The Age of BB Creams

I don’t know about you, but I prefer BB cream over tinted moisturiser, concealer, or foundation these days. It’s lightweight, brightens your face while keeping it looking natural, protects it from the sun, provides moisture, all of that in one application! I have an oily face, so I always put powder on top of the BB cream to mattify, but if you have normal to dry skin, BB cream alone should give you a nice dewy finish.

I haven’t tried a lot of BB creams in the market, but I’m using two currently which suit me very well! The first one is Bobbi Brown BB cream in fair. I am a Bobbi Brown member, so I got notified when they released their BB creams. I didn’t immediately run to their counters and buy one, I actually took really long reading up their reviews online before I finally picked it up. It lives up to my expectation! It does a good job evening out my skin tone, reduces shine, and lasts throughout the day.

The other one, in my honest opinion, is truly a steal: Ginvera BB cream. It comes in one shade only, so it may not suit everyone, but on me it’s perfect! It brightens my skin and gives it a natural radiant glow. I can’t emphasize this enough, as this is the ultimate selling point for me. In this aspect, Ginvera BB cream is superior to Bobbi Brown BB cream, at a fraction of the price! Bobbi Brown BB cream has better sun protection and better oil control properties though.

I’ve tried the popular Laura Mercier oil-free tinted moisturiser (I bought it because a lot of people raved about it. Laura Mercier doesn’t make BB creams, and people say this is the lightweight alternative to the foundation, good for daily use) and was a little disappointed. The coverage is poor, the shade closest to my skin makes it look sallow, and even though it is oil-free, my face gets oily in no time after application. It has since been sitting on my bathroom counter unused. And it’s quite expensive.

I guess what I’m trying to say in this entry is how much I love my Ginvera BB cream. It’s a drugstore brand, definitely inexpensive in comparison with other brands out there, but does a beautiful job for my skin! The Bobbi Brown BB cream is a close second, but since it is more than double the price, I still prefer the Ginvera.

Self Photos on My iPhone

 Me in a gown I wore to my cousin’s wedding

Cool rings I bought at the bazaar at Scape

Me with an umbrella gifted by a friend, along Orchard Road

Me in a slouchy striped tee (I have an obsession with stripes this year)

Me with blue eye makeup that matches the glittery blue blouse

The Quest for Clear Skin

I’m not one of those girls blessed with great skin. I had a really bad acne problem when I was a teenager, and even though I no longer get severe breakouts these days, my skin is far from perfect. I have an oily T-zone, I get a few pimples popping up on the days leading to my period every month, and I have indented scars on my nose which dermatologists frown and shake their heads about. I had a few sessions of laser treatment which were supposed to help, but I actually think they made them worse. Lesson learnt? I should have put more faith in my own skin’s regeneration potential and do more research before embarking on any beauty procedure.

I believe, though, that the definition of beautiful starts with great skin. It’s not excessively vain or obsessive for a girl, any girl, to be particular about skincare. I have only recently started a religious skincare routine, and already I’m seeing improvements in my skin’s elasticity, smoothness, and tone. As I read up more about the subject, I discover that there are a lot more things I can do to improve my skin! I’m obviously not all there yet.

Other than cleansing, toning, and moisturising, which are a must, a lot of the things you do in habit can aid tremendously. These first few tips are known to most:
1. Water is key to skin hydration. We need to drink 6-8 glasses a day.
2. Enough sleep is as important to give skin enough time to regenerate and repair itself.
3. Regular exercise helps with blood circulation and ensures your skin gets a steady supply of oxygen and the nutrients it needs.
4. Provided you have a healthy and balanced diet, of course, consisting of lots of natural fibres, vitamins, and antioxidants.

while these next few are less common:
5. Refrain from touching the face, because our hands and fingers are almost certainly dirty unless you work in a clean room or a hospital lab.
6. Sleep on your back so your face doesn’t come into contact with your hair, bedsheet, or pillow case, all of which may be dirty, and the good things you’ve slathered onto your skin at night do not rub off.
7. Cool down your shower water or spend less time bathing. Weird and counterintuitive, but hot water actually dehydrates the skin. Reducing long hot baths help keep the skin’s hydration level and reduce inflammation.
8. Cut down on processed sugar. Processed sugar contributes in breaking down collagen and making the skin dull and less taut.

and this one, I’ve actually never heard before:
9. Take omega-3 fatty acids supplements!

