Seoul searching

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I miss Korea! These were taken several weeks ago during my shoot for my lifestyle/travel show Trending Now. It was quite cold that day, which is why I had to wear a thick cardigan over my turtleneck. I was ready to pair this outfit with black leather booties, but I opted for these ballet flats instead. We had a couple of locations to visit that day and then it was off to the airport, back to Manila. Really, my only option that day was comfort and I’m happy this outfit was as comfortable as it could get. My turtleneck and cardigan are both from Giordano, the skirt is from Suiteblanco, tights from H&M, flats from Cocorose, and the hat I bought from a stall in Myeong-dong.

Tricks of the Trade: How to make your hair grow faster

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I have a beauty question: how do I make my hair grow faster than the usual growth?—Raye

We’ve all experienced it: we decide on a whim to get a shorter, sleeker haircut. Then after a week of “feeling out” this new hairstyle, we realize we want our old hair back. We immediately regret trying out this short ’do and count the days until our hair grows back into its old length. For sure this will take a while (a couple of years for some), so in the meantime we desperately search for ways to speed up our hair growth.

Sadly, there is no fast or easy way to do it but to let it grow out. Hair has a growth cycle that almost never changes: in most cases, its only 0.5 to 1 centimeters per month. And yes, we’ve heard many claims that promise to add length to your mane, and while some may appear to work, others are simply myths. Let’s revisit some of the most popular “tried-and-tested” beauty advice:

Cutting your hair will make it grow back faster. This is definitely not true, but it makes sense if you think about it. Going for regular trims still has its advantages as it prevents dryness and split-ends. Remember, the tips of our hair are the oldest part of the hair shaft, so getting regular trims are necessary for hair to feel lighter and look healthier.

Getting scalp massages stimulate hair growth. There is some truth to this, as blood circulation indeed helps hair grow. But we can’t really expect substantial improvement; this can only help hair grow by 10 percent, which isn’t much. But I’m sure most of us are willing to take it. Getting regular hair spas will do the trick, or you may do it at home while you shampoo and condition your hair.

Taking hair vitamins will speed up hair’s growth. We’ve seen these hair vitamins in health food stores. A lot of its users seem to be happy with the results, but again, there is really no significant change in hair growth. What these vitamins actually do is to help increase hair strength, which also makes sense because the stronger your hair, the less prone it is to breakage, and it gets longer quicker. If you do decide to give this a try, look for vitamins that contain vitamin B and antioxidants. These really give hair the right dose it needs.

 

Set the Christmas mood with Spotify

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Christmas is just around the corner. And if you still can’t feel the spirit, maybe its time you listened to some Christmas songs! Personally, I love old-time, classic Christmas tunes–they never fail to brighten my day. I usually blast these in the car when I’m stuck in traffic, or at home when I want to start gift-wrapping (instant good mood). Of course, the best way to listen to Christmas songs is through SPOTIFY–they recently launched their Holiday Playlists for us to enjoy this season with amazing old and new music.

And my absolute favorite playlist (from the many amazing ones to choose from) is: Christmas Classics: Old & New!!! It has all my favorites Christmas songs and they’re all so happy!!! You can totally enjoy all these great Christmas songs too–all you need to do is get Spotify Premium, and browse ‘Happy Holidays Playlists’. It’s that easy. You can enjoy Spotify Premium for FREE via GoSURF (http://www.globe.com.ph/surf/plan/gosurf). To know more about registering to Spotify Premium, click HERE. Not on GoSURF? You can still upgrade to Spotify Premium by charging it to your Globe Prepaid Load or Globe Postpaid bill (for Android) and GCash AmEx (for iOS).

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Swarovski Timepieces

swarovskiHere it is: the perfect Christmas gift for the ladies in your life (or for yourself–quick, add this to your wish list). A watch is definitely a valuable and meaningful gift, at the same time, it is also functional and beautiful. It is something that can be worn all-year round, and for years to come, especially if its design is well-suited to its wearer. I couldn’t be more excited about these gorgeous watches from my favorite brand: Swarovski. They are elegant and sophisticated, and they resonate quiet luxury, which is what a watch should be.

