Monthly Archives: November 2010

Of the random but cool stuff.

owl always be there

why don’t they have Ad campaigns in singapore? Ad companies from Jakarta are kicking our ass.

MUCH better than our failed singapore Post Boxes “art” campaign. haha.

Mascara Review: Urban Decay

Today I’ll be reviewing the following mascara:

Urban Decay Skyscraper Multi-Benefit Mascara- Black 0.09 oz

Promises to… lengthen, strengthen thicken, brighten, separate and curl lashes. The flexible new generation brush grabs and separates for long, strong and feather-soft lashes.

I’ll freely admit that I wanted to review this mascara mostly because of its pretty case – I’m a hopeless sucker for such things, and well, I won’t assert my expertise when it comes to mascaras, but I was definitely impressed with this product. For starters, here’s a basic review of the mascara:

Urban Decay Skyscraper Multi-Benefit Mascara
Lengthens: Yes. I definitely see my lashes lengthen. I’d estimate my lashes post-mascara at 130-150% of its original length (meaning original length + 30-50%)
Volumizes: Definitely. I seem to have much more lashes after application, plus each individual lash seems more “plump” and “fatter” in shape, adding to the illusion.
Holds Curl: Quite well. I don’t normally curl my lashes as my end lashes are curled outwards naturally.
Smudges: Yes, if you blink right after application. Does not smudge for the rest of the day if dried properly (5 minutes)
Waterproof: Yes, after cleansing my face the mascara still remains on my lashes
Feel: Because the product covers each individual lash nicely from tip to tip, they feel stiff after application. However, there is no “heavy feeling”
Brush: Fat with different sized Bristles. One side has longer bristles, the other, smaller bristles, which i think is absolutely perfect for reaching different lashes.

Overall, I really think that Urban Decay’s mascara is really quite a good product, though I’m still unsure if I’ll repurchase. I’ll have to try out the other mascara brands before I can determine what truly constitutes a “great” mascara. In the meantime however, here’s a quick comparison with Rimmel’s Glam’Eyes Mascara, that is conveniently found in any Watsons or Guardian store.

When I first took out the brush from its holder, I was slightly apprehensive, because Urban Decay’s brush seemed really difficult to pull out, in contrast with Rimmel’s brush. However, it seems that a Fat Brush is essential in distributing the product evenly – Above you can see that the product for Rimmel’s mascara clumped mostly at the tip (yes it actually has a flat tip, that black pile at the top is pure product) whilst for Urban Decay’s brush, the product coats its bristles almost evenly throughout.

The second thing I noticed is that Rimmel’s Brush bristles are uniform, whilst Urban Decay’s bristles are tapered at one side – this meant easier application when using Urban Decay’s product, whilst with Rimmel’s product I tended to accidentally stain my eyelids in application

Moreover, the bristles of Urban Decay’s brush were gentler on my eyelashes – those of Rimmel’s are relatively harder, perhaps coz its bristles are of thick plastic, whereas Urban Decay’s bristles are finer, and more hair-like.

Lastly, I’m uncertain if this contributes to the quality of the product, but Urban Decay’s brush is extremely bendable.

Despite its small size, the brush was very pliable and quickly returned to its original shape with no difficulty. The Rimmel brush could also bend, but it tended to bend only at the wand, not at the brush.

I definitely enjoyed using Urban Decay’s Skyscraper Multi-Benefit Mascara, especially since it’s really clump-free, compared to other mascaras I’ve used in the past. Most importantly, I haven’t lost any lashes even during removal, so I’ve kept my lashes on for some time. For those who’re lazy mascara removers like me, Urban Decay’s product will stay on your lashes for 2 days straight, without any smudging, staining or diminishing of the effect :) I know, it’s a bad make up habit, but really very convenient. haha.

