Monday, June 25, 2012

My Awesome IPL Experience

Come on, let's admit it, the underarms have been every girl's obsession. I admit being one of those who wished she had the underarms of every deodorant ad model - the smooth, white, and hair-free underarms as smooth as a baby's bottom. Alas, with constant plucking, waxing, and not to mention harsh deodorant formulations, that has remained a dream, until finally I took the plunge and had my underarms undergo IPL treatment.

IPL or intense pulsed light is a form of hair removal that soon results in permanently hair-free skin. It is used on the legs, back, arms, bikini line, and of course, underarms. Unlike shaving or depilatory creams that cuts hair at the surface or plucking and waxing, which removes hair from the root, IPL has focused

"broad-spectrum light is applied to the surface of the skin by way of either a hand-held wand or an articulated arm. This light travels through the skin until it strikes the hair shafts or the bulb (root) of the hair. The bulb is usually where the highest concentration of melanin is located, as opposed to the rest of the hair shaft. As the light is converted to heat energy, the bulb and most of the hair shaft are instantly vaporized" (source: Wikipedia)

IPL treatments are usually given by dermatologists or dermatological or facial centers with trained specialists to perform this procedure in patients. This procedure can permanently remove unwanted hair in underarms, legs, and bikini line resulting in silky-smooth skin because there's no more need to shave, pluck, wax, or use depilatory creams (and that alone by the way is a convenience in itself).

Dr. Divina Viola performs CO2 Laser on a patient. Photo taken from her Facebook account.
I had mine done by my good friend from pole class, Dr. Divina Viola, whose inspiring story I featured last October. Appearing in sleeveless cropped tops most of the time during training, it would be embarassing to raise my arms in cross-ankle or dangerous brain with unshaven or dark underarms, right? 

Before my first treatment, Divine advised me on the following: If I do shave my underarms, I should not shave three days prior to the procedure. At best, it's good to come there with the underarms, in hmmm, what I should say virgin forest level for the doctor or therapist  to assess where to concentrate the treatment and what intensity to use.

Also, take note that IPL is not for everyone. There are those who cannot undergo IPL namely:

  • Those with dark brown to black natural skin
  • Those with white, gray or blonde natural hair
  • presence of skin disorders or infection
  • Pregnant or nursing moms
  • Impaired immune system
  • Medications/herbs known to induce photosensitivity to light exposure (as light is the medium to be used here)
  • Excessively tanned skin in the desired treatment area/s from the sun, sun beds or tanning creams within the last 2 weeks before the treatment
  • Skin exfoliation, bleaching or microdermabrasion in the desired treatment area within the last 2 weeks before treatment
  • Skin cancer, as well as any other type of cancer , or premalignant moles

That's why before IPL, it's best to take the necessary precautions to avoid further complications. If you wish to give your underarms a photoshoot-worthy overhaul (i.e. IPL, peeling, bleaching), do the IPL procedure first, wait two weeks, and then proceed with bleaching. While I was already in my 20s when I got my IPL session, Divine told me that girls can receive IPL by the time they're 15 years old.

Anyway, going back to my experience. On my first day ever, she asked me if I was sensitive to pain. Being a pole dancer, pain has been my middle name, but unlike metal friction, she said this was going to be heat, I was like, "ermmm... maybe I might need something to desensitize my skin." She got an ice pack from the freezer, which would serve to numb the pain when heat is applied. After that, she prepped my skin with wipes to clean it (another tip, don't wear deodorant or lotion prior to treatment) and shaved my underarms and checked where to assess it. She told me to wear protective goggles and look away when there's a flash of light to protect my eyes.

The wand used to apply the light looks like this:

What you experience though, is a bit of light flash (look away and don't forget to wear the protective goggles/shades!) with a slight "pop" sound (similar to a camera flash) followed by a minor heat sensation. Depending on your skin sensitivity, results and pain tolerance can vary. For me, it felt like little pixie punches, like three Tinkerbell fairies threw punches at my armpit. There was a little sting right after but nothing that I couldn't handle, as again, I'm a girl used to pain. Oh, and it is also advised to wear protective clothing after the procedure (i.e. leggings if IPL would be done to legs, and for facial IPL, best wear protective sunscreen). 

