#2098 | Attack the ropes

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Attack the ropes, people, the exact words I’m hearing as I pen this blogpost. Here I am sitting at 2:22am at my dining table, in front of the new pot plant my mum bought, in between items on my to-do list. There’s the new Netflix original, GLOW, playing in the background. So far it’s pretty good, and I do want to watch it, but at this point in my life, the only way I can justify watching new television is really by doubling up the time by also doing other stuff, like my makeup, skincare, hair masks, and light work, the kind that you do when you’re really tired.

Right now at the top of my agenda is the acknowledgements page. The thank you speech, the grand bow out that only my supervisor and two other people will read, the thing that is small but seems significant regardless. I wrote: What a journey, and then stopped. There seem to be no words. You would think that after a two year wrestle with ideas and words there would be no lack of them to pad out the end, but you would think wrong.

Again, it is 2:22am. Actually, now it’s 2:28. I’m thinking of all the things I want to do with my life and also thinking of my submission and also thinking of sleep. I’m still awake because I spent the last two hours vegetating and only realised that I was zoning out because my cat jumped up and sat on my lap. I was thinking of shoelaces, the one thing that realises and seems determined to publicly prove that I’m still half kid and not nearly ready to be an adult. I prefer zips because they are straightforward. Also on my mind was a certain night in LA where I discovered anew the joys of supermarket peanut butter. I did a hair mask tonight also, so I guess I was not completely useless.

I miss reading, but I’ve been a bit too tired to read lately. This is not a complaint, it’s just a kind of.. realisation. There is a point where you get so tired you brain stutters, and you can feel it constantly doing double takes. At that point words kind of glaze over. I read Hunger a couple of weeks ago and followed the news that surrounded it quite closely. Im still in the middle of the new Joyce Carol Oates book that is a monster of a book, mad long, heavy as a brick, and beautiful but also occasionally gratuitous. I guess thats kind of why I’ve been watching more TV, it just seems more forgiving right now. I finished season two of the Flash which is now on Netflix and i felt like Grant Gustin and I were meant to be, also, streamed Okja, and had mixed feelings about it. Its possibly because I have been studying the arc and technicalities of scriptwriting recently that I find myself mega critical of everything I see onscreen, but then I also wrestle with the knowledge that the director was trying to do something good. How far do good intentions go to cover up a messy script? I mean, it worked with Wonder Woman. I don’t have an answer, I was just throwing a question out into the great blue.

Alright. It’s 2:41 now. That’s nineteen minutes of rambling you just read. Actually less, I got distracted in the middle and watched a bit of the GLOW episode playing, and then went to get some water, and pet my cat, etcetera. Time to sleep. It’s funny because today I said I would turn in early.

x
Jem

#2097 | Skincare Sundays: The Multitasking Masking Millennial

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Hey guys,

So, as far as superhero names go, I feel I did quite okay with the multitasking masking millennial? We’ll see. But yes, back again with skincare sundays, and addressing a question that I asked a lot when I was first getting into the masking game (very late, compared to my peers): How do you find the damned time?!

The rise of platforms like Snapchat and Instagram Stories have led me to realise just how late i was, getting into masking. Flipping through my nightly updates from friends made me realise that my girlfriends were always lying around with sheet masks or cream masks in the evenings, while I still struggled to remember to drink eight glasses of water a day. I solved the water consumption bit by downloading an app on my phone that rewarded me emotionally everytime I drank a glass of water by making this animated plant grow up (it’s called Plant Nanny, this app), but there is no app to my knowledge that will tell me to mask regularly.

Somehow, I found it hard to dedicate twenty minutes of my day to masking, especially when I’m always on the go.. But I knew it was important, especially given my lifestyle habits of travelling, working late, etcetera, so after months of experimenting, here’s what I came up with:

Multitasking and Masking for the Modern Millenial

(As you can tell, I’m pretty pleased with all my alliteration going on..)

So firstly, I don’t know how you guys feel about sheet masks, but I’m pretty on the fence about them. I dont mind them that much, but I do mind how they restrict my movement, and how I basically have to lie there while it’s on my face or risk it falling off if I run around doing things. As you can tell, I’m not really the kind of person who can sit still, and I really feel a bit panicky if I’m not doing something I can objectively classify as productive. This is why the discovery of gel, cream, and other types of application based masks has definitively changed my life. It’s just so much more.. mobile.

