Beauty & Shopping, Food & Supplements, Hair, Health & Fitness, Skincare

The Multi-Functional Oil You Have To Try – Matthew Fam

We’ve all heard of oils that beautify your complexion and give you shiny locks of hair, but Matthew Fam has found one that you can actually eat for a nutrition boost while ticking all the beauty boxes for great skin and hair! Here’s why he’s going loco for the coco(nut oil).

o-BENEFITS-OF-COCONUT-OIL-facebookIt’s a nutrition must-have!

Uhm… Logically speaking, isn’t eating oil unhealthy? Well, not this one. Coconut oil is a rich source of saturated fat that aids in weight loss. What’s different is its chemical structure of medium-chain triglycerides that allows the body to digest it more rapidly, thus using up more energy.

In fact, 15 to 30 grams of such fat can increase 24-hour energy expenditure by 5% (that’s about an extra 120 calories burnt a day!) Its high lauric acid content also bolsters your immune system by fending off viruses such as the common flu, for instance.

You can cook it with rice, use it as dressing for salads, or just ingest it as it is. What I usually do is to add a tablespoon of the oil into my breakfast of soy milk, seeds and oats- and it totally ends up tasting like CHENDOL. Mind. Blown.

Plus, it’s easy to find a jar of this multi-functional oil from your local supermarket. You can even purchase a jar and have it home-delivered from health food websites like these.

2269941It gives you beautiful skin and hair!

Coconut oil works as a great moisturiser too. The luxuriously nourishing oil turns into a paste-like consistency below temperatures of 24 degrees celsius, so I leave a jar of it in the fridge. This way, it’s less messy for me to scoop the solidified, fluffy substance to spread on skin.

I have dry skin on my legs, so this beauty fix was perfect for an overnight moisturising treatment. The oil is absorbed well by skin, and you don’t have to worry about staining your bedsheets. I was surprised at how applying a dollop of coconut oil left a mild, fragrant scent that wasn’t overpowering at all. In addition, my legs definitely felt smoother the next morning!

If the thought of smearing food on your skin or scalp grosses you out, there are plenty of coconut oil-infused products out there for you to reap its benefits, without the potential ‘ick’ factor. Try Organix Weightless Hydration Coconut Water Shampoo. It’s non-SLS formula (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, a drying detergent ingredient in most shampoos) gives you shiny, silky strands.

cdentistryIt’s a major oral hygiene booster!

You’d be surprised to find out that the benefits of coconut oil even extend to oral health! The next time you get your hands on a jar of this miracle oil, try out oil swishing- an ancient Indian practice that dates back thousands of years.

What you need to do is gargle a table-spoonful of oil in your mouth, as you would with regular mouthwash, for 10 to 20 minutes. It is said to reduce bacteria and plague from your mouth, and gradually whiten teeth. When you expel the solution, the naturally transparent oil should now have a milky colour.

Sure, it shouldn’t replace regular brushing and flossing; but who doesn’t want a gorgeous smile, right?

With these all-encompassing benefits that ensure a healthier, more beautiful you, I am officially hooked on coconut oil!

About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and Contributing Beauty Assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and spends too much of his undergraduate allowance on magazines. Follow him on Instagram @mattjfam.


If you liked this article, you might also like:

1. The Fat Singaporeans Don’t Eat Enough Of – Deborah Tan

2. Top Weight-Loss & Nutrition Myths, Debunked – Tan Lili

3. [Material Moms] Why This Fruit Holds The Kiwi To A Mother’s Heart – Delphine Tan

Beauty & Shopping, Skincare

Beauty Review: Yves Rocher White Botanical – Vanessa Tai

Looking to brighten a dull complexion? It may be more effective to use a complete beauty routine than just one dedicated product. 

If you’re a regular follower of Material World’s beauty columns, you’ll know that my main skincare concerns are a dull, uneven complexion and pigmentation spots. However, my modus operandi has always been to try random products – a brightening mask today, a dark-spot corrector tomorrow – instead of an entire beauty regime. However, after trying out the Yves Rocher White Botanical range for about a month, I’ve since learned the folly of my ways.

material world_yves rocher exceptional youth emulsion

Yves Rocher White Botanical Exceptional Youth Emulsion SPF30 PA+++, $55

The entire Yves Rocher White Botanical range comes with seven skincare products, but for this review, I tried the following: Exceptional Youth Emulsion SPF30 PA+++, Exceptional Youth Essence, Exceptional Youth Cream – Night, and Exceptional Youth Dark Spot Corrector.

For someone who has a super basic skincare regime to begin with (I usually just slap on moisturiser after washing my face), it was initially a bit confusing deciding which product to apply first.

