Keeping Fit for the New Year

Year 2011 is just one day away! Are you all geared up to pave the way for another great year ahead?

One of the things people often talk about when it comes to self-improvement is resolutions. "What are your New Year resolutions?" is a common question to drive the conversation at an New Year party. Admittedly, it's something I delve into when conversation dries up.

Recently, I came across a meaningful quote by John Selden about New Year resolutions - "Never tell your resolution beforehand, or it's twice as onerous a duty. "

I suppose some people produce better results under pressure, and it really depends on personality. There are people who swear to shake off 5kg by the middle of next year and then get disheartened when they're 1kg short, and go back to doing things that make their goal drift further away. Then again, there are people who do everything to make sure that they do see their resolution through. Perhaps a resolution that everyone should make is to stick to their new year resolutions.

Jokes aside, whether you decide to reveal your resolutions or not, it's still good to start off the year with some sort of goal or plan in mind. It doesn't have to be something momentous or historic. It could be as simple as finishing off something from last year, or persisting with an achievement you managed last year.

Last year, I maintained a regular exercise regime (jogging and work outs at the gym) and I feel healthier and have fallen sick less often too. So for the new year, I'm going to continue doing that, but maybe try some more challenging sports to add variety. I did some research and found some sports which are easy to take up, promotes weight loss and doesn’t give you muscles:

Ice Skating
Suitability: Any age group, as long as your health permits. It’s not too difficult to learn if you’re not going for the fancy stuff.
Equipment: The ice skating outfit and skates. You should be able to rent these at the skating rink.
What it does: Improves ability to balance. Tones leg muscles. Increases stamina.
Approx. Calories burnt: 420 Calories per hour

Suitability: Any age group
Equipment: Just the bike if you’re a non-professional cyclist
What it does: Exercises your thigh muscles and knee joints. Promotes blood circulation
Approx. Calories burnt: 240 Calories per hour

Suitability: Any age group, but patient people are more likely to enjoy it. On the other hand, if you persevere, the sport will help develop your patience too.
Equipment: Sports attire, golfing shoes and gloves, gold club
What it does: All that walking strengthens your heart. Swinging the golf club helps stretch and strengthen your back muscle.
Approx. Calories burnt: 270 Calories per hour

Horse riding
Suitability: Age 40 and below. This is a sport with some risks. It’s also an expensive sport, and you must not fear horses.
Equipment: Riding attire, helmet, a docile horse
What it does: Trains your agility and body coordination. Exercises full body, especially leg muscles.
Approx. Calories burnt: 240 Calories per hour

Suitability: 30 plus and below. This is a high impact sport.
Equipment: Sports attire, sports shoes
What it does: This is a full body exercise that even tones your abdominal and bum muscles. It also trains your agility. If you’re still growing, the sport will help you grow taller.
Approx. Calories burnet: 260 Calories per hour (recreational)

Have a happy, healthy new year ahead!

Coping with the Holiday Food Fest

Christmas is a mere three days away! How are you celebrating Christmas? I’ll be having a Christmas dinner pre-ordered from the supermarket with my family. Even before that, I've already met up with a friend for a huge Japanese dinner in celebration of Christmas and I'll be meeting up with another group tomorrow! 

Wow that’s a lot of eating to be done! And as if the greasy turkey and creamy log cakes aren’t fattening already! And I expect there will be more partying and eating to be done over the New Year! But Christmas and New Year only happen annually, you say, why spoil the festive mood by worrying about eating too much? Still, this doesn’t give you the excuse to pig out. Overeating is a huge burden to your digestive system and heart. You don’t want to end up feeling queasy for the entire holiday season. Besides you may end up in a terrible mess in the form of puke if you top it all off with alcohol. 

Here are tips for both hosts and guests on how you can eat heartily yet healthily. These are tips that are also relevant to your daily eating habits and meals!

1. Include salads and fruits in your Christmas dinner. Leave out the salad creams and sauces. Use lemon-honey sauce instead.

2. Eat slowly and thoughtfully. Do not gobble down your food just so you can catch that after-dinner Christmas special. It’s all right to multi task while eating, but make sure you’re thinking about what you eat. Eating aimlessly gives rise to a greater chance of over eating since you don’t realize that you’re full.

3. Dish out cute little plates instead of using extravagantly huge ones. This prevents guests from taking too much in one helping and forcing themselves to finish everything to be polite. After all, it’s not much trouble to get second helpings.

4. Eat the way you would at a restaurant with a three-course meal. Start with low-carb food like salads. Follow up with the main course aka the turkey, hams and what-not. Finish up with dessert aka the log cake. Some people think that eating salads and fruits after a full meal aids with digestion. While the sourness of citric fruits and salad sauces whets your appetite, it does not aid in digestion. After all, food doesn’t get digested within a meal’s duration. If you’re full, just stop eating.

5. Serve / Drink fruit teas and citric fruit juices instead of soft drinks and alcohol. A little red wine for a candlelight dinner is all right, but leave the beer for after dinner. Vegetable juices are veggies too! Try mixing different vegetable and fruit juices together to create your own unique vegetable cocktail. Your guests may clamour after your recipe!

6. Avoid creamy soups like Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken. I personally feel that minestrone and pumpkin soups will complement a Christmas dinner well.

7. Only eat until you’re three-quarters full. That leaves your stomach emptier for alcohol and other snacks. But don’t binge on the alcohol or snacks either! Keep them to the minimal.

8. If you're attending a buffet-style dinner, don’t stand next to the buffet table. You tend to either end up eating more because it’s convenient or simply to give yourself something to do.

9. Don’t starve yourself over breakfast and lunch just so you can eat more at the Christmas dinner. You will certainly overeat at dinner, which will be cruel on your digestive system at night. Besides, skipping breakfast is unhealthy.

10. Exercise the next morning.

Remember, keep yourself healthy so that there's room for more!

When Less is More

The holiday season's coming and there will be parties and dinners to attend, including corporate ones. That means out comes all your fabulous collections of beauty products and make-up kits! Make-up can make a world of difference to a person. We all know that make-up can make someone look extraordinarily beautiful. On the other hand, a botched make-up job can make someone stick out like a sore thumb! Many people tend to go overboard with their make-up or get into all kinds of slip-ups when preparing for parties. Do steer clear of the following commonly-made mistakes so that you don’t ruin your party.

Foundation / BB Cream overdose
Foundation is meant to make skin look even. It should not be used as a concealer. If you’re using your foundation like a mask, chances are, most people are going to notice the oddness of your skin under bright light. Too much foundation will also cause your skin tone and texture of your face to look different from the rest of your body. Apply only one thin layer of foundation, and use concealer to cover up your blemishes and imperfections.

Mascara overdose
Long, black eyelashes will certainly make your eyes look more alert, but too much mascara makes you look like, well, that you've got too much mascara on. Long and well-defined lashes look more elegant than lashes caked in mascara. If you want to give your eyes the 'pop' but aren't very skilled at applying mascara, try fake eyelashes instead. At least each strand is an even size, and you can choose dramatic ones like sequins and feathers to suit the occasion.

Long lasting lipstick You’re likely to be doing lots of eating, drinking or talking, or all of the above. If your lipstick is not lasting, some of it could fade. I know some people who try to apply more lipstick in the hopes that they don't have to touch up and that there will still be a thin layer of lipstick covering the lips at the end of the day. However, lips that are not evenly coloured look terrible, and the difference can be great when one part of your lips is covered by a creamy thick layer of lipstick while another part has little or no lipstick. Use a lipstick that doesn't fade, and apply a thin, even layer. Otherwise, remember to touch up your lips regularly.

