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Getting Rid of Bacne (Back Acne)

I was in Sephora yesterday and overheard a woman returning a spot treatment acne gel.  Apparently, the $18 product aggravated her bacne.  I relayed it to a friend whom I know is using the same product and found out that she has quit using it — she said it’s way too expensive for what it can do.  Just recently, she discovered cost-efficient yet effective ways to treat her bacne:

  1. Bathe in the morning, after exercising or if you have had excessive sweating, and at night before going to bed — make sure that the back is clean.  Some areas of the back may be difficult to reach, so use a long-handled gentle brush to thoroughly clean it.
  2. Use an exfoliating body scrub containing salycilic acid*, AHA* or benzoyl peroxide*.  Leave it on for at least 5 minutes before rinsing. [*Actives that help dry out existing pimples and remove dead skin that clogs pores.]
  3. After each bath, apply a pimple cream that contains 10% benzoyl peroxide on each bump.

While bacne is known to be hereditary, some acquire it from bacteria.  In addition, when pores are clogged by dirt, oil, and environmental pollutants, the skin may be more prone to breaking out.  Here are some tips to avoid having bacne:

  • Don’t wear tight clothes like tank tops, sport bras or heavy backpacks especially when you sweat easily.  Tight clothes cause your perspiration to stay on your skin, and this may cause your pores to clog.  Use natural fabrics like cotton to help wick sweat away.
  • Change your towels, pillowcases and bedsheets frequently. In washing them, do not use detergents and fabric conditioners that contain irritating ingredients.
  • Avoid hair conditioners containing panthenol, because it can clog the pores.  Also make sure to rinse off conditioner residue on your back every time you take a shower.
  • Get a back cleansing (the steps are the same as a facial).  It is so relaxing, and can really deep clean your skin.

Best of all, see a dermatologist as soon as you notice something different on your skin.  Remember that prevention is always better than cure :)


Aging Gracefully

Only a few are lucky in the lottery of gene inheritance.  While the genes contribute a lot to young-looking and beautiful skin, it’s also crucial how we treat our skin and body through our lifetime.  During our youth, our skin exudes a certain kind of radiance and vitality — the scientists I’ve worked with in a skincare company said that radiance is actually a visual effect of a well-functioning skin.  As we age, our skin loses the ability to retain moisture so it becomes drier, more flaky, and reveals the results of exposure to the environment which was accumulated over the years.

It helps to get our skincare regimen address the changes as we age to keep our skin looking at its best.  Understanding the physiologic changes that occur each decade can help in taking care of the skin better.  I believe attaining healthy skin is never too late; here are suggested regimens to prevent premature aging in the years to come:

In the 30s, most women start to see the first signs of aging.  These signs are accelerated in those who have spent extensive time under the sun during their younger years — skin easily becomes dry and uneven-toned; and fine expression lines begin to appear.

  1. Sunscreen is a daily necessity.  It helps prevent continued sun-induced cell breakdown and uneven skin.  It’s essential that your product contains both broad spectrum UVB (ultraviolet B light) and UVA (skin-aging and cancer-inducing) ingredients.
  2. Use moisturizers that utilize the best anti-aging technology to help rehydrate the skin as well as heal damaged skin.
  3. Take antioxidants because it’s the best way to fight skin damage that is caused by environmental stressors such as cigarette smoke, pollution, etc.  The best topical antioxidants are idebenone, amino-peptides, coffeeberry, green tea extract, Q10, vitamins C and E.

In the 40s, changes a decade ago become more pronounced.  During this decade, skin changes are primarily due to pre-menopausal effects occuring in the body.  The skin’s collagen starts to breakdown and the elastic tissue starts to lose some elasticity; skin appears duller; skin starts to lose tightness; fine expression lines appear around the eyes and mouth; and signs of photo-aging (sunspots, blotchiness, uneveness, lines) increase.

  1. Daily sun protection is a must.
  2. Don’t use bar soaps because they tend to dry the skin so they are not recommended for use on aging skin.  Instead, use soap-free cleansers as they effectively cleanse without stripping off the moisture.
  3. Moisturizers particularly taking  advantage of ingredients like hyaluronic acid are best.
  4. Antioxidants are more important at this point, not just for their preventive benefits, but because they can correct cell damage, leading to improved appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  5. Use eye creams that contain hydrating ingredients and retinol.
  6. Exfoliate with cleansers or lotions to increase cell turnover and bring out more radiant skin.

