ZCOOP Malaysia: For All Things Fashion & Beauty

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Amazing news!!

Now, I don’t normally post anything remotely personal on my blogs or anywhere for that matter, but I thought I should at least make an entry about this.

This being a side project I decided to take up a few weeks ago. It’s something I’ve been considering for quite awhile now, but only took the initiative to do anything about it months later. And here we are.

I’m now a Contributor for an online Fashion/Beauty/Lifestyle magazine called ZCOOP Malaysia. It’s a website under ZALORA, Asia’s leading online fashion retailer.

Due to the nature of the website, I will of course be writing about anything and everything to do with Beauty- with an emphasis on skincare ūüėÄ Because that is my jam. So if you’d like to read more articles penned by me, by all means! That’s where you should go. Bear in mind, though, that my Contribution page is a bit bare right now. Please be patient with me.

You can find me here.

With that said, I’m goin’ to roll out and return to my usual informative posts. And plot to harass more publications with my presence.

Music Review: Monsta X’s The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter

Genre: K-pop, hip hop, dance-pop, trap

Rating: 4/5

I know, after my usual “weekly” postings, this is a bit of a surge of posts from me now, isn’t it? Part of the reason that I’m doing this is to make up for the weeks that I missed, and another huge reason for it is to show support for a group that I’ve become ridiculously fond of over the past few months. Or since about a year ago? Ah, time flies.

It’s not often that I develop an attachment to music artists. Not since highschool, anyway. Normally, I only end up in love with specific songs, and hardly ever show any interest beyond the song itself. Yet I couldn’t do the same for Monsta X.

The first time they crossed my screen was when YouTube was on Autoplay and suddenly started playing “Trespass“. I don’t know what it was about the single that drew me in. Fast-paced, energetic and attitude-driven, it has exactly all of the things that I look for in a song- but those aren’t usually enough for me to take a particular interest in a band. At this point in time, I can only conclude that it was their dance choreography that ultimately had me hooked. The fact that they’re good-looking certainly doesn’t hurt either.

Then there was the amount of views the video had. It had maybe 9 or 10 million views?? Far below what I would expect from a band of that calibre, so that was another factor that piqued my curiosity. Naturally, I started searching for more of their songs to listen to.

Fast forward to the present, and they’ve finally released their first studio album.

I have to say that I was slightly disappointed that this album doesn’t have that same edge and attitude that I love so much.¬†The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter has more of a pop flavour to it (specifically, the dance variety), but that is not necessarily a bad thing! Once I got over my little moment of mourning, I started to really enjoy the album.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter consists of a collection of ten songs, all of which are incredibly well-made; especially “Ready or Not”, “Beautiful”, “Oi” and “Calm Down”. This is something that earns a gold star in my book, because more often than not, artists tend to have a hit or two in an album and the rest of the songs can best be described as fillers.

But here, Monsta X starts off strong with “Ready or Not”, the boys stealing the show with its high tempo, catchy chorus and bold sound. And it doesn’t stop there either.

If there is anything that I can say about this album is that it manages to maintain its energy even during slower numbers- which I can honestly say is a Godsend for a person like myself, who is allergic to anything slow. Really, rapper Jooheon deserves all of the kudos for injecting punches of energy where needed, as does I.M., whose lazier, cooler style complements Jooheon’s sharp, swift, swagger-worthy one. Starship really knew what it was doing when it picked these two as Monsta X’s rappers; they’re a package deal, and I can’t imagine a more complementary duo for the band.

Along with its rappers,¬†The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter‘s crown jewels include its powerful, headbopping music reminiscent to those being played in clubs and addictive chorus lines. The vocalists shouldn’t be forgotten either, as they provide a nice, softer contrast to Jooheon and I.M’s more masculine sound.

The only comment that I can make about this album, criticism-wise, is that while it is enjoyable, I don’t feel like it has a super strong hit that would make anyone sit up and go “Oh yes, that band! I know that band!” None whatsoever, but I do believe they are getting there. Monsta X has to find their own strong, distinctive sound and I’m confident they’ll then perfectly cement their name in the music industry.

