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Monday, November 13, 2017

Make-up comfort with "burnt cherries"

About 3 years ago, I just felt like playing with some makeup and ended up with a pretty intense look. While I was super proud of the darker-than-usual smokey eye I did, the real kicker here was the lips. My lips are fairly thick, and slathering on a dark cherry lip color over a layer of black eyeliner pencil made for a pretty goth look.

It wasn't Halloween, and all I went out in was a casual maxi dress. I don't remember much but the feeling of rejection that my ex gave me at the time for "subjecting him to scrutiny" for going out with him for lunch at the local McDonald's.

Heavy make-up here is typically only worn by beauty industry employees, or "club girls". The color black can almost only exist as eyeliner and mascara. Black nails have only begun to gain traction as a sophisticated color alongside nude, pastel, and classic manicure colors.

I would've probably been spared the criticism of being too bold if I skipped the black liner on the lips. Actually, I would have been spared all criticism if I was dead - one day you'll have to come to peace with the fact that everything you do will evoke criticism from someone - regardless of how good you felt about it.

Any black pencil would do, but it should preferably be a creamy one. I used a lipstick called Cherry Jubilee, hence why I call them "burnt cherries" sometimes the black pencil doesn't blend well with the lipstick and leaves patches of "charring" over the darker cherry color.

I consciously decided to recreate this look - particularly the lips - for Halloween of 2017. I wouldn't bring myself come up with a proper costume, but I figured that this would be enough of a shocker - and I was partially right.

I hadn't noticed how "far" I've come in terms of cosmetic comfort until I actually dug up the photos of that old make-up. My lipstick application skill still sucks, though - I almost never use lipstick, and this particular lipstick is hell to work with because it feathers and smears quite easily.

One thing to note, though, is that my eye shape has changed since I last did that look, and hence how I do a smokey eye is completely different.

I had semi-hooded lids in the past, so for any color to be visible, application had to be almost to the brow to get the "smokey" effect that I wanted to achieve. And I was hell-bent on perfecting brush application and blending techniques, typically obsessing over the precision and blending so much that I would spend more than maybe an hour to "perfect" the application.

Image from sichenmakeupholic on Youtube
A few months after I originally did that look, I woke up from a night of crying with a "double eyelid" only on the right eye. For the record, Asian eyes are typically not just monolids and "double lids" - depending on the amount of skin and fat each person has on their lids, they can appear different. For the "double lids", there are two fairly prominent differences in eyelids: hooded, and double, with the main differences being how much lashline is visible when they eye is open.

The person who was fairly hesitant with using eyelid tape was suddenly "forced" into using it, but I found a specific eyelid tape from Daiso that worked very well, so I had that going for me.

However, this change in eyelid shape meant that the shadow "technique" that I had worked to master was now obsolete to a degree - I could now do fairly striking eye looks with even minimal application of dark shadows, since they were now more visible on the lid.

And because of this significant decrease in eye shadow that I need to use, I can now get away with being more sloppy with my application. Or the more accurate statement would be that I'm much more comfortable with being less serious with my make-up application. In the past, I would spent up to 2 hours doing a simple look; for the entire trip to Korea (post to be up later when I get around to it :D), I spent only 10 minutes each morning to put in my lenses, apply my skincare, and do my make-up.

And speaking of lenses, they now play a more crucial part of my make-up. In the past, I could go without lenses because the make-up itself was a key focal point - the shadow was much more intense because I learned American/Western style make-up instead of Asian/local (tons of videos on this topic on Youtube).

Now I rely almost solely on the lenses to give the make-up that extra pop. That's how subtle my shadow usage has become, if I use it at all. Overall I guess my make-up looks much more natural, but I might look more aesthetically striking? (I tend to gravitate towards using colored lenses with little to no enlarging effects)

What I'm trying to say here is... I'm really much more comfortable with going out without the whole shebang of make-up - it had to be a certain amount of make-up in a certain way before I would go out and feel good for the rest of the time I had the make-up on. Now it's more of a vibe where I can just plop on some brows and I'm good even if I accidentally rub off half a brow in the middle of the day.

And despite still being fairly into dark, bold looks, I find myself leaning more toward more subtle, feminine/classy looks that don't involve too many dark colors.

Tl;dr: compared to when I put on make-up during my youth, I'm much more comfortable with how my features have changed, and much more comfortable without being overly strict about how make-up must be done for me to be comfortable leaving the house.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Misogyny vs Skincare

Skincare is a norm for most people. Period.

This is irregardless of age, ethnicity, culture, and gender. Why wouldn't anyone want nice skin?

Well, recently I've had to go through a little pissy fit because someone within my social circle had always openly criticized guys for avoiding the sun and using skincare. Why? Because these are things that are feminine, and should not extend to what guys should do.

There's the overdone rhetoric - boys/guys should be manly, and by manly meaning unafraid of damage and pain. Show any care to not hurt or unnecessarily physically damage themselves and they shall be deemed feminine, because this is only what girls should do to remain pristine.

Tl;dr: anything that girls are supposed to do, guys aren't supposed to do.

Guys using skincare became normal for me - my dad used it (because where he was for at least 70% of the year had super harsh weather), some of my relatives used it, and so did my peers. Granted, most of them only maybe used a face wash and a sun screen, with the occasional mask. But as the internet further introduced me to the world, more and more things became normal for me where others felt it was too far out of the status quo.

