#MACBackstagePH: #65thMissUniverse

It’s pageant season! The #65thMissUniverse began last January 12, 2017 and will culminate with a live telecast on January 30, 2017 at the Mall of Asia Arena Philippines. I can feel the hype from everyone in my LGBT and non-LGBT community friends!

What’s really good about holding this locally is that aside from promoting our cultural works and workers – like Mindanao fabrics, our every own fashion designers, photographers, etc – our team of top-notch local color artists will be providing makeup for the contestants throughout the pageant!  A special team of makeup artists by MAC will also be available for the Miss Universe Organization, current title holder Pia Wurtzbach, VIPs, judges, and hosts. I think that makeup artists do major work back stage and let’s see the looks they’ve curated for this event!

The official team of makeup artists for the contestants includes Al De Leon, Anacleta Paredes, Angel Manhilot, Apple Fara-on, Byron Velasquez, Don De Jesus, Emer Buenaventura, Emman Concepcion, Gela Laurel, Gery Penaso, Jaycee Matias, Kusie Ho, Leah Casio,  Mikee Raymundo, Omar Ermita, Pong Niu, Raf Bardon, RB Chanco, Ria Aquino, and Ryan Wong.

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with the VERY talented Raf Manosca when he discussed to me the makeup that will be used on the girls

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The Miss Universe MAC makeup kit

Rounding up the special events team are Renen Bautista, Pia Reyes, Bea Colet, Alex Lisbona, Jorence Delimos, Cielo Desamperado, Erin Cabrera, Mhike Gonzales, and Jaja Pangilinan.

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MAC Miss Universe color artist team

As the Official Makeup Sponsor, M·A·C Cosmetics was present during their official registration and fittings. Once the candidates arrived, they went through interviews, fittings and final registration to officially be signed as a candidate for the pageant. (see below backstage photos from MAC)

M·A·C Cosmetics helped the girls get all glammed up for their official photoshoots and they met with all 86 candidates to give them the perfect MISS UNIVERSE KIT compliments their skin tone.

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I can say that glowing nudes and neutrals will be the thing, but cool to see statement colors as well!

 

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Raf Manosca placing contrast through a complimentary warm blue eyeliner on Miss Curacao

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Mikey Raymundo on Miss Guam

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Jayce Matias doing a subtle sexy smokey eye look on Miss Peru

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Ms Pong Niu!!

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My favorite makeup looks from what all the BTS pictures I saw.

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Leah Casio’s work on Miss Bahamas

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Miss Switzerland and Miss Australia!

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Can you guess what MAC lipstick Miss Brazil is wearing? Definitely perfect for her beauty!

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Super excited! Who are your bets for this year’s #MissUniverse? =)

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TRANScending: Film Review of “Die Beautiful”

TRANS (“beyond”, “changing thoroughly”). But here in this country, it is a word so often associated with dishonesty, mistaken identity, and lots of stereotypes.

In the past 3 years, there were several developments in the LGBT community that raised the level of understanding about who transgender women really are beyond stigma and cliche’s of being “bakla”. We saw car enthusiast Angelina King reveal to her male-dominated followers her truth about being a transwoman with a non-traditional sexual orientation. We cheered for Geraldine Roman as the first transwoman in Congress, and Trixie Maristela and Kevin Balot as they won the crown  in the most prestigious trans beauty pageant in the world, Miss International Queen, where judging is based on criteria set specifically for transgender beauty queens, beyond comedy or impersonations. There’s so much stories also about transgenders (men and women alike) and their lives, being featured in shows like Maalaala Mo Kaya, Pinoy Big Brother, etc.

Identity & Beyond

But the LGBT community here is still far from full acceptance and tolerance with rights and all, despite these stories in media. Several trans hate crimes were reported in the past months, with the continuing issues of discrimination at work and other public spaces. Of course, we cannot forget Jennifer Laude, a transpinay, killed by an American marine officer due to a “mistaken identity”.

