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!

 

Briefcase Free

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Unemployment is something no one really talks about where I live, in Singapore. It’s somewhat a taboo subject. Your friends are overly positive about your prospects, because they want to encourage you and keep your spirits up. Your parents don’t know what to do with you around the house, acting like they are walking on egg shells. Everyone else who knows you otherwise  assume that you are employed elsewhere, even if you aren’t with the previous company. You have to be working for another, right?

People here think of it as a fleeting moment. Just a simple unfortunate incident that can easily be remedied.

I mean, just get another one, right?

Wrong.

I have been debating about writing more personal things on this site. Simply because no one really cares about personal experiences from someone they don’t even know. The futility of it makes this whole thing seem like a waste of time and effort. Everyone projects the false image of a perfect life, be it through conversations or social media. No one wants to talk about the horrible and real things that are going on. It’s uncomfortable and painful, so everyone, myself included, tends to avoid it.

Part of the reason, I think, is because the unemployment rates in Singapore are one of the lowest in the world. It’s at 2.1% currently. So to classify yourself under that small percentage means that you are not the norm, a failure.

 

 

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Getting it Together

Having a job and career are all wonderful things. But not when it completely defines you as a person. Humans are multi layered creatures. It’s impossible to sum someone up in just one word, their occupation. There is this mentality that growing up and being an adult means that we have to have it together all the time. We need to be walking towards a direction or goal. If, like me, you have lost sight of that goal, you need to start working towards another one quick. Wandering around aimlessly, getting your bearings is not an adult thing to do, apparently.

Even if it is subconsciously done, the people around you will start pitying you, thinking that you’re losing it. Whatever “it” may be.

A tough concept that people can’t grasp is that confiding your problems with someone doesn’t automatically mean you are soliciting sympathy. Most times, it’s just stating the current fact of the matter. There are times, when I had to tell white lies, to avoid the standard looks of concern and pity on people when they learn about my state of joblessness. Then comes the onslaught of suggestions and advice. It comes from a good place yet it feels like salt to a gaping wound. Unless mentioned specifically, most people who are unemployed do not want their unemployment to be the discussion topic for the day.

We aren’t mentally unstable. It is okay to take some time off. We will get back on the horse when we are ready. To be honest, just a simple, “You okay?” is all we need. Not a discussion on what we are doing to land a new job ASAP.

Because god forbid that we are idle for a week or two. Adults don’t do that.

 

Helplessness

Job application is a job in itself. Sifting through Linkedin and Jobstreet, looking for something that would fit you and your abilities, but still aspirational. It’s tough. Not to mention the incredible competition you face. Typing out cover letter after cover letter, hoping to stand out from the other 500 applicants vying for the same position. It’s exhausting and demoralising, especially when you don’t hear back from the companies for a while. The whole thing is a merry-go-round of waiting, hoping and searching.

The helplessness settles in. You have to stretch that dollar, everything is suddenly a financial burden. Every time your friends ask you to hang out, you think “How much is this going to cost me?”. When they offer to pay, the weight on your chest doubles. It’s hard enough that you are a financial burden to yourself, now you are one to others as well. You just can’t enjoy moments 100% because there is always something nagging at the back of your head. You miss outings and parties to scrimp on cab rides and possible shopping. You end up barely meeting anyone and you feel everyone drifting away. When, in reality, it is you that’s drifting.

 

Taking Time

What we all need to realise is that this process takes time. This is a concept that I took a while to really understand. You can get a job overnight. But will it be the right one for you? That dream job feels like it is right around the corner, yet there seems to be a giant clock ticking away plus the uncertainty of the future. In addition to the tightening of the purse strings, so much so that it’s almost strangling you. You feel as if time is running out. There is a constant battle in your head whether you should settle. Or wait?

It takes time. And you shouldn’t feel bad for taking time. It’s something I struggle with as well because I always feel guilty for not applying and rushing into any job that pops up. Especially after the crushing defeat of not hearing from the initial one I was pining for. Patience is never my virtue but it has to be. Making a timeline is a good idea. Being open to part time jobs to help tide over this rough patch is something to consider. Settling, however, is not an option. So long as you are still alive, there is time.

