Category Archives: Finance

A guide to buying make up brushes

I was going to do a post on mascaras, but decided to postpone it in light of a recent development: I am now the proud owner of (almost) the entire line of Real Techniques brushes! (swoon)

What, why are you not jumping up and down with me? These are Real Techniques brushes. By Sam Chapman. Of. Pixiwoo. Fame. (pause for effect)

Okay, why do I get the feeling that I’m still not getting the reaction I hoped for? Umm Anj, maybe because not everyone is as crazy about make-up as you are? Fine. I’ll move on.

You see, I am of the firm belief that brushes are as important as the actual make-up products that you apply on your face. With the right kind of brushes, it’s easier for you to achieve seamless application and flawless blending. If you had to choose between spending on brushes or on actual products, I’d recommend that you spend on the former. Having said that, here are some tips to help you in selecting brushes.

Try before you buy. Go for brushes that feel soft and do not prick or scratch your skin. But don’t try it out on your face (brushes displayed aren’t exactly the cleanest); the back of your hand or the inside of your wrist/arm will do.

Ditch those miniscule applicators that usually come with make-up. You know, those sponge-tip applicators or blush brushes that are usually no more than two inches in length. If you’re really serious about learning to apply make-up well, investing in good-quality brushes is a must.

A more expensive brush will not necessarily work better. I learned this the hard way. I once bought an obscenely expensive eyeshadow brush from a reputable brand, only to find that it scratched my lids like you wouldn’t believe. I still use it, if only to get my money’s worth, but it’s made me think twice about buying more brushes from that brand.

Build your collection little by little. If you were to see my brush collection, you’d notice that I rarely have more than two or three brushes from one brand. My Real Techniques haul is the first time I’ve ever bought a lot of brushes from just one brand. This is because I like to hem and haw over each brush that I buy. I want to make sure that I’m really happy with the quality of the brush, and rarely will a single brand offer a line-up wherein each and every brush will satisfy my criteria. Hence my hodge-podge brush collection. My brushes don’t look as nice as those sleek brush sets but at least I know I’m happy with each and every brush that I own.

RT-Brushes-e1351002055665-672x372.jpg
My brushes…bought from the US, shipped to Japan (it’s a long story, but a million thanks to my Tita Karen who helped me buy them). I can’t wait to try these out!

With proper care and cleaning (yes, you do have to clean them), your brushes should last you for years. Looking at it from this perspective, the initial outlay of money won’t seem as painful.

Happy brush shopping!

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.

Need louder audio? Check out the X-mini

My laptop has tinny sound. That’s horrible because when I find a funny YouTube video and share it with people nearby, they totally miss out on the punch line. That’s why I decided to look for a portable speaker that will give me decent audio (bawal ang lata!) for a good price. I knew I’d have to go well over CD-R King prices, but for the sake of my social life, I was willing to make the investment.

I did my research online. After days of due diligence, I decided to go for the cheapest variant of the X-mini, the X-mini v1.1:

X-mini v1.1 closed
Yes, I'm a speaker. I'm the X-mini v1.1!

The X-mini v1.1 fit my requirements for volume, portability, and price. It has very loud sound for such a little thing. You don’t need to plug it into a socket, since it has an internal battery which you can charge. Great for a laptop and a portable music player! I got it for Php990 at Hello—three times the price of a pair of computer speakers at CD-R King, but hey, I’m happy because I got the quality I paid for.

X-mini v1.1 beside a 5-peso coin
X-mini v1.1: I'm curled up beside a 5-peso coin
The X-mini v1.1 opens up to expand and expose the diaphragm.

X-mini v1.1 opened
Here's how I look when I'm open. Remember to open the lid, because otherwise, the audio will sound terrible.

 

The X-mini v1.1 has a short 3.5 mm stereo cable that tucks neatly underneath the unit.

The bottom of an X-mini v1.1, showing the 3.5 mm wire
I keep a wire under me which you'll use to plug into your computer or audio player.
X-mini v1.1 opened and wire uncoiled
When you uncoil the wire, I look like a robo-rat.

Ports and controls are at the bottom area of the X-mini v1.1.

X-mini v1.1 volume control
That's the volume control at the bottom. Start with low because I can scream really loud.
X-mini v1.1 mini-usb
I have a mini-usb port which you can use for charging and audio output.
X-mini v1.1 mini-usb cable
I come with a mini-usb cable which you can plug into a USB port for charging. The cable also has a 3.5 mm audio plug, which means you can also use it as a longer audio out wire if you find the one under me too short.

 

What I find most interesting is the X-mini’s buddy jack. It allows you to plug another audio output device into the X-mini, which means you can string a series of X-minis to get really LOUD sound!

