Must-haves : Japanese Skincare

As I mentioned in my previous visual diary episode, I wanted to do a round up of some awesome Japanese skincare I have fallen in love with. I go through phases with my skincare, moving from continent to continent. Currently, I am loving Japan’s simplistic approach, adorable packaging and affordable prices.

While I researched more on Japanese skincare, I found very few English sites that does reviews or provide information on Japanese products. It’s especially difficult as most products are entirely in Japanese, without translations.

 

Tip #1 : Find the item online, even on a Japanese site and cut and paste the ingredients to Google translate. It gives you a rough idea of what’s in the product, just in case you have any skin sensitivities. 

 

To cover every single Japanese product I love would take ages, so I will probably do a follow up on other things like haircare, makeup and so on. For now, I will pick out my favourites for each category that I think the Japanese excel in.

 

Here are my top picks.

 

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Sunscreens

Japanese sunscreens are where it’s at. Their formulations are always cutting edge, leaps and bounds ahead of others in the market. They are known for their light textures that never leave a white cast whilst providing the perfect base for makeup. My favourites are the Hada Labo Air Aqua UV Day Emulsion SPF 50 PA+++ (S$19.90) and Labo Labo Super-Moist UV-Cream 5H x 5C SPF 30 PA++ (S$21.90). Though they sound they same, they are actually from different companies. Both are drugstore Japanese skincare brands and very affordable. I love these two because they are light but can be used alone without a separate cream underneath. They are undetectable when applied on the skin and are alcohol free.

The Hada Labo one comes in two formulations, but my favourite is the fresh version that contains anti-aging ingredients such as vitamin C, resveratrol and hyaluronic acid. The Labo Labo version is a thicker cream texture, more like a traditional moisturiser that is formulated with 5 types of hyaluronic acid and collagen. Best sunscreens EVER!!

 

Lotions

The Japanese are masters at formulating facial lotions. In Western terms, these lotions would be classified under toners. You would soak them on a cotton pad and use them after cleansing to prep the skin for serums and moisturiser as well as giving it added benefits and balance the skin’s pH levels. Japanese lotions come in all shapes and forms but I recently discovered the economical ones that come in giant half a litre bottles. These lotions are unbelievably inexpensive and actually have a simple, yet effective ingredients list.

The one I recommend would be the Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing Skin Care Lotion. The skincare line is based of a famous sake brewery in Japan and features sake as a skin care ingredient to help tone and brighten the skin. What’s mind-boggling is that this giant bottle costs S$14.90. An amazing budget buy that actually works. It comes in two versions. The Light version is great for hot weather as it is weightless and refreshing whilst the High Moist version has added ceramides to help provide extra moisture and is alcohol-free. Both are fantastic, though Singapore weather does better with the light version.

I can’t wait to try other giant bottles of Japanese lotions because they seriously make the best toners and are such money-savers.

 

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Creams

Japanese skincare is big on gels and gel-cream formulations because they tend to prefer light, fast absorbing skincare that are great for layering. However, I do love a good night cream that helps lock all the moisture in while I sleep. After much searching, I found one that I am completely smitten with. Presenting the Keana Nadeshiko Rice Cream (S$27) ! This rich cream in housed in an adorable little orb that’ll look just so cute on your vanity. Keana Nadeshiko brand is known for tackling issues with pores using primarily natural ingredients such as baking soda and rice bran oil. This particular cream is packed with fermented sake, rice bran oil, rice bran extract and saccharomyces ferment (aka pitera).

I was initially worried that this would be too rich for my oily, acne-prone skin but I was pleased to find that it’s just right. The cream is luxurious to spread on the skin but sinks in very well. I wake up to plump skin despite using acids and acne treatments on a daily basis. I cannot recommend it enough. I was so pleasantly surprised how much I fell for this product. My only complain would be that it’s a more pricey product and the jar is rather tiny with only 30 grams of product. The results are worth it though.

 

Masks

LOVE Japanese masks. I have written an ode to Japanese sheet masks, which you can read here for an extensive list of my favourites. The one I consistently repurchase again and again are the LuLuLun Masks (S$8.90). They are inexpensive and tackle different concerns depending on which colour you picked. The ones I love most is the brightening mask that comes in a silver packaging.

Another awesome thing is that these masks are so affordable. Even more so than the korean ones. Enough said.

