On Russia and Vladimir Putin

I recently came across a blogpost by a local blogger who wrote about Vladimir Putin.  While I do agree with her point that Putin is often vilified by our heavily Western-influenced media, I have a feeew bones to pick with this particular article.  Usually I would just let it slide or rant about it to my boyfriend (which I have done, lol), but I cannot stand the thought that someone as well-read as this blogger could be spreading such inaccurate information. So, here I am.

One of her claims is that supporting Russia will help in the war against ISIS.  Her logic (at least, as I can read it) is as follows – Putin has made many ‘badass’ claims about ISIS.  Under Putin’s direction, Russia has begun attacking ISIS-held areas in Syria, cooperating with states such as France.  Therefore if we contribute to Russia’s economy (ostensibly through tourism), we will be contributing towards the fight against ISIS.

I quote:

“If you wish to take a step further and contribute financially to the war against ISIS, you might want to consider Russia as a travel destination.

It is a great time to travel there because rubles have fallen greatly compared to Singapore dollar. I’ve visited Moscow in May and my entire trip (SIA flight + Four Star Hotel + Internal Transport etc) only cost about SG$2000. You can read my travel guide on Moscow.”

Now I don’t claim to be an expert on Russia to any extent, but I did take a class on Russian history and here’s what I have to say:

1. Putin makes these ‘badass’ comments all the time. It’s not just about ISIS.  Just before he was sworn in as Prime Minister, Putin was heavily involved in the investigation of the Moscow apartment bombings in 1999.  He’s famous for uttering the lines: “We will chase the terrorists everywhere.  In the airport, then in the airport.  So if we find them in the toilet…we will rub them out in the outhouse.” Just go and google Putin and toilet, and you can find various sources which quote him on this. I would argue that Putin’s public image relies heavily on this idea of him as a masculine, ‘badass’ hero who saves Russia from the big bad Western powers. Hence the black belt in judo, the photos of him riding topless on horses, riding a bear, hanging out with biker gangs…etc.etc. I don’t want to go into a long history lesson here, but a large part of Putin’s popularity in Russia today rests upon how the Russians view him as someone who has reestablished Russia’s strength in the international domain, especially in comparison to his predecessors Gorbachev and Yeltsin, whom Russians view as ‘weak’ – largely because these two played key roles in the democratisation and liberalisation of Russia.  So Putin’s macho image is tied up with the history of politics in Russia. Not just because he has abs or speaks like a gangster.

So maybe Putin’s a badass.  But in my opinion, a large part of it remains his public image rather than any real desire to help the Syrians. Putin has used the same language to justify an invasion into Chechnya, Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, etc. etc. I would argue that his actions in Chechnya, Ukraine and Crimea are complex and not always justified.  Just because someone is brimming with bravado and makes a lot of bold claims does not mean that we should support them.

(Some may argue that supporting someone who goes against ISIS is a natural foregone conclusion.  Perhaps that is so.  But this particular post I am referring to seems to be making the case that Putin’s bravado and strong language is a reason for us to support him.  If we agree with this then, we are basically saying that we should support Putin in his invasion of Chechnya and Ukraine, and the Crimean annexation – because of his machoism. I don’t think we ought to go that far. Especially since Putin has shown in the past to be highly indiscriminate in his methods in order to achieve his desired ends – see Moscow apartment bombings controversy, purported assassinations of journalists, etc. Putin will stop at nothing to get what he wants, and that can very possibly include bombing innocent people. I don’t think this should be condoned, or at the very least, ignored, re: Syria.)

2. This is my real problem with her claim: Visiting Moscow does not help the war against ISIS.  This is, frankly, a ridiculous leap of logic and for the life of me I cannot understand what is going on here.  Yes, perhaps by visiting Russia you are contributing to the Russian economy…which adds to the Russian military budget…which might possibly go towards building like 0.000001% of one of the thousands of bombs they rain upon Syria, all in the name of ‘fighting ISIS’.  How much money do you really think you’re going to spend on a two-week holiday in Moscow?! And this is assuming that Russia actually does some good in Syria. I might be being cynical here, but looking at the current shitstorm that is Syria, I would think that nobody is doing anything good in Syria right now.  Least of all Russia, who made the news most recently for accidentally bombing Iran instead of Syria.

