Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My new arsenal: sunscreen and moisturizers are my must-haves

While my previous regimen of Pond's facial wash and cream worked (I eventually stopped using benzoyl peroxide), it didn't completely clear my skin. I'd still get the occasional big pimple. (Though to its credit, I'd only get one major pimple in a month.) So I added the VMV Id Clarifying and Firming Toner and Aftershave in my regimen.

The moment I read the product description on the website, I was sold:
An anti-acne, skin-softening toner with a healthy concentration of beta-hydroxy acid, an effective anti-acne and anti-inflammatory, oil-soluble exfoliant.

Because salicylic acid is oil-soluble, it works at your skin's most sebum-rich areas: the pores' inner walls. There, it gives pores a profound spring cleaning: removing deep-seated dirt and excess oils.

Firms up skin and tightens pores. Actively clears up acne, ingrown hair, chicken skin, shaving/waxing/plucking bumps, and other forms of folliculitis. Quickly lessens swelling and dries up pimples.
So contrary to my earlier belief, salicylic acid does work for me after all. I have been using this for two years now and not once I've had a huge pimple :-) If ever I do get small ones on a blue corn moon, they're too minute that they never bother me.

Since I had solved that, I now began focusing on my other problems. Primarily, my wrinkles, lol.

I knew I became an adult not when I moved out of the family house, not when I got promoted at work, but when I saw those first few faint lines on my forehead. Months later, a permanent line had squatted at the corner under my left eye. At this point, I knew my Pond's cream was not going to cut it anymore. (It was also at this point that I waxed sentimental about Pond's. I had been using it for 14 years after all.) So I switched to the non-fuss Oil of Olay, a product which my friend's mother, who looks 20 years younger than her actual age, swears by.

I actually tried Olay shortly after my acne years but after a week's usage, I began having breakouts so I immediately stopped. It was also too oily for me then, too. But now that my skin has gone from oily to normal (another 'you know you're old when...' moment) and with my VMV toner, Olay has worked quite nicely. I'd like to think it has made my skin look dewy. I like that it has SPF 15 and protects me from both UVA (ageing) and UVB (sunburn) rays––that's actually the main reason why I use this product; sunscreen is very important! I've been protecting myself from the sun for 14 years and counting. I'm not sure if this has kept me younger-looking through these years, although people who do meet me for the first time think I'm younger than my actual age. But then again, I'm Asian.

When I bought Olay, it came with a free facial cleanser. I tried it, it didn't give me breakouts, so I switched to it too. Also, I feel it's gentler on my skin compared to Pond's since with the latter, my face would literally feel squeaky clean after using it. With the Olay cleanser, my skin feels moisturized.

Another concern I'm targeting are the dark spots, which I only began addressing over a month ago with the VMV Illuminants cream, the latest addition to my regimen. It's still too early for me to make a judgement on this because I'm still at the thrice-a-week usage stage. (With most VMV treatment products, you need start with once-a-week usage and gradually increase from there, before you top up to everyday usage.) But so far, there's a general fairness in my skin that lasts the entire day (usually the morning after I went to bed with the product). Although I haven't received any compliments yet on such changes; until then, I won't say the results have been noticeable.

Now, the only remaining facial nproblem I have which I know no product can ever solve are my eyebags. They've gone Nene Pimentel. Before, whenever I had them, I'd usually just get eight hours of sleep and the next day, they're gone! Now, I've even tried sleeping nine hours everyday for one week, and still they're there. If you've tried a product that have at least, minimized your puffy eyes, then let me know. I'm afraid I can't rock them like Benecio del Toro does :-P

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How I beat my pimples

There were two points in my life when my skin became reallly bad: my first year in college, and my first 6 months in a corporate job. By bad, I mean google-image search 'cystic acne' and imagine that all over your facethat bad. It came to a point that there were no more available space on my face except my eyelids. I am not exaggerating; friends and colleagues can attest this. I refused to see my friends and leave the house for months because whenever I did, all they could give me were either worried or sympathetic looks. My then boss even had to call me into his office and talk about my pimples! (When he asked what might be the reason for my skin problem, I gave him a straight answer: work. LOL.) So yes, despite my gorgeous looks today, I know how it feels like to be ugly, lol. But seriously, yes, I know what it feels like!