After consulting with resident beauty guru Deborah, I learned that the way to “layer” your skincare products is to start with the one with the most lightweight texture. This is to maximise the penetration of the products into your skin. (Think about it: if you start with a rich and creamy moisturiser, your serums or essences won’t be able to penetrate the skin underneath it.) If both products have a similar consistency, take a look at the ingredient list. The one with a higher concentration of active ingredients should go on first.

The two main ingredients in the White Botanical range come from plant extracts – White Licorice powder and White Lupin extract. Licorice has always been known for its anti-inflammatory properties, but it’s also effective for brightening skin and reducing the appearance of dark spots. White Lupin is reputed to have anti-ageing properties as it helps boost the production of collagen in your skin.

Here’s how I applied the products:

material world_yves rocher

My thoughts:


Yves Rocher White Botanical Exceptional Youth Essence, $60

Yves Rocher White Botanical Exceptional Youth Essence, $60

The textures of both the Youth Emulsion and the Youth Essence are not exceptionally thick; in fact, both products were absorbed easily into my skin. However, the results on my complexion was immediately apparent. My skin looked fresher and brighter, and had a dewy afterglow. In fact, in the month that I was trying out these products, I hardly applied any foundation because my skin looked bright and clear on its own!

Yves Rocher White Botanical Exceptional Youth Dark Spot Corrector, $37

Yves Rocher White Botanical Exceptional Youth Dark Spot Corrector, $37

For the Dark Spot Corrector, the results took a little longer to be seen, which is understandable. I religiously applied the gel-like product on my freckles day and night, especially when we were in relentlessly sunny Penang. After about three weeks, I noticed that some of the smaller spots have faded and on the whole, my freckles don’t appear as stark as before. For the night cream, I applied a generous amount on my face, neck, and décolletage each evening. In the mornings, my skin would appear fresh and radiant, instead of tired or sallow.

Yves Rocher White Botanical Exceptional Youth Cream - Night, $60

Yves Rocher White Botanical Exceptional Youth Cream – Night, $60

Need pictorial evidence?

Here are pictures of my skin taken before I tried the White Botanical range, and one month after using the products:

Images have not been Photoshopped or digitally altered in any way.

Images have not been Photoshopped or digitally altered in any way.

I apologise that we weren’t able to re-create the exact same lighting conditions for the Before and After shots but trust me when I said I had zero foundation on in the second image. The only products on my face were the ones I stated in the “Day” column above. Amazing, right?

Having seen the efficacy of a dedicated beauty regime, I’m now sold. A multiple-step skincare routine may take a bit more effort, but the results more than make up for it.

Yves Rocher is located at Westgate #02-16, Takashimaya #B2-03, and BHG Bugis Level 1 Cosmetic Floor.

Yves Rocher worked with Material World for this post to review its White Botanical range. All opinions are the author’s own and have not been vetted by the client. Read our advertising policy here.

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 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. 


Beauty & Shopping, Skincare

Whitening Versus Brightening: Same or Different? – Deborah Tan

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone brings up the term, “Skin whitening”? In Asian cities like Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Shanghai, I guess the idea of having fairer skin is probably less due to racism and more to vanity. But a search online for “why do women whiten their skins” produces a number of articles more sinister than we can imagine.

In other parts of the world, skin whitening is related to the potentially deadly practice of “bleaching”. African women apply creams containing hydroquinone and harmful steroids on their skins hoping to become paler and fairer. It is believed that having a fairer complexion would lead to social mobility. Those with pale skins are often perceived as more successful, more beautiful, and more intelligent.

Do We Need To Be “Whitened”? 
The knee-jerk response to the question is definitely a No. Any woman with an ounce of self-esteem inside her will tell you that she does not need to be “whitened”. She knows that she shouldn’t have to participate in “compensatory” activities such as the lightening of her skin in order to be perceived as intelligent and attractive.

Whereas in many societies, the idea of the “pale” being overlords of the “dark” remains deeply rooted, the most progressive members of a cosmopolitan city would tell you they don’t care about the colour of your skin. Of course, I do not speak for every person. I have read blog posts of teachers in Singapore blindsiding dark-skinned students, I have seen how some people move aside whenever a person with darker skin sits near them. These are abhorrent behaviour and I think such people need to be taken to task about their behaviour.

From a personal point of view, do I feel less sure about myself because my complexion is not toufu-white? No. Do I feel inferior to fairer Chinese people? No.

If you are like me, does it mean whitening skincare products are obsolete and of no use to us? Well …

The Different Definitions of “Whitening”
If “whitening” is placed on a scale 1 to 10, 10 being taking extreme measures such as applying blistering, burning creams like hydroquinone, where would, say, a whitening cream by your Shiseidos, Olays and Lancomes fall under?

Unlike the creams used by African women, the creams of the latter category do not contain hydroquinone, steroids or any skin thinning agents. What they claim to have instead are ingredients that break down the “melanin clusters” that are behind the freckles and age spots that mar your otherwise flawless skin.

