Tuesday, October 27, 2020

How I Prep Up and Suit Up For Makeup Gigs in a Pandemic

Hi! I can't believe my last article here was pre-pandemic. How much has life changed! A lot of things have happened so I wasn't able to write as much and I've been tied up with a lot of stuff.

The pandemic also gave me an automatic makeup hiatus. However, even if it may take a while for life to come back to how it used to be, life still needs to go on. People need to go to work and the world has to run while staying safe and following the necessary protocols. I'm glad that after a drastic halt, those in the creative field whose source of livelihood was severly affected could start working again. Yesterday, I've done my first-ever makeup gig during the pandemic  and I must say it felt surreal that it's back but different because there's some distance in a very tactile-dependent skill. 

I want to write about how I prepared myself for the gig as well as the safety measures I took in order to give other artists who are slowly going back to work an idea on how they can protect themselves and their clients. Take note that I'm not a medical professional or an infectious disease specialist and I'm only using knowledge I've gathered from reliable articles, vlogs, and advices of fellow makeup artists who have been going to work regularly in the new normal before I did.

Makeup artist in the new normal.

The choice to do makeup full time or go back only part-time is up to you. Since I'm currently working in a regular job and still have my crafts on the side, I chose to do makeup at a minimum. I chose to only do makeup for people I know or close friend referrals (I worked at the wedding of my friend, who happens to be my neighbor too so we belong in the same community), and I only accept 1 head for 1 booking day. I would only do makeup for a maximum of 2-3 times a month. The choice to accept fewer bookings is my own personal choice. I will not judge another makeup artist if he or she goes back to work full time as long as they follow safety protocols required by the community. 

Whether the booking requires and/or provides a swab test or not, we must always protect and sanitize because everyone's lives depend on it. 

So here 's what I did for my new normal makeup:

Condense the makeup kit.

More makeup gear means more things to disinfect. I kept all  my equipment in one bag - and that includes stuff for hair and makeup. I kept my equipment count small. I didn't want to buy more makeup brushes than I already have - that's why I only accept 1 client per day. Some of my friends who do more than 1 head have different brush sets per person in individual zip lock bags and do a thorough disinfection before working with the next client.

I only pack what's needed. My client beforehand showed a photo of  her mom (the person I would do makeup on), her dress etc. I was also provided a makeup peg and information on skin and hair type. This helped me plan what to bring. 

As the number of people working on events are severely limited, I went by myself to not crowd the venue and did both makeup and hair. Should I need help with hair, that's when I hire a hairstylist.

OOTD For Safety

Pre-pandemic, I was the resident hubadera. However, times are different. I didn't buy PPE gear since it wasn't a requirement and this is my only makeup job in while (I don't know when the next would be or the frequeency of the demand for makeup artists would be in the coming months). However, I had to also protect both of us (and hide my quarantine fats :P). I also had to be extra-extra safe since the person I did makeup to is the mother of the bride who is a senior citizen. 

this assymetric overcoat protects my leggings from surfaces

I've had a nice overcoat-like piece that only come out of my closet during my travels I bought it from a friend in a bazaar many years back. When worn, it becomes an outer garment that covers my top and leggings when I sit on chairs or touch surfaces. All I had to do before I go home was remove that outer coat before I step into the car (but I was OC so I changed clothes as well). By doing this costume change, I also protect the community I belong to and my household. 

I also don't forget the required new normal OOTD must-haves - mask and full face shield. I doubled up my mask (surgical mask + kn95, still a breathable combo) since I'll be in a closer proximity to another person and wore gloves during makeup application.

For bookings that require PPE though, local brands and designers manufacture trendy and comfy protective wear that's OOTD-worthy. 


Sanitized all my personal things and makeup equipment in this UV Box from 
(sleeping photobombing kitten not included)

Pre-pandemic, we were taught hygiene and sanitation tips that were almost operating room level. Now, even a normal errand run has us treating our home like an operating room. I sanitized all my equipment the night before my gig - from the tiniest eyeliner brush to the hairstyling equipment to the big maleta was disinfected. I ran all my makeup and brushes for 20 minutes in my UV-C box (I got mine from Ultrasilver for Php 1800. This is not a paid ad). before packing them. For bigger items such as carrying case, blow dryer, curling iron,  ring light and ring light stand, I placed them inside the bathroom and turned on a UV lamp set to timer for 30 minutes. UV rays may not be our skin's best friend but they are what we need to blast the nasties away. 

Setting up also means disinfecting my makeup surface at the venue (that's where alcohol/Lysol/disinfecting wipes come in handy). Since setting up requires an extra thorough disinfection, I arrived earlier than the designated call time so nothing is rushed.

I'm also careful in protecting my client while doing makeup since they're not wearing a mask. I talk less and use gloves. I used a clean stainless steel spatula when picking up concealer, lip stick, gel liner, or anything that comes from a pot. I also do not use makeup that comes with self-applicators difficult to sanitize (eyebrow and eyeliner pens with a felt-tip).   Double dipping is an ultimate no-no!   

After makeup has been completed, I dispose all tissues, cotton pads, Q-Tips, and disposable items. I then disinfect all my items quickly giving powder products a good wipedown with tissue before spraying with alcohol and running a UV wand on all my items. I place my velour puff, spatula, and brushes in a separate ziplock bag and pack up and give my suitcase a good wipedown of disinfectant. I do the same with my work surface for courtesy. 

