iAm: Louisa Koh

SHILLS Aqua Skin Moisturizing Spray

A 30-something from sunny Singapore who's tried her hand at lots of things, such as selling skin care & make-up, working in a (boring) corporate setting, trying to carve a singing career, giving private tuition, being a fitness instructor, writing/editing etc...

Besides exasperating her parents to no end, she loves experimenting with new make-up looks, uncovering the best make-up & skin care products, modelling for herself before the camera, singing at the top of her lungs (with preferably no one to hear it), and writing whatever, whenever (as you can already tell).

iContact

louisa [at] louisakoh [dot] com

Chinese New Year Fashion Ideas

Hallo lovelies, 2015 is here! Have you gals been busy making New Year’s Resolutions or are they too much of a bother? ;)

Seeing as how Chinese New Year will be coming around in no time, here are some sartorial ideas from ZALORA Singapore. While ethnic cheongsams are beautiful and epitomise the spirit of CNY, I am the sort of person who prefers buying separates that I would actually wear all year round. I suspect I am not the only one out there who feels this way, so I “curated” a few pieces from ZALORA Singapore that I could combine in an ensemble suitable for Chinese New Year.



RED for a Red-letter Day

Did you ladies know that Marsala, an earthy wine red colour, is the Pantone colour for 2015?

ZALORA BASICS handkerchief hem tank top & Mango biker leggings

While the ZALORA BASICS handkerchief hem tank top featured above (click photo to enlarge) is in burgundy, at least they are both wine colours LOL! I like the flamboyant touch the hem adds to the piece, as swirling around makes the asymmetrical hem dance around your waist, kinda like a flamenco skirt. The best part is the top retails for less than SGD20, and you can get two or more such tops in different colours for 20% off the usual price too.

ZALORA BASICS handkerchief hem top, Mango biker leggings, Nine West Farawell Peep toe Heels

In this particular ensemble, I’ve paired two different black leggings with the same burgundy top. While some may argue that black is not a suitable colour to don for CNY, I believe that if your entire get-up isn’t black, with a pop of colour like red, gold, orange, etc, that’s ok :) The Mango biker leggings above unfortunately are no longer available on ZALORA, but were going at a steal of SGD39 (I got them for slightly over SGD30 with discount codes). I love the zip detail at the ankles; yup they’re real functional zips!

Same top paired with UNKUT PVC Quilt Detail Leggings

If you can’t already tell: I’m a leggings gal, and have been wearing my Miss Selfridge black leggings to death, so I really needed alternative choices! Like the photo above, here’s another look at a sexy pair of PVC leggings for that rock chick look, from brand UNKUT, Paris. These also feature zips at the pocket area, but they are just for decorative purposes. The knees feature a quilt detail design, hence they’re called Quilt Detail Leggings.

Another full-length look at the UNKUT PVC Quilt Detail Leggings (sorry for the blur quality)

As it happened, I wore a very similar ensemble (just a different pair of leggings from River Island which ZALORA also carries) for my singing performance sometime in November 2014 at the Residents’ Day @ Cactus Park:

And of course, how could we forget about shoes? Nothing screams stylish like a pair of high heeled shoes, and this pair of FARAWELL peep toe heels from Nine West is, can I say, TO DIE FOR? Also, the pair’s now retailing on ZALORA for less than half price, so it was definitely a great find for me :P

Nine West Farawell Peep Toe Heels

I hope this post has inspired some fashion ideas for the upcoming Lunar New Year next month. I’ve had a number of misses and had to return some items, but so far have had minimal problems whatsoever with ZALORA’s returns process. What’s most important though is the fun in experimenting, right? Getting my ZALORA parcel always makes me feel like a kid on Boxing Day morning, hardly able to contain my excitement as I unwrap the parcel and put on what I’ve received.

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year 2015! :D


Review: Nails Inc. Bling It On London

Hallo lovelies, it’s time for a long-overdue nail feature today! :P

Before I get into it though, here’s a little teaser to whet your appetite:

Image courtesy of http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Can you guess what I’ll be featuring today? Yup, I’ll be featuring some nail bling all right, from an English nail polish brand too!



