The Reluctant Stylista

I’ve always liked rifling through someone’s kikay kit (well, so long as it doesn’t have too many products because then I’d be overwhelmed). If I know a friend of mine is obsessed about eyebrows as well, then I would definitely be interested to see what she’s currently using. And I also have friends who share a fondness for organic products with me, and taking a peek in their makeup bags is how I sometimes discover new organic brands (as there are so few!). When it comes to cosmetics and skincare, I usually go by recommendations from friends rather than reviews online–because I just feel these have the personal stamp of approval of a person I trust.

For this post, it’s going to be a bit of both. I’m writing short reviews of products that are in my current rotation and how long it takes me to put on my everyday makeup (yes, I clocked it). And if you’re familiar with my lifestyle, you’ll understand why I had to feature three versions of my kikay kit.

Alex Lapa - The Bare Minimum kikay kit

The Bare Minimum: 3 Products, 3 Minutes

This is the kind of kit I pack in overnight bags, training gear or my beach backpack. There were times when I’d never be sure if I’d be doing yoga, capoeira, trapeze or an impromptu beach trip for the week, but wherever I’d be, these are the absolute essentials that I am never without.

VMV Hypoallergenics Armada Sport 70. If I’m going outdoors, I can forgive myself skipping the moisturizer–but never the SPF. Armada Sport is for face and body, and can pretty much hold up with most outdoor sports. If you’re going surfing however, I would suggest trying a more intense formula or at least reapplying this every hour.

Blistex Deep Renewal. I can’t live without proper lip balm. I apply it religiously, almost fanatically. Possibly every thirty minutes. And immediately after eating or washing my face because my lips crack and bleed if left unattended. Unfortunately, I have a reaction to some products with beeswax, so I’ve been hoarding any kind of balm that doesn’t have it. Blistex Deep Renewal is one of the dozens I carry (I make sure I have one in every bag, on my bedside and at my work desks) and it’s probably my favorite right now. It’s not as moisturizing as the heavy petroleum jelly I favor when I’m just at home, but it’s perfect for outdoors because it has SPF. I would totally recommend it to everyone. Also, I got it from Ace Hardware. How weird is that?

Make Up For Ever Aqua Brow #30. There’s a higher chance of me forgetting underwear than grooming my arches. I may not know much about makeup compared to other beauty bloggers, but dammit, I know eyebrows. You’ll notice the above photo hardly constitutes a makeup kit, if it weren’t for my Holy Grail eyebrow product in there. I can go barefaced–just not without filling in my brows. This act alone takes up about 80-90% of my makeup time and in fact I used to have 4 products just for my brows (I’ve mellowed since then).

Anyway, I’ve been using the MUFE Aqua Brow for years and this is probably only my third tube because a little goes a long way. This usually lasts me more than a year. It’s sweat-proof and holds up underwater quite well so long as you don’t rub it. It’s not completely intact after surfing, but then we’re talking about waves in your face and nature always wins.  I love using the Suesh eyeliner brush for it because the bristles are stiff, making it easier to draw. Though if I want a softer touch, I sometimes use Charm’s. Most days, I use the Aqua Brow as my eyeliner for my upper and lower lids. I don’t go for a tight line with it, but it’s enough to open up my eyes just a little bit without being as dramatic as a black liner.

Alex Lapa - Everyday Wear Kikay Kit


The Everyday Wear: 5-6 products, 5 minutes

If I were going out for errands or the usual non-sport, in-the-city activities, this is what I’ll be wearing. This is me, most days. Here’s what’s been added to The Bare Minimum kit:

Dolly Wink Pencil Eyeliner II. The Japanese really know their eye products, don’t they? I’ve only discovered Dolly Wink this year and I’m pretty impressed with everything I’ve tried so far. One of the mainstays on my vanity is their Pencil Eyeliner II in black. I have perennially oily lids, but this product stays put the whole day without smudging. This pencil is inky black and soft, so it takes a bit of practice to use for tight lining and drawing a cat’s eye. If you’re doing that, this constantly needs to be sharpened; otherwise, if you’re going for the smudgy, smokey liner look then this would be perfect. I wish it would be cheaper, though because I go through it fast!

Waterproof HD Mascara by Browhaus. Mascara for me is serious makeup. And if it’s serious makeup, I normally overlook new or indie brands and go for something that’s established or already famous for it (case in point, Maybelline’s Great Lash, Fairy Drops). Don’t make that mistake with the Browhaus HD Mascara. I’ve always been a fan of Browhaus (I never let anyone else touch my eyebrows) but I was a little reluctant to try their makeup. Until one day I noticed I really liked Kira’s lashes because they looked very natural, really black, but long and not clumpy. It looked perfect for everyday! Of course, it turned out to be the Browhaus HD mascara. I use it for my upper and lower lashes and they stay put the whole day long. I liked it so much, I’ve repurchased even though I don’t normally go for a waterproof formula. And when I said nature always wins? This is the exception. For funsies, I tested this out on a surfing session and despite the fact that I kept rubbing my eyes to get the water out of them, there was nary a smudge. This is the real deal. Of course, you need a really good oil-based makeup remover (try Biore) to remove it.

Innisfree Eco Natural Green Tea BB Cream with SPF 29 PA++. I’m a big fan of Innisfree and their organic products, so I always get a friend of mine who’s going to Korea, Hong Kong or Singapore to buy some for me. This has very light coverage and leaves a slightly dewy finish that looks better after a few hours of wear (unless you’re super oily; I have combination skin). People have often asked why I seem to have dewy and glowing skin even after a workout and once a Capoeira classmate even told me I looked poreless! But that’s only in person–sweaty Innisfree BB Cream doesn’t translate well on camera (so if you know you’re going to photographed events, go for foundation or bring a mattifying powder). The best BB creams I’ve tried are a bit more difficult to spread and this is no exception–but if you want it to go on smoother, I find that using L’Oréal Revitalift Miracle Blur prior to application does a great job.