X-mini v1.1 buddy jack
I have a buddy jack for use with, errr, my buddies.
X-mini daisy chain
Here's me with my buddies. Guess where I am! 😛 Watch out because we're really loud when we party!

Of course, you can use the buddy jack to plug in a pair of headphones, and you’d hear audio through both the headphones and the speaker. I just don’t know why you’d want to do that 😀

Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase. The X-mini v1.1 fulfilled my requirements perfectly.

X-mini v1.1 closed
Demo done! What do you think of me?

The Pinay on a budget travel to Rome

Not a lot of us have money to travel, and when we do get to save some money, the best that we could do is to travel on a budget. I’m not new to budget traveling, so I hope that this article will help give ideas to budget travelers like me.

Sample Cost:

  • $1,121 via Qatar Airways
  • 60 Euros for Schengen VISA 
  • 100 Euros for 5-day budget hotel near Roma Termini (w/ breakfast)
  • 20 Euros for shuttle from Airport to hotel and back
  • 15 Euros for lunch and dinner for each day
  • The rest of the cost is for optionals (museums, metro, souvenirs)
You can save on all travel expenses except for the airfare and Schengen VISA fee. Now let’s go straight to making your Rome experience cheap but memorable.
  1. Save on accommodation. Although we opted for a budget hotel, it wasn’t that bad at all. We appreciated the breakfast served everyday which saved us a bunch. Going to a budget hotel (like Hotel Luciani) is probably worth the convenience and the breakfast. After a long walk around Rome, you’d want to go home  and sleep on comfortable beds and having not to worry about what to have for breakfast. This hotel is perfect if you are 3 or 4 persons to share the room cost. What’s best too about this hotel is that it’s extremely near Roma Termini. WiFi is for 5 Euros though but that will last you the whole trip and you could share with the others though you can’t go online at the same time. Befriend the Filipino manager, and you might get this for free. 🙂 Or you may try Couch Surfing. It requires that you agree to allow another couch surfer your own couch when he visits Manila. It’s practically free. Like asking a friend to make you stay at his place for a few days.
  2. Sightseeing and Museums. Rome is actually very small. You can walk from one sight to another literally. It is very normal for a Roman to walk at most an hour to get from A to B. You don’t normally need to pay to enter the amazing Churches in Rome. You just have to brave the long lines at St. Peter’s Basilica, but it’s not as long a wait as it may appear. If you want to see all the art collections in Rome, the only museum you should pay for is the Vatican Museum. Save yourself time by buying your ticket online although it will charge you an extra 4 Euros for the service. We overtook a really long line because of this. Then again, you might want to save 4 Euros for your lunch that day. 🙂 Take my word for it, you can just walk around Rome. On each day, you can focus on an area so you don’t go all around. Here’s a suggested itinerary for 3 days walking tour:
    • Day 1: Central Rome – Colosseo, Roman Forum, Arc of Triumphs, Trajan’s Column, have a gelato, pizza and pasta for lunch

      That’s me in front of the Colosseo. No need to go inside and save on entrance fee!
    • Day 2: Southeast of Rome (Passion of the Christ tour) – Santa Maria Maggiore (relics of the true Cross), St. John Lateran, Scala Santa (stairs that claim to have drops of Christ’s blood), Santa Croce en Jerusalem (relics from Calvary), Santa Prassede (relic of the pilar where Christ was scourged), relax at a park

      St. John Lateran
    • Day 3: Central eastern Rome for St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Museum (you might want to buy a day trip ticket for this tour @ 4 Euros), Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Cecilia, Bocca della Verita, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Fontana di Trevi, and Scala Spagna (Spanish steps).

      Throw a coin over to the Trevi Fountain and wish to come to Rome. It worked for me. 🙂
  3. Transportation. Rome bus and subway systems is difficult to figure out compared to Singapore’s, New York’s or Madrid’s. It might take a while for you to figure out and maximize your unlimited ticket. But if you are willing, the ATAC Rome metro system offers one day unlimited (only up to 12 MN) for 4 Euros, and 3 days for 11 Euros.
  4. Side trips outside Rome. Our group was able to visit Florence. If you want to save on your Florence trip, purchase your train ticket ahead of time. If you do so, you might be lucky to get a MINI fare which can save you up to 60% off on regular fares. We chose to take the nonstop train (1 hour) to Florence to save time for 45 Euros and took a regular train (3.5 hours) for 17 Euros. You can get cheaper prices as well for Milan and Venice. Florence is a cheap place to go to for the art lover and can be a day trip. You can go around Florence for just half a day. The other half you can spend absorbing the art and a bit of shopping. Don’t miss out on San Lorenzo market (5 minutes walk to the west of Santa Maria Novella train station) where you can buy authentic leather goods and various souvenirs. Don’t miss out on buying Florence stationeries which they are also famous for. For better quality paper and bookmarks, visit Mandragoragift shop behind the Duomo. They sell wax seals, Florence stationeries and various bookmarks at affordable prices. Making side trips, the best place to stay is near Roma Termini so even if you come home late, your hotel is just nearby. You don’t have to pay 6,50 Euros to see Michelangelo’s David. There is a replica at Palazzio Vecchio. 🙂