The Metro Manila Film Festival 2016 features Die Beautiful, a film that’s said to be inspired by the struggles of trans women in the Philippines. According to director Jun Robles Lana, the story is inspired by Laude at the beginning: “Remember the murder of Jennifer Laude? That’s how this project started. When Jennifer Laude was murdered, what was really shocking na aside from the fact up to now di pa talaga nakukuha yung hustisya na buo para sa kanya, ay yung reaction ng mga tao nung nangyari iyon. Parang they were saying she deserved to die, buti na lang na pinatay iyan kasi transgender, kasi monster, yung mga ganun eh. Shocking na bakit ganito? “Yes, I agree na marami ng pelikula sa atin na tungkol sa gay experience. Pero yung transgender, yung context life, struggles ng transgender [people], I don’t think ganun karami. And iyon yung particular topic subject matter na I wanted to explore.” (Source: Rappler)

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Trisha and Barbs supporting a guy in a  basketball game. Source: Regal Entertainment Inc, Youtube trailer.

There are already lots of films, mostly comedy, that tackled gays and drag queens like Markova: The Comfort Gay, Ang Tatay Kong Nanay, etc. But did Die Beautiful really illustrate the life, identity and struggles of the Filipina transwoman today? Did it really transcend the stereotypes of a gender identity causing so much pain, inhumanity and even hate crimes in the trans community?

Transgender, Not Gay

Tricia Echevarria (Paolo Ballesteros), the protagonist, is clearly a transgender woman in the film. She is not “bakla” in a Pinoy sense despite all the cliche gay struggles the film illustrated while she was at her early age – cross-dressing and role-playing, wanting to be a beauty queen early on, being assaulted by a conservative father. While most of these are shared experiences in the LGBT community, the moment or jump towards Tricia’s life as a mother in the beginning, wherein she told her best friend (Barbs) and daughter (Shirley Mae) that she wants to be a mother, and that she is a mother regardless of her assigned sex at birth, it was clear that she identifies herself as a woman, with her gender roles established, regardless of all the gay cliches that come with it. She was aware of that.

Tricia explaining herself to her daughter. Source: Regal Entertainment Inc, Youtube trailer.

Of Transitions & Transformations

The story-telling of Tricia’s different aspects of life as a transgender women was organised in non-chronological way. The transitions were as swift as her makeup transformations in the funeral: starting as a cross-dressing boy then the film shows her as a mother. She comes out then she becomes a beauty queen.

Makeup obviously served as a tool for a pre-op transwoman’s self-expression but it was more of a handy element in her career as an aspiring beauty queen. One can say that it’s also as if the movie itself is in “drag” because beneath the show, glitters and thick makeup, lies the different struggles, sadness and frustrations of being a transwoman.

But did the film really show these beyond glitter and glamour?

 

Transgender or Drag Queen (Transvestite)?

In the movie, Tricia is played by Paolo Ballesteros, a famous online makeup sensation and celebrity impersonator/drag queen. Truly, there was so much honesty, sophistication and sincerity despite the hit jokes, on-point looks and punchlines when it comes to characterising Tricia as a transgender beauty queen. It was also his transformative makeup skills that gave so much marketing and cinematic appeal to the film, but one can’t also deny the dangers that come in hand as Tricia in the film was not just imitating identities through makeup, she was trying to assert one.

While transgenders/transvestives fall under the same umbrella in Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE), which helps explain gender and where a person is in that spectrum , there was no direct mention of the word “transgender” in the movie or a clear dialogue about it.