Obvious lip outlines
Do use a lip liner with a similar shade of colour to your lipstick to outline your lips. Don’t think that you’re accentuating your lips by making the outline look obvious. It just makes you look like you’re trying too hard.

Staying Slim under the Thick Layers

December holidays are coming and many are undoubtedly planning to travel! It's snowing or about to snow in many popular tourist destinations and that's always novel for those of us who have lived in tropical weather all our lives. Snow also makes for beautiful scenery for photo-taking! Unfortunately, the cold weather also makes it mandatory for us to dress warmly in multiple layers and bulky coats, causing us to look regrettably tubby in those beautiful photos! But don't despair! With the right type of cut and accessories, you can keep warm without looking like a dumpling!

Dark colours
Wearing dark coloured clothes gives the optical illusion of looking thinner. But this does not mean that you have to dress up like a crow. Dark shades of brown, blue, red, purple and other colours too, do not add bulk to your body. On the other hand, pink and white coats make you look sweet and fluffy, but they can also make you look bulkier than usual.

Long coats
These coats that go down to knee-length are suitable for tall girls and when worn with knee-high, high-heeled boots, can really elongate your body and make you look slimmer! Petite girls too, can wear long coats, but bear in mind to choose one that is proportionate to your body. Something that goes beyond your knee could make you look like you have short legs.


Flare-bottomed Coat
If you're bottom-heavy, these are especially great for covering up your weaknesses while giving the optical illusion of a smaller waist. Shorter ladies who do not find long coats suitable for them may go for such coats that reach above the knees. Just be sure that it actually reaches beyond your butt or you'll look even more bottom-heavy.

Furry collars, hoods and scarves
Isn't it annoying how layers of clothes add bulk to you horizontally but never vertically? If you have small, sloping shoulders, they would look disproportionate to your now-wider torso. But not to worry! Draping something that stands out around your shoulders and neck will not only level out your shoulders but also draws attention away from your waist. For scarves, choose something whose colour stands out against the colour of your coat e.g. white on black, rather than something that complements. Fur itself is outstanding and elegant. For those of you who are like me and don't support the use of real animal fur for aesthetic purposes, there are lots of coats that are accessorised by gorgeous faux fur.

Warm Colours
While warm colours may not actually keep you warm, they have psychological effects that make you feel and look warm! Besides, wearing warm or even hot colours makes you stand out against the snowy landscape!


Happy shopping!

Oh those panda eyes...

November is typically a busy month for everyone. It's the month of exams for students, worries for parents and overtime for the working class.

If you've been sleeping late, your body will not be getting enough rest and it will be more difficult for your system to purge the toxins that have accumulated in your body. These results in premature ageing and ageing related problems such as wrinkles and uneven pigmentation. Dark eyebags and listless eyes are a given too. Although there are various methods to combat problems stemming from late nights, these are only temporary. If your body is not resting well, the problems will come back again, and your health will suffer.

If you have to stay up late for various reasons, here are some tips to keep in mind to make your short length of sleep as sound and productive as possible.

Don't eat before sleeping. That means no snacking, and try not to have dinner to late.

Sleep with the lights off. In fact, the ideal condition for sleep is when it is so dark that you can't even see your fingers when you raise your hand. In total darkness, your body rests and undergoes repair. However, when there is light in your room, your body is misled into thinking that it is not yet night and will thus not be able to rest as well as it should.

Sleep in a comfortable position.
If you like to sleep on your side, place a pillow or bolster between your legs, it will make you feel more comfortable. If you like lying on your back, place a pillow under your thighs. It will help to reduce the pressure on your back. Avoid sleeping on your stomach as it will cause discomfort in your back and neck the next day.

Find time to exercise. It will keep you healthy as well as relieve stress.

Power naps are good for quick replenishing of energy, but avoid napping for longer than 20 - 30 minutes or you will  not be able to sleep at night.

Rest well and keep yourselves healthy for the holiday season!

Clear out that Make-up pouch!

Just about two more months and it will be the end of 2010! Doesn't time fly by so frighteningly fast?

It's probably still too early to start cleaning your house for the new year, but it's definitely not too early to clean out your make-up pouch! Especially with Christmas around the corner and parties and gatherings to attend, you wouldn't want to spoil your skin with expired make-up, or get carried away by Christmas sales, only to realize that you still have loads of make-up at home!

Hygiene plays a part in good skin care. Keeping your cosmetics in a dirty environment can result in contamination. Here’s what to look out for when you tidy up your pouch.

Wash your make-up pouch. This is easily neglected, but it really is essential for good skin care. Just imagine putting a container of food into a dirty refrigerator. The food is likely to get contaminated too, even if it is separately packed!

Discard any product that has been kept longer than two years, including products that emit strange smells.

Discard balding brushes and worn out make-up pouffes and sponges.

If liquid products have solidified, discard them too.

Give away brand new products that you have not touched for the past 6 months. If you haven’t used them in such a long time, most likely you won’t ever use them. You might as well give them to someone who will actually use them before they expire.

Discard products that you’ve used and found to be unsuitable or ineffective.

Keep in mind what you own and don't buy more make-up unnecessarily. It's perfectly understandable to own loads of eyeshadow, lipstick and blush in varying shades, but it doesn't make sense to own several base-makeup sets with similar shades and functions. It may be cheap to purchase make-up at sales, but don't forget that you're still wasting money when you throw away unused make-up!

The Little Things Matter 3

This is the last installment of a series of tips on damaging lifestyle habits.

7. Using your hands to scoop your facial products

Long term effect: If your products get contaminated, your skin could get worst from the presence of germs and dust from your fingers and the surrounding air.

If your product comes in a wide-mouth jar, use a spatula to scoop the required amount and cap it immediately.

8. Over-reliance on home remedies
DIY remedies, if appropriately administered, are effective and cheap. But if inappropriately administered, they may result in sensitive and injured skin in the long run.

Bear in mind that DIY remedies are not substitutes to fundamental skin care products like cleansers, toners and make-up removers. They are supplements which would help to enhance skin care and thus help to reduce costs on additional facial products like acne and age spot treatments that are expensive and would not be needed if you take good care of your skin regularly. Besides, not any home remedy you see on the web works for you, because most home remedy recipes are written based on the writer’s personal skin health and desired achievements, which may not be applicable to you. Home remedies are also a product of trial and error, and there are some careless people who may post home remedies online without verifying them. Always do some research on the composition of the recipe before using it, and if you can’t verify how the ingredients in the recipe contribute to the promised result, don’t use it! Also, do consider the fact that when different ingredients mix, they may produce side effects!

9. Using the same make-up remover for eyes and other parts of your face.

Long-term effect: Using non-eye make-up remover around the eyes can cause various skin problems around the eyes like puffy eyes and dullness.

The skin around your eyes is different from the skin on other parts of your face. Makeup removers that are specific to the eyes should be non-comedogenic and its PH value should be similar to that of your tears so that it is gentle on your eyes. Make-up removers for other parts of your face would contain a different composition that is likely to be unsuitable for the sensitive area around your eyes.