Etude House Color Lips Fit. This is a very horrible lip product that is extremely drying and patchy so it’s a nightmare to use on my normally chappy lips. However, I do like the color and powdery finish and I had two of them that I’d gotten from a press kit in Singapore–I didn’t want them to go to waste so now I use them as a cheek tint.

Not in the photo: Maybelline’s Fashion Brow Mascara in Yellow Brown. Half the time I opt to soften my look with lighter brows. Since I use MUFE Aqua Brow Dark Brown, it can get a little intense, and I lighten that up and help keep hair in place with a good brow mascara. I also use Etude House’s and James Cooper’s (though the latter tends to have poorly made brushes–twice, my spoolie got stuck in the tubes and I couldn’t get them out).


The I-Will-Be-Photographed Makeup Kit

The Effortless-But-Photo-Op-Ready Kit: 8-10 Products, 15 minutes

Note that I am not a hardcore makeup junkie and in fact, when I have a high profile event or party to go to, I just leave it to makeup artists I trust rather than bother with my own application. But for simpler events where I’d be with other bloggers and media people, I’d go for something I can manage on my own and still look decent. Everyone at these gatherings love to take snaps and I’ve learned two things: I need to stop looking like an oil slick and my eyes need to pop out more because my everyday fresh look pales in comparison to beauty bloggers’ expertly applied makeup. I try to stick to things I can’t really mess up, such as:

Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes. I rarely manage to apply falsies correctly. And I love the look of 50 or so lash extensions, but they’re a pain to surf with. The next best thing? Applying fiber lashes. This almost doubles the length of my own lashes and I like the slightly clumpy, editorial-ish look when paired with a nice smokey eye (otherwise, you can just brush it out). Personally, I feel this is better for Asian lashes because I’ve seen Caucasians with already naturally long lashes put this on and I get freaked out at their unbelievably long spider lashes (again, you can probably just brush it out). It’s more for length than volume, but I’m not complaining because these stay put (I’ve even forgotten to take them out before hitting the beach and they didn’t smudge–but my base mascara was the Browhaus Waterproof HD mascara). One set includes the transplanting gel and the microfiber tube, so those are two products. Follow the instructions carefully or watch how it’s done in YouTube. Most recommend using a base mascara with it, but if you don’t have one, the black transplanting gel works like a regular mascara, too. You can layer this many times to achieve va va voom lashes. My only problem with it is that after some time, you get a couple of microfibers in the transplanting gel tube–but it’s not really a big deal and you’re going to brush both on anyway.

MAC Studio Sculpt SPF 15. I would still use BB cream for the day, but if the event is in the evening or late afternoon, I’d opt for foundation for more coverage. No, I don’t have a special affinity with MAC, but makeup artist Pong Niu gave this to me after a photoshoot one day and it’s my shade so I thought why not? It’s heavier than what I am used to so I make sure to use a finishing powder with it so it won’t be oily after a time.

BYS HD Microfinish Powder. When BYS included this in their press kit last year, I thought it was too serious makeup for me to mess with. But I was getting increasingly frustrated with my shiny beacon of a face in photos and was looking for something to mattify it with (I hate reapplying makeup). I tried this and never looked back. I’m not sure if all HD finishing powders are as good as this one, but I’ve totally nixed the shiny face since then. I’ve also worn it under sunny and humid conditions and it still managed to keep the oil at bay. They’re also a boon for my oily lids–now none of my eye makeup smudges.

Heroine Make

Heroine Make Jewelry Eye Color in Beige Gold. I prefer doing a brown smokey eye with this cute palette that is impressively pigmented. I’m still practicing, and I thought soft browns would be less intimidating to start with. I think I’m getting the hang of it and I’ve really seen the improvements in IG photos. Not in this photo, but I’ve also started using Heroine Make’s liquid eyeliner and I’m also very happy with its inky black formula that doesn’t budge once dry. It’s actually easy to take off with a Q-tip or regular makeup remover, but as far as I can tell it’s pretty much sweat and tear-proof.

closer look at kikay kit

A closer look

L’Oréal Paris Collection Star Red Lipstick in Pure Garnet. This is a deep red lipstick shade and the only matte lippie I can wear right now without fully drying my lips (though I apply a thin coat of balm underneath first). What I like about it is that it’s extremely buildable–the color goes deeper and darker when you apply more layers of it. And it’s quite long-wearing–I can eat and drink and it only fades a little. It’s getting a lot of love from the beauty blogging community lately. For once, I’ll be in this bandwagon because it’s so rare to find a matte formula that won’t make my lips crumbly. Sometimes I mix it with the berry shade of Happy Skin’s Girls’ Night Out, which is a more moisturizing formula and adds a nice dimension to the base color. Sometimes Pure Garnet alone is enough to make you look made up, but if I’m wearing a dark smokey eye, I would opt for a light-colored lipstick like Wet ‘n Wild’s Peachy lipstick.

Pure Garnet is my favorite, but if you want to check out the rest of the L’Oréal Paris Star Reds or Color Riche shades, check them out here:

Loreal Zalora

Tala Scents Velvet Dusk Body Mist. Not really makeup, but it’s currently the scent I’m loving lately! Tala Scents also has Eau de Cologne and Eau de Toilette for longer lasting scents, but I like the lightness of their body mists (plus, they’re only P150!).

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