Disinfect everything upon getting home right away.

Remember back then when after a gig we just park our makeup gear and then wash our brushes the following day? This time, we cannot wait for the next day. Everything that has been in the outside world must be disinfected. I do disinfect again all my makeup and equipment even if I pre-cleaned them before packing up. 

All garments immediately go in the wash and a hot shower with a thorough scrubbing is done. Bigger items like malette and ring light, which cannot be washed down were UV disinfected in the bathroom with a UV lamp. It's a bit OC to disinfect twice after a gig, from packing up and when getting home but we have to be super sure as we don't know what our gear has picked up along the way, especially if you commute. The whole ordeal took me 2 hours, but that's because I had to UV-C in batches. 

Makeup jobs have drastically changed because of the pandemic.  Although makeup jobs are allowed with very strict protocols, remember to prioritize your health and safety to help the community stay safe.  And should you decide to go back, remember to not only follow safety protocols but have a very detailed disinfecting routine. This protects not just yourself and the people around you that day but also your household and community.

For all makeup artists, stay safe and healthy in this new normal.  We will get through this. 


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

How to Not Give Gifts While Having the Christmas Spirit

As a child, I looked forward to Christmas. I remember how Christmas decor would be put up in our house in October during sem break, with Christmas carols filling the malls and toy stores as early as September. I'd have my letter to Santa written out in October after a lot of drafts since August and would be very sleepless on the 23rd of December as Christmas Eve was the highlight. As I didn't like going to school as a child, I looked forward to a longer vacation at home.

When adulthood came, the attitude towards Christmas did a 180. I was more stressed as the Christmas countdown started and dreaded each Christmas reunion/party/dinner I had to attend. My responses to "when are you having children" or "when are you gonna stop working" have morphed from diplomatic to the tone of cold, frank "shut up or I will murder you at this instant with no remorse" in every Holiday event I had to attend. Mall trips were becoming more stressful and grueling and I found myself getting poorer with each gift giving trip turning me into a modern-day Scrooge. I was my most sungit, moody self in a very festive and family occasion.

Adulting doesn't mean Scroogeing during Christmas.
It doesn't mean getting stressed or excessively spending too.
To be honest, I wasn't alone in this. I know a number of people who dread the Holidays. Worse-case scenarios are the Holiday blues, where episodes and relapses of depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns increase (and this is a real case). While yes, it is common among many that the Holidays has morphed into something stressful, there are still those who look forward to the Christmas spirit and we really don't want to dampen their experience just because it gives us stress and add more to the negative energy we are already experiencing. I didn't want to be a Scrooge anymore and last year I asked myself, "What was it during the Holidays and Christmas that caused me to feel like this?" Christmas alone isn't bad. It's a happy joyous occasion. If you are Catholic or Christian, there's a spiritual meaning to it, and to the religious eye, hating Christmas may warrant you a trip to the confessional or scolding from a religious lola or tita. So what made me become the adult who hated Christmas from the kid whose Christmas started that July afternoon drafting her first letter to Santa? It could be summarized to this -the stress. Yes the Holidays have become stressful and traffic just gets worse every year. There's also the pressure to complete your Christmas shopping gift list, and also the anxiety (if you are an introvert) to attend and may be participate in every Christmas gathering.  Now that I have identified these, let's work our way on it, shall we?

Just go to the events you really want to go.

hey dollies, don't stress on parties, OK?
Thankfully, since I am self-employed and do not work for a particular company, there is no need for me to join the awkwardness of parlor games or embarass myself in a Christmas program dancing to the dubstep or remix version of the song of the year. My job as a makeup artist conveniently has me at the supplier end of most events anyway so most of the time, I am not present in most parties. As an introvert, big crowds and loud noises exhaust me so  I just choose where I want to be, preferably the chillest one with a small group. I would also just meet a few friends after Christmas for lunch or snacks. Also, If flitting from one party to the other stresses you out, just choose one or two to attend for the day or the week. It's quite impractical to spend less time on the actual parties and more time sitting in traffic or getting frustrated booking a Grab or Angkas just to get to there, right? If one event stresses you out, just don't go. These parties would continue on anyway and are not worth the stress if it doesn't spark you Holiday joy.

Shorten your gift list

When I travel, I don't buy pasalubong and I don't expect to be given pasalubong when my loved ones travel. Same principle I applied during holidays. In fact, I know a few colleagues who have stopped buying Christmas gifts. For them, it was pointless to get stressed buying little knick-knacks that would end up collecting dust or become trash later on. I still have some knick-knacks that I have no idea how I am going to use in storage. In reality, we don't have to give gifts to each teacher of our kids, each person in our department, the "sikyu sa tapat" or random people we meet in passing. Just give well thought-of gifts to people very close to you. Big families or family reunions also opt for just gift exchange or gift steal, where you just bring one gift for one person instead of bringing several small gifts for 50 people. Don't spend too much! Overspending can lead to depression.

With Gifts, Choose Something Consumable

sweets treats make perfect gifts for the Holidays.
Cookies from I Want Chip 
Consumable items like food, sweets, pastries, etc. are safe (and inexpensive) because they get to be used right away, can be shared/served at home, and they don't end up collecting dust. You have various choices like beverage (coffee/tea/drink mixes), healthy (granola, sauces,salad dressings), sinful, etc. I started making soaps to give them as gifts as they have a longer shelf life than bottles of lotions or sprays. Also, even if I am a candle maker, I suggest giving candles to people you know who would really use them because I see a lot of candles just stocking up and collecting dust.  Save the special Christmas gifts to someone you really hold close - your partner, spouse, parents, or child.