Secondly, over the past year, I came up with some ways in which I can integrate masking into my weekly routine, so that I can have nice skin without disrupting my normal routines that much. Heh. Here we go:

1. Do a clarifying morning mask over the weekends when you’re getting ready for your day.

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Realistically you cannot do this on a weekday because you will be rushing to work, ok? I used to work advertising in an office job, I remember how it goes. So do this on a weekend, when your mornings are significantly more elastic, time wise. You cannot do exfoliating /clarifying masks too often anyway, it will irritate your skin, so once or twice a week is good and I usually do it over the weekends anyway.

Using a mask that’s more on the clarifying/polishing/exfoliating side in the mornings is great because you accumulate a lot of dead skin on your face overnight. This is why they always say you should wash your face properly in the mornings (besides you know, needing the cold water splash to wake up). Here I’m using a chinese ginseng and rice clarifying polishing face mask from The Body Shop’s Expert Facial Mask range. All those words basically mean one thing: it’s an exfoliating mask. I do it while setting my hair (people with fine hair, do you feel me? Flat fringe woes are a real thing), brushing my teeth, etcetera. Then I wash it off and put on a day moisturiser, something light and hydration-focused, before sunscreen.

I find that this makes the skin tone less dull, instantly, and over prolonged use, contributes to that coveted skin glow that all those television people go on and on about. It’s also a really great way of making you feel like a winner early in the morning already, so no matter what happens during the day, you’re pretty much set! 😀

2. If you’re in the habit of following a TV series, schedule in a masking session the day each new weekly episode drops.

Unless you’re bingeing on netflix, in which case theres no weekly schedule.. but you can still mask anyway. The way I see it is, youre going to be sitting in one spot for half hour to full hour blocks anyway, watching your show. WHY NOT BE BEAUTIFUL AT THE SAME TIME? Hahahaha.

Because I love the chinese ginseng mask so much, I use that quite frequently when I’m watching shows. The texture of this particular mask means that it wont be likely to drip, unlike sheet masks which usually leak serum, and so it’s quite a convenient wash-off mask to use.

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(Right now I’m watching Season two of The Flash, which just dropped on Netflix. HBU?

Please remember to follow up any exfoliating or clay mask with a hydrating moisturiser. Or if you’re binge watching something, follow up with a hydrating mask, because why not? The general consensus, really, is that you can do a hydrating mask every day if you’d like. But more intense or targeted masks, only once or twice a week, to reduce the risk of skin irritation.

3. Do a moisturising mask before bed – while you do your nightly reading.

As you might remember from a few posts back, I am a huge proponent of committing to a nightly no-electronics, hour long reading session before bed (Five ways to read more daily / jemmawei.com). Because nourishing the mind is important, okay?

But while you nourish the mind, might as well nourish your face at the same time. I like using a honey mask in the evenings, because you’re likely to do this after you shower, and I find that the damp skin + honey combo always makes the honey mask more effective. I’m using the honey mask from the same The Body Shop Expert Facial Mask range, it’s called the Ethopian Honey Deep Nourishing mask. It’s also the same one I mentioned in the previous Skincare Sundays blogpost, and I did promise to talk about it more, so here I am!

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I find that honey based masks are particularly good if you’ve had a gruelling few days. I like using it after swimming or diving trips because honey is the stuff of the gods and actually reduces inflammation (in addition to fixing your sore throats, ulcers, so on and so forth..). And plus, it’s mega hydrating and naturally anti bacterial, so you can still use it even if you’ve had a breakout. It is mega, mega decadent.

Protip: in addition to using it on damp skin, also warm it up in your palms first before applying it to your face. That way, the honey melts a bit and the mask is more effective. This is true of all honey masks, not just the one from The Body Shop, so please take note!

4. Do a mask while doing desk-bound work at home.

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Maskin while marking..

