Thursday, August 18, 2016

Brows on fleek: products for that perfect set of brows!

[As published on HERE]

Lily Collins, Cara Delevingne, Demi Lovato, Hailee Steinfeld… these women are known for their signature eyebrows. But with so many types of brow products in the market, how do you know which one works best for you?
Brows On Fleek

Tapered brow pencil
Best for: filling in thin, sparse brows that have no defined shape

If your brows are naturally sparse without any defined shape, a hard brow pencil is the way to go. The overall effect is more natural, but always remember to buff or blend out your brows with a spoolie brush after shaping them. Choose one that has a tapered/oval tip, which gives you better control over how much product you apply. Use the thicker part of the nib for the front of the brows, and add extra definition to the outline and tail with the thinner part of the nib.

From top: Innisfree Eco Brow Pencil, shu uemura Hard Formula Eyebrow Pencil, Kate Lasting Eyebrow W Flat Pencil

Brow mascara
Best for: creating an au naturel effect while keeping brows neat

Women who have bushier brows need not worry about adding volume or fullness, but sometimes your brow hair tends to get a bit out of control. Tame unruly brows with a brow mascara – comb it gently through the hairs to keep them neat, so that they all face the same direction. The new-generation brow mascaras come with a sponge-tip applicator at the end, which works great to add definition for the tail end of your brows.

From left: L’oreal Brow Artist Chisel Straight, Chosungah22 Dong Gong Minn Brow Maker, Benefit Gimme Brow

Liquid brow pens
Best for: extending the ‘tail’ for shorter-than-usual brows

If your brows need some help in the length department, liquid brow pens/markers are best for creating that ultra-fine tail. However, using this product alone to shape your brows might end up looking a tad theatrical, so the brow marker should be used as a supplementary product for that extra touch only. For the head portion of the brows, it’s still best to stick to a powder or pencil for a more believable effect.

Clockwise from left: K-Palette Real Lasting 2-Way Eyebrow, NYX Eyebrow Marker, Kill Brow Tinted Tattoo Pen

Tips for perfect brows:
1. Always, always, always blend! Make a spoolie brush (like a softer mascara brush) your best friend when it comes to brows.
2. Your eyebrows should be lighter at the beginning, and darker towards the end.
3. Do your brows always smudge around the ends after your face gets oily? ‘Seal’ them in during application by going over your brows once with brow powder.
4. If your brows end up too dark, gently brush pressed powder or nude-coloured eyeshadow over them. This tones down the colour instantly.

(Images:,,, and respective brands)

Get your glow on: how to prevent skin dehydration after 30

[As published on HERE]

For many women, skin dehydration is the most common underlying cause of major skin problems. However, dehydration is not to be mistaken for dryness. According to this article from Paula’s Choice:

“Dehydrated skin produces a normal or even excessive amount of oil, yet feels tight or dry, and can even be flaky. This skin concern tends to come and go.”
“Dry skin has almost no oil present, and this situation rarely fluctuates. Dry skin is a specific skin type, while dehydrated skin is a skin concern.”

This goes to show that dehydrated skin can be oily on the surface. But the more you try to control that oiliness by using oil control products, the more your skin tries to make up for the lack of moisture by producing more sebum. It never ends.

Here are a few ways you can improve your skin’s hydration levels. It takes hard work and a whole lot of diligence, but the results will prove that your efforts are worth it in the end.

Drink at least 2 litres of water a day
“Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.” Derek Zoolander wasn’t wrong about this. People who drink lots of water have clearer skin, because water helps flush out all the nasties while keeping your cells plump and supple. Every morning, drink a large glass of water (say 500ml) before you go out. If you’re not used to gulping it down at one go, sip it in intervals. Add lemon slices to make it tastier. One trick I’ve learned to make myself drink water is to fill up a tumbler and drink it from a straw – it certainly makes you drink more, and it’s faster, too.

More greens, more fruits, less meat, less oil, less dairy
Whenever you can, eat more veggies and fruits, and try going one day a week without meat. This helps to give your digestive system a break from the hard work it’s been doing all these years. A Japanese woman I know who has amazing skin (she’s over 50) told me, “Try to eat at least 30 different ingredients a day”. Take fried rice, for example. Yes, it has tiny bits of meat and mixed veg and egg, but it’s still mainly rice. So, that counts as one ingredient. But if you make a soup that contains carrots, corn, peas, tomatoes and onions, or make a salad with lettuce, eggplant, courgette, avocado and egg… you get the drift.