In the 50s, estrogen levels drop due to post-menopause so the skin’s natural oil production decreases.  The skin also gets more fragile, therefore it’s injured easily and is slow to heal.  There is also increased loss of elasticity, especially around the eyes.  Expression lines and wrinkles are deeper and eyelids begin to wrinkle.  The skin around the neck may also start to droop… and yes, at this stage the skin is more sensitive to aggressive anti-aging products.

  1. Still use sunscreens in a moisturizing base.
  2. It’s best to apply thick moisturizers as they are best suited for aging skin.
  3. Night creams are a must, especially the ones containing soothing, moisturizing ingredients.
  4. An eye cream containing corrective ingredients in a rich emollient formulation is good.

Efficient Packing

If you’ve struggled over which personal effects to bring, you’re certainly not alone. Packing for a trip is often a struggle — especially for us women — to distinguish what we want and what we need to bring.  I’m sure you agree that in traveling, less is best.  I’m sharing here some practices I’ve employed through the years in order for you to get rid of unnecessary excess baggage:

  1. Review the list of TSA-prohibited items before anything else.
  2. Gather your passport, ticket, valid ID and black/blue-inked pen in one purse and put it in an easy-access pocket of your carry-on or backpack.  It’s good to keep a scanned copy of your passport and paper tickets in your webmail in case you lose any of them during the trip.  Believe it or not, this will keep you stress-free.
  3. Divide your pocket money, even your credit cards, to the number of luggage/bags you’re going to bring.  This is to make sure you’d still survive  in case you get victimized by a thief.  But if you’re checking in some of the bags, make sure you wrap them in a manner than no one will ever think they are valuables.
  4. Do not lock bags you plan to check except with TSA-approved locks; otherwise, if any of them is selected for random screening, securities will have to break the lock to open.  It’s important to remember this because my Delsey bag’s zipper handle got broken and I suspect it was because they forced the lock I used for it.
  5. Keep any medication and important papers in your carry-on bag. On long flights with multiple stopovers (especially if flying via London, LA or other major airports), packing a fresh change of clothes is a good idea as bags tend to get delayed or lost on long haul, multiple stop flights. You don’t want to end up stuck without medication, clothes or your important papers even if it is just for a few days.
  6. If you want to make sure everything else in your bag stays clean and odor free, place your shoes inside airtight plastic bags.
  7. Don’t bring your entire dresser.  Solid shampoo bars and tooth powder (instead of tooth paste) can be easily located on the internet and make carry-on travel in this age of liquid restriction possible. Places like Beijing now bar all liquids in carry-on bags, and you’ll still be able to breeze through without checking. You can also use small bottles to repack shampoo or lotions so that you don’t have to always carry a big bottle with you. This is especially useful if you normally take these items in your carry-on luggage, which as of early 2007 is much more restricted than before.
  8. It is always handy to have a few plastic bags around certain items, especially toiletries. Not only does it counter any leaking, the bags can also come in useful to keep dirty clothes in, as garbage bags or even as a makeshift umbrella. Ziplock or other airtight plastic bags are the best.
  9. Pack everything in clear plastic bags, divided into items e.g. underwear, t-shirts, shorts etc. before packing in your suitcase or backpack — one plastic bag for each type of clothing. This is extremely useful in various ways. When you unpack your bag you just take out a series of bags and you can see immediately what you want, so an overnight stay somewhere just means taking 1 item out of a bag — no rummaging.  In addition, if you have to unpack at customs, instead of having to disgorge all your clothing out in front of everybody, you can calmly take maybe 4 bags out, the contents of which can be clearly seen by the officials. To repack then is also dead easy, just be sure not to leave your plastic bags lying around if you are traveling in nature.
  10. Take only half a tube of toothpaste rolled up tight, store shampoo in small containers, only take half a roll of toilet paper (for emergencies only) and crush it so the middle is folded.
  11. Pack only the clothes you know you will use and if you are traveling beyond 3 weeks, plan to wash them.
  • If you are packing things into a backpack, place the lighter items at the bottom and the heavier ones on top. Your bag will feel lighter this way as the pack rests on your lower back. It is also smart to place the things you use the most on top. Dirty clothes are perfect to pack at the bottom of a backpack.
  • Somehow it seems that bags will hold more if the clothes are rolled rather than folded. If you roll in tissue paper, the clothes will also get less wrinkled.

