“When I was a teenager; I, like most everyone else, had acne. It wasn’t terribly bad but I definitely had a lot on my forehead and sprinkling on my cheeks. Just puberty, you know?
Coming from a family that is very concerned about looks, my grandma and mom were more worried about my breakouts than I was. My mom sought out like every dermatologist in Singapore. I had microdermabrasion, chemical peels and went on some oral medication which helped a lot. I was about 16-17 when things cleared up. That's when I started to care about my skin. I think the biggest thing that changed my life with skincare was moving to London for university. It's humid in Singapore, so you don't want to layer too many things on your skin. You are also not exposed to a very strong beauty culture. At the point in time, the whole Korean beauty fad hasn't hit Singapore yet so it wasn't fashionable to use 14 products. The only options then in Singapore were very expensive brands. Just the big brands; not super cool cult ones.
Moving to London was a much dryer climate with hard water; I learnt the importance of properly moisturising. My skin would suddenly flake if I didn’t. That was when I started a really intense skincare regime. There are so many brands in Europe and London; everything is at your fingertips. Stores were generous with samples. That's when you know that even if you don't set out to buy anything; you could still return home with lots of knowledge and samples. There was no pressure to buy but you just want to buy because everything smells and looks so good. The environment there was very inviting. Here (in Singapore) when you step into the beauty stores, it can be pretty intimidating. All they want to do is sell you something and they don’t really believe in the concept of samples. Once, I asked if a candle was made out of soy and the answer I got was, ‘Huh? This is like room spray.’ Ummm [Laughs]….
I had the best time at Liberty’s Beauty Hall. I just went one day because my skin was so dry that my cheekbones were literally flaking off. At the point in time, most of my friends were not that into beauty yet. I had to figure everything out myself. In Liberty you really get the attention that you need when you actually want to buy a product. The saleslady taught me everything and told me what I needed then she pushed me to a lady at another brand. At the end of the session, I went home with 6 different products and they worked. When I saw the effectiveness of whatever they recommended, I was pretty blown away. So I think it is very important to find an outlet or someone who can teach you about products.
Now, I read Into The Gloss and Oh My Creme; which is a French website. I don’t understand but I will get my boss to translate. I also read reviews online on Cult Beauty and I just go from there. I usually buy products online and at smaller boutiques like Beauty Candy and Escentials; the people there know their stuff.
Every Sunday is ‘Pamper myself day’ so I do a deep cleanse with Eve Lom Cleanser then I either use GLAMGLOW FLASHMUD™ Brightening Treatment or Skin Inc Pure Deepsea Hydration Mask. If I have more time, I’ll use Skin Inc Pure Revital Peel before the mask to get rid of all the gunk accumulated from the week. Sometimes I like to use the Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask to brighten and tighten my pores. In the morning, I cleanse with Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser and a muslin cloth wet with hot water to open up the pores. Then I use Allies of Skin 1A All-Day Mask all over the face and then Philosophy Take Shelter SPF 50 (Ed’s note: discontinued). I let the sunblock sink in for 30 minutes before I leave the house.
At night, I use BioEssence Water Jelly Makeup Remover to remove all traces of makeup. It is one of the best makeup removers ever. Don’t discount drugstore brands when searching for a cleanser. I switch up my serums depending on what my skin needs. Though my main goal is always hydration. I switch between Skin Inc. Custom-Blended Serum and Eve Lom Intense Hydrating Serum. I then either layer the Allies of Skin 1A All-Day Mask or the Skin Inc Pure Deepsea Hydration Mask and leave it on overnight.
I recently created a Beauty Timetable that will help you systematically get better skin. We are all very busy people and having a beauty timetable will help you easily see what you on that day. That’s why I love the Allies of Skin 1A All-Day Mask. Honestly, it solves a lot of issues for me. Before it, I had a hard time trying to find moisturisers that I can use day and night. Being able to mask during the day is genius and the fact that I can see visible results is amazing. It really has cut many steps from my beauty regime; you can’t go wrong with something so effortless and time-saving.
I’ve loved makeup ever since I was 14. I first got into MAC and I would spend all my allowance on makeup. I experimented with doing makeup for friends. I look online for inspiration and experiment on myself. I’ve done the bright green and pink shades. But as you grow older, you know what works best for you and your features. I love the process of makeup. Honestly, I don't care what men think and my outfits are like men-repelling outfits. If I want to wear bright pink eyeshadow that day, I’ll do that.
I believe makeup should be used as an enhancer. It’s like painting. You want to ideally paint on a clean canvas because if you have bumps, it’s not going to be an easy paint job. That’s why skincare is so important.
I use a drugstore Japanese brand called Sana Super Quick Matte Liquid Eyeliner Black and I find that it layers the best out of all the other drugstore Japanese brands. It doesn't come off when I work out. For my brows, I use MAC Eye Brow Pencil in Stud then I brush it with MAC Clear Brow Set and then MAC Eye Shadow in Espresso.
For mascara, I only use drugstore brands now because I go through them like nobody’s business. I’ve tried all the premium ones from Dior and Lancome but the drugstore ones do the same. Now I use a Japanese drugstore brand called K-Palette - 1 Day Tattoo. I use 2 types of mascara from them; a curling one and a volumising one. They are sufficient. Rimmel does the best red lipstick. I always stick to hues of red.
My going out routine is the same as my daily routine except a brown eye shadow at the corner of my eye and my mascara is layered more intensely. In addition to eye shadow, I recently experimented with false lashes. I'm almost 26 and this is the first time I’ve worn false lashes. I don’t have a particular brand, I just go to SaSa; it's my favourite store for Japanese and Korean products and I just ask the girls there for their recommendation. They really know their stuff there. My mom will just go hang out with the girls and they will go “you need to try this and this”, and she’ll bring back a big bag of whatever they recommend.
