Thursday, January 31, 2013

Unboxing BDJ Dec-Jan Box + 7-Day Challenge

Don't you just love receiving presents? I know I do.

This post will mostly talk about this blogger's attempt at being a beauty expert. Let's start with the experience of receiving my first BDJ Box.

If you're wondering what a BDJ Box is, think Christmases past when as children we get to open loads of boxes of gifts with all sorts of toys and chocolates and goodies. Yep, that's exactly how I felt when I opened my box. If you want a better description (that does not include toys and chocolates), you can check their website. That's a more reliable source than I am. =)

Now, on to the seven-day challenge!

BDJ has asked subscribers to use the products in the box we received for seven days and to document the process. Being a little lazy on the documentation part, I decided to make this instead.

Presenting the process of trying to be girly with the help of BDJ. (PS, You have the right to skip this video. =)

What video? haha removed the vid due to personal fear of discovery. =p

Obviously, that wasn't done for seven days, but I did follow the rule of using their products for seven days. (I keep saying seven days; now I can hear Sadako saying it on the phone. Grrrr.)

So here are the products used in order of appearance.

Flormar Longwearing Lipstick

This is the first time I've ever heard of this lipstick, and it's made a very good impression on me.

BDJ says this is a brand from Turkey, and if it really is, then they are about to be really popular here. They weren't kidding when they named it longwearing. My test to prove this was to sleep on it. Okay, not literally, but I did wear it while sleeping. When I woke up, it was still all there. I felt like one of those actresses on TV who wakes up wearing makeup even when they're supposedly from a poor family. Side story aside, the moisture content of this product is also unbelievable. Most long-wearing lipsticks tend to dry up the lips because of the duration of time the product is on your lips. Flormar's lipstick doesn't dry up lips at all. Actually, even when I lick my lips (which I have recently found out that I shouldn't do), the lipstick retains its moisturizing ability.

I do have some qualms with the product, and it would be unfair if I don't warn you ahead of time. When they said "Longwearing," they really mean it. That also means it's a bit hard to remove. Also, the picture can't show it very well, but the color I got is a bit too metallic and glittery. It's a beautiful color, but for my personal preference, I would have liked it without the metallic glitter effect. Then again, it does look good on camera, doesn't it?

Pantene Pro-V All Day Smooth Miracle Water

Help your hair maintain perfect moisture balance. Use this as a finishing touch to your daily hair care regimen (after shower), leaving your hair fragrant and moisturized. For best results, use with the full Pantene system.

Miracle water indeed. I have to admit that I'm a Pantene user since the time my parents decided they shouldn't allow me to experiment mixing other shampoos in the bath. Yes, that was way, way back when my hair was long and straight and was a guinea pig of sorts for my random hair care concoctions. So when I got this bottle of Pantene Miracle Water, I knew I was getting something fairly better than any other.

Although I've only used it a couple of times, I can tell that it is really, really effective. It makes hair feel soft and bouncy and smooth. I don't know if it looks anywhere near commercial-model hair, but I do feel that it's getting there. Plus it's not sticky like most leave-on conditioners are. Once you've placed the product on your hair, it glides on and gets absorbed as if it was never there at all. I would definitely recommend this to those who stay for hours inside air-conditioned offices as the Miracle Water protects hair from drying, avoiding those awkward static-hair moments.

If anyone's wondering why I haven't used this a whole lot if I'm saying that it really works, that's because I've recently digipermed my hair, and I still don't know if the product would be okay for chemically treated hair. If anyone has an answer to that, I'd be glad to hear from you.

Snoe Beauty Beso Balm

This is by far my favorite product of the batch.

I don't know if you can read the warning, but it says, "Prolonged use may attract the opposite gender and may cause intense flirting."

This wins best product copy in my list. The print on its packaging says it all. I even have a funny story attached to it. 

Always heed the warning. I started using this balm right when I received the box. The next day, the magnetism the product says would attract opposite genders started to attract "other species" (scare quotes intended). There was a sudden spotlight turned on me, and frankly, it was a weird and conspiratorial change. Could the balm have been that effective? I don't know, but I plan to keep using this until it finally runs out, maybe find myself a Marius in the process too.