 

Adulting

Finally, your entire personhood and level of maturity is not defined by your occupation or whether or not you are currently have one. It plays a big part, especially if you are passionate about what you do. But your job does not define you. It isn’t your only reason to live.

I would beat myself up for not being productive, for not being a busy worker bee. I am presented with all the time in the world and for some reason, I feel guilty. All of a sudden, I am transported back in time and I feel like a child again. What I needed to realise was that actively searching for a job is part of being a mature adult. I am adulting. Even if there is no swanky office or cubicle involved, I am an adult.

 

 

Either way, being jobless does not mean that you are a failure. It isn’t shameful or something that deserves pitying looks and sorry pats on the back. It doesn’t warrant talks about “how to get you on your feet”. You don’t owe anyone explanations. You don’t have to validate your efforts. There is nothing to prove. In fact, people take time off all the time. It is normal, as crazy as that sounds. And it is important for your sanity that you internalise that. I say this to myself as much as I am saying this to you guys.

You might be in the 2% right now, but that spot is in constant rotation, just like the Earth always is. It’s temporary and it’s just another chapter in this thing called Life.

 

 

 

Photos by Josh Magbanua 

@stuntmannjosh

Empties #2 : Japanese Faves

Recently, I am making a point to use up my current rotation of products before buying any new ones. And so far, I  have been doing really well.

Japanese products are where it’s at when you want something that is effective and affordable. I initially fell in love with their “no-nonsense” approach to skincare, and slowly found myself in the middle of a Japanese product invasion – right down to the toothpaste I use.

It all started with my desire to use more affordable skincare, after finishing up my SK-II facial treatment essence. I found that with daily use, though effective, high-end skincare products are just too burdensome for my measly pockets to warrant repurchasing again and again. I realised that there were many offerings in the Japanese drugstore category that perform amazingly! *cough* Hada Labo *cough*

After using a couple items up, I thought I would do a small round up of my thoughts from using these products from start to end.

 

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1. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, S$99

Let’s begin with the item that kickstarted my Japanese product craze. I bought a trial pack of the coveted SK-II treatment essence after reading countless raves about this “miracle water“. Their patented ‘pitera‘ is made from fermented rice and is said to be the key ingredient in keeping your skin balanced and fight against aging. The trial pack came with an SK-II sheet mask and a 75ml bottle of their essence, which lasted me a long, long time (more than a year). I did see an improvement in my skin clarity and it does help balance my skin. My acne scars faded more quickly and overall, it was a great addition to my skincare routine. However, I found that there are now a lot of other essences, priced affordably, that feature their key ingredient ‘galactomyces saccharomyces ferment filtrate’, also known as ‘pitera’.

Therefore, currently I have switched out my SK-II for Missha’s First Treatment Essence and it has been working well. There were more visible results from the SK-II, but in terms of its anti-aging benefits, the Missha suffices.

 

2. Hada Labo Tamagohada Mild Peeling Lotion, $17.90

Speaking of essences and lotions, this Hada Labo one is absolute holy grail status for me. This is the 8th bottle I’ve gone through and needless to say I will continue to repurchase this amazing skincare item. For people with sensitive skin who want to exfoliate without irritation, this is your answer. I use this as a very mild exfoliating toner as it contains ‘gluconic acid’, a natural enzyme occurring in fruits and wine. On top on that it also has ‘tranexamic acid’ that helps to brighten the overall complexion (similar to ferulic acid).

As with all Hada Labo products, the pH is slightly acidic and perfect to protect your skin’s acid mantle, making this a suitable for all skin types. It doesn’t dry out the skin and can be used day and night, to prevent the build up of dead skin cells and clogging of pores. No nasty ingredients in this one. More importantly, it’s affordable and effective. I highly recommend.

