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27 August 2018

My history with my self esteem hasn't been the greatest, to say the least.

From a young age, I became painfully aware that I don't meet anyone's standards when it comes to what a girl should look like. I got teased for how big my lips are (Daisy Duck was a term thrown around) or how I could use to be a little more light-skinned or just for not being pretty enough in general. This echoed on in my home life where my mother would frequently tell me how stupid I am in addition to being ugly as all hell - you know, just the regular dose of trauma and abuse that's enough to make you appreciate dark humor but not be suicidal.

One anecdote that stuck out to me so much was third grade and learning all about the Aetas, indigenous people of the Philippines. They have curly hair and brown skin and big lips - features that are being unfairly used as casual insults in the Filipino context. My best friend at the time said loudly, "Oh big lips - like Clarisse's!" I remember it as the start of me being so self-conscious about my lips. It had offended me so much because it was around that time when there's a soap opera on about a girl who looks indigenous, gets horribly abused for it, but somehow gets fairer skin and is basically revealed to have beautiful features (read: Caucasian) underneath the horrible body paint blackface and is suddenly on top of the world with her abusers bowing down to her and the man candy of her dreams suddenly in her arms (multiple soap operas with similar plots over the years, actually - Filipino producers don't quite get what's wrong with blackface).

My teenage years and early adulthood were spent down a rabbit hole of finding the whitening product that will give me the coveted fair skin of my dreams. Kojic acid, papaya, glutathione pills - name it, and I've probably tried it in my quest to strip myself of melanin. If you've lived or even been to Southeast Asia, you'd know that the standards of beauty are largely eurocentric - white skin is worshipped and celebrities are usually Eurasians who don't have Asian features at all. Being called mestiza (fair skinned) is such a huge honor and synonymous to beautiful, although some can be considered beautiful despite the fact that they are morena (tan skinned). Did I also mention that skin whitening is a $10 billion global industry because we keep telling people that melanin is something to be ashamed of?

(Quick link! The racist history of skin whitening)
(Another one! The Might of White: How our obsession with whiter skin became dangerous)

And then I moved to Australia. I saw that drugstores and department stores alike have shelves upon shelves of products dedicated to making people orange tanning and suddenly, I was fine with my skin and started enjoying the sun in the summer. I saw people walking around with milliliters of fillers injected onto their lips and suddenly my lips don't look so bad - if anything, I feel blessed with it (take that, Raychelle!). And it may be the thick yellow fever hanging in the air around here, but for the first time in my life, I actually felt attractive. I kid, of course. But the right swipes did help a little bit. (Again, kidding!)

It's a sad thought to have to go out of your own country to appreciate yourself, but it's even more embarrassing to have to explain it to people without sounding like my country is racist. Because in reality, it is a racist mindset. But I'm not going down that long road with this blog post.

The other day, I was talking to one of my best friends. Mikey and I, we've both been through some really low lows when it came to our perception of ourselves. But we've always had that desire to never settle for what is and to keep growing, to look at every aspect of our lives closely and improve on what we can. I'm happy to report that, while we started off as pity parties in college about not being good-looking/smart/fit enough, we are now filled with so much amazement with what our bodies can do to focus on what they look like. Your body - everything inside and outside of it - is doing its best to keep you alive. Furthermore, it's the only one you have - what good would it do you to have it as an enemy?

Maybe it's a bit hypocritical to say I don't care about what I look like anymore when I've just written a whole blog post about it. I think what I'm trying to say, though, is that being pretty is no longer on the list of things that are important to me - and Jesus Christ, did it take a loooong while to get here. Is it narcissistic to finally be at peace with yourself? To look at other women and see their beauty without erasing yours? Because if it is, call me one. Am I gonna be joining pageants anytime soon? I'd probably still get laughed out of the audition room. But I'm completely fine with that.

This post is quickly losing momentum, and I'm not really sure why I wanted to write about this in the first place. But if you take away one thing, I hope it's this: there are far better things to be than pretty. Like pretty smart, pretty funny, pretty strong, and pretty kind. Maybe it's time to start measuring our self worth against an adjective that doesn't have a shelf life?