That's all for the moment, but it's not a comprehensive list! Always put your common sense and analytical skills to good use, especially if you're going to do something that would have a direct impact on your body!

The Little Things Matter 2

I'm back again with the continuation of the previous article about poor lifestyle habits that we're so used to taking for granted. More food for thought...

4. Frequently using exaggerated expressions like winking, laughing really hard, frowning hard

Long term effect: You’ll get more wrinkles and at a faster rate

As mentioned earlier, wrinkles appear earliest where facial movements occur most frequently. Do avoid making exaggerated expressions or reacting strongly to something too often. It’s bad for your face as well as your heart.

5. Squeezing pimples

Long term effect: Skin develops an infection and scarring occurs thereafter

Leave your pimples alone. Always remember that a giant pimple will definitely disappear after a couple of days, but a scar will stay for a month or even longer. If you must hide that pimple, cover it up well with lots of foundation and concealer, but don’t forgot to remove your make-up properly.

6. Exceeding recommended time for masks

Long term effect: Skin gets dry, sensitive and ages quickly

Always read the instructions overleaf. Usually, the recommended time is no longer than 15 minutes. Leaving your mask on for too long causes it to absorb water from your skin since its water content is now less than that of your skin. If you’re using a clay mask, it could also cause your pores to clog up.

Tune in for the last installment next week!

The Little Things Matter

You've invested money, time and effort on what you thought were the best facial products. You eat healthily and live healthily. You did everything you thought you were right. So why are problems like wrinkles, saggy skin and pimples still setting in?

All of us have our own little tics, like running fingers through hair, chewing of knuckles when under stress, tapping toes when bored... most of these tics are harmless, but some that seem insignificant may actually leave permanent changes to the point of being destructive! Chewing of knuckles, for example, is known to cause calluses. In the same way, some of the little things we do to our faces may actually disrupt our skincare routines. Set them right before permanent damage sets in!

1. Propping your face up with your hands

Long term Effect: Doing this regularly gives you wrinkles in the long run.
The pulling and pushing pressure exerted on your cheeks by your hands causes wrinkles. What’s more, unlike fine wrinkles caused by dryness, these wrinkles caused by skin loosening will be there to stay and no amount of expensive cosmetics would reverse the problem.

2. Crinkling your nose

Long term effect: You would develop wrinkles around your nose and eyes even if you've yet to reach the age when wrinkles set in!
Wrinkles occur earliest on places where facial movements occur most frequently, usually attributed to an outward expression of emotions. When facial muscles move, a crease will appear, but it will go away as long as your facial expression reverts to normal. Crinkling your nose is not a reflex action, so you have the choice of not doing it frequently!

3. Using only one side of your mouth to chew

Long term effect: Your face will become asymmetrical i.e. one cheek appears larger than the other.
This usually happens when one has a toothache, ulcer or some form of discomfort on one side of the mouth that requires him to concentrate on the other. If it has become a habit, it will occur everyday during all meals. The muscles on the side of the mouth that you keep using to chew will become stronger and bigger over time. Since the muscles on the other side are not in use, they will remain the same size or worst, become smaller in a process known as atrophy. When you eat, always make sure you’re using both sides to chew!

I'll follow up with more in subsequent entries, so stay tuned!

Eat Your Way to Delicious Lips!

Do you sometimes feel that even with the richest lip gloss around town, your lips are still prone to dryness and chapping? Especially during this festive season when you’re either busy with preparations or rushing work to finish up in time for your long weekend leave, it is likely that you may not be drinking much-needed water to replenish your body’s moisture.

In Singapore’s tropical weather, it is quite rare for people to have chapped lips – that tends to happen in colder weathers - so if your lips are dry or even peeling, your lack of moisture is rather serious.

Like dry skin, lip dryness isn’t something that you can improve or cure overnight, but by incorporating certain foodstuffs in your daily diet, you’ll find soon find that those succulently luscious lips that you always wanted is not a dream!

According to the study of Traditional Chinese medicine, there are certain foods with ‘heaty’ effects, ‘cooling’ effects and neutral effects. The more obvious examples of food with heaty effects are durian, fried food and spicy food. These are the type of foods that cause you to fall sick from fever and sore throat, especially if you have a heaty constitution. Examples of ‘cooling’ food include mangosteen, green bean soup and herbal teas. These are the things you eat to combat the heaty effects. Heaty foods are generally drying, so food with neutral or ‘cooling’ effects is recommended for people lacking in moisture.

Vegetables: Spinach, mustard, radish, eggplant, bamboo shoot, tomato, winter melon, cucumber, luffa, bitter gourd, mushroom, green bean, soybean

Seafood products: Seaweed, jellyfish, clam, crab, black fish, oyster

Meat and protein sources: Pork, Duck meat, duck meat and eggs, goose meat and eggs, milk

Beans and grains: Sesame, Black bean, millet, wheat, barley

Fruits: Sugarcane, Banana, Water melon, mango, pear, Luo Han Guo, persimmon, coconut, pineapple, water chestnut

Others: Lotus root, lotus seat, lily, wolfberry, chrysanthemum, honey, tea leaves, rock sugar, table salt

Ensure that you’re drinking sufficient fluids daily (8 glasses) and avoid coffee and smoking. Good luck in your quest for juicy lips!

Common Misconceptions about Facial Products

These days, the influx of information has created so many falsehoods about facial products and ways to use them! I've summed up a list of myths that are most widely spread and their corresponding facts!

Myth: Facial products with alcohol are bad for skin and should be avoided at all costs

Fact: The presence of alcohol in facial products has been demonized. Although non-alcoholic facial products are gentle and ideal for skin, alcohol content is not necessarily bad. An appropriate amount of alcohol cleanses pores of oil and dirt with greater effect than non-alcoholic products. It also aids pores to contract, hence providing greater control over oil secretion. Facial products with alcohol are generally more effective for people with oily skin. As long as you do not have dry, sensitive skin and are not allergic to alcohol, it’s all right to use facial products with alcohol.

Myth: This brand/type works miracles on me. I should stick to it and never switch!

Fact: In a tropical country like Singapore where the weather and humidity are relatively constant, it’s all right to stick to the same product. But if you’re going to a place with a different climate or if your skin experiences significant changes at some point of time, you need to change the brand and type of product in accordance to your skin problems. For example, if you’re going to a country that’s experiencing winter, choose highly moisturizing products targeted for extreme cold and dry weather. If you have severe breakouts during ‘that time of the month’, you should avoid oily and highly moisturizing products that may worsen your breakouts.

Myth: You can never go wrong with cotton pads and make-up puffs when applying or removing facial products.

Fact: Cotton pads / make-up puffs are indeed more effective at removing residue because they are more absorbent, but those with rough textures may actually harm your skin. Do be careful to choose smooth cotton pads and make-up puffs that are gentle on skin. Also, if you use clean hands to massage your face while washing it, warmth from your hands will prevent pores from contracting, thus allowing your skin to absorb nutrients from your facial product more effectively.

Myth: Organic products will not harm your skin because they are natural.

Fact: Actually, products like lemon, peppermint, citrus fruits and camphor oil are acidic in nature and can be harsh on sensitive skin.

DIY Masks for blackhead removal

Here are some simple masks made from food that can be used to extract blackheads!

Green Melon Mask

You will need:
1 Green Melon
1 Facial mask sheet

1. Put the green melon in the blender, add in some water and blend.
2. Filter the mixture, setting aside the liquid for use.
3. Pour the green melon water onto facial mask sheet and wait for it to soak up all the liquid.
4. Cover face with mask for 20 minutes.