For Swarovski’s line up for 2014, beauty is in full bloom with classic shapes and contemporary color-ways, commemorating the grandeur of history with the cutting-edge motion of today. Found in the wrists of the country’s most assiduous creative spirits, the up-to-the-minute Swarovski timepiece collection counts the ways to constant inspiration, the balance of personal passions and professional pursuits, and the continuous quest for development its ambassadors ever imbibe.

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Known for celebrating the female form with clothing tailored off the tasteful contrast of archetypal and forward-looking cuts, Vania Romoff has built a clothing empire that is draped on the modern woman and her multiple choices. “My taste dictates my work. I personally avoid anything that calls for attention. Subtlety to me is important and real luxury is in the details,” Romoff explains.

A stroke of genius for Vania Romoff, the Swarovski Piazza Mini is a study in design metaphor, where its diminutive frame encapsulates a larger than life existence. Its flawless crystal mesh strap—a binding of finely cut crystals set on leather strap —holds a delicate face crowned with the graceful swan and topped with a crisp cabochon, resulting in a look that is feminine and fragile, yet one with a great hold of existence.

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For Parsons-graduate and Paris-trained furniture and interior designer Jessica Kienle, form should not follow function; they both should be in the same plane. “I have always been attracted to simple and clean lines, and I always think of functionality and practicality first when designing. And this is also the case with my own fashion sense and style. Comfort is key,” says Kienle.

Equal parts sport and elegance, the Octea Classica is a practice in neatness and refinance, from its delicate rose-gold case down to its tasteful leather or stainless steel strap. The main focal point of the timepiece is a beautifully adorned pave circle face decked with sheer Swarovski brilliance. “The Octea Classica is an elegant and feminine watch. It can be worn to all kinds of occasions, be it to work, dinner or a night out. It is perfect for me as I am always on the go, and it is a piece of accessory that I can wear throughout the day. It is stylish and refined, which makes it a timeless piece,” Kienle observes.

 

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When blurring the lines between visual language and poetry, Maxine Syjuco sees it as a performance in transcending cultures, time zones, and boundaries, perhaps inspired by her infinite travels or an excellent resource of personal experiences.“The process of experimentation deeply fascinates me. I love experimenting with all kinds of materials. I love being surprised by the final outcome— each one a new and unique experience. To me, art should never be stagnant or predictable. Art is about discovery, and mixed-media art allows me to discover the multitude of possibilities that every object can offer,” Maxine explains. This rather eclectic seize for the creative life’s aspects showcase Maxine Syjuco’s grasp on her choice of watches.

 For her day to day, Maxine turns to the duo of the Swarovski Citra Sphere and the Citra Sphere Chrono for her casual timekeeping. “Both the Swarovski Citra Sphere and Citra Sphere Chrono are breathtakingly gorgeous timepieces. For me, the importance of a watch is found in what it represents: a love of tradition. Through Swarovski’s Citra line, the promise of tradition is preserved without compromising the look and needs of today’s modern woman,” says Maxine Syjuco.

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Not all that glitters is gold, in Michelline Syjuco’s mind, sometimes they are mystical forms and sculptural manifestations of her untamed imaginings. “My personal style is classic yet edgy, avant-garde yet tasteful. I like to mix and match unlikely materials in my pieces. I think my style definitely emanates in my designs because this is my personal aesthetic,” shares Michelline Syjuco. Womanly traits of empowering sensuality and commanding sultriness are commonplace in her one-off jewelries, where the female is found limitless in style and expression when found wearing Michelline’s pieces.

A commanding display in freedom and insouciance, the Swarovski Lovely Crystals features a clear case that comes with 16 moving Zirconia stones that capture both moments and movement in a whole new light. This display of joie de vivre and carefree elegance has captured Maxine Syjuco’s imagination, while the watch’s two new hues of deep aubergine and luminous light gold with mother of pearl dial paints a picture of vivacious versatility to Michelline’s daily wardrobe.

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Swarovski Timepieces are available at Century City Mall, Lucerne in Glorietta 4 and Shangri-La Mall, Chronos in Alabang Town Center, SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, and Robinson’s Place Ermita, Swiss Gear in Greenbelt 1, SM Lanang, and SM Clark.