Keep Calm and Bling It On London

Today, I’ll be featuring the brand Nails Inc. that hails from the UK. To be honest, I’ve been curious about Nails Inc. for the longest time since I heard about this brand from my sister, who lives in the UK. Another confession: This is the first time I am trying Nails Inc. too!

Like Ciaté, Nails Inc. entered the Singapore market around the same time last year in Sephora. And ZALORA Singapore is now carrying selected Nails Inc. sets at discounted rates :D Prices at Sephora range from SGD40-50 but at ZALORA Singapore, the sets retail for SGD20-36 (excluding delivery charges)! Cool, ain’t it?

Nails Inc. Bling It On London set

As you can see, the set features two mini polishes in cobalt blue and silver foil, as well as four beautiful crown bling embellishments:

What the Nails Inc. Bling It On London set contains

Here are the details of what the set contains:
- Nails Inc. Baker Street cobalt blue polish (4 ml)
- Nails Inc. South Kensington silver foil effect polish (4 ml)
- 4 x crystal crown embellishments
- Nail glue (3 g)
- Cuticle stick

Frankly speaking, up to date, I don’t have any experience using a nail glue to stick studs or other embellishments on my nails. This set called out to me on ZALORA Singapore’s Nails Inc. page mainly because of the buzz I’ve heard around their Baker Street cobalt blue polish. Yet at the same time, I was also curious about these metallic foil effect polishes that have been quite popular of late, since OPI’s release of Gwen Stefani’s Push and Shove foil effect polish. Click to enlarge the photo below for detailed instructions:

Detailed instructions on how to use Nails Inc. Bling It On London



How to use Bling It On London

I started off by applying the base coat I normally use: CND Stickey Base on the nails I planned to paint the Baker Street cobalt blue polish after. I did a bit of research on the Nails Inc. South Kensington silver foil polish and read that no base coat should be used for that:

Apply base coat before painting

I then proceeded to paint 2-3 coats of the nail polishes. Instead of following the featured picture and painting one colour for each hand, I decided to switch it up a bit by combining the silver and blue on both hands, but with one hand being a reverse mani of the other, like so:

Combining Baker Street and South Kensington on left hand

Combining the polishes in a reverse mani on the right hand

Next up, after having painted and applied top coat (I usually do two coats of top coat) on all nails, I proceeded to work on sticking the crystal crown embellishments to my accent nails: thumb nails and ring fingernails.

Holding the crystal crown with a pair of tweezers after applying nail glue

The nail glue should be applied to the nail, as well as the back of the crown stud. Then, press the crown firmly on the chosen nail for at least 60 seconds or until it sets. The last step is to apply nail glue under the embellishment using the cuticle stick, for the surfaces of the crown that do not lie flat on the nail:

Parts of the crown will not lie flat on the nail surface

Apply nail glue on the flat surface of the cuticle stick to reach under the crown embellishment:

Applying nail glue on the flat end of the cuticle stick

.

There we go! Here are the final results:

The final results on my right hand

The final results on my left hand

True to what the packaging says, the embellishments eventually fell off one by one over the next couple of days. I was lucky I was able to find them all, but otherwise, the method of removal would be to soak the accent nails with crowns in acetone, to dissolve the nail glue. The crowns can then be re-used again.

Before I go, here’s another look at the final Nails Inc. Bling It On London manicure:

The final Nails Inc. Bling It On London manicure on my left hand

The final Nails Inc. Bling It On London manicure on my right hand

I must say, I really liked the look of the final manicure especially due to the lovely bling crowns, although I did wish they would stay on my nails longer. I also loved the cobalt blue Baker Street, and was pleasantly surprised that I liked the silver foil South Kensington look more than I thought I would have.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this nail feature. Would you try this set or other Nails Inc. sets?