    My friends in front of the San Lorenzo Church with its unfinished facade. Across is the San Lorenzo Market.
  5. Tour guides. No, don’t pay for a tour guide. There are many audio tours you can get online before making your trip. Better for you to already be informed before going to the places so that when you get there, all you have to do is admire. It’s difficult to study or listen to a podcast while you’re staring at ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Since you studied ahead, you look forward to seeing the places in real life. You can download some maps and audio here.
  6. Save on drinking water. When we visited Rome, it was summer and dry. With that weather, we were easily thirsty and hot-headed. Bring your water bottle. There are many water fountains that you can find along the way to fill your bottle with water. Just make sure it’s potable. Don’t get your water from fountains like the Trevi fountain. 🙂 Also, drinks from vendo machines are much cheaper (by a Euro) than buying from a person. 🙂
I also would like to share some generic travel tips that will save you the hassle as you try to enjoy your trip outside your country.
  • Check-in Online. Usually, 36 hours before your flight, you can “check-in” online. This has saved so much time when checking-in. For online checkers, they usually have a fast lane for you and you will skip the generic queue and you can choose your seat ahead of the rest.
  • Use your credit card. Using your credit card (I assume that you pay your bills on time), can buy you time to save money before actually paying for your train ticket or museum ticket. Above all, it saves you time from lining up most of the time.
  • Travel light. Budget hotels are found in old buildings, and does not necessarily have an elevator like in the case of Hotel Luciani. Don’t expect a first class treatment in a budget hotel. Remember always that you get what you pay for.
  • Always have a map.
I definitely enjoyed my trip despite being on a tight budget. I hope you do too! Rome is one big museum as others would say. You shouldn’t have to pay so much just to see the beauty of Rome. Appreciate the art. Appreciate the role of the Catholic Church in taking care of what’s left of Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance Rome. The Church only wants to keep a record of the greatness of man — a record of man’s ability to create, which is a gift from his Creator.
Enjoy your trip! Worth emptying the pocket, I promise.
This post was written by Trish Castro.

Mousse review: White Rain, Sunsilk, VO5

I’ve had permed hair for quite some time now and I’ve used several brands of mousse already. I’d like to share my experiences with three brands with the curly-haired ladies out there, if only to spare them from pain of trial-and-error:

1. White Rain Extra Hold mousse

This is the brand that I’ve used the longest. It’s the cheapest I’ve found in the stores, and the results are good enough for the price. I wouldn’t say this is the best option, though.

Pros:
• Most affordable
• Widely available (found it in Watson’s and in some supermarkets)
• Really adds volume

Cons:
• Hair looks obviously moussed–a guaranteed wet look for the whole day
• Hair looks unnaturally stiff
• Hair will already start to frizz after waking up (not good if you don’t shampoo daily)

2. Sunsilk Style mousse

I’ve only found this in the supermarket at SM Megamall. I never knew that Sunsilk had mousse, so I inspected the packaging and realized that it might be imported from another Asian country. I guess that explains why we don’t see ads of this product around.

Pros:
• Lasts longer than any other brand I’ve tried. Hair stays nice and tidy for two whole days.
• Hair doesn’t look artificially moussed

Cons:
• Sticky! You’d be hurrying to wash your hands after using this. I don’t think it matters, though, since your hair will hardly feel the stickiness after your hair has slightly dried.
• Slightly more expensive than White Rain
• Not widely available. During the last time I went to Megamall, I wasn’t able to find any on the shelves.
• Hair looks heavy. Some people might find this beneficial, but I’d rather my hair looked fluffy.

3. VO5 mousse
Though a bit more pricey than the other two, I like this VO5 mousse the most. I had to buy it one day because there were no stocks of the other two brands above. It was a blessing in disguise, as I now would opt for this brand.

Pros:
• Hair doesn’t look artificially moussed
• Not sticky!
• Lasts long though not as long as the Sunsilk mousse
• More foamy than the other two
• Adds enough volume though not as much as White Rain
• Curls look natural, not stiff

Cons:
• More expensive than the other two

That said, I’m sure Finesse will prove better than all these brands, but I would need to skip a few meals to buy one bottle and I am not going to do that. If anyone else would like to share their experiences regarding mousse brands, please feel free to leave a comment.