For the first four sessions, it was recommended that I get my treatment done every other week. The following four sessions would be done monthly. The intensity of the treatment may increase per session (I started with intensity 2 then progressed to intensity 3). The procedure is also very fast, I think 10 minutes tops, so it's okay to do this during lunch hour and you still have time to order milk tea or have lunch after.

According to Divine, 80-100% permanent hair reduction is usually seen on the 7th or 8th week. After the 8th treatment, the patient could still undergo spot treatments to remove the minimal latent hairs which were not previously treated (latent hairs have a 6-month to two-year cycle)

As for my side effects, it will sting a bit after, like a little burn sensation but it dies off eventually. I didn't have any itching after (I was given dexamethasone cream in case I experience any itching, but I didn't). After the procedure, I just let my skin rest by not putting any lotion or cream on it, save for dexamethasone if it did itch.

I really think that IPL is a good investment, especially for girls who would want the liberty to just go ahead and wear that tank top on that hot summer weather without worrying. The skin on my underarms also improved because I had no need to shave or pluck anymore, which caused darkening. Folliculitis or irritation of the hair follicle (it's sort of like a pimple-like painful red bump) can be avoided too. However, in my opinion, it's best to go to a doctor or a reputable skin clinic to have treatments.

(photo by Fritz Tentativa)

On a personal note, I was able to notice slower growth upon my fourth session. The hairs that do grow are finer, and almost unnoticeable After 7 sessions of IPL treatments. There's no photoshop done in the photo, as my friend Fritz doesn't overly blur skin (yaye Fritz! You know what I want). Love how my underarms have become smoother, fairer, and no more of the nicks and gashes caused by OC hair removal.

Think of getting IPL? Then go get!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Male Grooming: Thomas and Freddie

Had two shoots last week, this time on male grooming. Yes, boys do wear makeup on photoshoots and special occasions. In my wedding packages, I include groom makeup. Why? Because grooms need to look flawless and shine-free too on their wedding day. 

Here's proof  to you guys that male makeup looks natural. As much as possible, I don't want guys to look like they're wearing makeup. I just want them to look fresh and flawless but not pale. 

photo credits: 
model: Thomas of Elite
photographer: Christine Day Lorico
stylist: Rolee Umali
light design: Michael Yu
makeup: Bambi de la Cruz Makeup Artistry (in other words, MEEEE!!!!) 

And I promise you guys, to the grooms who are reading my blog, I do male makeup really fast. The makeup for the shoot (above) took only 10 minutes, tops. With hair.

And yesterday's shoot with Freddie turned out awesome and fun. The shoot took around two hours. :) I love it!

photo credits:
model: Freddie Abrahams
photographer: Michael Yu
stylist: Rolee Umali
makeup: Bambi de la Cruz Makeup Artistry 

So how are guys in makeup: Make them look like them - just minimize shine and even the skin out. And make them comfortable wearing makeup. :) 

Reviewing Benefit Cosmetics' the POREfessional

Primers may be an extra step to makeup application, but promise, they help a lot. Just like the primer in the world of painting walls, in painting faces, face primers do the same thing - they prepare the surface for makeup application, evening and smoothing out the surface so makeup glides and sits on so much better.

A primer I was introduced to is Benefit Cosmetics' the POREfessional, a PRO balm designed to help minimize the appearance of pores. It's oil-free and it's said to not only minimize the appearance of pores but also fine lines.  I understand that there are quite a lot who want to have the airbrushed, satiny smooth skin look and this may help, and I did a test run of it. I received a sample pack from our Stellar 2 goodie bags (yaye!) and I gave it a try one hot June afternoon pole class (yes, I do love subjecting things to high temperature, high stress, and high endorphin levels of life). As I don't have a photo of the actual product, I saw some pictures in the Internet and this is how it looks like, full size.

Image credits

When I first posted about Benefit Cosmetics, I raved about how cutesy and non-intimidating their packages were, no matter how hardcore the purpose may be. This one does not disappoint. Take me to San Francisco candy stores!

The POREfessional is supposed to be applied on clean skin after moisturizer sinks in. Apply this product outward from the center of the face. Focus more on problem areas such as the T-zone, forehead, or anywhere shine usually sits too much. Let sink in before applying makeup so it sits on better.

So that's first a clean face devoid of makeup.

