Character & Soul, Deborah Tan, Entrepreneurship, Money, Opinions, Self-Improvement

I’m Sorry! But I WANT TO WORK For My Money! – Deborah Tan

Deborah Tan does not agree with ads that promise you a 5-figure salary while working from home selling “nothing”.

Busy as a bee but happy!

Busy as a bee but happy!

I’m sure you’ve seen the ads on Facebook. Ads that go, and I quote them verbatim: “Ever thought it is possible you can make money online without selling anything?”; “Learn how a struggling Singaporean employee makes $20k/month from home in his spare time”; and, “Thousands of people are quitting their jobs and joining our popular online work program.”

Were you tempted to find out more? At the very least, I’m sure you went, “What?!? For real?” For me, after the curiosity, I just went, “Sorry. Not for me.”

Perhaps, in 10 years’ time, all the people who have signed up to these programs would look at me and laugh at me for being a cynical fool. Perhaps, in 10 years’ time, I will still be slogging my ass off working as a freelance writer. Perhaps, in 10 years’ time, I will be the poorest person in Singapore … but, I will not regret not signing up for these “courses”, “seminars” and “workshops”.

Why?

1. If it sounds too good to be true …
… it probably is.  Out of curiosity, I clicked on one of these Facebook ads just to check out their website to see if I can find more information about these programs. I was brought to a page asking me to enter my email address. No. Just no. You see, if I wanted to sign up for an MBA program, the school’s website will tell me details about the coursework, tell me what I can expect, etc. But this website doesn’t want to tell me anything until I give them my contact detail. Are you selling my email address? Are you just another layer in a massive multilevel marketing scheme in the business of collecting email addresses? WHAT ARE YOU? WHY DON’T YOU WANT TO TELL ME MORE UPFRONT?

2. There is no shame in work
What I hate most about these ads is this picture they paint: that you can just do jack-shit, just click on your mouse all day long … and wait for money to roll in. If you set up a hawker stall and sell prawn mee, you know that $5 you earn comes from something tangible. If you set up an ecommerce website selling headphones, you know what exactly is earning you a living. For me, my product is Material World, a content agency and a website. Every piece of writing I put out for my clients, I know how I’m being paid. I am proud of my work and I really don’t agree with this whole “sell nothing, do very little” way of making money.

3. There is an inherent integrity problem
A few days ago, a friend posted up on Facebook how his picture has been used by one of these work-from-home programs for its Facebook ad. The picture of him standing next to a car is a great image of a young Singaporean who has achieved the trappings of success. Hey! But guess what? He didn’t sign up for this program. They had simply pluck his picture from somewhere and used it without his permission! This incident further cemented my belief that there is more than meets the eye here. If people are really becoming rich beyond their wildest dreams with your program, why don’t you just use their photos and stories instead?

I know that in order to be a successful businessperson, I have to find a business model that’ll eventually allow me to make passive income, something that will keep earning me money even if I go on a holiday or when I’m asleep. But I want to be able to grow my business using a product I have built, that will add ACTUAL VALUE to other people’s lives. Just blindly signing up for a program takes away that pride, that ownership that make up the core of entrepreneurship!

If you have no choice but to work from home, if you have no choice but to really consider one of these programs, I urge you to do your homework. It shouldn’t have to demand for an upfront payment of a large sum of money. It shouldn’t demand a percentage of your earnings to be channeled up towards your “supervisor” or “mentor”. You should be able to see if the business allows you to be different and unique from the 678 other people who have also signed up to do it – and we don’t mean just by changing the name of your company.

Like I’ve said before … call me a fool, call me stubborn, call me stupid … but I really rather become rich by working hard, really hard.

I want to get my hands dirty.

I want to get my hands dirty.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She doesn’t respect anyone whose wealth came to them easy. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

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Friends, Love, Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] When You’re In Love With Your Best Friend – Tan Lili

Do you jump headfirst into a relationship or do you take time to build your friendship first? Tan Lili opts for the latter, but she reckons it shouldn’t matter either way.

As a writer and a reader, one of my biggest pet peeves is presumptuous writing. Very rarely do articles like “10 Signs She’s Wifey Material”, “30 Things You MUST Do By 30” and “Why You Should NEVER Date An Ex” paint an objective picture as they tend to be self-indulgent and filled with one-sided drivel. It’s one thing to motivate readers to better their lives, but quite another to unnecessarily plant a seed of doubt in their minds – and those articles have an inclination to veer towards the latter.

The most befuddling part to me, though, is that they often go viral and are well-received by majority of their readers.

ANYWAY.

A friend recently showed me one such article. It listed down 10 reasons why it’s a terrible idea to marry your best friend. One of the reasons: You’d likely just be settling for a safe option, secure in the assurance that he would never let you down. (It was written by a relationship counsellor, mind you.) And for reasons I would probably never be able to comprehend, my friend actually agreed with everything the writer said.

“Do you think you settled down too early?” she began. “When things get too comfortable between two lovers, the passion will fade and, eventually, all that’s left is friendship. And hey, weren’t you and Terry friends for nearly two years before you got together? Do you think that makes you guys even more susceptible to falling back into old patterns and seeing each other as just friends?”

To my friend’s defense, her intentions were non-malicious because she’s always been an inquisitive character. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly miffed by her line of questioning.

Because what’s wrong with taking time to invest in the friendship first? Call me old-fashioned, but for me, I’d rather have that rock-solid foundation upon which you build your relationship. As Vanessa very sagely added last night, the alternative would be to dive headfirst into the fiery romance then work on the friendship later – but when you take away the passion, what’s left?