Consider alternative gifts

If you yourself don't want to receive material gifts, you can suggest to friends to still want to give you something to donate it to causes and charities close to your heart. Your barkada can also choose to just have a nice lunch as your gifts to each other. Cook for your family a special dish for Christmas lunch or dinner as your gift to them. Treat you inaanaks to lunch or teach them a new skill you learned in a workshop you took. A friend of mine treated his staff to pizza lunch as his gift to them. With these type of gift giving, we lessen carbon footprint with less junk as well so yay for our planet!

Volunteer and spread Holiday cheer

For those based abroad who can't be home for Christmas or those that feel lonely during the Holidays, they can volunteer some time to help others. There are lots of NGOs and charity organizations that need a lot of help. Visit a nursing home, an orphanage, or animal shelter or just approach a friend who's part of an NGO and extend a helping hand. We all don't have to be alone.

Enjoy the present

Powerplant Mall has for me the cheeriest Christmas decor
Do things that make you happy or enjoy the things you look forward to during the Holidays - eat your favorite puto bumbong and bibingka with a cup of hot salabat. Enjoy the holiday drinks at Starbucks whether or not you're collecting planner stickers. Watch the light show at Ayala Triangle or simply admire the Holiday decor at malls such as Powerplant Mall because being cat parents, we will never have nice decor as our cats will murder them in a minute or two.

As adults, we celebrate and view Christmas differently than we were kids but even with the over-commercialization the Holidays has been, we don't have to drain our bank accounts or exhaust ourselves to the point that we start hating an originally cheery occasion. Enjoy what you like about it, don't spread youself too thin and don't spend too much or drink too much alcohol. Love lots!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Mark. Prism Lipstick Swatches and Review

I've gone through so many lipstick trends in my 12 years working as a makeup artist and even if I don't wear that much makeup anymore I still never fail to include maybe two lipsticks in my bag. I've gone through all the trends - mattes, lipglosses, sparkles, sheers, creamy, sheer, tint, and those super matte liquid lipsticks that were impossible to remove. As an artist, the staple in my kit is still the classic bullet formula - which could be chopped and placed in makeup palettes to save space in the pro kit as well as mixed to create a unique personalized shade.

When I was starting out 12 years ago, the "in" thing back then was the wet look kind of lip makeup - the shiny lipstick that you wore in layers giving the "wet" shine look making the lipstick look really glossy and shiny. It even had the diamond sparkle variation where the lips really sparkled because of the flecks of glitter. In photoshoots, it was the go-to look requested and I guess because it made the lips look healthier and plumper. The rule was the shinier, the better.  Add a lip plumper gloss and you instantly have the "just had a collagen injection" look. The downside to this look though it looked pretty in photos,  lipgloss can get sticky and sometimes hair would get stuck on the lips. The look faded away and mattes came back with a bang. However, as trends go they also have a comeback (just like the 90s 2 years ago). Sparkly lips are making a comeback again and they are just as pretty and thankfully are more comfy (i.e. less sticky) to wear.

On my birthday last month, I received a gift pack from Avon - their complete line of lipsticks - the Mark. Prism Lipsticks which give your lips not just shine but sparkle due to the 4000 prismatic pearls that make your lips look super dazzling with every swipe.

7 of the 10 shades of the mark. Prism Lipsticks to choose from
I did an unboxing of this as soon as it arrived as I was so excited. It arrived on my birthday and it was like a birthday gift at the door.

check out the embossed word "mark."
 This lipstick line has the fiercest hashtag ever: #makeanepicMARK resonating how we should never be apologetic with how we express ourself or explain our beauty habits or why we need the 10-step skincare or why did we just feel like wearing bright red lipstick. That message goes beyond beauty as well with our personal choices and passions. When we want to shine and shimmer, we do. We don't wish it but make it happen. Yes? yes. The case's color and how it sparkles reminds me so much of a sleek luxury car, doesn't it?

This line of lipsticks have various shades from nude to pink up to brights and dark ones. They also have you covered with the classic red. Unlike gloopy glosses from the 2000s, this one wasn't sticky. It actually felt like your moisturizing lipstick formulas with a cream finish. The shiny particles were a lot finer instead of chunks of glitter. On camera, chunks were less obvious and the swatches and color on lips actually looked just shiny and sometimes a bit sheer.

from L-R: Interstellar Love, Nude Eclipse, Celestial Crush, Aura On, Energy Flash, Blast Off, Reflective Scandal
My most favorite happens to be Nude Eclipse, which was a very basic shade that's flattering for any shade. It's like the nude lipstick that you don't need smoky eyes for and you could wear it with just brows and mascara. I also like that it doesn't travel much around the face so I end up with speckles and sparkles with glitter all over. 

wearing Celestial Crush for a TV Interview
(Coincidentally matching with my Lululemon top)
The runner up would be Celestial Crush, which is a cool pink shade which is also good on its own and some people, it could be the perfect MLBB shade (my lips but better). I wore it to my TV interview with ANC and since I was yoga teacher mode, I didn't put much makeup, just enough to make me look presentable as I was being filmed. It lasted through sips of water in between yoga cues. I didn't even need to retouch a lot when my turn came for the interview.

