Rani’s Adventures in Skincareland

Discovering skincare is like falling into a rabbit hole and being transported into another realm where hyaluronic acid, no matter how sinister it sounds, is a good thing. And if you’re not careful, it can become your idol like how it became mine.

I believe the genes controlling my skin are pretty good (thanks parents!) because all my life, it was the least of my concerns. Never crossed my mind that my blog would have a beauty section. I eat a lot of unhealthy foods that will make Gwyneth Paltrow faint, I use the same soap on my face and body, I don’t put anything apart from Pond’s rosy white day cream, I’ve never had a facial. Heck, I don’t even wash my face before bed yet I can count on one hand the number of times I had a breakout. And even I am surprised when I get a pimple which would eventually leave without any trace. Safe to say, my face is pretty low maintenance (and neglected). All I did was wipe it with my first menstruation and I’m set for life hahaha.

Or so I thought. I forgot one of the biggest enemies of mankind, one we’ve been obsessed with since i-don’t-know-when, and one which causes women to part with their moolah faster than light: aging!

I think it was last year when a friend pointed out that I had wrinkles around my eyes. Due to the fact that I was trying too hard to blend in with teenagers, the comment deeply unsettled me. I began searching for ways to minimize the lines I already had and prevent the ones I’ll eventually have. It lead me to the use of sunscreen. Since I’m a newbie with no experience whatsoever, I sought the help of strangers through online reviews and after a few clicks, I found myself in beautymnl‘s website. Just like what a song in High School Musical says, it’s the start of something new.

My first ever purchase included Biore UV Aqua rich watery essence, allegedly Japan’s #1 sunscreen, and KissProof lipstick just because it’s cheap.

I fell in love with Biore. It had a powdery finish, citrus-y smell, and is super light I don’t have to wait for it to be absorbed by my skin. In yet another proof that humans are beings of habit, I can no longer go out in the sun (never liked it in the first place) without putting sunscreen on — it feels like I’m committing a heinous crime. Yes, even when I am only going to buy something from the nearby 7eleven, I have to put on sunscreen!IMG_5549As for the KissProof, it’s super matte and also super dry. Even though it doesn’t smudge, I won’t buy it again.122312You know how, when you first discover something, you are so eager to try and know everything? I was amazed with the new door that was opened. There were things like toners and essences and ampoules etcetera. There was a product and recommended ingredients for flaws that I never even knew were flaws. Most of all, I was mindblown when I found out there’s a 10-step korean skincare regimen! And people are actually diligently doing it! I spent hours reading through Google results and a reddit thread specifically for Asian Beauty! I couldn’t wait to try everything and see the results.

Thank God for the limited funds because it taught me to prioritize. Hence, my second BeautyMNL haul included safe choices.

There’s no way in hell I’m doing the 10-step we’ll never know so I settled with three — water cleanse, tone, and moisturize. The Tony Moly cleanser lasted close to one year which was super worth it because if I remember correctly, I bought it for less than 200 pesos. Meanwhile, Celeteque is a good brand that I still go back to time and time again. Plus, it’s cheaper than its Korean brand counterparts.IMG_6015The nose pore strips and eye zone mask I did not buy again.IMG_6021As I dug deeper, I got curious about about face sheet masks and how they work (something about forcing your skin to absorb the essence faster because of the wall the mask is creating). The first flavor (?) I tried was this one from SkinFood. It was relaxing, all right. Perfect after a long day. You just put it on and pamper yourself.img_8819Then I tried another brand, The Face Shop. I was enticed by the word “firming” given that I started this all out of a wrinkle comment. I also got curious with face mists so I tried the green tea variant. I may be exaggerating but it was like discovering a stream in the middle of a desert. I love spraying it on my face especially in this unbearable heat. Before, whenever I see people spritzing this, I roll my eyes and think it’s just water. I TAKE MY WORD BACK IT IS NOT JUST WATER BECAUSE HOW CAN IT BE SO REFRESHING?!?img_9397It was during that time that The Face Shop had a buy 5 get 5 promo on their face masks so of course I hoarded. There are a lot of different ingredients I get dizzy reading about them but I don’t remember feeling anything special from using this bunch, just your regular face mask sheet. I use them twice a week. Once if I get lazy because of course I still get lazy I’m not a robot.img_1142There was a point when I decided I’d crossover to make-up, another world different from skincare. I tried the tinted sunscreen of Belo Essentials because I read it doubles as make-up primer, whatever that is. Ekkkk I wasn’t even able to finish this tube. I’m not ready for that world because I hate the stain on my uniform’s collar. So I still stick with my first love in skincare, Belo SunExpert SPF 40 sunscreen, and use it alternately with Biore. img_9156The thing about skincare is, the more you know about it, the more flaws you see in yourself. Take for example blackheads. I didn’t think much about them before. Duh, they’re nothing more than clogged hair follicles? I’ve tried nose strips sporadically and honestly speaking, I only do them because seeing the blackheads on the strip afterwards is oddly gratifying. But some Korean brands aren’t satisfied with one strip alone, their version has three steps: for opening the pores, removing the blackheads, and minimizing the pores. If there’s so much fuss about such a tiny detail then it must be important. So I became conscious. A good one-step strip if three is too much is this Jeju Volcanic Lava Nose Strips from The Face Shop.img_1796My three-step routine expanded to include serum and eye cream. And I was too impatient for the BeautyMNL delivery that I tried buying at physical stores.