In the same vein, I chanced upon a Reddit thread about a guy who went around the world to interview couples about love, and one of the biggest takeaways he gained was this: that the most madly-in-love long-term relationships are those built on friendship.

material world_best friend love

My boyfriend and I did start out as platonic friends, but somewhere along our friendship, the line blurred. Granted, it took us nearly two years of mindfuckery to decide that our feelings are mutual, but it was also during those two years that we got to know and genuinely like each other as buddies. And that – realising that he’s your perfect partner – is the best thing about falling in love with your best friend. Throw in romance and passion and, yes, definitely sex, it becomes a whole new level of amazing.

Of course, the world is not black and white. I know of so many friends who were lovers first before they became friends, and they sure aren’t any less committed to each other than any other couple who started out otherwise. When there are so many variables involved – your personality, your beliefs, your present psyche – what works for one couple may not work for another. My personal preferences may change in the future, but for now, I honestly do not see anything wrong with being in love with my best friend.

I suppose that’s what makes love so beautiful, isn’t it? There’s no one mould into which every couple fits; the way you start your relationship is irrelevant because, to quote Neil Gaiman, sometimes when you fall, you fly.

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. 

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Beauty & Shopping, Skincare

The One Way You Could Be Using Hada Labo Lotion Wrong – Deborah Tan

What exactly does skin need in order to be healthy? That’s right, it’s hydration. And one of the best ways to get it is by using a product containing hyaluronic acid. Deborah Tan interviews Hada Labo’s general manager, R&D, Mentholatum, Dr Naelong Wang, to find out more about this ingredient. We also discover the one wrong way we could be using our Hada Labo lotion wrong. 

hadalabo

A bottle of Hada Labo is sold every 2 seconds in Japan, and in Singapore, it is the No. 1 selling lotion. This month, the brand relaunches its bestseller with a new generation of 4 interlocking hyaluronic acid that promises to restore moisture in skin, layer after layer. Each bottle of Hada Labo lotion has 4 types of hyaluronic acid (HA). What does each do? Read below:

1. Large-sized HA
To fight against trans-epidermal water loss by forming an “umbrella” on the skin’s surface to create a thick moisture layer that also continuously diffuses huge amount of water to skin’s top layer.

2. Medium-sized HA
Possessing the water-binding power of typical HA but is smaller in size, it works with large-sized HA to create a double-layered moisture lock within the skin.

3. Super HA
These reach the middle skin layer and is twice as powerful as normal HA – capable of binding 12 litres of water with every gram. The Super HA keeps skin well moisturized from within, not just on the surface.

4. Nano-HA
1/20th the size of regular HA, nano-HA has the capability to penetrate to the deepest layer of the skin, beyond the epidermis. It stores a tremendous amount of water deep in the skin so your skin stays plumped and healthy, inside and out.

But why is hyaluronic acid so important and is there a recommended way to use the Hada Labo lotion correctly? Dr Naelong Wang of Hada Labo further explains:

Material World (MW): What is so special about Hada Labo’s hyaluronic acid compared to the ones used in other brands?

Dr Naelong Wang (NL): Hada Labo is the originator of putting hyaluronic acid in a solution. Just how much water can hyaluronic acid absorb? One gram of hyaluronic acid is capable of absorbing 6 litres of water and is very expensive. Once, in the laboratory, a colleague accidentally spilled a gram of hyaluronic acid on the floor and I told him, “That’s 3 months of your salary gone!” The Super Hyaluronic acid that we use at Hada Labo has been modified to double the capacity of normal hyaluronic acid. Currently only 2 companies in the world use Super Hyaluronic Acid.

MW: What is the best way to apply Hada Labo Lotion? Should your skin be damp or dry? Can you put it over your makeup before touch ups?

NL: The recommended way to apply the Hada Labo Lotion is after cleansing when your pores are “open” so the lotion can be better absorbed by the skin. I do not recommend applying the lotion over your makeup as that can cause your skin to absorb powders and colorants.

MW: Does age have an impact on how our skin absorbs products?

NL: Definitely! Different age requires a different skincare strategy. When you are young, protecting your skin from UV exposure should be your priority because any damage sustained by your skin will only show up after 20 years. As you get older, dehydration becomes a concern and you need to use products that can replenish the moisture in your skin. It is never too late to take care of your skin but the earlier you begin, the less you’ll have to worry about.

 

Material World was invited to interview Dr Naelong Wang at a Hada Labo event recently. This interview does not represent a review of the product. All opinions are the author’s own and this post was neither paid for nor advised by Hada Labo. 

 

WE HAVE 3 HADA LABO HAMPERS WORTH $50 EACH TO GIVE AWAY! 

We have 3 hampers each worth $50 to give away!

We have 3 hampers each worth $50 to give away!

Each hamper contains 1 Hada Labo SHA Hydrating Facial Wash, 1 Hada Labo Lotion, and 1 Hada Labo Air Aqua UV Day Emulsion SPF 50/PA+++. To win, simply follow these steps:

1. LIKE Material World’s Facebook Page – only our fans can qualify for the prize. 

2. Answer this question in the Comments section below: “How many litres of water can 1gm of Super Hyaluronic bind to it?” 

3. SHARE this post with your friends on Facebook and tag Material World’s Facebook Page in your post. Remember to set your post on PUBLIC so we can verify that this step has been completed. 

Once you are done, email us your details (name, age, NRIC, email add) to general@materialworld.com.sg with “Hada Labo” in the Subject Field. Contest ends 29 September 2014.

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Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] This Crazy Lil’ Thing Called Love – Elisa Woodward

One moment you are going, “I wish I were still single!”, the next you are going, “I love my kids to death!”. Don’t worry. You are not crazy. As Material Mom Elisa Woodward explains, these conflicting feelings are totally natural. 

elisa1Kids – one minute they are driving you up the wall with their antics, the next, they fill your heart with such intense love. Only a mother can understand that it is perfectly normal to oscillate from one to the next in the same hour.