After some online research which confirms that regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is good for heart, brain, and skin health, I finally went with my colleague Yulina to GNC yesterday for some supplement-shopping! The most common source of omega-3 fatty acids are deep water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna, so the most common omega-3 fatty acids supplements are made from fish body oil. For vegetarians, there are supplements made of flax seed oil, and I did consider getting this before the salesperson insisted fish body oil is better because it provides us with EPA and DHA directly, while flax seed oil contains ALA, which the body needs to convert to EPA and DHA, somewhat inefficiently.

Yulina and I finally went for the double fish oil supplements. There was a promotion of 50% off the second bottle, so each bottle turned out to be SGD 50. I never really bought supplements, so I think this is expensive, but perhaps not?

I don’t know how fast fish oil supplements work on you or whether you can see short term visible results at all, but I shall give it a week and see!

My Current Skincare Routine

Remember how in my earlier post I mentioned I would be more disciplined about my skincare routine? I’m happy to report that my skin has improved so much since then! I have less breakouts, more even skintone, and smoother, glowing skin, so I thought I’d share here what I’ve been doing. People have different types of skin and swear by different products, I know, but I think the basics of skincare are the same no matter what type of skin you have.

First, you ought to cleanse thoroughly twice a day: once in the morning and once before you go to bed at night. You do not need an expensive cleanser, since you only use it to dissolve makeup and dirt on your face and then rinse it off. You may have a separate makeup remover and foamy cleanser, or a set of cleansing milk and toner, or one of those all-in-one makeup remover + cleanser + toner, whichever is fine, as long as they work for you and is effective to cleanse your face entirely.

Currently I use Hada Labo Hydrating Makeup Remover (only at night as I do not need to remove makeup in the morning), followed by Ginvera Green Tea Whitening Cleanser, and Bobbi Brown Hydrating Face Tonic to cleanse. People have differing opinions about toner. What it does is remove remaining makeup or dirt or cleanser from your face and return your skin to its normal pH. Some say it’s a necessary step, some say it’s not as long as your cleanser is good enough because your skin’s pH will return to normal on its own within a minute or so. I may stop buying a toner once I finish mine, but we’ll see. I’ve only started using Hada Labo recently and find their products OK. Ginvera, on the other hand, I really really like and have been using for a few years now.

After cleansing, you should moisturise. Like many, I used to think moisturisers will make my oily skin even oilier, so I skipped this step. I can honestly tell you now, I was wrong. My skin is still oily now, but it’s definitely more supple and smoother. The cure for oily skin is reducing oil and fat in your food intake, not denying your skin the moisture it needs. Of course you need to opt for oil-free moisturisers so as not to exacerbate the problem, and carry blotting papers with you wherever you go to absorb the extra oil. Do not keep powdering your face to get rid of the shine, the powder would just absorb the excess oil and stay on your face. You do this a few times, you’ll have a very cakey face, not to mention a buildup of dirt and bacteria!

Since my moisturizer stays on my face almost all day and all night long, I make a point to get a really good one. I use Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar and it’s as amazing as others who use it have said. Hope in a Jar comes in a few formulation, and I pick the oil-free gel kind most suitable for a tropical climate and my oily skin. I’ve since heard that the original formulation is richer and better, but I’ve had no complaints about the oil-free version personally. In the morning, I can skip this if I put on tinted moisturiser or BB cream on my face, and I actually prefer these two as they moisturise, cover, and protect my face from the sun at the same time. I’m currently alternating between Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturiser in bisque and Ginvera’s BB cream, which unfortunately only comes in one color, a color that can still work for me, if a little too bright. Make sure you put something with an SPF if you’re going to be exposed to the sun. The sun is actually one of the two greatest enemies of our skin. The other is smoking, in case you’re wondering.

