Coping With Eczema/ Dermatitis

This is not an easy post for me to compose, as I’ve just broken out with my worst yet rash of Atopic Dermatitis/ Eczema from working outside in the heat and sweating. When I work doing shoots outdoors (or indoors without proper AC), my skin gets REALLY upset. What exactly happens? First, I break out in rashes from the constant sweating, the skin gets red/ irritated, itchy, then as I fight with the “keep it dry” mantra using medicated Hydrocortisone ointment, bacteria moves fast and my ordeal is a lost battle. It will usually take more than a week for my skin to heal up, the areas where there are folds in my body such as the armpits, elbow and under chin become super sensitive, broken/ raw (it is so painful) not to mention terribly embarrassing to mention. Of course avoiding to sweat/ keeping areas dry keeps eczema at bay but I still have to function, like everyone else does in Singapore’s heat. The process for me personally, is a one step forward, two behind scenario. On my last trip to the USA, landing in dry California immediately stopped the eczema rash within two days. I was not sweating and perspiring the way I do in Singapore. Coincidence? You be the judge. Sweat is the rash trigger.

Today I met with my dermatologist and was told I have severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis better known as excessive underarm sweating, all just lovely right? I live in a very hot, humid climate, am always on the go and the sweat is non-stop from the car, outdoors and many public areas which do not have air circulating and I should mention I love to exercise and do high intensity cardio. The air conditioning of Singapore is not like it is in the USA which is mostly central (or the UK where it is perpetually mild so you hardly ever need AC), take this from me, it is a big struggle to stay dry for most. At the advice of the GP and my own intuition, I made the decision to start using Botox in the underarm areas to fight a real fight and cut the possibility of yet another rash. The process is tiny injections superficially into the nerves to stop the glands from perspiring excessively. Getting injections was very beyond painful because my armpits are broken out and tender since Friday last week when I spent a good 8hr shift doing makeup/ hair. On Monday, I started a course of antibiotics to stop the bacteria from growing.

The lesson I learned is, eczema/ atopic dermatitis is a horrible non-curable condition but there are things you can do to fight this nasty ailment. Use soap free products like Cetaphil cleanser and Dermalogica Ultra Calming serum (used in my chin area when I was itching and started feeling the red bumps, huge relief), as well as my other friend Hydrocortisone ointment 0.1% (prescribed by a dermatologist). Another nugget I found out is that there is medicated anti-perspirant. You bet I ordered myself some through Amazon (and a big thank you to my sister who will send it to me from CA). Last but not least, I now firmly believe in Botox! As I endured the multiple injections one by one as the kind doctor handed me a box of tissue (total of 50 mil injected), all I kept thinking was being rash and sweat free for a while (the suppression is temporary, probably 4-6 months and I am OK with that). Keeping calm, DRY and carrying ON.

Makeup Artistry The Career

Over the last years, I’ve been honing my skills in makeup, learning about brands, trying/ testing consumer and professional products, practicing every chance I get and watching You Tube videos, there is a lot of information out there to learn basics. If you are a good observer, advanced skills are at the disposal of us, via tutorial videos from people like Pixiwoo, Lisa Eldridge, Michelle Phan, EnKore, etc. A lot of makeup artists do not go to school, they are artists in other mediums, some have no schooling at all, they are born with this beautiful gift and learn on their own.

There is also something I wanted to discuss with my readers – art school, graphic design, painting and photography. In today’s competitive world of makeup artistry there are a lot of professionals like myself who come with a background of arts; whether it is university, continuing education, high school or even short courses, every bit helps. In university, I took A LOT of art electives because initially my major was going to be graphic design (I ended up having a change of heart but in reality I continued studying “art” in the form of appreciation and two years of studies in Spain and Germany plus the photography courses and oil painting, I never stopped. The truth is, there is no right or wrong way to learn makeup, if you have the inclination it comes organically. In my case, some may say I bloomed late and that is OK too.

Here is something I noticed after going through the haute couture shows, Peter Philips creative director/ makeup artist at Chanel is a trained graphic designer. Dany Sanz creator of Makeup Forever was a sculptor/ painter and then became a makeup artist. Scott Barnes (the man who created the J.Lo signature makeup look), studied Fine Arts/ Painting at Parsons School. There is a long list of professionals who first started with an art medium and then went on to makeup [I include myself in this bracket]. And then there is artists like Pat Mcgrath, Kevyn Aucoin, and Charlotte Tilbury. What do they have in common? No formal training as such, they learned by practicing and assisting like one does when you first start in this business.

Keep learning. The last two months especially, I was constantly inspired by every stop I had across the USA, last year I had a similar experience in London UK. If there are any buddying makeup artists out there reading this, I hope you this blurb motivates you to learn and persevere.