 

3. Hada Labo Air Aqua UV Day Emulsion, SPF 50, PA+++, $19.90

While we are on the Hada Labo train, I finished up my holy grail sunscreen, also by the same brand. This is my second bottle that I’ve gone through and I already have a back up waiting. I can’t stress enough how much I love this SPF. It’s perfect for everyday, super lightweight and sits well under makeup. It comes in two formulations, one for oily/combination skin and the other for dry skin. I’ve tried both and both work well! The dry skin formulation is perfect for lazy girls that want to just slap on only one thing. It definitely can be used as both a moisturiser and SPF, thanks to the addition of skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, resveratrol and vitamin C.

I would repurchase this again and again. It’s alcohol free and fragrance free, perfect for sensitive and acne prone skin types that usually break out due to SPF. So affordable and beats a lot of high-end SPFs I’ve tried, even the coveted Shiseido/Kiehl’s ones.

 

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4. LuLuLun 7 Days Premium Face Masks, $10.90

I’ve always had an issue with sheet masks, particularly the Korean ones that are over saturated with essences. I find them too rich for my oily skin to use on a regular basis, even though I want my skin receive the extra nutrients. So I stopped using sheet masks for years, until I was gifted this one by my best friend. The LuLuLun masks are super popular in Japan, not just due to its adorable packaging, but also because of its ‘daily mask’ concept. These masks are formulated to be used daily and come in a pack of 7, folded into one zip-lock bag. My prayers were answered with this one.

It has no alcohol and parabens. Everything in the ingredients list is lush. More importantly, the masks are saturated just enough to hydrate the skin deeply, without over burdening the skin or clogging it. It’s because it is more serum based and is formulated to be used every day. Thus, it’s much lighter. I use this every other day and I am loving the results. My skin is so much more radiant and plump. I managed to find a seller in Singapore that carries it, so I’m already on to my next packet.

 

5. BCL Tsururi Ghassoul Oil Cleansing, $18.90

I call this my underdog pick. I found this one at Tokyu Hands (a magical place by the way) and read the ingredients at the back. I had just finished my previous favourite oil cleanser, the Muji Mild Oil Cleansing, and was itching to try something new. This particular one drew me in because it is olive oil based, just like the Muji one, but has the added benefits of Moroccan lava clay, charcoal powder, honey, oat extract and organ oil. It comes out a black oil and takes off makeup like a dream. It’s more purifying than other cleansing oils, without leaving the skin feeling stripped. The clay and honey also helped my acne prone skin tremendously with its anti-bacterial properties.

The only drawback is that is comes in a measly 145ml bottle! Lasts roughly 2 months. I switched it out because of that but after a week of using something else, I came back to this one. My skin just loves it too much.

 

6. Ora 2 Stain Clear Premium in Aromatic Mint, $8.90

BEST. TOOTHPASTE. EVER. I know you’re thinking, it’s just toothpaste. How amazing can it be, right?

Wrong.

This stuff has SAVED my coffee-and-tea-stained teeth. If I had not found the Ora 2 Stain Clear range, I probably would have the yellowest teeth, known to man. Pirate-like. I initially tried the range because it has cool flavours like ‘peach mint’ and ‘apple & rose mint’. But then I realised how amazing it is at keeping my teeth looking white. Granted, it does not replace whitening strips. However, it’s amazing for daily maintenance and keeping stains at bay. Plus, I get compliments on my teeth and trust me, that wouldn’t be the case if I didn’t use this one. I’ve tried other whitening brands, but always go back to this one.

 

7. KOJI Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner in Brown, $24.90

As much I love Japanese products, I tend to use their skin and body care more than their makeup. But if there’s one thing the Japanese got down, it’s their eyeliner formulations. The Dolly Wink eyeliners have a brush, calligraphy tip and the most adorable polka-dot packaging. It lasts forever, even on my oily eye lids and is saturated with pigment. I tend to use brown liquid liner more than black because it offers a softer look, plus it’s less likely to show uneven wing liner application.

I love this one, and would probably go back to it. Though I am not particularly loyal to this brand yet. I feel any Japanese or Korean eyeliner would do the trick.

 

 

And there you have it! My recent Japanese empties. Loads of them I’ve already repurchased. Most are affordable and so effective. I am just enamoured by Japanese products currently.

Who knows which country I will be obsessed with next time.