What is more, don’t forget that Russia is notoriously corrupt – so your supposed well-intentioned tourist dollars are more often than not going to land in some bureaucrat’s fat pocket rather than dealing any damage towards ISIS.  Please do not lull yourself into a sense of heroism by thinking that the fight against ISIS validates your vacation. Please. Just don’t. It cheapens the fight against ISIS, and it cheapens your holiday.  A holiday is a holiday, dammit.

3. Last of all, for all the macho buff pictures of Putin and his mountain skiing and hang-gliding photos, please remember that this guy is a ruthless politician.  He has been linked with multiple crimes, including murder.  If the author of this cited post had truly been keeping up with multiple news outlets (as claimed), she would know that Putin is not a figure to be glorified.  Is he a strong leader? I think so.  Has Putin done good for the Russian people? I think so. But should we admire him for his role in the international stage? Laud him as a figure of morality, a shining beacon of good against the evil of ISIS? …ehhh. Questionable. With politics, I tend to take the stance that we shouldn’t reduce issues to black-and-white, right vs. wrong, good vs. evil. This applies very much so here.

At the end of the day, this is a silly response to an equally silly post.  But it got my ire up.  So this is where I go to rant about it.  Honestly? I’m trying to be charitable here but a part of me thinks that this post was written partly to promote her other posts about travel in Moscow – if not, why the random leap of logic from ISIS –> Moscow holiday? It clearly doesn’t make sense otherwise. Perhaps she really does admire Putin.  However I hope that people who read her blogpost will take it upon themselves to go read up about Putin and form their own opinions about him.

As I hope you will too, now. Hope you guys enjoyed this silly rant/info dump about Putin, and let me know what you think.

 

On Journalism and Professionalism

By now I’m sure that everyone has heard about the ruckus surrounding some critical articles about local athlete Quah Zheng Wen and his refusal to comment following a disappointing showing (at least I can assume so, I’m not really up to date on local sports) at the Olympics heats.  Basically, Quah left the pool and completely bypassed the media, refusing to answer questions or give comments.  Journalist Leonard Thomas then published a critical article, turning what was supposed to be a simple reporting on his performance into a commentary on the character of local athletes (See: Quah Zheng Wen disappoints with more than just bad timing) Since then, the Internet has erupted in support of Quah, saying that we should cut him some slack, that we should be proud that he represented Singapore, and that above all, it is not his obligation to give the media comments.

I do agree generally with what has been said, but I want to focus on the final defence in particular.  Should local athletes, politicians, celebrities etc. be obligated to give comments to the media? Here we see a tension between the journalist’s need for a good quote for his article (which he probably has to publish, in today’s digital age, oh about in the next ten minutes), and the desire to protect someone’s privacy, feelings, and freedom to share and withhold his thoughts as he deems fit.  I think this is not going to be as organised as my usual posts, but here are my thoughts on the issue.

So, short detour: a few years ago, I did an interning stint at one of our local newspapers.  Being a lowly intern, I was often sent out to do gruntwork/groundwork, i.e. gathering quotes from people.  It’s hard work.  People, and especially Singaporeans, are extremely loath to offer their opinions to journalists.  I can understand the frustration of the journalist who can’t get the important quote that he needs to finish his article.  Imagine reading an article about the transport policies but with no comment from the Transport Minister.  Feels strange.  Quotes are an essential and crucial part of journalism, adding credibility and authority to the information we are disseminating.

To a certain extent, I think we can agree that prominent figures such as ministers, celebrities, etc. are placed with higher expectations when it comes to facing the media. They are public figures, therefore in events where they are involved, it is expected, perhaps even necessary, that they address the public in some way or the other.  (I will admit that this refers more to those we view as public representatives – athletes at international events, ministers and the like.  Celebrities perhaps are a different matter for discussion.) In addition, as subjects of whatever articles are being published, as the subject of whatever will be tomorrow’s public reading material, I think they know that it is important, both for themselves and for the poor journalist writing that article, to at least represent themselves appropriately with comments.