Thankfully, benzoyl peroxide pulled through for me. I did see a dermatologist, which helped initially, but I got impatient as she wanted to know the source of my pimples and thus, kept experimenting with products, including shampoo and toothpaste. I guess it made sense, but due to my experience in college, I knew BP worked for me so I quit her and went for my instinct.

I followed the regimen found on As in I'd finish tubes and tubes of PanOxyl in a month. In about a year, my skin cleared save for the occassional breakouts. At that point, I theorized that perhaps, my skin had become bombarded by BP way too much so I slowly weaned myself off it. And true enough, I stopped having regular pimples then. (Though it actually took me about two years before I became confident enough to stop using BP.)

Here's what worked for me then:

  • Pond's 'white beauty' facial wash - they have different variants: for oily skin, for a 'rosy glow,' for the pimple-prone, etc. All of them worked for me, though I eventually settled on the lightening one (picture below), not because I wanted to look white but because I wanted it to lighten my dark spots. Also, I found that I was more susceptible to pimples when I used cleansers that do not lather, e.g., Cetaphil. I also didn't respond well to salicylic acid (SA) at that time.
  • Benzoyl peroxide - See for the regimen. I know that the Proactive line is based on BP; PanOxyl is the cheaper alternative (I used the 5% variant; 10% was just way too strong.). I also read somewhere that you'll respond well to either BP or SA only; not sure if that's true. 

  • Pond's 'white beauty' cream - This is an awesome product. Even Dr. Belo has mentioned it several times; it's truly effective in lightening your dark spots and acne scars. (So again, I am endorsing this product not to glorify fair, mestizo skin.) Also, I know it has sunscreen protection, which is very important when you're using BP, although until now, I'm not sure what its SPF is.

As most acne sufferers would know, what works for others may not work for yourself. In my case, it took months of trial-and-error before I settled on these three. And even later, I had to eventually switch products as I discovered a better, albeit more expensive, regimen. (I'll discuss that in my next entry.)

Now my pimples and most of the dark spots are gonebut the scars are not. So whatever happens, no matter how bad they get, never ever pop your pimples! (Well, actually you can, but only for cases in which you can clearly see they're ripe for the pricking. Visit this section for more details.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Army Navy Burger + Burrito

My colleagues and I have been passing by this restaurant for quite some time, but it was only last Friday when we finally decided to give it a shot. Prior to that, I went over some blog entries that have been written about the place and based on the reviews, the burgers were okay and the fries were good. So I supposed it was worth trying.

I like the theme and the styling of the restaurant, which is military-slash-American diner. Everything is self-service, though once in a while, the staff would ask if your order is complete and would follow-up with the kitchen if it wasn't. Service takes about 10-20 minutes. They serve water if you order a meal without a drink. I liked that :-)

That's the al fresco dining area above. It has an airconditioned space but it sits few people. When we dined here, it happened to be the hottest day of the year in the metro. It would've been nice if they had fans outside because it pretty much felt like being in the sauna despite that airy entrance.

Here's what I ordered: a double burger (P195), freedom fries (P65) and strawberry milkshake (P99).

When I got my meal, the reaction among my friends was pretty much unanimous: the fries' serving was really small.

To its defense, it tasted good. I liked its crunch and texture. It had chili so you could definitely taste that spicy kick after every bite

The burgers may look small but it definitely had heft to it, so I felt that the price was justifiable (but still, P195 is nothing to sneeze at.) From Army Navy's menu: "All burgers are made with natural beef patties, topped with fresh, crispy lettuce, tomato slice & onions, mayo & ketchup on toasted Sesame Seed Kaiser Bun." It was alright though I wished it had a bit more salt but I guess it was healthier that way. Also, for the price, I wished they had at least caramelized the onions. (The best burger I ever had was from Brothers' Burger; Chili's is a close second.)

