How to glow up, in 10 easy steps.


The author at sixteen.

A unapologetically narcissistic but hopefully encouraging guide to being good looking (like me!).

(…okay, that was embarrassing. Moving on…)

1. Get a good (phone) camera. Preferably one with access to beauty filters, because there will be days when your skin, like you, is in a bad mood and just wants to self-destruct. On those days, remember, “Pics or it didn’t happen.” If the pics don’t show it, IT NEVER HAPPENED. Also, download and USE the SNOW App. All your oppas and unnies do.

2. Know your angles. Let’s face it, millennials: we all looked heinous as teenagers because we were all trying to look tortured and beautiful like the MySpace/Livejournal/DeviantART pictures. Newsflash: not everyone can look tortured and beautiful. Learn your actual angles. Work with them. There’s a reason why Mariah demands she only be photographed from a certain side. (See above comment about pics.)

3. Find a look that works for you. Contoured and snatched? Sultry and seemingly-effortless? Pastel and pa-cute? Blooming and barely-there? Au naturel and actually bare-faced? The important thing is to have a look and own it instead of copying whatever is popular or even what people say “looks good on you; you should look like that all the time!” If you don’t *feel* like looking like that all the time, even if you do your face the same way, you won’t get the same level of gorgeous because it doesn’t. Feel. Right. So find what does, and stick to it until you find something else that works better, then go with that no matter how many people comment with, “You looked better when…!”

4. If you choose to wear makeup (goes for guys too: why should only ladies have the option to banish blemishes and disguise dark circles? COSMETIC SORCERY SHOULD BE FOR ALL!), don’t sacrifice comfort for performance. Your makeup might be flawless, but if underneath you feel your skin is suffocating and threatening to break out IT WILL SHOW, BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT LOOK COMFORTABLE. Find brands that work *for* you, because as any beauty girl will tell you, when it comes to cosmetics, YMMV: your mileage may vary. Lots of products work for MOST people, but no product works for EVERYONE, so if it doesn’t work for you, DITCH IT, even if everyone else loves it. Also, skin-safety first. Skin-safety second. Skin-safety ALWAYS.

5. Be gentle with your skincare. Fight the urge to nuke your face into submission! PUT THAT ESKINOL AND DALACIN-C DOWN AND NO ONE (especially you) GETS HURT. Instead, invest in a low-PH cleanser, a hydrating toner, and a moisturizer that fits your skin type (because, as Derek Zoolander said, “Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.”). Add more products only if you feel you need to or if you’re curious about what they can do. Not everyone HAS to have a double-digit-step skincare routine. My mum was getting carded in bars in her mid-thirties, and all she does is wash her face and smile a lot. Just like with people, the kinder you are to your skin, the better it behaves. Most of the time. Because sometimes your skin just wants to be a jerk. (In those cases, see item number one.)

6. Don’t let crushes crush you; let them inspire you. While you shouldn’t change how you look just to please someone you like, it does no harm to give in to the natural urge to preen a bit when someone special has your eye (or has their eyes on you). Instead of thinking, “They’re so (superlative); I’ll never be good enough for them,” let their beauty conduce to your good, as the philosophers would say. And if that doesn’t work, then get a new crush who will make you want to look and feel good about yourself! I personally feel like I’ve gotten better looking since I started stanning for Kim Seokjin, because his Worldwide Handsomeness inspires me to be my most handsome self every day. We all deserve a crush like that in our lives. We all deserve a Kim Seokjin. Except he’s mine. (I kid. Maybe.)

7. Have good friends. Scratch that, have GREAT friends. Have friends who call you pretty. Have friends who will take nice pictures of you. Have friends who will literally get so enraged (with matching verbal and/or threats of mild physical abuse) when you call yourself fat/ugly/not good enough that you will be traumatized into liking yourself. Hang out with these friends until calling yourself “ugly” just feels like you’re fishing for compliments. Surround yourself with people you trust and who you know truly bring out the best in you, inside and out. While you should never let anyone else define how you see yourself, just like it’s easier to work out/eat right if you have a buddy, it’s easier to have a healthy sense of self if you have good influences surrounding you. So find those good influences. And make sure you stan for them as hard as they stan for you. (Shoutout to my friends Kristin, Esther, Cam, and Devyn: Y’ALL ARE MY BIASES. I LOVE YOU. YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE THE HANDSOME GIRL I AM EVERY DAY.)

