v i s i o n

Back in college, my answer to “what’s your biggest fear” was blurred vision. At first, I was just being literal about it, because I valued my 20-20 eyesight. And my passion for art and nature fed the desire to always see everything clearly.

Fast forward to today, I still fear having blurred vision. But this time, it’s having a blurred vision of the future.

You see, I’ve never been the type to think about the future. I’ve never had a confident answer for the “where do you see yourself 5, 10, 20 years from now” questions. I enjoy living in the moment. But God is just really stirring my heart to believe for a bigger vision for my life.

And it’s so hard. It’s so hard to look beyond the horizon when you’ve been so content with what’s in front of you, with what’s always been “there.”

It’s also uncomfortable. It goes against everything we’re used to. But He is calling. He is calling us to go beyond what we see. To trust Him in the uncertainty, in the vastness of what’s before us. It’s an open invitation. But are we going to take that step of trust, or are we going to settle?

Whether that’s a long-time childhood dream or a goal you’re just now considering, I want to encourage you to pray about it. Ask God. He is the God of the impossible (Mark 10:27). Don’t limit the God who already gave His only Son to die for our sins so we can live in freedom. Don’t underestimate our Father who’s willing to forgive us and redeem us despite our shortcomings, so we can spend eternity with Him. He is not intimidated by our prayers.

Ask yourself, too. What do you really want to pursue? Where is He calling you? What vision has He been building up in your heart? ASK. Ask, seek, knock. (Matthew 7:7)

But we don’t stop at asking. We need to get out of the boat and walk with Him on water (Read Matthew 14:28-33). When we fix our eyes on the One who has gone ahead of us, we’ll look at the future as beautiful as it is uncertain.

And the best is always, always yet to come.

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s p a c e

I’ve been trying to redesign my room since I watched a documentary on minimalism. I just finished reading a book about tidying, and I even enrolled in a basic interior styling class. This has been going on for a few months now. All of them pointing to a craving for a space where I can grow, to a place where I can breathe and move freely. A room where I can be myself, and keep only the things that spark joy in my heart. Don’t we all want a space like that?

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Things in my room that spark joy

Don’t you want a space where we feel at peace—where you can truly rest? But can we really just work our way to create that? Do I need to hire or to be an interior designer? Do I need a lot of money so I can buy the nicest most minimalist furniture or organizers for my room?

Or maybe…

I should start with the heart. If our hearts were a room, what would it look like? Every day, I need to check if I’m keeping any unnecessary clutter. Are there envious thoughts and feelings of unworthiness piling up in the closet? Have I hidden scraps of unhealthy habits and shameful memories in a box labelled “positive-thinking”? Maybe there’s still a stash of bad temper gathering dust on the shelf?

Our hearts are the hardest working muscle in our body. And yet we won’t give it the space it needs to grow. We won’t give ourselves the time to really release what needs to be released. We let pride build a wall. We start to lock people out so that we’ll save ourselves from the discomfort of vulnerability.

We don’t see the need of opening it up to Someone who can make it new. But that’s what the Lord our God wants for us. He wants to make us new. He’s shown how much He means that through His Son, Jesus—the One whose blood makes us white as snow. He wants our hearts to be cleaned out so that His wonderful grace can make its way in. There’s a space in our hearts that only He can fill.

But will you let Him in?

Let’s pray: Lord, I’m a mess. My heart is filled with junk. I admit that I can’t do everything by myself. I’m sorry for trying to do it all on my own. I repent of my sins, my unbelief and distrust towards You. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Clean house, my Lord. Clear out the unnecessary, so I can receive what You’ve been wanting to give. I’m making room for you this time.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

h u m i l i t y

This is not for you.

This is the dedication page in a novel I was reading. Even after I turned the pages, the line was still stuck in my head. It started impressing something in my heart.

this is not for you

 

This is not for you.

Each of us will have a different reaction to this line. And mine was refusal. I refuse to believe that this is not for me. I’ve claimed it. I’ve already prayed and believed for it. I wanted it to be for me. For me to start. Mine to fight. For me to finish. I was defiant. I wanted it to be for me, by me, and through me.