Product Review: Moisturizers

Following my post on Hydration, here are 3 Moisturizers I’ve used recently

Granted, unlike skincare products where you can see the visible effects (i.e. fewer pimples/blemishes) etc, moisturizers aren’t similarly visible. Hence, I usually judge such products by three main categories: Hydrating Power, Mattifying Factor, Absorbent Quality.

L’oreal HydraFresh Anti-Shine All Day Hydrating & Mattifying Icy Gel
Hydrating Power: High. Skin feels hydrated throughout the day. I wouldn’t say it has 24 hour’s worth of hydration though. Maybe 8-12 Hours worth.
Mattifying Factor: Satisfactory, 4 -5 Hours
Absorbent Quality: High, Absorbs into Skin quickly, with a refreshing feeling. Not as “Icy” as the bottle suggests.
Texture: Smooth Cream-gel (not as thick or viscous as a gel, somewhat in between). Applies easily.
Scent: No scent

Maybelline Hydra Boost

Hydrating Power: High. Skin definitely feels the effects of hydration
Mattifying Factor: slightly less than L’oreal’s. 3-5 Hours, depending on the weather
Absorbent Quality: Low. Absorbs into skin very slowly, takes about 10-15 mins for product to be fully absorbed, even when applied thinly to the face
Texture: Thick, extremely gel like. However, it is easy to even it out on the face.
Scent: slight scent but not unpleasant, not fragrant either though.

Bodyshop’s Seaweed Mattifying Day Cream
Hydrating Power: Medium. My skin does not feel as refreshed as when using the other two moisturizers
Mattifying Factor: Highest of the lot. Skin definitely stays mattified 5 hours and up, depending on the weather. On a day I spent entirely in an air-conditioned environment, my skin stayed mattified the entire day (which is usually not the case for me, it gets oily within 3-4 hours)
Absorbent Quality: Medium, takes about 5 minutes to fully penetrate the skin, otherwise it leaves abit of a sticky residue.
Texture: Relatively thick, but easily applied to face.
Scent: Exact same scent as Maybelline’s Hydra Boost, which isn’t surprising. Both use the same Seaweed Extract.

Healthy Skin: Hydration

Having and maintaining beautiful skin is not as easy as it seems – certainly there are those who’re genetically blessed with near-perfect skin and call the emergence of one sole pimple a breakout. However, for those who aren’t similarly blessed, it sometimes seems like a steep, impossible slope to climb towards reaching that pinnacle of perfection.

As one who’s been genetically cursed with quite bad skin, I’ve been struggling with acne problems ever since I hit age 12. Those who knew me then would know that I had insanely horrible skin. Pimples were the norm and intense acne breakouts were regular. At first I thought that fate had dealt me a heavy hand, and as my mom used to say, it’s just adolescence, “you’ll grow out of it” <– which is an evil lie. 4 years later, I began my foray into researching and looking up better skincare tips and today I’m proud to say that whilst my skin still bears old pimple scars and has relatively large pores, pimples are no longer a regular occurrence, and I hardly ever experience breakouts. So in our Healthy Skin Series, I’ll be sharing some of my tried & tested skincare tips!

Today I’ve chosen to talk about Hydration. If you’ve been following this blog, you’d know that I’m quite a fan of Hydration products.

Hydration = Healthy Skin

Healthy skin meaning the kind of skin you see on SKII adverts. Hydration ensures that your skin is plump, firm and will age less quickly. Scientific studies have proven that well-hydrated skin ages at a slower rate than dehydrated skin.

Drinking tonnes of water does not mean your skin is well Hydrated

Drinking 8 glasses of water a day is VERY important. It helps to keep your body well hydrated and healthy. However, it does not mean that your skin is as well hydrated. Your body moisturizes and hydrates your skin by secreting oils, otherwise known as sebum. This combination of oils keeps your skin moisturized but also traps dirt and clogs pores. So using a good moisturizer that directly moisturizes the surface of your face will be greatly beneficial.