Sa ating kasi pag bakla, bakla para isang umbrella. So hindi naintindihan yung concept na gender identity, yung sexual orientation. Of course hindi naman lecture yung buong pelikula para malaman yung gender identity, sexual orientation but we made sure na maayos na tinalakay namin yung pinagdadaanan nung character niya [Paolo] si Tricia para maintindihan namin siya.” – Jun Robles Lana, director (source: Rappler)

The film may have differentiated transgenders versus “bakla” (effeminate male homosexual) in some ways like the former entering the female bathroom and identifying as woman, it failed in differentiating transgenders versus drag queens. For example, for most transgenders, breast augmentation or even transplants (Sex Reassignment Surgery) are not beauty surgeries. They match what’s inside a person’s feeling, which Tricia also believed when she told Barbs that she wouldn’t de-transition (remove her breasts and makeup) when she faces God if she dies because she believes she is a woman, but she also said something about it being a career upgrade in beauty pageants in the middle of the film.

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Trisha and Barbs off-stage, in the streets, dressed as women. Source: Regal Entertainment Inc, Youtube trailer.

 

The Beauty Queen / Beauconera

Even up to now, I still see some online reviews and Instagram posts referring to Tricia as gay. I think that the confusion also comes from the kind of transgender character that was presented in the film and the fact that culturally there is just one kind of beauty pageant here (notice how the name of the contests that Tricia participate in have the word “gay” in them even though sometimes she’s competing in all trans pageant where impersonations and talent portions aren’t already parts/segments – see the scene with Kevin Balot in the trailer). In the Philippines, majority of both transgender and drag queens rely on these (and some drag performances in bars) and the beauty / parlor industry in general, as main sources of income, because it is where creativity, fun, and “being yourself” are celebrated, valued, and not looked down upon. The only difference is that transgender women live their everyday lives as a woman and would want to die as one, and not just when the stage lights are on.  

But in the movie, the plot is driven by the Tricia’s ultimate goal: winning a beauty pageant. She already knows who she is and how and when she will be ready to leave the house and pursue her transition and dreams. The film started with initially, cross-dressing as a little boy, and ending it by earning the title as who she really is – by slaying a common pageant Q&A “If you were given the chance to live again, what would it be?” based on her experiences and self-assertion as a transwoman even until death. She then blacks out and dies while being announced winner leading to her burial where she’s transformed into 7 different female celebrity looks with the help of her friends, and sister, as she wished. 

Beneath these fleeting moments, stories of her personal struggles were introduced in the film such as asserting herself in the family even until death, being a mother to her daughter, fighting life as a rape victim, being a true sister, lover and friend. While these were not deeply developed in the film and that more focus was given to Tricia being a contesera, we can see how the film beautifully illustrated some of these seemingly familiar gay cliche’s into unique humane trans ones – asserting true love, being honest and sincere about life, fighting for identity even until the end (though I would still prefer to see Tricia as Tricia even on her death bed)

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Trisha as Beyonce at the last day of burial. Source: Regal Entertainment Inc, Youtube trailer.

Transcending Beauty & Gender?

When it comes to studying and understanding LGBT identities, one is trained to look at the labels – to identify who’s transgender, lesbian, gay, even up to being pansexual – but one is also encouraged to see beyond the LGBT (thus the Q+ sign after it). The film may have failed in defining who a transgender is and how she lives her life beyond the spectacle and makeup – which is crucial with today’s representation of the trans woman hopefully leading to non-violence, and respect even on one’s death bed.

But it was very close in a way that it beautifully challenged and changed some of the typical gay cliche’s about love, family, beauty pageants, and identity which leads to the understanding of trans as woman, a different type of woman, as a different kind of beauty, but just like everybody else: a human living life and all its difficulties.

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Art in Buku Buku Cafe

Along with the rise of the Manila indie culture, concept restaurants have been sprouting like mushrooms. These restaurants double up as coffee shops by day and dining hubs by night, offering a wide array of local and internationally inspired meals.

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Once such dining place that has been gaining attention down south is the upstart yet promising Buku-Buku Kafe, owned by mother-daughter-son creative trio Lyn Santiago who heads the operations, Jessica Santiago who handles digital marketing, and Nicholas Santiago who spearheads all marketing efforts. Buku-Buku is a Bahasa term for ‘many, many books’. The idea of putting up a concept café that offers a full dining experience came about when founder Jessica traveled to the US where she chanced upon small street coffee shops with very artsy vibes to them. She saw how the spaces allowed artists to do poetry reading and live sessions with bands. “Traveling made me want to bring my experiences home”, said Jessica Santiago, Digital Marketing Manager.