Hands up if you have friends who openly lament the loss of freedom and personal time, and yet still continue to post up pictures of their kids coupled with public declarations of their love and adoration. Or, what about the colleague who complains how little she’s slept the previous night and proceeds to light up with joy when her kid calls her at lunch? We grumble about the mess our kids create, the toys that never get put away, and yet, the sight of them asleep in their beds makes our heart melt and all resolve to discipline them just vanish into thin air. All you want to do is hug and kiss them.

I think the love a parent has towards his/her child is indeed one of the truest loves of all, and it’s a love even my staunchest non-kids friends cannot deny.

A friend – who has made it more than clear that she doesn’t ever want kids – recently admitted that a child does give you a sense of purpose. “The child creates a purpose in life that goes beyond your career, marriage, and lifestyle. This is someone you are prepared to love unconditionally, someone you are prepared to take care of and nurture throughout his/her entire life. Even after you are gone from this world, you want to make sure they are well taken care of.”

I have no regrets about about having my kids at a young age. They bring to my life joy and completeness – although some days I need to be reminded. No matter how old they are, no matter if they are in university or are married with their own kids, your children will always be children to you.

As parents, we have such huge responsibilities because we bring children into this world not by their choice but our own. How we bring them up, how we teach them about life … everything depends on us. The years between 7 and 12 are particularly important because these years are when they formulate their thoughts and impression on love and human nature. Someone once told me that the only thing he remembers of his childhood was how it was particularly dark and unhappy, and that has somewhat coloured his views of the world and how he sees people. This is why it is crucial to make sure your kids end their day and go to bed knowing they are loved and protected.

Even when I’m miles away from my children, the thought of them brings a smile to my face. Just the thought that I have people to live for and that they are also dependent on me gives my life purpose.

And love is simply just this amazing.

elisa2

About The Author: Elisa Woodward, a career-focused wife and a mom of two active boys, is a Jack of all trades, who enjoys flummoxing people. She likes getting her hands dirty (figuratively and literally), yet enjoys dressing up just enough to “look acceptable”. She embraces wholeheartedly the concept of getting older.

 

 

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Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Not All Men Are Jerks – Vanessa Tai

When a relationships sours or if you’ve been betrayed by someone you love, it’s easy to write off the entire opposite sex as callous jerks. But that’s just a one-way street to Bitter Town. Vanessa Tai suggests another way of viewing the situation.

As much as I love my friends, sometimes I hesitate to tell them about the problems I’m facing with whichever guy I’m dating. Why? Because of the inevitable judgment that will follow.

“He’s such a douchebag.”

“You’re better off without a jerk like him!”

And so on.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why they would say such things. They’re my good friends so they’ll naturally get affronted on my behalf when they feel I’ve been wronged by some guy. I, too, do the same when my girlfriends confide in me about their relationship problems. However, lately I’ve been wondering if this is really the best way to deal with relationship woes. Sure, if you’re all out to have a no-holds-barred sobfest with your best friends, it may help to have them rally around you and have a common “enemy” to hate on.

bridesmaids-movie-quotes-18

But what happens when you’re alone in your bedroom late at night and mulling over the failed relationship? Will you also continue to stew in rage and resentment? Sadly, many people tend to fixate on these feelings of being wronged and this seeps into the way they interact with others. I’m sure you know of people who’ve been hurt badly in relationships and became cold, standoffish, or overly cynical as a result. In fact, I used to be one such person.

However, I’ve recently come to see the flaws in this line of thinking. When a relationship fails, it fails for a myriad of reasons and yes, it could even be because the person you were dating was careless with your feelings. Does that make him a bad person? Not really. If that were the case, aren’t we all guilty of being “bad” at one point or another? The thing is, I sincerely believe nobody (save for the truly callous or sociopathic) sets out to deliberately hurt another person. I believe most of us embark on a romantic relationship with the best of intentions. Nobody wakes up thinking, “Okay, I think I’m gonna hurt so-and-so today.”

It’s just that along the course of a relationship, Life gets in the way. It could be unresolved emotional baggage from the past, or it could be an unexpected situation that throws everything out of loop. The thing is, people are unpredictable, especially when it comes to love. Most people are just bumbling along, trying to figure things out as they go along, winging it and trying to make it all work out. So when they screw up and end up hurting you, it’s most likely unintentional. Nobody is perfect. We, too, have been guilty of hurting the people we love, despite our best intentions.

That said, people are responsible for their actions and should still be held accountable for whatever they choose to do (or not do) in a relationship. I’m definitely not advocating that we condone bad behaviour. However, there’s a difference between holding someone responsible for their actions and blaming someone. For the former, you’re simply recognising this is who they are and how they’re choosing to behave. If you don’t like it, the choice is yours to cut them out of your life.

When you blame someone for their bad behaviour, however, you’re dodging any responsibility of your own. When you blame someone, you’re essentially saying that just because you didn’t like how someone acted, you’re entitled to attack them however you please. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how destructive this line of thinking is. Instead of finding ways of improving the situation or even seeking out a way you can learn or grow from it, blaming the other person simply creates a breeding ground for resentment and bitterness.

I reckon a healthier way of dealing with feelings of betrayal (or abandonment, or any other horrible feelings that emerge from a breakup) is to carve out alone time to figure out what you learned from the whole experience. It’s important to figure out why things didn’t work in the past so you can make things work better in the present and future. It won’t be easy, for sure. There’ll be days where all you want to do is scream and cry or burn all his things. Yes, you can allow yourself a period of time to do that if it offers you some form of catharsis. But there comes a day where you have to pick yourself up from the floor and just let go of those feelings of hatred and animosity. Take it from me, there’s really no point holding on to those bitter feelings of being wronged. It will only serve to poison your future relationships and become a vicious self-fulfilling cycle.

Every relationship we embark on is different and deserves to be treated with equal fervour and guileless enthusiasm. Well, that’s what I choose to believe anyway!

