Skincare Review: Shiseido New White Lucent Series

For those of you blessed with flawless skin… congratulations. You are either at the good end of the genes pool, or you are a rich taitai who can afford thousand-dollar products and cosmetic surgery procedures to keep you youthful-looking even at 50. You’ll probably never understand how the rest of the world with bad skin feels like:  the frustration of trying so many different products but finding that nothing works, the ‘home’ remedies, the constant comparing with relatives/friends with clean, fair skin…..well, boom. Life’s unfair.

I wasn’t blessed with great genes. Ever since my teens, I’ve had an oily T-zone coupled with dry skin. Zits were (and still are) my best friends – through high school, college, and even the working world. They’ve definitely stuck around longer than some of my so called ‘friends’. But coming from a middle class family, I could never afford expensive, branded skincare products with all the infused Pitera and blablabla benefits… so I’ve always stuck with your regular, run-of-the-mill brands selling for RM20 at your local Tesco.

Recently, I went for a beauty event and they gave me a buttload of skincare kits. Expensive skincare kits. I know they’re probably not pricey to a rich taitai, but anything above RM500 a set is definitely beyond my meagre writer’s salary.

My first set was from Shiseido, a Japanese company that is considered one of the oldest in the world (started in 1872). The trial kit was for their New White Lucent, a recently launched range that promotes keeping a youthful appearance by lightening skin discoloration from sun exposure, brightening skin tone and more. It’s one of their best selling products in Asia since Asians are all crazy about having fair skin (I like my tan though). Apparently they don’t have actual bleaching agents (some products use that for the so-called ‘whitening’ effect: Asian girls, please check your products and stop obsessing over fair skin, as long as your skin is healthy and blemish-free then be happy goddamnit) so it’s safe to use.

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Initially I was skeptical since I’ve tried so much sht and none of it works. The zits, especially, will be back like bad news when my period nears every month, no matter what I slap on my face or how I try to avoid oily fried food.

But since I had to write an article for work, I had to try this out for a whole week, everyday, morning and night. In the set was a facial wash(not pictured), a Luminizing Infuser (Softener), Microtargeting Spot Corrector(Serum) and Luminizing Surge (Emulsion). There was also an Ultimune Concentrate. The kit is small, but the actual-sized ones will cost well over RM1000+ in total. Considering that it can last for three months, it’s about RM350 month, but I’m perpetually broke so RM350 is what I usually spend for like a year of skincare lol.

But the results were clear (pun intended). Just a week later, my skin felt better. Of course it’s not some miracle stuff or whatnot, and I still had zits and patches of irritated skin, but it was also loads better. Even the pimples seemed less inflamed and smaller… the best part is right after putting all the products on the skin, it feels moisturized and bouncy. If I put it before bedtime and sleep in an air conditioned room, it still feels fresh in the morning.

The wash is a bit drying but putting the infuser and concentrate directly after moisturises the skin. Absorption is really fast and it goes in within a couple of seconds. All of the stuff smells really good too, since they use natural botanic ingredients like sakura extract, fruits and plants.

Verdict

I still have a couple of red spots here and there, but it’s way better after I used the set. Usually around this time (which is just before Aunt Flo comes to visit), I will look absolutely horrible and ergo, feel terrible and prone to snapping anyone’s head off if they so much as comment on my face. I’m sure if I continue using it the effect will be even more pronounced, but we shall see.. my skin has a habit of building resistance against products. I’d buy a wash that is really good and six months down the road it has no effect at all and my zits are back to square one.

Now I know why some rich ladies have such good skin. I mean, if I can afford all these treatments and good products, I’d have flawless skin too. I don’t have the exact RM prices, but a check online : Luminiser Infuser (RM200), Spot Corrector (RM520), Luminizing Surge (RM240) and Ultimune Concentrate (RM268). So total: RM1100++.

On usual days, I spend RM300 bucks on skincare for six months by spacing it out – because to me, its not a priority and I have phone/car loans/bills/insurance to pay. But now that I’m in my mid 20s where skin goes downhill fast, perhaps I should consider this an investment.

Hm. Food for thought.