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More than just a dining spot, Buku-Buku Kafe serves as a ‘book reading space’ which bookworms will definitely enjoy. They also have komiks and zines, which the owners have been collecting for years – one thing that’s not usually common in most mainstream bookstores. Apart from that, they also sell prints, postcards, notebooks, and other unique finds.

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Love for comfort food is the one thing that the owners enjoy the most. Whenever they travel, food tasting is on their priority list. Across their travels, they’ve explored different dining gems in Malaysia and Europe, the founders decided to add a well-curated full dining menu to their café. If you’re a meat lover, indulge with their Beef Brisket Tapa – a full plated dish of slow-cooked beef served with garlic rice, fried egg, roasted tomatoes with added pickled onions and corn salsa. Another best seller in the house is their Romi Lamen which is a creative twist resulting in something that looks like ramen but tastes like upgraded lomi. This dish is something you wouldn’t want to miss. Served with pork broth, roasted pork, pork liver, soft-boiled egg, shitake nori, chicharron, and kimchi. Apart from their staple coffee drinks, they also serve cocktail drinks that are perfect for a chill night with friends and live music.

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Buku-Buku Kafe not only provides good food and comfort, it also serves as a space for young, independent artists to showcase their craft. The prints, zines, and trinkets in the café are curated by members of the team, who also participate in small press expos and comics conventions themselves.

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• Manic Pixie Depressive Gremlin – a self-published anthology of poems by author Pia Besmonte. There are only 700 copies in print. Pia’s verses, accompanied by hand-drawn illustrations by Raf Banzuela, discuss the trials and triumphs of the 21st century Filipina.

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The emergence of dining spots like Buku-Buku Kafe is a testament that the food and art scene down south is surely picking up.

 

Buku-Buku Kafe is located at the ground floor of Promenade Wing, The District in Imus Cavite. Check out Buku-Buku Kafe on Facebook (facebook.com/BukuBukuKafe) and on Instagram (@buku.bukukafe) for more information.

 

 

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#BenefitLovesMikki

Celebrating 5 years of beauty blogging with my loyal readers and Benefit Cosmetics. Taught some travel makeup (lots of highlighting!) and basic photography (or Instagraphy hehe). Thank you so much for the continuous support and here’s to more beauty and beyond stories in the coming years!

Videography: Don Dee

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My Beauty MNL Haul

I’ve been doing some online shopping lately (for makeup still, tho! haha) and I’ve been trying out some local sites as well. Let’s start with Beauty MNL, which i think you’ve heard already since they’re very aggressive on digital!

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First, I like how there are 300+ beauty brands in this site, with both global and local ones, with various price points, truly perfect for the Filipina makeup junkee. And despite the wide variety, they’re sorted well in the website.

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proud of this Beach Born brand which fellow bloggers Ana and Sarah made! It’s really becoming popular now (and that’s because it’s really good!) and happy to see it here in the site!

Second, I like that you can discover lots of items and brands, not just the popular ones that we can find in the department store. While I got NYX (my 2nd setting pray in my entire life haha) in my haul below, I am really happy with my purchase of the Pro Studio beauty blender which a lot of beauty bloggers are also raving about.

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PS. I actually have been using this Miracle Edge sponge (P368) for days since I opened this (FYI, I have low EQ hahah). I love how this is soft with minimal absorption of product, and the shape is just helpful for concealing. Blends and buffs like a pro too. I need to check out their other blenders!

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I also got this contour set called Ibiza from the brand

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One fav hair spray brand with a matte finish!

Third, delivery is just fast, and comes it lots of promos like free shipping and other freebies!

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Overall, I am impressed with this site! Can’t wait to check out their other new brands like Jeffree Star (tho always sold out!), ColourPop, etc

Where have you been shopping lately? What are your favorites from this site?

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The Viva Glam Lippie

Last #WorldAidsDay, we learned that 1 Viva Glam lipstick can:

  • Purchase 254 condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV
  • Provides client and nutrition services for 13 people living with HIV/AIDS
  • Provide fresh fruit, vegetables, and grocery essentials to a mother and child affected by HIV for a full week.
  • Purchase 200 new syringes, which are given to injection drug users in exchange for used needles to prevent HIV transmission Purchase 151 safer injection kits (cooker, cotton, tourniquet)
  • Provide 32 Safer Sex Kits which include condoms, lubricant and instructions
  • Provide a clean, safe place to sleep for two nights for one resident living with HIV/AIDS
  • Provide 45 minutes of lifesaving HIV prevention skills to a group of 75 women and girls
  • Buy 10 individually tailored, nutritious meals for a person affected by HIV/AIDS
  • Purchase one rapid oral HIV test Provide crisis counseling to a person living with AIDS who is also struggling with drug addiction, mental illness and homelessness
  • Provide a new job interview shirt and tie for one resident at an HIV/AIDS housing organization Provide 30 minutes of training for 20 medical providers on integrating HIV prevention and reproductive health
  • Provide a move-in kit for a client moving into new housing, including cleaning materials, toilet paper, laundry soap, dishes for one person, lightbulbs, etc.
  • Buy 24 female condoms to prevent HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy Buy a pair of school shoes for a child orphaned by AIDS Test 14 pregnant mothers for HIV
  • Provide medicine for 5 newborn babies to prevent transmission of HIV from their mothers

Let’s continue to support this good lipstick especially this December (review here).  More photos of the launch below. #Everydayisworldaidsday

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#EverydayIsWorldAidsDay

“The M·A·C AIDS Fund is supported exclusively by a consumer based model that directs 100 percent of the purchase price (minus VAT where applicable) of VIVA GLAM Lipstick and Lipglass to the Fund. M·A·C Cosmetics underwrites all of the production costs of the VIVA GLAM line, donating the full sale price to the Fund, including would-be profits for retail partners.” (press release)

Since 1994, M·A·C Cosmetics has launched permanent lipstick variants, and limited edition ones featuring celebrities and artists who champion the cause: RuPaul, k.d. Lang, Lil‟ Kim, Sir Elton John, Mary J. Blige, Shirley Manson, Linda Evangelista, Boy George, Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliott, Pamela Anderson, Lisa Marie Presley, Debbie Harry, Eve, Dita Von Teese, Fergie, Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga, Ricky Martin, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and recently, Arianna Grande. I’ve been following these launches for years because they’re also just so pretty!

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With the model, truly, one can easily contribute to the fund, which helps people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. But what more if we add our sales and marketing support! Last week, actress Antoinette Taus led a store takeover that will encourage ladies to check out or buy Viva Glam lippies. She invited me to participate in this challenge, together with her friends, Tom Taus, Julienne and Joaquin who were all so nice and game for this. Up to now, I still can’t believe that I met Tony (Antoinette’s nickname) given that I’ve been watching her on TV growing up. She’s just one of the most authentic, inspiring and passionate person I’ve met this year and I’m very grateful that we’re collaborating next year for some a humanitarian project.

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It was such a great day and night with these people, and MAC Cosmetics (thanks also to Vani and Marco!). I swatched and did “sales talk”of Viva Glam which we all know will be given to the Aids Fund, and it’s something I don’t get to do everyday (well, we can still buy and recommend the permanent lippies forever!). So thank You, and MAC, for this experience!

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While at the store, I checked out some new highlighters (below) and eyeshadows (last) that are just blinding in beauty! OMG!!

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DJ Snake in Manila

I’ve always wanted to watch him perform ever since Middle, Talk, and Sober, and finally, he came back to Manila again. This producer (of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way) and DJ is so talented and creative!