This is not for you.

This is the promise. This is for me. The achiever in me is restless. I can’t just watch and do nothing. I needed to take action. After all, faith without action is dead, right?

Still, He says, this is not for you.

Those five words stung like rejection, like the promise isn’t going to come anymore. Five words piercing through my heart that longs for control.

This is not for you.

I keep asking God. Why should I just stand here and wait? Why won’t He let me do anything about the promises He gave?

Then He calms my stubborn heart and tells me,

This is not for you. You only need to be still. Let Me fight this for you. Let Me complete what I started in you. This is not for you. This is for my glory. This is so that others will see how I write stories out of lives yielded to Me.

This is not for you.

5 words God used to humble me, to quiet my anxiety, to lead me to trust Him more.

But this doesn’t mean I won’t do anything at all. I will keep praying, I will keep serving, I will keep trusting. I put my hope not on what I will do, but on what He said He’ll do.

I remember what my dear friend and leader, Ayu told us during our Victory group:

God is glorified when we trust Him for the impossible.

See Hebrews 10:23

This is not for you. 

Jesus has already won it for you.

#NotesToSelf

s h e e t  m a s k s

The first time I tried sheet masks was when my friend Airah gave me some for my birthday (June) last year (2016). I only got to try it two months after I received it which resulted to this snap:


It’s really the funnest part of any beauty routine. After this first try, I would always go to the face/beauty section at department stores and pharmacies to check out the masks they have. Every time we go to malls, I would visit The Face Shop or Nature Republic to make sure I always have stock at home. You can say that I got “lulong” 😂 I even tried the animal masks I found at Watsons. (See snap below)

Haha! See what I did there?? After all that trial and (some) error, sheet masks have become a staple in my skincare. It has also become therapeutic for me, and you can also see how much fun I’m making out of doing it. But what are they really for?

SokoGlam shares that sheet masks are the soul of Korean skin care. Infused with concentrated essence, sheet masks adhere to your skin to target various skin concerns—from dryness to pigmentation, you name it, there’s a sheet mask for you.

So here, I’ll be sharing some of the ones I’ve tried (so far).

The Face Shop


What I love most about The Face Shop is they have buy-five-take-five promos (making it at PhP30 per sheet) that let me try every variant that I think is relevant for my beauty routine goals. My favorite from their Real Nature line is the Mung Bean one. The first time I tried it really felt refreshing and there’s a cool sensation on my skin that feels like the essence is really being absorbed. Another fave is Kelp. After using it, it felt as if I just washed my face in a cool spring. The Rice and Acai Berry are the ones I didn’t like as much, mostly because of the scent and the hot sensation when I use them.

Sephora

Whenever we go out of the country, I also check out the beauty stores there to see what masks they have. I got this one from our Singapore trip last April.


I love anything that I can use as a container for my “kuringkudings” so I was really excited when I saw this 16SGD 5-pc. mask set. I felt that my face was extra oily at that time, so I chose this green tea mattifying variant. The packaging is so cute! I think its curved shape really helps concentrate the essence on the mask. Their sheet has a texture that’s supposed to lock in more of the essence but it’s a bit rougher than the usual sheet mask texture. It also has a very perfume-y scent that I’m not a big fan of.

Etude House


Their sheet is the thinnest out of all the brands I’ve tried and I love it!! It’s so light, true to its name—Air Therapy Air Mask! I’ve only tried one variant (the lemon for its brightening effect) but I will definitely go back for the others. It’s also just PhP78!

Dr. Jart+


This one is sooooo thick! It’s like I put on a shirt for my face, but it felt surprisingly more relaxing. And the essence delivered visible results! I tried it on while I had a big pimple on my cheek, the next day it looked smaller and with less redness. This one is on the pricier side though. I bought this in a beauty retailer in Hong Kong for 165HKD.

Tip

You know how there’s so much excess essence in every pack? You can still use that for your next routine! Just take all the essence out of the pack, put it on a zip-lock bag, take a few cotton pads, then seal it in. You can even use the excess to moisturize your neck or heels!