Nail Art: Ciaté Flower Manicure in Strike A Posy

Great day, lovelies! I’m back with a feature on nails again (my pet subject obviously) and this time it’s a spotlight on nail art!

Inspired by the Spring/Summer Fashion Week 2014 floral prints, Ciaté Creative Director Charlotte Knight conceptualised a couple of flower manicure sets that allow users like you and me to adorn our nails with natural dried pressed flowers. Ain’t that a neat idea?

Ciaté Flower Manicure in Strike A Posy

Now, Ciaté isn’t new to the nail art scene. I remember back when I really got into the swing of painting my own nails in late 2012, I had cottoned to their Caviar Manicure trend and wanted a little fish-egg action on my own nails but Ciaté wasn’t available in Singapore then. Luckily, my sister lives in the UK, home of Ciaté, so it came as no surprise my 2013 birthday request was for a Ciaté Caviar Mini Bar set (more pictures of the caviar manicure at the end of this post!)

Ciaté Caviar Mini Bar set



Ciaté in Singapore

It wasn’t long after that when Sephora Singapore started carrying the brand Ciaté in its stores in 2013. But the prices weren’t exactly cheap: Their Caviar Manicure sets were retailing at SGD34 each, while their individual nail polishes called Paint Pots were going for SGD20 a pop.

Since then, Ciaté has come up with many different nail art sets and ideas: Velvet Manicure which uses flocking powder to create a velvet texture on nails, Sequined Manicure, Chalkboard Manicure, Very Colourfoil Manicure, Feathered Manicure, Corrupted Neon Manicure, Shell Manicure and the Flower Manicure, which I’ll be featuring in this post. So much fun, right (if you have all the money in the world to spend on your nails, that is)??

Ciaté Flower Manicure: 5 ml Candy Floss pink polish, 13.5 ml fast dry top coat, 2 pots of dried flowers, tweezers & nail file

But. But. BUT. Now Ciaté is available on ZALORA SG and at an attractive discount too!

For example, Ciaté’s flower manicure set is going for SGD23 on ZALORA Singapore instead of SGD34 at Sephora Singapore (note this doesn’t include the delivery charge of SGD3.90 for purchases below SGD40). I just couldn’t pass up the offer!



How to Use

I’ve taken a pic of the instruction manual so you can see how easy this Flower Manicure can be achieved. I gotta admit, I did get a bit of anxiety because I didn’t know if I was going to mess it up, and I’ve been doing my own nails weekly for about 2 years now!

Ciaté Flower Manicure instruction manual (please click to enlarge)

I’m going to try and show the process step-by-step the best I can, considering I have only 2 hands and one of them has to hold the camera! ;) (This is one of those times when having a partner comes in handy, pun intended!)

But before we do that, here’s a closer look at the polishes and pressed flowers included in Ciaté’s Flower Manicure set:

5 ml Candy Floss, 13.5 ml Speed Coat Pro, and 4 types of dried flowers included

In the Strike a Posy (love the pun!) set, four different types of flowers are included: Yellow flowers, blue flowers, yellow “baby’s breath-like filler flowers” and vanilla-coloured “baby’s breath-like flowers”.

Before starting, I actually picked out each flower just to see how many dried flowers were included in the set. The flowers look deceptively little in the pots, but after picking them out, I realised that Ciaté had included a pretty generous portion of flowers in each set! They also smelt like how dried flowers would (you would know if you used to press flowers to make bookmarks etc) :P

PVA glue base on select fingernails before base coat

I prepped my nails with PVA glue base coat on three of my nails (it’s the white substance you see on my nails in above picture). Why 3 nails only? Well, I used to apply the PVA glue on all nails if I wanted to remove glitter polish easily by peeling them off since we know that glitter polish is a pita to remove, but found that my polish on my most-used fingers: index and middle nails would pop off sometimes barely a day or two after applying. Hence I skip the PVA glue on those nails to prolong wear and it’s worked so far!