Buildable coverage:
Reflective Scandal: 1 coat (L) and 3 coats (R)
Nude Eclipse: 1 coat (L) and 3 coats (R)

The bold shades also do not disappoint, especially Reflective Scandal (a bright sparkly ruby red). As you can see in photos, it looks super shiny almost like a very pigmented gloss.

For a professional point-of-view, the sparkliness of the Mark. Prism Lipsticks work well at dance performances like recitals or dance gigs where the sparklier the better is key. They also work well for beauty pageants or special events. I would avoid this for bridal looks during the pre-ceremony, ceremony and close-up pictorials as for bridals, we still stick to neutral, safe, and classic palettes since we want the look to transcend time.

wearing a bright plum Blast Off with raspberry smoky eyes
because why not? 
For the reception or party look, however, she can change her look with sparkle, shimmer, and shine as she could now relax and party. Although this feels cushy on the lips, I would avoid using this on more mature clients as the shimmer particles may tend to settle on the lines and enhance them even more. For a mature client, I would use this with a satin or matte lipstick for a more youthful lip with the color not settling or feathering because of fine lines.

Since the lipstick has buildable coverage, this could be also be worn on top of a lipstick of the same shade as a gloss to create dimension. With the right lighting, this would create an amazing effect on editorials. It would also put good use of the matte lipsticks we hoarded by matching them up with sparkly lipsticks to create a shiny, shimmery, non-tacky lip of the day.

I personally like it because it is not as drying on the lips. The sparkly case also looks pretty for makeup flatlays when you do your posts or on your vanity kit. I like also the diversity of this collection with its 10 shades for us to choose from. I may try to mix up a nude shade with one of the bold shades too (try it! let me know which are good combos). Since they're a pretty good steal at Php 299 at avonshop.ph or if you have a friend or know someone who's an Avon rep, you could buy from them as well.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Five Ways to Happy and Ageless Tita-hood

Last week, I turned 37 years old, officially joining the late 30's group in life.  Frankly, I don't dread my birthdays, whether I turn 20 or 25 or 30 and probably when I turn 60 or even 80, I wouldn't. For one thing, it's that one day in the whole year that's for me. It's my day. Also, rather than counting all the malas from the past year and all my life and the what-ifs and what-not's, I chose to focus on the good things that happened. I guess it's the same as when some Catholics attend mass during their birthdays.  Even at the worst of careers or when I was still that lost girl who didn't know what to do, I always look forward to my birthday. Probably the reason why I hide during my birthday is that I have no money to treat people out. Hahahaha.

My YogaHive tribe surprised me with a birthday song and cake
When the year started, I drew oracle cards for myself and the oracle cards showed me to keep my life in balance. I did the same thing when I woke up after my morning meditation. My oracle cards  (I use my dragon oracle cards, a deck I was drawn to) showed me three predominantly yellow and orange dragons with messages to level up my creativity, knowledge, masculine power, and ambition. It's like literally lighting my butt up and these three babies Dracarys-ing me to awesomeness. It was also super timely because not only did I purchase a goldstone bracelet as a gift to myself, Jinky read two of my consecutive new moon cycles and for the last cycle, focus on my image and this next cycle told me to focus on my career (or in my case, careers). If I were a Khaleesi, it would add more braids to my hairstyles. It's like self-care but bombastic. If it's what keeps me looking younger and feeling younger, then so be it. If it's positive vibes, I welcome it.

So as I get older, I've also learned to care for myself more. I've seen how counterproductive it is to neglect your own self for the benefit of others. It may look like you are making "sacrifices for love" but you are actually being counterproductive and doing the others disservice because you are running on low batteries yet expected to perform at full battery level. I've also learned to not take any more BS and judgement and just live my life and be happy. And you know what? When you're happy and you're healthy, you're more efficient and I can serve others better because there's so much more to give. I've also want to share a few life lessons I've learned over the years.

Do something you love

Learning to make my own candles from Craft MNL
Do something you love apart from work or socials. In my case, it's crafting. Why do I take all these crafting workshops? Because it makes me happy. Crafting for me is like meditation, except you get to make something usable. Doing something you love doesn't just necessarily mean something that earns money. You can take up a new hobby or a new sport or attend talks and symposiums. You can even vary your training by complimenting your usual physical activity by trying something new.  Look for classes or workshops or just explore Pinterest, or subscribe to Skillshare for a neverending knowledge resource.

Stay away from toxic people.

The world deals with so much toxicity already.
We don't need any more toxic people in our lives.
I swear I can't stress this enough. If someone is pulling you down, let them go. If an IG account makes you feel bad about yourself or annoys you, there's the unfollow or hide button. Our planet deals with already so much toxic waste. Don't surround yourself with more toxicity,

Surround yourself with those who inspire you.

In contrast with the item above, surround youself with those that bring happy, positive vibes. Out with the bad, in with the good, yes?  I find myself lucky to be in an environment that's very encouraging and be surrounded by a group of people who encourage me to be comfortable in my own authentic self.

My co-teachers Quino, Kit, and my twinnie Oliver who were also my teachers before
My students and co-teachers enjoying an Italian lunch

Bolster and blanket fight chic like 90s models
How we roll in our clingy YFL group photos
Or maybe I am naturally attracted to those types of people? For me, my students inspire me to be a better yoga teacher. Some of them have grown so much in their practice, some of them becoming yoga teachers themselves. The pole world is a world that keeps me super inspired and even if I have yet to attend a formal class again.  I train at home to keep the love (and the pole burns) alive.