 

Blotters

I know this is something you wouldn’t really think is a big deal. But for a girl with oily skin, oil blotters are LIFE SAVERS. I am never without it, ever. I have one packet with me at all times to help me absorb excess oil and keep my face looking fresh. The best kind are the paper ones, and the Japanese variety are just the best of the best. Japanese blotting papers are revolutionary because they absorb oil so well and do not disturb any makeup you have underneath. I find that the plastic film types tend to lift my foundation and leave my face looking patchy. So now, I will only use paper.

The Japanese oil paper blotter are very affordable. No matter the price, they all work the same. If ever you are at a Japanese store or in Japan, I say stock up!

 

Cotton Pads 

A necessity that no one cares for. Cotton pads are rather dull, really. So no one ever wants to talk about them. However, I am incredibly picky when it comes to my cotton pads. I hate cheap cotton balls or squares that shed lint all over my face. Some that are too thin to hold and deposit your skincare properly. That is not to say that you should splurge on “luxury cotton”.

Japanese cotton pads are on another level. They are so soft, never shed and are designed to be a delivery system for your skincare. And they are affordable to boot! While many rave on and on about the coveted Shiseido cotton pads, I very much prefer the Muji Unbleached Cotton variety. They are identical to the Shiseido ones in terms of thickness, softness and never shedding. Fortunately they are cheaper. But the ones I repurchase the most are Silcot brand. The Silcot Lintfree Cotton Pads (S$4) feel like pillows on your face, I tend to use that for hydrating toners. The Silcot Uru Uru Sponge pads (S$4) are my favourite for acid toners (or really expensive toners) because they help you use 50% less toner. Truly I can attest to that. It’s a sponge-like pad that gets really soaked with very little product, which really help stretch your skincare product for longer.

It is AMAZING. I can’t be without this now. Otherwise I feel like I’m wasting so much product.

 

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And there you have it! If you ever visit Japan and are overwhelmed with the plethora of beauty products, try these out or go for the categories I’ve highlighted.

It’s so amazing that you can get such great quality and results at drugstore prices. I can never justify buying a 50 dollar cream anymore, when the Japanese have such superior formulas for so much less.

Try them out and let me know!

On Speaking Up

The whole world has gone berserk it seems in 2016. What my friend, Sofi, said really struck a chord in me. She said that 2016 is the year where everyone showed their true colours. Everyone has been pretty politically correct till now. As millennials, we consume so much data and content that often we feel very opinionated about things. For some reason, in the Asian community especially, opinions aren’t exactly welcomed. My parents have taught me that you shouldn’t speak unless spoken to, and that you shouldn’t offer your opinions unless they are asked.

Well, sock that theory.

I have never believed in keeping your mouth shut at signs of cruelty and injustice. We speak up and speak our minds, otherwise they will never be heard. Spreading senseless hate is one thing but speaking up against an injustice or a bully is another. Freedom of speech is sorely restrained in Singapore in terms of controversial topics, which is a shame. However, we are still allowed to voice out opinions so long as they are not formed under bigotry or divisive intent.

This video was a spontaneous one that my younger sister and I decided to make at 1am one night after I came across an advice article from a local teen magazine, “Teenage”. The article, since then, has gone viral and people were outraged at the closed minded response that this advice columnist has written in reply to a rape victim. After which she submitted an official (non) apology.

The video turned into a massive rant because we were shocked at the lack of sympathy and her use of language towards the girl writing in. If you are in the mood to watch a giant, incoherent rant, you may do so here.

We decided to throw in our two cents as we read and react to both the article and apology. What I want achieve here is to show the people in Singapore that we are a generation that do not condone victim shaming. We are a generation that celebrate the values of equality and spit on acts of sexual violence, be it towards a woman or a man. We are the generation that don’t shy away from taboo topics and talk openly about gay marriage, mental illness, poverty and politics.

Most of all, we are the generation that believes in the right of an individual to make their own choices and not be judged for being who they are. It’s time for the old world to step aside with their outdated values and elitist morals.

 

Welcome to the 21st century. Please take a seat.

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Mustering Motivation

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Let’s talk about something people rarely talk about: Motivation. To me, motivation isn’t just a means to work harder or in the wise words of Pokemon, “To be the very best that no one ever was.” Motivation is so much more than that. It is drive, passion but most of all, it’s part of staying sane and waking up in the morning with a sense of purpose.

Be it a fitness routine you recently started or a job that you took up. Staying motivated in life, in general, can be a tough thing. Mostly because getting motivated isn’t the hard part, being consistent is the issue.

