Outside My Beauty Bubble (1)

Hello, blogosphere! No, I haven’t kicked the bucket – it is 5:04 AM as I type this sentence, and I’m just going to provide a quick TL;DR version as to why I have pretty much fallen off the face of the blogosphere.

1. Quit my job as a Pharm Tech almost a month ago. Only reason why I have “free” time to even blog.

2. Left the US of A to go back to the Philippines, and boy, did I get culture shocked. Also, this tidbit is what led to the title of this (first of ???) blog entry.

3. Family emergency. Grandpappy got hospitalized right after we flew back in, so guess who’s pretty much on caretaker duty? No, the first two guesses don’t count. And yes, these all happened in this order.

My cousin had warned me about the makeup situation when she flew home for her cousin’s wedding: the drugstore makeup here in the US of A is what gets sold as department store makeup in big shopping malls in the Philippines. Let that sink in for a moment if you are familiar with the US of A makeup market or you live here.

Drugstore makeup always gets pooh-poohed for being supposedly shitty quality (let’s just say that there is a point to this – I’ve dabbled with drugstore makeup and I’ve found myself preferring my mid-range purchases over them), but they are considered god-tier in the Philippines. This isn’t to say that there are no drugstore brands available – there are, but they way they are packaged screams knock-off or fake. Or the cheap Korean brands (more on this in Part 2).

Speaking of fake, hoooooo boy… I would have loved to take pictures of the ones that I’ve come across in my shopping ventures so you folks could see what I saw, but the vendors would probably assume I’m from the BIR (the IRS of the Philippines) or NBI (the FBI of the Philippines) or Customs and request/demand that I do not take pictures of their wares.

The most consistent fake makeup that I’ve seen from vendor booths/tables/setups were Kylie Cosmetics. They were obviously painfully fake – the text prints on the products alone were skinnier than the big, thick, bold font that screams Kylie’s name to whoever looks at them. Second was theBalm, and one booth had an ABH kit – the scary part was, they looked like the authentic versions packaging wise.

It would have been lovely to get a closer look at them, but any interest that is shown to any merchandise is perceived as an opportunity for a sale. Aw hell, I wish I could tell you how many times the vendors insisted that I buy from them, even though I’ve made it clear that I wasn’t even considering that (more on this in Part 2 as well).

I couldn’t help but wonder if the people who did check out the fake makeup were aware that they were counterfeit. Maybe they did, and they simply didn’t care as long as they could show that they bought a American-ish brand (buying status is a big but unspoken deal in the Philippines). Or maybe they’ve never seen what the authentic versions look like and believe that the counterfeit one is the real deal. And with the way that the counterfeit packaging closely mimics the authentic one, someone who isn’t makeup savvy wouldn’t know the difference unless they start having a reaction or they go to a makeup community and ask if it’s the real deal.

But even when I was at the SM Store’s beauty section, the girls who checked out the merchandise seemed like they’ve never seen makeup in their life. They looked like they were visiting a museum for makeup than a place to test and/or buy them. Perhaps I’ve gotten too used to SephUlta’s environment where people can just walk in, pick up and play with makeup, and then just walk away like it’s an ordinary thing. I’m probably not articulating it well, but if you visit a SephUlta, you’ll see what I mean.

This was the first layer of my makeup bubble that burst – owning US drugstore brands make you a god-tier makeup owner to locals and counterfeit makeup is ridiculously common to the point where they’re available in shopping malls. The same kind that Macy’s, Sephora, Chipotle, and JC Penny call home.

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