“I used to be one of those people you would love to hate because I had clear skin and I didn’t have to do anything. I did not even wash my face. Then 2 to 3 years ago, that good fortune disappeared. I started breaking out and I think it was hormonal. I would break out on my forehead. So I thought maybe it was time to start washing my face. So I started. Then moisturizers came next. Once you start taking care of your skin, you can't stop. My mum has been taking care of her skin ever since I could remember. She has all these different products and they would all be labelled by step (so step 1, step 2, step 3 etc). I did not pick that up from her and I regretted that. But it is never too late so I started.
I started off at the drugstore with Neutrogena and all. Then I started exploring more and it became an addiction. So I literally went from someone who didn’t use a single thing to someone super obsessed. I have 7-8 steps now in my routine. I don’t know why but as time goes on, the number of steps will increase. On days when I have time, there are 7. When I am in a rush, I’ll do 2. Especially now with Allies of Skin 1A-All Day Mask, I can get away with using 2 products. I love that for the day. I top it off with a sunscreen mist. I like DrGL Sun Protection Mist. I mist then I pat it in to ensure that it is actually on the skin as I sometimes feel like the product will just evaporate.
At night, I cleanse, tone and serum. I remove my eye makeup with Chanel Gentle Eye Make Up Remover. I follow up with Bioderma Sesibio. I use Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser next. I keep that step as basic as possible. I’ve used many cleansers over the years but I keep going back to it. That’s one product I don’t really mess with. Other than that, what I use really depends on my mood. Someday my skin is super dry. Somedays it’s acne prone. I switch according to the condition of my skin. After cleansing, I use SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. Then it’s belif Peat Miracle Revital Serum Concentrate. After that, it is either a mask or Trilogy Rose Hip Oil. I started becoming more interested in organic products. I feel that the oil is super heavy so I only use it like once a week. I don’t like products that feel sticky. I feel like I can’t really sleep on my side if I go to bed with a heavy product. So on nights when I use a heavy product, I sleep on my back and literally not move.
My skincare goals are to stop my breakouts and reduce redness. After the hazy period, I started breaking out for a few months. It could be hormonal too. I get redness around the nose. I get sinus especially at night. I’m constantly blowing my nose so it gets really red at the side but it’s very hard to find products that can cure redness.
Every 3-4 months, I would go to Skin Inc for an oxygen facial. My skin needs oxygen and hydration more than anything else. Not brightening, not anything else. Moisture is my main goal because if your skin is moisturized, it works better and it heals itself faster.
I drink a lot of water and I make sure to hydrate and hydrate some more. I have a serious weakness for dark chocolate.
I don’t sleep a lot. I stay up late at night working. Thankfully, I don’t have very bad eye bags and dark circles. Maybe because during the day, I nap a lot. I can nap everywhere. I nap in cabs, in the car. I nap during the day. I sleep very little but I nap a lot. I can sleep anywhere.
My friends say they hate flying with me because I don’t talk to them. When the plane starts moving, I drift off and before it takes off, I am asleep. I don't like ear plugs so the only thing for me to do is sleep.
I used to pack a lot because I can't decide. But over the years you just learn to bring the essentials. I don't do the 7 insane steps. I bring a lot of sheet masks. I actually use a lot of Innisfree tissue ones. They are affordable and you can use them almost everyday. I don’t have a particular favorite. I think the different varieties are a bit of a gimmick because they all essentially do the same thing; which is to hydrate.
The flight attendants sometimes get startled but I feel that they should really get used to it. More and more people are masking when they fly. If you use a wash-off mask, it just becomes more troublesome because you have to wash rinse it off in the tiny bathroom. Which is another reason why I like the 1A All-Day Mask because I get to mask my face without having to rinse off.
When I travel, my skincare routine tends to change a little. I can't bring the SK-II Essence for example because it’s in a glass bottle. I’m not as anal about my skin when I travel because I want to enjoy the trip. But once in awhile, if I'm travelling for a week or so, I do bring most of my products with me. I don’t like to decant my products so I just bubblewrap them. If I don't really take care of my skin after a while, it really does show. So max 4-5 days on a lazy routine.
I do research online first and shortlist a few so I won't go there lost. I select like 3-4 to do swatches. For eyeliner, I will draw them and go for lunch and see how it wears. If I really can't decide then sometimes I buy all 3. It's eyeliner so there’s no harm. I will use it or my mum will use it. It might not work for me but it may work for my mom. My husband hates it though. He’s like why do you need 3 of the same product? If I tell him I'm going to buy concealer today, he would ask me how many I'm going to buy. I would say, ‘I don't know...2? 3?’
One of my must-haves is eyeliner and my current favorite is this red eyeliner called Clio. It’s a Korean brand. I get it in Korea but you can get it at Watson’s in Singapore. Now that I don’t have eyelash extensions, I just draw it in and it makes my double eyelid look thicker.
I use red because it looks different. I’m always wearing monochrome. So this red really complements my skin tone and wardrobe. I used to do this all black eyeliner. I’ll look really fierce. I mean I have a resting bitch face already so that the black eyeliner didn’t help things.
My favourite designers are Junya Watanabe and Comme des Garcons. I am a big fan of the japanese designers. As I get older, my taste has evolved. I used to want super black and drapey and avant garde. Now that I’m older, I can't wear that everyday. I think everything changes as we grow older.
