Seek Beauty With #thevainmama

by Mikka Padua July 20, 2013

Vanessa Santos' first play ground was her grandmother's vanity table. At a tender age of 4, she would spend hours reveling in jars of cream and tubes of lipsticks while her cousins climb trees and play sports.  She was always surrounded by beautiful things having been Group Product Manager for skincare and beauty luxury brands Guerlain, YSL, and Decleor for 6 years and PR Manager for Louis Vuitton Philippines for 2. 

Recently she has been promoted to full time wife and mother of 2 beautiful kids and she couldn't be more fulfilled.

"I knew I couldn't do everything -- and do it all well -- so I chose my family."

Vanessa's priorities may have shifted but she's far from slowing down.

She co-owns Stella by Tala, a clothing line for girls age 3 to 10 years old. What started out as a passion project soon turned into a full blown line, now on its second collection. 

Van and Stella love to bond over baking. Stella wears a dress from Stella by Tala and Van wears the Campos tunic.

Her passion for beauty and writing also resurfaced with #thevainamama persona she created on social media. It began as a creative outlet for her to share beauty tips and discoveries learned over years of being in the industry. It was quickly picked up by moms and non-moms alike and is now slowly evolving into something more. So when I was toying with the idea of coming out with a beauty category, I knew there is no one more fitting than Vanessa to seek and curate beauty finds.   

To know a little more about our commander-in-beauty aka #thevainmama, we threw in a few questions.

 Can you describe your personal style? Has it changed a lot from pre-motherhood?

"My style is very classic, yet always polished and neat.  I invest in key pieces that I can wear often and will last for years.  I use accessories to add fun & flair to my everyday look. 

The biggest change from pre-motherhood would be that I wear heels less often now.  Flats are just so much more practical with my new lifestyle.  In terms of beauty, I also wear less make-up – no need for the “corporate face” everyday. Instead, I invest more in skincare now."

Van in a dress by Tala Manila punctuated by a necklace by Piesa.

What is a typical day like in the life of #thevainmama?

"I am up by 6am.  I play with the kids while we wait for Dad to get home from his morning exercise.  Then I give my daughter a big hug before Daddy brings her to school.  I spend quality time with my younger son in the morning. Then I check urgent emails, write a review, and plan the day ahead.  I pick up my daughter from school everyday then make sure the kids are settled for lunch.

On “work” days, I’m off around noon for meetings, organizing trunk shows at the shop, and also make time to catch up with friends for either lunch or early dinner.  On “mommy days”, I’ll do yoga in the afternoon or join my kids for their afternoon nap, arrange play dates and other mommy duties.

Dinner at our household is the time the whole family is together and is sacred to us.  We usually spend about an hour every night that is “unplugged” where we are just horsing around without any IPADS, cellphones, or TV."

You wear different hats, how do you manage to find balance between work and family?

"Its a constant learning process and will always be a juggling act.  What helps me most is to prioritize and remember that my first job is being a good WIFE & MOTHER always.  It is never perfect but when you know what is truly important then you are on the right track.

I also have MY CHECKLISTS.  I make lists for everything.  I have lists for mommy duties, household talks, work for Stella by TALA, work for STU Beauty, my writing assignments, and other projects I want to do.  My lists keep me sane and help me find order in the chaos of everyday life."

 5 absolute things every woman should have in her makeup kit:

 A good concealer.

"You  can skip the fancy foundations but a good concealer is essential for covering up blemishes and evening out your skin tone."

Eyebrow Definer & Tweezers.

"Eyebrows define the shape of your face.  Take a minute each day to groom and shape your brows.  It is a non-negotiable."

The perfect shade of lipstick/gloss.

"You actually only need one shade of lipstick to get you through the day.  Top off with a gloss and you are ready for an evening out."

A blush/bronzer.

"A pale face looks unhealthy and sad.  Use a natural blush or bronzer on your cheekbones, forehead, and chin to give yourself a natural glow."

A hydrating mist.

"When I was younger I would have said pressed powder but adding “powder” to avoid an oily face is a misconception.  Actually the more product you put, the oiler your skin tends to get.  As long as you use the right skincare, all you need is a refresher spray to keep your face oil-free and hydrated all day long."

 Can you give us a run down on your daily beauty routine?


- Morning: Wash face, day moisturizer with SPF, BB cream (just started with this), and eye cream. 

- Evening: Wash face, night serum, moisturizer, and eye cream.

- I use a mask once a week and exfoliate twice a week.

- I don’t believe in using a toner. (I honestly feel its an unnecessary step at this age. Maybe when I turn 40 I will re-consider.)

- A deep cleansing facial every 2 months.


- For the day: eyebrow definer, concealer, mascara, blush and gloss.

- For the night: Add eyeliner, shadow or highlighter and lipstick to day makeup


-  Rinse with warm salt water before brushing teeth three times a day

-  BEROCCA and fresh OJ every morning

- A bi-monthly eyebrow threading

- Weekly massages at home

- Yoga at BLISS Studio 2-3x a week

- Daily Quality Time with my husband and 2 beautiful children


Van's makeup is by Odesssa Andal of MAC and Hair by Sally of Indigo Salon

Opening the beauty category was not really part of the immediate plan. But when I reconnected with Van (we used to be colleagues years back) I knew we had to do it. As Van likes to put it, this is another happy accident, yet again. 

I'm no expert in this field but Van's beauty cred is strong so expect good cult finds that are tried and tested by #thevainmama herself. 

"There are tons of beauty brands out there and it can get rather confusing. Here, you'll find lovingly handpicked essentials that are guaranteed to add some fun and magic to your life."

Come, seek beauty with #thevainmama now.


Your Purveyor of the Uniq,

 P.S. For beauty concerns, drop #thevainmama a note at She will be at the ready. 

Mikka Padua
Mikka Padua


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