Apart from removing black heads, its cooling effect reduces infections and swellings. If you have pimples, you’ll soon be rid of them!

Egg nose mask

You will need:
1 Facial Mask Sheet
Egg White from 1 egg

1. Cut out from the facial mask sheet, the portion that covers the nose. This will be used for the nose mask.
2. Apply egg white on the nose mask
3. Place nose mask on nose. Make sure it sticks on your skin and don’t leave space for bubbles.
4. Sit in front of a fan to dry the mask. Once the mask is dry, remove it. You should be delighted to find black spots (your blackheads) on the mask!

The best time for a facial

Today's Friday! Woohoo! The weekend's finally here and I'm sure lots of people are going to hit the night spots to hang out with their friends until late since there's no work the next day. However, I'm going to head straight home today right after work because I'm going to pamper myself with a facial at home!

What's the rush though, you must be asking. You see, after returning from work, having dinner, doing the housework, bathing and washing face, it’s at least 9pm before one finally gets time to relax and start your home facial treatments. But did you know that 9pm and after are inappropriate timings for beauty treatments?

Our skin also has a biological clock. Between 9pm to 11pm, the skin is most sensitive, blood capillaries are weak and the body is most susceptible to decreasing blood pressure, water swelling, bleeding and infection. In this condition, beauty treatments like masks, moisturizers etc burden your skin and may lead to complications.

The best times to do your facial treatments are around 7 or 8 pm, or after 11pm.

4pm to 8pm is the best period to do beauty treatments. During this period, blood is high in oxygen content and the skin absorbs nutrients more efficiently.

After 11pm is the time when cells grow and split most rapidly. Hence, our skin is able to absorb nutrients from masks and moisturizers more quickly and thoroughly!

How Not to Overeat During the Festive Season

Yet another long-awaited long weekend is here again! Since it's Hari Raya Puasa, many people in Singapore will probably be visiting Muslim relatives and friends to celebrate a month of fasting! As for me, my neighbour has already dropped me and my family an invite, and we've RSVPed of course. I'm excited about seeing their new curtains and threads and catching up with them, but - I'll be honest - what I'm really really looking forward to is the food. My neighbour is an excellent cook and she makes awesome traditional Malay dishes! Just thinking about them makes me salivate! I guess many people are going to do a lot of eating on this festive day too, since festivities often equate to hospitality and lots of food!

Even so, don't forget to exercise prudence with your diet! I'm not going to be a wet blanket and tell you that you should be counting calories at a table laden with delicious Malay delicacies. It's all right to indulge once in awhile, but over-eating is bad for health and the holiday spirit should not be an excuse to subject your body to heart-burn and indigestion.

Three Golden tips to avoid over-burdening your stomach:

Don't skip earlier meals so that you can eat more later. Your brain will send out messages telling you that you need to eat more to make up for the lack of food earlier on, but your stomach capacity or digestion ability doesn't expand just because you are hungry. You will end up eating more indeed, more than your body can process.

Drink more water. Warm drinks and plain water are fine, but not gassy drinks. It's healthier, fills you up without hurting your digestive system, and you probably will need it if you are not used to the spicy Malay fare.

Don't be afraid to say no if you're full. Most hosts will offer to refill your plate with food or ask you to take more helpings. This is usually done out of courtesy and you should not have to worry about offending them if you say that you are full. They'll surely understand. Of course, do say it in a polite manner. If they have fruits, you may ask for that though. Fruits give your diet a fiber boost and do not contribute to overeating.

Have a great weekend ahead! Selamat Hari Raya!

Product Review: MAC Pro Longwear concealer


I just got my new MAC Pro Longwear concealer in the mail and I'm in love with it! 
It is a full coverage liquid concealer that looks thick and opaque and feels a tad sticky to the touch. However, upon application, it actually feels very light weight on my skin. It stays in place for about eight hours in an office environment, keeping all my imperfections invisible, and I never even saw a necessity to touch up.

The packaging is a cute little glass vial which looks pretty, but I'm not too enthusiastic about it. I never do like glass bottles as I'm always fearful that I might drop them and cause them to break. The dispenser is easy to work, but take care not to press too hard or you may end up dispensing too much at one go.

It claims to contain medical grade ingredients that help with reduce spots and blemishes, so that's
another plus for people who have some pimples.

Soothe Your Stressed Skin with Tea

Tea is an all-natural beauty and health supplement! Dermatologists say that regular consumption of tea makes your skin smooth and radiant and lengthens the time period for wrinkle formation.

Apart from drinking tea, there are some simple things you can do with tea to improve various aspects of your wellbeing!

If your eyes are tired from prolonged computer usage, use a cotton pad to soak up a small amount of cooled tea and wipe your eyes gently with it. After a few minutes, splash some cold water on your face. It brings instant relief for your eyes!

Teabags are also great remedies for dark circles and eyebags. You can view the article that I wrote on it months ago here.

Tea soothes sunburnt skin too! Just gently dab some cooled tea onto the peeling and flaky parts using a cotton pad. Do it for as long as you like until you’re satisfied with the results.

If your eyes are swollen and red due to lack of sleep or failure to remove your eye-makeup completely, you can bring down the swelling with tea bags. Take 2 tea bags that have been soaked in luke-warm water and place them over your closed lids for 10 minutes. But don’t place them directly over the slits of your eyes in case tea gets into them.

Last but not least, you can make a tea facial mask! You will need brown sugar and red tea leaves for this. Add 2 teaspoons of red tea leaves and brown sugar to a tea pot. Add a little water (until approximately 1 finger widths from the base of the pot) and boil the mixture. After the tea has boiled, stir flour into the mixture until you get a gooey and evenly blended mixture which would serve as your mask. Wait till it is cool enough, then apply the mask to your face. Wipe the mask away from your face after 15 minutes. This mask is especially good for people with dull skin. If you keep this up for at least 1 month, you should be able to put some radiance and colour back to your skin!

You may find the large selection of herbal and all natural teas these days overwhelming. However, you don't have to worry about exactly which tea to choose as all natural tea (not the ones with artificial flavouring, mind you) generally have beauty and health merits, so you could use any. Examples of natural tea include red tea, black tea, Jasmine tea and green tea. My personal recommendation is green tea because it is known to have detoxification effects!

Reduce Facial Puffiness

Oh no! My face swelled overnight! It's puffy like a bun in the morning! And it looks like one too; pale and dull-coloured!

This is often the result of drinking too much water before you go to bed. The most effective way to curb this problem is of course, to drink more water in the day and reduce water intake at night. But this is easier said than done because most of us have little time to drink in the day and try to make up for the shortage of water consumption by drinking more at night.

Thankfully, there’s a method to reduce swelling quickly. It’s done like a ‘sauna’. Splash your face 30 times with cold water. Repeat the process with warm water, followed by cold water again. Five minutes after this process, your skin should become firmer, elastic and radiant!

Paint your Face Safely

National Day is just round the corner! Ready to paint the town and your face red?

Face Painting is a fun and colourful activity that really gets you into the atmosphere of large-scale celebrations! But some people are concerned about the possible toxic effects of face paint, and whether it can be thoroughly removed, all for a good reason, because face paint can indeed damage your skin if not applied with care!