Sheet mask every alternate day
Asian beauty Fan Bing Bing’s skin is flawless, and she’s not afraid to tell you that she works hard to make it look that way. In an interview with CNN, she mentioned that she uses up to 600 sheet masks a year, which breaks down to one a day (sometimes more!). Try Fan Bing Bing’s beauty trick and use a hydrating sheet mask, followed by a whitening one. As each sheet mask stays on your face for 15 to 20 minutes, two sheet masks ensure a continuous ‘soaking’ of the skin for 40 minutes. Let your skin drink up all the moisture it needs. However, if doing this daily feels like a chore, one sheet mask every alternate day is good enough than not using any at all.

Do more than just cleanse-tone-moisturise
No matter your skin type, now is a good time as any to go beyond the conventional 3-step routine. This is especially important if you’ve passed the 20s benchmark. You ultimate goal is to prevent and slow down the signs of ageing and dehydration, so that your complexion stays good for a longer period of time. Gradually introduce more products into your regime. An eye cream, a day serum, a night serum, a sleeping mask, a night cream… These are little luxuries that won’t be easy on the pocket, but your skin will thank you for it 20 or 30 years later. Do it before it’s too late!

Apply face oil before moisturiser in the evenings
I never understood the benefits and necessity of a face oil until I parted ways with my money to get one for myself. True, it takes a bit of time to fully sink in, and my boyfriend never wants to touch my face after that (“Eeeee so oily!!!”), but the morning-after glow makes everything worth it. I tried other products like sleeping masks and night creams, but none of them come close to replicating the radiant calmness my skin takes on after a good ol’ application of face oil. Simply spray your face with face mist after cleansing and toning, and massage a few drops of face oil into skin. Alternatively, you can soak your cotton pad with more toner so your skin is still damp while you apply face oil. Skip the serum, and follow with moisturizer.


Ain't got no time for gym: YouTube workout channels you'll love

[As pubished on HERE]

I’m no gym freak. I only work out because I fear gaining weight after 30 because everyone I know has said that it’s easy to put on weight, but super hard to lose it at this age. I also work out so I can eat more. I really love food. My Insragram feed is a solid 85% (or more) food pictures, and the random selfie or animal.

I used to go to the gym, but dragging myself out from bed at 6.00am to get to the gym before 7.00am and slogging it away on the treadmill wasn’t for me. I’m not a morning person, and towards the end of my rather short-lived membership, I was dozing off on the stationary bike, or sneaking in 10-minute naps in the changing room. It was torture to wake up early, and I started resenting my gym sessions. I didn’t like working out at night either, because I usually had dinner late and I didn’t like going to a crammed gym filled with grunting guys who’d hog the weights.

Two years ago, I cancelled my gym membership and decided to work out at home. My personal trainer came in the form of YouTube – a free library of workouts dedicated to helping you achieve your dream body. Okay, I gained some weight back after not going to the gym so regularly, but I guess my progress hasn’t been too shabby considering I only work out twice (sometimes only once) a week.

And if you’re pressed for time, a 15-minute session a day, or every alternate day, is definitely better than no exercise at all. Here are some of my favourite YouTube channels with short videos you can fit into your schedule without any difficulty.

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Every girl who’s ever searched YouTube for quick exercises will have at least tried one of Cassey Ho’s workouts on her channel, Blogilates. I remember trying her squat challenge a few years back (non-stop squats done in time to Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’) and I almost died. The next day, my body was in pain, but it was good pain. Her workouts are quick and easy to follow, but halfway through and you’ll be like “WHY DID I EVEN START?!” Don’t stop, though – finish the longest 10 minutes of your life and you’ll walk away feeling proud of yourself for being a trooper.

Fitness Blender was founded by husband-and-wife team, Daniel and Kelli, who have extensive experience in the fitness industry. My mom loves this channel because it’s straightforward without all the extra fuss, and swears by the standing abs workout. Basically the voiceover (Daniel, I presume) explains each step while Kelli demonstrates how to do it. There are LOTS of videos on the channel, so you can practically build your own workout as you like.