Caffeinated Festivities

As the hype finally died down, I thought it would be a good time to post my thoughts on the Singapore Coffee Festival that happened a couple weeks back on 9 to 12 June. I personally bought a one day pass the instant I heard that this festival was happening. According to what I read, the Singapore Coffee Festival was supposed to be a gathering of both niche and mainstream coffee companies and cafes, to showcase their beans and brews.

The location was inside the F1 Pit Building. Though the air conditioning was much appreciated as it was completely packed with people, I had expected an outdoor, fair-like event. It didn’t feel like a festival, more like an exhibition. The different coffee brands had booths and it was incredibly hard to navigate due to overcrowding in such a small limited space. Half the time, all I saw were the backs of people’s heads as I shove through the herd of people to even catch a glance of the booths.

My height was a definite disadvantage here.

I will summarize my Singapore Coffee Festival experience into 5 main points.

1. Local brewers outweigh the international ones.

There were the usual suspects such as Common Man Roasters, Chye Seng Huat and a couple of familiar coffee places popping up. Some international booths too, such as the “Roasted in Japan” booth consisting of three Japanese coffee roasters, Indonesian coffee beans and some Aussie ones. However, most were local and the international booths are less attractive. Some just selling their beans and roast without the facility of a coffee maker.

 

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In that case, there isn’t a significant different between going to the actual cafes and going to the festival. The only advantage would to try out all the popular coffee brews in Singapore all at one go.

This brings be to my second point.

2. It’s almost impossible to try everything.

To be honest, I couldn’t try as much coffee as I would like because the lines for all the popular booths were insane. But it did drove me to pay attention to the emptier booths.

But other than that, you will find that most of your coffee fest experience is just you waiting in line to get your cuppa. For example, the “Roast in Japan” booth took me about 30 minutes to get my hands on a cup of hand drip coffee, costing me $7. Food booths were equally crowded. Particularly the third floor as we had to purchase tokens in order to pay for the food.

 

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3. The token system was a total rip off

The second level had an area where majority of the food stall are located at. Nestled in the middle of the crammed area is a sprinkling of tables and benches, random hammocks and a small stage where local acts were performing. The cafe food was made fresh, which a plus. However, the confined environment of the Pit Building meant that the entire floor will smell like a mixture of every single food you can think of. And it will stick to your hair and clothing, all day long.

Ventilation was definitely an issue here. And the token system. Basically for the food stalls in that level, we had to purchase tokens in order to purchase the food. The lines for the tokens were so long that you would want to bulk purchase these tokens, resulting in wasted tokens, if you don’t finish them up. And unless you buy the right amount of food and drinks, you will end up with small tokens you can’t use to purchase anything.

I don’t understand the reason for this completely separate system, other that to exploit us for more money. The other booths in the levels below accepted cash, no problem. Just the food stalls, funded by DBS had this ridiculous system.

That aside, the food was decent. Mostly cafe food, such as burgers, fries, pasta… The usual suspects. Everything had to be purchased, not at all at reduced prices. So expect steep cafe prices.

 

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4. Coffee was the saving grace

Despite all that, coffee managed to save the day. I didn’t get to try as many as I would want, considering that I had to pay for entry. Latte art was practically non-existent due to the mad rush for coffee and long lines. Yet the beans spoke for themselves.

Cold brews are all the rage it seems. People love the cool, apothecary style bottles that houses the smooth brews. Cold brews are made by steeping the coffee grounds in cold water for 24 hours or more. This makes the coffee smoother, less acidic and less bitter as well. I prefer mine with milk and a little sweetened. Though the one I had from Two Bakers in French Vanilla was way to sweet, there are some which are sold completely unsweetened.

My favourite is Huggs Coffee, especially their Latte Gula. It was bomb! Their beans are nutty and lightly sweetened with gula melaka, creating a coconut after taste that’s so different and lovely. Plus they were on of the very few booths that were giving out free coffee. A close second would be Chye Seng Huat’s brews that were bold and more acidic in flavour, but still very aromatic and smooth.