Photo source CHANEL HAUTE COUTURE Fall 2012, Vogue FR

Little Me

A few years ago I mulled over the idea of taking up makeup artistry full time. Lots of pondering took place, thinking and more imagining what it’d be like, highly unusual for someone who often decides on impulse [Call it with heart]. Enrolled myself in a class at Makeup Forever Singapore then in London at MUSE; I decided not to tell anyone other than my husband (he, of course, was 100% a fan of this idea). A year before this, I had injured my right wrist badly, dealt with two surgeries, months of physical therapy, a broken ego and pain. Little me though, I am persistent one, just ask my family. And like most humans I may flounder but definitely never give up. Believe me when I tell the story of moving to New York city on my own, with no fixed job, savings, AND a bag full of shoes. As many say, the rest is history. I feel that the story of my makeup career is still in the making [and that is what keeps me motivated]. Nothing makes me happier than putting makeup on someone and the face of a satisfied client.

Today I received the great news that I’ve been nominated for Cozycot’s Tribute to 100 Inspiring Women in Singapore, in commemoration of International Women’s Day. I am so honoured/ stoked/ happy/ ecstatic, how can’t I not be? Thank you Cozycot!

Back From Paradise

Last week I took time off to recharge batteries right before the Chinese Lunar New Year. Spent nearly a week in glorious Phuket, Thailand. A huge portion of the days were involved reading under an umbrella, hat, Ray Ban sunglasses, doing afternoon walks on the sand and feeling very grateful. While on vacation, I used lots of Clarins SPF 40 and 50, Clarins After Sun lotion, Ultra Swim Chlorine Removal shampoo and Aveda conditioner, the UVB rays were powerful. Every day I was like the sun police trying to keep my tribe protected, reminding them to re-apply sun lotion like a mantra. There were people around me literally baking, most were European folk.

The JW Marriott resort has a lovely spa called Mandara, of course I paid a visit to take advantage of the treatments (more on this later). On the day before our departure back to Singapore, I opted for a Zoya pedicure right on the beach (brought my own polish and top coat), it cost about $10 plus the tip. The hotel was one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed in Asia, it was our first time away since April last year.

The image above is in the afternoon at the beach in Mai Khao, Phuket, I call it The Good Life.

Alex Box Receives Honorary Degree

Makeup artist Alex Box is the Creative Director for Illamasqua, one of my favourite British makeup brands introduced to me during a catwalk trends course at MUSE. Over the past year I have talked about the experience of being in London and Illamasqua’s products which are a staple in my makeup bag. She received an award of Doctor of Design from UK’s Southampton Solent University on 25 November 2011.

This video is so inspirational. Alex talks about being told that “it takes ten years to make an overnight success” as she discusses her own struggles coming from a non academic background. Being a creative person myself I completely understand it takes perseverance, passion and integrity to figure out your true calling. In the middle of the video when she says “If it is in your heart” – it struck me like lightning. Congratulations Alex! I hope to finally meet you when I am back in London.

The Bliss Of Pilates Reformer

We are a makeup blog but sometimes there will be musings on things like yoga/ pilates, food, books, film, music – activities I happen to love just as well. I recently hit a breakthrough during a Pilates reformer class, advanced to Level 2 (woo), after my 10th lesson that is! For someone who is not very athletic, this is a big deal. After class, I entered a state of bliss that can only come from experiencing the union of my breath and core muscles which is what happens during a Pilates session. Luckily I am learning Pilates Reformer in good company, thanks to Angela and Jade at Absolute Pilates Tanglin.

Lana Del Rey

Lana del Rey has been on the glitterati buzz for a while, her song Video Games is so beautiful, it is worth a post. I also encourage you to go to her website and see the video for Born To Die. PS. I, too, want my own music video with a throne chair and the two tigers, please.

She reminds me of the coolness of Regina Spektor and depth of voice of Natalie Merchant On her Facebook she is described as Hollywood pop / sad core – too cool for school.

Happy 1st Birthday To My Blog!

A year ago I started this page mostly to document my work and to occasionally talk about products and tips I thought would be useful to beauty lovers worldwide. Of course there was a goal in mind and it surpassed the expectations I set! What’s even funnier is somebody I personally know liked the name so much, she decided to name hers the same shortly after I launched mine. HA! Well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and am supremely flattered.

On a more personal note, goals for 2012 are to give NLM a cosmetic lift, take a Photoshop class (again), travel abroad for more beauty courses, do more editorial work and to get to know the Singapore local blogging community better. Places like Twitter, Pinterest, Model Mayhem and Facebook are supremely important to this blog too. But it does not stop there, I go to networking events regularly, get referrals through word of mouth and the online communities I am a member of Latina Lifestyle Bloggers, Bloggers, London Makeup Artists FB, they all matter. What I am trying to get at is, never sit in your laurels, do the work, have a goal and keep putting yourself out there.

Thanks for all the kind support 🙂