While carrying a lot of luggage is not recommendable, sometimes it is necessary in the case of relocation. If you have the option, fly via the US as airlines will allow you 64kg (two 32kg bags) instead of the 20kg in the rest of the world. Even if it is just a stopover in the US, you will be allowed to carry the extra weight.

Tips to speed-up security check:

  • Remember that you can only bring very limited amount of liquid and gel items in your carry-on bag.  Travel-sized containers (3 ounces US/100 ml EU or less) are allowed through airport security, but should be placed in ONE 1qt-sized plastic (clear ziplock-style bag).
  • The moment you reach the checkpoint, take off your coat/jacket and shoes; bring out mobile phones, keys, loose change from your pockets and put them in a bin.  Avoid wearing clothes, jewelry, and accessories that contain metal as they could set off the alarm on the metal detector.
  • Take your laptop, digicam, and videocam with cassettes out of their cases and place them in the bin, too.

I have surrendered gazillions of kikay stuff before I learned my lesson on airport security (well, I was being hard-headed most of the time).  My mom never failed to tell me that it’s best to make a list of the things to bring (especially those that you can’t be in-flight without) and pack them way ahead of time.  That’s a helpful one — for sure you wouldn’t want to ruin your day by surrendering personal effects to securities just so you can make it to your flight.  Just a sisterly advice :)


The Bible: World’s Most Amazing Book

My husband shares his “discoveries” from the History Channel from time to time, and I’m just so happy to know that a TV network like HC had a special feature about the Bible.  From that inspiring conversation, I have gathered amazing truths to share in this blog about the Greatest Book:

  • The Bible is the best-selling book of all time.  It has out-sold every book that has ever been written and it still sells more copies every year than any other book in the world.
  • The Bible is unique in its continuity,written over a thousand and five hundred-year time span by more than 40 authors from every walk of life; and has been translated to over 2500 languages.
  • The Bible has withstood the test of time.  Many have tried to burn/destroy it, and outlaw it, from the days of the Roman emperors to some present-day anti-Christ countries.
  • The Bible is the only volume ever produced which contains a large amount of prophecies accurately predicting the future of individual nations, people, cities, and the coming of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
  • Discovery after discovery by modern archeologists have proven the Bible‘s absolute accuracy, which makes it a great source of history.

And look what influential people have said about the Bible:

  • “Indeed, it is an indisputable fact that all the complex and horrendous questions confronting us at home and worldwide have their answer in that single book.”  –President Ronald Reagan
  • “No archeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference… and, by the same token, proper evaluation of biblical decriptions has often led to amazing discoveries.”  –Dr. Nelson Glueck
  • “It is no mere book, but a living creature that conquers all that face it.”  –Napoleon

The Bible is so amazing! I feel so blessed to have received it separately as a birthday, graduation, Easter, Christmas, and wedding gift — I’ll forever be thankful to those who have given those copies.  You know who you are :)


Ovarian Cysts No More

I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 24, and have been doing my best to educate myself about it.  PCOS is caused by insulin resistance, which can lead to many other problems, including diabetes and heart disease.  Based on the consultations I had with doctors, there is no cure for PCOS — the symptoms are only manageable by medications and changes in diet and exercise.  Symptoms usually occur during adolescence but may also begin to appear in the early to mid-20s.  Some of the common physical symptoms include the following:

  • Irregular or absent menstrual period
  • Hirsutism (excessive hair growth on the face, chest, abdomen)
  • Infertility or reduced fertility
  • Obesity
  • Multiple cysts in the ovaries
  • Insulin resistance
  • Acne
  • Hair loss

Having ovarian cysts can seriously interfere fertility and prevent from becoming pregnant.  Since our reproductive system is intelligent enough to know that our internal environment is unsafe for a new baby, many women who suffer from ovarian cysts find it almost impossible to get pregnant.  I was so concerned about my condition, yet I’m so afraid to see my OBgyn for treatment.  Apart from PCOS I also have a dermoid and the only way to remove it is through surgery (which I want to avoid as much as possible).