For those who prefer reading more informative reviews, I'd just like to say that the balm is the bomb (read like a surfer dude). At first swipe on your lips, it would seem to be like any other lip balm, but when a few seconds pass, it starts to cool your lips like menthol candies. I'm not sure about the "freshens breath" part of its advertisement, but it does make me feel like my breath doesn't stink much. (Not to say that it does at all, but you get the picture . . . I hope.) The Beso Balm is like a welcome lip care product for those days when wearing lipstick doesn't make you feel any prettier. It's also very effective in cold places and doesn't chap lips.

Burberry Body Eau De Toilette

Ever tried rubbing your wrists on one of those catalogs with scents to sell? Well, I got the better version.

 Yes, that is indeed Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Sexy model for a sexy scent. I love the Burberry Body scent simply because it's not the overpowering kind of scent. It's more of powdery and soft. I obviously don't know the right words to describe scents, but soft and powdery are the nearest descriptions I have of the scent. It's also not the old-woman type of scent. It's subtle and sweet and has quite a long staying power.

Unfortunately, the packaging is always too small. Sample sizes should be bigger. =))

Nevertheless, I loved using this perfume. I'm going to have to save the rest of it for special occasions like . . . Mondays. =)

Etude House Moistfull Collagen Trial Kit (Emulsion and Freshener)

I'm going to say it first just so I can let it out. What I don't like about this product is that I don't know how to use it. Blame it on me for not using the wealth of the world wide web, but I can also blame it on the fact that the only English words in the whole trial kit would be the product name. There are no instructions. Sniff. I had to go to Etude House and actually ask one of the girls which one is which. She told me the facial cleanser was like the toner and the emulsion was the moisturizer. I took her advice.

That being said, I love the aftereffect of both products. Since my face is sensitive and only really loves Asian products, a Korean skin care kit is perfect. It keeps my face feel soft and (yes, I'm going to say it because I love the word) fluffy. I'm not totally convinced about the product though, but I'm sure it's also going to work on other girls around the world.

Absentee Products from the Video

Flormar Supershine Nail Enamel

I love this nail enamel. <3

Okay, I have no idea what people say when reviewing nail polish, but I'm just going to leave this part saying that the color is absolutely gorgeous, the polish doesn't chip easily, and that it's perfect for people like me who like to make DIY nail art. See pictures below.

I'd have to thank the person who gave this notebook to me for the inspiration of polka hearts. And just a little trivia nobody really cares about, I used poster paint for the polka dots and hearts on my nails. Just saying. =)

Last but Definitely Not the Least

Pevonia Botanica Phyto-Gel Cleanser

Feel velvety soft skin!

Meet the Phyto-Gel Cleanser. It's one of those facial washes you wish you'd never run out of.

My skin isn't usually accustomed to new products. I have reservations when using new products, especially on my face. When I did risk using Pevonia's cleanser though, I found it really worthwhile. Unlike other cleansers that leave your face like it's been sucked out of life, Pevonia's cleanser makes your face feel (I don't even know if this is the right word) plump. I mean I think I could feel the pores tighten, and my face felt firmer even after just the first wash. It's that effective. And for sensitive skin like mine, it doesn't feel soapy or extremely moisturizing like lotion. It foams just the right way, and a little goes a real long way. The packaging of the sample may be small, but it packs a punch. I've used this for almost a week now, and my face feels just as clean and just the way as when I first used it. Its efficacy doesn't wear out the longer you use it. Instead, it works even better when used daily. I love this product, and yes, I'd love to have the full-size version of Pevonia's Phyto-Gel Cleanser.

For those who can afford it, you definitely need to try this one. If you try it but it doesn't work well with your skin, I heard that there are other products from Pevonia that would suit any skin type. Plus, know that there is soMEone here ready to use it for you. =)

So that's the seven products I got from the BDJ Box.

But wait, there's more!

Tony Moly Broccoli Sprout Cleansing Cream

Here's another trivia about my rookie adventures in the beauty department: I actually thought this was a facial cleanser and wondered why it wouldn't foam. Hmm. Epic fail?