What some people fail to notice is that investing the time and resource into skincare - regardless of gender - is a form of self care. Sun screen and keeping out of the hot sun isn't just to maintain fair skin - excessive exposure UV rays can lead to skin cancer.

And because there's this stupid stigma surrounding men using skincare, said companies are coming up with men's skincare ranges just to make it more acceptable for men to use skincare. And let's be honest, that much fragrance in men's skincare can't be that good.

One of the arguments is that it's "unmanly" to smell like a bed of flowers. Well, the boyfriend uses Melvita's floral water lotion and smells like a bed of, well, roses all day, and he's still the manliest guy I know.

What if I told you that you don't need to be dark, scarred, and smell like a ditch to be considered manly?

Sure, back in the old days, men had to work in the sun because they decided to oppress their women to stay in the house (give and take, gentlemen). But now? There are so many more professions that doesn't require one to be laboring under the hot sun and scarring themselves all the time. Disposable income has increased and thus allowing men (and women) to further take care of themselves any way they see fit. And if Person A's way of taking care of themselves is to prioritize their physical appearance and investing in skincare, then who are we to judge?

I just wished that there's so much less stigma that surrounds gender and gender norms in general. Life's too short to be confined to being one gender.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

CHINA 2016: DAY 8 (last day)

21 OCT

Due to the unsatisfactory conditions and location of the originally booked hotel in Beijing when we first arrived, we opted to switch to Scitech Hotel - one which we had a fair impression of since it was the first hotel we stayed in during our very first trip to China a few years ago. However, since it has been a fair number of years ago, the hotel seemed to be in a fairly dilapidated state.

The breakfast was the most decent for the entire trip though - full range of buffet breakfast with almost no weird menu items (like hot orange juice). But they also still had Chinese yogurt~

After breakfast was a trip to 天坛, where the emperor apparently did most of the main religious rites during his time. There are 4 such places, namely 天坛, 地坛, 日坛, and 月坛 distributed across the city, but the most popular one for tourists is the 天坛. 坛 means "altar", so each altar represents the heaven, earth, sun, and moon respectively, and the emperor was to travel to each and every altar after performing the respective rites at the respective altars.

The outskirts of the altar has been made into some kind of park, where the elderly and/or families come to spend quality time. The image above depicts a popular past time for some of the elderly folk - using a makeshift brush and water, they practice calligraphy on the stone tiles.

And for dinner, a quaint little Mongolian restaurant in the city of Beijing:

Stewed Chinese yams

After a filling dinner and a nice amount of Chivas later, we went back to the hotel and made our way back to KL, with a stopover at Hong Kong International Airport. I forgot to download a VPN for this trip, so I was without social media until we got to Hong Kong.

All in all, it was a fair trip. I guess it was much less nerve wracking since we had a pre-planned itinerary and a tour guide to get us to most places~

Monday, October 23, 2017

CHINA 2016: DAY 6 & 7

19 OCT

We started this day by meeting with our local tour guide, Simon. A distance from Shenyang city is a water cave that is popular for its stalactite and stalagmite formations - 本溪水洞. Several formations have designated names based on their shape resemblance to animals, deities, etc.

Calcified formations lit up with multicolored lights.

And for the first time, we had proper hotpot with two soup bases - spicy and pork bone. The entire meal was one of the most satisfying during a day with a tour guide for the entire trip.

We then proceeded to the Residence of General Zhang, which is, from what I can recall, a walking distance from the Financial Museum of Shenyang. Most of the places we visited constitutes our second visit, as we had visited these places a few years before, just without a tour guide.

Chinese Northeastern cuisine seems to gravitate around flour-based dumplings or pancakes eaten with meat. Dinner was a walking distance from our hotel, specializing in smoked meat (pork) and flour pancakes. We also got some tapioca noodles, soup, and eggs to go with it.

20 OCT

We started the morning morbid by visiting the Qing Zhao Tomb. Shenyang was at one point a Manchurian city, so a lot of the symbolic items were Manchurian, including the nods toward crows, which were thought to be sacred.


We then headed to the Shenyang Imperial Palace before heading to lunch.

Some strange deep-fried cream fritter thing.

This is called 怪味锅, meaning "pot of strange flavor". The main ingredients? Tons of bell peppers.

After saying necessary goodbyes, we headed to Shenyang Taoxian Airport for a flight back to Beijing. We stopped by this place that sold milk ice cream, which wasn't half bad, and I got some vacuum-wrapped braised chicken thighs as souvenirs (which also were fairly good).

Monday, October 16, 2017

CHINA 2016: DAY 5

18 OCT

There really isn't much to see in Shenyang - being an industrial city, I find that the only redeeming place to visit is the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which was where the actual imperial palace and capital was in the Qing Dynasty until it moved to Beijing.

There are, however, several parks, and we visited one called 棋盘山, literally translating to "chessboard hill".

Within this park was another "park" that features several buildings that were apparently used as filming sites for dramas and movies.

And a large lake that is the center of the park itself.

Autumnal colors had completely set in by then, lining the roads with bursts of oranges, yellows, and reds with specks of green.

There was another hill that you could climb in the park, but we opted out due to the effort required, and there was only one handrail on one side that was covered with ladybirds.

On the way back to the city, we stopped by the Scitech Outlets. The area was experiencing a water shortage and none of the toilets could be flushed. And most of the prices of international brands seemed to be even more expensive than retail.

Dinner was, once again, at 新洪记.