What The Hell I’ve Been Up To?

Greetings from the dead! This site has been radio silent for the past few months, in fact for most of 2017 and I do apologise for that. I thought before I got back to the swing of things, I should probably update you on what has been going on lately in my life and why I decided to rise back from the grave to bring you a random blog post.

1. Freelance life has been kicking my ass.

😴 Pause 😴 – Never have I meant TGIF more in my life.

A post shared by Hanan Haddad (@thebroadwalk) on

As you already know, I have been a freelance writer for a while now. Now that I think about it, it has been more than a year! I feel like I stepped into a weird vortex where time is just zooming past me at hyper-speed. I can’t believe that it has been that long.

Lately, things have been revving up and I barely have time to write anything for leisure, seeing as most of my time is taken up by writing content for other people. Also, I hate to admit it but once you start writing so much for other publications, the idea of writing on the weekends really bum you out.

2. Video editing is a new thing I’m into.

Which brings me to my second point. Because I don’t feel like writing much on the weekends, I have been exploring other means to express my creativity and passion for beauty products. Hence, I have been exploring video and photography. I started with vlogs, as you guys may have already known. And now I am moving towards more fragrance related content. I am such a huge lover of fragrances and I love the fragrance community on YouTube so much that I wanted to be a part of it. That was how I started putting out fragrance related content on my YouTube channel and the response from other content creators have been amazing. I felt so welcomed and it was a great feeling talking about things that you love with other people who are equally fanatic about it.

I’ll leave you with my most recent video. It’s a vlog combined with a house review of the local indie perfume company, Oo La Lab. You can check out my thoughts as well as have a peek into my life.

3. I took up school again.

Yep, I’m back in school. As weird as that sounds. However, since I am dead serious about improving my video editing and production skills, it was imperative to me that I take up lessons and really learn the skills I need properly. Hence, I’ve enrolled in part time courses to better my understand on photoshop and so on. So it has been pretty tough juggling work, school and a social life. Another lame but valid excuse as to why I haven’t been updating this page for a while.

4. Things might be changing…?

I might be changing the direction of this website. Of course, I will continue to produce beauty and lifestyle related content on this site. But with my job being affiliated with beauty related content, I think I might switch this up and make it more casual space where I just share bits of my life, be it beauty, clothes or fragrances in a more nonchalant and personal manner. I think it’s more authentic and true to my brand. Also, it will distance myself from future complications in case, I’m told that I can’t write about certain things anymore as I am representing certain companies or brands. It’ll be a positive change as the content here will be more genuine and something different from what’s provided by other official media outlets.

5. Follow me on other platforms too!

As I mentioned before, I have been delving deep into photography, particularly film photography. So my other social media handles have been updated all year round, on a more consistent basis than this one. I always love sharing random things on InstaStory and also share pictures I took on my Instagram page. So, you can see what I’m up to @thebroadwalk on Instagram. I definitely am always on that app, so feel free to connect with me there too.

So that’s about it. I am not dead! I am still here and I will be better about posting from now on as I learnt to manage my time better. I like using this platform to share my thoughts, feelings and opinions. Therefore, I will be keeping this handle and website for as long as I can afford it. You can check out my YouTube channel for more vlogs and fragrance related content and my Instagram for my photography.

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Thank you for being so patient! I have some FIRE topics to talk about and things to share so hang on tight. The Broadwalk is back, baby!

Budget Buys: Best Zara Fragrances

This was a random video that I shot and edited in one night after watching one of my favourite fragrance Youtuber, Redolessence’s video on a Zara perfume that I loved and no one talked about. Ever since I have joined the “fraghead” community and started deepening my interest in all things to do with scents, I started expanding my perfume collection. I love switching my scents depending on my mood, the weather and my outfits. But as you can probably imagine, fragrance collecting can be a financially demanding hobby. It certainly burns holes in my wallet, purchasing designer and niche fragrances that cost well over $100 a bottle.

Enter Zara and their underrated collection of scents that serve as dupes for the more expensive originals or just plain good scents for a low, low price. I became obsessed with their surprisingly good perfume collection and started owning more than a few bottles. I think people tend to scoff at their scents, thinking that they are nothing more than faint body splashes, to synthetic smelling “wannabe” perfumes. In a blind sniff test though, I dare say you would think that their scents are easily designer level at the very least. Plus, they have unique offerings like fragrances that use notes of tobacco, oud and even tonka bean.

The thing is, their collection is so huge (and often easily discontinued) that you might not know where to even start. As with most cheapie fragrance houses, it’s all hit-or-miss. So I tend to approach it like a treasure hunt. And I’m happy to report some gems I’ve found in the midst of it all!