I prayed so hard and with an extensive i-research, I found a website that offers a permanent cure for ovarian cysts without taking drugs, without the risky surgery, without the typical medications, and most importantly, without any side effects.  I immediately told my husband about it and he allowed me to get into the program.  “Ovarian Cysts No More” is a 150-page downloadable e-book with all the secret natural ovarian cysts cure methods, unique powerful techniques and the step-by step holistic ovarian cysts system that were discovered in over 11 years of research.

The author’s name is Mary Parker.  She herself had PCOS and started testing her system on other ovarian cysts sufferers which yielded the same results.  In less than 7 weeks on average, 37 out of 37 women participating in her experiment had completely got rid of their ovarian cysts.  What’s more is that testimonials say that it worked on all types of ovarian cysts (Follicular cyst, Corpus Luteum cyst, Hemorrhagic cysts, Endometriomas cysts or Cystadenoma) and on all levels of severity and with women of any age.

I’m on my 3rd day to the program and so far I’m feeling positive about it.  There’s no harm in trying, anyway it’s just a $39 (or P1,872)  investment with a money-back guarantee.  To go to the Ovarian Cysts No More sales page, click here.


Home-Found Make-Up Remover

I was devoted to Nars Makeup Remover because of its mild and fragrance-free formula that can be used even on the most sensitive skin, and yet is strong enough to remove even waterproof make-up.  Only a drop or two is necessary to remove everything on the face.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

But last week, my Nars Make-Up Remover ran out so I had to look for a home “option”.  My mom said she read somewhere that extra virgin olive oil can remove make-up and that she still has something left in the kitchen.  I asked, “Extra virgin olive oil? The one where we dip our baguettes into?” And she answered, “Yes, the very same oil”.  So I went to the kitchen and covered the mouth of the bottle with a cotton pad, tipped the bottle over, then used it on my face.  In less than a minute… Voila! It removed my make-up, including my mascara!

Since then, I’ve been using it on my face — it’s natural, leaves a soft after-feel, and cheap.  Moms really know best :-)


Faking It Slim

I started gaining unwanted weight at the age of 28.  Why do I say “unwanted”? Is there such a thing as “wanted weight”? Well, for the longest time I was really thin.  In fact, I even got into a weight gain program just to be 10lbs heavier.  But gone are the days and metabolism slowing down as we age will always be a universal truth.  While exercise remains to be the ideal way to cut down on the bulges, it’s a tough job to handle so I’m sharing with you some tricks to that optical illusion slim.

First things first.  Always remember to accentuate your assets because it would draw the attention away from your problem areas.

For the ARMS

instant-arm-liftslimmer-sleeve2To “slenderize” your arms, use an arm shaper/minimizer underneath your quarter or long-sleeved tops.  Tres Sleek makes them using nicely-textured and smooth fabrics but you’ll be amazed how your arms get compressed.  If you are fond of wearing tees, transparent strips (a brand called Instant Arm Lift makes them) can help you get rid of flabby arms pretty well.



But if any of these don’t appeal to you, you can either wear 3/4 (or slightly shorter) sleeves as they cut off the arms at a slim point which make them look slimmer; or floaty, voluminous, and fluted sleeves.



Don’t wear low-rise hipster pants because they reveal the budge.  Instead, pair up your below-the-belly-button pants with banded tops or wear a belt right above your hips when wearing longer tops and dresses.  Most full, flowing skirts add volume to the lower body which give the illusion of a smaller waist by making the hips look fuller.  If you have extra bucks, get a body shaper because it can tuck the tummy and make the torso appear slimmer.

For the LEGS


Putting on a pair of dark-colored stockings will draw the attention away from your legs.  Pair them with boots and a skirt/dress. If you’re on the short side and want to add a little height, there is nothing better than pairing wide-leg pants with a pair of heels.  Just make sure you pick a pair of pants that doesn’t accentuate your waist.

If you’re into athletics, your calves might look a little out of shape.  You can make your calves look slimmer by slipping on a pair of heels. You don’t have to wear super high heels to achieve this, any heel will pretty much do the job.