Base coat applied on top of PVA glue after it’s dried

After the PVA glue’s dried, it will turn clear, and then I apply my base coat, CND Stickey Base, on top. Although the instructions in Ciaté’s manual didn’t talk about using a base coat, I do it out of habit and to protect nails from possible staining, etc.

A look at Ciaté’s brush from the Candy Floss mini paint pot

Here’s a closer look at how Ciaté’s brush looks like. I’ve compared the mini brush with the full-sized ones and they are similar in width.

Two thick coats of Ciaté Candy Floss

And so I started by painting two thickish coats of Ciaté Candy Floss, a bubblegum pink colour, on my nails. Formula was mostly self-levelling but can be slightly streaky if you are not careful so it’s best to use light strokes without going over a spot too many times.

After applying flowers on all nails before top coat & buffing with nail file

This is the important part: Top coat should be applied one nail at a time, and I recommend picking out the flowers you want on each nail beforehand. So pick out the specific flowers you want on your thumb nail (ha ha), for example, apply the top coat on only the nail on your thumb. Then working quickly, use the tweezers to apply the flowers you picked out on to the nail while it’s still wet, tapping them gently into place with the tweezer. This is how it looks like (above picture) before sealing with top coat and buffing the excess flowers sticking out from the free edge of the nails.

After applying top coat to seal the flowers, and buffing the excess flowers

Next, seal the flowers by applying a coat of top coat on each nail. Follow this up by buffing any excess flowers sticking out from the sides and free edges of the nails downwards with the nail file included (above picture shows these steps done before cleanup).

Post cleanup!

And voila! This is the product after clean-up! (I apologise for the poor picture quality.) As the Ciaté top coat was a bit on the thin side, I finished off with another thick coat of Poshé super fast drying top coat, to smoothen the surface of my nails further (important for those of us who rub our eyes).

What do you think of this floral manicure by Ciaté? Do you love the idea? Would you try it?
I must say I do like it as it’s quite easy to get pretty nail art without having to be artistic etc. Also it’s still looking good 3-4 days into wearing it.



As promised, here are some pics of the Ciaté Caviar Manicure I tried using the Mini Bar set:

Caviar Manicure micropearls in Candy Shop (ring nail) & Jubilee (thumb) for CNY 2013

Ciaté Caviar Manicure micropearls in Candy Shop (thumb) and Jubilee (ring nail) for CNY 2013

Ciaté Velvet Manicure in Mink Cashmere on all nails except Caviar Mani in Hologram on ring nail

Ciaté Caviar Manicure in Prom Queen on ring fingernail



Awesome paw-some much? Ciaté Caviar Manicure sets are e-tailing on ZALORA Singapore for SGD18-27 (excluding delivery charges), and Ciaté Very Colourfoil Manicure, Feathered Manicure and Corrupted Neon Manicure sets are going for SGD23 each. Select Ciaté Paint Pots are on sale at SGD16 a bottle.

ZALORA Singapore also carries a range of Nails Inc. manicure sets as well so go grab them before they run out!

Till then, toodles xx


Passion for Fashion, 7 Days a Week

Hello my lovelies, how are you keeping? ;)

Today I’d like to share some fashion buys I’ve made of late, since just before Chinese New Year this year, amounting to a week’s worth of outfits. I’ve been busy getting beautiful from head to toe, from ZALORA Singapore no less!



Future State

My shopping sprees on ZALORA Singapore all began innocently enough with not having had the time to shop for CNY clothes (*roll eyes* as usual). I had sworn off online shopping since my ill-fitting ASOS outfits and the sky-high price of sending them back to the UK for a refund.

But… but… I laid eyes on this Future State multi-coloured top with a surplice neckline and butterfly sleeves that set my heart aflutter. Anyone who knows me knows I have a weakness for surplice necklines and butterfly sleeves! So when Future State combined them, I was sold. :P

Future State multi-coloured top

Many months later, I spied this lovely Paola maxi dress also from Future State on ZALORA, with butterfly sleeves and a surplice neckline no less, and I had to have it too. No regrets there! This dress, as well as a toga dress in a similar pattern, is still available on ZALORA so quick grab!