At the end of the day…

Important P.S. Taking care of yourself isn’t necessarily being vain or self-centered. God has blessed you with beauty, all your quirks and flaws included. So as good stewards, we must cultivate what He gave so that in the end we can bring back the glory that belongs to Him. Yes, skincare routines are fun, but taking care of what’s within, what’s in your heart is still more important. May God’s beauty always, always shine brighter than your dewy, glowing skin.

L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.

m i n i m a l i s m

I just finished watching a documentary by Matt D’Avella, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Millburn. It’s about the non-stop consumption and materialism in western societies. We all want more, more, and more. We try to fill our lives with things, losing meaning and purpose along the way. It also magnified the need to clean my room and get rid of my hoarding tendencies. Like really clean it. Get rid of every thing that I’m not using anymore, anything that I’m never going to use. You see, I tend to hold on to a lot of stuff. I’m the type who keeps receipts and bus tickets thinking that I’ll make a collage out of it one day. I’m the kind of person who goes to an art store and thinks “hey, I’d like to do a rubbercut print one day, let me just buy everything I need for that right now.” Only to end up with those materials dusty on my shelf, because that one day never came.

I can also to be very sentimental. That’s why a lot of my drawings I made when I was young are still with me—kept in a bag under my bed. I still have my college plates, even the ones from group work. The documentary—the concept of minimalism is really inspiring a lot of people to move towards a simpler life. A life where you don’t need 5 different types of anything with a different type. I want to move towards that kind of life. I want to stick to the essentials.

I know this won’t be an easy journey. But I really really want to do this. I’ve been sorting all the papers on my shelf and I’ve been going through my stuff on and off for months now. Taking it slow and steady, because it really takes discipline and a lot of heart. A lot of heart to really let go and make space for new things.

I’m reminded of this verse from Isaiah 43:18,

Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.

But it’s the verse after that really encourages me,

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

God is doing a new thing! He is doing a new thing. But where’s our focus? What are we still carrying that’s meant to be forgotten? This process has crossed over from being about getting rid of stuff in my room to uprooting things in my heart. What thoughts am I keeping? What habits should be thrown out? Apart from the shelves and corners of my room, my heart and mind needs a lot of decluttering too. It’s time to clear out, make space for a fresh start.

Don’t we all need that every now and then? I’m so excited for the new things that will spring up, the new things that are springing up. I hope you are too.

But first, it’s time to forget the former. It’s time to stick to what’s who’s essential—God.

 

 

 

g r a n u l a r i t y #2

Sharing my photo set from an Independence Day spent traversing seas and chilling by the beach. Shot using Yashica FX-3 with an expired Superia X-tra 400.

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Daddy and Mommy
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A boat passing by

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April

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This shot reminds me of the Philippine flag
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This boy was our guide at Mt. Gulugod Baby
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This is unfortunately as far as I can go. After I threw up on the trail, we had to go back down.
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This is what greeted us after a failed attempt at climbing the mountain.
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One last shot before we go back to the city.

 

As we celebrate this year’s Independence anniversary, let’s take the time to believe and pray that God will move mightily in our nation. May He do this through leaders, through ordinary people, and through me and you.

Maligayang araw ng kalayaan, mga kababayan!

Let’s also remember to be grateful that we live in a country get to worship Him freely. In other places, a mere mention of the name of Jesus can get you imprisoned or killed. May we never take this freedom for granted. Lift up a prayer for brothers and sisters who are being persecuted because of their faith in God.

Dadating din ang inyong kalayaan.

 

n e w

It’s been months since I last drew something that’s not work-related. I’m grateful to be sharing this artwork and the story behind it. It was a few nights ago… Right before I was about to sleep, I had a moment of “you know what, I don’t care if it’s already 1am, I miss drawing so I’m just going to draw to my heart’s content.”  It was a spur-of-the-moment grab-my-sketchpad-and-just-draw kinda thing.

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This was inspired by what my friend Bianca shared last Monday in her Victory group. This is the only line I wrote in my journal as she was preaching. Everything she shared felt so personal for me and my current situation. I thank God for the Word He spoke through her. It overflowed into an artwork and I plan on sharing her message to other women as well.

