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Venus and Mars Naturals

Healthy Living Makeup and Skincare

Review: The Best and The Meh of Serums

I admit I gave in a little late to the magic of serums. Well, late at least in the beauty industry timeline where serums are pegged to be that miracle formula that repairs and brightens skin, and overall, stalls its aging. The marketing blurb these days is not even to start using serums as early as age 25, but to start investing on one in your 20s. Simply, to start as soon as you can afford it.

Obviously I am not one to condemn this, having spent a dominant chunk of my disposable income on skin care and cosmetics. Besides, I can testify that serums are hyped for good reason. They are concentrated versions of the different promises your creams give you, thus seeping into the skin deeper and delivering more obvious and lasting results. The quandary then, if finding the serum worth the price tag (and they can get hefty).

I humbly provide below my personal list of the best and the meh of serums.

Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum

Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum

Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum. I’ve always been intrigued by the organic, cruelty-free brand offered in Beauty Bar, and even more so when it launched Alicia Silverstone as brand ambassador (she’s Cher and Batgirl, you guys!). But then this particular serum hit 50% off in Taste Central, and I knew it was a sign. Made with organic juice base (not water), this serum is packed with antioxidants and vitamins to nourish the skin (think organic aloe, Vitamin C, CoQ10) and salicylic acid to slough off zits, blemishes and clogged pores. My sister can attest to how only a few days of using this cleared her spotty face. We use it over zits and spots and on the nose to rid off blackheads before massaging on moisturizer. Pimples die a quick natural death without the harshness of drugstore zit creams that usually leave dark spots. Totes a winner. Never buying anything with benzoyl peroxide ever again. Originally P1,675. Only P838 in Taste Central. Also available in Beauty Bar.

Estee Lauder New Advanced Night Repair

Estee Lauder New Advanced Night Repair

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair II. This serum had the most scientific marketing blurb of all. Usually, this is a turn off to me because it seems like a marketing ploy of these big companies to bombard customers with statistics and techie beauty jargons to just scare them into buying. But a good word from Caroline Hirons was enough to push me to at least try a sample. And let me just tell you: that bit about ANR2 having captured the science of sleep? No kidding. Whatever is in this tiny powerful bottle definitely hydrates and softens, evens out skin tone and lets you wake up to plump, happy skin. Only the red drooping eyes would show proof that you had a long night. Definitely one of those beauty investments with a hefty price tag, but if you can afford it, buy it. About P3,000 for 30ml and P5,000 for 50ml in Rustans.

Clarins Lotus Facial Rebalancing Oil

Clarins Lotus Facial Rebalancing Oil

Clarins Lotus Facial Rebalancing Oil. I wanted to love this, I really did. Having a perpetually oily face, I was iffy with facial oils, but enough reading and research was enough to convince me to at least try a sample of this from the not-very-friendly lady at the Clarins counter (Powerplant Rockwell branch. Yeah, not coming back to you). Boasting of 100% pure plant extracts, I was expecting miracles from this. So I guess this was a classic case of expectations over reality. The oil had a strong but relaxing scent that flits off in moments. You are left with a non-greasy moisturizing oil that you massage gently all over the face. The Clarins lady does not recommend nightly use because although non-sticky, the oil is rich and oily skin needs to slowly acclimate to it. I experienced the expected little itty bitty zits in the first week. I kept going and they eventually disappeared. But were my pores tighter? Not so much. Skin rebalanced as promised? Erm. Not very sure. I would probably purchase someday, just to give it a chance to redeem itself. About P2,500+ at Rustans.