At night, your skin actually repairs and renews itself. You can help this process by sleeping early and enough (I sleep 7-8 hours a day on average), and by layering serums or more advanced skincare products. There are many on the market, enough to baffle anyone, but I did some research and settled on Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair serum. I put this on first after cleansing before moisturiser. It doesn’t disappoint. I’ll wake up to hydrated, smoother and brighter skin. This is my most expensive skincare product so far!

What I’ve mentioned here are what I do every day, the basics. There are two more things you can and should do when you have the spare time: exfoliate and use masks. Your skin cells constantly get old and damaged, and new skin cells will grow to replace them. Exfoliating ensures you scrub away those dead skin cells from your face so the new skin can get through. It will happen naturally, but exfoliating regularly stimulates and speeds up this process. When you get sunburnt, for example, the outermost layer of your skin is badly damaged and your body is forced to replace it quickly. You’ll shed the burnt skin and expose the new layer. Exfoliation does the same, but in a much gentler fashion. I used to use a scrub, but I think it irritated my skin more than it helped, so I switched to an exfoliating gel, Ginvera’s Marvel Gel. I haven’t stopped using it since. It’s gentle enough for everyday use.

Also part of my exfoliation regime, I use Philosophy’s Microdelivery Peel every Sunday. It’s meant to function like a chemical peel, only much gentler and especially formulated for home use. I find that my skin gets brighter and smoother instantly after I use it! This one is also quite expensive. If any cheaper alternative exists, I may consider trying them.

I’m sure if I do a similar post a year from now I will feature different products! After all, we only consider a product the best until we find our new best. For now, these are my staples and they work well without burning too big a hole in my pocket.

Please Weekend Don’t Be Late

I’m going to Bangkok this long weekend with V, B, and Luis, and I can’t be more excited! It’s been a while since I took an overseas vacation, however short. As today’s Labor Day in Singapore, it’s a public holiday, and V and I made use of the time to start packing. We’re light travelers, and it would only be a 3-day trip, but I’m crazy paranoid a forward thinker that way.

Considering a day in Bangkok is about 40 degrees Celsius these days, a strong sunscreen lotion is a must! I bought a Nivea Sun whitening daily face fluid which is non-sticky (my pet peeve with most sunscreen lotion), fast-absorbing, and offers immediate sun protection upon application and SPF 50. It also supposedly contains collagen.

Instead of my usual Hada Labo makeup remover, Ginvera facial wash, Ginvera pore-cleasing gel, and Bobbi Brown toner, I will be bringing my free sample of Purity Made Simple, Philosophy’s award-winning daily facial cleanser which removes makeup, cleanses, tones, and hydrates the skin, all at once! I couldn’t think of a better product to carry with me on my travels! If I like it so much, I will buy the full-sized version. It’s a pity they didn’t give us a sample of their bath and body products, one of those would make a lovely companion to Purity Made Simple as it functions as a shampoo, shower gel, and bubble bath! Gotta love these hardworking skincare multitaskers.

I bought a few small plastic containers from Watsons in advance to store enough of my body moisturiser (my actual bottle of Jergens is huge!), contact lens solution (ditto), and Bobbi Brown oil-control face moisturiser. It is such a great idea, I didn’t know why I never did that before. It can reduce the size and weight of your luggage considerably, and you really only need a small amount for the duration of the trip. If you keep them well, I’m sure they’ll last you numerous trips. They’re cheap too, such a worthy investment.