I applied the primer as the package says. The primer on its own is a bit tinted and I was glad that it didn't interfere with my skin color. It felt velvety on the hands and also on the face. There was an improvement on the feel of the texture of the skin. I also noticed some areas have been mattified. I have this humongous problem in life where my T-zone naturally shines even without the presence of oil. So anyway, on to my makeup.

Fresh look, since it was daytime.

I took the makeup to the ultimate road test - that is, to pole during lunch class. Travelling in Metro Manila during lunch hour, the sun blares like it's mad at the world and wants to burn it to the ground. Doing pole on lunch class with all the intensity will put it to makeup meltdown test.

But wait... what makeup meltdown?

My makeup practically was almost baseline state as I got home. The makeup I used here is a full face of makeup - liquid foundation, powder foundation, contour, blush, eye makeup, lipstick... the works. My face doesn't feel sticky and heavy and at most, a bit of tissue blotting away the dirt and powder was all it needed to freshen up.

With flash. I love how the usual shine is minimized here.

There is a bit of product that somehow got tissued off along with the dirt, but hey, I still look normal and not like a raccoon dipped in a vat of oil.

Is the POREfessional something I recommend? Definitely and most especially if you have the budget for it. This can be used if you're:

  • a bride (if your wedding is outdoor) who wants to look fresh on her wedding, whether the makeup is traditional or airbrush.
  • a performer (actor, dancer, singer) and your face would be cooked in stage lights. This was the primer used at our Stellar 2 show. We looked fresh up until curtain call.
  • a model in a photoshoot
  • a girl having a long day/event ahead and you want minimal retouching on your fabulous makeup.

A primer is something I'd recommend if you would be needing to wear full makeup the whole day and if you want makeup to last longer. If you do, however, wear makeup the whole day everyday, then you may use this too. Always do a patch test in purchasing products, especially for the first time to see how it reacts to your skin.If you want to save products you can just tap and target this on problem areas just to even things out.

Benefit Cosmetics is located at the ground floor of Greenbelt 5 mall and also at Rustan's Shangri-La Mall.  

Bambi Got Fritzified

When my good friend (and fellow blogger) Fritz decided to pursue his dream as a photographer, I was in full out support. I've followed his blogs and seen his photos and noticed that he has an eye for color, light, and most especially, art. That's why when he took his natural talent to the next level, I really got excited for him. When he asked me to be his model in one of his practice shoots, it was a big yes!!!! Actually to be honest, I was raising my hand and volunteering already before he even asked. Heehee.

Fritz is not the usual blindly point-and-shoot photographer or just an average Joe with a camera and then clicks away 100 shots per minute and goes, "Pwede na yan!" or relies solely on photo-editing. He studies a concept, tries to see how we could execute it and make it our own, and sits down and talks to you as to how he exactly wants it done and lists them on paper or Powerpoint presentation.

Oh and speaking of crew, it was a team of two in our shoot here, no big crowds or huge teams. We brought our own outfits (No pullouts, take note) in our own suitcases. I did my own hair and makeup, and he did the styling, art direction, photography, and arranged his own lights. But I have to say, we did rock the shoot as I share three of some of our favorite shots.

And speaking of rock, here's a very biker chick inspired rockerish peg where I pulled my hair back in a tight ponytail. It was like I raided Fritz's closet here practically as he lent me his pants, shoes (love those Aldo boots mehn, they're like air), shades, and bag for this shot. As for the bra, that's obviously mine, A 200-peso black bra I sewed beads to.

The pants were a tad tight. Either Fritz is really skinny or I have been doing too many squats and lunges. I was about to freak out and say to the world, "DOESTHISMEANIMFAT????" But they did fit me well. Note: Must look at the men's department for awesome jeans. And the abs, I'm proud to say are real as a result of intense pole dance training and not eating junk for the weekend.

Prior to this shoot, I watched the James Bond movie with Grace Jones in it and I was so blown away by the bad Bond girl peg of the one-piece body suit peg. The high-cut of Grace Jones was a bit too much though, so I turned my 80-ish French cut bodysuit into something more conservative with boylegs. Lie down on them speakers and emote and PAK! From Bond villain, here's my love for music and dance.

That cuff was bought on sale and Fritz chose the cuff for me. Love how he understands and knows what things go well together and he made sure that no lock was straying and each crease was smoothed.