Don't you just love Tony Moly's packaging? And yes, I'm sorry for not removing my own broccoli from its wrap.

The cleansing cream is cool on the face and is really effective in removing dirt and dead skin cells on your face. It's also very effective in removing makeup.

What I love about this cleansing cream is that after using it, my face doesn't feel like it went through the harshness of makeup removers. It has antioxidants from blueberry, tomato, lavender, rosa canina fruit, and spinach that help revitalize skin. (Wait, I didn't read broccoli in the ingredients.) But like other Korean products, they don't have English instructions. Other than that, this product is best for those who don't have the time or the strength to wash their faces before sleeping.

Tony Moly Tomatox Magic White Massage Pack

This is the cutest case ever.

Yeah, I thought the tomato was edible too.

Anyway, this tomato belongs to my mother. She has the full-size version of the Tomatox massage pack. I first got to use it last Christmas, and it was a refreshing feeling. Yes, it does detoxify, as the product name suggests. It also helps clear impurities. It's like the equivalent of a face mask, only without the mask.

I may not be totally sold to this product since the first time I used it caused me to have two medium-sized pimples, but I think people who have much less sensitive skin than I have will cotton to this product. It's a splurge and a treat for the face and would go well with a long vacation and a glass of iced tea. Tony Moly's product is, like other Asian products, definitely suited for people who like to try out new items and people who enjoy aesthetic packaging as well as content.

And that's all I have to say about my box's content.

Excited to get my February BDJ Box.

On a lighter and more personal note, I'd like to thank BDJ for the FMN ideas journal. I love it! I love notebooks or notepads or anything related to writing. So yeah, thanks a whole bunch!

So what's my beauty resolution for the year? It's to always keep my face clean and not to keep touching it, especially when I've just handled money. That, I think, is one of the most basic things I need to do. And I should probably also take care of my hair since I really prefer just leaving it alone to its own devices. What's your beauty resolution? <3

Love lots everyone, and always remember that your inner beauty is still more important than the outer beauty.

Obligatory hashtags: #bdjbox #bdjbox7day #beautybox
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Love Letter to Les Misérables

(Note: May contain spoilers. Be warned.)

Dearest Les Misérables,

You took my breath away. There is no better way to say what you've done to me. No, I didn't die because of it, but I do remember literally holding my breath (as with everyone else in the cinema) while watching. You made us cry. I could hear my seatmates sniffing during the movie. I was a little more hesitant to let my feelings go, but in the end, when I stepped outside and finally realized the movie was over, well, you made me cry too.

You were so beautiful. I must admit that I am not your biggest fan. I haven't read the book. I have only seen the movie with Liam Neeson just last year. I have only listened to the musical last year also, and it was the tenth anniversary version, so everyone was either just standing or sitting down. This latest movie, however, is simply divine. You have melded together the plain movie and the musical seamlessly. You have shown that you are ambitious, and yet your effort has paid well. I salute you.

To the people who made this movie possible, thank you. 

The cinematography was beautiful. I couldn't help but feel a bit of Tim Burton in some of the scenes, but I guess I'm just biased when it comes to musicals and Europe. (I'm obviously referring to Sweeney Todd.) The buildings, the set, the sudden zoom outs, and the camera panning was a perfect combination of digital and actual (I think) shooting. It wasn't soft. (Soft being a term I use when the buildings and images look too smooth and computer generated.) I love your smooth transitions, from day to night, from year to year, from place to place. I love the way the camera pans and then everything just changes. I love the details. I don't know if there were chroma boards used (amazing if there weren't), but the backgrounds were a bit too painted for me. I mean, they weren't photo studio background types (like the ones studios ask you to stand in front of to make the picture look like it was taken somewhere else), but they did look a bit chalky. A bit too still too. Then again backgrounds don't really matter much when you have a cast as powerful as the ones you have. I love the falling furniture. I love the ship and the harbor. I love the effect of gun powder going off in the faces of the revolutionists. I love the seemingly lack of blood when the guns go off, then the red rainwater runoff on the streets after the fight. I love the stone walls of Paris. I love the colors of the scenes---warm, cold, bloody, and gray. I love the . . . oh, pfft, I love everything.