 

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Overall, it was a good caffeine driven event. However, it was a bit of a waste of money to be honest. Most of the cafes featured are in Singapore and you can visit them at your own convenience, without the giant crowd. The freebies are cute, but not enough to warrant the amount of money your will be spending on the food and drinks. Personally, I feel like the prices should be slightly reduced for the event. Also, the location is not ideal at all, a nightmare for anyone with a fear of crowds.

I wouldn’t go for the one happening next year. But I’m glad I went for it this year to form my own opinions on this.

 

Life’s a Peach.

Let’s talk about something that has taken the makeup world by storm and is almost impossible to get a hold of.

 

Behold! The Too Faced Sweet Peach Palette!

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This is a limited edition eye shadow palette to release from Too Faced, just in time for the summer season. It was released in the US a couple months ago and because of some major YouTube hype, people made a mad rush for it. It was constantly out of stock and therefore, you know how it is. The moment you can’t get your hands on something, you want it even more.

Seems like Singapore is the same thanks to our YouTube culture. My friend, Liz, told me that its everywhere in France because they don’t really gravitate to these peachy colours, which I thought was really interesting.

Currently this palette is out of stock in all the major Sephora’s in town but I’m pretty sure it will come back, otherwise, they would’ve just gotten rid of the display.

I’ve actually highlighted this ages ago on a summer post about product I can’t wait to get my hands on. People are going bonkers, either obsessing over this palette or completely bashing it, saying it’s just another neutral palette. Despite all this craziness, I managed to get my hands on it and I have to say, I don’t regret it at all. And even if there wasn’t all this hype, I would still go ahead and purchase it – based off the simple fact that these are my preferred eye shadow colours.

Is it another neutral palette? Yes. Definitely.

But it’s neutral with a warm twist. I personally am not a fan of any of the Urban Decay Naked palettes. Even though I own the original, I hardly pull it out because I felt the colours didn’t mesh well with my skin tone. I did not rush out to buy the other Too Faced Chocolate Bar palettes or the previous Chocolate Bon Bons either. We all know how huge the hype was on those. Personally, they never called to me as I truly preferred an entirely warm palette.

My favourite palette had always been the Lorac Nude Skinny Palette. And if you look the colours in that one, they all very warm and peachy. So naturally, the Sweet Peach palette is my jam.

Seems like warm orange-peach colours are on trend for Summer and I ain’t mad. So when my prayers were answered and the Sweet Peach palette finally made its way to Singapore shores, I was ecstatic. The palette did not disappoint.

 

 

Formulation is stunning. One of the best I’ve tried and I dare say, superior to Urban Decay that tends to deliver colour with lots of fall out. Though it’s rich in pigment, the colours have barely any fall out, and it holds true even for the matte shades. Which I think is bloody impressive. All the colour appear true to colour, as in the pan, except for “candied peach”. That one shows up more matte on the lid, with specks of random pink glitter. Hardly noticeable, to be completely honest. I still use it as a crease shade to warm up a look and it works brilliantly.

The one thing I would say that this palette lacks is a solid mid-tone blending shade. The matte browns are way too deep on my skin, and tend to darken eye looks, making them more dramatic than I intended initially. The other gripe I have with this palette is the smell.

*cue gasp* Yes. To most, it’s the major selling point. People seem to be obsessed with the Too Faced palettes because their powdered products are infused with sweet fragrances. The Sweet Peach palette is supposed to smell like peaches, though to me, it has a very synthetic fruity scent. Imagine a combination of fruity candy and cough syrup. I don’t enjoy it at all, and it’s very strong. So strong, that it actually scents up my room whenever I open it up.

Perhaps I am the only old-fashioned one here who prefers my eyeshadows unscented, particularly as it will be around my eyes. But it seems like I’m alone on this because everyone else is raving about the scent.

So what’s the verdict on this one?

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k]sweet

 

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I would say get it if you are a fan of large palettes, smooth buttery formulas and a completely warm toned look. This palette isn’t multi-faceted and thus, you can only create one sort of look even if you mix and match the shadows. You can’t do cool-toned looks, there aren’t any sophisticated, muted colours. Everything is pretty much bold and warm. And if that’s your thing then the Sweet Peach palette is worth the hype.