Still, all in all a wonderful album with its largest fault being having only ten songs. Ah, man, really? Don’t leave us starving, boys.

Guess I’ll just have to wait for the next album then.

[EXTRA] What’s in the album box

A stack of gorgeous photographs featuring the boys looking their best, two picture cards, two Monsta X stickers, what I assume is a “thank you” note (pardon my lack of Korean. Ha), a lyric booklet.

And now, here’s the part where I show my support. Granted, it’s a bit last minute, but I’m currently on vacation and I just got wind of it. So yeah.

Show the boys support by voting for them here!

MCountDown (Voting period: 17.06.23 14:00 ~ 17.06.26 09:00 (KST))

MWave Music Chart (Voting period: June 2, 2017 to June 27, 24:00 (KST))

Monbebe out.

The Breakdown on the Infamous 10-Step Korean Beauty Routine

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With Korean culture gaining more and more popularity overseas, it comes as to no surprise that their hauntingly flawless complexion has become increasingly sought after by media-conscious women. And honestly speaking, who wouldn’t want perfect skin?

That said, most would balk as soon as they hear that the Korean beauty routine consists of 10 daunting steps. Ouch! That’s more than three times the standard we’re used to.

There really isn’t any need to feel intimidated by it, though. It may consist of 10 steps, but contrary to popular belief, these aren’t practiced everyday.¬†Most days would require 7 steps or less; it depends on what works for your skin.

Here is the low down on the infamous beauty regimen:

1. Cleansing Oil

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The first step to cleaning your skin is to get rid of all of the environmental gunk that has piled up on your face. This is where the nifty cleansing oil comes in. From dirt to grime to make up, this product will melt away these impurities, leaving your skin clean without stripping it of precious moisture.

And if you find the idea of using oil to clean your face strange, you aren’t alone! Ever since we’ve known about skincare, we’ve been taught that oil is terrible and that it should be done away with. It really isn’t all that bad, though. At least not this one.

In this case, cleansing oil is your buddy, especially in the double-cleansing method. It’s here to gently pull dirt away from your skin, just so your¬†foam cleanser¬†could work all the more effectively afterwards.

2. Foam Cleanser

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Now, this is something just about everyone is familiar with. In the standard Cleanse-Tone-Moisturise routine, this plays the main role in cleansing.

In the Korean beauty routine, however, it plays the second.

While it might sound unnecessary, the double-cleansing method actually has a lot of merit to it. I’m sure that with¬†the standard regimen, most of us have experienced feeling that our skin isn’t clean even after using a foam cleanser- and in order to really wash all of that grime away, we choose to cleanse it a second time. Big mistake.

Because what you’re left with is uncomfortably tight skin that is stripped of moisture. This might sound harmless, but it could lead your skin to working in overdrive to produce more oil. Not good.

What the double-cleansing method does is provide you with that same level of cleanliness without dryness.

3. * Facial Scrub

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Not for daily use. Our skin is constantly shedding, and in order to avoid dead skin cell build up, we need to exfoliate once every 3-4 days. Once a week for those with dry and or sensitive skin.

This not only helps with skin cell renewal, it will also unclog pores and reveal a brighter, glowing complexion. An important step, exfoliating ensures that the products you use later on will penetrate your skin more easily.

Note: Do not exfoliate everyday. This will only aggravate your skin and cause it to break out.

4. Toner

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Toning was something I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with during my highschool years. On one hand, it was oh so satisfying to see dirt picked up by the soaked cotton pad; it made me feel as though my skin was super clean. On the other end of the spectrum, I hated it because toners tended to dry out my skin, leaving me with botched red, peeling skin. Gorgeous.

Nowadays, I’ve noticed that toners are a lot less drying, to the point that they are more on the hydrating side. In fact, their purpose is to restore the pH level of your skin as well as prep it to better absorb the products that follow suit.

5. Essence

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Considered the heart of the Korean beauty routine, essence is kind of a mix of a toner and a serum in one. Its consistency can be compared to a toner; slightly thicker, but still very runny.