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The first thing you notice about Kristen is that she has an amazingly toned body and you wish you could look half as good as she does. Well, at least that’s what goes through my mind every time I do one of her workouts. I really love her arm workouts because you only use 0.5kg or 1kg (maximum) weights and work the smaller muscles in your arms, but I promise you’ll feel the burn even after one set. Her videos are super-short (great for ‘busy’ people like you and me) but she recommends doing the circuit three times through for best results.

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If you love variety, Popsugar Fitness is for you. The fitness spinoff from major lifestyle website Popsugar puts a lot of emphasis on its workout videos, and for good reason too. Guest trainers show you how to kick ass in a variety of videos, from tabata to kickboxing to yoga to pilates and more. And it’s a great way to push yourself if you’re not feeling the motivation; the energy is great, and sometimes you get really cute male guest trainers as a bonus (like this one here, which I have done many a time just because of the eye candy).


All-day scents that won't suffocate your neighbour at work

[As published on HERE]

I can’t remember the number of times I’ve gotten into a lift, only to be assaulted full-on with the residue of someone’s terrible perfume. The stench fills my lungs, and I feel like I’m breathing in deadly fumes.

The same thing happens in restaurants, too. I’m halfway through my food, enjoying every morsel I put in my mouth. Then someone sits next to me, and the perfume they’re wearing is so strong; it overpowers everything else. I end up eating perfume-tasting crap, no thanks to the unnecessary and excessive inhalation of a badly-made fragrance.

With that in mind, I decided that we should be more polite this week, not just in terms of actions, but also in terms of what scents we wear. Here’s Emmagem’s pick of some really awesome all-day scents that are not only suitable for work, but will also get you places after clocking your 9-to-5.

My Burberry by Burberry
Firstly, this was created by perfumer Francis Kurkdijan. That alone is probably enough reason. Secondly, it’s a fruity-floral, so it’s pretty safe. According to Kurkdijan, My Burberry was inspired by London, an urban garden. The fragrance captures the lush wetness of a garden after the rain, with feelings of earthiness and freshness.

Composition (from top notes to base notes): sweet pea, bergamot, geranium, freesia, patchouli, rose.

Sun de Gioia by Giorgio Armani
This is a new flanker from one of Giorgio Armani’s bestselling fragrances: Acqua di Gioia. While the original scent was inspired by the sea, this one pays homage to the glorious sun (duh), in the form of a warm, feminine scent that evokes feelings of the first sunlight on skin. Granted, it’s a warmer scent, but if you like a hint of sweetness in your perfume, this one hits the right notes without killing you with a vanilla overdose.

Composition (from top notes to base notes): bergamot, freesia, frangipani, ylang ylang, iris, vanilla, ambroxan.

Rose Pompon by Annick Goutal
Queen of perfumes Annick Goutal is famed for her multi-layered scents, which were delicate yet lingering. Her daughter, Camille, continues her legacy with this new scent, Rose Pompon. The iconic Annick Goutal perfume, Petite Cherie, was created for Camille by her mother in 1998. This time around, to achieve a younger, more dynamic scent, they roped in Philippine Courtière, and the result is a lighthearted floral fruity fragrance, housed in a pink ombre bottle that stays true to the brand’s identity.

Composition (from top notes to base notes): raspberry, blackcurrant, pink pepper, rose, pink peony, musk, cedar, patchouli.

Omnia Paraiba by Bulgari
Bulgari’s Omnia is also one of those perfumes that have been around for years, with the first Omnia launched in 2003 and the latest one (number 8) being this beautiful azure bottle. Paraiba is a Brazilian semi-precious stone known for its blue-green colour, and this scent was inspired by the Brazilian jungle. It’s very tropical with hints of guava and mango (though not explicitly mentioned by the brand), which some people find enticing, but a number of reviews also mentioned that they’re slightly disappointed with Omnia Paraiba if compared to the original Omnia scent.

Composition (from top notes to base notes): passion fruit, bitter orange, passion flower, gardenia, vetiver, cocoa.

Earl Grey & Cucumber Cologne by Jo Malone
Personally, I do think that Jo Malone’s perfumes are a tad on the expensive side despite looking slightly mass-produced (they don’t have the charm that Annick Goutal bottles have), but you have to commend them for coming up with some creative scent combinations. This earl grey-based scent isn’t new, but it’s a pretty scent that tea lovers will find joy in. Imagine wearing your favourite beverage! However, as with most ‘colognes’, longevity is a problem so don’t expect it to linger beyond 5 hours…

Composition (from top notes to base notes): apple, bergamot, cucumber, angelica, beeswax, musk.

Cleopatra by Apothecary Malaysia
A Malaysian brand! With beautiful packaging! And a working website! It doesn’t get any better than this. If you prefer headier notes like jasmine or sandalwood but fear the backlash from your colleagues, look for a solid perfume that allows you better control over how much you use. Cleopatra is inspired by the regal Egyptian queen, so you too can channel your inner royalty and be the strong, confident woman that you are.

Composition (from top notes to base notes): mandarin, cactus flower, freesia, gardenia, lily of the valley, sandalwood.

(Images: credit to respective brands)

Smart beauty products that will make you feel like a genius

[As published on HERE]

Women are smart. There’s no denying that. But sometimes it’s also fun to inject intelligent beauty products into your routine to make things fun again. Here are some of our top pics to splurge on this week:
Laneige Eyeshadow Bar
Since the success of the now-iconic Lip Bar, which has spawned many an imitation, Laneige now gives you the same level of convenience for your eyes with the Eyeshadow Bar. Available in 4 shades, the pre-determined colour to shimmer ratio is better than scouring the bookshops or internet for Eyeshadow for Dummies, so you can ace the two-tone eye makeup look without cracking your head over YouTube tutorials. Swipe on and blend with your fingertip or an eyeshadow brush. It’s that simple.

Origins Maskimizer
If your favourite mask hasn’t really been cutting it for you lately, maybe it’s time for an upgrade. But, instead of switching to a new one and going through the trial and error of knowing if it works for you, Origins has gone one step further with a mask primer that goes on before your mask to boost its benefits. Red Algae, the key ingredient, encourages overall health and helps replenish moisture to keep skin supple. Mask + maximizer = Maskimizer. You have to admit, it’s rather clever.

L’Oreal True Match Genius Foundation
It’s a primer. It’s a foundation. It’s a concealer. It’s a finishing powder. This compact foundation claims to do all the heavy work for you, from prepping to setting. The creamy formula dries to what the brand calls a ‘demi-matte finish’, and the compact comes with a sponge applicator. What women love about it (from what we gathered so far) is that the buildable coverage is a plus point, and that the glides on really smoothly, doing away with the need for a primer. For a product that claims to do everything at once, this is actually one of the very few that hits the sweet spot.

CNKCos Color Bean Multi Cleanser
sexy bean
When you’re travelling light and don’t have much space for luxuries, this multi-use cleanser comes in handy. Each ‘bean’ serves a different function, from facial cleanser, to facial scrub, to body soap, to shampoo and more. One ball for the face, two balls for hair, and two balls for the body. Apparently, it’s safe for kids too, but we’d reckon this serves as more of a novelty product instead of an everyday staple. One thing’s for sure, though – using this makes us feel like astronauts or people from the future.

Pobling Mini Ion Applicator
The galvanic ion applicator isn’t a new product, but this product deserves a mention because it’s not too expensive and it’s a fun way to spend more time taking care of your skin. A gentle vibration and nutrient ionization (?!) function helps to deliver the goodness of your skincare products deeper into skin’s layers. Positive charges ‘push’ the product into the skin, while negative charges ‘pull’ out impurities. As with gadgets, we’re not too hopeful on drastic improvements, but if your skincare routine is in need of an update, and if you’re seeing more lines around the eyes, mouth and neck, this might be worth a try.

Marc Jacobs Cover(t) Stick Color Corrector
Every woman’s skin suffers from different concerns, and this calls for a colour corrector to fix that before you apply foundation. These pretty marbled stick correctors brighten, neutralize and conceal imperfections the easy way: pink/lilac for dullness and dark circles on fair skin, citron/lime for redness and peach/caramel for dark spots and dark circles on medium to deep skin tones. We can’t get over how cute these twist-up sticks are; even spending our dollars on all four seems like a worthy investment.

(Images: and respective brands)