Stop comparing yourself.

take a cue from my dollies and mind your own yoga
When I was younger, I felt so pressured whenever I would see my former classmate travelling or being featured in the newspaper. Whenever I would see a former classmate in her crisp business suit or doctor's coat, I would hide when I was still a struggling artist in my ratty shoot clothes. But then again, when I think about it, life isn't solely a competition with others. Besides, am I living my life for that person I'm comparing myself to or for me? I would rememeber how Kit would reiterate during his yin classes to stop looking around or comparing yourself to your classmate whose hanuman is deeper or surya transitions are smoother. When a teacher would say mind your own mat space, I applied it outside the mat. And you know what? I felt so much better and I have no resentment for that person's success. Rather than say that I failed life because all my former classmates are doctors travelling to this and that country and have kids and all, I would focus that I am a healthy person with no major illnesses, my students love me, I have a client base who are loyal to my services and I am a good furmom to my cats who are healthy (and a bit overweight) and happy and I am giving back to society by helping animals in need and reducing single-use waste. After all, success isn't solely measured by properties or fat bank accounts.

Get more nutrients in your system.

Healthier food choices (pho over burgers) and Propan Fit to keep my nutrients in check
I've noticed how my energy is better when I'm meal prepping despite hopping from one engagement to the other. I've incorporated easier ways to meal plan. If I'm stuck in a recipe rut, I log on to Pinterest or YouTube for new recipes to try. I also up the nutrient intake with supplements, especially when I don't get to cook. Supplements don't have to come from super expensive  and hard-to-find stores. We can find affordable multivitamins in our favorite Watsons store to fit our dietary needs.

Dedicate a few extra minutes to look good before you go out.

Working on 6 heads during a wedding yet making an effort to look good when in wedding guest mode.
A tip I learned from a fellow late 30's person - before you go out, fix yourself because you will never know who you would run into - your boss, your former classmate, your ex, your frenemy, that IG celeb you look up to, Channing Tatum, Kit Harrington, etc. Now I don't mean to go all out like you look like you're gonna have a photoshoot when you're just gonna go across the street for some coffee, but just have a good basic formula makeup when going out and a red lipstick and hair tie in your purse. Sometimes, these little look upgrades make you feel better too about yourself.

switching to Dentiste toothpaste 
You also might want to reassess your products and upgrade them to suit your needs since as you get older, we might  need to up our skin and hair care. My dentist recently told me to switch my toothpaste to something better for my teeth and gums. I'm now currently using Dentiste toothpaste  (available at Watsons).

Have some time off.

companions when I meditate:
singing bowl
The Crafty Cat PH soy candle
crystal for the day
Freshko lavender temple and neck roll-on (available at Watsons)  to calm the senses
Despite the fact that I'm super on-the-go, I've come to terms that I'm an extremely introverted person. I need my solo time in order to recharge. I love being at home.  My time-off is usually spent at home with my cats taking a break from workouts and doing my non-monetary crafting projects. I don't even turn on the television.  I also do this when I have high-energy projects like talks, fashion shows, or attend events. I need these little silent moments to keep sane. It's like a yin yoga from life. You can also travel, attend retreats, spend a few moments in prayer or worship, or even disable your social media account for a period of time.

I realize that there's only so much I can do and what my bank account can manage to stop the course of time from happening. Later on, blondie will be gray and I may have to change up the wardrobe to fit a more tita-fied body type. However, that doesn't mean that I should be a shadow of my former self. I could still have that same spirit still, a bit titafied and dealing with less B.S. and more self-care. I wasn't able to treat people during this year's birthday, I hope this could be my birthday treat to you guys because we can be in our 40s or 60s and even 80s and not be lelang or loshang. We may be those titas drinking sangrias dressed in Uniqlo and wearing more feet-friendly footwear instead of the heels we wore in our 20s but we could still be ageless and have that energy and vibrancy our youth has. Also, if we all could have that outlook where we uplift each other or inspire each other and not let unecessary B.S. affect how we live our lives, can we imagine how much healthier, and happier our lives are? Let's make this lifetime count and live it happily and healthily. I hope that today I inspired each and everyone of you. Take care of yourself and love yourself. Your loved ones will thank you for it.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

How I Got My Cat Fix In Japan

(This is part 3 of my series of my #kawaiitothekitties post from our October Japan trip)

I'm a cat lady through and through and I can't deny it. So as you can see, part of the things I would want to see in Japan are - the CATS!!!! Japan is practically Asia's neko capital. There's even an island where there are more cats than people. Hmmm... this is an island I would want to be in! I love my babies back home but it's also nice to make new furry friends around the world.

A pleasant kitty surprise came on Day 2 of our stay when we chanced upon East Ikebukuro Central Park. It's located right next to Sunshine City, which is like a small mall somewhat like Podium or Rockwell. We discovered this after having coffee and taking photos at the terrace of Sunshine City. We saw there was a park next door and took a look. Then surprise surprise, it had a number of cute and fat kitties.

 It's literally a very chill park (chill too because it's autumn) and it's super quiet. I see students reviewing their lessons after school, older people getting some fresh air, and even those who are working taking a quick smoke break.