I’ve stuck with one perfume my entire teenage life which is Annick Goutal Petite Cherie; it’s fresh and innocent. But recently over the years, I added more to my stable of perfumes. I am very lucky I have a friend who has a perfume company so he actually sends me perfumes that they create with Mark Buxton called Folie à Plusieurs. He does a series that is dedicated to movies. Each perfume is for a different movie and he also always worked with David Lachapelle to create a perfume so I am the fortunate receiver of many samples.
LOVE FOR VINTAGE
I went to London College of Fashion. I was there for 3 years and I majored in Fashion Management. You learn how to manage a business, you learn about PR, merchandising, economics and all that. It is not the easiest course but it’s something I have always been interested in. My love for vintage comes from my understanding and appreciation of fashion history. I’m a huge fashion nerd. When I was a pimply teenager, I had low self-esteem so I tried to compensate and direct attention with my clothes.
I have a little notebook where I write down my own summary of all the designers of A to Z, the past century to now. When you read up a lot on stuff like that you will appreciate the work that has gone into vintage clothing. That has certainly influenced my style so I love buying vintage; preloved designer pieces. This is why I started working at The Fifth Collection. I kinda fell into it. I was recommended by a friend to Nejla (founder of The Fifth Collection) and we just hit it off. We love all the same things; basically kindred spirits. I started working with them and it is like my baby too. I’ve seen it grow from just an idea to what it is today.The journey has been amazing.
The Fifth Collection is an e-commerce platform for preloved vintage luxury goods. Our ultimate goal is to take away the stigma of vintage and 2nd hand items and present them like if you were shopping at Net-A-Porter. We create luxury experiences for preloved luxury goods and vintage. We have our concierge service; a white glove service that we offer to everyone; from someone with 1 item to sell to someone with 100. They will drop us an email with their number and we schedule a pickup and go through the process and also a curation process which I oversee. I do all the merchandising so I will go over and say if they have 20 items they want to sell, I will go pick the pieces that we think our customers will want. Then we go back to the office and double check things and authentication as well.
Authentication is a very thorough process. We have someone who QCs the items for stains and spots etc. Then it comes to me and Nejla; we both do the authentication. There is a ton of information online and we have a library of research books in the office. Some things are easier to authenticate than others so obviously clothes don't take too long; we check the material, stitching, the labels and that’s about it. Bags, on the other hand, are more difficult. We don't take risks; if we have a doubt we do not accept. If colours are off, the lining is different and if we can't clarify that doubt; we will never accept it. Chanel jewellery for example, it is stamped and signed in a certain way with date. Some special piece don’t have the stamp but all are dated. The hammering of the metal, the way it is put together, techniques used in the past. Authenticity card is not necessary because people usually lose them and counterfeits can come up with a fake card as well. So what's important is the stitching, the quality of the leather. So if you’re shopping for vintage online, always ask for more photos.
When I started working at The Fifth Collection, I realised I shopped much less because I see so much waste. I don’t believe in buying junk. Even when I buy something like from Zara, it’s because I know it would be something that I will wear for a long time. I realise that we throw so much away and that’s sad. I started buying more preloved stuff because it is giving clothes a second life. I love Comme des Garcons; they have the best collectible pieces and I try to buy 3-4 pieces a year. I love Nicolas Ghesquiere’s work for Balenciaga as well as old McQueen.
There is this designer that I like that is up and coming called Kristy Ward. She uses metal wiring for her jewellery and I think what she is doing is new and exciting. When it comes to jewellery, they need to make an impact. If it is going to be costume, it has to be loud. There is one designer called Billy Boy and he is a crazy barbie doll collector and he was part of the whole Studio 54 scene. He used to create jewellery as well. If i can find his pieces, I snap it up. I love shoes: Nicholas Kirkwood; he balances quirkiness and modern silhouettes with a nice twist to every classic shoe. It is never too loud or too funky and it is always a little bit different. Charlotte Olympia and Sofia Webster too. I love things with a splash of colour.
My grandma is a huge inspiration. She strictly believes in one of a kind. She tailors all of her clothes. She taught me the importance of investing in quality so that value has trickled down all the way. That’s why I love vintage. If something is vintage, it is going to cost you the same price as something from Zara but the quality is ten-fold. For good quality vintage, if you are not label discerning, you can get them for a very good price. Vintage aside, preloved designer pieces are another great way to invest in quality. We sell simple Prada blouses for $80. We have tons of classic, work friendly pieces; all very affordable. You can build your own outfit for $50 dollars tops. We have a Versace jacket for $180. Of course, not everybody has the money to buy an all designer wardrobe. I barely paid anything at full price. The trick is to shop only on Black Friday or Net-A-Porter sale events. You have to be a discerning shopper as well. If you are gonna spend $1000 dollars in Zara in 6 months on rubbish that you wear only once or twice then that money can be channeled into some really good pieces. So I believe in shopping smart and being intelligent about your buys and investing in things that will give you tons of mileage.
For inspiration, I really like China Chow. She is not like a fashion fashion girl but she is so stylish. I follow this other woman as well called @lesliecohenamon. She is a designer with a very cool life; she travels to cool places and stays in cool hotels. She eats at interesting places and has a very unscripted instagram. It’s real. Nobody in real life will have their makeup and skin products lying around flatlay-style. If I did that, my helper will kill me because she can't clean the table and my mom will scream at me. I’m drawn to real people with unscripted Instagram accounts who lead very interesting life.
Besides my mom and my grandma, I admire women like Mona von Bismarck, Iris Apfel and Wallis Simpson. Opinionated women who played by their own rules and didn’t conform to what society wanted of them. Their ‘take it or leave it’ attitude is inspiring."