Moisturizers are for ALL Skin Types

Those with Dry/Flaky skin should use moisturizers with calming oils to soothe the face, whilst those with oily/combination skin should try out oil-free moisturizers. It is essential to note that cleansers and toners that target acne problems for oily/combination complexions are extremely drying to the skin – so using a moisturizer as part of the skin-care regime is essential, otherwise the skin will excrete even more sebum, exacerbating the problem.

So what should you look out for in a moisturizer? Given that there are so many options out there in the market, it’s sometimes difficult to decide – it also depends on your budget as well. However, here are some key ingredients you should look for:

grape seed oil, passion fruit extract, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and wakame kelp (seaweed) extracts 

5 hairstyles I’m loving

I’ve been sporting long hair for awhile now and while there have been variations to my look: layered, curly, wavy, straight, dyed or a combination of all these, I think it might be time for a change. So I’ve been doing alittle homework and came up with 5 looks that I’m really loving. 

1. Agyness Deyn’s Wiggy Bob
If you want a more stylized, wiggy bob …

This is probably my favourite look of the bunch. Somehow the blunt bangs and the layered, textured body looks really fresh. Don’t you think she looks so awake? And it draws attention to her eyes. I think out of all the looks featured here, this would be the one I would most likely try.

2. Jessica Alba’s Grown Out Bangs

If you’re growing out your bangs, try …

Granted, it’s Jessica Alba. She looks good in anything and everything. But I think this look is actually quite doable. My fringe is in this really annoying phase where it’s neither long enough to tuck behind my ear, nor is it short enough to NOT poke into my eyes so this looks like a good stop-gap measure. To change the shape and style of the bangs so it blends into the rest of your hair even as it tries to grow out.

3. Charlize Theron’s Curly Bob

If you have an angular bob, try …

If you are not yet ready to take that bold step and cut your hair short, you can put a twist on an angular bob by getting curls. This creates a whimsical, light look and if you are bored of it, you can always straighten out your hair and it’ll still be about mid-length.

4. Pink’s Boyish Crop

If you have short hair or want to go shorter, try …

I always envied people who could pull off the really short cropped hair. Admittedly, not many people can make the look work but if they do succeed, they really stand out. Like Pink and Liz from ANTM Cycle 15.

5. Kristen Stewart’s Layered Shag 

If you want to look like a rockstar -- even if you\'re not one, try …

I didn’t like this initially but it’s growing on me. I love how short and cropped it is at the top and how textured it is at the bottom. And for someone like me who has wavy hair, this look suits my hair texture perfectly because it’s artfully messy and I don’t have to spend copious amounts of time styling it to perfection. Seems like the perfect, get-out-of-bed look, Joan Jett style.

As you can see, my five looks featured are all medium to short hairstyles. It’s not that long hair can’t be interesting, but I think for me, I’m lemming for something new especially since I’m not the kinda girl who spends alot of time taking care of my tresses.  So maintenance-wise, shorter hair may just be the answer.

And now that I’ve got my hairspiration, I just need to be brave enough to take that step of faith and slice it off. Seems like there’s alot riding on this decision. A new hairstyle would also mean a completely different look which in turn, affects my wardrobe. And I’m not prepared to undergo a complete wardrobe overhaul just yet. Are any of you having the same reservations as me? Share your thoughts here!

TAR 17.10 I Hate Chinese Food

It can’t be denied that one key attractions of this reality show is its ability to make or break a relationship. This season seems particularly heavy on the relationship stuff, and I’m surprised that it has made me rethink my opinions of certain teams – usually I’m biased right til the end, but after watching this week’s episode, I’m inclined to think otherwise. That hasn’t stopped me from supporting my ultimate favourites this race though. GO MEREDITH GREY TEAM! hahaha. doctors ftw!

Read the rest of this entry

Love the Earth this Christmas!

I’m a strong believer in being eco-friendly, not just because I want the future generations of my lineage to survive and actually know what endangered species such as Pandas are, but also because I believe it’s our natural duty to be eco-friendly. No relationship should be one-sided, and just as how we appreciate everything the Earth has for us, we should reciprocate as much as we can, whenever we’re able to.