Clothes shown above are courtesy of Promod and Weardrobe.


Hassle-Free LTO Registration

I had my car insurance agent to assist me with car registration renewal for the past 7 years — it was a service bundled to my insurance coverage.  However, I’ll be migrating to another country so I had to give up my car insurance for 2009…  no insurance means no free car registration assistance for me.  I panicked because the car will be left with my mom and she’s not very fond of filing with government offices.  I asked friends how they do theirs and they’re all reliant on insurance companies as well.

I did an intensive research before I met Raffy.  He assists busy people in renewing car registration and transferring of car ownership, among other things.  Finding him is a great relief.  You’ll get  more information on what he does in his Multiply site.


Handbag Hierarchy

The handbag increasingly occupies a curious place in the hierarchy of fashion, and it’s already been 3 weeks of bag hierarchy discussion with my inner circle.  Most women base their hierarchy on the manufacturer’s reputation and their products’ actual performance — not just what’s hot.  I guess the definition of “hierarchy” needs to to be defined.  It can be according to (in no particular order):

  • Price — a designer handbag’s price tag is arguably the single most important determinant a prospective buyer entertains when deciding on a purchase. Simply put — how much does it cost, and can you afford it?
  • Material — whether it’s leather (goatskin, calfskin, etc.), exotic skins (alligator, ostrich, snakeskin) or unique materials such as furs, materials used to craft a designer handbag play an important role in determining the bag’s worth.
  • Craftsmanship — a well-made, often hand-made handbag will more than likely outlive its owner. Many enthusiasts put craftsmanship at the top of their list of requirements when selecting a designer handbag.
  • Exclusivity — for many of us, a designer handbag’s allure lies not in any of the aforementioned points but rather in whether or not the bag is easily attainable. The harder it is to score, the more coveted it becomes.
  • History — nothing provides one a sense of belonging more than owning a little piece of handbag history. Those of us that appreciate the art of handbag design will take a label’s long and illustrious history of handbag excellence into account when adding a bag to our wardrobe.
  • Popularity — no need to explain this :)

And the handbag hierarchy* goes…


Top:  Hermès (It’s at the top due to its reputation, classic range and high prices)

Hermès lines that were introduced from 1930s (Kelly, Bolide,  HAC, and Birkin) are still being produced today so I’d say Hermès bags being “unseasonal” make them premium stuff. Once in a while, they design new bags, but they are supposed to be in the collection forever and not just for a particular season.  Also, Hermès handbags are handmade by craftsmen and each bag has an ID of the craftsman who made it.

Second:  Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta (They came next for their amazing quality.  All have very expensive luxe lines but also some range of more affordable but good-quality monogrammed bags)

Chanel has a very lady-like appeal to their bags which makes every woman feel that they need one in their wardrobe. I personally prefer Chanel over Louis Vuitton because the former is harder to find and from what I learned, they make their bags in a more limited quantity.

Louis Vuitton is Louis Vuitton — many women will agree with me.  LV did an excellent job in making their brand so famous and successful.  The good indication, albeit very bad one, is that there are way too many fakes so you easily bump with one who has an “LV” in the streets.  That makes it not-so-exclusive compared to other brands in its category.  To me, it’s more of an investment brand especially if you are looking to resell your classic bags in the future.

Gucci owns Bottega Veneta.  The Gucci Group considers Bottega Veneta the creme de la creme of their portfolio.

Third:  Balenciaga, Gucci, Prada (This group is less established and less premium in price compared to the ones above, however, have good quality and are very popular)

Balenciaga uses naturally distressed goat leather that gives their bags the slouchy, unique and ultra-chic look that everyone loves and adores. Every Hollywood star has one. It’s important to note that Balenciaga does not sell any bags online — not even through stores. There is an exclusive and maintained clientele base, and unless you purchase them at a store, you are buying a fake.

Gucci leather is so luxurious.  The changing leather trims of the monograms add punch to the canvas lines of the brand plus sometimes your particular leather trim never comes back, making your bag special. I have also observed that Gucci women are generally more “fashionista”, and it’s refreshing to see them working those bags up a notch.  Most of the time, Gucci users evoke that well-roundedness and sexiness that is inherently synonymous with the brand.

