Wednesday, 6 August 2014

For the love of beauty

How much effort do women spend on how they look? The answer might just surprise you.

AWARD-winning singer Madonna may be 55, but she still looks stunning with her toned physique and flawless skin. While most of us may not have the same means to achieve her kind of results, we do what we can to put our best face forward.

It all boils down to how much importance one places on looks, and how much effort and money you want to invest in this area. Of course, every individual has different needs, and one has to take into account various factors such as age, budget, work requirement, skin behaviour and different lifestyle, all of which affect the way we manage our skin.

We thought it would be interesting to find out what the beauty habits of Malaysian women (across the age spectrum) are, to better understand their skincare needs. This is by no means comprehensive, but it does give an interesting indication of what the female consumer looks for when she’s shopping at the counters.

Beauty brands probably have conducted similar and more extensive surveys, but here’s what they haven’t been sharing with you!

Women's skincare problems differ according to age, says Clinique senior education manager trainer Christine Leong.
Women’s skincare problems differ according to age, says Clinique senior education manager trainer Christine Leong.

It’s all about looking good

Clinique senior education manager trainer Christine Leong explains that women’s skincare problems differ according to age. Most teens and young adults are concerned about acne, post-acne scars and open pores while women in their 30s worry about the first signs of ageing (fine lines and crow’s feet). Women in their 40s want products that can counter loss of elasticity, wrinkles and dullness.

“Skin also ages differently according to genes, lifestyles and stress levels. Women are a lot more savvy and knowledgeable about skincare and beauty procedures these days as many turn to social media for information. Some are enticed to try out a new brand through word-of-mouth,” says Leong, who also observes that women tend to try out different make-up brands at different stages of their lives.

Trendwise, Leong observes that young adults are more interested in new make-up styles and ways to create that special look for different occasions.

“Women are attracted to new things, which explains the frequent launches of make-up products. Many are also interested in foundations and lipsticks, too. Foundations are a ‘must have’ as they help to cover spots and uneven skin discoloration. Newer foundations are popular as they are formulated with benefits such as oil control and dark spot correction.”

Social media has also enlightened young adults and teenagers on the importance of sun protection creams.

“They know the effects of UV rays are irreversible and understand the importance of using moisturisers with SPF. Many students are beginning to subscribe to sunblock,” she adds.

Motherly care: 'I always remind my daughter Cassandra of the importance of sunblock and encourage her to carry an umbrella when out in the sun,' says Ann Yap Beng Yan.
Motherly care: ‘I always remind my daughter Cassandra of the importance of sunblock and encourage her to carry an umbrella when out in the sun,’ says Ann Yap Beng Yan.

What do women keep in their beauty wardrobe?

Homemaker Ann Yap Beng Yan, 47, lives by the adage that “prevention is better than cure”.

“Using good skincare products, consuming food with antioxidant properties and exercising regularly all go hand-in-hand. I avoid smoking and consuming too much alcohol as they can accelerate the ageing process. To lessen skin pigmentation and dark spots, I use sunblock religiously and clinically recommended skincare brands. I also advice my daughter, Cassandra, 18, to use sunblock and carry an umbrella when she’s under the sun,” Yap says.

Due to her sensitive skin, Yap mainly uses only lipstick and sun protection creams.

“My skin flares up easily. I have to be cautious of certain products that may cause allergic reaction and skin rashes,” she says.

Kindergarten teacher Nicolette Gomes, 28, opts for the “better safe than sorry” approach and relies on a few staple favourites.

“I’m comfortable with my current skincare range and don’t want to risk changing in case of skin irritation,” says Gomes, who has never gone for a facial for fear of damaging her skin.

At work, she avoids using make-up or fragrances as she deals with children, and some have allergy-prone skin.

“Certain chemicals in cosmetics and skincare products may trigger skin inflammation. Besides, colours tend to smudge easily especially since I have to care for young toddlers,” says Gomes.

For college students like Sunandhini Sambath, 17, an effective skincare routine is more important than slapping on too much cosmetics.

“I use a cleanser, moisturiser and toner on a daily basis. It’s essential for me to maintain clean skin to avoid pimples and blemishes. The only time I have any make-up on is when there’s a presentation in college or a social function,” says the first year fashion design and creation undergraduate at Olivier Gerval Fashion and Design Institute in Paris.

She also uses traditional herbal masks and homemade remedies prepared by her mother. “I’ve tried turmeric and yoghurt remedies. My mum maintains her skin well and I’m learning to follow in her footsteps,” says Sunandhini, who avoids heavy cosmetics due to skin sensitivity.