What she shared was that sometimes, we get stuck and feel that nothing’s happening in our lives because we’re so fixated on a system instead of focusing on the Source. We’re so busy waiting for a series of events to play out that we miss what God is currently doing in us and around us. We become too focused on what we want to happen, instead of focusing on Him. We forget that every good thing we have is a gift from heaven (James 1:17). Our hearts can be so set on getting promoted at work or in the ministry. We forget that real promotion comes from the One who gives us the ability to produce wealth.

I was looking at the wrong direction. I was trying to force my way into a door that only He will open. I realized then that my heart had to turn from the “system” and go back to the One who holds all things together. After all, this isn’t about what I can do for Him or what He can do for me. This is about Him—His character, His love, His glory.  Draw near to The Source and you will just witness systems fall in to place.

Put your hope in Him who makes a way in the sea, a path through mighty waters. The Lord our God who said:

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

(Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV)

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w a v e s

Waves will come.

And come.

And come.

Storms will come.

And come. 

And come.

They come 

In different forms.

It splashes at your feet.

It swallows you whole.

It’s a breeze then a hurricane 

A trickle then a flood

Get a compass

Brave the waves

Sail the open sea

But anchor your soul.

Seek a captain you can trust.  

Let Jesus steer you through.

The waves will come 

Waves of disappointment, anxiety, and grief

The storms will come

Storms of heartbreak, insecurity, and unbelief

But you’re still 

You’re still

In an ocean of grace. 

Old artwork. New meaning.

g r o w t h

Before you get a full grown plant, you have to start with a seed. And that seed has to go through a step-by-step process in order to grow. This may sound simple but it’s not as easy. It can be slow, messy, and painful.

we are buried.jpg

When you are planted, you get buried. But you’re not buried like the dead is buried. When we bury the dead, we’re trying to get rid of the body. But when a seed is buried, there’s an expectation that it will come up, transformed, without the resemblance of how it came down.

That’s what happens when God plants us. He brings us down deep into the ground where it’s dark. We are concealed. Our calling isn’t in its fullest form. It’s still a seed. We need to embrace the soil we get planted in, the season we’re in, even the company or campus you’re currently in. We need to believe that though it may be dark or unclear where we are right now, God is nourishing us through that soil.

But how do we go up? How does a seed turn into a sprout?

we are watered.jpg

A seed needs nourishment in order to grow, and one of its most vital nourishment is water. We get watered through the people around us, through fellowship with other believers, discipleship, worship, and our Victory group. Our experiences water us as well. The blessings and the victories, even the trials and tears serve as water.

The amazing and beautiful truth is, no matter how low the seed will go… The water will always reach it. No matter how rocky, or weedy the surface of the soil, water always flows through.

There’s also the painful reality that a seed bursts when watered. It cannot transform if it doesn’t burst. That transformation can only come through Jesus—the Living Water. When we are soaked in the presence of Jesus, we’re like a plant that finally breaks out of a seed—our calling is revealed, our purpose springs.

What do we do when our calling is revealed?

we grow.jpg

We grow into our calling. We become who God planned us to be. We are God’s field and He wants us to grow. He wants to grow our faith and trust in Him. We go from being a seed buried underground to becoming a plant with a purpose. He wants us to outgrow our bad habits, our fears, our mistakes, our ego and self-sufficiency. He wants us to walk in His light. He wants us cleansed from our sins. But it won’t be easy. It will take time. It will be painful. Sometimes we’ll have to go through the process over and over. But in the end, it will be worth it.

No matter where we are right now, we can trust that He will bring the growth. But we need to go through the messiness and darkness of being buried and hidden, the sustenance from being watered, and the pain of growth so we can experience the fullness of joy when the time of harvest arrives.