Obviously, one great obstacle is our cultivated laziness. I use the word cultivated because it’s not natural, it’s something society has seen fit to make necessary. What do I mean? To use a simple analogy, let’s talk about packaging. These days, whenever I go to the grocery store or make a simple small purchase at the local drugstores, I always tell them I don’t need the plastic bag. Because I really don’t. Do you? Now think about it in the macro-scale: Companies, particularly cosmetics companies, see the need to wrap up their beauty tools and items in fancy packaging, which are very attractive to the eye and extremely appealing – yet, are they really necessary? Imagine if the world decided to go for minimal, efficient packaging for their products. How much resources would we save? Not to mention that many of these materials used are often non-biodegradable plastics, which is not easy to reuse and recycle.

My goal for this Christmas? Being Eco-friendly!

Sticking to a Theme each Christmas has always helped me in my gift shopping, it helps to eliminate the multitudes of options out there and injects a bit of my own personal beliefs into the gifts I’ve specially picked for my friends. Here I’ve listed some options I’m looking at this Christmas, I hope it inspires you as well!

  1. Brushes from Eco ToolsInexpensive, Eco-Friendly and Great Quality – what more could you ask for? The set of five brushes in the centre also contains an eco-friendly bamboo brush roll, which will help keep your brushes neatly and makes it a convenient set for travelling. I’ve already tried out their set of small eyeshadow brushes, which I love for their smooth texture, thickness (they don’t stinge on the bristles, so each brush has quite a good quantity of bristles, making application easy and it carries a good amount of product). In the name of being Eco-Friendly, these brushes are made of the following natural, synthetic and recycled materials: synthetic hair, recycled aluminium, bamboo (renewable non-petroleum resource) and even the packaging is printed with plant-based ink! I’ve seen these brushes in Watsons stores, I can’t quote the price but I’m fairly sure the 5 piece set retails below $40, which is very reasonable seeing that a single MAC brush can cost upwards of $30.
  2. Flower By Kenzo Refillable EDPLeading the perfume industry in eco-friendliness is FlowerbyKenzo’s refillable bottles. First created in 2000, the iconic bottle has now been redesigned to become refillable. Furthermore, each refill packet is specifically designed to minimize the amount of resources, energy and greenhouse gas emissions generated by their production, transport and use. What I love about these refill sachets is that I can decant the perfumes into even smaller bottles for a refreshing spritz on the go.
  3. Amazon KindleWith the introduction of Apple’s iPad, many are saying that e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle will soon be obsolete. I however, seek to disagree. Whilst similar at the first glance, the functions of these two tablets are actually very different. The Amazon Kindle’s sole purpose is for reading-on-the-go, hence it has its revolutionary display, which is easy to read and less harmful for the eyes than other electronic screens. On the other hand, the Apple’s iPad is well, for entertainment purposes. I still don’t get that concept, it’s just a giant iPod Touch. Whilst I do love the feel of flipping page by page of my books, I can’t deny that the Kindle looks poised to save publishing companies tons spent on printing. Moreover, electronic sales ensure that there isn’t as much excess and wastage incurred as printing a paperback *thinks of the stacks of Harry Potter books on 75% off sale at Borders and Popular*. The newest Kindle can hold 3500 books and last a month of continuous usage. It also has free 3G and built-in Wifi, and these features can be used freely even in Singapore. Alternatively, you can download the free Kindle software for your Mobile, iPad, Mac or PC and give someone an Amazon gift card to purchase new books for electronic reading!
  4. Lose That Packaging!One major form of wastage every Christmas period is the amount of giftwrap that’s wasted in the slightly insane ripping apart of presents. This year, why not look for package-free presents that promote eco-friendliness? Decorated Water Bottles look cute on their own, particularly these from Fredflare, and need not be wrapped. Giving your friends and family a kitschy water bottle might just inspire them to carry it around more often, ensuring that they’ll stay healthy and well hydrated at all times, and reduce the number of plastic bottles they might buy and dispose of. Bar Soap (not of the LUX kind) comes various forms, many of which are embossed beautifully to suit the season or the collection. Using Bar Soap also reduces the use of large plastic bottles used for liquid soap, and as many high-end Bar Soaps are preservative-free, they’re also less harmful to your body.
  5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Recycled goods are a great way in promoting eco-consciousness. Often, people don’t realise how versatile recycled items can be. Personally, each year I make an effort to recycle last year’s Christmas wrappings in making my Christmas cards – all I do is cut out the laughing santa/tree/present and stick them on the various cards. And usually, people don’t realise (coz who remembers what wrapping they gave you last year? of course, I mix it up a little).