Here are some safety tips on using face paints:

Use Material Suitable for Skin

That means no acrylic craft paints, watercolor markers, permanent markers (gasp! some people actually use it!), pencils and your arts and crafts material. Not even for a short period of time. These chemicals can take days to be removed completely, during which they may cause rashes especially for those who have allergic skin. You can find face paint at large places selling craft material such as Art Friend. Just make sure you get the right one, and ask for help if you need it! Don't use metallic craft glitter either! If you need some shimmers, only use those specifically for face painting. These are usually made of polyester and 0.008 microns or smaller.

Don't Paint On Open Wounds
This includes acne and open cuts. When you rub your skin to remove the paint, you could aggravate the wound and cause irritation. Use a sticker instead.

Personal Hygiene
Just like when applying make-up, practise personal hygiene when applying face-paint! Especially since it's a longer process than your usual make-up routine, keep hand sanitizer or baby wipes at hand so that you can wipe your hands at various intervals!

Be Comfortable
Sit down and make sure you're in a position where you are comfortable so that you can paint your face without causing any strain or having to resort to awkward postures. Take breaks at various intervals if you must. Apart from health reasons, looking comfortable at the end of it adds a star to your colourful new visage!

Practise good hygiene with your cosmetic tools

Unhygienic face sponges, powder puffs and cosmetic brushes are breeding grounds for bacteria. After washing your face, rinse your face sponge or towel thoroughly and place it in a well-ventilated area to dry. Face sponges and towels should be sunned every now and then to prevent them from being wet. Powder puffs and cosmetic brushes must be washed regularly. There are cleaning liquids specifically for this purpose that you can buy from places selling skincare and cosmetic products. Ideally, you can use your bath foam or shampoo as cleaning agents. They are pretty effective too!

Powder puffs blacken easily so you ought to wash them at least once a week. Brushes can be washed once in two months, but each time after usage, they must be wiped with tissue. After that, shake them hard to dislodge residue.

Don’t be negligent with the way you handle your products! Dirt gets inside them, if you don't handle them properly. Tube containers and any other form of packaging with a dispenser of some sort are easier to handle. All you have to do is ensure that you replace the cap properly after use. If you’re keeping them in your moist bathroom, make sure the cap is tightly sealed, and try to finish the contents as quickly as possible.
For wide-mouth containers, do not ever use your fingers to scoop up the product. Each time your fingers touch the product, bacteria gets inside it. Use a clean spatula or cotton bud instead. After scooping up the product, replace the cap immediately to prevent dust from getting in.

Using a lip brush to apply your lip balm and lipstick is most ideal (if you keep your lip brush clean!). If you apply your lipstick or lip balm directly to your lips, that’s fine too, but do remember to use tissue to wipe its surface of contact with your lips after usage. You wouldn’t want your saliva to remain on your lipstick till the next day.

More is Better with Facial Masks

The subject at hand is only applicable to users of facial masks in clay or paste form. Many people perceive that such masks are economical because they only require a little of it each time to cover the entire face. That's how they make their tubes of mask last much longer than packs of 5-in-1 peel-off masks.

In reality, a skimpy, translucent layer of mask is insufficient to create a closed environment for your skin to rejuvenate. To ensure that your skin gets enough nourishment, you must be generous with your application, especially around the T-zone. Nobody ever said that beauty comes cheap :(

So what's the ideal amount that one should use? There isn't a standard to adhere to, as different products have different concentrations of ingredients. Generally, you should use about 3 - 4 blobs of the product, each the size of a broad bean. After application, the mask should constitute a thick and prominent layer.

You'll end up finishing your product a lot faster than you usually did, but take heart. At least you are finally putting your product, and consequently your money, into good use!

Cucumber Porridge

Recently, the flu virus has been rampant! I've just recovered from it and now my mum's on flu medication while my dad is showing signs of having succumbed to the virus! Porridge has been the only thing we've been eating at home so far, so I've been on a porridge diet. I did some research to find out what other porridges I could make other than the typical fish, pork and chicken porridge, and now I bring to you... the cucumber porridge! It's healthy, promotes healthy skin, and most importantly, tasty! I wouldn't mind having more of it even after my pesky phlegm has cleared out!

For 1 serving of porridge, you will need:
Rice, ¼ of a normal-sized cucumber, a pinch of salt, a few slices of ginger (skin removed), 1 egg (optional)

1. Wash and skin the cucumber. Remove the seeds and slice cucumber into very thin strips.

2. Mince the ginger (you can do this by smashing it with your knife).

3. Put the rice to cook. Crack an egg into it. Add the minced ginger. When the porridge is boiling and soft enough for your liking, add the cucumber strips, followed by salt. Turn off the stove and it’s ready to be served!

Note: Cucumber strips should not be added in before the porridge is cooked. If cooked too long, vitamins from vegetables will escape. Furthermore, cucumber is crunchy and refreshing when eaten raw.

For best results, have a warm bowl of cucumber porridge once or twice a day. It helps in moisturizing skin, bringing down cholesterol and thus helping with weight loss, and lightening freckles. Cucumbers are rich in Vitamins C, B1 and B2, glucose, protein, sylvite, Renieratene, phosphorous, iron and other important minerals. Regular consumption of cucumbers is highly encouraged to maintain healthy skin!

Banish those eye bags!

Good eye creams do help to lessen eye bags, but as a long term solution, they can get really expensive! Here are some food items that are known to help prevent the formation of eye bags and reduce their intensity. Try to accommodate them in your diet frequently and you’ll find your eye bag issue improving in the long run without breaking your bank!

Eggs are rich in proteins. Protein stimulates cell growth and helps to reduce dead cell accumulation around your under eyes. However, bear in mind that the max number of eggs one should consumer per day is 2. The healthiest method to cook your egg is to boil it. Lean meat and seafood are also rich in proteins and can be consumed to increase your amount of protein intake. However, because the amino makeup of protein in eggs is more similar to that of the human body, we absorb protein from eggs more readily.

Sesame is rich in vitamin E, which is nourishing for your eyes and the skin around your eyes. Apart from this, it also promotes healthy hair growth! Other food rich in vitamin E include peanuts, almonds and sunflower seeds.

Like sesame, carrots are rich in vitamin E. It has one more added bonus – richness in Vitamin A. It stimulates skin repair and thus helps to reduce eyebags. Other food items rich in Vitamin A include animal liver, butter, almonds, alfafa etc.

Seaweed is rich in iron. Iron combines with protein to form hemoglobin which promotes oxygen transportation and absorption of nutrients.

Green tea
Green tea has detoxification effects. If you’re constantly in front of the computer, you should drink more green tea to get rid of eyebags caused by radiation from the computer. Green tea contains polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant. It helps to reduce skin damage caused by harmful free radicals. Green tea helps to promote sleep, thus indirectly reducing one of the main causal factors of eyebags.

Placing tea bags over eyebags also helps to reduce dark circles. After boiling tea bags, put them aside to cool, or refrigerate them for a short while if you want to use them quickly. Place over closed eyes for 20 minutes.

My make-up doesn't stick!

Having problems getting your foundation to blend? If you have to keep reapplying your make up because it fades, you may have dry skin that’s causing problems for your make-up application.
Here’s a quick solution that you can adopt each time before you wear make-up.