To the casting director, you had your job cut out for you, didn't you? Nevertheless, you did awesome. *clap clap*

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean

I've only heard Hugh (feeling close? =) sing during the 84th Academy Awards, so I'm not very familiar with his vocal range. I know that he sings; he's obviously proven that with this movie. And I definitely know that he acts very, very excellently. Now combine those two talents and place them in a character role that has been probably coveted by numerous actors/artists and you get what we all saw Hugh did. His acting was impeccable. His role was the toughest because he had to be a convict, a mayor, a runaway, and a father all in one movie. He had to lose weight then gain weight. He had to age during the movie. And his eyes were very expressive. You could see his eyes burning, tearing up, or just dying 'til the end. Yes, he was the best choice, as Tom Hooper (director) had said. But I am a bit unsure about his singing. Given, his performance was amazing, but I guess I was expecting a deeper, manlier voice from him. His voice as Jean Valjean seemed too high. I could compare it to Christine in the Phantom of the Opera in Manila whose voice was too powerful for her character (remind me to post about POTO someday). There were high notes that seemed too high. He hit them and hit them well, no doubt, but something felt . . . different. Perhaps it's because I heard Colm Wilkinson sing those songs first. And yes, it must have been so challenging for Hugh to perform as Valjean when the original Valjean was also there, as the monsignor! Yeah, Colm has aged, but his voice is still as powerful and deep and enchanting as ever.

Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert

The first feedback I heard about Russell playing this role was from Adam Lambert saying that they made nonsingers sing and that ruined the movie for him. Well, I beg to differ. Again, I may just be biased because I love Russell and still think of him as Maximus no matter what movie he's in. His performance in Les Mis is still brilliant. Granted, his voice was "underwhelming" (a term from someone else), but I think he pulled it off well. I actually like his voice better than Hugh's. (Okay, pretend you didn't read that.) It was deeper and more . . . bass? Rounder, I would say. (I have adjectives for certain things that seem inappropriate for normal people, sorry.) I liked his songs. I loved his acting. I love his anger, his confusion. I love how he seems so mean, then seems so lost. I love his character, and I love how he brought Javert to life again. What I didn't love about his part was when he jumped off the bridge. I mean, really? The bone-breaking sound? Pfft. I was snickering silently in italics when I heard it. Cartoonish sound effects aside, Russell as Javert was awesome. I love how official he looked when he drew his sword to fight Valjean in the hospital when Fantine just died. He looked so posed and poised. I love Maximus! *hearts all over*

Anne Hathaway as Fantine

Anne couldn't have done it better. Her role as Fantine was epic. Her voice was amazing with a capital A. And the feelings! Her "I Dreamed a Dream" was epic. And to think all the camera focused was her face. There was nothing else to distract the audience with. It was like watching a live broadway musical with the singers right in front of you. You could see every expression that crosses their face, and Fantine's song had a lot of expressions in it. Anne's voice control was awesome. Hitting those notes WHILE crying? *jaw dropped* For such a short airtime, Fantine wowed everyone with her singing. Acting-wise, Anne was spot on. From the defending herself, to the cutting of her hair, to the you-know-what, until she died, she gave it everything she's got. She didn't care that she looked really (for lack of a better word) ugly during some of the scenes. Her face just contorted into something very human and unlike the faces we see in movies. When she cried, she just cried like every other human does---scrunched up face and all. Anne-believable. <3 (pun intended) PS I did think it would have been better if she wasn't wearing pink in the factory. She stood out too much even though she really needed to stand out. Just saying.

Amanda Seyfried as Cosette

There were many comments about Amanda not being a good choice for the role. I really have nothing to say to that. Whenever I see Cosette, there's always a teeny tiny voice in my head that starts singing "Honey, honey, how it kills me, uh huh." Yeah, that's from Mamma Mia. That was one of my comfort movies when I still had my VCD of the movie, and because I kept watching it over and over, whenever I see Amanda, I always associate her with the Mamma Mia. For her role as Cosette though, I think her voice was, hmm, amazing in terms of pitch. Man, she can hit those almost-whistle notes. She can also sing while crying, which is something this movie has a lot of. I'm going to stop with Amanda now before I start going on about her eyes. =)