8. Stop being “humble.” Note the air quotes. We’re so used to practicing “humility” by not taking compliments, by minimizing our achievements, by belittling ourselves. Humility isn’t saying you suck when you don’t; it’s admitting you’re awesome but remembering all the effort and love it took to BECOME awesome, not from just yourself, but from the people who were there for you. Because, well, see item number seven. Are you going to diminish their hard work and sacrifice? If you can’t do it for yourself, then at the very least, you owe it to them to own how awesome you are!

9. Be your own biggest fan, even if you are (at first) your ONLY fan. Again, I go back to my bias, BTS’s Kim Seokjin. Dude goes around saying, “Hi, I’m Jin, and I’m worldwide handsome.” He does this EVERYWHERE: award shows, interviews, THE BAND’S PERSONAL TWITTER. His fellow members were (still are) downright EMBARRASSED when he kept doing it, but he continued anyway and now you can’t search “Worldwide Handsome” on Google without a bajillion Jin pictures coming up in the results. This just proves that if you stan for yourself, eventually the world will follow. And even if they don’t, so what? The important thing is you think you are awesome, and that inner happiness with who you are and how you look will eventually manifest on the outside. While it may take a lot of external tools to feel that way at first, ultimately the glow in “glow up” really does come from within. So snap that selfie, even if you won’t post it. And if you do, and it doesn’t get likes, don’t delete it! Admit that you actually think you’re good looking, AND WHO CARES WHAT PEOPLE THINK ABOUT THAT FACT? The vain and narcissistic don’t actually like themselves; they want the world to like them. You don’t even need the world! You like you, and that’s all that matters. #LOVEYOURSELF💖

10. Finally, help others “glow up” too. Just like how people tend to look better when bathed in the warmth of natural light, so you will look better surrounded by people who are “glowing” just like you! Be there for people. Encourage them. With your new-found profile photography skills, help them find their angles, or recommend the beauty filter apps that worked for you. Swap skincare tips, and compliment them when what they’re doing seems to be working. Like their IG posts. Stan their #ootds. Or heck, why stop at looks: tell them their art looks great or their music sounds nice or their spreadsheets are magical! Just let them know when they’re being awesome, and that they should be proud of themselves! You’ll find that when the people around you are glowing up, you’ll feel all that light reflecting back on you, and you’ll glow brighter too.

#StayRadiant, everybody. (Yes, I will shamelessly find ways to insert my brand somewhere.)

*goes back to Solfeggio practice*


The author, currently.

I Feel Pretty/Unpretty: #NoFilter thoughts from the #DontJudgeChallenge

I probably should blog this for #TheFridayCurrently (which is late, I know) but I already have another topic, so…

   Photo on 7-25-15 at 9.44 PM 

This is what I look like.

Note, I said “This is what I look like.”  I did not say “I woke up like this.”  Like a lot of girls my age, I’ve achieved this look with a little help. Specifically, eyebrow gel, cheek tint, and lipstick. My hair’s currently dyed a shade lighter than its actual dark red-brown. I’ve just had a haircut. I’m looking like a lightly-enhanced version of myself, and I should feel great about that but instead I’m thinking about how I have a constellation of pimples on the edges of my face. Whiteheads on my back. A developing double chin. My thighs and upper arms are jiggly. I have a “spare tire” around my waist. My butt’s not toned or taut. My chest is, well, small

My work-mates and friends say I’m not fat, tell me I have a great sense of style. A few of my crushes have even called me a “pretty girl” or, in the case of one less-articulate fellow, “mukhang chicks” (the kind of comment you build a dream on). Empirically, I know that for all of my physical flaws I’m aesthetically pleasing enough to turn the occasional head.

But I’m not perfect. Society tells me that. The media tells me that. 

 The freaking stupid #dontjudgechallenge tells me that. 

 My skin breaks out periodically. I don’t really have eyebrows. My face is *big*. My eyes are small, and my glasses grade so high I might as well be legally blind.  I’m short but big boned, with the broad shoulders of a teenage boy. These are things I can’t really change: I was born this way, and I shouldn’t have to feel bad about that fact. 

But I do. 