1. Prepare a basin of hot water. Bend your head over so that your face is near the water surface. You should feel the steam in your face. Drape a clean towel over your head and the basin so that steam doesn’t escape. Do this for 5 minutes. Steam helps to soften stubborn dead skin cells and opens up your pores so you can unclog them easily.

2. Use a facial scrub (the type with exfoliation beads) and scrub each part of your face in a circulatory manner. Wash it off when you’re done. This step helps to exfoliate and smoothen skin.

3. Dab some toner on your face.

4. Drench a square of cotton wool in toner. Carefully split cotton wool horizontally into 2 thin pieces. Place each split piece on each cheek. This produces a moisturizing effect.

5. Leave the cotton pads on for five minutes. For better effect, drape a clean permeable clear plastic wrap (the kind used to wrap food for refrigeration) over your face. This not only prevents the toner from evaporating but also improves blood circulation in your face due to wamrth generated.

6. Apply your usual eye and face moisturizers. Cap your clean hands over your face for 15 seconds to generate warmth and improve blood circulation.

Your clean and moisturized skin should nod its head to your powder pouffe!

Make-up Removal - The forgotten residue

Generally, make-up users are aware that make-up removal and subsequent skincare entails the following: make-up removal, cleansing, facial wash and toner application.

However, these steps only enable the removable of the bulk of make-up and not the entirety. Residual substances are often left behind around the lips, eyes, eyelids, eyelashes, sides of the nose and even at the edges of your forehead where the hair begins. Colour make-up produces more residue. We are cautioned against using cleansing products on these sensitive regions. But what you can do is to use a cotton bud or tissue paper to wipe these areas gently. You'll be surprised just how much dirt comes off onto it!

Foam Your Face Good!

What does face care have in common with foam, other than the first letter in their spelling? The result of clean and radiant skin of course!

One of the most common misconceptions is that the complex in cleansers is directly responsible for purifying the skin. While that's what cleansers do, we have to get technical about this to get our product application methods right. No matter how much time and money you're investing on skincare, your efforts will come to naught if you're not using them the right way! The substance that produces the cleansing effect is actually foam produced from the cleanser.

However, high foam cleansers do not necessarily make good quality cleansers, because chemicals can easily be added to alter foam production. These chemicals agitate sensitive skin, so it's still safer to choose low foam cleansers.

Pretty contradictory eh? Well, not really, because low foam cleansers do produce foam with the correct application and amount. The correct method of applying cleansers is as follows:

1. Squeeze cleanser into the center of one palm
2. Dab the four fingers of your other hand in water
3. Rub your damp fingers over the cleanser in a circulatory motion
4. Rub both palms together to spread out cleanser and foam evenly
5. Gently massage your face with both hands.

If you're new to low foam cleansers, you need to adapt to them gradually. Adjust the amount of cleanser applied based on how much foam you are getting. If you're finding it difficult to get foam despite doing all the right steps, you're probably being too miserly with your cleanser. If your face is getting swarmed in too much foam, reduce the amount of cleanser slightly.

DIY Honey-Yolk-Milk Mask

Here’s a recipe for a new face mask which I saw on the Taiwanese beauty show 女人我最大. It's a quick and simple respite for your tired face!

Ingredients: 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of honey, half glass of milk, flour

Crack the egg into a bowl and scoop out the egg yolk into another bowl. Add honey, milk and flour into the bowl containing the yolk and mix. Amount of flour added should be in accordance to your preference of how watery you want your mask to be. When the mixture is thoroughly mixed, apply it evenly on your face. Leave it on for 20 minutes and wash it off with lukewarm water.

It will nourish your skin and make it more radiant!

I hope everyone gets to greet your relatives during Chinese New Year with a joyful and glowing face!

Using facial masks the right way

It is very important to use the right technique to apply your mask. Simply rubbing it or spreading it onto your face in any old way may diminish the effect of your mask or even harm your skin.

Pre-facial Treatment
Your skin should be cleansed and absolutely free from make-up and dirt. Dab some toner on your face to balance out the pH value of your skin. After that, apply your mask. Some brands may specify that you apply a layer of oil, moisturizer etc. Usually these are meant to remove dead skin cells. Just follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Application technique

Paste or Clay mask
The layer of mask applied should be thick enough to conceal your pores so that the effects will be optimum. Wash-off masks are easier to manage as they won’t dry up your skin. After leaving it on your face for the recommended amount of time (according to the directions on the packaging), simply rinse it off with clean water.

The procedure for applying the mask is very important. Different parts of the face has slightly different temperatures. Start applying on your cheeks first, where the temperature is lowest, followed by the forehead, nose and chin. Avoid your eye rims and pimply or acne-infested areas to prevent an allergy reaction.

Sheet Mask
After spreading the mask on your face, adjust it according to your facial structure, ensuring that the mask adheres to every part of your skin. Tap your face lightly to dispel the air bubbles. For greater effectiveness, you can place an area of clear sheet wrap above your mask, cutting out holes in the nose area to facilitate breathing. Place a warm towel on top. This will prevent your mask from drying up, so you can leave it on your face for a longer time!

Additional tips
While you’re enjoying your facial, you can massage your face lightly to stimulate blood circulation. This will not be possible for clay masks though!

Don’t leave your mask on your skin for too long, especially if you are not using the plastic wrap method mentioned above. Usually, a suitable time frame is 10-15 minutes. Any longer and your skin will dry up due to lack of oxygen.

Do not think that just because you do regular masks, you don’t need other skincare products. Different masks have different uses, and they are not comprehensive. More importantly, have a healthy lifestyle, because basic skin care products are just for maintenance!

Consuming fruit juices the right way

I adore fruit juices because they look and taste delicious, are rich in vitamins, healthy and have beautifying effects! But there really is a lot more to fruit juices than people usually perceive. Not all fruit juices can be drunk anytime or have the same values. Here are tips on how you should incorporate juices into your diet so you can enjoy their optimum effects!

1. Don’t drink fruit juices on an empty stomach
After a night of sleep, blood in your body coagulates because the body has been working to dispel toxins from the various organs. Nutritionists encourage people to drink a glass of plain water in the morning to dilute body fluids. If you drink fruit juices first thing in the morning, not only does it not help to dilute your body fluids, it also burdens your stomach.

2. Fruit juices as a source of energy and vitamin C
Many people, especially corporate workers and students, have hectic mornings and barely eat breakfast. This causes the body to have a shortage of vitamin C and energy. After a busy morning at work, remember to drink a glass of fruit juice to replenish your energy and vitamin C!

3. Freshly squeezed fruit juice is better than pre-packed juice.
Some people prefer getting fruit juice from the supermarket because it’s a hassle to squeeze your own juice. But squeezing your own fruit juice gives you the most nutritious fruit juice. So called 100% pure fruit juice from the supermarkets are really diluted for marketing and packaging appearances. Not only are a lot of vitamins lost in the process, to make the juices taste better, preservatives and flavourings are even added.

4. Fruit juices are not to be taken warm
Warm fruit juices may taste good in rainy weather or winter, but vitamin C gets destroyed by heat. If you use hot water to make fruit juice, you’ll be losing all the health and beauty effects that come with Vitamin C.

5. Fruit juices are not to be mixed with milk
Fruity milk shakes are delicious, but that’s all to it. Tartaric acid in fruits and protein from milk will react such that both nutrients will fail to be absorbed by the body. So if you think fruity milk shakes are healthy, that’s really not true at all!

