing that bummed me out was that the blush part popped off, but I was able to put it back in. Be careful of over twisting!

5. Shray Ms. Amazing Facial Mask ($12): The only sheet mask I have used was the Sephora Rose Mask, and when I found this little gem in my box, I was curious. I found the packaging insanely adorable (and would love to design these kind of packages for a living) and I was happier to find that this was for dry and sensitive skin! I've been suffering from dry skin, even though temperatures have been getting insanely warm for February. It has hayluronate, which holds water and plumps the surface, rice extract to tighten and control pores, and finally...piper methysticum extract, hydroxyethyl urea and pure water for EXTRA SECURE MOISTURE. I am not sure if I put on the mask correctly because it was tightly packed, but I left it on for 10 minutes as directed. My skin feels amazingly smooth afterward, like a baby.

6. RealTree For Her Eau De Parfum ($12.99 fr 10 mL): This is different from other sample sized perfumes I have received in the past. While they are in clear bottles, this one is in an adorable pink bottle with whimsical design. Of course, the scent really impressed me, because it was floral and earthy with a hint of sweetness. I don't like overly fruity or candy like scents. If I wanted to smell that, I would go eat some dessert. I like my scents to be floral, earthy, musky or clean. Well this thing right here has notes of persimmon and pomegranate with orchids, lotus blossom, champaca flower, amber, violets and mahogany wood! Everything I love is packed into this teeny tiny bottle.

When I get a subscription box, there's usually 1 or 2 products that are duds and that I just toss to the wayside. But not with the February 2016 Boxycharm. I am SO happy with everything here and so impressed, especially with the facial mask and perfume! Too bad I am only able to use it once :( These are products I see myself using regularly. Boxycharm usually gives out 4–5 products monthly, but this month's box contains 6 ITEMS! Sorry for all the yelling, but I am just so so happy and never have been so excited before. If you are interested in beauty subscription boxes, get Boxycharm: you get $100+ worth of quality products for just $21/month! 

I would love to get another Beauty Box when I have more money. I have not been impressed with Birchbox or ipsy but I can't knock them down too much because Birchbox is one of the original beauty subscription boxes, and ipsy is one of the most well-known ones (after all, it's curated by Michelle Phan and other Youtube beauty gurus!). I am interested in Glossybox (which my best friend friend Rebecca is subscribed to) or Memebox, which is full of Korean beauty products. But I have been taken a liking to green beauty, so I am torn between Petit Vour or Goodbeing.

I hope my review spurs you to try Boxycharm! Unfortunately they are only in the US right now, but I'm crossing my fingers for them to start shipping internationally for my European beauty blogger friends!

Essie Retro Revival "Starry Starry Night"

When I first found out that Essie was releasing a shade called Starry Starry Night, I was so excited because of course, it reminded me of Vincent Van Gogh's painting, Starry Night. So of course the art history nerd in me got giddy. But what I didn't know was that Starry Starry Night was a part of the Essie Retro Revival, a collection where they were rereleasing the older shades. Based on my research (AKA a Google search), Starry Starry Night came out in 1997.

I was looking for Starry Starry night around Ulta and Target, but that particular shade was always out of stock. Finally, after getting some stuff at Target, I stopped by the nail aisle because I needed a clipper. There it was! The last polish in stock! So I grabbed it, costing me $8.50.

I do remember having glittery blue and purple polish when I was 10 years old from Bonnebell. So having this polish makes me relive those early early 2000's moments. Starry Starry Night is a dark sapphire blue with small specs (or chunks, however you see it) of silver glitter. As beautiful as it is in the bottle, I have to tell you my frustrations with it:

1. The formula is SO thick! I mean, I tried to apply it as thinly as possible (I have a bad habit of applying the polish too thick at first) but it still ended up gloppy. There were some indentations upon applying and drying (from the polish itself, not the glitter).

2. I didn't like this particular brush either, it would either not catch a lot of the polish or grab too much. So I got fed up and used one of my flat paintbrushes to paint my nails, which was much easier because the polish distributed more evenly.