I used to do a lot of jeans but now I still do more boyish looks like suits and pants; in the same minimal solid colours. Now my priorities have changed. I don't even want to spend money on makeup or skin care or clothes. I just want to invest in my new home. I like having friends over and entertaining at home. I have something new to invest in now. Now when I travel, I head to the home department first. I can’t buy furniture online because I like to physically see and touch it. Even though we live in such an e-commerce world now, I still prefer to see and feel and touch my things.
THE POWER OF A RESTING BITCH FACE
I’ll never be like the cheerful, girl-next-door. I don’t have the face nor the personality for it. I used to hate my resting bitch face back in secondary school. Girls were mean. I went to a neighborhood school. When I was in Secondary 1 on the first day of school, someone actually came up to me and demanded to know why I was staring at her friend. I did not stare at her. I mean, how would a Sec 1 girl on her first day know what is going on? I was looking at her because she was pretty. I did not mean to stare at her or cause any trouble. That girl and I eventually became friends. But that was the first time I knew I have a resting bitch face. I hated it at first because I was a bit of an introvert. I wasn’t talkative in school. As I grew older, I accepted it. People have said It's your thing. I don't smile. The reason I don't smile is because when I was young, I hated taking photos. I never knew how to smile naturally. I feel that my smile is so awkward and so fake, I would rather not smile and be more comfortable that way. Somehow it became a thing. My resting bitch face is my thing now and it’s part of who I am.
So when people meet me, they say ‘Omg you are actually nice, you are not that scary.’ Then they will tell their friends, ‘You should meet her, she's not scary. She is actually ok. She talks a lot of nonsense in real life.’ I’m like, ‘Thank you, that’s really nice to know.’
Everyone should know by now that everything on Instagram is curated. Back then when it started, it wasn’t so. Now almost everything and everyone is curated. People don’t really post about a bad day or the negativity about it. All we see is the good.
I'm really grateful for where I am now today. But I don’t see myself as just an Instagram Influencer. I would much rather connect with people on a friendship level whereby it is more real instead of just getting the job done or getting something for someone. To me, it is about building a relationship and the journey to get there. This way, we will learn more about each other and feed off each other. Now I don't really see or feel pressured to be anything other than myself. There was a point in time where I felt a bit pressured because I am so different from most of the girls in Singapore. There were many jobs that I did not get because I don’t seem approachable. It used to bug me but now it doesn't because if the brand is not right for me, it is not right for me. If the brand needs a cheerful, girl-next-door type; why would I wanna work with a brand if the brand doesn’t fit me? It was a momentary phase that I had to go through. Like pink. I mean, could you imagine? My husband would be so worried. One day, super cheery and smiling and then when it’s over, no smiles.
I started a blog for fun like everyone did. I studied video art. When I graduated, I never wanted to do fashion. Back in Laselle, people would ask ‘Are you in the fashion faculty?’ and I would say 'No!' I refused to be associated with them. I didn’t see myself doing fashion because I'm more of a tech geek. I love coding and doing graphic design. When I graduated, my first job was a graphic designer for an online clothing store. Then I became a visual merchandiser at DFS. I started working for Sifr. After that, I went to Kevin Seah to do marketing and I was with him for 4 years. I left last November. All these things I started because I liked it. My Instagram account because it was a way to show what I like or what I love. It wasn't a business. It wasn't because I needed to make money out of it. I had the name NCWONG since I was in secondary school. I randomly came up with it and and it stuck with me all the way through. I know many people who don’t know my real name. I’ve known them for years and they still don’t know my name. They know me as NCWONG and not Nicole. It is very amusing how this name I created for myself has evolved to become what it is now. So my resting bitch face is part of my alter ego.
I have been very lucky to have met the right people and been given opportunities to write for them. Norman at Buro 24/7, Her World and NuYou. They have all been very supportive of me; giving me opportunity to do things that I have never done before. I see myself as a jack of all trades. I do graphic design, I do merchandising, I do marketing. Like 'baokaliao'-everything also do. I don't like to limit myself to just one thing. I like to expand myself and do as much as I can.
Don't be too picky for a start because at the end of the day, no matter what stage you are at in life, there will always be someone better. You have to always stay humble and work your way up. You can't go through life with an entitled attitude and say ‘I have done this and I have done that.’ So what? It doesn't matter, it really doesn't. Also, always remember the people that have helped you get to where you are today.
I remember everyone that have helped me and if they ever need my help, I will definitely be there for them. Tracy Phillips is one that I idolized when I was 17. Then I got to know her and she is so real and she is one of the nicest person in Singapore. She is always very open to people; always there with good advice and to teach you something new. She is someone I respect even till today.
At the end of the day, I just want to be really happy. I used to work for crazy hours because I moved out when I was 21 and I had to pay rent and all the bills. Ever since then, I had this pressure. I was only thinking money and more money. I worked 6 days a week. When you are young, you have a bit more drive. You don't really need that balance. But last year, my husband and I realized that one day a week is not enough to do housework, spend time with our families and friends.
So last year was a year when I realised that I needed to have a balance instead of slogging away and missing life. I realised what I do on the side makes me happy and is actually what I want to keep doing. I do styling, I work on Instagram, I find a lot of joy in that. I used to dread waking up early but now, I don't mind waking up early because i have an early meeting. If I sleep at 4am just to finish this presentation, it is totally fine. I really don't mind because I am a lot happier now.
I was a little weary in the beginning about the girls in the scene. I don’t want any drama in my life and I don’t do fake. But I’ve found a great group of girls and we support each other and help each other grow instead of fighting. When we support each other, we grow together and we grow faster.”