- C

01 June 2018


Can you believe we're almost halfway through the year? It's also officially winter here in the underbelly of the world which for me means chapped lips and cracked skin, if I'm not careful enough.

Two years ago, I was airdropped from the humid hell that is Manila and into the middle of the harsh Australian winter. Having had no previous experience with anything other than heat, my skin practically froze off of my face that winter, with 15C seeming like a freezing tundra to my tropical ass.

But seeing as how it's my third winter here, much wisdom has been gained about my skin (and about layering clothes in general). I figured out that my very oily skin (less oily now that I've been airlifted out of that humid circle of hell) needs a lot of moisturizing and hydrating layers - which didn't make sense to me back then because I've adapted a less is more philosophy for my oil slick face.

So, let the dropping of the skincare routine commence (in order).

First cleanser (PM): Essano Rosehip Micellar Water


Look, I know in my heart of hearts that I should be using an oil/balm cleanser. I have tried a couple, but to be honest, they're just too messy for my taste (clean sort of rhymes with queen for a reason). It also takes a little bit longer to get off, and I'm just not down for that.

Second cleanser (AM + PM): Celeteque Hydration Facial Cleanser


An oldie but a goodie. This facial wash is something I always hoard when I go to Manila - or I bully my friends to bring it back for me. It' gentle, cleanses really well, and is the perfect pH!

(Quick link: Why the pH of your cleanser matters)

Actives (PM): CosRx AHA OR CosRx BHA (both used only twice a week)


If you've lived anywhere other than under a rock these past few years, of course you'd know of CosRx's actives for blackheads and whiteheads. I always recommend these to friends who ask for exfoliant recommendations with the caveat that you introduce it to your routine slowly, you wait 20 minutes before applying another product, and that you must - and this should go without saying - absolutely use sunblock. 


AHA on non-CosRx days (PM): Pixi Glow Tonic


Grandma's closet smell aside, this cult favorite is also in my skincare drawer because it does wonders for my skin texture.

Hydrating toner (AM + PM): Kikumasamune High Moist Lotion


Sake, arbutin, ceramides, and horse placenta (because Japan). Enough said.

(Quick link: What are Ceramides and Why Do We Want Them in Our Skincare?)

Hydrating toner the sequel (PM): Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion - Moist


For someone who abhors the word moist, there sure is an abundance of it in my routine. Anyway, I digress. This toner's main attraction is hyaluronic acid (HA), which draws water from the environment in order to moisturize the skin and make it plumper and smoother. It then makes sense that the next step in the routine should be...

(Quick link: Why Hyaluronic Acid?)

Ampoule (PM): Scinic All in One Aqua Ampoule


...water! I used to just spritz plain water after my HA serum (I learned this trick from Reddit), but now we're out here living our best life just above the poverty line. This ampoule just brings in an extra drop of watery goodness during this dry season.

Moisturizer (AM + PM): Celeteque Hydration Facial Moisturizer


My go-to moisturizer for my oily skin! This one stays in my routine regardless of the season because it just...works.

Essence (AM + PM): CosRx Snail Essence


Okay, yes, I put moisturizer on before an essence. But that's because this essence is goopy and I feel like it's thicker than the Celeteque gel! I'm on my third bottle of this essence because it just makes everything soft and bouncy - like I can have Korean soft skin if I use it for long enough. Sadly, though, the cream counterpart of this breaks me out like no other and that may be because of the fatty alcohol in it (I may or may have not kept a spreadsheet of ingredients in all my skincare products to determine this for sure).

Cream (PM): Nivea Creme


We love a classic! I use this as an occlusive to seal everything in. I used to use a proper sleeping pack for this same purpose but I'm just not sure I'm fancy enough on the inside for that.

Sunblock (AM): Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen


Winter, spring, summer, or fall, bitch better wear a sunscreen.

Lip balm (All day, every damn day): Abundant Natural Health Lips Alive


In my 100% completely unbiased opinion and not just because I'm the marketing person for the brand, this really is the only lip balm that got rid of my chapped lips. My lips started acting up as soon as summer was officially over and a thick layer of this overnight just got rid of it (the chapping, not my lips).