I don’t want to talk about motivation in relation to a specific thing. Instead, I want to talk about staying motivated to keep going against all odds. The motivation to get out of bed and do something without someone telling you to do so. In simple terms, to be able to find reasons to do something continuously which essentially, to me, is being motivated to continue living life to the fullest.

This is particularly tough, if like me, you are facing a trying period in your life where it’s so easy to just give up, be a sloth and permanently fuse your body to the bed.

 

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Giving Up

Giving up doesn’t necessarily mean failure. Sometimes, accepting your fate and falling into a routine that doesn’t make you feel fulfilled is also giving up. Settling for any aspect of your life and accepting things as they are without the urge to fight for something more can be a form of giving up and falling into an imposturous rut.

This is possibly the hardest thing to do. Because fighting for something is the most tiring thing to do. And it is so easy to just wave that white flag and surrender. Be it a new diet plan or in my case, finding an occupation in a field that I love, sticking to the plan and continuing with the fight everyday takes not just a physical toll, but a mental one. Often times I find myself thinking, “I should just forget this.” and it takes double the effort when you are faced with a setback or rejection.

I say this to myself as much as I say this to you guys, “Don’t give up.” Giving up is not an option. Don’t even consider it. Put on your horse blinders and keep looking forward. If you give that thought even the time of day, it will stick to you. And it’s a bitch to shake it off. Trust me. I’ve been there.

 

Disregard the External

Millennials tend to be obsessed with new age careers. I get asked several times if I am planning to “make it” as a YouTuber or a blogger, making it my career. People tend to assume things and pass judgements without bothering to hear the whole story. I get so annoyed and distracted by the opinions of others that it ends up affecting my mood and outlook on things.

For the record, I think YouTubers and bloggers are awesome. I consume their content like a voracious animal, starved for days. I am constantly on the internet, watching Youtube videos and reading blog posts about all things. Despite all that, I don’t idolise them nor aspire to be one of them. I love how creative some creators are and they inspire me, but never will I strive to be exactly like them.

Therefore, with the start of me writing on this site and then later, creating some vlogs, many think that I trying to make a livelihood out of this. In actuality, this is genuinely something that I enjoy doing for fun and is an outlet for my creativity.

Nevertheless, I still get affected when people judge my content with the assumption that this is my hustle, rather than enjoy it for what it is. Don’t let external factors drive your motivation. Do it for yourself. I keep doing what I love regardless negative feedback I get and focus on producing things I enjoy.

 

Doing Things You Love

Which brings me to this section. As cliched as it sounds, the best way to stay motivated is to find the things that you love in the grand master scheme of things. Whether its your fitness routine or learning a new language. Just life in general, it’s good to just find even the smallest of pleasures in daunting tasks.

Going back to my point on YouTubers and bloggers, I always look to them as a source inspiration, fuelling ideas and potential projects. For instance, I am constantly inspired by HeyClaire and Will Darbyshire’s videos. They make me want to learn more and do something productive, on top of whatever mundane thing I have to do that day.

Collabing and meeting people who have similar interests allows you to feed and bounce off their energy. Recently, I said yes to a shoot with Khai from @fittysense. The old me would’ve said no for fear of screwing up or listening to my insecurities. Instead, we ended up taking some cool shots and talking about different artistic directions we might explore. Bouncing ideas is one of the things I love most about the creative process and thus gave me a huge boost in motivation.

 

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Ultimately, I realise that this is a fluid subject. Being motivated can pertain to a career, a new lifestyle or working towards a personal goal. To some, it is required just to get out of bed in the morning. To me, it is staying sane, finding purpose in what you do. Whether that purpose aligns with the world, it doesn’t mater. As long as you find a purpose in it. That’s all that matters. And that purpose, be it happiness or self-improvement, will keep you going against all odds.

Photos by Khairulazmas

Instagram : @fittysense

(Down in the) Dumpster Books

I’m coming at you with some book reviews. Thought that it might be a good segue from the last post, before plunging into frivolous beauty talk.

I’ve always put off reading because I claimed that I had no time before. Hence, when I am presented with all the time in world, I don’t really have that excuse anymore. I kicked my ass into reading mode, because it is the one thing I do for fun that doesn’t feel like a waste of time and is enriching.

When I was younger, reading was a form of escapism. The lesser the association to real life, the better. Now, as an adult, I tend to appreciate books that are more “slice of life”. I tend to choose books that are borderline depressing because it’s a great way to commiserate, without dumping your negativity on someone else. Most people would turn to self-help books, or something light-hearted and motivational when they are dealing with any crises. Those books tend to have the opposite effect on me.