Therefore when Quah brushed off reporters after his swim, I can understand why many (especially the poor reporter) would see that as unprofessional.  It’s not like he was a random person approached on the street (and let me assure you, I have encountered so much of this cold shoulder treatment from Singaporeans, so if you want to criticise him for no comments, take a look at yourself first.)  On the other hand, insisting on comments from him right after the event, or badgering subjects for comments when they do not want to, is also close to harassment and, I personally believe, crosses the line between reporter and paparazzi.  It is a fine line to tread and a continuous tension for those working in journalism.  To pursue or not to pursue? To respect personal boundaries or publish an article that may infringe on someone’s sensibilities? In sensitive situations such as this one, it’s difficult to know what to do, and I sympathise with both Quah and the reporter on this matter.

However where I believe Leonard Thomas (the reporter) went wrong, was to publish his frustrations about Quah, in the most petty manner possible. Having read the full article, I think that the headline is fairly incendiary and doesn’t reflect the more sympathetic tone of the article.  In fact, the bulk of the article focuses on Quah’s coach’s comments and Quah’s performance, which I feel is right. However, the headline reads: “Quah Zheng Wen disappoints with more than just bad timing.” Calling his timing ‘bad’ suggests a qualitative judgment which, upon closer reading, I don’t find too terrible (but again, I am no expert on swimming, so please correct me if I am wrong.) Thomas states in the article that Quah’s national record is 54.o3s, whereas his clocked timing at the Olympics was 54.38s.  To a layman like me, 0.35s seems like nothing. Heck, I spend more than 0.35s blinking.  I know it makes all the difference in swimming.  But somehow I find it difficult to conceive that a difference of 0.35s is the difference between a national record and a bad timing.  Disappointing timing, maybe.  Not up to Quah’s standard, maybe. But bad? Feels kind of an extreme judgment to me, personally speaking.

Quibbling over semantics aside, my second gripe about Thomas’ headline is the emphasis on disappointment “with more than just bad timing.” This suggests that there is something even worse than Quah’s performance in the pool – which, as I already pointed out above, is painted in far worse light than I found it to be when I read the actual article. Such a headline is simply rubbing salt into the already harsh wound of his failure.  So, what is this horrendous thing Quah has done, to surpass his “bad timing”? Well, horror of horrors, it turns out to be a quick ‘Hi guys,’ as he brushes past the media (although I would give him kudos for actually acknowledging their presence.  Most of my subjects were not so kind.) In not giving any comments, Quah has disappointed (for reasons I stated above), but I believe much of this disappointment comes from the reporter himself.  Why, then, is Thomas projecting his own disappointment onto the public? On what authority is Thomas suggesting that the disappointment over Quah’s lack of comments is greater than the disappointment in his performance? Our athletes are first and foremost, athletes.  Our focus should be first their performance, then their character.

Thomas suggests that, from this act, Quah is weak (“What will be professional is if he faltered, again, and just wanted to get away from it all, but stopped to talk.  Now that requires strength.”) I think we can all agree that Quah, in general, is not weak – it takes both physical and mental fortitude to reach what he has attained.  However, after a subpar performance, I think that anyone would want to avoid the media.  (Olympic training hardly includes mandatory seminars on ‘How to Face the Media’, after all) Perhaps after my stint in journalism I am a pessimistic soul, but I have learnt not to expect my subjects to offer comments on demand.  Yes, perhaps it is a lapse in character on Quah’s part.  But I think it is also the part of journalists to not place too high expectations on our subjects, and understand that we may need to pursue our material from a different angle.  If there is anything I learnt while interning, it’s that I can’t expect my material to be handed to me on a platter.  Even if there is a media scrum. In expecting Quah to dole out comments on the spot, I think Thomas was being presumptuous in his understanding of Quah.  Possibly because of Quah’s status as an athlete (again, expectations I detailed above), possibly because of his more genial behaviour in the past which set a precedent.