Here are my top 5 Zara fragrances that I think you should check out currently. Of course, Zara is always pumping out new clothes and fragrances, almost on a daily basis (as with most fast fashion houses). So this list might change in the future, but all these scents are SO SO good. You should get your nose on them ASAP!

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The Dark Side Of Freelancing

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I’ve been thinking of writing on this topic for a while. Though many in the industry know the issues that I will be raising in this post, I believe that many who aren’t would be clueless to the struggles of doing freelance work. Personally, when I first tried my hand at this whole freelance thing, I never knew what the regular “procedures” are and what to expect. Therefore, I thought it would be useful for me to share my thoughts on this, in case there are people like me previously, who had no clue on what to do. Furthermore, there is a great allure to being a freelancer and while there are certainly pros, I think the cons need to be considered heavily as well. Many fresh grads won’t know what the cons are because no one really talks about it, especially if you don’t know anyone who does freelance work.

Keep in mind that I will be talking about this from the angle of freelancing as your bread and butter. If you are just doing freelancing on the side for extra income, some of these points might not matter to you. But for those who want to try their hand at earning a full income from freelancing gigs, then this is the right post to look at.

Here are some misconceptions that people often have about freelancing:

 

You don’t answer to anyone

That is a partial true but mostly untrue. Ultimately, even though you think you are your own boss, the real boss is now your client. Sure, you can go for 3 hour long breaks and wear whatever the hell you want as you work. There is no one to tell you what your schedule will be like, and you manage your own time. In that sense, you are your own boss.

But in the more practical sense, your clients will tell you the deadlines and time frames that you need to work within. Furthermore, they are the ones to actually pay you. So, the freedom is actually an illusion.

You can pick and choose the projects you want to take on

This kind of optimism is often crushed within a few weeks, unless you have an incredible portfolio that has clients running to work with you. For most of us who have a decent, yet average portfolio, landing a project itself might be the most arduous thing to endure. Imagine that job application process, again and again for every project you want to try to land. It’s exhausting. A lot of times, you might find yourself searching for clients to hire you rather than doing actual work for clients. It’s the gruesome reality but lots of large companies have in house designers or a creative team, hence, they may only take on a freelancer to help out when they are short staffed.

You can work anytime you want

Speaking of work hours, this is both correct and wrong. You can dictate your own schedule by taking on as many projects as you would want on your plate, but the deadlines make it very difficult to switch off. Hence, clients and companies tend to take advantage of your more flexible schedule, making last minute changes, texting you past the supposed “office hours”. It’s very important to set some boundaries. You can charge your client either per hour, per day or at a flat rate per project. Most freelancers who are just starting out tend to give clients a flat rate so that they can get more projects and make some work connections. The dangerous thing about flat rates is that there is no “OT” and you don’t get paid for extra changes they might make. For flat rates, you have to make it clear to your client that you have designated work hours and let them know exactly when that is.

Of course, this isn’t set in stone. More often than not, the client will pressure you with last minute changes that need to be done before a deadline and will have you work through the night. In which case, you have to make it clear to them before starting on the last minute changes that an extra fee will be charged for these last minute changes. It’s tough but you have to be your own boss in this sense too. Be firm, professional and polite. Stand your ground, because otherwise they will walk all over you. Trust me, that has happened to me more than once and now I have no qualms about letting them know my rates for extra changes to a final product, close to the deadline.

 

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You will be paid loads because you can engage in multiple projects at once

The sad truth that I learnt is that, no matter how many projects you take on, whether you get paid is all up to the companies you work for. It isn’t a guarantee that companies will pay you upfront upon the end of the project. Be sure to invoice them as soon as the project is done (just google a quick invoice template and quantify all your services so that there is a record). However, how long they take to “process” that invoice is all subjective. Most companies will take about a month to process the invoice and send you your cheque (or wire you the funds). But there are PLENTY of companies that take months… AND I KID YOU NOT, ACTUAL MONTHS AND MONTHS to process one measly invoice.