I’ve not had the pleasure of using this often as there weren’t many sold where I live -keyword, weren’t. Things are improving!- and the ones that were on the market were either ridiculously expensive or cheap. I tend to avoid the latter because my skin is a bit of a diva; it tends to break out horribly with cheap products.

That said, when I do include this in my routine, the results are quite significant. Essence basically helps with hydration, skin repair and cell turnover.

6. Serum & * Ampoule

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It’s time for a treatment! These babies are designed to target specific skin concerns. From problems with pigmentation to fine lines to dry skin, you are spoiled for choice on the market.

What is the main difference between a serum and an ampoule though? The difference lies in the levels of concentration between the two. Ampoules are basically the more powerful, effective cousin of serums, meant to give your skin a boost overnight.

But wait! Before you start reaching for ampoules, bear in mind that these can only be used once in awhile. This is due to their levels of concentration. Apply them too often¬†and¬†they’d wreak havoc on your skin.

For me, using ampoules once every 3-4 days is my sweet spot. The duration between each use might be longer for others. It all depends on what suits you best.

Serums should be used daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Note: For better absorption, products should be applied in the order of from least viscous to the most. Therefore on days you’re using an ampoule, it should go on before your serum. It can stand alone if smoothing on both at the same time is too much for your skin.

7. * Sheet Mask

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Can be used daily, if you wish (though I’ve yet to try this daily style of masking!). Because of my oily, acne prone skin and not to mention budget, I usually opt for clay masks instead of sheet masks. The latter is more of a rare treat for me, but let me say that if not for the reasons stated, I would go for them a heck of a lot more. My experiences with sheet masks are generally positive, and the results are totally worth it.

These are meant to deliver a powerful punch of ingredients to your skin, designed to target specific concerns. Think of them as amped up serums in the form of soaked sheets.

Note: If you’re planning on opting for a clay mask instead, slip it in your routine right after you exfoliate.

8. Eye Cream

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If you have any undereye concerns, this is the product to aim for. With the number of beauty companies out there, there is a huge range of eye creams on the shelves, each made to address different issues. These creams most commonly take care of fine lines, hydration and dark circle woes.

It is worthy to note that this is a product you’d have to be willing to spend a bit more on. Cheap options rarely work.

Tip: Because of how fragile the skin around your eyes are, use your ring finger to tap the cream in. Never rub, tug or pull. This is to avoid the formation of premature wrinkles.

9. Moisturiser

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It is always, always, always important to keep your skin properly hydrated. To put into perspective just how vital this is, take note that skin lacking in hydration will not only appear duller, it will also feel uncomfortably tight, peel and form premature wrinkles. Yikes! Definitely not something you want, right?

To avoid a cracked complexion, and to one day obtain that much vied youthful, dewy Korean skin, never forget to apply moisturiser. This will both hydrate and lock in the work you gained from previous steps.

10. Sunscreen

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If there is a single step that you absolutely must not miss out on aside from the standard Cleanse-Tone-Moisturise, it is applying sunscreen.

This not only plays a huge role in protecting you from nasty burns and skin cancer, it also plays a role in anti-aging. That’s right. The sunscreen you apply will help prevent premature aging, so unless you want to be introduced to wrinkles early, get to smoothing some on.

For this, I personally recommend Biore’s UV Perfect Milk SPF50+. Non-sticky and super lightweight, it’ll feel like you’re not wearing any sunscreen at all.

And that’s a wrap!

Phew! That was one exhaustive list. But I suppose that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Because not only do Koreans see flawless skin as a sign of beauty and health, they sincerely do enjoy these rituals. A stark contrast to their Western counterparts, and let’s face it, a good chunk of the Asian region too!

If you’re all for it though, be ready for your wallet to take a blow because it can get expensive.

Tip: If you’re going to dive into this hefty skincare routine, it would be best to introduce each new step one by one. This is so it¬†would be much easier to spot which product isn’t working for you.

Have any questions? Ask away!

Edited on 26th June 2017.