If you are looking for versatility and are looking to achieve a wide variety of looks, then skip this one. Also, if you are very sensitive to scents, most definitely skip this one. There are other shadows and palettes out there that can help achieve similar looks, so it isn’t incredibly unique.

But it’s a nice one to have, especially for a warm toned makeup lover like me.

 

 

Journey to the Tarts

If you’re thinking of beating the crowd by coming in at 10am on a weekday, just to get your hands on the coveted Bake cheese Tarts? Think again, buddy.

The system is completely unhackable.

For those who don’t know, BAKE Cheese Tarts is a bakery from Hokkaido, Japan that’s particularly famous for their oozy cheese tarts. They have taken the traditional way of consuming the humble cheese tart, by serving them warm and gooey, before the cream cheese has time to set completely.  The juxtaposition of ultra-soft textures on a crispy pastry cup made people go bananas, gaining them massive popularity.

Since then, they have branched out and opened outlets throughout Japan and the Asian market. Hong Kong lapped it up and now it has finally arrived on our sunny shores, creating massive waves of hype.

In natural Singapore style, as soon as the stall opened, the hype was deafening and the queues began. I went to experience for myself the insane queue and to see whether it was worth the hype.

 

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I thought I could hack the system by going there early but a queue was already forming bright and early at 10am on a Monday morning before most of the shops in ION orchard are even open. When asked, the people at the front have been queueing since 9am. Due to overwhelming response, the ION security has installed crowd control queue markers, designating two lanes in front of Watsons just for BAKE customers. Before joining the queue, a sign looms at the entrance warning you that there is no guarantee that you will be able to get your hands on the tarts because only a finite amount is made each day.

The whole thing was pretty intense.

The cordoned lines gained the stares of curious passers who later joined the queue due to sheer curiosity and the typical Singaporean kiasu mind set. Thus, the line continues to grow. Some join the queue not realizing what they were even queueing for. Most who walk by will whip out their phones to take photos of this phenomenon, so prepare to feel like a zoo animal.

Desperation is real with people at the back of the queue asking the ones in the front if they can spare them a box due to the limitations of only two boxes of tarts per person. This rule was made to ensure that one crazy buyer does not deplete the entire day’s stock. Those thinking of mass purchasing these tarts have to resort to these measures to get their hands on a third box, if they are unwilling to join the enormous queue again. Which is all fair in my book! If you want to get your hands on these tarts, you’d have to queue like everyone else.

It’s part of the experience, really.

 

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Once at the front of the queue, I had to wait until the ‘Bake Bouncers’ get a signal via walkie-talkie allowing me to move forward to the actual store. Before he lets me go, he handed me a card that said “Confirmed: 12 pieces per one person. Please keep this ticket with you.” Another ‘Bake Bouncer’ was waiting to greet me at the store front, and only customers with tickets can proceed into the shop. This is some serious VIP shit.

I couldn’t help but feel triumphant when I finally entered the store. It’s like a marathoner finally seeing the finish line. I wanted to pump my fist and high-five everyone.

These ‘Bake Bouncers’ don’t have the easiest job, facing the zombified, tart-hungry crowd. They told me they had encountered some pretty nasty customers. In fact, the one behind me was pretty damn mean. It’s like the Walking Dead or something. We should realise that patience is not just for those queueing. These kids have it rough too.

 

So, was it worth the wait?

The only thing that kept me going is the wafts of cheesy, buttery goodness that go as far as the end of the queue, goading people to keep going. The tarts have a crispy sweet pastry bottom and a light fluffy cream cheese filling. The ooze was not as prominent as I thought it was going to be, which was a bit disappointing. The flavours are very rich despite its light texture but the pungent, cheesy after taste kept me from going for seconds. I don’t think I could finish an entire box, so 12 tarts per person is actually reasonable.

It tasted pretty damn amazing. But I think partly because it tasted like PURE GLORY to me, after suffering through that ordeal. I gave some to my friends at work and they told me it was good, but pretty average.