Venus and Mars Total Potion Serum

Venus and Mars Total Potion Serum

Venus and Mars Naturals Total Potion. This was my very first attempt at a serum, used during my very first attempt to go 100% organic in my skincare. That did not go very well. Oily and acnaic skin seems to need a good ol’ hashing of gentle yet effective chemicals in the mix with the organic natural options. Anyway, Total Potion is one of the product staples in the proudly Philippine-made organic brand Venus and Mars, and is pegged to be as effective as the more costly international brands. Now I feel this product is a meh only because I was using it at a time when my skin was rebelling against me and the rest of the V&M anti-acne line were too gentle to win the war. But the serum is really meant to be a “multifunctional power serum” and “youth potion” with its straightforward cocktail of Vitamin C, E and Collagen, and for this the skin does feel plumped up and nourished. Will probably give it another go now that my skin is more behaved. Only P585 at the brand’s website, at Mod Lei spa and through your friendly V&M sellers.

I have a short list of serums I want to try soon. If you’ve used any of the following, I’d be happy to know how it went for you:

MyChelle Serious Hyaluronic Firming Serum and Clear Skin Serum

Human Nature Overnight Elixir

Derm E Hydrating Serum with Hyaluronic Acid

Photo credits to owners.

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Healthy Living Makeup and Skincare

Review: Favorite Things from Venus and Mars

So far I have raved (and ranted a wee little bit) about Human Heart Nature and Snoe Beauty – two new and exciting local beauty brands that are making waves here and abroad as well as owning a very significant share of my wallet. The third brand in my book is Venus and Mars or simply V&M, a name that has long been a bazaar fave and cult hit to consumers looking for organic, good quality yet affordable skin care. Founded on emu oil, the “miracle oil”, V&M has since expanded to mineral cosmetics and even an organic spa. I list below my top 3 can’t-live-withouts:

Pure Full Refined Emu Oil

1. Pure Fully Refined 100% Emu oil.  It all begins and ends with this. Dubbed the miracle oil, emu oil is said to be ” the ONLY natural oil that is closest to the human skin components, thus it has the ability to cure almost any type of skin ailment, and is also the fastest penetrating oil.” This is essentially the base for most V&M products, but can also be used alone as what they call an “active.” Personally, this worked for me as the cure to stubborn dark crooks and crannies (think elbows, lip corners, sides of the nose, etc), itches and insect bites. My first test for this oil was to apply it modestly on an old childhood scar I have on my finger, earned when I so smartly tried opening a small bag of Peewee with a kitchen knife. In less than a week, the scar was noticeably fading that I had to immediately stop using the oil. For sentimental reasons, I actually want to keep that scar. Sells at P475 for a 30ml bottle and P755 for 50ml. A little bit goes a long way so even the smaller bottle lasts eternity.

Bare it All Emu Cream Minty

2. Bare It All (BIA) emu cream. This one is my absolute favorite. To call it a lotion is too primal. This multi-tasker is the answer to cracked heels, post wax/shave chicken skin on legs and underarms, and even fatigued limbs when used as a massage cream. I always get the minty version. It’s the only thing that can make me turn down the air condition during the sultry summer days. Try the 100g tub for P285 or be generous with the 300g one at P695. Since it’s all natural, you won’t ever feel like you’re slathering yourself with mineral oil and cosmetic perfume – because you aren’t – without getting any lasting moisture. I know you know what I mean, Marks and Spenser, Bath and Body and Victoria’s Secret. I’ve turn up my nose on you since I fell in love with my BIA.

V&M Lip Smooch Detox3. Smooch Lip detox. One swipe and I knew it was love. I met this lip balm wonder when I was brokenhearted from so many failed lip balms, both the organic and chemical-happy kind. The soothing mix of peppermint and emu oil hit the spot, and it was good bye, chapped lips. Itty bitty qualm: the tube melts if the temperature rises, and the container could be a LOT sturdier. Competitive with other organic brands at P205 and available in minty or regular. From my BIA preference above, you know I like my puckers smothered in peppermint too, so I enjoy the minty version.

V&M sells their skin care and organic make up line exclusively through direct dealers and bazaars, through their spanking new website, online shopping hubs Zalora and the Mall, and through their organic spa Mod Lei. Hoarding is a legitimate sport for V&M fans. You are highly encouraged to join.