He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

(Psalm 126:6)

f a i t h f u l n e s s

Last November, when Mommy found out that Tita Erly (her youngest sister) was 3-months pregnant, she immediately looked for dates she’d book for a trip to Singapore. She had to #BookIt because she wanted us to witness the breakthrough. You see, Tita Erly and Tito Aldrin (her husband) has been married for almost 8 years. They’ve also been trying to have a baby for almost 8 years. So when Mommy learned that they’re finally pregnant, she calculated which month the baby would be due, and then she booked our flight.

The main reason we traveled to Singapore isn’t to see tourist spots or landmarks. Those were just bonuses. It was really Mason Lucas, born on April 7, 2017, evidence of God’s faithfulness in the lives of Tita Erly and Tito Aldrin. It was also our Inapo’s first time to ride a plane and go on an out-of-the-country trip. This trip is definitely worth the gastos and the pagod. Thank you God for providing! From the strength to walk around even if I had back pain to the financial provision all throughout! 

Here are photos of some the things we did while we were there.

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3 sisters and Inapo in front of the Universal Studios
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The San Jose family (our neighbors) welcomes us to their Singapore home
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Chili crab, cereal prawns, and bakut teh made by Tita Grace
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LRT on the way to Tita Erly’s home where we stayed. Their transportation system made it easy to go around, even when I was alone.
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Mirrorfie with the big spheres in front of the Asian Civilisations Museum
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Solo museum run at the Asian Civilisations Museum
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$1 ice cream sandwich by the river
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People-watching by the river
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Listened to rehearsals for a cultural night at the Esplanade
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I attended a poetry event at the Arts House (Singapore’s first Parliament House that was repurposed)
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Mirrorfie at The Arthouse’s restroom
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Went shopping at Chinatown
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Seafood kway teow and oyster omelette at Chinatown’s Food Street
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Hahaha Daddy doing the usual tourist-y thing
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Family photo at Gardens by the bay
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Being millenial at the Parkview Museum
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Dinner with the Nitros
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Last-day lunch at Din Tai Fung
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The main attraction: baby Mason Lucas! Isn’t he the cutest??

I listed about 15+ places I wanted to visit there but I only checked off around 4 or 5. But it was really a time well spent with my family. I instantly felt at home because of the people who welcomed us. I’m very thankful for Tita Erly and Tito Aldrin, Tita Grace and Tito Jhune, and Tito Ine and family. I’ll definitely go back!

 

m a k e u p

My journey into the big world of beauty only started last year. I got ushered in when I took the Makeup Techniques short course at SoFA Design Institute. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to join the class. I’ve never really seen makeup as something I’d like to learn. Yes, I appreciate beauty editorials in magazines, and I’ve watched makeup artists do their magic during shoots; but I’ve never thought of doing something like that. So if you told me a year ago that I would, in fact, DO something like that, I would laugh and shrug it off.

I enrolled for that class thinking why not? I’ve never done it before and trying wouldn’t hurt. I can treat it as learning another creative skill. This time, the face will be my new canvas.

Those thoughts eventually made way for a shift in perspective. From seeing makeup as a showcase of vanity, I now see that it can also be a form of creative expression. From seeing it as superficial to being a way of caring for yourself. I learned that makeup isn’t all about the glamour. It’s not just about looking good to feel good. I even used to look at putting stuff on your face as tampering on the “natural” beauty that God gave. Now I see it as a means of being a good steward of what He created.

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My MUA mentor, Bobby Carlos

That’s not all. Through the class, I got to learn from one of the best in the industry, Bobby Carlos. He always encouraged us that we can never be like him when it comes to being a makeup artist; because we can always be better. With his passion for the art and teaching, learning became fun and exciting. I also met people from different backgrounds—an immigration officer, a microbiologist, a nursing student, and many others—who have the same passion for makeup. I gained new friends and I got to work with people who excel in their craft (shoutout to Neeca Duncil and Wilmark Jolindon). My character was stretched especially when it comes to interacting with people. The journey wasn’t easy, but I’m so grateful I tried.

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My homeworks from top left: contouring, eyeshadows, glam looks, fashion runway, wedding, wing tips, no-brows, high brows, makeup for black and white photos, and avant garde

That try led to the creation of this book.