If you'd like to go down the skincare rabbit hole...

Now tell me your skincare holy grails!

28 April 2018


Month 4 and you just know all the resolutions I've made at the start of the year have been thrown out of the window. Including my unstated resolve to blog more. But being a flake is part of my branding now, I guess!

I've overhauled this space and cleared all my past posts in the hopes that a fresh start will motivate me to be here more. Cue the laugh track. Here we go again.

LIFE


  • Working for a skincare brand. If you've been following me anywhere, you'd know how much of a skincare ho I am. I can spend hours just reading and commenting on the skincare subreddits, and would like to give you a big hug if you're still using the St. Ives Apricot Scrub. So when my former internship boss got in touch saying she landed a startup skincare brand as a client and wants me to come on board to do the social media and content management, the answer is a resounding YES! I start work shortly before my birthday, so I'm also counting this as my birthday gift from the universe.

    A month into the job and my days mostly consist of sourcing photos and content for our Instagram feed (now the bane of my existence!) and Facebook page, taking care of our website, and other marketing bits and bobs. There, you've just been marketed to.

  • Studying. I've started school last March, and to be quite honest, I can't be positive about it. I don't quite know how to describe being in this particular uni that I am in, but let's just say that I need to be airlifted out of this circle of hell so please send help.

  • Sydney Royal Easter Show. The Sydney Royal Easter Show is an annual event held in Sydney over the span of two weeks during Easter. It is designed to promote the agricultural scene through competitions, animal experiences, carnivals, and much more. Will took me to the Show for my birthday this year and while I wish I took more photos, much fun was had overdosing on sugar, going on both kiddie and adult rides, and being a pussy in the half-assed haunted mansion.

  • Exercise break. I've been dealing with a chest infection for over a month now (hopefully I am correct in thinking that it's going away as I write this!) and so I've not been to the gym for over a month as well. There goes my dream abs.



  • Sony A6000.  Having had the Nikon D5000 for 7 years (and not having used it for 3 - mostly because of its bulk), I knew I would only be incentivized to actually get out there and take photos again if my next camera is smaller and easier to throw in my everyday bag. Yes, the best camera is the one you have with you, that's why I kept putting off getting a mirrorless for years - my Samsung S7 is usually enough for the quick photo. But I knew I wanted to document my life in a much better way than my phone camera and so I made the switch! I'm back to using a kit lens for now (I fell in love with the 50mm f1.8 for my Nikon back then that I put down my kit lens and never picked it up again) as I know I'm quite rusty and wanted to practice a little bit first. It's frustrating being with a kit lens again, though! So expect me to not exercise any self control at all and get the Sony 35mm f1.8 in the coming weeks.

    Some practice shots:









THINGS I'M LOVING

  • My Favorite Murder. A podcast by two true crime fans from LA, My Favorite Murder mixes in witty banter with tales of hometown murders and cults. I swore to myself that I will get into podcasts this year and in doing so, I knew I wanted to listen to women talking in my ear. MFM is the only podcast by women whose talking I can actually stand - there are some really cringey speech patterns out there, I found! Since I started bingeing, I have acquired a not-so-irrational irrational fear of randomly getting murdered and a fascination for true crime.

    If the over-enunciated Valley girl accent isn't your thing, there's also Martinis & Murder, All Killa No Filla, and the Crime Junkie Podcast!

  • The Book of Mormon soundtrack. Will and I saw The Book of Mormon at the Sydney Lyric Theatre at the beginning of the month. While I'm a sucker for musicals, he's not really into it but he ended up loving it! If it's ever in your city, don't hesitate to see the obscene masterpiece that is this play and walk out of the theatre believing that God has a plan for you -- and that plan involves getting your own planet.

    I'm still listening to the songs on a regular basis! My favorites are Two by Two and Turn It Off.

  • Simply Nailogical. Just do yourself a favor and watch her videos. You're welcome.

27 August 2018

On Being Pretty

My history with my self esteem hasn't been the greatest, to say the least.