100 Years of Americana Tattoos: An Evolution of Art and the Body

Digressing a little from my usual travel and food entries… I thought this video on 100 Years of Americana Tattoo is too beautiful not to share. 🙂 All the designs are amazing, and you can see how the styles have evolved over the last century. My favourites are the black rose design inspired by Charlie Wagner (1910s),  Guy Aitchinson’s Lotus (1990s) and Nikko Hurtado’s realistic and colourful cat portrait (2010s).

This lady is really brave. One tattoo for me was painful enough, but 11 in a week? 

People with body art often have to face social stigma, especially in Asian societies. My parents are both quite traditional and tend to have set ‘perceptions’ about people and things. ‘If you’re tatted, you’re bad – I don’t need to interact with you to know that.’ To them, getting a tattoo was what gangsters did, otherwise, why would you mutilate a perfectly good body with ‘art’?

So imagine how much of a fit they flew into when I got tatted for my 25th birthday.
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Wasn’t even a big one. lol. 

I don’t blame them. They grew up in a society where tattoos were not the norm. I don’t expect them to understand stuff about ‘expressing one’s self through art’. To me, I wanted to get a tattoo as a way to take control of my own body and my life. It was symbolism: of breaking free from the ‘good daughter mold’. I was always too afraid of what my family thought of me that it held me back from doing the things that I wanted to.

They’re cool now though.

Coz they see that it’s still me.

 

“I think it’s great that we can use our body as a canvas. If your body is a temple, then you should be able to decorate it the way you want, right?” – Casey Lubin 

The Asian Obsession with Fair Skin: Why I Gave Up Caring

“Don’t get too black in Phuket, okay?” my mum cautioned before I left home this morning.

She meant getting tanned; but in Cantonese, there’s no such term when it comes to describing skin tones. You’re either ‘white’ (bak) or ‘black’ (hak), never in between.

 

Like many East Asians, I come from a culture that is obsessed with fair skin. Most Asian societies were (and some still are) agro-based communities. Having to work in the fields meant that peasants often had dark skin, while the rich and affluent who stayed indoors were usually fair-skinned.

Even in modern society, when we’ve (supposedly) done away with these stereotypes, we’re still bombarded with images that tell us fair = good, dark = bad. When I visited Hanoi in Vietnam, the girls there wore sunglasses, face masks, long-sleeved hoodies and long trousers to protect themselves from the sun. Some of my own friends here in KL won’t leave the house without an umbrella… not coz it’s going to rain, but because they don’t want to get tanned. Which is all fine, but it gets way over (like they’d whip out an umbrella for a 30second walk across the street). Skin whitening products are one of the best selling beauty items in Asia.

But why are we so obsessed with white skin? Social classes based on occupation and connotations of dark skin with hard labour should not exist in the modern world. I guess centuries of perceptions and culture are hard to change. **Meanwhile in Western countries, people are getting into tanning beds and baking themselves in the sun to achieve that dark orange look lol.

I’m darker-skinned than my Malaysian-Chinese friends. My mum’s pretty fair, but my dad and bro are both tanned. I played basketball in high school, and some people around me would go on and on about how I was going to ruin my complexion, that it’s going to make me permanently ‘black’, that guys wouldn’t like me, etc. And my young impressionable mind was, well, impressionable. I became ashamed of my dark skin. I tried whitening facial washes in an effort to lighten my skin tone. (Needless to say, they don’t do shit.)

And then I grew up, joined the working world, experienced stuff, and found that hey – it’s too tiring to follow what other’s think I should look like. Life is too short to please anyone other than yourself.

These days, I love my tanned skin. I like to describe it as honey orange, because that’s what it looks like to me. I learnt to embrace what was given to me by my parents and nature. It’s not just my skin, but everything about myself.

So yeah. I’m not your typical fair-skinned, skinny Asian beauty. I’m busty, I have a broad face, I have a button nose, I have small chinky eyes and I wear glasses and It doesn’t matter. Life is not about looking pretty for societal standards. 

***(Although, I have to admit that life can sometimes be easier for conventionally ‘pretty’ people. Well, good for them – but I don’t want to change myself to fit into that…just because.)