This picture is from submissions period last semester, when I was teaching a couple of classes at NTU. Marking season is intense, any tutor will tell you that, and since I was gonna be stuck in one spot all weekend (MY BIRTHDAY WEEKEND BY THE WAY) marking and marking and marking, I figured I better get something out of it. I tell you, doing a mask while working is so gratifying, because you really feel like youre being doubly productive. When I posted this photo to Facebook, it was like an epiphany for a lot of people. I got so many messages from friends saying that they are SO going to do this now whenever they do work late at night or at home. This is half sad because it just shows how we all really live in a society where we cannot stop working, but it is also half optimistic, cos now they all will have good skin.

Anyway! I usually work out of my office at The Hive, where masking is impossible unless i want a reputation as a madwoman, but I still do work at home on occasion. Of late, I’ll do work at home while accompanying my sister who’s staying up late studying for her A levels, and we will both do masks together. Very satisfying!

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This Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow mask is hands down my favourite mask from The Body Shop Expert Facial Mask range. My baby sister summed it up best: we did the mask together for the first time last year, and when she washed it off, she gasped and said: oh my gosh, I’m beautiful!

Gotta give it to that girl, she’s all about the self confidence. Love it. But yes, my sisters and I do this mask together often, it’s our favourite because of how visibly and tangibly smooth your skin is after. With that said..

5. Do a mask together with your friends/family

Masking is just so much more fun when you do it with other people. Maybe it’s because I grew up with two sisters, but we love doing girly stuff together like painting our nails, doing face masks, and talking about how dumb boys are. The motivation to get off your ass and do a mask is just so much more compelling when you have someone to do it with!

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Don’t know if you guys remember, but I used to snapchat my masking routines with my sisters every freaking sunday. This was all using the different masks from The Body Shop Expert Facial Mask range, which, full disclosure, I got as a media gift. But I love it so much, and I checked the prices online and they seem really reasonable for such great masks! This charcoal one, for example, is $32.90, and my sisters and I have been using it on and off for like, six months. Because it’s an applicator mask, you can decide how much you wanna use on your face (and even if you just wanna use it on a particular problem area and not your whole face!) and so it’s easy to ration out the mask, as opposed to if you use a sheet mask cos once you use it it’s basically done.

6. Do a mask while you do your chores.

Same concept as number 4. masking while working. But while you iron your laundry or fold your clothes, why not do a mask? I did a #jemmainajiffy video on this while back, and I just realised that the masks used in that video were also masks from this range (which I guess goes to show how much I like them), so I’m going to just include that here.

7. Lastly, do a multi-mask when you wanna treat yoself

Some days you just wanna have a bit of self-pampering, okay? Another advantage of applicator style masks is that you can put more than one mask on your face, depending on what you need. This is great for people with combi skin, because sometimes the different parts of your face just need different kinds of targeted treatments. Here I’m doing something recommended by The Body Shop team, called the replenish and recharge facial for sleepy and stressed skin, which sounds exactly like my entire existence.

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Basically, it’s the:

– Amazonian Acai Energising Radiance Mask on my forehead and nose
– Ethiopian Honey Mask on my cheeks
– British Rose Plumping mask on my chin and neck

And I while I wait the fifteen to twenty minutes for my skin to soak that all in, I listen to music and/or take a power nap on my couch. Protip: keep your hair out of your face while doing this with a cute headband, because #photoOp. It really is the most luxurious thing, taking a nap. Such a rarity as adulthood sets in.

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And tada! That’s it. Not bad right? Because of all these multi-tasking habits I’ve accumulated, I find that I’ve really started masking significantly more over the past year. And a lot of this is because of the mask set from The Body Shop lah, honestly, before I discovered it I was soooo lazy to mask! But I guess there’s just a lot of fun involved in picking a mask and doing it with my sisters over the weekends or in the evenings, and I really do like the masks, the Charcoal and Ginseng ones in particular.

I think getting into the habit of masking also falls in line with the larger theme of learning to take care of yourself as you get older. Mentally, it makes me feel more.. adult, if that makes sense. I feel more responsible for my own skin and therefore life, and I feel as though I’ve really taken ownership over my complexion. Does it work? You tell me. Here is a photo of me post-masking, with completely no make up and unedited except for color hor.