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Career, Self-Improvement

3 Interview Mistakes You May Not Know You’re Making – Vanessa Tai

Whether you’re seeking your first job or are planning a mid-career switch, it’s always helpful to have a few interview tricks up your sleeve. Vanessa Tai speaks to two recruitment experts on some less known interview no-no’s. 

material world_job interview 2

1. Before the interview: Asking about salary, overtime, and work culture 

Before you join a company, it’s only natural that you’ll want to know about its culture as well as the job perks you may receive. After all, a solid organisation is one that is provides a transparent hiring process and will have programmes set in place for up-skilling and flexible work options.

However, according to James Tan, a consultant with the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI) and a member of the SHRI HR Advisory and Consultancy Panel, “Employers are not obliged to answer such questions through phone calls or emails. Asking such questions before an interview may put the interviewer off, and the jobseeker is likely not be shortlisted for interviews.”

Michael Smith, country director at recruitment agency Randstad Singapore, recommends the following instead, “The company’s website is an important first step when researching a potential new employer. It can provide you with information about the company, the management, company stability, workplace culture, and what to expect as an employee when working there. Also, more companies are using social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to engage with current and prospective employees, clients and customers. Reading blogs and comments, reaching out to current and past employees are all great ways to find out more details about the company environment and potentially the job scope.”

2. During the interview: Telling a potential employer, “I’m here to learn.”

It’s an employee’s market at the moment. A competitive salary and good benefits package are no longer the only factors that jobseekers today are looking for in a new employer. According to the 2013/2014 Randstad World of Work Report, 56 percent of employees are looking for leadership development and 43 percent are looking for career growth and training opportunities.

However, as much as the desire to learn is a good thing, is it really a trait that employers are looking for? After all, wouldn’t it make more sense for employers to hire someone who can hit the ground running?

Smith says, “A willingness to learn is an attractive trait. However, apart from demonstrating that you have an aptitude for learning quickly, you can also back this up by demonstrating other transferable skills such as team work, computer skills, communication and leadership. These are all highly valued by employers.”

To demonstrate that you’re in for the long haul, you could tell your potential employer something along the lines of, “I am eager to contribute to and grow with your company.” This shows you’re loyal and tenacious, instead of giving off the impression that you’re just here to pick up some necessary skills before jettisoning off.

3. After the interview: Being over-persistent

The days right after a job interview can be a nerve-wracking, nail-biting affair. As much as you want to know the company’s answer right away, refrain from following up too often lest you come across as a nuisance. If you’ve already sent a thank-you note right after your interview (which you absolutely should have!), the next best thing you can do is to create a “follow-up schedule”. Draw up a plan on how often you will follow up with the interviewer, but only allow yourself a set number of attempts over a limited frame of time. If you get your feedback within this time frame, great. If not, just move on. As frustrating as it can be, always remember to maintain a level of graciousness and professionalism when communicating with your potential employers.  Remember, just because this door doesn’t open this time round does not mean it will not in future.

Good luck!

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

8 Awesome Airbnb Stays You May Not Know About – Deborah Tan

When traveling, we all want to fly cheap and stay at affordable, fabulous places with oodles of personality and character. These places, listed on Airbnb, are what you’ll want to check out for that getaway coming right up after this F1 weekend.

Magical places don’t have to be located in Europe or Africa. Asia is home to lots of interesting apartments, villas and houses too. With over 40,000 visitors set to descend upon Singapore for the F1, perhaps you can consider a short getaway during or after the F1 season? Below, 8 awesome listings on Airbnb you cannot miss.

Penang
75 minutes by plane

1.The Shophouse studio in George Town
penang01Housed in a 100+ year townhouse, this ground floor suite is newly renovated and comes with ensuite bathroom, kitchen and dining area. You get a queen-sized  bed and a convertible sofa so this studio can comfortably house 3 people. A stone’s throw away from delicious Penang hawker food, the owner will provide a food map for your eating convenience too!

2. Heritage Zone Chinese Shop House
penang02Beautifully renovated Chinese shophouse, the ground floor is a designer jewellery shop currently used by the owner’s friend. Plenty of restaurants and bars around the area, the property is just round the corner from famed cafe China House The listing states that the room comes with a bathroom with rain shower, 600 DVDs, cookbooks for those who want to try their hands at whipping up a meal, books, board games and a Mac.

Kuala Lumpur
55 minutes by plane

1. Luxe 1 Bedroom Next To Twin Towers at KLCC
kl01
This stylish apartment is situated right next to the Petronas Twin Towers as well as the 50-acre KLCC Park. It’s a spacious 1-bedroom at 60sq ft and comes with a fully-equipped kitchen and separate living area. Staying at this apartment also gives you access to the gym, tennis court, BBQ pit, sauna, etc.

Bangkok
135 minutes by plane

1. Room Near MRT Pharam 9+Wifi Pocket
bangkok01Although the listing says “room”, you actually get the entire apartment to yourself. It’s a 1-bedroom with a queen-sized bed and 1 sofa bed. The apartment is tastefully decorated! The Phra Ram 9 station is just 8 minutes’ walk away and the apartment building has  a convenience store that opens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Bali
150 minutes by plane

1. Villa Zaina 3-bedroom Seminyak-Bali
bali01
Located a minute’s walk from Legian, this villa has 3 bedrooms and houses up to 6 people (although you have to pay an extra $42/night after the 4th guest). It has its own private pool. All bedrooms come with their own ensuite bathrooms and queen-sized beds. The villa has its own kitchen with a gas cook top and has a dining area with an extendable table.

2. Private 2-bedroom villa in Sanur
bali02
Accommodates up to 4 guests with no extra charges for extra guest, Villa Sapa is located in Sanur, known for its sandy white beaches and for being a quiet, relaxed village. Each bathroom has an outdoor shower. The villa also has an outdoor shower where you can wash the sand away before entering the property. Guests are given a mobile phone so they can easily contact the manager to arrange for stuff like taxis and tours.