Bling it is as I pull my hair back again and let the accessories and bodysuit take place. My epic wedding headpiece goes with a bejeweled bodysuit in this fab headshot. The designer behind the outfit is my good friend Dennis Celestial. I love how the red pops out. It's currently my Facebook profile photo and I'm getting lotsa likes.

photo credits:
photography, styling, lights, and art direction: Fritz Tentativa
makeup, hair, and model: ME!
location: Bulb Studios

Fritz and I had so much fun in this shoot. Take note that I haven't been in front of the camera for quite some time like this but I loved how looking at the pictures, it looks like I had no rest era. Fritz made me feel very much comfortable and brought out all the best angles and assets. Afterwards, he gave me a bit of coaching as to how to improve next time with regards to modelling and what strengths to consider.

Thanks Fritz for a fabulous afternoon and looking forward for more shoots and shenanigans.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Shu Struck Gold

One of Shu Uemura's most iconic products, the lash curler, gets a pretty upgrade in conjunction with their new glitter collection. The curler has gone gold plated and available for a very limited time for Php1,400.

 Still delivering almost effortlessly that perfect curl, this 24k gold plated lash curler still has the silicon pad that cushions lash hairs and the same firm hinges that make this curler so easy to control.

 This photo by the way was taken at the second youngest Shu Uemura Philippines branch - Shu Uemura Alabang Town Center.nI said second youngest because as of this moment, they have just opened a branch at Trinoma. Yay fornthis ever-so-growing brand here in Manila!

While at it be sure to check out their Color Atelier Glitter Eye collection, which features glittery eye colors that shimmer, sparkle, and flirt with the light.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Another Rockin' Stellar Summer

What did I do with my summer vacation? I'm proud to say I rocked it.

At the end of the summer, our classes have annual summer recitals where we showcase what we have learned over the summer in pole class (or in our case, since summer vacation doesn't apply) over the years. Last year, we had a burlesque theme - red lipstick, heels, curls, lace, ruffles and feather boas. This year, we tore shirts, distressed shorts, donned boots and leather and messed up our tresses for a rockstar theme. When I found out this year's theme was rock, I screamed in delight and put my name on not just one, but TWO numbers - yes! you got that right, I didn't dance to just the pole number, but the striptease number. Okay whatwasithinking? I've been poleling for just a year and a signed up for two. But hey, when last year I was able to dance after just four months of pole, then why not this year right?

This year, it was quite different because it would be the first time I would be doing inverts on an X-stage pole, which can be  wobbly since it's a free-standing pole. And also our trick and spin lists are very new - we have cross ankle (dun dun dun.), reverse ayesha (eeek), and superman, which we do from gemini (and that gemini doesn't come from your usual boomerang invert but from a drop. EEK!)  but then again, remembering the thrill of last year, this was one I should not miss. Besides, isn't it me who loves rock music? So why not sign up for something close to my heart?

At the heat of summer, pegs started to mushroom up in our pages. What they did this year was rock music through the ages - from 1950s up to the 90s and present featuring songs of rock icons like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Guns N Roses (yeaaah!), Queen, Adam Lambert, Marilyn Manson, and Kiss to name a few, celebrating how rock stars are artists themselves that broke barriers and never feared to express themselves through their own music. White makeup? who cares! Big hair on guys? Bring it on!

Each class was assigned an era. Our class was assigned the 80s, which made me even scream louder when our teacher, Amaya announced it. I LOVE THE 80s!!!!! Of course, the 80s reminded me of my flower girl and Santacruzan days of hot pink blush, the aquanet, and teasing of hair but what I do remember was that the 80s had really awesome music, and the rock music didn't disappoint. For our song, we had Guns 'N' Roses's Welcome to the Jungle and our peg was we had to look like Jungle Cats. GAME ON, KITTY!!!! Of course the excitement is just icing on the cake. There's learning our tricks and perfecting the spins. We had to widen our barbie spins (Amaya stresses on the following keys: locked knees, legs high, toes pointed), conquer our fear of the cross ankle, and figure out how to look pretty while in pain with the Superman. Also, the fast pace of the song works both to our advantage and disadvantage. To our advantage, it's such a high energy and upbeat song it's an instant adrenalin rush at the first guitar strum. To our disadvantage, we had to build our resistance to still be able to catch our breath and look pretty at the end of our number (Thanks to my own Lightwater bottle on standby, I was able to quench my parched throat after each run. I wouldn't go into full detail with our rehearsals except that we did our best to make sure that we did our dances well, polished them, built our endurance, and also, made sure we never got injured.