 I’m so tired of having to feel like I’m not measuring up to a standard I never had a say in.  I’m so tired of feeling inadequate because of factors I can’t change.  Sure, okay, I can lose weight, but even then I’d still be a small-breasted, stockily-built, pimply “nerd” who has more in common with the “before” faces in those stupid videos than the afters.  And I’m tired of feeling like it’s somehow my fault, like I’m somehow worth less because of that fact. 

 No one benefits from the “Don’t Judge Challenge.”  The “ugly” become an internet-wide punchline, while the “beautiful” end up looking like the jerks  that most them actually aren’t.  Heck, the fact that classifications of ‘beautiful’ and ‘ugly’ exist, based on such arbitrary factors as eyebrow proliferation, sebum production, weak vision, compromised dental hygiene, and a “nerdy” fashion sense (as I’ve seen reflected in some of the clips), is ridiculous in itself: such a diverse specimen pool as the human race could not possibly be subcategorized so simply into two buckets.  What is the basis? 

 What is the point? 

 I know full well what makes me truly unattractive: my insecurity.  My tendency for self-deprecation and all-out pessimism is what pushes people away.  And I’m not going to blameshift: the decision to be this kind of person is totally mine.  choose to believe that I am “not good enough” for people to notice.  choose to believe that people are out of my league, that no one could find me attractive, that I am nothing.  These are my mistakes, and I am owning their consequences just as much as I am trying to correct them.  But just like it’s hard to go cold turkey from alcohol if you’re living twenty-four-seven in a wine cellar, it’s hard for me to block out the urge to belittle myself when the world’s doing such a good job of telling me I’m right

 We’re making each other unpretty, when each and every one of us has the right to feel pretty.  Or, at least, feel like we matter.  Like we’re not unfortunate souls to be parodied, judgements to be passed or passed over.  Because we do matter.  Because we are okay.  Because this is the skin we were made wear and we do not have to be judged for it.


Photo on 5-18-15 at 6.33 PM

This is what I look like.  I don’t think I’m pretty.  But I hope one day, regardless of how I look, I’ll be able to.  And, for everyone else out there who struggles with those same feelings of insecurity, invalidity, and imperfection–I hope one day we can build a better world where you can feel pretty too. 


[beauty blog] The make-up girl scout: Inside my ‘kikay’ kit.

frankie's kikay kit

Finally got my NARS products today!

Surprise surprise, I ended up buying the NARS Limited Edition Fairy’s Kiss Eyeshadow Palette; the Velvet Lip Pencil in, obviously Dragon Girl; and The Multiple in NARS’ signature Orgasm shade.  I also finally transferred my freebies from the Rustan’s event to my kikay kit: NARS’ Radiance Enhancing Pro-Prime Light Optimizing Primer and an adorably tiny vial of NARS Sheer Matte Foundation to go with it.  Thankfully, NARS’ packaging is nice and compact, so all of it manages to fit in my cosmetics pouch (scored cheap at South Supermarket before I headed to Brazil last summer).

Actually, barring the NARS stuff, a lot of what is currently inside this most recent iteration of my kikay kit (I’ve had several, and they’re all lying around the house somewhere, waiting for me to tap into them for events/photoshoots/theatre emergencies.) was purchased either just before I left for Brazil, while I was in Brazil, or in the CVX in Grand Central Station during my trip to NYC just after I left Brazil.  It’s both the smallest makeup pack I’ve kept and also the most versatile…although maybe that’s just because I don’t really need to do much to shift looks for day/night/casual/corporate/etcetera.  Full disclosure: as much as I love playing with makeup…I don’t actually wear a whole lot of it all that often, though you wouldn’t be able to tell from the number of products I carry around with me.

Still, despite not walking about with a full face of cosmetics every day (something that may have to change once I hit the working world), I always find it best to be prepared, whether for a spur-of-the-moment decision to paint my face; an impromptu photoshoot for a school project (since third year I’ve been having my fair share of those); a job interview; or the occasional rapid-fire, change-in-the-backseat-of-the-car shift from school self to events self.  Which is why, I guess, I have so many products in my “daily” kit: I’m a bit of a beauty girl scout.

That being said, here are the products that have helped me earn my merit badges.


I used to use BB Cream a lot, but somehow I think it was made for drier skin than mine…it always tends to feel oily and heavy on the face about mid-day.  What proved a better alternative was Benefit Cosmetics‘ Some Kind-a Gorgeous “foundation faker”–this creamy base that blends into a fine powder when swiped on skin.  A little of it goes a long way.  I’m using the medium shade (which is weird for me; I used to always buy the lightest shade of any powder/foundation), and it “melts” really well into my face, preventing the usual “flattened” look foundations usually give.  I generally pair it up with Benefit’s The Pore-Fessional, which is this pore-minimizing primer that’s great for midday touch-ups as well.  I’ve only got a tiiiiiny tube because I got them as part of the Primping With The Stars set, so I generally only put it on my t-zone, but even then it helps keep my face from getting too shiny throughout the day.  And just in case my zits get too obvious, I spot-correct with a Revlon ColorStay Blemish Concealer in Light/Medium.

In terms of bronzer/luminizers, I use e.l.f. Contouring Blush and Bronzing Powder.  It’s the biggest thing in my kit, but considering it’s “budget” makeup it’s also really big on performance.  The blush is a peach-y sort of shade that works great with any skin tone, and the bronzer also blends really well.  For shortcut contouring though (because I don’t always have time to fill in all those desired hollows), I use Benefit Girl Meets Pearl luminizer, and just apply it to the bones of my face (what few bones I have, anyway) to make them stand out more.  It’s also really great for hiding the fact that I’ve been pulling all-nighters since August.


They say that Asians spend more on eye makeup than any other country in the world, and this may be true.  In my case, I splurge a lot on liner, because I’m such a huge fan of the swoopy, vintage cat-eye look.  My best bet has to be the L’oreal Super Liner Carbon Gloss, which glides on for a sharp, eye-widening look, but for more casual occasions I use Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner in Cinnabar or my trusty Revlon Beyond Natural Defining Eye Pencil in Dark Brown.  Also, because I’m a Michelle Phan disciple, I’ve got white eyeliner–a Missha cosmetics find I scored during a trip to South Korea.  For the final touch, I use Benefit “They’re Real” Mascara–arguably the best lengthening/volumizing mascara I’ve ever used.  A few quick swipes and I’m instantly doll-eyed!

Eyeshadow wise, aside from my new NARS palette, I’ve also got Maybelline EyeStudio Color Tattoo in Bold Gold.  It claims to stay on for twenty-four hours unless washed, and so far the claims have been true: it goes on as a gel, and dries as a slick, latex-shiny second skin over your eyelid.  The only issue is that, since it’s a gel finish, layering other products on to it can be a bit challenging, so I tend to use it solo, with just my liner.  If I do decide to use other shadows, I first layer on some of Benefit Stay Don’t Stray Eye Primer so the colors really pop.

Finally, for my brows, I use Maybelline Brow Crayon…the name’s rubbed off, but it was released in conjunction with the “Master Liner” series of crayon eyeliners.  I use a sort of medium-brown hue that isn’t exactly three shades lighter than my actual hair, but it’s good for filling my sparse brows in.  Quick tip, though: my e.l.f. bronzer also does the trick.


I have to lump lip and cheek together because my favorite product just happens to be a lip-and-cheek stain.  Benefit BeneTint is one of those legendary products that a girl’s got to get her hands on, at least once, and I did as part of the Primping With The Stars kit I got before I left for Brazil.  It’s a small vial, to be sure, but it goes a long way, especially since just a drop is enough to deliver a natural-looking flush to cheeks and lips.  Usually, it’s all the color I need, but in case I need more drama, I layer on a lipgloss from Brazilian brand Vult, in my favorite dark cherry shade.  When I’m really lazy though–meaning all I wear is lip color–I use Maybelline Baby Lips, which is this sweet tinted balm that is usually enough to make sure I don’t look anemic.

Other Essentials

Make-up brushes from Watson’s.  Hair-ties and a Goody clip for when it gets too hot to wear my hair down.  Mirror compact.  Spare contact lens case, in case I have to overnight somewhere.  Eye pencil sharpener (big and small head).  Sometimes I even cram my meds in the case.  Surprisingly, it all manages to fit.

So there you have it: the go-to contents of my make-up case, now with their new NARS additions.  Hope you guys enjoyed taking a peek, and I’ll try to come back next week with more of the How To Grow Up series!  For now though…I have International Economics to conquer.  *sigh*