I want to put aside the issue of whether Zheng Wen was professional or not in refusing to speak to journalists.  I believe that, to a certain extent, he shouldn’t have brushed off reporters.  Yet I think we can offer some sympathy given the situation (which Thomas duly gives. Let’s not forget that Thomas was, in general, fairly kind in his assessment of Quah, at the end of the day.) I think Quah’s professionalism in this situation is a fairly grey issue which could be argued either way.

Instead, all I wish to say is that Thomas caused a controversy which I feel was very much unnecessary.  He had high expectations for Zheng Wen’s behaviour out of the pool, some of which I feel is very much justified.  Yet instead of performing his primary role as a journalist, and reporting the facts, the article on Zheng Wen’s performance focused on Thomas’ own expectations and feelings.  He made it personal, and therefore detracted from the purpose of his writing (and indeed, his presence at the Olympics) – which is first and foremost, to report.  By doing so, far from making Quah seem unprofessional, he placed the spotlight on himself, and a result, made himself appear the unprofessional one instead.

Let me know what you think on this issue – but please, as always, no vitriol or ad hominem attacks. I think we see way too much of that already in social media today.

-Nat

Japanese Beauty Brands: K-Palette

Japanese drugstores are insanely overwhelming.  Walk into any one and you are assaulted by a myriad of posters and products plastered from wall to wall, brightly-coloured bombastic marker-drawn signs shouting deals at you from every corner. Going in there is dizzying. Most of the time, when I walk into one of these local drugstores, I’m so dazzled I instantly forget what I came here for, even to buy something like toothpaste. (Very often, I walk out without the thing I went there to buy.)

Japan is famous for its cosmetics. But its drugstores are ridiculously hard to navigate.  So I’m going to try and detail some of the makeup that I’ve bought while I’ve been here; and feature some brands that I like. If you’re planning to come to Japan in the near future and want to check out some of their makeup, maybe I can offer some suggestions for you.

The first brand I want to feature today is K-Palette. Of all the Japanese makeup I own, I think most of it comes from K-Palette. Their stuff is especially hard to find, because they usually aren’t found on the shelves or at the cosmetic counters.  Instead, they are hung from the wall, nondescript and very easy to bypass in the madness of Matsumoto Kiyoshi. One time, I found the K-Palette stuff hanging a mere few inches from the ceiling. Near impossible to retrieve, so I gave up.  Nevertheless, after trying out these products for some 2-3 months, I feel they are definitely worth the hunt – or at least worth giving a shot.

tmp_combined_photo

  1. 1-Day Tattoo Real Lasting Eyebrow Mascara – I never got into the whole eyebrow mascara thing until this. I was having trouble getting my eyebrow colour to hold for the entire day; it tended to fade after a couple of hours, which was really annoying because I hate touching up my makeup (or rather, I simply forget and wander around with half-on half-off eyebrows for the entire day). This solved my problem entirely.  Not only does the mascara tint my brows (thereby adding more colour), I’ve realised that it locks in my eyebrow powder so that that colour stays as well throughout the day. A+++, would recommend to anyone wanting to improve their brow game.
  2. 1-Day Tattoo Real Lasting Eyeliner Waterproof 24h in Black and IT’s DEMO x K-Palette 1-Day Tattoo Real Lasting Eyeliner 24h in Brown-Black – wow okay what a mouthful. I love the tips of the K-Palette eyeliners because they’re incredibly thin, giving me greater control over my cat-eye flicks and just generally preventing me from stabbing my eyeball. My gripe, however, is that the colour isn’t as intense or dark as I would like; sometimes it comes out perfectly and other times I have to go over the line multiple times to get the colour I want. So it’s a bit hit-and-miss. Especially the black one, which I use almost daily –  I suspect it is starting to dry up because it is getting near impossible to get a good solid line out of it.  However I have been using it for two months so maybe it is time to get a new one. My other gripe: it’s not completely waterproof. Near the end of the day, smudging isn’t uncommon and I’ve ended up with some unfortunate panda eyes more than once.