So share the Joy this Christmas, and let our Earth feel a little bit of that Christmas love too :)

Breath, Eyes, Memory

Last week, I was browsing the school bookstore for a textbook but instead, I came across this novel written by Edwidge Danticat and the blurb intrigued me:

At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impoverished village at Croix des-Rosets to New York, to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti- to the women who first reared her. What ensues is a passionate journey through a landscape charged with the supernatural and scarred by political violence, in a novel that bears witness to the traditions, suffering and wisdom of an entire people.

Sounds pretty awe-inspiring huh. Well, I actually found the plot a tad underwhelming. Not that it wasn’t a good book, as in, I could definitely see Danticat’s attempts to represent the Haitian women and their culture but this book somehow wasn’t as powerful as say, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Both novels are very similar in that both authors seek to represent the marginalized race by showing us how silence can be pregnant with meaning.

While I could identify poignant moments in the text, and completely empathize with the characters and how they are in a self-perpetuating cycle of victimization and shame, I felt like something was missing. Somehow, I felt like I wasn’t completely sucked into the story. It started out great. I loved the surrogate mother figure of Tante Atie and the bond she had with Sophie but that fizzled away towards the end when Atie gets hung up over a betrayal of her friend. I thought that plot line was a tad random. I would have preferred to see a deeper development of the relationship between Atie and Sophie’s birth mother, Martine instead.

Ok, merits of the book. Let’s see. I learnt alot more about Haitian culture. I used to conflate it with the African experience but apparently, there are subtle differences. Like, I never knew they had French influence and the idea of a creole language is fascinating. That and the whole idea of an oral tradition. I think the folk tales really anchors the story and makes it all the more nuanced.

Hmm what else…oh, I definitely had a deeper insight on the idea of victimization and how in this case, it is inflicted not by a man, but by a woman. There is a ritual ‘testing’ practice that happens generation after generation and that continues to haunt the characters. They either have suicidal thoughts, bulimia, ‘sexual phobia’ and other body issues. And of course because the hurt is inflicted by a woman, or more specifically your mother, mummy issues are thrown into the mix as well. In short, these ladies need to see Maya Angelou for counseling pronto.

So as you can see, theme-wise, it’s alittle been here, done that. There’s the whole politics of women not being able to read and write aka Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John. There’s the whole need to feel emancipated, free from the ghosts of the past, to love your body and love who you are because you are God’s creation, the process of migration and assimilating into American culture so much so you forget your roots (which in some ways is a good thing) yadayada. You get the drift.

I mean, I appreciate Danticat’s gesture and we should definitely applaud what she’s doing for her people, putting them on the map and all but this book, to put it bluntly, is a tad formulaic. I think after awhile, all that needs to be said has already been said. Salman Rushdie, Edward Said, Chinua Achebe, Amy Tan… the migrant experience and the struggles that arise from it (generation gap, different value systems and what not) have been articulated over and over. I’m waiting for a breakthrough. Something fresh and exciting that can radically change the landscape of migrant literature. I hope that day comes soon.

And because I am never one to end on grim note, here are some memorable moments of the book. Maybe it’ll get you intrigued enough to pick up the book and judge for yourself. (I’ll also like to add that Oprah selected it for her book club so maybe that could sway your decision.)