I recommend the Avalon Organics Facial Serum because it did brighten up my face. However, I am not a fan of the eye cream. I didn’t see any difference after using it for weeks, it just stung the eyes. I remember getting teary-eyed the first few times I used it. I read somewhere that skincare products especially organic ones like these two last longer and are more effective when refrigerated.

I’m a sucker for sale so when Nature Republic, another Korean brand, had a 10+10 promo on face mask sheets, I impulsively bought two boxes huhu. I prefer the royal jelly over blueberry. I also refrigerate them only for the sole reason that they’re more soothing when cold.

The SkinFood Strawberry Black Sugar Mask Wash Off is something I use once a week to exfoliate. Just like everything from this particular brand, it smells so good! img_1706Even though I buy new products while the ones I’m currently using are only half-empty, I still make it a point to squeeze out every last drop before I start with another. An exception is the Avalon eye cream because I think it got bad as evidenced by the strong citrus-y smell after I defrosted our refrigerator.

Anyway, I was looking forward to the day I finally ran out of the Avalon facial serum because I was excited to try the Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream. Snail secretions are a thing in Asian Skincare I think almost every brand has a different variation of this ingredient. You might be grossed out by the thought of putting mollusc slime on your face but sometimes, the wilder something is, the more you’re convinced that it works because it has to, right?

Speaking of outrageous, the weirdest ingredients I’ve read about are Placenta and Snake Venom face mask sheets. Yes, Placenta. Uhm, I’ll stick with my menarche, thank you very much.

But I digress. I recommend the recovery gel cream because I don’t know, it might be psychological, but I really end up with a more refreshed face in the morning no matter how little sleep I have (eye bags are another story). Plus, it comes in a cute pink tube and lasts long I’ve been using mine for months.

Judge me all you want but another product I succumbed to is the eyelash/brow growth serum. The first brand I tried was from Leiania House of Beauty and in my defense, I only tried it because it was on sale. Out of all the skincare (can’t really categorize this one as “care”, “enhancement” is a better term) I tried, I was most amazed by this because after only two weeks, I noticed my eyebrows did become fuller and my eyelashes, longer.

I also discovered the best chap stick ever which was Carmex! Walang sinabi ang ibang brand as in.Untitled

I only used the Hair Mask portion of the Intensive Hair Treatment and though it makes my hair manageable for a few days after use, it has no lasting effect.

Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack is hands down the best face mask sheet I’ve tried so far. It made me realize that not all are created equal. The sheet alone fits my face snugly unlike other brands *cough* Nature Republic *cough* where it’s too wide and doesn’t stay in place. If only it was cheaper I’d gladly use it at least once a week.

Skin Genie is a local brand known for the Lip and Cheek Stain Alive! It’s only 80 pesos a pop so I bought four and I like them all but have a soft spot for Tan Brown.