    (Incidentally, I bought the brown-black eyeliner purely for its beautiful packaging: it’s a limited edition Alice in Wonderland design and it’s soooo pretty)

  3. Zero Kuma Cover Control Concealer in 01 – solid, reliable concealer. It’s not as thick as say, Benefit’s boing!, but it provides some good coverage. It’s meant to be used for your undereye circles, however I find that it works great on blemishes and redness as well. Some days the consistency is a bit too heavy for my undereyes, so I don’t use it for my undereyes as often. Nevertheless, on my lousy face days when I need to cover up lots, this is the guy that I reach for, without fail. The concealer comes in three shades, depending on the problem you’re trying to tackle, but I think that shade 01 is a good all-rounder, as compared to shades 02 and 03, which are more about colour correcting.

So those are my recommendations from K-Palette. Let me know if you’ve tried anything else from there before, and what you thought!

Till next time,

x Nat

Je suis Paris – but je ne suis pas Beirut?

peaceforparis

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, surely you know about the terrible synchronised terror attacks on Paris last week.  And unless you’ve been totally off social media (in which case how did you find this blog?), you would know about the more ad hominem attacks – people accusing Paris sympathizers of not being aware of other tragic incidents happening around the world – in particular, the fact that the day before the Paris attacks, Beirut was victim to several bomb attacks.  This, according to the couch critics, went unnoticed by the mass Western media, therefore reinforcing the concept that Western countries take priority over non-Western countries.  Therefore, the media has chosen to highlight a Western country’s problems over that of the multitude of day-to-day bombings and attacks endured by many countries, especially in the Middle East and Africa.

However, as some have pointed out, mass media did cover the Beirut twin suicide bombings; news agencies from the BBC to CNN devoted significant coverage to the event. Instead, Max Fisher from Vox suggests that it was not that the media neglected the news about Beirut – it was that it slid under the radar of readers; the news clip passed by unnoticed, simply another soundbite in the deluge of information that we are immersed in day-in, day-out.

I don’t want to devote my blogpost to finger-pointing. I think we’ve had quite enough of it the past few days; and it seems so trivial to be quibbling about little things like Facebook’s profile picture colour filters, when people have died – when people are constantly dying, in painful and tragic ways. The weight of their suffering, of the tragedies, makes our own little squabbles on social media so insignificant.

Instead, I just want to raise a little point – a tiny idea in the swathe of articles and social media posts about the recent terror attacks in Paris. In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, our immediate reaction is to sympathise. To grieve – even though we may never have visited the country. To turn on the news and grasp for any small new item of information that may emerge. But news of a bomb in Beirut; or ISIS raiding a small town in Syria – such news often slides by unnoticed. At best we read about it, click x and move on with the next news item of the day. Why? Why the discrepancy?

I believe (at least, this is my humble opinion; feel free to disagree or to raise any other points you might feel are relevant) that a large part of this boils down to the continuing dichotomy between West and East; the persistent conception of West as modernity and East as antiquity; West as civilization and East as uncivilized barbarism. And who we identify with.

Perhaps I’ve been studying too much postcolonial theory in the past year, but I think as a whole, we still tend to equate the West with modern civilization, and the East (especially the Middle East and Africa), with backward waters.  Therefore even though I (and much of my social media feed) derives from what is typically called East; I would say that we are very much part of what considers itself the ‘civilised’ East – Singapore, Japan – countries who rank high in development surveys and where income levels are high. We identify ourselves with the West; like a banana, yellow on the outside but white on the inside. We consider ourselves modern, civilised beings. We travel. We eat cheese, and croissants, and macarons and drink wine and all the fruits of globalisation and international trade. The West – is not of us, and yet at the same time, it is very much an integral part of us, because it defines who we are – our identity as modern individuals.