From a young age, I became painfully aware that I don't meet anyone's standards when it comes to what a girl should look like. I got teased for how big my lips are (Daisy Duck was a term thrown around) or how I could use to be a little more light-skinned or just for not being pretty enough in general. This echoed on in my home life where my mother would frequently tell me how stupid I am in addition to being ugly as all hell - you know, just the regular dose of trauma and abuse that's enough to make you appreciate dark humor but not be suicidal.

One anecdote that stuck out to me so much was third grade and learning all about the Aetas, indigenous people of the Philippines. They have curly hair and brown skin and big lips - features that are being unfairly used as casual insults in the Filipino context. My best friend at the time said loudly, "Oh big lips - like Clarisse's!" I remember it as the start of me being so self-conscious about my lips. It had offended me so much because it was around that time when there's a soap opera on about a girl who looks indigenous, gets horribly abused for it, but somehow gets fairer skin and is basically revealed to have beautiful features (read: Caucasian) underneath the horrible body paint blackface and is suddenly on top of the world with her abusers bowing down to her and the man candy of her dreams suddenly in her arms (multiple soap operas with similar plots over the years, actually - Filipino producers don't quite get what's wrong with blackface).

My teenage years and early adulthood were spent down a rabbit hole of finding the whitening product that will give me the coveted fair skin of my dreams. Kojic acid, papaya, glutathione pills - name it, and I've probably tried it in my quest to strip myself of melanin. If you've lived or even been to Southeast Asia, you'd know that the standards of beauty are largely eurocentric - white skin is worshipped and celebrities are usually Eurasians who don't have Asian features at all. Being called mestiza (fair skinned) is such a huge honor and synonymous to beautiful, although some can be considered beautiful despite the fact that they are morena (tan skinned). Did I also mention that skin whitening is a $10 billion global industry because we keep telling people that melanin is something to be ashamed of?

(Quick link! The racist history of skin whitening)
(Another one! The Might of White: How our obsession with whiter skin became dangerous)

And then I moved to Australia. I saw that drugstores and department stores alike have shelves upon shelves of products dedicated to making people orange tanning and suddenly, I was fine with my skin and started enjoying the sun in the summer. I saw people walking around with milliliters of fillers injected onto their lips and suddenly my lips don't look so bad - if anything, I feel blessed with it (take that, Raychelle!). And it may be the thick yellow fever hanging in the air around here, but for the first time in my life, I actually felt attractive. I kid, of course. But the right swipes did help a little bit. (Again, kidding!)

It's a sad thought to have to go out of your own country to appreciate yourself, but it's even more embarrassing to have to explain it to people without sounding like my country is racist. Because in reality, it is a racist mindset. But I'm not going down that long road with this blog post.

The other day, I was talking to one of my best friends. Mikey and I, we've both been through some really low lows when it came to our perception of ourselves. But we've always had that desire to never settle for what is and to keep growing, to look at every aspect of our lives closely and improve on what we can. I'm happy to report that, while we started off as pity parties in college about not being good-looking/smart/fit enough, we are now filled with so much amazement with what our bodies can do to focus on what they look like. Your body - everything inside and outside of it - is doing its best to keep you alive. Furthermore, it's the only one you have - what good would it do you to have it as an enemy?

Maybe it's a bit hypocritical to say I don't care about what I look like anymore when I've just written a whole blog post about it. I think what I'm trying to say, though, is that being pretty is no longer on the list of things that are important to me - and Jesus Christ, did it take a loooong while to get here. Is it narcissistic to finally be at peace with yourself? To look at other women and see their beauty without erasing yours? Because if it is, call me one. Am I gonna be joining pageants anytime soon? I'd probably still get laughed out of the audition room. But I'm completely fine with that.

This post is quickly losing momentum, and I'm not really sure why I wanted to write about this in the first place. But if you take away one thing, I hope it's this: there are far better things to be than pretty. Like pretty smart, pretty funny, pretty strong, and pretty kind. Maybe it's time to start measuring our self worth against an adjective that doesn't have a shelf life?

- C

01 June 2018

10-Step Skincare Routine: The Winter Edit


Can you believe we're almost halfway through the year? It's also officially winter here in the underbelly of the world which for me means chapped lips and cracked skin, if I'm not careful enough.

Two years ago, I was airdropped from the humid hell that is Manila and into the middle of the harsh Australian winter. Having had no previous experience with anything other than heat, my skin practically froze off of my face that winter, with 15C seeming like a freezing tundra to my tropical ass.

But seeing as how it's my third winter here, much wisdom has been gained about my skin (and about layering clothes in general). I figured out that my very oily skin (less oily now that I've been airlifted out of that humid circle of hell) needs a lot of moisturizing and hydrating layers - which didn't make sense to me back then because I've adapted a less is more philosophy for my oil slick face.

So, let the dropping of the skincare routine commence (in order).

First cleanser (PM): Essano Rosehip Micellar Water


Look, I know in my heart of hearts that I should be using an oil/balm cleanser. I have tried a couple, but to be honest, they're just too messy for my taste (clean sort of rhymes with queen for a reason). It also takes a little bit longer to get off, and I'm just not down for that.

Second cleanser (AM + PM): Celeteque Hydration Facial Cleanser


An oldie but a goodie. This facial wash is something I always hoard when I go to Manila - or I bully my friends to bring it back for me. It' gentle, cleanses really well, and is the perfect pH!

(Quick link: Why the pH of your cleanser matters)

Actives (PM): CosRx AHA OR CosRx BHA (both used only twice a week)


If you've lived anywhere other than under a rock these past few years, of course you'd know of CosRx's actives for blackheads and whiteheads. I always recommend these to friends who ask for exfoliant recommendations with the caveat that you introduce it to your routine slowly, you wait 20 minutes before applying another product, and that you must - and this should go without saying - absolutely use sunblock. 


AHA on non-CosRx days (PM): Pixi Glow Tonic


Grandma's closet smell aside, this cult favorite is also in my skincare drawer because it does wonders for my skin texture.

Hydrating toner (AM + PM): Kikumasamune High Moist Lotion


Sake, arbutin, ceramides, and horse placenta (because Japan). Enough said.

(Quick link: What are Ceramides and Why Do We Want Them in Our Skincare?)

Hydrating toner the sequel (PM): Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion - Moist


For someone who abhors the word moist, there sure is an abundance of it in my routine. Anyway, I digress. This toner's main attraction is hyaluronic acid (HA), which draws water from the environment in order to moisturize the skin and make it plumper and smoother. It then makes sense that the next step in the routine should be...

(Quick link: Why Hyaluronic Acid?)

Ampoule (PM): Scinic All in One Aqua Ampoule


...water! I used to just spritz plain water after my HA serum (I learned this trick from Reddit), but now we're out here living our best life just above the poverty line. This ampoule just brings in an extra drop of watery goodness during this dry season.

Moisturizer (AM + PM): Celeteque Hydration Facial Moisturizer


My go-to moisturizer for my oily skin! This one stays in my routine regardless of the season because it just...works.

Essence (AM + PM): CosRx Snail Essence


Okay, yes, I put moisturizer on before an essence. But that's because this essence is goopy and I feel like it's thicker than the Celeteque gel! I'm on my third bottle of this essence because it just makes everything soft and bouncy - like I can have Korean soft skin if I use it for long enough. Sadly, though, the cream counterpart of this breaks me out like no other and that may be because of the fatty alcohol in it (I may or may have not kept a spreadsheet of ingredients in all my skincare products to determine this for sure).

Cream (PM): Nivea Creme


We love a classic! I use this as an occlusive to seal everything in. I used to use a proper sleeping pack for this same purpose but I'm just not sure I'm fancy enough on the inside for that.

Sunblock (AM): Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen


Winter, spring, summer, or fall, bitch better wear a sunscreen.

Lip balm (All day, every damn day): Abundant Natural Health Lips Alive


In my 100% completely unbiased opinion and not just because I'm the marketing person for the brand, this really is the only lip balm that got rid of my chapped lips. My lips started acting up as soon as summer was officially over and a thick layer of this overnight just got rid of it (the chapping, not my lips).