It was practically an outdoor cat cafe open 24/7 available to the public no need for entrance fee. There are cats walking around the park and scrambling on the bushes. They are also very friendly. Some allowed me to pat their heads and stroke their backs. There are some lap cats who were cuddling with some humans all wrapped and bundled in their coats and shawls. I saw also several people play with them and some locals were feeding the cats and giving them treats. They had collars and from how they behaved, they seem to be used to people and are treated very well.

When I did my research about the place, reviews and travel blogs mentioned the cats a lot.  The Japanese clearly love their nekos and even if these cats were strays, they were well taken care of and loved. Kinda wish it was the same here too.

Also, one thing I noticed, the cats there are fat to the point that Candy looked so normal-sized compared to them. It looks like they have been spayed and neutered too because I don't see kittens loitering around anywhere.

Just a few steps away was Nekorobi cat cafe located at Toshima, Tokyo. They have really friendly cats and yes, they are also open on weekdays. Before spending time at the cat cafe, we were given instructions to leave our shoes at the door, our belongings at the locker (with keys), and also wash and sanitize our hands before we play with the cats.  We originally settled for a short time stay of 30 minutes to play with the cats for 800 Yen but we had so much fun and they were so cute we decided to extend our stay. Even if the cats were in their sleepytime mode, they still allowed us to pet them and play with them.

Peko being a cat giving me ultimate judgement
 You also know what's funny? The cats in Japan do not respond to our usual "swswswswswswsws". Believe me, I've tried. But they are so funny they are so used to gigil play and some of the cats liked being patted near their tails. They would even arch their backs.

Kurosuke: Loooove meeee foreign cat lady
Among the cats at Nekorobi, I bonded most with Kurosuke (I also found the name cute). He's this super cute gray Minuet cat that looked like a giant dust bunny when lying down. I even named one of my cat plushies Kurosuke.

Fukomori was also an adorable bebi. He was all cheeks!!!!

Sofi is also this gorgeous and regal cat that sat down like a princess.

I was contemplating on going there on our last day but I decided against it because it would be like saying byebye to the cute Nekorobi kitties and I would definitely cry. I followed them in Instagram to keep updated with my new kitty friends.

Also, I love how the staff of Nekorobi cat cafe was super helpful in answering questions and even understood when I asked them if we could extend our time at the cafe. They were even playing with the cats as well and helping out the other customers. I guess they were just shy with us, being foreigners and me all cooing with my cat lady self.

As an added bonus for my cat lady fix, we bought our babies pasalubongs such as toys from Don Quixote and cat treats, which they absolutely loved. The first-ever pasalubong we bought our babies though? I'm not sure if they loved it but I love taking photos of them wearing these.

I don't think the models of the product liked their jobs too.

Sebastian, inasmuch as he loves me so much was not amused at this. They loved the treats and toys though.

Being a cat person, omigod Japan was such heaven for me. So much cat-themed anything and cats all over. One thing I also like with this place is the marriage of greenery and city. I'm not too much of a green all nature fan because you know me I'm such a city person but I actually found their parks kind of refreshing as in it's super quiet with everyone doing their own thing. I took lots of photos and IG photos, yoga photos and doll photos. People were having picnics, kids were playing, and there's this group doing acro yoga stuff and it's all good.

I really was missing my babies during their stay cation but these cat fixes got me my fair share of cat fur on my clothes. When I come back, I will probably know the Japanese version of "swswswswsws."

Nekorobi Cat Cafe is located at 〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 1 Chome−28−28番1号 タクトT・Oビル 301号室 
check out their site at http://www.nekorobi.jp/english/

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Underwear That #FeelsLikeFreedom

Inasmuch as we plan our outfits for the day or for a period of travel, apart from the outerwear we use, we should always take into consideration what we wear underneath. I found myself leaning towards black and skintone underwear when I got older. This was because those are the staples in a professional model's bag and wardrobe. During pole recitals, there would even be an underwear check - to make sure that there are no frilly ruffles or stars or cartoon character printed underwear peeking through pole shorts. Besides, no matter how gorgeous that dress is if you're wearing bad or ill-fitting underwear, it just loses the sense of it all.

Visible panty lines, bunching straps, and uncomfortable pinchy wires could definitely make or break you. That is why good underwear matters, even if it's not shown.  When you are uncomfortable picking wedgies or fixing straps, it really shows. It's really important to find a pair that's comfortable and most of all affordable. Unfortunately, good underwear that's affordable is quite hard to find, sometimes costing more than the actual dress worn. In these frugal times, sometimes it takes a while to buy that bra which costs thousands when it costs more than your outfit.

I was glad though when I received a pack from Avon's latest collection: Body Illusions underwear which is powered by Invisilite technology and boasts underwear that's lite, seamless, and limitless that anyone of any age would wear it - the teener that's starting to wear bras to the corporate mogul who needs to look presentable and proper for meetings, the pole dancer and fashion model who has always to be wardrobe malfunction-free all the time during performances and shows, and the regular woman who wants to look good and feel good with what she wears underneath her OOTD.

Charlene Bra in Tuscany (nude)

The Body Illusions underwear collection comes in two styles: The wired Charlene Underwire Seamless bra and Panty available in Tuscany (a more nude skintone color). I got the Charlene bra and even though it had wires, the wires were not pinching.

laser-cut edges for no marks even in the tightest catsuit you would like to wear
The fabric glides on like butter with no straps digging to my shoulder or showing through clothes. It literally felt like second skin. The foam cups did not feel or look fake at all. Even though this was a wired bra, it felt comfortable with no pinching or digging wires - and this is coming from someone who is a sports bra kind of girl.