So then, when Paris gets attacked. Or a cafe in Sydney is taken over by a man with a gun. Or London trains are bombed. Or the World Trade Centre in New York is attacked. We feel as if a part of ourself is attacked too. If it can happen to a modern city like Paris, certainly it can happen to us. President Obama called the Paris attacks an attack on all of humanity. But I think in our minds, the alarm bells only go off when the attack falls on something we identify with. The attacks on Paris, in our minds, were an attack on modern civilisation. An attack on the modern man, living in the city – me. To engage in such attacks is to be uncivilised, is to be barbaric – is to be the East – is to be other, is to be the outsider.

What then of Beirut? Why does Beirut pass under the radar unnoticed? Why were the Beirut twin suicide bombings not ‘an attack on all humanity’? Because Lebanon, as part of the Middle East, is where such ‘barbaric’ things happen. We have become desensitised to the news of violence happening in the Middle East and Africa. We have come to associate these two regions (well, one is an entire continent) with violence, poverty, and tragedy. News of violence, poverty, and tragedy, then, does not raise eyebrows. It is simply, in our minds, an inherent part of the East. Bomb attacks are a natural part of being in the East. This is something that doesn’t happen to us – it happens to them.

But in the West? Violence, poverty and tragedy do not belong in the realm of modern civilisation. Because we live there. In modern civilisation. And if violence, tragedy and poverty become a part of this modern civilisation, it affects us. Not only that; it negates our identity as ‘civilised’ individuals; negates our society’s identity as a ‘civilisation’. Hence when these things happen, our first reaction is to seek for the ‘other’ in the perpetrators.  The ‘unmodern’ and the ‘barbaric’ – whether it be their religion, their race, their economic background, their mental illness, and so on. And when we can find that ‘other’, the part that is not a part of our identity, we breathe a sigh of relief. Good. It happened because it wasn’t part of us. And so the dichotomy between West and East persists. And so, we send fighter jets to rain bombs upon Syria.

It bothers me, that in the face of tragedy, our instinct is to look for the ‘other’, to antagonise, to emphasise the schism between us and them. If this is an attack on all of humanity, then what about the French bombing Syria? Is that not also an attack on humanity, on the humans living in Syria? Humanity is so complex. Motivations are complex, and as many have pointed out, the roots of the bombers’ motivations may lie in history that extends centuries back – and yes, much of it to do with the West and their actions in the Middle East. We are the culmination of millenia of existence, as an entire race, coexisting and interacting with one another across vast lands and seas. Isn’t that amazing? Yet we persist with a black and white dichotomy, two realms constructed vastly divested from each other. For we can only perceive ourself when we perceive who we are not. So we continue to seek for the other – in that which cannot be other.

All I wanted to say was that our attention tends to be drawn to news about attacks on Western countries because it feels unnatural, alien to our conception of what is West. We grieve with attacks on Western countries because we identify ourselves with our modern Western counterparts, as a part of modern civilisation. We tend to overlook attacks in non-Western countries because we do not identify with them as much; and because we identify them as barbaric, violent and uncivilised countries, such barbaric, violent and uncivilised crimes are the norm over there. But to persist in such a dichotomy feels wrong to me.  As long as we remain surprised that Syrians have iPhones, as long as we conceive of Afghan refugees as potential terrorists, as long as we see them as not a part of us – we are not including them in our understanding of humanity. And that is so cruel and cold as to be barbaric, violent, uncivilised – and tragic.

Let me know your thoughts on this, but let’s keep it civil – out of respect for the tragedy that has happened. This is not an ad hominem attack on anybody. Just an outpouring of my thoughts, and sadness at the wreck of human civilisation we have come to today.

-Nat

 

let’s start over: quick update + ootd

Apologies for not updating on this blog for the longest time.  Simply put, my laziness got the better of me. I realise that my tendency to write epic long posts (even about something as simple as my lipstick) has made blogging time-consuming and tiring. I also recently started another blog (natarinogatari.wordpress.com, sneaky promo go check it out), which features my travels since I came to Japan – so well, I have no excuses for my neglecting this blog.

That being said, I don’t want to abandon this blog altogether. So I’ve decided to blog more frequently, but shorter posts. So not so much long, in-depth reviews (which TBH you can get pretty much anywhere now), but little quick bites of what I’m currently enjoying. I have tons of stuff I want to talk about on this blog (like all the Japanese makeup I’ve been trying that the interwebs has absolutely zero information about), and I’m pretty excited to get this off the ground and moving before the crushing weight of deadlines overwhelms me in December/January.

