Thank You, Gail & Erryn

Earlier this month, the lovely Gail of oogle makeup organised a contest with the support of Erryn from Erryns Health and Beauty. In the contest, participants were asked to describe (as a comment on Gail’s blog or in a video on Youtube) their signature look and also to share beauty and makeup tips.

I found out about the contest by chance while checking out some Youtube videos and it was already the very last day of the contest. In the final few hours that the contest was still open, I managed to scramble together my comment entry telling my story and giving my take on what my signature look was.

Lo and behold, a week later, I found out that I was the third prize winner! I was gobsmacked. I received the package from Gail late last week and am so pleased with the prizes.

This is what I received:

· A silver flower headband from Topshop
· A star purse-keyring from Topshop
· Bibo Quick Draw lip polish
· Sebastian Trucco Divinyls lip gloss
· Repechage Sunscreen Lip Shield
· Spapedicure Cucumber Heel Therapy
· Lola sample foundations
· Disposable hand cleansers
· Assortment of samples for shampoos, conditioners and face creams
· Toe separators
· Nail files
· 3 sets of false eyelashes

Thank you, Gail and Erryn. I will certainly have lots of fun using the prizes. Above all, thank you for inspiring me to start this blog, something that I had never thought I would do! In fact, what I wrote in the comment has since been expanded and is now my inaugural post in my blog. I hope to be able to share with and learn from the many beauty and makeup bloggers out there. Life for us ladies would be so dull without pretty things and makeup, no?

Changing Trains

Sixteen. That was how old I was when I started with makeup. Late, I know. I studied in a mission school run by Roman Catholic nuns. We wore uniforms to school and our hair always had to be neat. If you had long hair, it had to be tied up in a neat ponytail or be braided. No makeup. No rings. No bracelets (unless it was for religious reasons). No long fingernails either, let alone nail polish! Watches were allowed and if you had a ponytail, you could tie a pretty ribbon to it. But only black, white or blue.

So, I led a pretty simple carefree teenage life, not having to worry about my image in school or keeping up with the Joneses. Nobody got bullied for looking plain because every student in school was plain! It was an all-girls' school, so there were no boys to impress.

At sixteen however, I developed a mild interest in makeup and I remember asking my mother shyly if I could try some makeup. She thought I was still too young for it but after a long pause, she said, “Some colour on your cheeks would be nice.” And so began my journey.

She bought me a blusher. It was a Revlon, I recall. It was a shade that was a cross between purple and maroon. I felt so pretty the first time I used it. Adult, almost. And I used it too for my Confirmation in church. My mother also let me use her lipstick that day. Just some colour on my cheeks and lips so that I wouldn’t look too pale.

I never progressed further than that in the subsequent few years. It’s funny when I think about it now. I never moved on automatically, as one would expect, to eyeshadows! How strange. It was only when I started working that I did get into eyeshadows in a small way. I can’t recall exactly how it began, but I suspect I must have bought a little drugstore eyeshadow duo. It was probably a Maybelline or L'Oréal. Knowing me, it would have been in a neutral shade, something like brown and black, or light brown and dark brown. Over the years, my eyeshadow colours stayed pretty much the same, although sometime in between, I added a peachy coral shade and it became a trio! Woohoo! I somehow used my instinct about which colour went where. I never really read fashion magazines for ideas and back then, unfortunately (or fortunately!), there was no Youtube. The peachy coral shade went on the upper section of the lid, the brown shade on the lower section of the lid close to the lash (almost lining the eye) and the darkest shade on the outer corner of the eye to give depth. Colour for my lips and I was done!

Well, two small (but in no way insignificant) changes to my routine took place some years later. The first was the addition of an eyelash curler and a clear mascara, introduced to me by a friend who also never used much makeup (Birds of a feather flock together?). My straight lashes wouldn’t have stayed curled for very long if not for the clear mascara.

The second was that I started trimming and shaping my eyebrows and I think that was one of the top turning points in the journey of my beauty awakening. I was so amazed at how my face changed by just having my eyebrows shaped!

So, whatever happened to the blusher, I hear you ask?

Abandoned. Forgotten.

I was plagued with acne problems from my late teenage years and I was advised to stop using makeup on my skin. Hence, the absence of blushers and foundations from my makeup routine for many years. The few times when I did bravely try foundations or blushes turned out disastrously wrong - I broke out in a big way. So, except for my eyes and my lips, the rest of my face was a no-go zone.

A year ago today, I embarked on a search for makeup that wouldn’t cause breakouts. I would have been quite happy trudging along with my no-fuss routine, but I was getting married. Oh gosh, I thought, what am I going to do with makeup for my wedding day?!? I couldn't look plain on my big day! Grit my teeth and apply whatever foundation and blusher and then, regret and suffer with clogged pores and acne for months (or even years) after that? No way, José . I couldn’t let that happen to me again. Not again.

I spent weeks researching on the internet and I learnt for the first time in my life about this thing called mineral makeup. Good for sensitive skin, doesn’t clog pores, doesn’t cause acne. I was sceptical. I've heard those great marketing lines many times before, but I had to try something. Upon further research, I discovered that there were so many mineral makeup companies out there. The choice was bewildering!

I narrowed down the list to four or five and I ordered sample foundations from them. However, despite having the samples, I never really got down to seriously trying them out because I was simply paranoid. What if they DID break me out? It was just a few short months to my wedding day. Well, up till today, they are still sitting neglected in my drawer. Oops!

The one brand that stood out in my research was Jane Iredale. I somehow felt confident about this brand. There were many good reviews for her foundations. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any samples. So, I had to get full-sized foundations. It was a gamble, but I had to give it a shot. Desperado!

I did patch tests at first - one day along my jawline, another day on my temple and yet another day on my forehead. No breakouts. A month on, I gathered my courage and did a full-face application and prayed really hard. No breakouts the next day! Or the day after that! I must say that THAT was the most important beauty awakening moment in my life. It dawned on me that there really does exist a foundation that wouldn't break me out. Alleluia!!

Thanks to the Jane Iredale foundation and blusher, I was able to look radiant and naturally made up for my wedding day. Sigh, Jane Iredale, you are my saviour.

There was no stopping me after that. I have since bought many items from the Jane Iredale range of products, from concealers to blushes and even eyeshadows, and eye products from other brands as well. That Jane Iredale discovery woke me up from my makeup slumber. I was stuck in a rut and I didn't realise it. Ever since then, I've become more vain (yikes!) and I'm now always drawn to beauty and makeup counters when I'm out shopping. Drawn to them like a magnet, much to the amusement (though sometimes displeasure) of my hubby. My eyeshadow collection has expanded (modestly) and while I never owned a single mascara (the clear mascara doesn't count, OK?) and eyeliner a year ago, I now have six mascaras and eight eyeliners in my possession! It's quite scary when I put this into perspective..........but I'm having so much fun!

This has so far been my journey in a nutshell (ahem!). I am such a late bloomer in the world of makeup, no thanks to my history with acne. It's been like a journey on an old drabby train that's been chugging along slowly, at times sputtering. Then, suddenly, I've hopped onto a brand spanking new bullet train with lovely colourful seats!

"Where is it taking me?" I wonder excitedly.