Stellar Year 2 was held at the AFP Theater at Camp Aguinaldo. It was a huge theater that had an amazingly huge stage with a 1000+seater audience capacity. We had an early call time that day, 8:00 a.m. and I made sure (as I was late last year) that I got there early, well, a little too early at 7 am. Excited! We did our blockings and breaked for lunch since we needed energy.

Thank you Kitchen Night for the lunch!

The afternoon was spent doing our runs and also our makeup. We had Benefit Cosmetics as a sponsor this year who did an amazing job. They were there even to retouch the makeup so that we all looked fresh.

To relax we had photo ops of course.

Scavenging the Tigers' dressing room for chips. I wanted chips.

A solid class picture with Amaya (loving her red boots!) . We're a total standout from those in black and leather - bold red shirts, white shorts, and teased hair (da who has nissin's ramen hair? That's me!)
A natural fangirl of men's pole we are.

RJ is dancing to the beatles. Hippie chic meets Jungle Cat

Hannah and I dancing again. She's a strong girl. She's Intermediate 2 already doing those awesome tricks!

My favorite part in our dance - the gemini drop which made the audience scream. It was so inspiring I spun in my superman but project away!

The audience was so warm I almost cried! The two months of hard work were so much worth it. Yay to I didn't fall in my cross ankle and Yay that I remembered the dance.

Breaking before our second number: A photo-op with the boys and our Momma Cat CD!

The boys (fondly called Tigers) were the show-stealer of the day. Dancing to Queen's Another One Bites The Dust, they were the perfect example of strength, agility, and grace combined. Our Tigers were the perfect example of brotherhood, united not only in their classes but in their bonding sessions outside studio doors like dinners and pole practices They have turned their sister Kittens into instant fans, I think like 60% of the screams came from backstage.

Our striptease number is another era close to my heart: the 90s!!!!! bring out the Doc Martens and grungey look everyone! Because here we are to wow you.

I love the chair. Swear it's an awesome prop. I think I should include it in our pole practices.

The show concluded with a number from our teachers. What's not to scream about?

Even if  Saturday were over, we still can't get over the weekend. Open Facebook, you see status updates, picture uploads, raves, and even possible brainstorming for Stellar Year 3 (I'm joining Stellar 3 by the way!). I believe our annual Stellar Summer show not only trained us as performers and dancers but also it was a chance for us to showcase what we worked hard for, to make our friends and family proud with something we're so passionate about. Talk to anyone enrolled in a class and their eyes suddenly light up as they talk about their classes and all. It was also a chance for the whole group to bond and gain new friends. This is my extended family, Polecats Manila is my second home.

Pre-stellar I was getting really tampo because I invited a lot of people and not many of those I asked watched (I think only 3 of those I invited watched). But a pleasant surprise happened after the show. Our classmates who weren't able to join the recital happened to be there watching, complete with a "Go Jungle Cats!" sign. I gave these girls a big hug.

Here's another surprise. A friend from college watched. Hi Winlove! He happens to be friends with one of the Tigers. So nice to see a familiar face after so many years.

Kicking off our boots and back to the grind (for most of us anyway) we still can't forget that wonderful Stellar high. You may read what this year's project head (and Striptease teacher) Mara Andres wrote here.

To those who made our show possible - to our sponsors, production team, friends, and most especially our teachers forever pushing us to do our best and our classmates for the encouragement we need thank you very much and a big hug. You just inspired me to do better here more and pole till I'm like 90 (hahahahaa!)

To you, yes you, the one who reads my articles, my blog, and how I enthusiastically insert my pole adventures in a blog dedicated to beauty, makeup, and fashion (in defense I always go, "but it's fitness!") thank you for bearing and following my excitement at every achievement, every bruise, every chafed skin, every new trick, and every freestyle video I post. You know what, you just got me excited because I said yes to Stellar Year 3!

(the photos are a mish-mash from mine and my friends' cameras - Winlove Mojica, Oliver Loyola,  Ann Santos-Dajon, and RJ Regalado)