So, moving on – here’s what I wore the other day. It was cold and rainy and I completely underdressed, which I severely regret. (and then the next day it was boiling! pls autumn make up your mind)

20151114_161327

Autumn is in full swing here in Japan, and I’ve embraced the sweater weather far too enthusiastically – I’m a bit of a sweater addict but sadly I barely get to wear them in Singapore so I’m making full use of my time here to wrap myself up in as much woolly goodness as I can before it ends. The sweater is from Zara, but I bought it cheap from a secondhand shop here. I really like the colourful thread running through the dark navy – it’s something slightly out of my comfort zone. The loose, baggy fit also makes it perfect for wearing layers underneath (I wore a long-sleeved tee). I paired that with some ancient denim shorts from Forever 21, and brown tights. This is a super simple, cozy outfit formula that I’ll be using throughout the rest of the cold months – especially for days spent indoors, preferably with the heater on and a large mug of hot tea!

x Nat

Natalie wears Natalie: NARS Audacious Lipstick review

Um, did I just buy a lipstick because it had my name on it?

20150921_142540

Um…yes.

O Nat, such is thy weakness: an unfailing desire to own anything with an even remote connection to your name. Hence also your undying love for Christmas; because it feels like a party just for you. You just want to feel special, don’t you.

NARS is a pricey brand and I’ve never owned anything by them before despite hearing countless glowing reviews about their products like their NARS Creamy Concealer, or the Sheer Glow Foundation.  For the longest time I coveted the ubiquitous NARS Orgasm blush. But I never had the balls to fork out the money for it (also, NARS hadn’t hit Singapore at the time). It took a simple stupid marketing gimmick like a lipstick name to get me to take the plunge. Even then, I waited and waited and waited until I finished my internship and got my salary before I was willing to buy the lipstick. And after that, I didn’t use it for almost a month. Because the bullet was too pretty – too perfect – to be ruined by my lips.

20150921_142605

I mean, look at this beautimous baby. I almost cried after I put it on and I saw that the bullet had been ruined.

Natalie is a gorgeous coral shade which is quite bright but also not too unwearable or adventurous.  It’s incredibly flattering and is enough of a statement to show people you actually are wearing lipstick, without being too ‘out there’. I would wear this comfortably while going out, but perhaps not the best thing for that 8am lecture. I posted this on instagram and got tons of compliments from my friends (that’s how I know something is good guys, I need to seek external validation from my peers, for how else could I ever find true worth?)

20150921_142910

Given that I tend to favour very simple makeup (eyeliner is about as far as I go), the bright colour is no problem and in fact (I think) is a perfect addition to my regular routine. I love how the lipstick automatically glams up my look without being too bombastic. Probably need to be very careful with blush though – today I didn’t wear any blush, just a bit of highlighter on my cheekbones.

The Audacious lipsticks line feature a matte finish, but the lipstick glides on well and is really creamy.  The colour payoff is amazing; one swipe and it’s very obvious on your lips. I found that after wearing it for a few hours though it did settle into the lines in my lips (but I do have extremely dry, flaky lips), and it started to bleed after about…four to five hours? Hoping to get a matching lipliner to prevent this from happening in the future. In comparing this to the other matte lipsticks I’ve used (I have the Bobbi Brown in Tawny Pink and the Rimmel Kate Moss lipsticks), I have to say that the formula of this is richer, less drying and also lasts longer.

So that’s my new obsession for the week: this lipstick. Given how pricey it is it was definitely a special luxury but I love it so much (name notwithstanding), and I can see this becoming a staple in my makeup stash for years to come.

x Nat

“perfect pairs”: skincare

Hi guys, so sorry for the mega long hiatus – I’m just not a very consistent person when it comes to blogging. I need to really create a routine where I can sit down and blog regularly – that’s what I created this blog for but sadly it’s been quite a fail so far. I’m working on it!