Beauty Review: Hada Labo’s Deep Clean & Blemish Control Face Wash

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For the longest time, I thought that what cleanser I use doesn’t really matter as long as I go for what’s meant for my skin type. Meaning, blemish control, oil control, charcoal-based cleansers– you get the picture. Anything that is targeted towards caring for oily, acne-prone skin.

But as I got more and more interested in the world of beauty, I realised that this is not necessarily the case. Even if cleansers aren’t in contact with your skin for long, they really can make a difference. So that was when I really started paying attention to what I was buying, and tended to steer clear from drugstore brands unless I receive a recommendation. I’ve had one too many bad experiences, you see.

Still, in spite of that, I recently tried out one such brand. This time, I’m going to blog about my experience with Hada Labo’s Deep Clean & Blemish Control Face Wash (RM24.90).

What is it like?

At first glance, this cleanser seems to be the perfect candidate to take on my notoriously oily skin. It was actually purchased by my brother, and when he recommended it to me, I thought, why not? I’ve been using Lush’s Coalface for so long now; maybe it is time for a change.

So after giving its labels a quick run through, I decided to give it a try. Here’s what it says at the back:

Bentonite Clay: Mineral clay from natural volcanic ash has high content of minerals to effectively absorb excess dirt, oil and impurities from skin

Wild Pansy Extract: Contains natural Salicylic Acid that helps to control and prevent blemishes

Hyaluronic Acid: Hydrates skin to help prevent dryness and keep skin soft and supple

Below that, it further states:

Combines the power of two natural ingredients with hydrating Hyaluronic Acid to deep clean without drying skin and helps prevent blemishes to reveal a smooth, radiant complexion.

Low irritation. Free of fragrances, colorant, alcohol and mineral oil

Sounds quite promising, doesn’t it?

The product itself is pretty creamy and lathers easily. Something I sorely miss after using face soap bars for years. Because as much as I love my Coalface, it can get pretty inconvenient whenever I’m in a rush; lathering it up takes a bit of time, and it doesn’t even really produce much.

A stark contrast to Hada Labo’s cleanser. It doesn’t take a lot to create a rich foam with this. Smoothing it on is enjoyable, and washing it off is simple. I only need a few splashes to get it all off.

Packaging

Hada Labo decided to go with a clean, glossy tube, which I quite like. Its soft construction makes squeezing out the product a breeze, though I imagine getting it all out once it is almost gone would be a pain.

End result

The end result? After splashing it off, I was pleased to see that my skin looked bright and clean. There was no tightness and my skin felt comfortable. That’s a win, right?

At least, that was what I thought until I used it a few more times. It was as early as the second try that I noticed that my skin started drying out. And that’s saying something, because it can take as many as 2-3 oil blotters to completely absorb the oil on my face. (Gross trivia is gross, but you get the picture. It would take a lot to dry it out.)

That was not the only reaction I got from this, though. Throughout the day, I experienced this strange, tingling sensation on my skin. And under a certain light, it kind of looked papery?

So yeah. Even though it cleans well enough, it is super drying. Not something I’d recommend to those with dry skin.

Extra: Please note that this cleanser contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), which is something I only discovered afterwards. Ah well. That explains it.

For those who are unaware, SLES is a lathering agent that is used in many cleaning products. It can be found in something as innocent as your shampoo, to the cleaner you use on your garage floor. So yes, it is that potent and can cause irritation to your skin.

Where can I find it?

Watsons & Guardian.

Verdict

  • Product rating: 2/5
  • Packaging rating: 4/5

As much as I like how it cleans and foams up easily, I’m not keen on the aftereffects. I’ll stick to my Coalface for now.

Ingredients

Water, Lauric Acid, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Cocamidopropyl Betaine/Water, Potassium Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Palmitic Acid, Acrylates Copolymer/Water, Glycol Distearate, Polyquaternium-7, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamide DEA, Potassium Cocoyl Glycinate/Water, Stearic Acid/Disteardimonium Hectorite, Dismodium EDTA, Methylisothiazolinone/Iodopropynyl Butylcarbarnate/Water, Glycerin/Water/Viola Tricolor Extract, Sodium Hyaluroate.