Future State Paola Short Sleeve Long Dress

As the neckline was a bit too revealing, I searched ZALORA for a brooch and found this lovely Chomel vintage gold brooch:

Chomel Vintage Gold Brooch & NCLA Flash Fete nail wraps

Isn’t it beautiful? I am totally lovin’ the entire bohemian-cum-nature theme of the dress, brooch, plus my NCLA Flash Fete nail wraps, also available on ZALORA!



EZRA by ZALORA

My first foray into the brand EZRA by ZALORA was with this asymmetrical knit trapeze tank:

EZRA by ZALORA knit trapeze tank

Here’s a full-length look, where I paired it with River Island PVC leggings and Melissa heels:

EZRA knit trapeze tank

My next acquisition from EZRA was a pair of maxi dresses, which were going for SGD37 for both, and are still available on ZALORA:

EZRA maxi dress in Grey Melange

EZRA maxi dress in Enamel Blue

This maxi dress is also available in black, deep green and burgundy. Do note that the belts used to cinch the dresses are not included. The beige patent skinny belt on the Enamel Blue dress is from Mango and ZALORA though!



Mango

Of course, who could resist getting something from Mango since the label’s also available on ZALORA? ;) I found myself falling for this cobalt blue V-neck dress (I think cobalt blue looks great against my skin tone):

Mango V-neck dress with patent skinny belt

Yes, the beige patent skinny belt is also from Mango! You can wear this dress in more than one way, and this is usually how I love to wear it out, cinched with a wide belt and paired with thin leggings:

Mango V-neck dress with leggings

I think part of the appeal of this dress for me is ‘cos of how much it reminds me of “The Boyfriend Shirt” style:

Mango V-neck dress as the boyfriend shirt



Accessories

Looking pretty from head to toe means attention to detail, down to your earrings and accessories. Ain’t these fox head stud earrings from River Island & ZALORA, which retail for less than SGD5, cool (and not to mention, totally befitting the nature theme with the brooch and abalone-shell-print NCLA Flash Fete nail wraps):

River Island gold tone encrusted fox head stud earrings

Another look at the abalone-shell-print NCLA Flash Fete nail wraps:

NCLA Flash Fete nail wraps

And we end this fashion feature with the Melissa Spikes II iridescent peeptoe heels in Black/Chameleon from ZALORA (YES, finally a pair of Melissas to call my own):

Melissa Spikes II iridescent peeptoe heels in Black/Chameleon

This post wouldn’t be complete without a gratuitous selfie shot :P

Gratuitous selfie

Hope you enjoyed this little fashion feature, that hopefully would spark some ideas on getting decked out from head to toe. Truly, you can find all you need to look beautiful from ZALORA, so what are you waiting for? ;)


Review: Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil

Helloooo lovelies, how have you been doing?

I have been really busy with work, as well as online shopping in between *insert sheepish face*. You know how it is with working and retail therapy, and I tell it as it is: Clothes, nail polish, and beauty products are the usual suspects for me :P

As I was shopping for clothes online, I chanced upon Sephora beauty products online at ZALORA. I wanted to get the free shipping above $40 at ZALORA, so I decided to throw in some beauty products from the Sephora range that I needed: Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil and Daily Makeup Brush Cleaner, both of which I heard good things about. Check out Musings of a Muse’s review on the Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil

Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil & Daily Makeup Brush Cleaner





Clean up the make-up I: Face

I was in need of a new makeup remover, as my Pond’s Cold Cream jar was nearly empty and I was thinking of switching to a cleansing oil, thanks to the immense popularity of Shu Uemura makeup remover cleansing oil.

Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil – Nothing Stays On

Previous makeup removal ritual: I have been using Pond’s Cold Cream to take off my makeup for as long as I remember. My skin leans towards dry and dehydrated, so I favour creams and oils over foams for cleansing and makeup removal.