I’ve always wanted wavy hair so I was enticed by the Beachborn Sea Salt Spray. It works best when sprayed on wet hair which I then tie in a bun so it becomes curly when dry.

Since I was disappointed with Avalon’s eye cream, I’m having high hopes for Mizon’s Snail Repair Eye Cream because the reviews are promising. Can’t really tell if it’s effective because I always forget to use it.img_6326My last BeautyMNL haul was in December because they have 20% off on all items for birthday celebrants. Now you know where my Christmas money went.

Skin Genie’s Apple Cider Vinegar Toner has a strong smell but my face feels really clean afterwards. However, I think I’m going back to Celeteque or trying other toners after this because I think it’s too harsh. There are a couple from Body Shop and Burt’s Bees I’m curious about but they’re too expensive!

The Beauty Bakery Witch Hazel Facial Mist is a decent product that is also refreshing. I think I’m just biased towards The Face Shop because I tried it first.

I have a love-hate relationship with Skin Genie’s Healthy Sunscreen with insect repellant and moisturizer. Some days I love to use it because it absorbs easily, other days I don’t because it feels like I’m spreading margarine on my skin.

Cosrx’ Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is dubbed as the cheap SK-II (my dream product! I know I’ve made it in life when I go home with this haha). I tried it once or twice (because I’m still finishing my tube of Mizon Snail Repair) and one thing I can say is that it’s no doubt snail slime, it’s so gooey! I’m excited to use it in the next few months 🙂

Innisfree is known for their mask sheet. It’s better than Nature Republic but Benton is still my holy grail.

Bought Lip and Cheek Stain from Skin Genie again. I’m in love with Burgundy Wine! Thanks to Regina Belmonte, I learned that the best combination is Burgundy Wine plus a swipe of Christmas Red ❤

And another product from Skin Genie because I ran out of the Leiania serum. I prefer the latter.img_7650My Lip and Cheek Stains. I’ve since given away the others to friends and only have the Christmas Red, Tan Brown, and Burgundy Wine left with me. Another thing I learned about this whole thingamajig is to experiment on things, figure out what works for you, adjust accordingly, and build your personalized skincare regimen from there. Even in our kaartehan, we’re all unique hehehe.img_7656My face whenever BeautyMNL delivers my orders.img_7649This all happened in 2016. Since the year started, I haven’t been diligently doing my 5-6 step skincare routine. Most days I settle with three or four. The masks are still in the fridge. The tubes are still half full.

Writing this post, I was reminded of my realization sometime ago that there’s a difference between wanting to take care of yourself and being consumed by your obsession of looking young. I realized I was leaning towards the latter when I found myself staring at a mirror multiple times a day meticulously searching for flaws to kill. When I started preferring compliments that I look young for my age over anything else. It also sucked out my already dying productivity and has cost me to go beyond my budget many times. It took me a wake-up call from my leader. As much as I’m cultivating my outward appearance, I must not neglect what’s within for it is written, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. (1 Peter 3:3)

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against and no right to judge others who live by skincare. There’s no way I’m giving up sunscreen and the thought of face masks are still welcome (needed) some days. Personally, I just know that there was something wrong with my heart and my heart is my responsibility. Man looks at the outside but God looks at the heart and I live to please an audience of One. The goal is to glorify God by making sure I’m presentable and I take good care of the temple I was entrusted with, not to glorify myself by appearing to be effortlessly flawless.

So I’ve toned down to the essentials. My eyes still widen at the sight of products I want to try but by grace, I no longer go around impulsively buying goods I can live without (and can’t actually afford in the first place hahaha). Besides, those ads are Photoshopped and no matter how much elixir we put on our faces, we can’t stop the lines from coming. So I learned to embrace them. And realized I’m just really overreacting, I’m only 25 for crying out loud!

Lastly, I believe that for those who wait on Jesus Christ, there will come a time when “our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. (1Cor 15:54)“. And though I doubt that it will fit the beauty standards of this world (36-24-36, full lips, long lashes, spotless white, etc), I know that our glorified bodies will be well-suited to heaven, where we’ll spend eternity in perfect harmony with the One who loves us most.

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