So once I took on 3 projects at once, and worked myself to the wee hours of the morning to get everything done. I wanted to make it rain so I figured, why not. Sent out my invoice and waited for it to rain moolah, but it never came. My bank account was dry as a desert. The payments came sporadically. The worst thing was that I didn’t know when exactly I would get paid. In an ideal world, I would get paid for those 3 projects all at the same time, but while one company took 2 weeks, another took 6 months to “process” payment. Which brings me to my next topic…

You are not employed not unemployed; In reality you are the corporate pariah

Unfortunately, there is no real law protecting freelancers in Singapore, which is a real shame because a good portion of the population here do a good amount of freelancing. Not just as a full-time job, but even part time to make ends meet and make extra cash. Not only do we not get the employee benefits that full time staff receive (such as CPF payments and timely pay), we also don’t have the manpower laws that protect us from employer abuse and misconduct. As I mentioned before, some companies take their own sweet time to reimburse you for the services you have rendered. And for people who rely on this as their bread and butter, it’s tough getting a company to stick to a date of payment, especially when you don’t have the backing of a lawyer.

Furthermore, here’s the catch, without a physical signed contract, it’s actually quite difficult to sue the company that’s mistreating you because you technically aren’t their “employee” per se. It’s messed up. So essentially, big companies can do whatever they want to freelancers, even not pay them. And if we fight back, they have a team of lawyers to protect them from legal issues. It’s a giant oversight on the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore that make freelancers seem like criminals or corporate outcasts. Companies will hide behind “processing time” to delay payment as and when they please. It’s probably the worst part about freelancing and the darkest time as a freelancer, down to my last dollar, praying that they will pay me for the work I had already done.

So what can you do about it?

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LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES.

1. Never give them the final product without either a deposit or an upfront payment. My good friends who have been freelancing all their lives tell me that they will give partial drafts or low-resolution images to show their clients their work but will withhold the final product until they have received payment. GENIUS! Some even ask for a deposit before they begin on the project. So it’s something to look into.

2. Draft out a contract or at the very least a formal email. You don’t need to have a lawyer at your beck and call (though if you do, then you are one lucky bastard) but instead, look up some official contracts online and see how they are formatted. Type out an “official” contract and get your clients to sign them before you engage in projects with them. So long as it is written in hard copy, you have a better chance at getting your money back if they choose to jet off without paying.

3. If you are a new freelancer and starting with a flat rate, include your official “working hours” in your contract or at the very least, inform your clients so that they know when you will be working on their project. Be firm about the timing and say that you will work on it tomorrow if they contact you after the time you initially stated.

4. Don’t be a pushover!! This is my biggest tip if you are freelancing. You have to build a thick skin and not be worried about being pushy. Especially when it comes to payment and working hours. Everything else, the client is always right but never be afraid to voice out your opinions and push back when they are setting impossible tasks or late in payment.

Sidenote: When a certain publishing company did not pay me for my project for over 6 months, I was so pushy, I flooded their inbox and even (in desperation) got my friend who was a lawyer to draft a formal letter of demand for payment. After seeing the letter, the payment was transferred to my account within a week. So don’t give up and don’t let them get away with it!

Ultimately, have confidence in yourself and your work. If you made it to the end of this article, kudos to you! It’s a long one, but I’ve barely scratched the surface. The final takeaway from this article is that freelancing is an actual profession, despite Singapore’s thinking that it’s just some sort of “Profitable Hobby”. It isn’t as easy or as fun as you might think. So consider what I said with a grain of salt before making the decision to jump into the freelance world.

The Broke Girl’s Guide To Handbags

Designer handbags are the one accessory that as you get older, you start to appreciate more and more. I remember when I was a young, struggling University student and all I ever wanted was a Herschel bag pack that could carry my laptop and the thousands of readings that I had to lug from class to class. I would see some girls carrying their Louis Vuitton Neverfull to tutorials and scoff at their vain impracticality.

 

As I get older, I realise that handbags aren’t just a practical accessory to hold all the crap I need day to day. There are nuances to these fashion objects.

As Karl Lagerfeld would say, ” Luxury bags make your life more pleasant, make you dream, give you confidence, and show your neighbours you are doing well.”

That last bit hit the nail on the head. It’s not so much a parade as a subtle indicator to the public that you are doing well. At first I was turned off by this, thinking that it was justifying showing-off and shoving your wealth in people’s faces. Though I think some (tacky) people do that, what Lagerfeld meant wasn’t a parade of wealth or even a status thing. Taken in moderation, it just means that you have worked hard and reaped the benefits. To me, it represents how you have taken adulthood by the horns and won.

With this new outlook, I too decided that a good quality, designer bag is something I would want to look into. Not just for their gorgeous aesthetics, but also for the designer’s promise of high quality and getting what you paid for. But if you are like me, a semi-broke freelancer, it might be tough deciding exactly what to save for and what is worth the hard-earned money.

I thought I would share my insights on the handbag world, with its overwhelming amount of choices.  But go into this post knowing that designer handbags are NOT AT ALL an essential. I have known that all my life. To me, designer bags are milestones in your career. It’s all dependent on the amount of disposable income you have in that moment. Sometimes you have more, sometimes you have less. However, “disposable” is the operative word here. Designer bags aren’t worth debt or starving yourself for.

Here are my tips:

Get The Best Of What You Can Afford

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Photo: LeHappy.com

There are different tiers to designer and not all are created equal. We look to Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton as the holy trinity in the designer handbag world. However, not everyone can or want to spend 7000 to 20,000 dollars on a handbag. There are other brands for you to consider that are equally great in quality and design, though less “prestigious” in the eyes of others.

Instead of getting the lowest “entry” bag to a maison that you like, get the bag of your dreams. If that bag is way beyond your means, then get the best of what you can afford. That was advice that I found extremely helpful for me. No point getting the cheapest bag that might not be the best quality just because it’s from Chanel, Dior or whatever. What’s the point? It’s no different from any other bag. Get the best of a mid-range or mid-tier designer brand instead. Don’t discount and disregard mid-tier brands like Coach, Tory Burch or Longchamp Even though these bags aren’t extravagantly expensive or have prestige attached to their name, their bags and leather goods are well-made and stand the test of time. For the price, their bags are well-worth it, made of quality leather. I recently invested in a Coach Swagger bag and I’m beyond happy with the wear I’ve got from it.

 

Stick To The Basics

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If you are, like me, more adventurous when it comes to accessories and more understated when it comes to clothing pieces, it’s tough to not fall for an amazing graphic print, a unique bag shape or bright saturated colours. Anything cobalt blue or forest green, I instantly fall for. As boring as it may seem, your first investment should be the most versatile colours, so that they compliment every outfit you choose to wear it with. Hence, it’s probably safe to stick to monochromes.

 

Don’t Fall Into The Hype

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This is something I need to practise myself. I am awful at not falling for the hype and trends. The most important thing to consider when you are planing to purchase a solid handbag staple is, especially if it is your first, is to keep it classic. Just because the trend is to own a flashy bag with crazy appliqué designs, know that these trends will come and go. The crazier the design, the more likely it is that you’ll grow tired of it.

However, if that particularly design is totally in your aesthetic, then by all means! The point is to listen to your heart and stay true to your own aesthetics, despite whatever that’s trending at that time. If you know that gold hardware is not your cup of tea, then stick to silver, even if the white-and-gold combo is so in these days. If you prefer a more clean-cut design, then stay away from elaborate floral prints, even if all the fashion bloggers are hyping the latter. When you do that, you are more likely to use the bag for longer as your core style won’t change as frequently as trends do. Furthermore, the bag will most likely compliment the rest of your wardrobe well, if you consider your own style and nothing else.

 

Bags Are Just Bags

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At the end of the day, they are meant to be functional. Consider this when you are looking at sizes and pricing. Some expensive bags are so damn tiny they can barely fit an iPhone 6 Plus, let alone all your other crap! I mean, if it cam only carry your lipstick *ehem*Valentino*ehem*, that’s what pockets are for! For me, personally, I prefer a medium sized bag for every day and one smaller “special occasion” bag. So if I can only afford the smallest version of a certain bag, and it’s something I’d prefer to use everyday, then I probably won’t get said bag even if I think it’s so darn gorgeous. Design aside, ultimately the functionality and practicality of the bag matters more. It’s what separates a good purchase from a regretful one.

Material plays into this category. Do I want leather or PVC? What kind of leather? If the bag is made of suede or lambskin, you would have to baby the bag as it’ll be more prone to scratches and stain. Is a white bag practical? Will future stains be easy to wash off? My suggestion is to pick a sturdier leather (probably cow hide) that has been treated such that it won’t be too damaged by water and is relatively scratch proof. You want your bag to age gracefully, just as you would yourself.

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There you have it!! The biggest tip for a broke girl who wants to have her first foray into designer bags is… Don’t spend beyond your means. I know this is a super naggy and obvious thing but I find it very hard to stick to this primary tip. Sometimes I think that having that gorgeous shoe or bag can make me feel like a million bucks and give me a major confidence boost. It makes me think, “I MUST HAVE IT” because I am addicted to that feeling of confidence. However, that feeling is temporary. It’ll evaporate once you wear that item more and more. And then we set our eyes on a new thing to get our fix.

So awful! It’s something I am working on. To invest my money in a piece that I KNOW I will love for a long time and get the wear it deserves. Ultimately you don’t HAVE to get a fancy bag, but I hope this helps if you are looking into making a bag investment.

 

Visual Diary #6 : Art Museum Adventures

I’m back with another entry in my Visual Diary series. In this episode, Calvin and I visit art museums in Singapore. It gets quite mundane here in the tiny red dot, so we are constantly racking our brains on anything new or interesting to do.

This was a fun excursion, even though you guys can have a laugh at how unbelievably lame we are, struggling to be artsy and interpret contemporary art works.

It was a fun day overall, and I thought I would bring you guys with me.

Enjoy!

5 Skincare Staples I Used Up

We are well into the new year. I can’t believe that January flew by already. Honestly, the older I get, the harder it is for me to grasp the concept of time. Since this month is all about starting afresh, it’s only right that I throw away all the trash that I’ve been hoarding, and finish up all the products that are close to the end of its life.

Turns out, I managed to finish up quite a lot, which I am pretty cuffed about. My resolution this year is to use up as much of my stuff as possible and get the most out of everything. And to buy less beauty products in general, so that I can use everything fully. I have this bad habit of getting bored of the item halfway and switching to another. Hence, I have to so many half-empty bottles lying around.

So a disclaimer: Any product I feature in my empties mean that they are relatively good products. I usually will give away products that don’t suit me, sell them off and try to find a good home for them.

Here are 5 staples that everyone needs:

 

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1. Banila Co. Clean It Zero Purity, SGD$30

This is a CULT product from South Korea, sort of their take on cleansing balms. The Clean It Zero line features a solid sherbet cleanser that you scoop out with a spatula (that’s provided). Upon contact with the warmth of your skin, it melts instantly into a thin oil that obliterates makeup. It’s amazing for waterproof eyeliner and budge-proof liquid lipstick. This Purity version is the best one they offer, in my opinion because it isn’t mineral oil based. It contains hydrating oils like argan oil and evening primrose oil plus a bunch of plant extracts, making it the ideal choice for people with sensitive skins like me.

Once your face is an oily, streaky mess, you just add water to emulsify the oil into a milk and then rinse. The product rinses clean, which is CRUCIAL for me as I have oily, acne-prone skin. I won’t recommend the other Clean It Zero formulas because I find them overly fragranced and have a more potentially skin-irritating ingredients deck. But this one, I do recommend.

2. BCL Tsururi Ghassoul Oil Cleansing, SGD$19.90

For my skin, however, I tend to prefer straight up oil cleansers. Midways through my Clean It Zero tub, I realise that I didn’t enjoy using it to remove my face makeup, simply because the texture was too thin for my liking. It felt like I was tugging at my skin, even though it removed makeup decently.

Hence, I went back to my tried and true. This is my third bottle of this stuff and I can’t tell you how much I love this oil cleanser. It’s thick and plush, almost the texture of honey. It spreads onto the skin effortlessly, without any tugging, so there is almost a blanket of emollience separating your hands from your face. This formula is olive oil based, with honey to add moisture (it’s also a great antibac) and charcoal to draw out impurities for a deeper clean. I LOVE this cleansing oil. It removes makeup so well, whilst still leaving the skin balanced and completely purified.

So, I used this to remove my face makeup and reserved the Clean It Zero for my eyes (mostly so that I won’t run through this cleansing oil so quickly).

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3. Boscia Detoxifying Black Cleanser, SGD$41

I got this on a whim. Mostly due to my obsession with charcoal. The texture is a strange, thin, black gel that lathers decently. Once you rub the gel onto your damp skin, it instantly warms up. Most people might find this gimmicky and horrible in a tropical climate like Singapore, but I find it comforting. It heats up for about 10 seconds. It gets pretty hot too, I might add.

I use it as a second cleanse, but it does remove makeup well enough. I just prefer to cleanse my skin rather than remove makeup. This is a relatively small bottle, you think “only 150ml?”, but don’t worry! It lasts literally forever. You only need a small amount to clean your whole face and this bottle lasted me almost a year. Midway I got bored using it and was frustrated with the nozzle constantly getting clogged with charcoal, but once I scraped the dried charcoal off and used it again, I realised how much I really liked this cleanser. The ONLY reason I wouldn’t repurchase is the price.

 

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3. Keana Nadeshiko Rice Cream, SGD$27.90

I wiped this tub CLEAN. I am so deeply, enamoured by this simple tub of moisturiser. Again, this is a Japanese brand that mainly uses rice and sake as their signature skincare ingredient. This formula contains rice bran oil, sake and other soothing ingredients to calm and balance the skin, whilst still injecting it with a shit ton of moisture. The texture is my favourite part of this cream. It appears to be a hefty cream but melts into the skin beautifully, not at all greasy. For my oily skin, it’s just the perfect amount of supple moisturisation, without being clogging and overbearing. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to putting on at night.

My only qualm is that it’s a pretty small tub for the price and I ran through it pretty quickly, considering that I only used it as a night cream. That is the ONLY reason I would hesitate to repurchase.

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4. Sephora Mud Mask Purifying & Mattifying, SGD$26

This is the older packaging but this powerful clay mask is now housed in a different tub. It’s enhanced with zinc to help mattify and soothe the skin, while the clay sucks out all the gunk in your pores. This one doesn’t play games. It is often referred as the dupe to Glamglow masks (that are extortionately expensive). I personally think it’s more powerful that that. If you have sensitive skin like me, the initial application will feel as if your skin is burning. It’s a sign of activity because once it dries and I’ve washed it off, my skin isn’t red and aggravated. Instead it’s noticeably clearer and calmer, albeit in need of a moisturiser.

It’s rather difficult to wash off as it clings to the skin like super glue and it is a tad too drying to be used frequently. Despite that, I enjoyed using it and it’s godsend for when your skin is breaking out. It works great on blemishes and clogged pores. Plus it’s heaps cheaper than the Glamglow counterpart.

I would recommend all 5 of these and they are ALL staples. Everyone needs a good oil cleanser to breakdown makeup, detoxifying cleanser, soothing moisturiser and purifying mask.

I’m trying a new skincare routine this year and will definitely keep you posted on any gems I find.

My quest for the PERFECT skincare routine continues!

Visual Diary #5 : Trying to Turn Things Around

I haven’t been able to post on here as much as I would like as I am working with Harper’s Bazaar Singapore for a few months on some things. So do pop by the site and look at some of my content there. They are pretty sweet, even if I do say so myself.

I have accumulated a major back log of vlog footage that I still need to find time to edit and get up. They are ones filmed towards the end of 2016 but I still want to get them up because some of them are really fun. It’s just a matter of trying to find time between work, myself and other projects.

So I thank you for your patience.

Here’s one that I patched together and got up. It’s a relatively chill day where I had an honest chat about unemployment. I was going through a rough time then as I was being rejected left and right for reasons unknown to me. I thought I would vocalise my train of thoughts then.

I also included my morning skincare routine, because putting on my face every morning is one of life’s simple joys. In this entry, you can see me try to turn a bad day around but I do apologise if it’s rather low energy. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy this one!

More to come, I promise.

 

Meanwhile, you can check out some of my new content down below:
HOW TO PULL OFF THESE 4 AMAZING GOLDEN GLOBES 2017 MAKEUP LOOKS

THE INSANE BEAUTY FADS THAT ARE SWEEPING THE INTERNET NOW

2016 in Retrospect

Also known as the year from hell. I think this is the first time everyone has been so unanimous in terms of their opinions towards 2016. It’s a pretty shitty year.

But before we say good riddance and goodbye, I think it’s important to reflect and readjust ourselves for the new year. 2016, for me has been an exceptionally trying year. The trials and tribulations just would not let up and kept piling on top of one another. It felt as if I was buried in them. I have never felt more overwhelmed with life as I was in 2016.

However, instead of recalling all the awful things that happen, I have decided to take a page out of 2016 and learn some lessons.

 

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Changes & Challenges

2016 was a year of major change. Besides Trump being elected as president, the world felt as if it was moving in hyper speed. I have always been someone who feared change and am unintentionally resistant to it. Most of the time, it isn’t because I am content with the current state of being. More times than not, the current situation could do with a little change and improvement. However, the prospect of things changing for the worse terrifies me. The idea of making wrong decisions and being forced to live with the consequences. I fear the consequences of change more than change itself.

It’s not right.

Not all change is wholly bad or good, but, all change comes with challenges. These challenges may seem daunting at first, overwhelming at times. For instance, 2016 was the year that I decided to move away from my career in retail into something more creative. I would never have made this change if it weren’t for terrible events that made me do a whole lot of thinking and self-reflection. As cliched as it sounds, things happen for a reason. Horrible happenings might be jolting you out of your current course and taking you to a different one.

The challenges that follow that change might feel like a series of unfortunate events, piling itself, one on top of the other. Take a step back and realise that these are challenges, little rocks that scratch you as you speed down a new course. They are not permanent. You will get through them, even if you think you can’t. You will.

And you will come out of it, better than you were before.

 

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Nothing is Permanent

If you are lactose intolerant, be warned because here comes the cheese. Cherish every moment you have with the people you love and more importantly, make time for them, despite your own laziness and reluctance. I understand how it can be, social situations are tough, even if they are filled with people you have known for years. They take up so much energy and can be utterly exhausting.

Get off your ass and make plans.

I’m so thankful for my friends who understood my situation and adjusted their plans to accommodate me. It was a blessing in disguise too. Because we ended up spending more time one on one, talking instead of partying. I felt this year, we opened up more. It used to be just mindless fun. Now, we consult one another and took our friendship to a new level.

Know that life may pull you and your loved ones in different directions. Hence, make every moment count. In 2016, half of my close circle of friends moved away from Singapore. Josh was in Copenhagen and then Manila. Jen was stationed in Myanmar for work. Diyanah left for Japan. And Liz is moving to Vietnam. One by one, it felt as if all my friends were leaving me. I fell into a black hole of loneliness, doubtful of long-distance relationships.

Thinking about it now, I am crawling out of my anti-social black hole slowly but surely. I am going to make the friendships still here with me count. Who knows where life will take us next? New friends are great, but they can never replace years of familiarity and friendship. So cherish that.

 

Opening Up & Reaching Out

When life overwhelms you, reach out. I am grateful for the people in my life who listened to me without judgement and embraced me at my lowest. For so long, I have thought that keeping a fun exterior is essential to keep the friends that you have. No one wants to hear you moan and whine about life. I never wanted to be a downer.

Eventually, it will all be a little too much to handle. The negativity that you buried deep inside will fester at your soul so, it’s important to let it out. We all need an outlet. At times, it’s scary to think that you might be judged or ridiculed, but at the same time, it’s an incredible feeling to be accepted despite your flaws. You feel bonds strengthen and it’s good to have a sounding board to make sense of certain thoughts.

I came clean with a few friends this year about certain issues and finally opened up after years. It was such a relief. No more hiding and white lies. Words can’t describe how liberating it feels to be completely yourself. For most of my friends, I came clean too late and they were gone by the end of the year, no longer in Singapore. Nevertheless, I don’t regret opening up even for that short period of time.

I think it’s time we let more people into our lives.

 

Me, Myself & I

I vow that 2017 will be my most selfish year. I had a taste of being alone a lot in 2016. Time by yourself can be a blessing and a curse. You become acutely aware of your shortcomings. There is such a thing as too much self-reflection and self-awareness. The more you understand yourself, the more you think about ways to better yourself. The more you are on your own, the more you realise that ultimately, despite your friends and family, you are alone. Everyone has their own lives and existence to deal with.

In 2016, I was overwhelmed by the feeling of being left behind. I was unable to adapt to all the changes in my life and all my friends’ lives as well. It felt as if they were zooming past me in life, making things happen, working overseas. Whilst I was still struggling here, on my own, trying to figure my life out. It made me feel alienated from the people I loved. It was unhealthy.

After opening up, it helped me reconnect with them on a deeper level. But more so, I have reconnected with myself. I realised that no one owes me anything except myself. I owe it to myself to take care of me. Because no one else will. No one else can.

So instead of relying on the external, people who might let me down without them realising it, people who can’t be there even if they say they will… You need to be there for yourself. Hence, 2017 will be the year of self-care for me. Unabashed selfishness. I’m going take care of myself both physically and mentally.

 

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As 2017 begins, I am griped with anxiety. Perhaps because 2016 was a major low for me, I fear that 2017 could be the same. It’s tough to put these anxious thoughts aside as I continue to pen down my resolutions and goals for the new year. I repeat to myself “It’s just another day”. Perhaps it’s the placebo effect of making resolutions but it feels as if I am starting on a clean slate.

2016 has changed me fundamentally. I have discovered facets about myself that I never knew existed. I have realised both the fragility and strength of relationships. I recognised the people in my life that mattered and the people who don’t. Not all friends are created equal. There were people who went out of their way to make time for me, who had me in their thoughts and made me feel loved, even when I don’t love myself. I realised the true value of money and learnt to appreciate the things that I have, to use things to its fullest capacity.

I enter 2017, a different person with a new set of goals and priorities, with nothing but the hope that things can only go up from here.

 

Happy New Year, everyone! 

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Visual Diary #4 : Saying Goodbye

Here’s a rather emotional diary entry.

In this instalment, I say bon voyage to my best friend, Diyanah. She moved to Japan to start a new chapter in her life. I couldn’t be happier for her, though in the video, it really doesn’t seem that way. I promise you I am happy for her. It was a bittersweet moment as we have always been childhood friends and I couldn’t imagine not having her around.

It’s a more personal post for me. But I wanted to stay true to my diary format and be real.

It wasn’t the video that I had imagined in my mind. However, I did my best to put together something as it’s a pretty big moment for me.

 

Hopefully you guys enjoy it!

The Thing About Beauty YouTubers…

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Let’s talk YouTube for a second.

I am an avid fan of YouTube. It has replaced television channels in my life. Not to mention my addiction to beauty channels, it’s almost unhealthy. I watch them religiously and follow massive amounts of beauty Youtubers. After years of watching beauty videos, watching the market get more and more saturated, I realised that slowly I have been unsubscribing to more channels than I am subscribing to new channels.

“YOUTUBE IS BROKEN” was a major headline that went viral.

Apparently, people have been unsubscribed to channels and there has been a general decline in views. While, I do believe that YouTube has been tinkering things around without communicating the changes they have applied, I also believe that people are unsubscribing actively. Or perhaps auto unsubscribing to channels where you are a dormant subscriber.

I too realise that I have not been watching as many beauty videos as I used to.

Why?

Because it’s ALL THE SAME.

 

Sponsorships

This argument has been going on for ages. People hate sponsorships because it destroys the credibility of a YouTuber. At the same time, some sponsorships come from genuine love of the products being advertised. Ultimately, they are paid to say the things that they say. And this tarnishes the integrity of the YouTuber, even though the viewer is aware that this is their job.

My preference was to simply skip sponsored videos altogether. While it is easy with UK YouTubers that indicate their sponsorships with a #AD on the title, it’s tougher to distinguish with other YouTubers.

The worst parts about sponsorships are the scripted dialog and the giant infestation that appears in your subscription box, because the videos are scheduled to be released around the same time. Furthermore, big companies would reach out to several influencers all at once. Next thing you know, your subscription box is filled with “so-and-so” lipstick or some random hair tool.

Just. No.

 

PR

Even if the video is not technically “sponsored”, more often than not large beauty companies will send out free PR packages containing the products they want to promote for these YouTubers to try. We are talking GIANT boxes filled to the brim with products. More than any one person can fathom to use to its entirety before it goes bad. Most of the time, they use these PR products for giveaways.

Most of these PR packages are sent out all at once to a plethora of influencers. So in certain portions of the year, you get a bunch of YouTubers mentioning the same products again and again because it is a new product they were sent. Therefore, even if the companies are not officially sponsoring these YouTubers, because they are all sent the same batches of products from companies, eventually they end up talking about the same products.

It’s inevitable. And incredibly boring.

 

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Constant Newness

On top of that, subscribers have the expectations that these YouTubers always have their hands on the pulse of the beauty community. Hence, these influencers are constantly talking about whatever’s new. Whatever it is that they were raving about 4 months ago is conveniently forgotten to make room for newer things. It is exactly what the large beauty companies want. They want you to keep buying and buying anything that’s new.

It cultivates a wasteful culture, which I had fallen prey to myself. I lose interest in products quickly and move on to new things faster than I can actually finish one. It’s horrible! It’s wasteful to the environment and it’s wasteful to my wallet. Whatever product is hyped at the moment is THE thing I want to get my hands on, completely disregarding the copious amounts of stuff I still have yet to use up.

Therefore, essentially, the videos are constantly about whatever’s new at the time. YouTubers are hardly talking about the older products again and again even if they are their tried and true. They will mention one or two offhand but these videos matter less than ones involving new things. It leads to perfectly good items being discontinued and overlooked. The companies also churn out product after product, launching something new every other week, in order to stay relevant and in the spotlight.

 

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What’s next?

My rant is tapering to an end. I was just overwhelmed with a sudden wave of anger and annoyance as I was trying to find something to watch on YouTube. The videos that started out as a friend recommending products to other people became an advertising platform. So much so that majority of the videos currently are paid in some form or other.

Nothing is genuine anymore.

There is no difference between watching a youtube “Get Ready With Me” video and a full-blown ad on the telly.

For those who are looking for integrity, look for smaller YouTubers that don’t try to emulate the “popular crowd” too much. For solid beauty recommendations, go for Emily Noel’s, she has never done a sponsored video in all her years on YouTube. Stephanie Nicole is also infamous for her scathingly honest review. As for skincare, I love Gothamista’s videos as they are filled with information and honest recommendations.

 

What do you think about the current state of YouTube?

Ultimately, I will probably stray away from YouTube, beauty-wise. I am going to be focusing on using up the stuff I have now and forming my own opinions on things. YouTube is in dire need of originality. If I want to see paid posts, I might as well opt for Vogue.