A Veg A Day Keeps the Skin Doc Away

Everyone wants smooth, tender skin, but sometimes our body just won’t comply with our wishes. With poor lifestyle habits, it’s not uncommon for skin to have uneven pigmentation or look pale and dull. It must be emphasized again that using good facial products and treatments help to improve and maintain skin quality on the surface, but if your health is poor, the problems are just going to keep returning.

The most effective way to improve your skin condition without compromising too much of your regular lifestyle is through eating more vegetables! Different types of vegetables are especially suitable for treating different types of skin conditions!

Red Face
By this, I don’t mean radiant rosy cheeks or the flushed cheeks you get from blushing or drinking, but red patches in various parts of your face. This is usually attributed to eating too much animal cholesterol and animal protein. To counter this problem, include a large amount (estimated 2 servings) of leafy green vegetables when having a meal that’s heavy on meat. Such vegetables include spinach, celery, and lettuce. They are more effective when eaten raw, but you can also make juice out of them.

Crimson Red Face
Similar to the red face, the pigmentation is spread in various parts of your face, but they look more pronounced. Fortunately, they aren’t permanent and only occur when your blood circulation is poorer i.e. during cold weather. Still, that shouldn’t stop you from looking your best at all times. There are two solutions to this problem. You can take warm baths and massage the red portions more often to quicken your blood flow. You should also take in foods rich in vitamin B1, C and D to allow the body to absorb protein efficiently.

Oily skin and dark pigmentation
This usually results from consuming too much oil – namely animal and vegetable oil (yes vegetable oil is still oil after all!). The solution is to reduce your oil intake by consuming less oily foods, and eat more leafy green vegetables. Before a meal, drink a glass of warm vegetable juice.

Asians are rarely born with freckles. If you have freckly cheeks, one of the causes could be consuming too much salt. If your diet consists mainly of animal cholesterol and protein, this will affect your liver’s function negatively, causing freckles to become more obvious. You must include plenty of vegetables and fruits in your diet. Medical drugs are also bad for skin, especially sleeping pills, which result in the secretion of acid. Medication should be avoided when unnecessary.

Uneven dark pigmentation
Generally, consuming too much salt results in rough, dry and dull skin. Exposure to sunlight worsens the condition. If your skin is losing its radiance and turning dull and dark, it is a warning for your body to expel the salt. To improve the condition, you should reduce your salt intake and consume more water and fibre (from vegetables) to aid the colon to function more effectively so that the toxins can be passed out through waste. If you have a bath tub, soak in a warm bath until you perspire. This helps your body to detoxicate.

Look 10 years younger in 2 days!

This method was revealed by the popular Japanese beautician Saeki Chizi on her talkshow about skin care. Apparently, many Japanese girls subscribe religiously to her shows, and we all know how Japanese girls are famed for their young appearances. It’s quick, painless and cheap, so let’s give it a go!

You will need:
- Normal cleansing facial mask. It can be any sort of mask; clay, peel-off, DIY… just get one that you normally use. However, do not use an overnight mask as this is not an overnight treatment.
- Permeable plastic wrap (the type used for wrapping food)
- Massage oil or lotion for face
- A steamed towel. To steam a towel, soak it in hot water, take it out and wring it dry, and put it in a microwave oven and heat for 30 seconds. Don’t heat it for longer than that or it may burn up.
- Facial mist spray
- Facial essence
- Facial cream
- Chilled towel (refrigerate a towel overnight)

Here's what you do:

1. Use a facial mask to correct surface problems on your face (such as zits and blemishes).

2. Place a layer of plastic wrap over your facial mask. Remember not to cover over your mouth and nose! Vapour moisture that passes back and forth the plastic wrap helps to moisturize your face. The effect will be more pronounced if you do your facial while having a soak in your bath tub (there’ll be lots more water and vapour).

3. Remove your mask and plastic wrap according to the time span you are supposed to use the mask for.

4. Massage your face with massage oil/lotion. This will help your skin to regain its radiance, elasticity and intensity. Simultaneously massage the lymph nodes on your face (under your chin and on your cheeks) to promote the removal of toxins and reduce facial swelling.

5. Place a steamed, warm towel over your face for five minutes or so, until the towel has cooled. This will open up your pores, allowing your skin to absorb moisture and nutrients.

6. Spray mist on your face to refresh skin.

7. Apply facial essence to nourish skin.

8. Apply a layer of facial cream which will act as a protective layer, locking in moisture and nutrients inside your skin.

9. Turn in early and have a good night’s rest.

10. On the second day, before you put on make-up, use a chilled towel to cover your face for five minutes. This will minimize your pores and make your make-up last longer.

When the sun is out to play, keep the Oil at bay

It’s summer and hot, sunny weather is back, for better or worst. 34 degrees Celsius isn’t too bad if you take the right precautions and face your day with a positive attitude! After all, there’s a Chinese saying that goes Xin Jing Zi Ran Liang (if your heart is at peace, it will be cooled). And think about poor India and the Middle East where temperatures go up to 40 + degrees Celsius!

So what are the precautions one should take? I’ve already written a few articles about UV rays, sun block, taking care of burnt skin etc, so I’d like to touch on something else that is just as essential as sun protection. And that would be oil control. In hot weather, your skin tends to secrete more sweat and oil. Especially for those who already have oily skin to begin with, this excess secretion will burden your pores.

Keeping it simple
First of all, contrary to piling all sorts of creams on your face, keep your daily skin care and make-up regime as simple as possible. Bear in mind that the more nutrition you try to feed your face through direct entry through the skin, the harder your skin cells and pores have to work! Basically, if your skin is reasonably healthy, all you really need is a cleanser, toner, day and night moisturizer and sun screen. Keep your make-up light, especially in the day when you’re outdoors, and use non-comedogenic make-up. Keep your skin healthy by consuming fruits and vegetables daily.

Concentrating on the T-zone
The T-zone area (Forehead down to the nose) is most prone to oily secretions and is the first region on your face to start secreting oil. To curb oily secretions, the natural thing to do is of course to treat the specific problem. These days, a lot of skin care products are targeted specifically at T-zone areas. Do note that some of these products tend to leave a white sheen behind which doesn’t really look flattering on your face, so what you can do is apply and blend your foundation before it dries completely, and don’t apply an overly thick layer!

Beware oily skins and dry constitutions
Don’t think that just because your skin is shiny with oil, it’s well-moisturized. In fact, sometimes when the skin’s oil regulation function is messed up due to various problems, sudden change in weather conditions included, your skin may be oily, but is in fact dry inside. This leads to problems like skin sensitivity and flaking, and in more serious circumstances, may cause rashes and infection. In this case, moisturizing alone is not effective. If your skin starts acting up, the best cure is moisturizing + cooling down. After a day out in the sun, take a cool shower, or place a towel that has been iced over the affected areas. Then apply a mild moisturizer suitable for sensitive skin.

More tips to come in the next update!

DIY Juices for late nighters

Now we all know that fruits and veggies are good for skin, but some don’t taste very nice unprocessed, and we get sick of the common fruits. It’s good to have some variations, isn’t it? Here are some self-invented juices that will help you lessen the harmful effects of late nights on your skin! And they taste great too!

Veggie Delight
You will need 1 radish, 1 carrot, a few stalks of spinach and celery, half a glass of fresh milk, 2 tablespoons of honey and a few ice cubes.
Cut up all the vegetables into small pieces and place them into the fruit juicer. Add the milk, honey, and ice and mash them all together.