Beauty Review: The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil

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If you’re anything like me, you definitely know the struggle of having oily, acne-prone skin. The irritation of having to take extra care of my complexion and having to forgo make-up because let’s face it, it’s not worth the sudden pimple flares that follow right after. It’s fine once in awhile, but that aside, I stay far away.

And as though to add on to my list of grievances, skincare products that I choose tend to be on the more expensive side because I almost always react terribly to anything cheap. Even now. Seriously, I thought things were supposed to get better now that I’m an adult!

Thankfully enough, I managed to get my old, acne-riddled complexion under control by opting for Jurlique’s skincare range, then adopting the Korean beauty routine. Aside from the occasional pimple due to the monthlies, it was blissfully clear for years. Alas, my hard work was dashed when I decided to take fish¬†oil pills for health reasons.

Instant flare up!! That, along with stress (and I suspect, possibly, a skincare product change) just made things worse.

Ugh.

So I decided to look for a new spot treatment. It had been awhile since I needed one, so I was unfortunately out of touch with that part of the beauty world.

Not too long after starting up Google, did I come across recommendations for The Body Shop’s tea tree range. Most specifically, the mask and the oil.

I bought both, but for today, I’ll be reviewing the oil.

Let me just say this: it is amazing.

What is it?

Just like the name says, The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil (RM42 for 10ml; RM69 for 20ml) comes in the form of oil. Diluted, to ensure safe usage.

For those of you who are often plagued by breakouts, the idea of turning to tea tree products for help isn’t unfamiliar to you. Unless of course, you’ve been severely neglecting your skin, then in which case, God help you.

But I digress. This potion in a bottle is the best spot treatment I’ve tried so far, so much that I was in for a pleasant surprise after leaving it on overnight. The horrible pustules that had been haunting me SHRUNK so much in size, I couldn’t believe it! I’ve tried spot treatments before, but none produced results like this has. It managed to shrink existing pimples, and eradicate the ones that were about to surface. Amazing stuff.

There is a reason why it’s hailed as a cult classic. With¬†one bottle sold every 8 seconds, it must have a growing league of loyal, happy customers.

What is it like?

As stated before, it is an oil. It’s not on the viscous side, so I always tap it on the back of my hand for easier application. I use my fingers to dab it on the offending area.

Absorption takes quite some time, but rest assured that it does not leave behind any strange residue. Which I have to say makes it perfect for wearing underneath your make up.

That aside, the oil’s most prominent feature is its strong tea tree smell which lingers before taking ages to fade. Scented products usually bother me, but for the benefits this gives me, it’s not an issue.

Packaging

The packaging of this has to be one of the most inconvenient out of all the bottles lining my dressing table. Aesthetically speaking, the Tea Tree Oil bottle offers a simple, clean appearance that is easy on the eyes, and its small size makes it highly convenient to carry around without a fuss.

Adding on, its push-then-screw cap makes sure no spillage occurs while the bottle is jostled around in your handbag. However, it does bring inconvenience in any other situation as it can be a pain to open.

Dispensing the oil is annoying as well, because it is difficult to control the amount you pour out. With the way it is designed, you can easily end up with either too little or too much product on your hand.

End result

Clearer skin in a short span of time. Pimples disappear with just a few applications.

It can be a bit drying if applied in excess. Otherwise, it’s perfect.

Where can I find it?

The Body Shop.

Verdict

  • Product rating: 5/5
  • Packaging rating: 2/5

Until I can find something better, I’m going to continue buying this for the foreseeable future. Love it.

Ingredients

Aqua/Water/Eau (Solvent), Alcohol Denat. (Solvent), Polysorbate 60 (Surfactant), Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil/Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil (Natural Additive), Limonene (Fragrance Ingredient), Calophyllum Inophyllum Seed Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent), Citral (Fragrance Ingredient), Citronellol (Fragrance Ingredient), Leptospermum Petersonii Oil (Fragrance Ingredient), Tocopherol (Antioxidant).