If you'd like to go down the skincare rabbit hole...

Now tell me your skincare holy grails!

28 April 2018

April 2018: Murders and Mormons


Month 4 and you just know all the resolutions I've made at the start of the year have been thrown out of the window. Including my unstated resolve to blog more. But being a flake is part of my branding now, I guess!

I've overhauled this space and cleared all my past posts in the hopes that a fresh start will motivate me to be here more. Cue the laugh track. Here we go again.

LIFE


  • Working for a skincare brand. If you've been following me anywhere, you'd know how much of a skincare ho I am. I can spend hours just reading and commenting on the skincare subreddits, and would like to give you a big hug if you're still using the St. Ives Apricot Scrub. So when my former internship boss got in touch saying she landed a startup skincare brand as a client and wants me to come on board to do the social media and content management, the answer is a resounding YES! I start work shortly before my birthday, so I'm also counting this as my birthday gift from the universe.

    A month into the job and my days mostly consist of sourcing photos and content for our Instagram feed (now the bane of my existence!) and Facebook page, taking care of our website, and other marketing bits and bobs. There, you've just been marketed to.

  • Studying. I've started school last March, and to be quite honest, I can't be positive about it. I don't quite know how to describe being in this particular uni that I am in, but let's just say that I need to be airlifted out of this circle of hell so please send help.

  • Sydney Royal Easter Show. The Sydney Royal Easter Show is an annual event held in Sydney over the span of two weeks during Easter. It is designed to promote the agricultural scene through competitions, animal experiences, carnivals, and much more. Will took me to the Show for my birthday this year and while I wish I took more photos, much fun was had overdosing on sugar, going on both kiddie and adult rides, and being a pussy in the half-assed haunted mansion.

  • Exercise break. I've been dealing with a chest infection for over a month now (hopefully I am correct in thinking that it's going away as I write this!) and so I've not been to the gym for over a month as well. There goes my dream abs.



  • Sony A6000.  Having had the Nikon D5000 for 7 years (and not having used it for 3 - mostly because of its bulk), I knew I would only be incentivized to actually get out there and take photos again if my next camera is smaller and easier to throw in my everyday bag. Yes, the best camera is the one you have with you, that's why I kept putting off getting a mirrorless for years - my Samsung S7 is usually enough for the quick photo. But I knew I wanted to document my life in a much better way than my phone camera and so I made the switch! I'm back to using a kit lens for now (I fell in love with the 50mm f1.8 for my Nikon back then that I put down my kit lens and never picked it up again) as I know I'm quite rusty and wanted to practice a little bit first. It's frustrating being with a kit lens again, though! So expect me to not exercise any self control at all and get the Sony 35mm f1.8 in the coming weeks.

    Some practice shots:









THINGS I'M LOVING

  • My Favorite Murder. A podcast by two true crime fans from LA, My Favorite Murder mixes in witty banter with tales of hometown murders and cults. I swore to myself that I will get into podcasts this year and in doing so, I knew I wanted to listen to women talking in my ear. MFM is the only podcast by women whose talking I can actually stand - there are some really cringey speech patterns out there, I found! Since I started bingeing, I have acquired a not-so-irrational irrational fear of randomly getting murdered and a fascination for true crime.

    If the over-enunciated Valley girl accent isn't your thing, there's also Martinis & Murder, All Killa No Filla, and the Crime Junkie Podcast!

  • The Book of Mormon soundtrack. Will and I saw The Book of Mormon at the Sydney Lyric Theatre at the beginning of the month. While I'm a sucker for musicals, he's not really into it but he ended up loving it! If it's ever in your city, don't hesitate to see the obscene masterpiece that is this play and walk out of the theatre believing that God has a plan for you -- and that plan involves getting your own planet.

    I'm still listening to the songs on a regular basis! My favorites are Two by Two and Turn It Off.

  • Simply Nailogical. Just do yourself a favor and watch her videos. You're welcome.