Creamie Fruitie
You will need one banana, a slice of papaya and a small carton of yogurt (250ml). Peel the banana and remove the skin of the papaya. Cut the banana and papaya into small pieces. Put them into the juicer with the yogurt and mash them all together.

Sour Stimulation (warning: It’s really sour! Good for digestion though, especially when you’ve just returned from supper!)
You will need 2 kiwi fruits, 4 oranges and 1 lemon. Remove their skins and cut them into small pieces. Mash them together in the juicer.

Sweet and Sour
You will need three pomeloes, a bunch of grapes and 2 tablespoons of honey. Peel the pomeloes and cut them into small pieces. Mash them together in the juicer. The mixture will be a nice balance of sour and sweet!

Minty Cool
You will need 1 cucumber, 500ml of soya bean milk, 3 peppermint leaves. Skin and slice the cucumber. Mash and mix them up in the juicer. It’s cooling and makes you feel more energetic!

Practise good hygiene with your cosmetic tools

Unhygienic face sponges, powder puffs and cosmetic brushes are breeding grounds for bacteria. After washing your face, rinse your face sponge or towel thoroughly and place it in a well-ventilated area to dry. Face sponges and towels should be sunned every now and then to prevent them from being wet. Powder puffs and cosmetic brushes must be washed regularly. There are cleaning liquids specifically for this purpose that you can buy from places selling skincare and cosmetic products. Ideally, you can use your bath foam or shampoo as cleaning agents. They are pretty effective too!

Powder puffs blacken easily so you ought to wash them at least once a week. Brushes can be washed once in two months, but each time after usage, they must be wiped with tissue. After that, shake them hard to dislodge residue.
Don’t be negligent with the way you handle your products! Dirt gets inside them, if you don't handle them properly. Tube containers and any other form of packaging with a dispenser of some sort are easier to handle. All you have to do is ensure that you replace the cap properly after use. If you’re keeping them in your moist bathroom, make sure the cap is tightly sealed, and try to finish the contents as quickly as possible.
For wide-mouth containers, do not ever use your fingers to scoop up the product. Each time your fingers touch the product, bacteria gets inside it. Use a clean spatula or cotton bud instead. After scooping up the product, replace the cap immediately to prevent dust from getting in.
Using a lip brush to apply your lip balm and lipstick is most ideal (if you keep your lip brush clean!). If you apply your lipstick or lip balm directly to your lips, that’s fine too, but do remember to use tissue to wipe its surface of contact with your lips after usage. You wouldn’t want your saliva to remain on your lipstick till the next day.


Eyes are the windows to the soul. When Korean cosmetic contact lens companies like GEO, Dueba and G & G were introduced online a few years ago, they took Asia by storm and their popularity has yet to cease, in spite of projected risks (the usual contact lens problems complete with colour chemicals running from the lenses) and the fact that they aren't actually legally prescribed and sold in Singapore. Most users snag them online through 'Group Orders' (in which a group of likeminded shoppers combine orders from the same store to save up on overseas shipping). I have a pair of GEOs myself and they sure do make my eyes look bigger, although I only wear them for weekends and special occasions because I'm concerned about possible side effects too.

I'm not going to discuss regular cosmetic contact lenses since you can probably find tonnes of reviews and information online. I'm going to deviate from the norm for a bit to introduce some bizarre lenses that were actually created and existed for some point of time. Some are beautiful but probably dangerous to wear, some are just really creepy, but they're eye-openers nonetheless (no pun intended!)

Starry eyes

Anthony Mallier designed these sparkly lenses. They're adorned with swarowski crystals, which are  gorgeous but probably really risky and uncomfortable to wear. They're competition entries and not for sale. I can imagine why. Still, if a company manages to reproduce a similar effect on 2D, I'm sure cosmetic lens users will be all over them.

Eric Klarenbeek's Eye Jewelery Project adds a whole new meaning to those watery eyes so loved by manga fans and romance novelists. You could look like you're crying for as long as you wear these crystals which are attached to special contact lenses with medical wire. It's an interesting idea, but far less aesthetically-appealing than using glitter make-up or swarowski stickers on your cheek. It looks like eye discharge! And the promotional video isn't exactly appealing. Small wonder that despite having been unveiled in 2008, it receives little positive attention from the consumer market.

Too obsessed?

Like the saying goes, there's a time and place for everything. Cartoon characters like Mickey and Hello Kitty look cute as stuffed toys, costumes and decorative art. Not so much for cosmetic purposes. These contact lenses wouldn't look out of place at a Macabre party or a goth club.

This football print contact lens is a novel way to express your interest in the world's most popular sports event! The downside is, you might miss seeing some goals as colour contact lens wearers are known to have complained about obscured vision from colours overlapping the pupil.

Functional lenses (debatable actually)

These red Nike Maxsight contact lenses are creepy, but they reduce road glare from the sun, which would greatly benefit atheletes. The green pair looks better. These lenses are a joint project by Nike and Bosch & Lomb to enhance or protect the vision of sports people. Different lenses cater to different spots. However, these aren't very popular and don't seem to be in production any more. And a good thing too; vampirish or alien eyes aren't a pretty sight on our atheletic hunks and babes.

This research project by the University of Washington, if successful, would be a hit with all sci-fi fanboys and fangirls. The electronic circuit and lights imprinted on the lenses could serve as power visual aids, creating virtual displays superimposed on the real world, such as projecting a vehicle's speed on its windshield and creating a midair virtual display of a screen only visible to its user - no more busybodies peeking over your shoulder as you update your latest facebook status on your iphone!

Hope you had a good laugh over these oddities as I did!

DIY Skin Moisturizing Tea

Hot summer days are approaching! And though our erratic weather isn’t making it obvious, don’t you think the heat’s getting more ‘in your face’ during the sunny days?

It’s time to shore up the defences in your immunity system and your skin. I’ve extolled the virtues of tea, the all-natural detoxification fluid, in some previous articles, so here are more healthy tea recipes that could do wonders to your health and skin! Because remember that good health is equivalent to good skin. Each tea serves different purposes and uses different ingredients. Take your pick on what you need and what you can make!

Constitution-strengthening tea

You will need: 5 g of dried Chrysanthemum, 5 g of dried wolfberry and 2 – 3 red dates.

Wash the wolfberries and dates thoroughly and shred them. Place all the ingredients into your boiling pot. Add warm water to rinse the ingredients, and then pour it out. Add boiling water to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. It’s ready for consumption!

This tea detoxifies your organs, reduces body heat and nourishes your blood.

Detoxifying cooling tea

You will need: 4g of dried honeysuckle, 4g of dried Chrysanthemum and 2g of dried Jasmine.
Use the same cleansing and boiling process as above.
This tea detoxifies and reduces heat and body swellings and provides prevention against flu.

Detoxifying cooling sweet tea

For those who don’t like the subtle taste of Chinese tea, this recipe, which uses 30g of barley seeds, 60g of green beans, 1g of green tea leaves (or a green tea bag) and a table spoon of honey will appeal to you.
Rinse the barley seeds and green beans and place in a pot. Add 300g of water and boil at high heat for 15 – 20 minutes. Add the green tea and boil for another minute. Filter out the liquid and let it simmer. Add honey to it for consumption.

This tea gets rid of heatiness and removes swelling and toxins from water retention.