 

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Wild Pinks

Tonight’s editorial is for my apparent love of pinks lately, not just because it’s very trendy this 2016. It just makes everything soft & blooming but I wanted to make a strong statement. So I got my peachy-pink wig matched with a black swimsuit, an intense smokey rose-gold eyes, and pink heart & attitude (also because, trans awareness month!) that now require even more fighting in the US and all over the world. Enjoy and keep wild calm, and wear pink!

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Key products used:

 

 

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Change your profile pic to show your support for Trans Rights!

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True Brown Lippies Hit List

When it comes to colors, I think I’ve been keeping and buying more neutrals and nudes this year, credits to the retro trend! In the process, I have made a list of lippies that aren’t like the usual “browns” that some brands claim their lipsticks to be. These are not reddish or too pinkish ones and they have attracted me most!

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Below, I have 3 liquid lippies (one I have shared here before), 1 lip crayon, and 1 creamy lippy. I’m quite excited about this because it’s my first Colour Pop purchase (I’m so late but I will share more of this below), my first time to try the BYS Velvet matte lippies which are selling like pancakes!!, and of course, a product of a collab between Liz Lanuzo of Project Vanity and homegrown brand Pink Sugar.

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By just looking at the tubes, the browns look “true”, meaning they’re like the wood or chocolate colors, and not mixed with reds, orange or pink. What interested me about these choices is that (same as true nudes), I can mix these with other colors of lipsticks to make them warmer. Imagine it as a base  note of a perfume =)

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On arm, all of the shades seemed truly warm and brown (just differing in yellow undertone, and intensity) except for Love at First Swipe by Pink Sugar which is a peachy cocoa, sorta pinkish, but still not too much for me. Aside from colors, let me discuss some qualities one by one:

  • ColourPop Liquid in Limbo (liquid matte lipstick) [PHP 400+] – I bought this from Tupped Boutique as they said that this is the exact dupe of Kylie’s True Brown K. Indeed, everytime I wear this I always get the question “What’s your lippie?”. It’s a very unique and just-right intensity of a warm brown shade. While I’m OK with all the qualities that a Colour Pop liquid matte has except for its average longevity, obvious crinkling and flaking, this one is a color worth wearing!
  • BYS Velvet Liquid in Teddy Bare (liquid matte lipstick) {PHP 300+]* – BYS sent me this lippie for me try it and it’s one pretty brown shade! It’s less dark, yellow and intense than Colour Pop which can be worn at day. The formula is very good on my lips! It stays incredibly long, but it coats the lips which is both good and bad because 1. it gives a protective layer than which crinkles through time, and 2. it doesn’t stain the lips so it’s just sits on top, with the intense pigments not getting through the skin, thus less dry. But I’m definitely good with that!
  • LA Splash Lip Couture in Spellbound (liquid matte lipstick) [PHP 600] – I got this last year which I just reviewed now. Minding the qualities of LA Splash (still the most pigmented but hardest to remove!!), this one is a pretty dark brown shade. Imagine the true color of wood? This one is quite reddish than Colour Pop and all the others.
  • Pink Sugar x Project Vanity in Love At First Swipe (matte lip crayon) [PHP 399] – I wasn’t able to attend this launch so I bought from Project Vanity at #Passionflybazaar last September and
  • Shiseido Perfect Rouge in BR 757 (creamy lipstick) [PHP 1000+]* – I would never imagine this color for the brand but it’s a lustrous lighter version of Teddy Bare, quite yellow but definitely wearable at day and in combination with others. Shiseido lippies are quite understated because these are truly pigmented, creamy and non-drying!

With flash below, check out intensity and undertones of the hit list.

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Below, I just wanna share the applicators of the liquid lippies featured here. I don’t like Colour Pop’s and LA SPlash actually. The rightmost kind of wand works for me and that’s from BYS (similar with Sleek)

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So do you like brown lippies like me? Share the ones you have by commenting below!

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