Tools of the trade

3. Okay, I got so annoyed with my first attempt that I really tried to erase the damage it with remover, but it was insanely hard to remove! (hopefully that means it won't chip, I heard that glittery polish lasts longer than regular) It really messed up my hands, so after I did a second attempt I had to be really careful to not damage my fresh new polish.

4. There seemed to be tiny hair fibers in the bottle that would get in my nail, and I don't know if that was from the brush or if that was just the formula itself.

I don't know. It is such a gorgeous shade but it's also high maintenance, and I feel like maybe my negative biases are mostly due to the fact that I have a while to go in terms of my polish skills (I've spent years getting my nails done at the salon and now in order to save money, I am doing it at home...although I'm not saving that much more if I am buying bottles). But I won't give up. I want salon-worthy claws with details of art that match Van Gogh's work. I will practice. I am determined.

Do you have this shade or any of the Essie Retro Revival shades? Or what are your favorite Essie shades in general?

Chocolate Lips for Valentine's Day with Too Faced

When I first found out that Too Faced was releasing their line of Melted Chocolate lipsticks (through Instagram), I was delighted. They had different neutrals and browns I could see myself wearing! Thankfully, when Too Faced had a 20% off sale around the holiday season, I treated myself with the Chocolate Bon Bons Palette along with these two new treats: Chocolate Cherries (top) and Chocolate Milkshake (bottom).

Like the regular and metal Melted liquid lipsticks, these cost $21. The difference is that they consist of more nudes/neutrals/chocolate-esque shades AND they smell like chocolate! I would say the Chocolate Cherries has a stronger scent, maybe because it's darker?

Top: Chocolate Cherries
Bottom: Chocolate Milkshake

The Too Faced Melted Chocolate liquid lipsticks have 6 shades, some of which are a regular creamy matte finish (like Chocolate Cherries, Chocolate Milkshake, and Chocolate Honey), and the others are a metallic finish (Metallic Chocolate Diamonds, Metallic Frozen Hot Chocolate, and Metallic Candy Bar). Honestly, all the shades looked good on the Instagram on swatches, but that doesn't mean that they would translate well on my lips. I loved how Chocolate Cherries looked, especially those of us with some color. I am glad I limited myself to 2 shades, because I did test the other ones at Ulta and they did not look good (I wanted Chocolate Honey, but it reminded me too much of MAC Whirl which I did not like, and the metallic shades were too sheer).

Chocolate Milkshake is a peachy-pink nude with warm undertones. I usually do not do well with nudes, but I am pleasantly surprised with how this shade suits me and doesn't 1. blend with my skin 2. wash me out or 3. looks like I didn't even put lipstick on. Definitely a casual everyday color, or one you can wear for a night out along with a smokey eye. To my tan skinned ladies, get this! You won't regret it.

Like I said, I thought Chocolate Cherries was so beautiful when I saw it on others. It is a dark burgundy/brown-ish shade. When I first tried it on, I found it a bit intimidating. Then I grew to love it, like a lot. I wear it as much as possible. The only thing is that it is a bit messy, especially with how dark it is, so exfoliation, lip balm, and lip liner is a must. I just adore it so much. It's so vampy and grungy yet feminine.

If you are a Too Faced fan then I would definitely give this a try! Hmm, let's see. I know I wasn't too keen on the other shades, but if you swatch them first and find that you like them, good for you!

Do you guys have any of the Melted Chocolate shades?

And I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day. Did anything special? Cecilio and I had brunch at my house. We made scrambled eggs (with sour cream, cheddar cheese, chives, and turkey bacon) and French toast. It was delicious but so heavy! We got so sleepy and sluggish afterwards, and having my "time-of-month" does not help. Well, I will be burning it off in a little bit by doing the Cize program! I'm almost in the 3rd week of doing it! Tomorrow is our 7 year anniversary, but he has a surprise up his sleeve. I'm excited about it.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush "Fearless"

I've been on a blush kick lately. I want to collect them like how I used to collect Pokemon cards as a child. I think it's because it's warming up here in NorCal (it's going to be 72° here all week!) and I am looking for a more flushed glow vs. a dramatic matte look during the colder seasons. I also think it's because my face has gotten a lot slimmer from losing 10 pounds since August due to my prednisone taper down to 8 mg, so I don't feel the need to contour as much as I used to. I think it's also because I've been so lazy with my beauty routine but I still want to look somewhat put together, and blush is a staple for the slacker beauty girl. 

The Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blushes ($28 for 0.2 oz) are one of Tarte's best-selling products, and well-loved by the beauty blogger community. I've always been attracted to the blushes because of packaging (yes, I am a sucker), the more natural-looking but feminine shades (that make you look like you had a sweat session at the gym), the long-wearing formula, and Tarte's natural ingredients (made with clay from the Amazon River and baked by the sun). Tarte's CEO, Maureen Kelly, has always made it her mission to go green and only use natural products for her brand but still market it as cutesy and fun, since a lot of green beauty brands have plain packaging.

I got the shade Blushing Bride (a medium plummy-rose) in October, but returned it because looked too weird on my warm-toned tan skin. I also really adore the punch hot pink Natural Beauty, but it looks too similar to my Too Faced Love Flush "How Deep Is Your Love?" or The Balm Instain "Toile". It's lighter sister, Fearless, attracted me, so I took the plunge and indulged.

Fearless is described as a coral pink. It is slightly more warm toned, but definitely more on the pink side. I feel that those with any undertones (cool, warm, neutral) could pull off whereas whereas shades like Blushing Bride or Dazzled are better off for the cool-toned folk. Fearless is a subtle spring/summer shade.

If you are of my skin tone or darker, don't shy away from these blushes. I know I did for a while and preferred the darker, brighter shades from NARS or The Balm. This is definitely buildable to how much saturation you want on your face, and even if you want a sheer finish (with light swiping), color will still show.

Top: 1 swipe
Bottom: 4 swipes

The shades of the Tarte Amazonian Clay Blushes were made for warm weather! With 16 shades of pink, rose, peach, and coral, you are bound something you love.

I also wear this without foundation sometimes and you wouldn't believe how long it stays and how pigmented it still is.

I hope to get my hands on the shades Captivating and Charisma.

Do any of you guys have the Tarte blushes?

Why it's hard to plan a wedding with a deceased parent.

top pic: A classic pic of my dad and I together at 1 month old.
bottom pic: Cecilio and I at Ocean Beach in SF, 5 months of dating

I am writing in honor of today, as it is my dad's 3rd year death anniversary (Also, today is Super Bowl, and he would've been so all over it since he has always been a die-hard sports fan). I am thankful for all of the memories we have had together and as a family. I am happy to watch my mom heal, and her trying to move on with her life, though I know he will always have a special place in her heart.

I have been one of those girls who dreamed of her wedding since she was little (thanks, Disney movies), and I always wanted my dad to be my prince. I know, I know, but I was 5 years old. Cecilio and I have been moving forward with planning. We booked the deposits for our church ceremony and hotel reception, and we are going to meet with our photographer next month. I am hoping to start seriously shopping for my dress next month as well. It is a happy moment in our life, but I can't help but feel like something is missing at times with my dad not being around. I remember almost tearing up during our engagement party, and my niece's friend did a video montage of Cecilio and I, seeing that baby picture of me there.

Here's a few things I will miss about him during the planning and the wedding:

1. Walking me down the aisle.
We all agreed that my mom will be the one to walk me down the aisle. Still, I can't help but feel a tinge of envy when I see brides with their dads, "giving them away" to their future husbands. I know, it's a very old tradition especially when marriage was about business and not love, and the fathers transferred "ownership" of his daughter to the husband. I understand, and even as a feminist, I still find that being walked down the aisle with a father in present sweet and endearing (especially because in modern Western times, it's about love and the woman choosing who she wants to marry). I could just picture my dad beaming with pride at Cecilio, and I remember how much they got along so well.

2. Buffering between my mom and I.
I love my mom to death. And I am so happy she is excited with the planning too. But she has stated numerous times that she is going to put her input about certain things. She always has had a strong, opinionated personality, and I can sense that our tastes in decor, attire, cake, etc. will clash. I know that she also wants to impress her friends (who have high-class taste) and our relatives with the wedding. My dad was temperamental at times too, but he always came to my rescue when my mom would get really angry with me or lecture me for a long time. I think he would go with the flow and be agreeable with my vision for the wedding. He also was the type that didn't follow crowds or tradition. But I understand why my mom would be like this: moms envision a wedding they never had upon their daughters. My sister got married at 19 and it was really small (she actually wanted to elope, but her in-laws insisted to have a wedding, and she hated 80% of the guests). My younger sister has autism. So I am the one that will have that nice, fancy wedding in our immediate family, though some feathers will be ruffled.

3. Bonding with his friends and family.
Both of my cousins in Vancouver (on his side) got married, and I was a bridesmaid for both of them. They are his eldest sister's (my Tita Gigi) kids. And I am inviting them (I even asked my cousin if her daughter can be the flower girl). In Filipino weddings, the bride and groom have "sponsors": those who serve as new godparents to the couple who will support, witness, and bless the couple during the ceremony. I am having Tita Gigi and my dad's best friend, Tito Bolet, be sponsors. He had a strong core of friends he would have parties and get togethers with, so I am inviting them too. I know everyone will be delighted to come, but it is still just not the same. I feel that way, and I know they all feel that way.

4. Bonding with Cecilio.
Like I said in #1, I liked seeing my dad and Cecilio get along really well. He had so much respect and admiration for Cecilio: how he treated me, how smart and well-spoken he was, etc. Cecilio told me how one of the times I was really sick and was asleep for a long time, and they watched a western movie together. That was totally endearing to me. They were very much alike (introverted, smart, loves sports, politics, and music) but polar opposite: my dad loved the SF 49ers, Giants, and LA Lakers. Cecilio is a hardcore Oakland Raider, A's, and Golden State Warrior fan; my dad was staunchly conservative (more fiscally, not socially. He never said anything against gay or women's rights, thankfully), and Cecilio is a bleeding heart liberal...in a good way, he influenced me to go left :) Anyway, it is difficult seeing that there will no longer be that special bond between father-in-law and husband.

5. Witnessing special milestones for all of us.
I am thankful he got to witness my high school graduation. I am sure he would've been so proud of all of my accomplishments, especially graduating college despite all of my hospitalizations and lupus-flareups (I only started getting sicker during the last few years of his life). To me, the wedding symbolizes another big change and milestone most parents want to be a part of. And to me, it would've shown how much he and my mom raised all of us well.

I know that even though he's not here on Earth with us, he will be in spirit especially on our day. Enjoy and take care of your parents while you can. There have been times where we fought, and I took him for granted, and I wish I didn't. I feel the same way with my mom too. Though she and I butt heads a lot, I want to make sure every moment with her is not wasted.

Murad Clarifying Mask

For the past few months, I've been forgoing massages in favor of facials at Massage Envy. Don't get me wrong, I love massages too, but there's something about having a clean face, and getting rid of the gunk and buildup that makes me go back for more. Massage Envy sells only Murad products for skincare. Though my skin is on the normal/dry side, I kinda get breakouts around my nose. That's where my esthetician recommended the Murad Clarifying Mask ($38 for 2.65 fl oz).

It is highly recommended for oily/combo skin types, but I enjoy treating my whole face with this on a weekly basis (even though the esthetician said that I only needed it on my nose). I especially love it after a day of heavy makeup to give my skin a nice treat and prevent dirt building up and clogging my pores. Here are the ingredients: 

Water, Kaolin, Bentonite, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Zinc Oxide, Talc, Titanium Dioxide, Cetyl Alcohol, Dicaprylyl Maleate, Salicylic Acid, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Palmitoyl Hydroxypropyltrimonium Amylopectin/Glycerin Crosspolymer, Grape Seed Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Allantoin, Tetrasodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Camphor, Geraniol *, Limonene *, Linalool *, Lavender Oil. *Allergen.