At work, Nicolette Gomes avoids using any fragrances as her job scope involves dealing with children with allergy-prone skin.
At work, Nicolette Gomes avoids using any fragrances as her job scope involves dealing with children with allergy-prone skin.

The importance of having a proper skincare routine

This is especially pertinent to those in the service industry as their job requires them to interact with clients regularly.

Senior public relations consultant Kelly Thean Yen Yee’s job requires her to look professional at meetings. She allocates at least half an hour to put on make-up and jewellery to look her best.

“Taking care of my skin and using make-up to enhance my features can boost confidence at work. Looking professional at events also shows that we respect clients,” opines Thean, 29. After work, she cleanses, tones and moisturises her skin to keep it hydrated.

“A proper skincare regimen reduces the hassle of looking for anti-acne and blemishes products later. Sunblock application is a must to prevent and lessen pigmentation problems.”

Salina Osman, 44, concurs, stating that cosmetics, regular facials and good skincare regimen work wonders to boost a woman’s competence and attractiveness. She feels this is vital in her job as a medical supplier.

“Despite feeling tired after a long day, I still make it a point to cleanse, tone and moisturise my face. As my work requires me to travel outstation, I apply moisturisers with SPF religiously to prevent premature ageing and pigmentation. I prefer water-based skincare products as they are more suitable for my skin and the hot Malaysian weather,” says the mother-of-three teenage children, who also prepares facial scrubs made from tumeric, aloe vera, rice and coconut for that extra glow.

What price, beauty?

Many women are willing to pay big bucks for serums and other skincare products. Thean, for example, doesn’t mind spending up to RM800 sometimes on beauty products.

“I don’t mind spending extra money on quality products. A lot of research goes into determining the percentage of active ingredients needed to produce a well-formulated product,” adds Thean, who also occasionally spends up to RM200 for facials, manicure and pedicure.

Salina allocates between RM200 and RM300 for beauty purchases. According to her, the price is not consequential as long as they suit her skin.

“An expensive skincare range doesn’t necessarily guarantee better results. It really depends on how the particular skincare and beauty products respond to your skin. Consumers should be wary of marketing gimmicks and the product content, for instance, synthetic ingredients or fragrances. Some chemicals and additives can cause long-term damage to the skin.

“There are many homegrown skincare and beauty labels that are specially formulated for Asian skin. These products work better for the Malaysian climate and may cost less,” adds Salina, who also uses homemade facial scrubs to keep her skin youthful.

Yap sets a budget of RM500 to purchase her necessities such as toner, cleanser, moisturiser and sunblock.

“While some say price doesn’t equate the effectiveness of a product, I’d rather purchase a prescriptive product than something inferior that might cause skin problems,” she quips.

For Gomes, it’s nothing more than RM200 for beauty products whereby a large portion is channelled towards cosmetics such as eyeshadow, mascara, blusher and eye liner.

“I like to try out new make-up colours, especially eyeshadow palettes. I rarely use lipstick, so I try to add more colour to my cheeks with a blusher and lengthen my eyelashes with several coats of mascara,” Gomes says.

Kelly Thean Yen Yee has an extensive beauty wardrobe (background) and relies on her 12 must-have make-up items in her vanity pouch.
Kelly Thean Yen Yee has an extensive beauty wardrobe (background) and relies on her 12 must-have make-up items in her vanity pouch.

What’s in your vanity bag?

To have flawless looking skin, Thean relies on her 12 “must-have” make-up items in her vanity pouch. These include BB cream, finishing powder, eyeshadow, mascara, eye liner and lip balm.

“These items are essential to me, so that I look fresh throughout the day and night. I carry it everywhere, from my bedroom to the boardroom!” she explains.

Salina feels it’s vital to ensure her skin looks good at all times because of her job. Her cosmetics pouch comprises a toner spray, lipstick, mascara and loose powder.

“I only carry essentials which I use to touch up my make-up,” she says.

Gomes’ make-up bag contains foundation, eyeliner, mascara and blusher.

“I don’t use much make-up so these items are more than sufficient. If I’m having a drink with my friends at a mamak stall, I don’t wear any make-up. But if I’m at a special event, I put some on. I only bring out my cosmetics bag occasionally .”

What do women look out for?

Gomes usually turns to social media websites and magazines to obtain make-up tips.

“For beauty tips and video tutorials, I usually turn to YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest.”

Thean prefers online lifestyle portals and YouTube videos for tips on haircare and latest make-up application techniques. Magazines, beauty blogs and newspapers help her to keep up with new skincare brands, fashion and make-up trends for the season, too.

“I pay attention to different make-up techniques. It’s really awesome how some girls seem so professional with their skills,” concludes Thean.



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