Jakarta
95 minutes by plane

1. The Bonty – Your Home in Jakarta
jakarta01Located within walking distance of Kemang (a trendy part of Jakarta), this listing is a room in a house for rent. The room has a king-sized bed and has its own bathroom. The house is part of a walled residential complex of about 20 houses and has a garden, pool, security and service. Dog-lovers will love this listing since the owner has 2 dogs – a golden retriever (loves!) and a Beagle mix.

Hong Kong
3 hours 42 minutes by plane

1. Tong Lau Tree House Old Hong Kong
hk01
A property located in a Chinese tenement buidling in Kowloon, this apartment presents a photo opportunity everywhere you turn. Comes with a queen-sized bed, the listing states that it is possible to house up to 6 people (extra charges for any guests after the first 2). The apartment also has a 1.4m 4-legged bathtub along with a whole range of organic bath products.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She can’t wait to go to Bali again! Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Beauty & Shopping, Makeup

Pro Makeup Tips For Asian Eyes – Vanessa Tai

Single eyelids? Sleepy eyes? Not sure how to pull off the smokey eye look? Akinobu Nishimura, RMK’s international makeup artist, was recently in Singapore and Vanessa Tai sat him down for a 101 on makeup techniques for Asian eyes. 

Your eyes are the most expressive part of your face, so it’s only natural that you’ll spend more time and effort prettifying your peepers. But with so many different products and techniques out there, it can be hard to cut through the clutter. To make things simple, here are easy makeup techniques for the most commonly-used eye makeup.

Akinobu

Akinobu Nishimura, international makeup artist with RMK

Eyeshadow

1. As our eyelids are naturally oily, it’s recommended to prep your eyelids with an eyeshadow base or some powder before applying eyeshadow. This helps your eye makeup to adhere better to your skin.

2. Use eyeshadow in one colour, but in a gradation of shades. Start by applying the darkest shade on the bottom of your eyelid and slowly work your way up the eye socket to the lightest shade. This helps create a more 3D appearance.

3. When applying the next shade, don’t start at the line where the previous colour ends. Rather, the colours should be blended so that it looks more natural. Using a brush can help you create a more natural look, without any hard lines.

Mascara

1. Before applying your mascara, it’s important to curl your eyelashes properly so that it curls upwards and creates the appearance of wider-looking eyes. For the doe-eye look, you can also curl your lower lashes.

2. When applying mascara, avoid layering on too many coats as it’ll end up clumping and weigh your lashes down, which may make your eyes appear smaller.

3. Wondering if you should get falsies? It’s always better to work with what you have, but if your natural lashes are sparse to begin with, you can consider getting natural-looking eyelash extensions. Anything too thick or dramatic may also make your eyes appear smaller.

Eyeliner 

1. To create the perfect wing tip, start by drawing an outline according to the shape of your eyes. (For a clearer idea, refer to the sketch below.) From there, you can fill in the gaps, depending on how dramatic an effect you’re trying to create. Think of the wingtip as an extension of your lower lash line. If the tip is too high or long, simply use a cotton bud to adjust until you achieve your desired effect. Over time, you’ll discover the perfect angle and length for your eye shape.

To create the perfect wing tip, start by drawing your desired shape.

Akinobu-san demonstrates how to draw an outline according to your eye shape.

2. Some people believe lining your lower lash line can make your eyes appear smaller. However, it really depends on your eye shape. Experiment with different techniques to see what works best for you. If you want to continue lining your lower lash line, one way is to simply line it halfway (from the wing tip to the middle of your lower lash line) and use a lighter shade to fill in the other half.

3. If you’re bored with your usual black or brown eyeliner, some great options for everyday wear include shades such as navy blue or grey.

This collection from RMK is a symbol of the dual aspects of a woman's personality when it comes to love - she's equal parts strong and vulnerable.

This collection from RMK is a symbol of the dual aspects of a woman’s personality when it comes to love – she’s equal parts strong and vulnerable.

RMK 2014 Autumn/Winter Collection is available from August 2014 at all RMK counters (Isetan Scotts Level 1 Tel: 6887 5308; Isetan Serangoon Central Tel: 6634 481; Takashimaya Department Store Tel 6238 8043). 

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Home & Design, Lifestyle, Self-Improvement

6 Floral Arrangement Hacks For Newbies – Vanessa Tai

Floral arrangement is no longer an old-fashioned pastime for housewives or “aunties”. According to Jaclyn Lim, founder & florist of Bloomroom.sg, more young and house-proud Singaporeans are buying flowers to display in their homes. Intrigued? Consider this your cheat sheet. By Vanessa Tai

In the past, Singaporeans will only think of buying flowers on special occasions such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries or Valentine’s Day. “However,” says Jaclyn, “lifestyle habits have since evolved and now young professionals (mostly women) are buying flowers to spruce up their home or simply to banish Monday blues.”

Contrary to popular belief, floral arrangement is not that expensive a hobby. Jaclyn explains, “Flowers are not exactly cheap in Singapore as most varieties are imported. But it is possible to mix expensive flowers like hydrangeas with more affordable blooms like baby’s breath or sweet william to achieve your desired effect.”

Oh, and if you think floral arrangement sounds like too much of a hassle, just give it a try and you may find yourself reaping its therapeutic benefits! Jaclyn says, “I think anyone can do flowers, even if they don’t feel particularly creative. For example, I noticed students who were easily stressed out started by holding on to flowers tightly, which created tightly bunched arrangements. However, over time, they loosened up and let go of their grip. The floral arrangements started to look more natural and were in fact, very lovely. So, any personality type can work with flowers … in fact, working with flowers may actually shape your personality!”