Get to know: Huawei Ascend Mate 7

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I have to admit, I am always a little hesitant to try new brands. You can say I am a creature of habit, and I tend to stick to whatever I’m used to until (a) I get to try a new brand/product, or (b) change is forced upon me. In this case, change was definitely not forced upon me. The Huawei Ascend Mate 7 was gifted to me about a week and a half ago, and in that time I’ve been using it as a second phone. In a lot of ways, this particular phone has acted more like a first phone because its battery life far exceeds my old phone’s. You see, my old phone has the tendency of dying on me after two to three hours of non-stop use, which is why I’ve resorted to carrying an external battery pack with me at all times. This is essential, and when my external battery pack begins to wane, I am already panicking. For the first time in years I had no such problem with battery life, and it was so refreshing. I couldn’t believe I was putting up with this problem for so long that it almost seemed normal. There is such a thing pala as going home after a long day and having your phone battery be less than halfway finished. This is a huge deal for me, because I use my phone A LOT. I switch from one app to the other, checking social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, my blog, and apps like Whats App and Viber, countless games and of course, I use it for calls and texts. This phone’s battery is a remarkable 4,100mAh, which lasts for 17 hours from a full charge. Impressive, really.

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This is just the tip of the iceberg, because the phone is packed with all sorts of amazing things. I am probably the least technical person around and I rarely understand specs and numbers, but my husband is really into tech (he used to work in I.T.) so he’s my go-to guy for deciphering these things. Okay, so first off, the Mate 7 has an octa-core processor, made up of two quad-core units. This apparently is really impressive–it is probably just as strong as your computer, or stronger. Bottom line is it is very powerful. And I could really see it in how the phone handles my indecisive switching from app to app (I tend to switch A LOT). It is quick and it handles my brattiness really well. Carlos borrowed it from me one day and used it for gaming and watching HD movies and he said he loved how the phone performed. We are now kind of sharing this phone (I use it during the day and him at night when were relaxing in bed) and so far its been great handling all that use between both of us.

Okay, let talk about the display, which is another thing I looooove about this phone. The Mate 7 is huge (certainly bigger than what I am used to)–it has a 6-inch screen and has full HD resolution, which makes it a joy to use. The display is crisp and well-defined, thanks to its 1,920 x 1,080-pixel display. Instagram has suddenly become a different experience because I could actually see the photos I am looking at. And reading articles from Facebook and even editing my blog is made easy with its amazing display. Design-wise, I am completely happy with it. The unit I got was in light gold, which I love, because it looks so luxe and pretty. It has a smooth, sexy overall design that fits comfortably into my hands.

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And it has all these features, like a 13-megapixel back camera with 5-MP lens for the front camera, 4G LTE, and a fingerprint scanner. This is is really a power-packed phone minus the hefty price tag. I’d gladly make this my first phone, but it seems I have to share it with my husband. I am definitely impressed, and I’m very happy Huawei sent me this amazing, amazing phone.

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka & MochiCream Cafe at Trinoma

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I was recently at one of my favorite ramen places: Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, but this time I had visited their newly-opened Trinoma branch. This was a rare trip for me and my family, who I invited to the lunch, because we live so far away from Quezon City. It was fun nevertheless, because we were finally able to see the mall and we got to eat really well at one of the best ramen restaurants in the metro. It also helped that we went on a Sunday, so no traffic for us!

It truly was a treat for us because we were served so many yummy dishes, from their bestsellers to new ones we haven’t tried before. Just so you know, I always eat at Santouka (you can read my first review HERE), but I tend to order the same things over and over again. I’m like that I guess, but of course, I am also willing to try something new if it were offered to me. And that day, I got to try A LOT of new dishes, because restaurant’s PR manager Genevieve did the ordering for us. In the end, I was happy she decided for us, but wow, the food just kept on coming! We had to take several breaks just to be able to try everything (I’m hardly complaining here–it was a good problem). And after a scrumptious lunch, we had an equally delicious selection of desserts from Santouka’s sister company: MochiCream Cafe (they were just next door). We had cakes and parfaits and mochi balls and green tea shakes–it really was an amazing and super filling meal.

