Buro. Singapore’s resident beauty writer chronicles the most valuable lessons she learnt in 2019
Not to perpetuate age-old stereotypes, but growing up in a strict, emotionally passive Chinese household sure left me with less-than-inspiring career aspirations and expectations. Like my parents believed, I thought of a job as a chore, one that I couldn't — or shouldn't — enjoy. I envisioned my future slaving behind a desk, building a profitable portfolio in a sensible three-piece suit. Even in my wilder fantasies, I was dressed in a fat Alexander McQueen jacket, padded with sweet dollar, dollar bills as I tracked the performance of my stocks, but that was about as fun as it got.
They say practicality is the antidote to passion. So you can imagine my surprise when I somehow turned my passion into a profession, one which allows me to write about lipsticks and liposuction for a living. More surprising than that, is how my decision didn't earn me parental disapproval despite its supposed frivolous nature. These days, I spend my hours bedecking my wrists in various eyeshadow hues; getting the latest and greatest in science injected into my moneymaker; and interviewing titans of the industry (call me, RiRi). And while a McQueen wardrobe remains a distant dream, I've certainly earned — and learned — a respectable degree in 2019. With the year's end approaching, it seems a good time as any to bring to light the valuable lessons I've scribbled in the corners of my mind as a beauty writer. Here's what I came up with:
Stockpiling does no favours for anyone.
Tempting as it might to blame my hoarding tendencies on my Asian parentage once more ("don't waste" is a common refrain), I suspect it has to do more with my acute sense of sentimentality. Much like how baby boomers get all misty-eyed upon hearing songs from their youth, I, too, turn emotional at the thought of throwing out/gifting/ditching a product before its prime.
Never mind that I have no use for yet another hyped skincare or makeup release — it went into my pile if I even sensed just a smidge of potential. I soon noticed, however, that my while my hoard had been growing exponentially, my need to try 'em all did not follow. In fact, its sheer magnitude served as a deterrent, where delving into its depths felt intimidating and overwhelming. Was I left with a mountain's worth of expired, spoilt beauty offerings? Yes. Will it happen again? Hopefully not. With this new self-awareness comes a hardened heart, fully capable of passing on products not suited to my skin or hair type. Fingers crossed.
An ingredients label is everything.
Now, this is rich coming from me, particularly since I'm hardly the type to peruse nutrition labels on the regular. Still, as much as I'm notoriously lackadaisical when it comes to my dietary choices, it's a sentiment that I refuse to extend to my skincare. A growing awareness of the toxic ingredients in beauty products — and their dire effects — has me more cautious than ever. Armed with beauty apps designed to analyse the safety level of each ingredient, alongside the knowledge of new clean, vegan, and cruelty-free labels hitting the market, I'm charting my way to becoming a more conscious shopper in 2020.
The sky is truly the limit when it comes to makeup.
While I once regarded certain beauty commandments as law (e.g. highlight either the eyes or lips, never both), disruptive influences such as HBO teen drama, Euphoria; boundary-breaking beauty label Fenty Beauty; and models championing individuality amongst the likes of Barbie Ferreira and Winnie Harlow, have changed my mind. These days, I'm all about rocking whatever and wherever my mood takes me. Hot pink eyeshadow? Done. '90s locks in the style of Lizzie McGuire? Pass me the crimper. As queen Ari tells it, I want it, I go right out and do it.
Beauty is (oftentimes) pain.
Sure, journalists all around the world have written many a think piece counteracting this, but if I'm speaking purely from personal experience, I find that the most potent beautification procedures come with a side of suffering. This year alone, I've gotten my fat cells singed right of my stomach, salmon sperm pumped into my face for brighter, bouncier skin, and top layer of my skin removed to promote accelerated skin healing. Did they hurt? Most definitely. Would I do it again? With the results I got, yeah. Or, hey, maybe I'm just a masochist.
Good skin doesn't last forever — or survive weeks of travel.
Stringent as I usually am with my skincare routine, I'll admit to lapses in judgment and consistency whilst travelling. And while youth once allowed me to get away with it, not so much now that I'm at the ripe old age of 24 (I can practically feel Fashion and Beauty Editor, Jolene Khor, rolling her eyes as she reads this). In fact, my carelessness gave way to breakouts, oiliness, and clogged pores aplenty in recent months, leaving me scrambling in an attempt to salvage my skin. Thankfully, she's bounced back (yes, I just referred to my complexion as she) — and is better than ever. Note to self: never take my good skin for granted again.