I picked out the most crimson of all my mother’s clothes, a bright red, two-piece suit that she was too afraid to wear to the Pentecostal services. It was too loud a colour for a burial. I knew it. She would look like Jezebel, hot-blooded Erzulie who feared no men but made them her slaves, raped them and killed them. She was the only woman with that power. It was too bright a red for burial. If we had an open coffin at the funeral home, people would talk. It was too loud a colour for a burial, but I chose it.

TAR Elimination Station 9 Via Oman

and the volleyball girl smugly said, “Stalagmites and stalactites”

Restaurant Review: Wild Fire

Recently, the bf and I have been noticing a new restaurant that has popped up along the stretch of shops leading towards Kovan Mall. We normally just pass by the place when he drives past, but this time we decided to stop and try out the Japanese Western Grill, mostly because it sounded interesting and I love trying out new things :) Previously when we had passed by on weekends it seemed as packed as the famous Thai place next to it (which I have yet to try, but according to the bf it’s very authentic Thai food), but when we dropped by on a weekday evening it was very quiet, with only 2 other patrons inside. That said, the staff were very enthusiastic in their sales and gave us this flyer as we neared the restaurant

As you can see, the prices are really quite reasonable for the food they provide, compared to other Western restaurants serving the same fare. Furthermore, it has zero service charge and there’s currently a 10% off promotion off the total bill. Whilst waiting, the bf and I were pleasantly surprised by the coin chocolates in the red little boot that was the Christmas decoration on our table. Each table had one of a different pattern, and I thought it was a cute, ingenious and nostalgic touch – particularly for those who remember coin chocolates to be a familiar reward during their primary school days.

The bf ordered the Pan Seared Fish, whilst I ordered the Salmon Ramen ($6.80). Admittedly, our servings of fish were a tad small, but were well cooked and came with various sides. Even though the Ramen had a deceiving picture of one chilli next to it, it was really very spicy, I would rate it 3 chillies at least. Then again, my tolerance of spicy food is not extremely high, but it is definitely spicier than Katong Laksa (but this comparison is not a very good one..)

My Ramen, as pictured above, came in a very large, generous bowl: I would put the quantity of ramen in the bowl at one and a half packets of maggi mee. Very filling! I finished about 60% of it and left the rest to the boyfriend :) The Ramen contained two types of seaweed (dry and wet), several slices of naruto and half an egg.

The boyfriend’s Pan Seared Fish came with a generous helping of mushrooms, which were yummy (though he didn’t eat them as he’s allergic so I consumed them happily!), baked beans, fries, onions and coleslaw. It was not bad, but Botak Jones as a better deal.

Despite its small size (I’d estimate a seating capability of just barely 40 people), it was tastefully decorated and we enjoyed the ambiance, the lighting wasn’t too dim either, and it was a place where you could really chill out and enjoy the company of friends. I liked the design concept of sleek, black furniture. You can also watch the chef through the translucent window at the back of the restaurant – which assures you that this isn’t one of those “microwave and serve” places. The only thing that we were slightly put off by was that since there were so few patrons in the restaurant, the enthusiastic staff made up for it by staring intensely at us throughout our meal. It’s not really something I can complain about, since it did guarantee us great service throughout (despite the lack of service charge). However, it’s also quite weird, to be stared at while you eat.

Last but not least, the most memorable item we ordered was the Root Beer Float ($2). Under the impression that it was A&W’s version, we were sorely unimpressed by what we received. Yam + Vanilla + very little Root Beer. The combination was… not what we expected, and slightly disappointing.

They did however, add some rainbow sprinkles and cornflakes to this weird concoction, which varied the texture. However, that didn’t excuse the fact that this was truly, pathetically small. Barely enough for 4 sips at most.

Wild Fire

Food: Relatively good, 5.5/10
Ambiance: 7/10

Overall Rating: 7/10

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