Eddie Redmayne as Marius
Well, hello there, handsome! Hihi. See, that's my new crush. He's got the voice of someone I can listen to forever. I actually started daydreaming about bumping into him in a corner bookstore somewhere in London while I was singing Eponine's song to myself and he eavesdrops on me and . . . then I realize I'm still in the cinema, staring at his face while he sings about tables and chairs. *sigh* He's about to make waves in the movie industry if he wants to. His voice can drown me. The control on those low notes, whew. And his expressions of love, pfft. You're one handsome fellow, Eddie, and yes, I do want to bump into you in a corner bookstore somewhere in London while singing Eponine's song to myself and you eavesdropping on me. <3

Samantha Barks as Eponine

Now she's a surprise. She's new to me and very rarely does someone new make a tremendous impression on me. Samantha did just that. She's so pretty. And her voice is beautiful. She is awesome. Her first full body shot also took me by surprise. (I know the rest of the audience were also surprised, judging from the collective gasp/reaction I heard.) She's so thin. And I mean really thin. Was that her real waist? Nevertheless, she sings like a dream. "On My Own" has never felt so heartbreaking until I saw and heard her singing it. You could see her pain and the bits and pieces of her soul drowning in the rain. Her facial expressions were beautiful. I bet every other girl who has felt the way she felt also cried when she cried. Whew. I am officially going to memorize that song even if I can't hit her notes. And Eponine's dying song, "A Little Fall of Rain," was just . . . wow. I know I'd like Lea Salonga to keep her role as Eponine, but Samantha is doing great on her own. (Oh, pun.)

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Thénardiers

Now I would be crazy if I forgot to mention these two. As usual, Helena is the best at roles like this. She and Sacha brought so much color and comedy to the movie that without them, it would actually be a bit of a drag. They were like breathing spaces for those who had to wipe their tears away before the next intense scene came up. The pair of actors were such a good match. I was half hoping that Johnny Depp would pop out somewhere or the rest of Sweeney Todd would make a surprise appearance. The Thénardiers make the movie so real. They make life during the French revolution so real. They bring the movie back down to earth with their antics and money-making schemes. And these two, Helena and Sacha, could do it in the movie better than anyone else. If anyone disagrees, then it's "off with your head"! =)

For the rest of the cast, you guys are awesome. I especially love Gavroche because he's still so young and his voice sounds awesome. He acts really well too. And I love the singers of "At the End of the Day" because they make it look so easy. The blending was flawless. It was beautiful.

By the time Javert threw himself off the bridge and Marius and Cosette finally got together, I didn't know what to expect. As I've said, I haven't seen the full musical and the plain movie version's ending was a bit vague. So watching Valjean die was something I didn't expect. And seeing Colm there meant he was dead too. And Fantine's appearance as a ghost was a bit funny, like a soap commercial. Then they heard everyone who died, singing "Do You Hear the People Sing?" and it was the most beautiful ending I have ever seen. We couldn't wait to clap afterward. I wanted to do a standing ovation, but then I remembered that I wasn't in a real theater. It was the perfect conclusion to such an epic movie.

In the end, I guess what makes the movie so beautiful is that the story itself is timeless. We've heard about the story in so many ways. We've read references to the book and explanations on what really happened. We've seen the nonmusical version. Yet through all that, the reality of the story still draws us in. It is a story of humanity, of freedom, of the will and desire to change, of pride and denial, of love, of truth, of sacrifice. It is a story of how people can come together for want of change. A story of humanity's desire to be equal and yet, and the song goes, "we're only equal when we're dead." A story of heartbreak and hope. Les Misérables is a timeless tale, and the movie is definitely a must-see. Don't wait until it's too late to watch it on the big screen. It's worth every coin and minute you have.

Again, thank you, Les Misérables, for making my first movie of the year awesome. Thank you for your effort. You have made this girl's life and dreams ignite once more. Keep it up and God bless!

PS I probably forgot to write about other stuff I've noticed in the movie, but I'll let that slide. The point is, I'm inviting all of you to watch it and see for yourself what you would miss if you don't watch it. Get it? Got it.