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This is my makeup manifesto. I remixed an original poem by Bunny Ty called Some Women. The poem was part of my thesis during my 4th year in college. It still surprises me how my battle cry against makeup changed.

Stepping out of your comfort zone can really bring you into a whole new realm of intimidating and amazing. But that step can also be God’s cue to start orchestrating the unimaginable in your life. And it all starts with trying AND trusting. Try without knowing lies ahead. But trust that the try will result to something—something wonderful, something you’ll learn from, something worth telling over and over. Nothing is wasted with God.

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May we always have the courage to try and trust, and to always believe the Maker of all good things can create something beautiful out of us.

 

s k i n c a r e #1

My priorities in spending have changed. From spending so much on art materials, I am now splurging on skincare products. I’m a changed woman. Haha. But!! It’s not as impulsive as buying a 12 x 18″ rubber and a set of chisels (na inaalikabok na sa shelf sa kwarto ngayon huhu) because I do my research before selecting what to buy. So here’s what I learned plus my first-impression reviews on my recent BeautyMNL haul.

Our skin is our largest organ. It gets exposed to a lot of things—sun, smoke, dust, etc. Acne starts when pores get clogged with too much sebum and dead skin cells. So it’s important to remove all the dirt our skin gets exposed to. Using Bioré’s cleansing oil is a good start. It has an apple-y scent that I really like. It becomes milky when you wash it off, making sure that all impurities get washed off with it.

I did a bit of reading on what works best on skin with acne marks (which I have a lot of). I found the 2 key ingredients to look out for when you want to bid bye-bye to blemishes:

First one’s vitamin C

Also known as ascorbic acid, this was our go-to vitamin growing up. Turns out it’s good for you—inside, and out! This ingredient has antioxidant properties that play a vital role in the production and maintenance of collagen (the main structural protein that gives the skin strength and structure). When used on skin, it helps brighten and prevent UV damage.

I wanted to buy Freshly Juiced Vitamin C from Dear Klairs but it’s still out of stock and I already bought Innisfree’s Green Tea Seed Serum (which I will also review in another post haha yes, ang daming aaralin!)

And then there’s snail mucin

Can you imagine putting snail slime on your skin? Read on before turning away in disgust, because it’s an ingredient that packed with all the right nutrients for clearer skin. It contains hyaluronic acid that will keep your skin glowing, and anti-aging properties that help soothe skin, repair damage, and lock in moisture.

Products with snail mucin from my haul:

Mizon Snail Repairing foam cleanser: It has a mild scent and a soft cream-like texture that easily works into a lather. My skin doesn’t feel so tight after using this which is good because it means it’s not stripping off needed moisture.

Mizon All in One snail cream: BeautyMNL said this cream is good for supercharging your skincare routine. It stings a bit on some parts of my face when I apply this. I’m guessing that those areas are a bit problematic.

Wait, did I say 2 ingredients? Because I’m adding this one: aloe vera

Just as the plant is a staple in our lolas’ gardens, this ingredient can be found in almost every type of beauty product—from shampoos to lotions to makeup removers. Its healing properties is good for treating acne marks, and reducing redness and inflammation. My tub of Nature Republic’s aloe vera gel that’s almost empty says a lot on how good this ingredient is.

The only product from my beauty loot with this ingredient is Benton’s Aloe BHA toner: the aloe x BHA combo is perfect for removing dead skin cells without dehydrating the skin. The snail cream that I use after easily gets absorbed, thanks to a few pats from this toner.

Lastly, more than the ingredients or products I mentioned, it’s important to have a better lifestyle for your skin to clear up. Sleep better, eat better, look better!

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV)

This is my face (with natural lighting from the window) looks like as of April 25, 2017:

My face

I started using the products on April 27, so I will update this post after 2 weeks to see results. See you then!

May 11 edit:

There’s almost no noticeable brightening on my blemishes. I also broke out a few days ago, (most likely because I tried a different toner the days before) hence the big acne spot on my left cheek (see leftmost photo). I’ll keep using the products though! I’m still hopeful! I also added the Innisfree Green Tea Seed serum to my night routine just this week.

Skincare update

Stay tuned for updates!