Sonia Bra in Pink Blush

The Sonia bra (available in pink blush) is for those who do not like wires and have that sports bra-like vibe because you wear it by pulling it on like a t-shirt instead of hooking it at the back. It still has the same buttery, silky second skin kind of feel.  You can even use a set for the perfect bridal boudoir photo (throw in a robe for good measure).

Bridal boudoir feels with Avon Fashions Body Ilusion underwear after Jinky's bridal makeup masterclass.
makeup by Jinky Ureta

I'm very tricky and picky with panties as I have chunky thighs and buns (thanks to squats and plies and teacher Paulo reminding me never to skip leg day). The thing I didn't like with no VPL panties is that they are so thin that I feel they would rip apart under my yoga pants during splits. This, however, was made of sturdy material that still glides on the skin super smoothly. It literally feels like nothing and looks like nothing - even at the tightest of tight leggings and yoga pants. I didn't even feel like my panty was riding down that I have to keep on pulling them up. It stayed put where it is supposed to be.

Go and wear tight yoga pants with no lines. 
For those who wear dresses that are tight at the hip and bum area, this is your best bet. If you are an everyday leg day kind of person like I am, you would be happy to know that this is a panty that will not leave you picking on wedgies. So go ahead and show off  your gams and buns without unsightly VPLs getting in the way. This is also workout-friendly as I've tested this during flexibility training - did not bunch, rip, or tear at all. Also, no unsightly peek-a-boo moment in my tiny pole shorts/yoga shorts. So to my pole buddies, this is pole-friendly and Stellar recital approved.

So how does this fare with your budget? Not bad at Php 899 for the bra and Php 299 for the panty. They have a variety of sizes from S-XL. The bras also come in bigger sizes  (36C, 38B, and 40B). I definitely would want to get the Sonia Non-Wire soon after hearing good reviews about it.

Care is also easy because these babies work best as handwashed with gentle detergent, so yay for those who travel. Just be sure to store your Sonia or Charlene bra in those bra cases you buy at the mall for the bra to keep its shape in your luggage or wardrobe.

If you Konmari-d your closet and you are looking to overhaul your underwear drawer with the more versatile basics, this is your best bet for comfort, durability, and versatility. It doesn't cost much as other high-quality underwear so you could get more than one or not feel bad about wearing underwear that costs way more than your dress. I swear my favorite happens to be the panty which feels nice on the skin and totally did not budge with my workout.

If you would like your own set, Avon Fashions Body Illusion is available at avonshop.ph or at Zalora.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Bambikitty X Soapmaking

Hey all! So much things have been going on and whaddya know that the first two months of the year are over and we are here in March. So much has been going on with life lately that I haven't really sat down and wrote entries. I started the year pretty nicely and I really hope it means that it would carry on for the rest of the year. I'm currently in the process to adjusting to new schedules as I started teaching actively again in Yoga For Life after my self-induced -ber month break as -ber months suck the life out of me and I also added a new class in a new shala to my roster of classes. Like a friend told me, I hardly had time for myself, and sometimes, sitting down for a few minutes in front of the PC and really writing things down helps me slow things a bit and get me to reflect (and perfect, it's Mercury Retrograde. Time to reflect).

Speaking of Retrograde, how has Mercury Retrograde affected you? I've noticed that lately they've been really unkind to me. Before it was quite manageable, but last year and this year, it's been quite horrible. I don't know if I started being more sensitive to these things or what. This one is crazy. There was a day Facebook and IG would act up, then phone connections acted up, then confusion, omigod. Just a few minutes ago, I had a panic regarding my tax deadlines and then when I clarified it, I was mistaken. Whew! I got scared for like 10 minutes at 3 am.  And really, from the word "retrograde" I should really just re-tract, re-flect, and re-connect. Funny thing though, when I checked my zodiac, that's what it said. I'm not really an astrology expert nor do I follow horoscopes to the letter but somehow, when my gut feel tells me so and from past experience when making rampa just messes up life during this time, I'd rather not. Take it slow. 

As my crafting is literally a form of moving meditation, that's what I've been doing for this whole period. I'm starting to re-connect back to fitness as well and trying to get into regular workouts as life has gotten me being lazy 80% of the time. I try to vary my workouts so my body doesn't plateau. My crafting is also a way of re-connecting because I was doing that even before blogging or makeup started. It just took a back seat because of life happenings like work or busyness (sometimes drama) but thankfully, crafting has found a reinassance in today's very hipster era of Pinterest and DIY. Anyway, that's what I've been doing lately so if you follow my IG you see me doing crochet work (I DIY-ed my hats, gloves, and scarves during the Japan trip), doll crafts, the toys I make for the baby kitties, etc. Just recently, I got into soapmaking. Yes. I now make my own soap.

So how did I get started into it? I started because I saw how sometimes my skin would get red and patchy from certain brands of commercial soap. At first, I thought it was okay but then I was like, "Hey, this never happened before!" Even if I would switch brands, I would often find a bit of rough and red patches on my skin. When a friend of mine who got into soapmaking  started selling her soaps, I bought because 1) I wanted to support her businesses and of course, as a small business owner myself,  I would do so. 2) #lovelocal 3) I thought it might save my skin and believe me, it really did. It had that pole-friendly feel (unslippy skin is a pole must) yet it didn't leave my skin itchy and raw. When I switched over to handmade and more natural processed soaps, my skin has been better. Since I use those soaps most of the time anyway and seeing how fun and fulfilling it must be, I thought, why not start to make my own too? Besides, it jives with the yoga lifestyle as well.