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Getting Started

You can pick-up floral arranging tips from your regular florist, YouTube videos, and floral arrangement books. Then, start by buying fresh flowers to experiment with at home. For flowers such as lilies, roses, gerberas, chrysanthemums, and sunflowers, you can find them at your wet markets or supermarkets. To get more premium blooms such as dahlias, peonies, ranunculuses, and alstroemerias, you’ll need to visit an established florist.

Choosing Your Flowers

For a complete floral arrangement, you’ll need the following:

  1. Focal flowers: These are largest blooms in your arrangement and are often the centre of attraction. Examples include roses, gerberas, sunflowers, and tulips.
  2. Filler flowers: Typically, these are smaller than the focal flowers and are usually in clusters. Examples include sweet william, baby’s breath, and wildflowers.
  3. Textural flowers: For variations in height, directions or textures, you can add these to your arrangement. Examples include hypericum berries, billy buttons, matthiolas, and lotus pods.
  4. Foliage: The greens to provide support for your flowers, for example, eucalyptus leaves or ruscus leaves.

Prepping Your Flowers

  1. Remove flowers from packaging/cellophane wrapping.
  2. Clean your lower stems of thorns and leaves that fall below the water line. Submerged leaves will rot and cause bacteria to form. However, if you keep the water in the vase clear, your flowers will last longer.
  3. Cut stems at a sharp angle to create more surface areas on the stem. This increases water absorption, and again keep flowers fresh longer.

Floral Arrangement: Decoded

  1. Have an idea of what you are planning to create. For example, have a shape of the intended arrangement in mind, know what vase you’re planning to use, and the flowers that complement it.
  2. Work with only one type of flower at a time. Start with the biggest (more dominant) flowers because they can help to create the basic shape of the arrangement/bouquet, before going on to the filler flowers (smaller clusters of flowers) to fill up the arrangement. From there, you can continue filling up the “holes” in the arrangement with some greens.
  3. Try not to use even number of flowers (2, 4, 6) because the bouquet/arrangement can end up overly traditional/symmetrical. 3 or 5 are great to work with for a livelier bouquet.
  4. Always take a step back. When you’re busy adding flowers, you may be obsessed with the task at hand and forget about looking at the arrangement as a whole. You need take a step back, breathe, and judge the composition.
  5. Know when to stop. Sometimes, it can be tempting to keep adding flowers. One way to know when to stop is when there are no more obvious holes exposing the floral foam in the arrangement. Remember, it doesn’t have to be PERFECT. As long as you like it and it makes you happy, that’s enough.
  6. Go with the flow. By experimenting with different styles, you’ll get to learn how different flowers work within an arrangement. From there, you’ll also develop your own style.

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Tools: 

  1. Sharp florist shears (MOST IMPORTANT): A sharp edge is desirable, not only because it is easier to cut the materials, but a sharp, even cut will allow water to enter the flower stems. A ragged, crushed cut edge may inhibit water and food absorption, causing your flowers to fade faster.
  2. Pruners: These are useful to cut woodier branches, like large eucalyptus leaves or wax flowers.
  3. Floral foam (optional): If you’re planning to create an actual flower arrangement in a wide-mouthed container, like a colander, you need to cut the floral foam to size, lay it in the container and use sticky tape to hold it in place. Available at florists.
  4. Floral tape (optional): This is great for making a tape grid to keep flowers in place.
  5. Plant Food (optional)

How to keep fresh blooms longer: 

  1. Change water every other day to ensure the flowers get fresh water that is devoid of any bacteria growth. Be sure to re-cut the stems at a 45-degree angle to ensure maximum absorption of water.
  2. ​Place the flowers in the coolest corner of the room, out of direct sunlight. They will last longer.
  3. Dissolve a pack of commercial flower food in the water to help cut flowers last longer. Chrysal packs are readily available in Singapore.

Get fresh flowers delivered right to your doorstep!

 

There’s something immediately calming and charming about having fresh blooms in the house. If you’ll like to have fresh flowers delivered to your home each week, register your interest here!

Current delivery areas:

  • Monday evenings: Tampines/Pasir Ris/Simei
  • Tuesday evenings: Serangoon/Braddell/Toa Payoh
  • Wednesday evenings: Hougang
  • Thursday evenings:  Sengkang/Punggol/Yio Chu Kang
  • Saturday afternoons: Joo Chiat/Marine Parade/Siglap/Telok Kurau

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] 9 Things Women In Their 30s Do Differently In Love – Deborah Tan

When it comes to Love, Deborah Tan admits she can be rather draconian in her handling of it. But this, she says, is something that comes with age. Below, 9 things about Love she has learnt to do differently now that she is in her 30s. 

No matter our age, no matter our relationship status, we all encounter issues in Love.

As I think back to the ways I dealt with crushes before turning 30 (I now cringe with embarrassment whenever I think about them), I realized that with age, one also begins to perceive and treat this thing called Love very differently.

For one, my women friends in their 30s seem to take things in their stride a lot better than my women friends who are in their 20s. While it could be a “Oh well, I’m already 30, there’s nothing I can change about that – might as well move on and have fun” mentality at work here, it could also be that once we are past the 3-0, timelines and milestones matter a lot less.

What else do women in their 30s do differently from those in their 20s when it comes to Love?

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1. We have less tolerance for bullshit

When I first saw the movie “He’s Really Not That Into You”, I found myself annoyed with Justin Long’s character. Every time Ginnifer Goodwin’s character asks him about a new guy she’s seeing, he highlights the “warning signs” and tells her why the guy’s really not that into her. To me, at that time, it seemed awfully judgmental to so quickly dismiss the dude: Anyone could be THE ONE, right??? Fast forward two years later, when I caught the movie again on TV, I found myself agreeing with Long’s character. It’s true. With age, we really have less tolerance for bullshit behavior in men. If he likes you, he will do anything to be near/with/around you.