Don't let that creamy topping fool you––it was more like foam; the strawberry milkshake was a letdown. Again, the serving was small (comparable to a medium-size drink in say, McDonald's) and that would have been okay if the drink was rich and creamy. Unfortunately, it was almost watery and the taste was diluted. I am not ordering it again. (Shakey's milkshake is really good; now that would bring the boys to the yard.)

My friends liked their burrito (starts from P145). One complained that there was too much rice in them; I failed to ask if that meant the burrito was too filling, or if there were not much chicken in them.

The fearless fried chicken (P145) was okay. One said she could cook it at home :-P

This was the tortilla chips (P35). Again, the serving was dismal.

Overall, the food was alright but 'alright' and the servings don't justify the prices. My bill came to a total of P359 and I think I have better options with that amount of money.

You can find their menu here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Hunger Games

I haven't read the book (in fact, I didn't know anything about The Hunger Games until an hour before the screening when Tatin thankfully filled me in on the plot), so I can say that my opinion about the movie is tempered and has not been influenced by hype.

It's pretty good, and I give it a rating of 9/10. (The -1 point is because no one was shirtless in the film.)

If like me, you lived under a rock and somehow trudged along 2011 not knowing anything about the story, it is set in a dystopian state, controlled by the Capitol, where its citizens dress as if Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette was modest. Outside it are 12 districts which are forced to send one male and one female to the Hunger Games, an annual, fight-to-the-death reality show.

I like the sinister way the Capitol, which explodes in pink and laces and ruffles and Karl Lagerfeld lookalikes, is presented. I love how dedma they are to the plight of the starving citizens, the absurdity of how one would dress so glamorously while picking out names of those she is theoretically sending to their death. I love Lenny Kravitz and his gold eyelids. I like how the guys from the poorer districts look like they're Abercrombie & Fitch models, although they're quite jarring to see for the overanalyzing or at most, the thinking viewer. I like how human nature is presented at the Games: there really are assholes and bitches who would not think twice about screwing you if it is to their benefit as there are nice ones who would naively help out their competitors.

Going over the movie through my head, I may not have been wowed by a complex or challenging plot or nerve-wracking hooks and nail-biters but I liked its perfect simplicity and styling.


Thursday, March 01, 2012

Dear Bangkok

Dear Bangkok,

I haven't been to many countries but I think you have become one of my favorite cities in the world. I didn't think much of you when I first went there almost a decade ago—you were unbearably hot (excellent problem to have as a guy, but for a location, nah) and it felt like one big Greenhills. The transport system was bleh, and I would much rather walk the 10 blocks from my hotel to wherever I used to hang out at the time.

But now, you've changed so much, and it was all for the better. I love your Skytrain which made traveling from the airport to the city such a breeze. I love how the people would line up to get inside each train, and how they would allow those who are getting off to step out of first.

The people are class, although I must admit, I didn't go to Patpong this time.

I love your footbridges and sidewalks, which are dotted by trees. I never once had to cover my nose because there was no pollution; I also didn't see anyone smoking, except for our bus driver when we were on our way to Koh Samed island.

The food of course was delicious although it's funny how I ended up eating cup noodles all the time because the Tom Yum variant that I had was absolutely similar to the one I had at a restaurant. I also love that your 7-11 have Lays Nori Seaweed flavor. I intensely regret not having brought some home. I love Thai Milk Tea even if we have them back home and they taste exactly the same, but that still didn't stop me from foregoing drinking water.

I love the taxi driver who had aviator shades, and wore a half-buttoned shirt and  nonchalant hair; I love how he made sure I did want to go all the way inside one of the airport links when I could walk the short distance and save fare.

You are still unbearably hot. I didn't love the worst immigration line in the world which took me almost two hours to get past at. I didn't like it that the hot guys couldn't converse in English. Sayang, lol.

I did like meeting new friends who'd show me around and ask me about home and may have pretended to want to visit the Philippines soon. (Manila, I tried my best, but you simply cannot hold a candle to Bangkok, so I had to pimp other Philippines destinations.) I like their smiles and their generous offers that only my friends may know about. I love how they'd mistake me for a fresh college graduate, and how they'd mistake me for a Thai.

I LOVE the shopping.

You and I aren't through yet.


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