Kaolin clay is the main ingredient here (after water). You may have heard of kaolin clay, as it is in an abundance of skincare products. It is also known as White China clay, made from the mineral kaolinite. It is also used to treat diarrhea, make ceramic sculptures, produce paper, and make toothpaste. But for the sake of this post, I will talk about the benefits of kaolin for your skin:

  • Soothes sensitive skin
  • Prevents and minimizes breakouts
  • Draws out impurities and acts as an exfoliator
  • Helps blood circulation

Who wouldn't want that for their skin?! Also, notice that one of the other ingredients is salicylic acid, which is also known as a pore killer.

Sure, it doesn't have cutesy packaging with sweet, luscious scents, but it works to make your skin clean and clear (unlike the Clean and Clear brand...no pun intended). Once a week, I like to use this across my face and leave it on for 10 minutes. After washing off, I spray the Murad Hydrating Toner and pat with cotton balls, before applying my serum and moisturizer.

Yes, it's quite pricey (like many masks), but the amount in the bottle will last a year or two. This is still filled to the brim for me.

Have you tried any Murad products?

Tarte Tarteist Lip Paint "TBT"

When I first started scrolling through Instagram and trendmood1 (great resource for all of the new beauty products coming out), I saw that Tarte was coming out with a new line of liquid lipsticks AKA the Tarteist Lip Paints. Honestly, I was not at all impressed with the names. Yes, the shade names are pop culture/social media sayings and the references of the 2010's, and some people might think they are cute, but I just find it too "try-hard" and eye-roll-inducing. Cray cray? Twerk? Adorbs? Don't get me started on YAASSSS (I hate that saying). I do like doing TBT pictures and post them to get a twinge of nostalgia. So maybe that might be why I'm less annoyed with the shade TBT. But I also tested this at Sephora and Ulta and fell in love. They didn't have it at the time (maybe it's a popular shade), but I visited Ulta again and bought it with my store credit (from returning some NYX items), and the rest with my card.

The Tarteist Lip Paint retails at $20 for 0.20 fl oz. I chose TBT because it's a mauve-nudish shade that actually looks good on me. I've searched high and low, wasting money last year to find that "Kylie"-esque shade. I would say that this looks really lovely on all skin tones. These days, I've opted for more subtle makeup looks...though I do still love to glam it up. This shade gives your lips some extra oomph and life. For medium/tan skin, this is a great MLBB (my lips but better) shade.

What do I love about this? Well, though it's a liquid lipstick, it's not drying at all. It has a smooth, creamy velvety finish. It feels so soft, like you're kissing cotton. It's almost matte, but not completely. But that doesn't come without flaws: because it doesn't dry down completely, it's prone to fading and feathering, so you must use a lip liner. The Tarteist lip paints also come with the matching lip crayon, which you can find here. But I am sure you can find more affordable lip liners that match similarly. Also, it is not very long lasting. It doesn't last throughout eating, and I tested the longevity by kissing the back of my hand within 10 minutes of application. A lot of it came out. So a lip primer is definitely a must, especially because it accentuates fine lines (I recommend MAC Prep and Prime).

Though it shows up pretty dark in the tube, it's actually swatches lighter on my arm and on my lips. However, overtime it darkens on my lips.

Cecilio loves this picture of me for some reason, lol.

Would I buy the other shades? I don't know. There are some beautiful shades I would love such as bae (classic red), frenemy (deep violet), love spell (hot pink), and hangry (burgundy), but I can't justify spending $20 when the tube is messy and the formula is less than stellar. I know that the NYX Soft matte lip creams have dupes of the shades I love from the Tarteist lip paint line for only $6, so I will stick to that. However, I do like TBT a lot so I will still be using this on the regular.

Have you guys tried or bought the Tarteist lip paints yet?