 

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2. But it doesn’t mean we don’t have time for fun

While finding a meaningful, long-term, committed relationship is still something we want, we recognize that we would be missing out on a lot of fun if we only went out with men who seem most likely to want to be in a relationship with us. The pressure is also a lot less once you make peace with the fact that you also don’t want a relationship with just anyone you meet at a club.

 

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3. We know what we DON’T want

At 18, my “Things I Want In A Partner” was a mile-long. I told myself I would NEVER fall for anyone who didn’t meet my requirements. At 25, the list was evenly split between the things I want and the things I don’t want in a partner. At 30, I realized that my list had morphed into a “Things I DON’T WANT In A Partner” list: I don’t want to date a psychopath. I don’t want to date a cheater. I don’t want to date a man with no ambition. This isn’t to say women in their 30s have zero expectations and have come to think we deserve less. 3 decades spent on this planet have taught us that nothing is ever quite it seems and, rather than set ourselves up for disappointment, why not just allow ourselves to be pleasantly surprised?

 

compartmentalized
4. We compartmentalize

Younger, we allowed our lives to revolve around Love and, our ability to function and behave normally was pegged to the ups and downs of our relationships. Now that we are older, we have learned to not let matters of the heart interfere with our jobs, our social lives and our self-esteem. Yes, every argument with a boyfriend will sting, every moment of uncertainty will bug us like a mosquito bite on our palm, but still, we know Life goes on and the ability to go at it alone is what makes us strong and confident. And strong and confident is attractive.

 

pull-your-shit-together-gif_zps4526e285
5. We get over it … slightly faster

Heartbreak sucks. That chest-crushing feeling that your heart is about to implode from not having someone to love sucks. That overwhelming sense of loneliness that surrounds you every time you lie in bed thinking, “Why can’t he love me like I love him?” sucks. Women in their 20s get it. Women in their 30s get it. Women in their 80s get it. But Age teaches you to get over it fast because … see Point 1.

 

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6. We are over “What if …”

As much as I detest cliches, there is some truth in the saying, “Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.” In my 20s, I was so afraid of being alone that it took me forever to break up with an ex I had stopped loving for some years. At that time, I was tormented with thoughts like, “What if he is the one?”, “What if I never find someone else?”, “What if I have already met and missed the person meant for me?” Entering my 30s, I decided that it’s no point obsessing over the What-ifs. The only thing you can do for yourself is to make the best of whatever situation you are in and hope that the best is yet to be.

 

dontgo
7. We leave people who make us work for their love

Is it because of my looks? Is it because of my figure? Is it because of the way I talk? Younger, we saw ourselves as products that needed constant refinement, that we needed to be “improved upon” in order to be worthy of love. Women in their 30s have less patience for this. If a man ever makes us feel we are not good enough, we will simply move on to the one who does. This is ME – take it or be sorry that you have let me go.

 

happycouple
8. We understand Love is more than just emo-ness

Emo-ness in movies sells tickets. Emo-ness in love songs is beautiful. Emo-ness in a real-life relationship? C’mon, it’s tiring and trying. We really don’t need this much drama in our lives. We don’t want to live in a HK TVB drama series. Your Love is not going to be any less real just because you are happy, just because you are not needy individuals addicted to private dramas and public meltdowns. Let’s spend our dramatic energy fighting things like people who abuse animals, people who assault women, and stupid people.

 

unsolicitedadvice
9. We get that people will love the way they want to

At the end of the day, people will love the way they want to, the way they know how to. It’s no point forcing them to be more clear-headed/level-headed/decisive/cruel because the heart works in such strange, strange ways. But to my friends who are still in their 20s and wondering why Love hurts so much, I can only say that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger and that things do really get less scary in your 30s. This, and that I’ll always be here to annoy you with unsolicited love advice anyway.

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of being newly married. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. The eternal realist says while she enjoys a good drama on TV – she’s not a big fan of it in real life. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Opinions, Vanessa Tai

Do Not Click On Jennifer Lawrence’s Nude Pics – Vanessa Tai

Just because it’s there does not mean we’re entitled to look at them, says Vanessa Tai. 

By now, you’ve probably read the news about how an anonymous Internet user hacked into the Apple iCloud accounts of more than 100 female celebrities and uploaded their nude shots online.

I’ll admit it. When I first read the news, I was immediately curious to see what these pictures looked like. And I’m certain most people — man or woman — thought the same way. Our thought process probably ran along the same vein, “Oh, I’m not a bad person. I just want to see what the fuss is all about. Anyway, the pictures are already out there so the damage is already done. One more person browsing through them quickly isn’t going to hurt.” Or perhaps some of you had thoughts along the lines of, “Anyone stupid enough to take explicit pictures and leave them lying around probably deserves to suffer the ramifications.”

I get it, because those were my first few thoughts as well. But the more I thought about it, it dawned on me just how wrong this line of thinking is. By having thoughts of, “She shouldn’t be taking naked pictures of herself in the first place,” I was guilty of victim blaming. It’s the same attitude that makes people say things like, “She shouldn’t have been wearing that short skirt in the first place.”

However, aren’t we forgetting that everybody (man or woman) are entitled to consensually explore and engage in their sexuality in any way they deem fit? If this includes taking naked photos for their personal enjoyment or for a partner’s, that’s their prerogative. Agreeing to take a naked shot with a partner is not the same as consenting to have the whole world gawk over your naked body.

Let’s get one thing straight – these women had private, intimate images of their bodies STOLEN from them. This is not just another “celebrity sex scandal” or a “sensational scoop” for gossip magazines. These women did not consent to their images being uploaded and circulated online. This is a form of sexual violation and anyone who participates by viewing or sharing is complicit in this crime.

What J Law does in her private life should remain that way – private.