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I mean, I feel pretty happy with where my skin is at right now. I should probably clarify also that I dont really go for facials, I think I go like max once a year and sometimes not even then. Mostly when I go not cos I really wanna do something to my skin, but cos I’m stressed and feel like I just need to be TREATED RIGHT. Haha. I feel like if you have a good and regular home skincare routine, you don’t need to go for a facial unless you want something a little more intensive done, like a laser facial to get rid of pigmentation or the kind of facial to target acne scars. But for normal cleansing and moisturising, I feel like it’s more economical to make it a habit to just upkeep your skin regularly, and it’s worked for me so far.

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As mentioned earlier, all the masks I highlighted in this post are from The Body Shop, this is their Expert Facial Mask Range that you can purchase individually instores or online. Having used it for a pretty long time now, like almost a year, I think I’m being pretty objective when I say that it’s really worth the money and is a fantastic product! It’s also super affordable compared to other products in this genre, and I’m personally a fan 🙂

Alright, what a long post! Ciao, then, till next time. Happy masking!

x
Jem

#2096 | Tales from Tokyo: Snack city

Heya guys,

Just a log of the different things I snacked on in Tokyo. Seriously that place is just full of wonder! You can also read my post on weird things I consumed in Tokyo’s vending machine/conveneince stores here.
Remember – the trick to trying a lot of different things is to SHARE EVERYTHING! Otherwise you’ll be full by 1pm and that’s it for the day.

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These mozzarella cheese sticks from Lotteria are the real MVP. They’re only like a dollar each or something, I cant remember, and come in a pair. Super yummy if you’re a cheese fan. Just look at that cheese pull! Mmmmmm.

You have to specifically ask for the cheese sticks. Because if you randomly point at anything that LOOKS like a cheese stick, you might end up with a chicken nugget instead, which to be fair, is pretty damned good too…

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Chicken nugget? Chicken finger? I dunno what this is. But it’s really amazing. Japanese nuggets are really better – though I’d always though Lotteria was a korean chain, thanks to Lotte world in Seoul. It was only when I googled it that I realised it’s actually originated from Shinjuku?? And even funnier – the wikipedia page throws a heckload of shade on McDonalds because it says that Lotteria invented the shrimp burger which MCD COPIED. HAHAHAH. Hilarious.

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Pablo’s cheese tarts! The original cheese tarts I think. Its my fourth time in Japan but first time trying the tarts because the queues are always so damned long. But for some reason it was super empty this time – maybe it was the hour that i went? The Pablo cafe in the tiny streets of Harajuku is a really pretty one too, all wood and natural light. But we’re not here to talk about interior design.

The three tarts I tried were matcha, original, and chocolate. Matcha was the best of the lot, really impressive although I’m not the hugest matcha fan! Original wasn’t too bad too. Chocolate was just.. chocolatey.

And don’t bother with the shakes. This is banana chocolate which I would NEVER order on my own cos it sounds way sweet, but my sister bought it and immediately regretted it. So super sweet.

I tried the Hokkaido BAKE cheese tarts in Tokyo too, out of this stand at the Shinjuku train station, but didn’t take a picture of it. Not bad! But wouldnt queue an hour for it, thats a bit nuts i think.

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I don’t think this is really considered a snack but Sushizanmai is open 24 hours and there is one smack in the middle of Shibuya! So if you have a midnight sushi craving…

When in Sushizanmai, order the Chutoro. Don’t ask, just do it. That shit it amazing. It melts in your mouth like butter. I got the tuna set (five types of tuna) and although everything was good, I actually whimpered when I tried the Chutoro. Then I went back and ordered another four more because I couldn’t get over it. SO AMAZING. SO AMAZING!!!!

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This is the 100YEN egg stick that I love to get form Tsukiji market! You can get it near the entrance of the market, and you’ll know which it is cos its at the corner of a line of shops and theres a whole set up where they’re flipping eggs in front of you.

This is the sushi egg that you get, tamago, but on a stick. You can get it plain or with toppings, but I always get it plain because it’s fantastic just the way it is!

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Quite like this coffee. It’s from this little stand in Shinjuku, part of the BEAMS TOKYO department store. Their specialised coffee sells out pretty quick though, but after that sells out you can still get regular coffee.