So, if you are going through a tough time and are looking to commiserate, wallow in self-pity for a bit, let me suggest three books to help you on your journey.

 

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Start things off with…

 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

 

Cannonball straight into the deep end of the pool with this one. Although it claims to be fictional, I can’t help but think that the author’s first novel is very much autobiographical. The narrative follows Esther Greenwood, a prize winning college student being invited for an amazing opportunity in New York. The future seems so bright, doors are opening left and right. Throughout the book, you are in her mind as she spirals from the top and descends into mental illness.

The pace is slow and laborious, so it’s for those days where you feel like wallowing all day. What strikes me most is the imagery she uses. It describes Esther’s feelings so aptly. Feeling as if she is trapped in a glass bell jar, watching the world go by. Sounds and sights are muted but outwardly, she seems so normal. The slow detachment and how each experience is dulled down. Plath makes powerful images that are unnervingly accurate.

The ending wasn’t satisfying to me. Although I have been told that I am very hard to please when it comes to endings. But this one is melancholic and open-ended, as these sort of books are.

We move on to a more thought-provoking title.

 

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Veronika Decides to Die by Paolo Coehlo

 

Don’t be fooled by the depressing title. It isn’t a tearjerker as one would expect. This book is made for people who want to commiserate and slowly reel themselves out of that rut. It’s a pretty short and digestible novel. The story follows a depressed woman named Veronika, who at the start of the story decides to commit suicide. However, she fails and finds herself in a mental institution. Turns out she didn’t REALLY fail because the doctor tells her that she has one week to live as the doctors couldn’t get to her in time.

You think, “So what?” right? Just a few more days won’t make a difference. But then Veronica starts making connections with the people in the institution. They were people who truly understood her. All of a sudden, that shift in perspective is very powerful. The idea that life is mere banality that stretches on to uncertainty makes death seem like something you just want to get over. However, knowing exactly when the end will come fills each day with a sense of purpose. Knowing how short her time left was and the fact that people thought of her as mad anyways, Veronica felt liberation as she lived each day like she has nothing to lose.

And she really didn’t.

The book became a lot more uplifting than I expected it to be. Which is both good and bad. As much as there were poignant moments in the book. I kinda felt as if I was tricked into reading a very well-disguised self-help book of some sort. Hence, why I would recommend it for people looking for ways out of negativity.

 

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Finally there’s…

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak.

 

God, this book is amazing. It’s an incredibly deep and thoughtful book for a young adult novel. You kind of have to suspend reality for a moment when reading this one because the fact that Ed Kennedy was somehow “chosen” to be a messenger and how he somehow accepts his tasks willingly seems unlikely in real life. Basically, Ed is an underage taxi driver, completely average guy, trying to make ends meet. Until one day, he was instantly turned into a hero when he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That was when the first Ace was delivered to him and he became a “messenger”.

This book is simple but incredibly well written. Ed meets a diverse variety of characters while he executes his tasks as a messenger and you see each and every character’s struggle. This book puts your own misery into perspective. There is a need to realise that everyone is struggling in some way or another. Though it is unhealthy to compare, it is good to be aware and realise that you are not alone.

Ed is a lovable protagonist, just in the fact that he is SO ordinary. Which is precisely his charm. You relate with him and realize that small acts make a hero too.

 

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There you go, 3 books for when you are feeling depressed. I always felt that its good to acknowledge your feelings and really simmer in them. Sometimes, you don’t feel like talking to people about your problems.

Books are the best in those situations because not only do they provide escapism, they also provide commiseration without actual social interaction. The ones I mentioned are profound and wise, like an old friend that has been through a lot. They give you new perspectives and even a little push to get out of that rut.

Visual Diary #2

Here’s the second visual diary entry. This time, it’s just a regular week consisting of my random thoughts, a job interview and a party that me and my friends went to.

I’ve been playing with a more vlog style edit, with me talking to you guys. Let me know if that works? Because my initial plans were just to make videos to music. But I thought a change of pace would be good.

Enjoy!

Poppin’ My Colourpop Cherry

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I think it’s safe to say that everyone has either heard of or own some Colourpop cosmetics. But for those who are unfamiliar, Colourpop is a cosmetics brand from the US that sells affordable and unique makeup. Their Ultra Matte Lip blew up in the last year or so. Now, they have a huge offering from face to eyes and lips. They are known for their signature, spongey powder formulas that almost feel cream to powder and are particularly famous for their liquid lipsticks that come in a variety of finishes at USD$6 a pop.

The hype on Colourpop is deafening, especially with Youtubers and other beauty influencers singing it praises. Until last month, international shipping was not offered to the official Colourpop site, which was why it was difficult to get your hands on them here in Singapore. You could get them from resellers on Carousell or other sites, but they tend to hike up the prices. Plus I always get suspicious when it comes to resellers. So, once they offered international shipping, I was over the moon excited.

Then, I thought I would share my overall experience with Colourpop as an international customer. So, if you guys ever wanna purchase anything from their site, you would know what to expect.
 

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Wait Time

As you would expect, wait time is about 3 weeks. Orders from UK and US tend to take around that time, unless expedited. I ordered on the 25th of September and received the package mid this week, second week of October. What’s interesting was that my order was not packed and despatched until a whole week after my order was confirmed. The confirmation email say that you will receive a tracking number once shipment has been despatched. I didn’t receive that tracking number until a full week after my order was confirmed.

So don’t worry if you are faced with radio silence after they took your money and your order was confirmed. Apparently Colourpop takes, on average, 3-4 days to actually assemble your package, excluding weekends and holidays. And on promotional periods, it can take longer. I was having anxiety that my order got lost somewhere, but I simply had to wait. Hence, it is something to take note of, as I would imagine that they have a high volume of orders, considering how popular they are.

What I did appreciate was the tracking number that let’s you see the check points your package went through before arriving to its destination. It gave me a sense control over the whole thing and I could roughly gauge when the package is likely to arrive.

 

Presentation & Packaging

The box that it arrives in is unique to Colourpop. Outwardly it looks like a regular package, but inside it has the Colourpop logo with fun designs. The products themselves are padded with only flimsy foam sheets, hence they aren’t tightly packed and do rattle around. Some of the Lippie Stix boxes were open and none of the individual boxes are sealed in any way. I was initially worried that someone went through my package but turns out there was no issue. That’s just how they roll.

The actual product packaging was the standard Colourpop packaging. One of my Super Shock Shadows was cracked (but salvageable) and my Ultra Satin Lip in “Mess Around” came without a stopper, hence the wand was completely glopped with excess product. I then asked my other friends who also ordered around the same time as me, Sofi from Singapore and Liz from France. They had some issues with their product packaging as well. One Liz’s lipgloss came without a stopper like mine and Sofi’s blush came completely shattered. It’s interesting to note as well that out of the 3 Ultra Satin Lips I owned, 2 of them came without a stopper.

 


 
 

Final Thoughts

The products themselves are great quality for the price. The Ultra Satin Lips’ formula is one of my favourite lip formulas of all time. They are pigmented, opaque and go on the lips like butter. They are also so comfortable on the lips. Personally, I can’t wear the Ultra Matte Lips, but my sister enjoys them. The Super Shock Shadows are ultra creamy and pigmented. Best applied with fingers. However, I own quite a few of them and they have the tendency to dry out after a while, especially the matte and satin formulas. So make sure you screw the lid on tight to prevent it from drying out quicker.

Unfortunately, I am unimpressed with how poor their quality control is. I get that they have large volumes of orders. But it doesn’t make it okay to send customers lip products without stoppers that help remove excess product. And this wasn’t just my experience. I knew lots of friends who received products this way, which is one too many. I understand if only one of items arrived that way, but to find so many people experiencing the same issue is quite concerning.

While I do like the mail packaging overall, I think that they should’ve wrapped their fragile cream-powder formulas in bubble wrap to protect them from being shattered in transit. I have shopped at many online retailers and they will usually wrap each individual product to prevent breakage or use packing peanuts to prevent the products from rattling around in the box. Considering how soft the Colourpop formulas are, I thought that this would be a standard packing process for them. I get that how roughly the packages are handled by the post is not their fault, but Colourpop could’ve packed the products in a manner that can minimise possible damages.

 

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Eyes : Game Face // Elf Mad About Matte Palette 

Lips : Matte X Lippie Stix in Hollywood Blvd

 
 
Overall, I think their prices are great! And their products perform well. I LOVE their colour range and I am OBSESSED with their Ultra Satin Lips. So soooo good.

However, upon reviewing my personal experiences and my other international friends’, I don’t think that it’s worth the risk as an international shopper. On top of the price of shipping, you can get charged for customs (like Liz did) and for the products to come shattered, cracked and without a freakin’ stopper, I think that I’ll wait until I have a friend in the States who can help me order some.