Unfortunately, this obsession with celebrities and their personal lives doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. As long as consumers’ demand for celeb-fuelled content continues, there will always be someone providing the goods, whether or not it’s legal or ethical to do so. But just because it’s there does not mean we need to go along with it or buy into it. Celebrities are not commodities for us to rip apart as we see fit. Yes, they may use their image for work but as consumers, we need to always be conscious of the difference between their public life (such as their shows, concerts, and legitimate interviews) and their personal life.

We Become The Person We Decide To Be

Here’s what I propose. The next time someone sends you a link to the images or asks if you’ve seen the latest leaked images, speak up and explain why we should not engage in this abuse. If it helps, you can send them a link to this article!

Images of naked women — especially those circulated without their consent — are not “harmless fun” for us to joke or gossip over. It is hurtful, humiliating, and most importantly, a crime. Whether or not the women in question are celebrities is irrelevant. The way we share our bodies must always be a personal choice.

So, don’t click on those pictures. Don’t be part of the abuse.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Beauty & Shopping, Skincare

[Press Trip] Meet The Game Changer In Skincare From Sulwhasoo – Deborah Tan

This month, change up your skincare regime with this all-new beauty concept from Sulwhasoo, South Korea’s No. 1 luxury cosmetic brand. Deborah Tan explains the Luminature Essential Finisher below.

Exactly how many steps does your skincare regime need? Let us count the ways …

1. Makeup remover (Night)
2. Cleanser
3. Lotion
4. Essence
5. Serum
6. Treatment
7. Moisturizer
8. Eye cream
9. Sunscreen (Day)

Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher, $112.

Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher, $112.

That’s 8 steps depending on whether you’re doing this in the day (which you end by applying sunscreen) or at night (which you begin by removing your makeup). Some women use more than 1 serum, some use a pre-serum, and some use a serum on their eyes before they put on eye cream. The amount of money, time and care we invest in our skin is just …. wow.

So if you are ready to shower ever more care on your skin, read on. Because I’m going to talk about this all-new product from the land of beauty trends and crazes – South Korea.

The “Mi-an” Tradition
Although Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher represents a new product category in skincare, its inspiration comes from a beauty tradition steeped in history. Introduced more than 1,500 years ago, the “Mi-an” (“beautifying finish” in Korean) was a last step of the skincare regime followed by Korean women in ancient times. It was formulated during the Age of Three Empires and recorded in the Kyuhap-Chongseo (Encyclopedia of Women’s Life) during the Joseon Dynasty.

How Does Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher Work?
Similar to the “Mi-an”, the Luminature Essential Finisher is designed to be used as the final step in your skincare routine. It works by forming a natural protective barrier over the skin, locking in the efficacy of the skincare products from Steps 3 to 8 (see above).

How To Use
After you have put on your skincare products, dispense a pump full of the Luminature Essential Finisher into your palm. Gently warm the product by massaging it between your hands and then press them over your face.

Every bottle of Luminature Essential Finisher is packed with the concentrates of 5 roots of Red Ginseng and 110 cups of Green Tea. Red Ginseng encourages the regeneration of the skin while Green Tea purifies and boosts the effect of other ingredients.

Review
Do not expect an immediate miracle with Luminature Essential Finisher. As a product designed to lock in and enhance your existing skincare products, it goes without saying that the preceding products have to work well for you in the first place. Think of it as a vitamin supplement. If your existing diet sucks, popping a vitamin pill isn’t going to make you the healthiest person on Earth. So if you think you can get away with using crappy products or with not even using any products, you are setting yourself on the path of skincare disaster.

Obviously for “best possible results”, you are encouraged to use this with other Sulwhasoo products. However, to see if this really enhances my existing skincare products, I stuck to the ones I habitually use whenever I’m not testing other products.

The improvements weren’t obvious until …. I did a half-and-half with both sides of my faces. In the After pictures, I can see an improvement in texture, tone, smoothness and firmness. I particularly like how much smoother the skin at my forehead has become. There is LESS GREYNESS in the After images – the Luminature Esssential Finisher really shines on the radiance front.

Comparing Before & After (Overall and Forehead)

Photos taken without makeup and have not been touched up or Photoshopped.

Photos taken without makeup and have not been touched up or Photoshopped.

After (Right Side of Face) and Before (Left Side of Face)

Photos taken without makeup and have not been touched up or Photoshopped.

Photos taken without makeup and have not been touched up or Photoshopped.

 

Before (Right Side of Face) and After (Left Side of Face)

Photos taken without makeup and have not been touched up or Photoshopped.

Verdict
Overall, I have found that my skin is a lot firmer and rosier after adding Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher to my skincare routine. The Koreans believe that at the age of 35, women will begin to see a lot more drastic changes in their skin due to a change in hormonal levels. The Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher also has the second function of enhancing aging skin’s ability to react to skincare products. So if you feel that your skin has “stop reacting” to your skincare products, it could be that all it needs is a product to kickstart its energy level once again.

Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher retails at $112 at Sulwhasoo counters islandwide. Material World was invited to a press trip in Seoul, South Korea, for the media launch of Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher, and given a product to review. All opinions are the author’s own. This post was neither paid for nor advised by Sulwhasoo.

3 SULWHASOO LUMINATURE ESSENTIAL FINISHERS ARE UP FOR GRABS!

Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher

Material World has 3 Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential FInishers for our readers. To win one for yourself, simply follow the steps below:

1. LIKE Material World’s Facebook Page.

2. ANSWER this question in the Comments section below: “Name the 2 main ingredients in Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher.”

3. SHARE this post with your friends on Facebook and TAG “Material World” and “Sulwhasoo Singapore“. Remember to set your post on Public so we can verify that this step has been completed.

Once you’ve done all 3 steps, drop us an email with your details (Name, Age, NRIC No/Passport No, Email Add) to general@materialworld.com.sg . Closing date: 5 September, 2014, Friday.

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