If my makeup was heavy, I would usually have to double cleanse with Pond’s Cold Cream using cotton pads, and then wash the cold cream off with my Niks Professional Ultrafine Soothing Cleansing Lotion and water.

That’s a triple cleanse to remove my makeup!

Dermatologically and ophthalmologically tested – safe for eye makeup removal too!





Enter Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil: I got this on ZALORA as it was very attractively priced at SGD20 for 190 ml. As a reference, Shu Uemura sells their cleansing oil at about SGD50-55 for 150 ml.

As you can see from the ingredients listed on the bottle, it is primarily made up of mineral oil, and contains Jojoba seed oil, sunflower seed oil, Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) and Vitamin E (tocopherol). It seems that jojoba seed oil and sunflower seed oil are both beneficial as moisturisers to the skin as they penetrate the skin easily without leaving a greasy residue.

Here are the ingredients:
Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil), PEG-6 Sostearate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Seed Oil, Fragrance, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, BHT.

Other pointers you should know about Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil:
- Dermatologically & ophthalmologically tested and suitable for sensitive skin and eyes
- Does NOT contain parabens and soap
- Removes even waterproof eye makeup



My experience using Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil: The cleansing oil had a pleasant floral fragrance to it, and was a clear runny oil in my hands when pumped out. On the website, these are the instructions for using the cleansing oil:

Directions to use:
1. Pump the oil once onto palm, then apply onto dry skin.
2. Add water to change oil into lotion. Rinse with warm water.
3. To remove waterproof mascara, gently rub lashes together between index finger and thumb before adding water.

Cleansing oil pumped onto dry hand

The important part is that the oil should be pumped onto dry hands, and spread on to the face that has not been wet with water. After spreading on the skin, then water should be added to change the oil into an emulsion which is like a white, milky lotion. This is the part when the makeup gets removed. Add water as you deem fit, to spread the emulsion over your face to remove all traces of makeup.

Milky emulsion formed when water is added

Then rinse with warm water, to remove the makeup. Being someone who’s used to double cleansing, I followed this up with my Niks Professional Ultrafine Soothing Cleansing Lotion, to wash off all remaining traces of the cleansing oil and any makeup.



After-feel: My skin felt comfortable after the entire makeup removal process, not in the least tight or dry. My skin can never do with foaming facial washes, or even Cetaphil, as I find that drying and tight. So I was quite delighted to find that the Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil had sat well on my skin, and although I did not use cotton pads to check whether there was any makeup residue after using it, my skin felt clean enough after using my Niks Pro cleanser (which is also a rinse-off cleanser), and I only needed to double cleanse, instead of triple-cleanse!

Overall, it’s a thumbs-up for me and I am quite converted to the makeup removing cleansing oil camp now, to be honest!

Here’s a test I did on both hands with Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil on my left hand, and Pond’s Cold Cream on my right and the result:

My left hand actually felt softer and smoother to the touch, compared to my right hand, but not oily at all! I’m sold!



Clean up the make-up II: Makeup Brushes

I also needed a brush cleaner that would help clean my brushes in between my deep brush cleaning ritual that comprised of washing my brushes with a shampoo under running water for a few rounds until I was quite sure the brushes were clean of makeup AND shampoo.

Deep cleansing brushes weekly is even too much of a stretch for me, but as I don’t exactly wear makeup that often nowadays, I thought a daily brush cleanser, quite like the one MAC first put out in the market, would be a good way to keep my brushes clean (and hence my face safe from comedone-causing bacteria).

Sephora Daily Makeup Brush Cleaner

In fact, I got really curious about this brush cleanser, after reading a friend’s review of it on her blog: Melva’s Review of Sephora Daily Makeup Brush Cleaner

So imagine my surprise that I didn’t have to physically make a trip down to Sephora just to get my hands on this since ZALORA now carries the entire Sephora beauty range!

Back bottle shot of Sephora Daily Makeup Brush Cleaner

I’ll do up a review of this once I have had the chance to try this out. Meanwhile toodles babes, and have yourselves a great (short) week ahead! :)