While other designers focus on the latest trends, Prada bags underline the fact that simple sophistication always wins out over outlandish trends.  Based on a backyard survey, Prada rates the highest among women between 20 and 35 years of age.

Fourth:  Dior, Fendi, YSL, Chl (This group usually attracts high-class women who are new to collecting handbags)

Dior handbags are classically modern. It’s one of the brands that you must check out for the season’s latest and greatest.  It has a style all its own, but really knows how to play up with what’s hot right now and make it just edgy enough and just unique enough to appeal to those with a fashion sense.

Fendi’s long history of 90+ years, with superb quality, innovative design and functional style always make Fendi handbags timeless elegance.   Their bags are manufactured in limited quantities and can cost up to thousands of dollars… but if you do a little investigative shopping, you can get one for as much as 50% off even in high end department stores.  Just go at the end of the season when the new models are coming in, because most of the time the old ones are being clearanced out.

The increasing popularity of Yves Saint Laurent bags among the younger generation says a lot about how elegant as well as playful their designs are.  Most of the YSL bags are done in crocodile leather which gives it that stunning look… the clean cuts and the elegance say it all.

The charisma of Chloé bags come from the restrained chic and the special attention on functions.  Chloé usually has vast storage space accompanied with several elaborate pockets, and the latches and padlocks are designed to firmly close the compartments.  You can take away with it a whole day without worry about the fast-shortening longevity — it has become synonymous with chunky hardware, modern touches, and edgy designs.  And while Chloé bags are not always first in their class, there is at least some effort behind them.

Fifth:  Coach, Tod’s, Kate Spade (This group has more mass market appeal)

Coach combines classic styling and functionality to create their timeless handbag range. Coach bags are very popular because of their less expensive products’ high quality and durability.  A lot of fakes are being sold these days so if you’re planning on buying online, remember that Coach does have bags made in China — but Coach does not have handbags made in Korea. If you get a bag that says “Made in Korea”, return it immediately to the seller because for sure it’s not an authentic Coach bag.

Tod’s bags are known for their simplicity and elegance, however, a lot goes into creating a single bag.  It takes 6 months to age the leather, and 3 months to make the bag by hand — made in Italy of course.  These are not trendy bags, not even the white stuff… they will last a lifetime.

Kate Spade bags have their own unique place in the fashion market. These bags are not the most expensive and top luxury handbags, however they are well appreciated by fashionistas all over the world and they are more affordable that other high-end handbags. Kate Spade bags are playful, colorful and fun.


Why does time run so fast whenever I talk about bags? If only there was a course in designer bag literature :D

* You might have noticed that there are other manufacturers that were not mentioned.  Note that the brands included here are the most coveted ones — at least among the women I know from the US and some Asian countries.


Building A Career At Home

Once a career woman decides to get married, she should be open to the  possibility of becoming a housewife especially under uncontrolled circumstances.  Hubby might be assigned to work in a different city or country, and you simply have to go; or you just have to take some rest in order to conceive (I say this because a lot of women today have this problem due to work-related stress).  I never thought I’d be a housewife myself until I got married and had to give way to my husband’s career.  But it’s not the end of the world.  Whether it’s our husband or our kids that triggered the reason for temporarily staying at home, there are still a lot of stuff we can do to keep ourselves productive.  Here are steps to kick it off:

  1. Determine the type of business you want to pursue.  Do consider that it should be interesting enough for you to manage for a long time, with the potential to be a permanent one.
  2. Carve out your own space.  It’s better that way so you have everything organized and separate from your “home”.
  3. Establish work hours and make sure your business contacts know about it.  This will help especially if your objective is to spend quality time with your kids after the day’s work.  It is important for clients or suppliers to know that if they call you after 5pm, you probably won’t answer the phone.
  4. Maintain realistic expectations and a sense of humor.  There are trade-offs and benefits to any working or mothering situation.  Payments can come either in the form of money or a hug from your kids.  It feels like chaos when worlds collide but you can always adapt… what you do one year does not have to be what you do for the rest of your life.

Balance is always a big challenge, but you will surely get by.  On top of everything, prayers work big time.  It feels good to know that you’re guided by the Lord in any step you will make :)