Today I’m going to talk about perfect pairs – basically products that I’ve been using in tandem that I have found to work well together.  Lots of companies like to produce product ranges where their products work together – think shampoo and conditioner, face soap + toner + moisturiser, etc. But today I’m going to be writing about some unexpected pairings which were the result of me randomly experimenting with what I had and getting some pretty good results.

#1: Thayer’s Witch Hazel Rose Water Alcohol-Free Toner + Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin

thayersinnisfree

affordable skincare A+++

Right so I’ve blabbed on way too much about the Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin (and tbh I think it goes fantastic with the accompanying Green Tea Seed Serum but I won’t talk about that today). I’ve been using it as a toner for about half a year now and I still love it, but a few months ago I added on this extra toner to it (what, nat? two toners? TWO?).  I already had this bottle sitting around on my table – I bought it to help soothe some irritated skin (which it did! It’s a pretty amazing multi-purpose product) but it was such a massive bottle I thought I should use it for my face as well.  After consulting my ever-reliable beauty guru aka Google, I concluded that using two toners can be beneficial: one to clean and address problematic areas, and another to moisturise.

The Thayer’s toner contains witch hazel, which is a good antiseptic and helps with oil control and pimples.  The rosewater soothes redness and the fact that it’s alcohol-free also means that it won’t dry out the skin too much.  On top of that then I use the Green Tea Balancing Skin to moisturise and soothe the skin.  While I have pretty normal skin which only suffers occasionally from redness, I’ve found that the combination of these two products has reduced the number of breakouts I have as well as the red patches on my face.

You can buy the Thayer’s toner online at NaturaWorks (S$16.50) or iHerb (US$8.60 + approx US$5 shipping), and the Innisfree Balancing Skin (S$24) from Innisfree stores in Singapore or their online store Innisfree World.

#2: Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel (Sensitive) + Aesop Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque

juiceaesop

er whoops sorry for the disgusting bottle cap

I received a tiny sample of the Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel in a bellabox subscription a few months ago.  Despite only containing about 5ml this tube has lasted me for more than 2 months so far – fortunately, because the full size of this costs more than $60 and it’s very difficult to find in Singapore.  I like to use this combination about once a week, especially when my complexion starts to look a bit dull.  I just whack it on my face for ten minutes, then wash it off.  It claims to use natural fruit acids instead of harsh chemicals or physical scrubs – which explains the rather sour, vinegar-like smell. It definitely smells nothing like apple, sadly.  But I like this especially in comparison to traditional salt/sugar scrubs (too harsh) and the Japanese/Korean face exfoliators, which require you to rub off the dead skin (which I’m just too lazy to do properly). The peel exfoliates my face and I’d like to think it makes my face look a bit brighter and clearer.

I follow this up with the Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque which I bought in Australia. It’s a clay masque which draws out the impurities in my skin and helps my skin just feel cleaner and less congested, especially my pores.  It also smells really really good – think flowery but also slightly herby.  While there is a slight burning sensation (especially around my nose), which made me panic when I first put it on, now it doesn’t bother me and it hasn’t affected my skin adversely in any way – on the contrary, its positive effects have been great. When I combine the peel and the masque together, it makes my skin feel super soft and clean. I literally cannot stop touching my own face when I’m done.  However it might be a little too squeaky clean so after I wash off the masque in the shower, I like to go back and use the Green Tea Balancing Skin from Innisfree to moisturise.

I’m not sure where to get the Green Apple Peel anymore as bellabox has discontinued its services.  A quick google search turns up a very pricey bottle at StrawberryNet ($67).  You can get the Aesop masque from stores in Singapore for S$47.

Essentially these two “perfect pairs” sum up my very basic skincare routine.  I do the double toners (with no moisturiser) daily, and the peel + masque once a week – however I think once I move to Japan I will add the Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum and very possibly a moisturiser as well – the winter months are cruel.

Do you know of any unexpected pairings? I particularly like the idea of combining Western and Asian products, especially as I move to Japan, the mecca of Asian skincare (besides Korea).

x Nat