Club Night Chronicles #2

We are back to the makeup series dedicated to all the party girl out there. A quick recap or this series : This is going to be a series of makeup looks perfect for a night out, depending on the level of ratchet you are planning to be that night. Today, I’m showing you how to achieve “The Diyanah”

“For the bitch that will most probably throw up/pass out”

This would be rather large majority of us, to be honest. This is a look that can withstand face plants on the bar top, lying on the pavement and faces down the toilet bowl. We have all been there at one point of time.

The key to the look is to go grungy. Grunge makeup embrace the lived-in, messy look. Imperfection is the goal. So the more your eye makeup smudges, the cooler you look. This is the ideal situation for a night that will result in memories as smudgy as your eyeliner. Let’s get cracking!

 

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Base

Stick to your usual base. There’s no need to completely conceal every blemish on your face and totally eradicate your dark circles. It’s better to let your skin show through, because this look isn’t about being immaculate. I chose a light coverage, mattifying base as we will probably be sweating a lot during the night. Primer is a must! I picked my standard, Makeup Forever Step 1 Mattifying Primer. I placed a small amount on my T-zone, before my foundation to ensure shine-free, lasting power.

 

Brows

Kick your regular eyebrow routine up a notch. What I mean is to go a little more heavy handed in your application, be it pencil, powder or pomade. My go-to for nights out is the Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade (it can last through an apocalypse). After that, be sure to use a clear brow gel to seal your brows in place. The ELF clear brow mascara is cheap and does a fantastic job at locking the hairs in position.

 

Eyes

All the drama happens here. We want the eyes to be sultry, sexy and poppin’. We start by priming with your favourite eyeshadow primer. I used the Too Faced Shadow Insurance. Then we lay down a matte cream base to make the subsequent shadows we place on top pop. The H&M Eye Colour To Go eyeshadow crayons are incredible and do not crease! The colour I used is “Cordoba”, a mid-tone warm brown that is absolute perfection, even on its own. We blend this all over the lid and under the lower lash line.

 

 

Next, take a matte cool brown from the ELF Mad for Matte palette through the crease for some definition. Be as messy as you want and take the colour as high up as you want to. Just make sure it looks blown out and that there are no harsh lines. Then we are lining the lash line with a deep grey eye pencil and smudging it out with the deep, dark brown from the Wet n Wild “Silent Treatment” trio. The Sephora 12 Hour Contour Eye Pencils are the absolute best for this because they smudge out so well and then dry down to a waterproof formula. Do the same at the lower lash line, all around the eye. Don’t be afraid to go really dark and smokey.

We blend the edges and pop the shimmery taupe shade in the Wet n Wild trio right in the centre of the lids. Finish the eyes by tightlining with any black eyeliner and LOADS of mascara. My favourite at the moment is the Catrice Glam & Doll Volume Mascara. It literally makes it look like I have falsies on. Opt for a waterproof mascara on the lower lash line, just in case we get teary when we puke.

 

 

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Cheeks

Blush it up, baby! I am going to make this a true tribute to my friend, Diyanah because she is all about blushed cheeks. Your face will be flushed anyways so might as well embrace it. The best (non-alcoholic) way to ensure that the flush lasts all night is to layer a powder blush over a cream. I used the H&M Lip and Cheek Colour in “My Old Flame” underneath theBalm’s Instain Blush in “Swiss Dot”, a bright coral shade. These Instain Blushes by theBalm are incredibly long-lasting because they are powders that are designed to stain the cheeks.

We can’t forget contour and highlight. Choose a cooler bronzer to compliment the smokey eye. theBalm’s Bahama Mama is a fantastic cool brown shade that looks like a real shadow, creating instant cheekbones. Dust the Essence Pure Nude Highlighter at the high points to make sure that your cheeks are poppin’.

 

Lips

For this look, we have to make sure that the lip we choose is extremely low maintenance, with zero chance of smudging. Nudes go best with a dark eye and are perfect because it is less noticeable when they do start wearing off. First , we go in with the H&M Lip Definer in “Raconteur” and filled the whole lip in. These lip liners are so long-lasting and you can even leave the look like this with a darker, matte nude.

 

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However, I chose to top the lip liner off with Mac’s “Velvet Teddy”, to give a pouty, matte nude lip. It’s deep enough to be a statement nude lip, whilst still being low-maitenance.

 

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And there you have it! Pop on a choker for the added grunge effect and you are good to go.

 

 

 

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Finding Snippets of Silver

Social media has created increased pressure to depict a pristine lifestyle at all times. Even though we all know that life is never all sunshine and rainbows. Here, in Singapore, there is very little light shed on mental illness or anything of that sort. We tend to believe that the brain is an organ that we have control over, that you can control your thoughts and actions. This is true to a certain extent. More often than not, we are at the mercy of our thoughts and like the heart, it is an organ that is constantly working on its own.

Many Asian households tend to instill this habit of showing your best and putting the best face on for the rest of the world. There is a tendency to sweep problems under the rug and pretend that it doesn’t exist, praying that eventually they will go away. It’s true in my family and the relationships that I have in my life. The whole mindset strikes a bad cord in me and it’s something that I fight against every day.

 

Why is it so wrong to admit our problems?

 

Negativity

Singaporeans are notorious for being overly negative and complaining a lot. I have grown up in a society that is constantly in discontent. We are always very vocal about how unhappy we are with one thing or another. As frivolous as this may seem, it does impact the mindset of millennials who fixate on the negative and feel entitled to the good. You would think that this means that we are open to listening to people’s problems but this is where society draws a fine line. We love commiserating and blowing steam on shared topics, not on individual ones. It is taboo to air your “dirty laundry” or talk about them in an open manner. It is considered rude and self-centred, which boggles my mind. Who do you turn to, to discuss your own personal struggles? More often than not, you are encouraged to find a solution for yourself.

 

Isolation

Which brings me to the point about having friends and a support system. This system is often botched by the false self-centred notions that I was talking about previously. We think our friends have their own problems to deal with. They are busy with their own lives and when we do have time to spend together, these are precious hours that you wouldn’t want to ruin with your personal problems. Thus, even with a close group of friends, ultimately we are incredibly isolated. No one knows who anyone really is. Life here is so fast paced that we often forget to check up on our friends and loved ones. Meanwhile, those friends and loved ones are too afraid to reach out and they end up feeling neglected. It’s a vicious cycle.

 

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Catharsis

Being isolated, it is important to be comfortable on your own. Remind yourself that negligence is not personal, it is a way of life. We can’t solve everything on our own, but we can manage them. Finding a project or activity that is cathartic is important. When there seems to be no outlet for the negativity, find one that creates something positive for you. Be it working out, meditation or retail therapy. Writing is a cathartic experience for me and I have written journals, poetry and prose since I was 10 years old. As I grew older, I would kick it up a notch and create projects such as my self-published book, “The Unorthodox Cat Lady”, where you can clearly see instances of me releasing my negativity in the pages. Not everything that comes out of negativity is ugly, sometimes they push you to create or experience the most rewarding things.

 

Digging Yourself Out of It

When you are stuck in a rut, it is very easy to wallow. To prevent yourself from falling deeper into that hole, you have to acknowledge your feelings, release them in some form or other and then try to climb your way out of it. This is the most difficult step to execute on your own. Most times however, you are on your own. Realistically, it is difficult to reach out in an open manner without inciting judgement. Hence, I think it is equally important to find ways to climb out of that negative headspace by yourself. Leaving positive reminders is one way that I think helps. These reminders can come in the form of quotes, photos, even scents that evoke positive memories for you. Recently, I have started creating visual diaries of simple everyday things that to me are poignant and evoke positive feelings. They remind me of good times and I will watch them whenever things get rough.

 

My life is not exciting in the least, so everything is very ordinary. But I think it’s important to find joy in the ordinary. I truly enjoyed the entire process of making these videos and want to make more of them, even if they don’t turn out amazing. Sometimes, logging memories down into words is not enough. They need to be relived.

 

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Sheet Mask Smackdown!

Sheet masks have never been my thing.

I have and will always be a clay mask kind of girl. Thanks to my oily, acne prone skin, I found lots of sheet masks overbearing on my skin. Particularly Taiwanese & Korean ones that are absolutely DRIPPING in essence. So much that there is usually a pool of excess essence left in the packet, which is a good thing that people tend to look for. However, for me, it’s just too much.

Most masks are so saturated that it feels as if they are slipping and sliding off my face. The essence is so thick that it feels as if it isn’t penetrating my skin. Thus, I hated “patting” in the goo after I have removed the mask from my face. Often times, I end up breaking out.

As I grew older though, my skin has definitely changed. It’s now more combination oily. Plus, after using retinol, my skin does get dry and I have to be more diligent about hydration.

 

With new formulations and new brands, I decided to give sheet masks another shot.

 

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LuLuLun Masks, US$3.90-$19

This is my first introduction into Japanese sheet masks. My best friend, Diyanah, brought back a pack for me from Japan. Their masking concept is slightly different because there are 7 sheets in a pack and it is meant for DAILY use. Though it sounds excessive, these masks are perfectly formulated for that. They are thin cotton masks that are saturated in a cocktail of skin-loving ingredients. The keyword here is “saturated” but not soaking, sopping wet. It’s perfect for oily skinned girls like me who can’t stand rich textures. The LuLuLun masks are hydrating and emollient, but not occlusive.

I’ve tried a bunch, my favourite being the brightening one that comes in a silver packet. The moisturizing range is bit heavy for me, so I do find that I have to rinse my face after use, to get rid of any residue. They are alcohol free, which is very important for me and have a short but effective ingredients list. If you are confused as to what is in the different ranges and colours, I found a blog that explains the different types you can get here.

Best of all, they are so inexpensive at less than 10 bucks a pack.

 

Leaders Insolution & Mediu Masks, S$3-$9.90

The hype on these masks are real. The Leaders masks are well-loved globally. They are pretty pricey, but boast immediate results. I have tried two types and I have to say that I really do like both (insolution & media amino masks). It brightens and any acne I have going on is visibly less red and irritated. The cotton used in these masks is thicker and more plush than the LuLuLun ones. They cling to the skin better and have a better, more luxurious fit on my face.

As expected, I had to wash off the residue after taking off the mask because korean mask formulas are just too moisturizing for my skin. But the results are still noticeable. This would be a special occasion mask for me. Perhaps if my skin is experiencing a bad breakout or is generally looking a little rough, I would splurge on a sheet as a treat.

 

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Naruko Snail Essence Hydra Repair Masks, S$29.90

This Taiwanese drugstore skincare brand always impresses me with their ingredients list. It is packed with botanical extracts and effective ingredients, whilst omitting alcohol, parabens and other nasties. I’ve heard great things about their snail essence mask and I was not disappointed.

First thing you will notice is how incredibly slimy the mask is. Absolutely dripping with snail goo, which isn’t the most appealing thing to slap on your face. But once you get over that, the mask itself is thick and stays wet for a very long time. There is a rather strong fragrance – a notable downside for me. It’s very cooling and this treatment can be left on longer than all the masks I’ve tried.

The essence does drip around a bit so be warned, it can get messy. The result is worth the slimy hassle because I was left with clarified and calm skin. It really helped with my hyper pigmentation and acne scars. It’s another special occasion type mask but it’s great stuff!

 

Japan Gals Pure 5 Essence Masks, S$24.90

This is, I daresay, my HOLY GRAIL sheet mask. I found this Japanese sheet mask on a whim at John Little. It has a similar concept to the LuLuLun masks in the sense that they are meant for daily use and come in large packs of 7 to 30. Personally, I have never heard of this brand, but what peaked my interest was the simplicity of the ingredients list. It’s very simple, without any alcohol or parabens, featuring 5 main ingredients that make up majority of the formulation. Due to the lack of parabens, the masks have to be used up within 2 months of opening. That pushes me to use them daily and oh my god.

My skin has never been better. The masks come in a giant resealable bag, with plastic tweezers to take a sheet out, making it more sanitary. The cotton masks themselves are of a thicker, more plush cotton than the LuLuLun and they have a larger surface area as well. This is one of the very few masks that completely absorbs into my skin, leaving zero residue. I can put on moisturizer and makeup as soon as I am done masking, without feeling sticky or slimy. With regular use, my skin tone is SO much clearer and even toned. So even that I have been going out without a shred of foundation or concealer. It’s liberating.

I highly recommend this mask for anyone with oily or dull skin. They offer a wide range addressing different skin concerns. It’s relatively inexpensive considering there are 30 sheets in the pack. But keep in mind that these are meant for daily use.

 

For what it’s worth, unwinding everyday for 10 mins with a little pamper routine like this can do more good for you than your skin. Treat yourself!

 

 

Ultra 2016 Experience

Hey guys! So I thought I would try something different with this post. Instead of writing down my Ultra Music Festival experience in Singapore, I thought it would be better to let you experience it with me. So, I’ve made a little vlog. It’s my first time dabbling in video, so excuse any kinks and glitches.

Needless to say it was hot, sweaty and amazing. I was dead exhausted after the whole thing, but it was unforgettable.

Hope you guys enjoy this one!