The “line of argument” behind these creams usually goes like this:
1. You have great skin and you look beautiful but …
2. Factors such as sun exposure, stress and the environment have led to a stress response that leads to an overly-enthusiastic formation of melanin
3. Our complexions are dull and unhealthy looking because of stress and pollution
4. These creams not only obliterate the spots and scars, they also brighten the skin tone by protecting the skin from UV exposure and encouraging skin cell renewal

It’s not really “whitening” your skin they are talking about – these brands are talking about “brightening” your complexion.

Is It All A Marketing Gimmick? 
At the end of the day, is it all a marketing mumble-jumble? Is there any difference between a cream that literally strips off your skin and one that just makes your complexion even-toned and more radiant?

Obviously, one is life-threatening and the other isn’t. But do both categories of products feed the same insecurity women have about their looks and how it relates to their station in life?

Why So Scared Of Dull Skin?
You may ask then why are we so “terrified” by the thought of having skin that is dull, listless, lacklustre and blighted by spots?

To me, skin that is plumped, youthful and glowing is a “good to have” because to me, being able to put my “best face” forward when I’m meeting people gives my confidence a boost. Having been plagued by acne and oily skin for most of my adult life, I really enjoy having a good complexion.

It is not a mindset built upon years and years of media “indoctrination”. Wanting good skin that glows is not a sign that I’ve fallen prey to an impossible ideal set by advertising; wanting “poreless” skin is! It’s like accusing people who say they want to maintain a healthy weight of wanting to be supermodels. That’s incorrect and vindictive. It’s almost as if no woman these days can say they want to look good because then they are mindless dummies who can’t tell what is good or bad for them.

Shiseido Total Brightening Serum, available at Shiseido counters islandwide

Shiseido Total Brightening Serum, available at Shiseido counters islandwide

Instead Of “Whitening”, It Should Be …
… “brightening”. And you should have no illusions that using any of the “whitening” skincare products by any of the beauty brands will give you instantaneous results. “Brightening” your complexion, like losing excess weight takes time, commitment and discipline because you are essentially attempting to restore health back to your skin.

When you talk about “brightening”, you cannot ignore the brand that started it all – Shiseido. The brand’s been researching “whitening” since 1917 and its White Lucent range routinely improves upon the formulation of its whitening serum. Every two years or so, Shiseido reintroduces its award-winning whitening serum with a stronger, more effective, more advanced formula. One can always expect (1) a new definition of what “whitening” means (2) a breakthrough ingredient that ups the stakes for the other players (3) a better, more divine texture.

And Shiseido’s game-changer this year (the last launch was in 2012) is Total Brightening Serum. The brand made it clear a couple of years back that its goal isn’t to bleach colour out of your skin. In its launch of Total Brightening Serum, the brand explains that it aims to restore 5 different types of “white” to your skin.

Obviously this is a case of “for want of a better word”.

To better understand how your complexion will look after the “5 types of white” is restored into your skin, simply look at the steps I do every day to ensure my complexion looks healthy and radiant, below:

This serves to illustrate how skin should look when 5 types of "white" are applied to it. This is NOT result created by the use of Shiseido Total Brightening Serum. Pictures have not been Photoshopped.

This serves to illustrate how skin should look when 5 types of “white” are applied to it. This is NOT result created by the use of Shiseido Total Brightening Serum. Pictures have not been Photoshopped.

1. To clear the skin of surface debris, which dulls the complexion, I use an exfoliating scrub (Crystal White)
2. To soften the skin and smooth it out, I apply a toner and a moisturiser (Silk White)
3. Next, a colour corrector with a pink tinge to give my skin some healthy flush (Cherry Blossom White)
4. Concealer goes on spots and blemishes to make it look near flawless (Pearl White)
5. Finally a foundation to even out the skin so it reflects light better (Snow White)

Regular use of Shiseido Total Brightening Serum aims to do this for your skin. It will take time and an almost fanatical devotion to your skin to get it to look this way. I have been trying out this serum for only two weeks so it’s still too early to tell if it really delivers on its promises.

What I can tell you is that the texture of the serum is a huge improvement from its predecessor. It’s less sticky, more easily absorbed by the skin, and feels extremely hydrating. With breakthrough ingredients like Resveratrol and ProBright 4MR proven under clinical conditions to inhibit melanin production and prevent the yellowing of the dermis (a process known as glycation), I have high hopes for this serum.

This post is in no way paid for or advised by Shiseido. The writer attended the launch of the serum and was given a bottle for review purposes. You may read our advertising policy here. Shiseido Total Brightening Serum is now available at all Shiseido counters islandwide.

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 likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She is going to be taking a foundation-free challenge for two weeks and is very afraid. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweet.