A Lush Christmas

Made my own little Olaf (and more) at the Lush event.

Since I was young, the scent of a Lush boutique has been recognizable. Maybe as a child I was more accustomed to the scents of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate (I know, all ice cream flavors) so every time my mom would bring me to a boutique it felt like foreign terrain.

Overwhelming at times, tempting the rest, everything looked so misleadingly edible and delicious so to find out those candy bars were actually soaps was a complete disappointment to 7-year-old Alyssa.

Fast forward decades later and that unfamiliar territory has morphed into one looked for. The aromas seductive, the products exciting and their corresponding benefits, compelling. Bath bombs? Yes, please. Perfumes that come in stick forms? Yes, please. Each visit now feels like a trip to a grown up candy shop complete with the premise of pampering oneself. Even the packaging feels like a present begging to be unwrapped.

Speaking of presents, it’s only natural for Lush to come up with actual gift-able products perfect for the Christmas season. The brand recently released their newest holiday inspired collection complete with snowmen soaps, santa bars and reindeer products perfect to gift your loved ones. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the launch of the Christmas collection where I had the chance to try and make my own soaps and bubble bars. Every item in the store is hand-made so it made perfect sense for us to get our hands dirty ourselves. Take a peek at the photos below and head to the nearest store to get your own.

I’m telling you, it’s olfactory heaven.

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Photos taken using my #SmartiPhone6

Treat Yo Hair

Once in a while my hair gets treated. Today was one of those days.

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My hair’s been damaged for a while now from over-abuse and very little attention. I usually leave it to conditioner and treatment jars to help my hair out but it’s gotten to the point that I can’t even comb my fingers through my shampoo-ed hair anymore. So I headed to Piandre Salon in BGC to try the Keratin Complex treatments – two, because #necessary.

The first one was the Intense Rx repair that, true to name, is supposed to heavily repair one’s damaged hair. Then I got the Infusion Blowout that basically locks the Keratin in for a couple of weeks, a treatment best for Keratin first-timers. The whole treatment lasted about two hours max – give and take a shampoo session and a few bites of cupcakes and cookies in between. We also got the privilege of being diagnosed by the owners of Piandre salon and the Vice President of Keratin Complex who visited all the way from Florida. She basically explained how Keratin works and why it’s a good treatment to regularly have. The great thing about the brand (and this experience) is that they have a range of products and services to choose from based on one’s hair diagnosis because everybody’s hair is different and, consequently, the needs are different as well. So expect treatments that are customized for optimal results.

I really wasn’t exaggerating when I said my hair is damaged. Post-treatment, I can see the difference. My hair still has a long way to go in its rehabilitation but I’m very happy with the treatment’s results – how it feels, how it looks, how it falls. I really do wish my hair looked like this on a daily basis. It doesn’t. So the time I have left with my hair will be thoroughly enjoyed, flaunted, and, obviously, photographed.

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Outfit Photos by Monika Cagalingan

MAC Instant Artistry

Want instant tips on make up? So do I.

I’ve always been a make up and a MAC aficionado but I think I’ve always accepted that a make up artist’s touch is different and so much better than my own. My own strokes don’t even come close.

Contrary to popular teaching, in my school we were taught to wear make up in 5th grade – a fact that always comes as a shock to those who grew up in Catholic schools and stricter premises. So I thought I’ve always had the upper hand in terms of application and knowing my face – what works, what doesn’t, which shades flatter, which ones scare, and so on. But the more I’ve gotten to work with make up artists, the more I realized my knowledge is pretty basic and my technique almost non-existent.

The number escapes me but I know only a very small percentage of Filipinas actually wear make up and a good chunk of it touch lipstick alone. The good news is MAC, a favorite make up brand, has taken notice and has come up with MAC Instant Artistry – a series of short and easy video tutorials to teach us, the not-so-beauty-adept, about professional tricks and tips that we can do ourselves. The videos are really quick, about a minute or two each, and are divided into categories – eyes, lips, face, etc. They tackle day-to-night eye make up, blush with depth and dimension, sculpted lips, lived-in eyeliner and more. I was taught the day to night eyeshadow look by artist Raf. He dabbed a generous amount of eyeliner, blended it towards the middle of the lid, added a shade of powder eyeshadow in the middle and a dab of a lighter, more glittery one on top for shiny specks. You can view the tutorial video below.

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MAC is taking it a step further though with a pop-up installation in SM Megamall’s Fashion Hall Atrium where guests can browse the videos via iPad, ask the make up artists themselves for tips and have those tips done on them. There are also demos with a model so if you’re a bit shy – though there really is no reason to be – you can watch and take note instead. Make up chairs are abound, tools and tricks of the trade are up for grabs so I suggest you drop by. The booth is only until Tuesday, November 18. Learn as much as you can and render the professional’s touch on a daily basis.

I know I will.

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Will be trying the Sculpted Lips technique soon with these tools below – Boldly Bare Lip Pencil, Captive Lipstick and a lip brush. As a lipstick girl, I’m so excited. mac-instant-artistry-10

An Open Back

A dress fit for love united. Cheers to the newlyweds!

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A good friend of mine from college got married last week and I kind of cried. Ferdie’s the first from our group to get married and we’re all just really happy for him. But before we (I mean I) get cheesy, I’ll steer you in the sartorial direction and share what I wore to the event. This dress was a last minute change as the dress I was supposed to wear wouldn’t close. (Debunking blogger myth #5,467 that all us bloggers are a size 2. My dress has proven otherwise.) I ended up wearing my Teena Sabrina dress, a favorite of mine since I wore it in Vietnam last May. I’ll probably try to steer clear of black and all things backless for the next nuptial but I kind of like how this debuted minus the hiding from the priest part.

Catholic weddings are pretty rigid when it comes to the romance element but it was full of love nonetheless. So happy to have witnessed this with amazing people. Cheers to Ferdie and Sasa!

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The New Smart iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

‘Coz we’re so done being patient. See you in Smart!

We’ve waited for the big reveal, thought we could one-up Apple by believing supposed design leaks and the moment not one, but two new phones were sprung upon us, we patiently counted down the days ’til both would trickle down to our shores.

Yes, I’m talking about the new iPhones 6 AND 6 Plus and the fact that they’re finally available in the Philippines. In just a couple of days, November 14 to be exact, the biggest, coolest and I may be biased here but best network will finally have your much-awaited phones in stores nationwide.

I know some of you are not as patient and unwilling to wait a few more days. I mean, it is Christmas and hoarding and shopping are especially condoned this season. Some of you may want to surprise loved ones with the new phone/s right away to make them feel extra special. Some of you may also want to surprise yourself. Well, in any case (I’m not one to judge), you may pre-order your choice of an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus and have it delivered straight to your doorstep. If that’s not a treat, I don’t know what is.

I’m probably not the most credible when it comes to all things techie (although, hey, I did work for an IT company prior to fashion), but I do know a good phone when I see one. What I am better at though is spotting good deals, and the Smart offerings for these new phones are amazing. Seriously, the iPhone 6 for as low as P1,799/month and the iPhone 6 Plus for P2,049/month? Sweet.

Here are some extra sweet treats for you:

1) A free ride to and from any Smart store from November 14-16 2014. If you plan on checking out the new phones in Smart, enter the promo code: SMARTIPHONE6 in your downloaded Uber app for your very own chauffeur.

2) Your choice of mobile number because we all know that numbers are getting harder and harder to remember and we secretly want our initials, nicknames (and/or pet names if you’re the type) to be immortalized in our mobile numbers. Been there, done that, loved it.

3) Wiping out your current contract. If you’re locked in your current contract, you Smart Postpaid subscribers can wipe out your current contracts and upgrade to an iPhone contract for a discount AND insurance. For more details visit: http://www.smart.com.ph/wipeout

4) Free movies on your iPhone. All iPhone 6 Smart subscribers get free movie vouchers through Blink because your new bigger screens are perfect for portable films.

We’re all VIPs in the new Smart iPhone 6 game and these bonuses make all the difference.

I’m pretty patient when it comes to these things so I don’t mind lining up on the 14th for my very own phone but because I couldn’t help my excitement, I painted a couple outfits I would like to wear with my new iPhone 6 as my ultimate accessory.

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The black iPhone 6 is perfect with the new in-demand Alexander Wang for H&M pieces. Not that I lined up. In my head, my closet is way cooler and totally fetch.

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Here’s another look sporting the new blanket trend because the new iPhones transcend styles, trends and seasons.

 Anyway, I’ll be seeing you on November 14 for us both to get our new iPhones. We deserve to treat ourselves – the Smart way.

Below are the plans available for both Postpaid and Smart Infinity subscribers and an infographic on how to pre-order your very own iPhone. Happy phone shopping! 

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A BHS Fashion Tour

A couple days ago I found myself in a tour. Of the shopping variety. 

A couple days ago I found myself in a tour. Of the shopping variety.

A few bloggers and folks from media headed to Bonifacio High Street Central for a fashion tour. Quite literally a tour, actually, the event was complete with a tour group, an itinerary, some walking and gorgeous tour guides in the form of host Kelly Misa and stylist Charmaine Palermo. Think, instead of historical sites (or religious, if you’re the pilgrimage type), there were retail establishments. Instead of selfies with picturesque backgrounds, we took OOTDs. And instead of a factual play-by-play of each place, we got styling tips care of Charmaine.

And because this was a special kind of tour, we also had some tasks. Each store visited prompted a product post according to the given style tip. I always seem to surround myself with equally competitive people so it was fun to take every challenge seriously. (Btw, sorry for Insta-flooding!) An extra challenge ensued towards the end with my favorite competitive group. I only won 2nd place, but still had tons of fun – and that’s given that I absolutely hate losing. It means the tour in itself was kick-ass. We dropped by Ever New, Mango, Karen Millen, Kenneth Cole, and Diesel and below are the tips Charmaine tackled respectively.

  1. Print on Print @ Ever New: Keep prints in the same color palette and combine different print sizes.
  2. Basics @ Mango: Basics are necessary, obviously, and can always be elevated.
  3. Cocktail Chic @ Karen Millen: Cocktail looks need not equate to a tulle dress. Try a mod silhouette for welcome variety.
  4. Workwear @ Kenneth Cole: Busy girls = Cramped schedules. Day to night office wear is a a must. The more versatile, the better.
  5. Military @ Diesel: Try the military trend by way of chic denim details such as pockets, zippers, fatigue prints, etc.

And because I had a little too much fun, I kind of rendered the tour/map in watercolor.

I guess my point is that we look at the Bonifacio High Street area and immediately think awesome dining (hello Nolita, Tampopo, Stella and Wholesome Table) but at the same time it’s really a treasure trove of some of the most in-demand fashion brands  too (including certain gems only available there such as Casadei and Karen Millen.)

So take this rendering as a sort of fashion treasure map. It kind of really is.

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With the host who moonlighted as the tour leader, Kelly Misa

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Snaps from Mango (topmost), Ever New and Promod (middle), Diesel and Karen Millen (bottom).

Head over to BHS for your own shopping fun. I’ll be back again tonight actually. Bump into you there!

Giving Pieces A Shot

Joined the bandwagon, unintentionally. Blogged about it, intentionally.

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It’s interesting how there are certain things you never thought you’d wear but when forced unto you (mostly via a stylist as I honestly don’t know who nor how else people can force clothes and accessories on you), you realize that they deserve a shot.

This look was styled by two of my favorite girls Nico Aquino and Potch Yambao aka the Girls of Nima for the Ann Marie lookbook shoot we did a couple months back. Never really considered donning a floppy hat prior to this especially since everyone seems to be wearing one nowadays. (I just bought a hunter hat so that’s my way of swimming in a different direction.)

But, the point of this post (if there is a point to all this rambling) is that certain pieces we overlook or flat-out shun should maybe be given at least one try. So, if you’re averse to prints/blacks/pants/heels/flats/etc., maybe you should take one quick go at it before deciding you don’t like it. You might.

Let’s both be more reasonable than “everyone is wearing it therefore it’s not for me.” Gave the floppy hat and lacy, crochet shorts a go. I like it enough to blog it, but now that I’ve tried it, I’ll probably retreat to my old favorites. Old habits die hard and old aversions are not easily overcome.

Still, I conquered something new and that’s totally bloggable.

Clothes by ANN MARIE 

Photos by BER GARCIA