As you can see, I’ve also included my sample-sized Hope in a Jar moisturiser. I’m thinking I’ll use my Bobbi Brown moisturiser during the day (for its SPF 15 and oil control properties) and switch to a richer Hope in a Jar at night when my skin needs more comfort and hydration after a day of braving Bangkok’s weather and air pollution.

Bobbi Brown’s Pot Rouge deserves a mention. It is another ideal product to use while travelling. Its cream formula means it’s compact, not messy and it doubles as a blush and lip color. Another hurray for multitasking makeup!

Last but not least, do you know that Ecotools sells travel-sized makeup brushes? You can see one in a brush guard at the right in the picture below. I bought a set, and they came with a small bamboo pouch. Whether or not you need your makeup brushes on a trip depends on your preference, I guess (in most circumstances, your fingers are good enough makeup applicator), but if you do need your tools with you, these are easier to lug than your complete set of full-sized brushes.

What are your travel essentials?

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The Self Torture Experience that is Eyebrow Threading

So… I was thinking to myself as I sat down on the chair, except it wasn’t a typical chair, more like a dentist’s chair… after so long, I finally joined the league of extraordinary ladies who had their eyebrows threaded.

I was shivering, firstly because it was cold (malls in Singapore tend to overcompensate when it’s thirty five degrees outside, inexplicably thinking they’re doing the customers a favor when in fact they’re giving us pneumonia), but also because all of my blood went to my head trying to process what was going to happen to me. I’d had my eyebrows plucked before and I winced with pain with every strand that got yanked out. And there I was, agreeing to have my poor brows threaded. Plucked with sharp threads.

The lady who was going to perform the procedure was nice and looked clean, clinical almost. Which made me think of surgeons. Surgeons saying it wasn’t going to hurt before they cut you up. Then she opened her mouth and said, “Pain. Little pain.” I could see her preparing the threads, running her hands through the white, seemingly gleaming sharp thread. Oh. Dear.

I can honestly say I was inwardly freaking out. The only thing that kept me in that seat was the thought that V was nearby and if I so much as screamed he would come and rescue me.

Anyway, the fact that I’m here writing this means I survived. The procedure lasted for about 15 minutes, and I felt every second of it, strangely without truly understanding what actually took place. I could feel the thread pressing to my skin, the abrupt yanking, the sting of hair being pulled out, but other than that, the physics of this thing escaped me. V didn’t take a video or a nice clear photo, even. Did it leave me with a scar? Oh, just a general redness above the eye that took 2-3 days to heal entirely.

The Importance of Skincare

I’ve been a beauty junkie recently, reading up all I can on the products available out there, being stricter about my beauty routine, and applying what I learn in the morning as I get ready to work and on weekends (when I have more time to experiment). I’m particularly happy to say that my skin definitely looks and feels better after a few days of following a simple moisturising regime. I have to carry a blotting film everywhere because my T-zone tends to get oily very quickly and shine unattractively, but other than that, my skin’s improving!

You may be like me, lazy and would rather sleep in than spend more time on your beauty routine that is, but consider this: beautiful skin goes a long way! It is much more important that the makeup you apply or how well you apply them. In fact, you need less the more beautiful your skin is. In a professional workplace, having good skin indicates that you are someone who is clean and knows how to take care of yourself. People will automatically trust you more and think more highly of you. Yes, appearance is not everything, but it projects a little of who you are on the inside, whether you like it or not.

Start small. Invest on a good cleanser, toner, and moisturiser that fit your skin type, and stick to this simple 3-step regime twice a day: in the morning and at night. Right now I’m using a green tea whitening cleanser from Ginvera and a hydrating toner from Bobbi Brown. For moisturisers, I opt for an oil-control moisturiser with some sun protection (from Bobbi Brown) in the morning and a richer, more hydrating one (Hada Labo) at night. They are not superbly expensive, but certainly do the job.

Once a week, exfoliate to help your skin shed its dead cells and grow new, radiant layers. Do this for a week and I hope you see the difference yourself!