Beauty hacks we learned the old fashioned way

Beauty hacks we learned the old fashioned way

An education

Text: Renée Batchelor

Yes, there was a time when we learned beauty tips not from YouTube tutorials or Instagram pictures, but from actual people — our mothers, best friends and older sisters. Here the Buro team and industry experts share their personal hacks

There's a lot of things we learn from the Internet. When I reached out to various people for this story, a few like makeup artist Marie Soh and actor Oon Shu An told me that quite honestly, they did not have any hacks to share no matter how much they racked their brains. Soh said simply, "I learned all my beauty hacks online!". Oon, who does her own online reviews on Click Network's Tried and Tested couldn't find anything she genuinely learned before the advent of the Internet. And as suspected, it wasn't easy coming up with something that we hadn't simply googled, but learnt from trial and experimentation. Nevertherless, we persisted, and collectively, the Buro team as well as some beauty insiders — including Larry Yeo and Yvette King, managed to come up with these tried-and-tested gems.

Way before contouring and highlighting was de rigeur, my mother taught me little makeup tricks to slim the bridge of my nose with the use of an eyebrow pencil and a dab of white eyeshadow (we're talking circa 2008 when I started getting into makeup). With just tracing two thin stripes down either side of the centre of my nose, blending it inwards and then adding a bit of white shimmer to the tip, I pretty much achieved today's defined, sculpted look without having to finagle with additional products.  Thanks, mum!" — Angelyn Kwek, beauty writer
Effectiveness: 4.5/5. If you don't have your contour kit with you, you can simply re-purpose your brow pencil and a basic white eyeshadow.

Since I was a young girl, my grandmother would insist that she would give us a oil bath during the Hindu festivities such as Ponggal, Tamil New Year and Deepavali. She would start by applying castor oil onto the top of the crown and slowly work her way all the way to our feet. She made sure every part of our body, even our hair and face was massaged with castor oil. She would make us sit with the oil for at least half an hour before sending us to shower with Shikai 'shampoo'. I used to hate it when I was younger because — let's be real — which teenager would like the feeling of oil-drenched hair and an oil-slicked face? But when I grew up, I realised the importance of oil massages and the benefits of castor oil. Because of those massages, my body is less 'heaty' and both my skin and hair are in a healthier condition. — Pramila G, editorial intern
Effectiveness: 4/5. It's a great — and cost-saving— way to keep cool especially in this Singapore heat, though it is pretty time-consuming. 

"I learned this from a friend's aunt and it is a much-used tip as my face tends to puff up like the marshmallow man first thing in the morning. If, like me, you tend to get puffy, always sleep in an elevated position with your head raised slightly higher than your legs. Also, never drink too much water for the three to four hours before bedtime, so as to reduce puffiness the morning after." — Larry Yeo, makeup artist
Effectiveness: 4.5/5. Works well for those who tend to retain water overnight.

Beauty sleep is important as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's demonstrated
"When I was in my late teens and way before there was Facebook, YouTube or Instagram as inspiration, my best friend and I used to bleach and dye each other's hair with crazy hair colours. We would just buy peroxide and developer from the pharmacy, mix it ourselves, bleach parts of our hair and cover it in semi-permanent Manic Panic dyes or in lighter brown shades. It was fun, easy to do and for a cash-strapped teen, it was a much more affordable alternative than getting it done in a salon. On hindsight, maybe playing with bleach was not such a great idea, but doing it with a friend significantly reduced the risk of an accident." — Renée Batchelor, beauty editor
Effectiveness: 3/5. When done well, it saves you tons of money, but always experiment on a hidden portion of your hair first. 

"When I was 12, my best friend and I got into this phase where painted nails were all the rage to us — and we loved them in the most gaudy, fluorescent colours. Sometimes, we would literally paint our nails with correction fluid and belligerently tell our teachers that it wasn't nail polish whenever we got told off (painted nails weren't allowed in primary school). Once, we were playing with nail polish during recess and had to rush back to class. We'd read somewhere that cold water dries nails instantly, so we ran into the bathroom and dunked our fingers into a sink filled with cool water. It worked! There was hardly any shine left on the polish, but it was definitely dry." — Amelia Chia, deputy editor
Effectiveness: 4/5. It really does work if you're in a hurry.Eyeliner gives you wings so you can fly!

"I didn't grow up with the Internet, so I learned all my beauty tips from magazines. My favourite was Seventeen, when it was still in print! I experimented with makeup very early; my mother bought me my first lipgloss when I was 12 (anyone remember Red Earth?) and I purchased my first eyeshadow palette — it was a Maybelline quad with yellow, blue, pink and green pastel shades — before my 13th birthday. The first beauty hack I learned? How to make my eyelashes look thicker beyond what mascara can do, by lining my lash line with a kohl pencil. My application is dead on now, but it sure wasn't a decade ago. The tip was useful and timeless, but I was way too young to try to be Avril Lavigne. I ended up looking like Meeko from Pocahontas instead." — Jolene Khor, associate fashion editor
Effectiveness: 4/5. It's still a relevant hack today, if you've perfected it.

When I was in my early 20s long before YouTube and Facebook, the cool thing to do was line your eyes with black kohl pencil that had a flick at the end — a little like a winged liner. Not being a makeup artist then, I was okay with the lining of the eyes but the winged bit I never seemed to get right. Mine always looked more like a ski slope than a neat line. One night while getting ready for a party, my best friend gave me the best tip. She said, I should use a small amount of first aid tape along the corner of the eye, angled slightly up, and use this as a guide. I followed the eyeline up to the tape, lined the rest of the eye and when I was done I removed the tape. For the first time...boom! I had the perfect winged eyeliner.
Effectiveness: 3.5/5. While great for those with unsteady hands, don't do it too often as it may tug on the skin around the eye too much.
Toothpaste has so many uses!

"Being Korean, my mum had always placed a super high importance on skincare and bought me teen Shisedo when I was about 13. Of course I didn't listen, I didn't use it, slept in my makeup and lay out in the sun! Now she has flawless, porcelain skin and I'm playing catch-up. But one tip she did give me as a quick fix for a spot is to put toothpaste on it and sleep with it on overnight. Toothpaste is drying and also antibacterial so it's the perfect pimple blaster! It's also a great solution if you're having a breakout or two but you're travelling and forgot your products. Moral of the story? Always listen to your mum." — Yvette King, TV host
Effectiveness: 3.5/5. Just be careful not to over-apply it or it might dry out the skin around the pimple as well.

Read the Digital Millenial guide on how to survive without the Internet

Related articles

Buro 24/7 Selection