One thing I particularly liked about this lunch was that we were given a private room (good for 10 people) which allowed us to talk and be extra noisy while we enjoyed our food. My family and I see each other only once a week so most of the time we are chatty and yes, noisy. Santouka provided a great venue for us–we really enjoyed each other’s company thanks to the private room. Tip: This is really a great idea if you’re a big party as you have all the privacy you need and you have full control of the air conditioner haha.

IMG_4935Iberico Tokusen Toroniku (P370). This pork cheek isn’t the ordinary variety, but special Iberico pork from Spain. This was extra soft and tender and very tasty. A great appetizer!

IMG_4940The Matcha Latte 8oz (P135) my brother Ruel ordered. All of us had ours cold (Iced Matcha) which were equally good (I had a sip of this). I’ve become such a fan of green tea since visiting Japan.

IMG_4947Ruel and his fiancée Gabby.

IMG_4944This was part of Santouka’s Lunch Set Special (P410): it includes 1 Small Size Ramen, 1 Side Dish and 1 Rice Ball (with Iced Tea Shake). This is the bestselling Shio Ramen (Salt Flavor) that made Santouka famous in Japan, and now the Philippines. It has a rich, distinct flavorful soup that goes well with the ramen and all its other ingredients.

IMG_4958This is the Kara-Miso Ramen, which you can also order from the Lunch Set Special (just add P20). It is a Spicy Soybean Paste Flavor that is more robust than the Shio. Spicy and tasty, this ramen is sooooo addicting.

IMG_5001This came with the Lunch Set Special–Side Dishes: Ebi Furai (Fried Prawns) and Sake Furai (Fried Salmon). These breaded dishes are so good paired with Rice Balls.

IMG_4969These are the three kinds of Rice Balls you can choose from (still from the Lunch Set Special): Salmon Onigiri (triangular shaped rice wrapped in nori seaweed with slightly salted salmon bits inside), Pork Onigiri (rice balls wrapped with thin pork slices) and Inari Sushi (vinegar flavored rice balls wrapped in deep fried sweet tofu pockets).

IMG_4955This is the Spicy Creamy Shio Ramen (P440), which is the spicy version of Santouka’s signature salt flavored (Shio) ramen. It was my first time to try this particular ramen and I have to say it is richer and thicker than your usual ramen. It is also packed with flavor, as it is tasty and spicy at the same time. It’s not spicy hot that your tongue will burn, you’ll be able to finish the soup without having to drink a gallon of water.

IMG_4960My all-time favorite: Normal Aburi Tokusen Toroniku (P270) or roasted pork cheek. This one tastes great on its own, with rice or with your ramen. It’s on the sweet side, which I love.

IMG_4963Yummy!

IMG_4992My mom and her giant Matcha Float 16oz (P170).

IMG_5031Enjoying my ramen.

IMG_4986Rico, my other brother, tried everything.

IMG_5006What a full table. We had plenty to take home!

IMG_5104Ruel ordered a Cappucino (P105) for dessert, not knowing we had so much of it coming haha.

IMG_5049Rico and I–it was so nice to catch up with everyone.

IMG_5106For dessert, MochiCream Cafe took care of us. We each had Matcha Parfaits (P100)–so yummy and refreshing!

IMG_5072We were also served these delicious pastries: Matcha Dacquois (P170), Strawberry Tart (P130) and Almond Dacquois (P170). I really liked the Strawberry Tart!

IMG_5084And Frozen Brazo de Mercedes (P295)-

IMG_5079Lastly, we were served Mochi Donuts, which were interestingly good.

IMG_5097These were good enough to share between seven people!

IMG_5127We were also given flavored mochi to take home! We were so spoiled!!!

IMG_5136Huge thank you to Genevieve and the entire staff of Hokkaido Ramen Santouka Trinoma for taking such great care of us!

IMG_5118And of course, THANK YOU to MochiCream Cafe for the amazing desserts! It was so great to meet all of you.

IMG_4926Visit Hokkaido Ramen Santouka and MochiCream Cafe at the 4th Floor of Trinoma Mall, Quezon City. 

 

Tricks of the Trade: Get to know your makeup essentials

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Whenever I go shopping for makeup, I get overwhelmed and don’t know what to buy. Is there any way to know which ones to buy? I know I need eye shadow. I don’t really know much about makeup, but I’d like to learn more. Thanks.

When it comes to makeup, my philosophy is: “Less is more.” It may sound cliché, but makeup should enhance your beauty and not cover it. You’re really not out to create a new face totally different from your own, but to highlight features you like and maybe downplay parts you’re not too crazy about (like dark circles or a pimple). What I’m trying to say here is you don’t need a whole lot of makeup to look good. A few essentials are all you need, unless you want something trendy like metallic eye shadow or red-orange lipstick. I’ve listed down must-have products to start your makeup wardrobe.

Foundation. This depends on how great your skin is. If you have beautiful skin, you wont need to cover it with foundation. Using loose or pressed powder should do the trick. But if you want to correct uneven skin tone and cover blemishes or acne scars, then add this to your shopping list. The most important part is to find one that matches your skin color and tone; next is to select its coverage (choose from sheer, medium to heavy coverage). Also consider the finish (foundation can go on matte, have a natural sheen or carry a little shimmer). Try foundation on to be able to distinguish color, consistency and coverage. Check out different brands and shades and compare them. Soon you’d be able to notice the difference, allowing you to select the best one for your skin’s needs.

Loose powder. Powder works in many ways. It gives skin a smooth, even tone; sets your foundation; and helps soak up oil. This is one item you can’t do without. Powder comes in different shades, so, like your foundation, you have to select one that matches your skin perfectly. But if you need a powder that will disappear into your skin, look for one in a translucent shade. Tip: To get an even application, use a big, fluffy makeup brush.

Neutral eye shadow. You said this is one of the things you need, and you’re right. The good thing about buying eye shadow in neutral colors is that it can complement most skin colors and tones. They can also be used to create pretty smoky eyes to make your eyes appear bigger. Colors to look for are shades of beige, taupe, brown, gray and black.

Eyeliner. This is another must-have. But for this one, you may need to stick to the waterproof kind. Eyeliners in black and brown really help complete the smoky-eye look.

Mascara. Choose the waterproof formula, though it may be more difficult to remove. There are many different kinds of mascara: lengthening, volumizing or one that does both. You’d want one that will coat each strand of eyelash without clumping or smudging.

Blusher. This works to add a healthy flush of color on your face, and can be bought in seemingly endless shades of coral, peach, pink, fuchsia, orange and red. Choose what suits your skin color and tone, and remember, a little goes a long way. You’d want to recreate that color you get after a good workout.

Lipstick. This item works to finish off your makeup. It is usually the final product you apply on your face, and its color can be practically any shade of the rainbow. For starters, though, I recommend pretty shades of pink and nude.

Now that you’re all set with the basics, you’ll be able to learn how to incorporate trends and experiment with color. What’s important is starting off with neutrals and finding makeup that will complement your skin color. From there, you can keep adding on and play with different kinds of makeup.

Pandora Essence Collection

Like most of you, I have a Pandora charm obsession. Whenever I pass by a Pandora store I need to take a look at what they have and check if they’ve launched a new collection. I have this constant need to add one or two charms to my bracelet, which I love because the bracelet has become so personal and special because of these handpicked charms. I’ve blogged about charm bracelets before, and I have to say, there is something about collecting charms that fascinates me. I guess it’s the fact that the bracelet truly becomes your own because of the specific charms you put on it. In a way it tells a story–your story, and it is unique, beautiful and significant.

This very idea made me fall in love with Pandora’s Essence Collection. This is Pandora’s newest range of charm bracelets and it is delicate, elegant and lovely. It is smaller and thinner than your traditional Pandora bracelet, which is just what I love about it. The chain is thin, and it is available from 16 to 21 cm in sleek silver (next year, a gold clasp version will be available), and it is recommended to go down one size because the charms are not as big as the traditional ones. The charms are also stationary (there is a silicone coating that stops the charms from moving), but you can position them to where you want them to be. It is easy and super versatile–it can be worn from day to night, and even to formal events because it looks so refined and polished.

What really resonates with me are the charms. They are meaningful and special, because each charm represents a positive value or thought that says a lot about its wearer. It reflects who you are and what you are about, which lends a different meaning from your other charm bracelets. I love that by wearing these charms, you carry over same values to your every day life.  It is a great reminder of the kind of person we are, and maybe even the kind of person we aspire to be. The charms are precious, too. Most of them are made of natural and synthetic gemstones with silver, which may incur slight variations in color and inclusions (for me, this makes them more special). They have also added new charms since its launch, like the Zodiac Collection and the 14K Gold Collection.

I ended up getting five beautiful charms: JOY, LOVE, WISDOM, STABILITY and LOYALTY. These aren’t just meaningful, they look so lovely, too. I wear my Pandora Essence bracelet every day!

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Pandora is available at Level 2, Adora Department Store, Greenbelt 5 Mall, Ayala Center, Makati; Ground Floor, Shop 2B, Newport Entertainment Commercial Centre; G/F C1 Bonifacio High Street Central, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; Lucerne, Level 2, Shangri-la Plaza Mall, EDSA corner Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City. 

 

Swarovski Stardust

I love sparkly, pretty things, which is probably why I am such a fan of Swarovski. These crystals are unique and beautiful, and come in the most stylish designs. Their accessories line in particular is exquisite. I started my collection back in 2005 when I chanced upon a Swarovski store in Hong Kong. I remember falling in love with a delicate pendant that came with a thin silver chain. From that time on I was hooked, and through the years my fascination with the brand continued. Today, I have quite a few navy blue boxes stacked on my dresser. It makes me happy to wear these as they still have the same brilliance and sparkle as the day I bought them. I think they make great every day jewelry as they look simple and elegant but never gaudy or over-the-top.

And it seems there is yet another piece of accessory I need to get my hands on. It’s called the “Stardust” bracelet, and it is everything I want in a bracelet (until, of course, I fall in love again). Allow me describe this bracelet: Stardust is a light, flexible bracelet that seems to almost burst into a thousand sparkles (yes, really). It is made of a translucent fishnet that is brimming with 730 loose crystals! It is sooooo pretty, and is endorsed by non other than supermodel Miranda Kerr. I am obsessed about this bracelet. It comes in a variety of color options and two lengths, which allows you to wear it as a single or double wrap. You can easily mix and match it with your other bracelets or stack it up with a mix of shades and lengths (ala Miranda Kerr). My biggest problem is deciding what color to get. They are all soooo gorgeous, and it seems you need to get more than one because it looks so good stacked together. I think this will make a great Christmas gift for your mom, sister, or best friend, or maybe you can drop a hint or two to your husband/boyfriend to get this for you.

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In the Philippines, Swarovski is exclusively distributed by the Rustan Group of Companies and is located at Bonifacio High Street Central, Rustan’s Makati, Rustan’s Shangri-La, Rustan’s Alabang Town Center, and Rustan’s Gateway Mall.

Calyxta.com

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Ladies, we have a brand new website to stalk, and it is a one-stop shop for all things BEAUTY! It’s called CALYXTA (www.calyxta.com) and it is an online and mobile shopping platform that offers amazing (and hard-to-find) beauty care products. The site is a haven for cosmetics, skincare and hair care brands, and since I am a certified beauty addict, you can say I am all kinds of excited about this. I am so happy to learn about these cult favorite brands and products (that are only available through Calyxta), and see how its resident experts use these products.

I browsed through Calyxta when it went live on December 1 and I found myself happily clicking away, as I looked through their beauty stories and watched makeup how-to videos. I love their collection of beauty products at the store, as they aren’t the typical brands you see in every beauty counter. I am obsessed with discovering new and effective products so this was extra exciting for me. I like that Calyxta is basically an online community of beauty junkies (like myself), where you’re allowed to obsess about products and share beauty stories while you shop. The site actually has forums where you can exchange experiences, ideas and tips!

The team is composed of Erica Paredes, who is Calyxta’s Editor-in-Chief and Sales & Marketing Director; Dane Gonzalez, Creative Director and Marketing Manager; Alfonso de Dios, CEO; Noonee de Dios, COO; and Cess Ocampo, Administrative and Technical Support. The site also has an impressive list of contributors like Cat Juan-Ledesma, Alyanna Martinez, Amanda Padilla and Xeng Zulueta, who will be giving us beauty tips and tricks while guiding us on which products to buy.

Check out the photos from the launch, and don’t forget to log on to http://www.calyxta.com!!!

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