Doesn’t hurt that the packaging is so pretty!

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I also always try the seasonal starbucks flavours whenever I’m in Japan because somehow they always get all the cool flavours that we don’t get anywhere else. Here’s the cherry pie frap – it was pretty yum, especially if you like cherry. It comes with this crusty top as well. But the cream tea frap (which isn’t a japan exclusive) was better – just more caffeine, I guess. I’m still a coffee girl at the end of the day so my favourite thing to get at Starbucks is the cold brew. It follows that all flavoured drinks gain favour with me if I can taste the coffee in it. x

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And obviously, onigiri. I love all Japanese onigiris cos the rice they use is so damned fresh and yum! Love. Tuna is still my favourite because I’m super basic but other than that I quite like the fried rice variant and the ones with eggs in the middle heh.

Ok thats it for now. More to come!

x
Jem

#2095 | June

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I cannot believe half the year has gone by already.

June is traditionally peak season for commercial work, so try as I did to take on less projects in favour of my thesis writing, still I found myself straddling the two. And it seems the entire world decided to get married in June. And so June was essentially: camera work, paper work, research, champagne, amazement. Not a bad way to live, though I do miss this little thing called sleep.. No, I kid. June has been a happy month thus far, a lot of wonder, a lot of challenges and hard work, and a whole lot of celebration and breakthroughs. And for that I am thankful.

x
Jem

#2094 | Skincare Sundays – How to survive a long haul flight without incurring shitty skin

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Hello hello,

Back again with Skincare Sundays. Shane and I were at dinner with another couple friend of ours who are soon to be married, and they were telling us about their honeymoon plans. Somehow the conversation landed gently on the topic of skincare w.r.t. flying – and after listening to me go on about hydration for about ten minutes, our friends politely suggested that i blog about it instead. So here I am.

I haven’t been flying as much this year because, yknw, #thesis, but last year I was in and out of the country every month. And lemme tell you! My skin took a hit for sure. Particularly irritating to me was the flight there – somehow it’s always worse than the one back when it comes to skin related issues (Vice versa for jet lag though). But any flight above six hours and I find myself landing in my new destination with skin that seems determined to exact revenge for the gruelling flight by making me look dull the next couple days or so. More often than not, this comes in the form of patchy dry skin, and red bumps – not exactly pimples, but just bumps on my skin. Irritating? You bet.

In hindsight, this shouldnt have come as a surprise. Flight air is notoriously drying, especially since the air is pressurised, recycled, and very low humidity. The air is also dirty – I mean, cmon. All the bacteria everywhere! All this leads to inflamed and stressed skin. Also, the dry air makes your skin oily cos you overproduce oil to compensate, and then thats part of how you get travel pimples and what not. Anyway, enough was enough. In the style of Titus Andromedon, I was done: you gotta go, girl!

So equal parts neurotic and equal parts in the spirit of sharing, but here I am writing my post on what I (try to) keep to nowadays with regards to long haul flights..

Pre-flight


Here’s things to do a day before your flight:

Eat food low in salt
. Sodium dehydrates you and the effects are worse when youre on a plane. So just cook something simple that isn’t too salty or greasy, or keep that in mind while ordering if youre eating out.

Do a hydrating mask the night before. I actually personally like to do a clay and then hydrating mask because I feel like before travel, you gotta pull out all the stops. Right now (and for the past year) I’ve been using the Himalayan Charcoal mask and the Ethiopian Honey deep nourishing mask from The Body Shop’s at home facial experience set. These are super masks for when you’re at home, but I wouldnt bring them on a flight because the clay would be a pain to wash off mid flight, and I also dont want to risk the honey mask spilling. Better to use it at home. But this is a really good mask set, so I’ll talk about it more next time.

Make sure you drink the necessary 8 cups of water the day before. Water may not have an immediately visible correlation to how your skin looks, but it is required for your skin cells to be healthy. So it’s kind of like a extra water doesnt help but not enough water will be extremely detrimental kind of situation. Plus it’s not just the water you drink right before you go on the flight, it’s the amount you drink over roughly the 24 hours before you board that your body holds.