Overall, it was definitely a delicious tart. However, it’s safe to say, I will not be queueing an hour and half for it again.

Maybe I’ll drop by again, next year.

 

 

Book Fair was LIT.

As a book lover, I was super excited when I heard about the Singapore Art Book Fair happening at the Singapore Art Science Museum. It is basically a place for smaller publishing companies and independent artists to showcase and offer their work to the masses. What intrigued me was that I will be able to see books and other works that are not as mass produced as the books that we see in Kinokuniya or Popular.

 

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In a nutshell, this book fair is a huge gathering of hipsters and the art committee and Singapore. Both are obviously not mutually exclusive.

I decided to go on opening night. My thought process was that I will be able to see the entire range of what all the booths had to offer and certain exclusive books  or one-of-a-kind items won’t be gone.

 

 

Bad idea.

 

What was I even thinking? Looking back I wanted to shoot myself in the face for thinking this was a good idea. The opening night was incredibly packed. My assumption was that this fair will be held outdoors and there will be ample space to browse from booth to booth. Unfortunately the fair was indoors, on the 4th floor of the art science museum. And it was a tiny floor indeed. With the number of people that turned up, there was barely space to move, let alone to view the booth tables. Towards the end of the night, the Art Science Theatre had to call in security to do some crowd control. Rather elderly men and women clad in fluorescent orange shirts and gloves were manning the entrance like the door bitches to an exclusive club.

People who left the space to go out had a difficult time coming back into the building. My friend, Josh, was stuck outside because people were denied entry at about 9pm. Honestly, the space was a major concern.

I found myself pushed and shoved a lot. Also, I realised that the art committee in Singapore is very small. Everyone kind of knew everyone else. I found it tough to talk to the people mending the booth because they were mostly talking amongst themselves and catching up with each other. I felt like I was constantly interrupting them when I was inquiring about prices of certain zines or books. But that is expected on opening night as these booths probably invited a bunch of their friends to come and support them.

 

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So in hind sight, I should’ve waited till the days after the opening night to visit the fair. Hence, I would suggest that the next time you go for the actual Singapore Art Book Fair (which I believe is a yearly event) and skip the opening night.

Despite the crammed experience, I thought that the booths were all interesting. Local publishing company, ‘Books Actually‘ was particularly popular with hoards of youths gathering around their booth, grabbing for their poetry novels on the table. Some are frequent customers looking for specific writers, which I thought is so amazing for the local art scene. Local youths looking for poetry by fellow locals fills my heart with joy.

The Singapore Art Book Fair also featured artists and writers from all over the world; Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Australia. Besides books, they were selling merchandise like badges, iron-on patches, pottery, accessories and art work. Thus,  can see why the place was crawling with hipsters. I should’ve dressed to blend in with the crowd more.

 

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Another booth that was swarmed with people was ‘Magpie‘. Magpie is a local magazine distribution company that sells indie magazines from all over the world. Here, you won’t find Vogue or Men’s Health. She has a large collection of visually captivating magazines such as ‘B’ (a Korean magazine that dedicates each issue on the history of a Brand) and ‘Cereal’ (an independent travel and lifestyle magazine that gives Kinfolk a run for its money in terms of minimalist designs). All the magazines are slightly over priced, in my honest opinion. Most of them make for great coffee table books as they are so pleasing to the eye. However, lots of them feature more photos than actual articles to read.

Nevertheless, if you are a fan of design, the magazines are to die for! I, myself, bought one. An issue of ‘B’ magazine on Nars cosmetics, figures. It was $28, which is pretty steep for a magazine. But it was an ‘in-the-moment’ type of decision. Also there are good quality souvenir tote bags for $18 a pop. A perfect addition to a hipster wardrobe.

 

 

Overall, it was a good experience. Lots of interesting works to look at and if you are a sucker for aesthetic, you will feel like buying everything in sight. I wished that the location was a bit more open and that there were interesting stories I could extract from the vendors, but due to how popular the fair is, it’s pretty hard to have good one on one conversations. Still, I am happy to see that the arts scene in Singapore is buzzing with youth and excitement.

It truly gives me hope.