After asking around for soapmaking workshops, I found one at the recommendation of my friend at Satinka Naturals in Kamagong, Makati. This location was perfect because it's super near and the price is affordable.  The shop had a very quaint hipster apothecary vibe that serves really good food and coffee. The workshop was taught by the owner of the shop herself.

handmade soap by Satinka Naturals

Soap is basically a combination of butters and oils (basically fat) combined with a lye  (sodium hydroxide) solution. You let their molecules come together to have a party until you have this cake batter-like substance that hardens in time. The fragrance, extracts, and additives are just icing on the cake (and sometimes handmade soap does look like cake).  Sounds simple right?  It's a lot more than that apparently. Soapmaking I found out is both an art and science. It is an art because you make an artwork with your soap and a science because it involves chemical reactions (it's basically a very pretty smelling chem experiment) and a lot of  Math. I mean if you look at my soaping notebook right now, it's got more numbers than words. During soapmaking, three things are totally ingrained in my head: to never, ever use aluminum in soaping (aluminum reacts with lye to produce a very toxic and flammable hydrogen gas), be careful (but not scared) of lye, and lastly, to have separate gear for soaping and cooking. So yea, I literally had to buy a kitchen extension after, lol. 

We also learned how to formulate our own recipes such as a combination of oils, the proper ratio to get the kind of soap we want, and what ingredients are good for certain conditions. I also learned to use the term "natural" soap instead of "organic" soap. Organic apparently refers to the product or the actual ingredient. So if you say "organic", you picked the produce from the tree or harvested it and didn't use pesticides or hormones. But since we already processed those fruits or vegetables and used oils, extracts, and stuff, the term we should use is "natural". To say "organic" shampoo means to pick the shampoo bottle from a tree and use it. I think a proper term is natural process soap/shampoo using organic products (in case they used organic coffee/ milks, etc).

cooking hot process soap
We learned three ways of making soap - cold process, which doesn't use heat and which produces the swirls and cute designs we see in handmade soaps. It's nice because it requires less tools and produces the swirly things but curing time takes a month and a half. There's hot process which we cook the soap through the saponification process and "gel" phase and make the lye solution evaporate quicker so the soap is ready for use sooner. Lastly, there's glycerin soap, which is a gentle soap for babies and face and we also learned how to make this from scratch. Glycerin soap is also the base for melt-and-pour soaps sold in craft shops. 

At first, I was a cold process loyalist because I wasn't fond of heat  in a tropical country. But after delving into hot process, I'm a convert of hot process now (my teacher Satinka prefers this too and now I know why). Turnover is faster and it's more efficient.  Plus what I love about HP (hot process) is that cleaning is much better and less wasteful. The slow cooker I used to cook my soap batter in practically became self-cleaning because the batter residue has already become sudsy soap and not a mixture of oils and lye. I didn't need to use a lot of detergent and water to clean out oil residue or mop out soap batter with a lot of paper towels. The only sad thing I have about it is that I can't get as artsy with my soap designs. But honestly, I like the rustic and more handmade look of hot process soap.

The disadvantage I have though with handmade soap is that it's meltier than the commercial soap we buy in the grocery. I've noticed that even with those handmade soaps that I buy. The reason for this is that handmade soap does not contain hardeners and extenders. As a bar of soap from the grocery would sometimes last me weeks or even months (I know, right?), handmade soap lasts for a week or maybe just even a few days. However, at least I know what's in my soap and that there are no extenders or added chemicals that can cause more irritation on the body. 

It, however, does take a lot of planning and formulation. We were taught how to formulate our own recipes and not rely on being super dependent on recipes online. If you want to make a soap on Christmas that looks like cake or muffins, you start as early as June with the execution because that would be a cold process soapmaking procedure. For cold process soaps, you can't use them right away since you have to wait for the lye to completely evaporate from the soap. There are some soapmaking processes that take 2 days to make if you plan to infuse oils or do layers like soap within a soap kind of thing. And just in case the first attempt doesn't come out right, you have proper lead time to get t right until Christmas comes.

Boldy-Boldy - the first cold process soap I made
I called this Boldy-Boldy because it's fragrance and colorant free
I remember my first ever soap I made on my own, I stick-blended so much that my batter got so thick it looked more like mashed potatoes than cake batter and I had to glop it in the mold like oatmeal instead of pouring it in. I've had soaps that stuck to expectations and soaps that didn't turn out as expected. As some of my soapmaking friends stuck to cold process and found how it worked for them, I found more success in my hot process attempts for usable and pretty soap.

all soaps that I made

Part of retaining the craft I learned is to practice it more often. Just like dance, you need the muscle memory so you don't forget it. Plus also, I make more bars for selling. The selling part came unexpectedly when I started posting my soaps and I've gotten inquiries. So funny though, I never thought of selling my food but soaps I am good. Another funny thing is that I never owned a slow cooker ever. I just started using one when I made soap. 

It certainly is an art and science and pretty much you'll see more posts of my creations. I'm putting up as of the moment an online shop of all my crafts (that's why I've been making a lot of stuff lately!). Selling it wasn't really expected but when I got inquiries about my handmade soaps after posting them online, I thought of giving it a try. After all, we do need clean at one point.  Once it's fully up, I will announce details here soon.