Here’s what to do right before you leave for the airport:

Shower at home, but wash your face with a gentle cleanser, preferably an oil one. I’m using the Shu Umeura yellow one that I bought last year because Roz swears by it (as do all the beauty gurus in the industry) but it is so expensive (to me) that it’s really more a luxury than anything. My friend told me that MUJI does an oil cleanser that is VERY good and also only about 15 dollars? I havent personally tried this, but I thought I should put it out there for those of you who do want to try.

If youre the type to wear make up to the airport like me, then bring make up removing wipes. Biore and Skin Food both do very good make up removing wipes, but for the last two months I havent been able to find the Skin Food ones, I think they discontinued it 🙁 The Biore one is fantastic also either way, just slightly pricier – get it stocked up in Japan if youre ever there cos its half the price.

Apply a hydrating serum and sunscreen before leaving the house. Don’t forget the sunscreen! UV damage is worse when youre on the plane for obvious reasons, but somehow people always still forget to SPF when they’re flying.

Bring an empty water bottle. You cant bring water through the gates but if you fill it up after check in and before you board, that’s fine. This is especially useful because they mostly serve water in those dinky little cups on airlines which hardly gives you enough water, and you might be embarrassed / it might be too troublesome to keep asking for more…

In-flight


Here’s what to do on the plane:

I hope you have a travel sized set of your favourite skincare items because you’re gonna need them! The good news is, most moisturisers do come in containers that are less than 100ml because lets face it, skincare is expensive. When travelling, make sure to pack the more intensive moisturisers (if you use more than one kind) because travel in general is very harsh on the skin.

My personal favourite plane mask (and off-plane too, but it’s just sooooo good for flights) is the laneige water sleeping mask, which is gel based and very soothing to the skin. I think of it as a lazy mask because you can slap it on and just go to sleep without having to worry about scraping it off later – sheet masks when left on too long can be dehydrating to your skin, something that really messes my head up everytime i hear it.

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But if you’re the type to keep your carry on bag really small, I’d suggest asking for sample sets from the Laneige staff when you purchase normal products in store. I actually started off using the Goodnight with Laneige sample set on flights which I got as part of a gift, but then my girlfriend took it cos she tried it and loved it -.- HAHA. So now I bring the entire tub on flights. But yes, this is really useful cos its tiny and also cos you can put both the sleeping mask and lip mask!

I checked with the Laneige brand people, and they say that the most failsafe way of getting the Goodnight with Laneige sample set is to get the actual items on their Lazada online store, and they will usually throw in the Goodnight with Laneige miniatures too. I’ve also ever gotten it as part of a store-bought package before, but come to think of it that might have been because they were having some promotion. So if you want free samples from Laneige, their online store is generally the way to go.

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It comes with the lip sleeping mask as well, which is a crowd favourite. So good – I mix it in with my lipsticks sometimes.

I would also top up my moisturiser at least twice on the flight, because plane air is very dry. Please also frequently drink water – and theoretically if you stay away from coffee or the free alcohol they serve, you’ll find that your skin won’t take such a hit. I say theoretically because I have never managed to stay away from either. LOL.

Post-flight


Here’s what to do when you get off the plane:

Your face will probably be a bit shiny from the leftover residue of your mask, but there will also be a build up of dry/dead skin, so when you get to your accommodation, use a gentle exfoliating scrub to wash your face. I personally love the Black Sugar Mask from Skin Food – I bought it in Korea for $7, but it costs twice that in Singapore, so stock up if you ever head to Korea. It’s so gentle and your skin feels great after! I use this after flights, and also once a week when I’m home in Singapore.

The first night you’re in your new destination, MOISTURISE INTENSELY, as you want your skin to adapt smoothly to the new climate and you don’t want it to go into shock because when it goes into shock all sorts of nasty things happen. If you already bring the Laneige mask on board like I do, then you can just continue to use it throughout the trip, and your skin will be the better for it.

And don’t forget to body-moisturiser it up as well! I use the Nivea body moisturiser cos thats what I’ve been using since I was a kid and it’s the perfect mix of affordable and intense. Haha.

I think that’s basically it. Everything else is left to fire, flood, will of God. Those things you can’t control. But the ones you can, you must. We all must do only what we can.

Happy flying, y’all.

x
Jem