Anita Kapoor:
How You Feel Is How You Look

In case you’re new, welcome to #DearPauline, a beauty column on WoW where we aim to have honest conversations about beauty in a way that could change the way beauty is being talked and thought about.

Forget anything you’ve seen in magazines and social media that still portrays and “sells” unattainable and unrealistic ideals of beauty — that makes you feel bad instead of positive. Beauty, circa 2018, cannot and should not be defined by anyone else but YOU.

We also want this to be a space where you guys are welcome to ask anything about beauty and skincare that concerns you. Are you prone to PMS breakouts? Is your skin feeling stressed and looking dull? Can’t find the right moisturiser? Got a zit-uation that needs to be taken care of, pronto? Fire away. Leave us a comment below, talk to us via Instagram, or email us. We’d love to hear from you because we want to see more action and less lip service. And we really want you to know that you’re not alone. 

So, who’s Pauline? Well, Pauline Ng has been our resident beauty guru for the last few months, giving us some really thoughtful and realistic skincare tips and advice. More impressively, she is the founder of Porcelain, and an ardent believer that when you feel beautiful on the inside, you will look beautiful on the outside. That make-up is a choice, not mandatory. In fact, her belief is so strong that it has inspired a no-make-up culture at her company. Imagine that. You can talk about changing the conversation on beauty and self-empowerment, or you can do something about it. Pauline certainly did. 

Over the last few months, we have invited MTV VJ Hanli Hoefer and actress Ezann Lee to dig deep and share their ideas of beauty, and beauty in relation to the self, as well as their own skincare questions for Pauline. 

IN COLLABORATION WITH
OUR FRIENDS AT PORCELAIN

 

I’m in a healthy, committed and ever growing relationship with myself.

This month, we are super stoked to have Anita Kapoor — host, speaker, performer, a powerhouse — join the conversation.

On a Tuesday morning, the pixie-haired 47-year-old ambled into the brand new Porcelain Origins’ stylish quarters at Paragon. She greets the crew. Small smile, big hello, no make-up, full of spark. It’s a rarity to see a woman so comfortable, confident even, in her own (bare) skin. “I never had insecurities,” she would later tell me. “We are not born with them. Other people project them onto you.”

Isn’t that just the most liberating thing you’ve heard in a while? It is for me. And this is why the world needs more Anita Kapoors. Say it as it is. No BS. Know your self. Own it. Age gracefully. Be real.

A morning of Kapoorisms, as expected, turned out to be a richly empowering and — hello, fun! — morning, with her lively discussion and interview with Pauline, asking all the hard (and right) questions, and schooling us with her own beauty and life lessons. Fearlessly, of course. Is there any other way?

.

HAS MY SKIN CHANGED A LITTLE? SURE. HOW COULD IT NOT? AM I WORRIED? NO. I GIVE IT WHAT IT NEEDS AND CARRY ON.

Hi Anita, thank you for making time to chat with me. How are you feeling at this very moment?
Anita: Peaceful. Focused. Determined. And grateful.

How would you describe the woman you see when you look in the mirror in the morning?
Anita: Crazy bed head, childlike, happy, fresh. 

What does “beauty” mean to you these days?
Anita: Self knowledge. Red lips. Laughter. Imperfection. Stillness. Wildness. 

The way you see and treat yourself now, how is it different than when you were younger?
Anita: Each era has its own charm and charge. My 40s have brought the biggest changes and lessons, and I am filled with awe. It’s also a time when I’ve really understood what self care means — I’m in a healthy, committed and ever growing relationship with myself. 

Do you recall the changes you witnessed on your face when you turned 40?
Anita: No. In my family, no one was obsessed with skin, lines, freckles and aging. Skincare was simple. I loved growing up like that. My mother and grandmother aged gracefully. And I intend to, whenever that happens, hahahaha. I don’t think much about it at all, to be honest. Has my skin changed a little? Sure. How could it not? Am I worried? No. I give it what it needs and carry on. 

What advice can you give other women who are crossing over/just crossed over to the 40s (me included!)?
Anita: Be sincere, kind, chart your own course, never look back except to make sure you’ve learned your lesson, and please know you are wasting your energy and time on finding perfection in yourself and others. You are not an Instagram post, or a 2-D image. You’re unique — breath, skin, bones, thoughts and feelings. 

 Also, humidity is your skin’s best friend. 

When you look at other women now, what do you think makes them beautiful?
Anita: Man or woman, a sureness, grace, self respect and respect for all, and a healthy self deprecation — that is beauty. Look upon others with beauty, and you see beauty. 

Growing up, was there ever anything about your appearance that you felt insecure about? Or that others have made you feel bad about?
Anita: Zero. I never had insecurities. We are not born with them. Other people project them onto you — that’s the lesson. 

How do you take care of your skin these days? Can you walk us through your morning and night routines?
Anita: I disturb my skin as little as possible, and then it works its best. Having said that, I have

sensitised skin, which means atmosphere changes register on my face — colder, drier climates are not for me. Neither are harsh UV lights, they dehydrate my skin dramatically, and richer creams do not work. 

I cleanse, use gentle exfoliating pads, tone (calming tonics work best) and mix a serum into a face oil, and I am done. Heavy-duty anything wrecks my skin. At night, I may do an occasional leave-in rose-based mask. Oh, and I do wear sunscreen when I remember to. Also, skin is not just skin deep. It all happens internally — hormone changes, dental health, chronic and other illnesses play a part. So, health gets more attention from me, beautification is second. 

Do you have any beauty must-haves?
Anita: Skincare-wise, a good cleanser, a calming toner, and a rejuvenating serum. For make-up, cream blush, dark brown liner and red lips.

What’s a guilty beauty pleasure for you?
Anita: Omg, I love those diamond something exfoliator machines? Also, 

laser hair removal is my new friend. 

What is your ultimate skincare hack?
Anita: Face oil. 

We are firm  believers that beauty starts from the inside — it’s how you feel before how you look that truly matters. Other than making sure you put only the best stuff ON your skin, what do you do to feel beautiful and strong on the INSIDE?
Anita: I face my fears, my bad habits, my emotional patterns, and I beat the crap out of them with love, firmness and practice. 

On days when you feel like crap, but you have to go out there to face the world, how do you change the internal narrative to turn things around?
Anita: All crap passes. If I’m feeling shaky, I take time to be alone and take stock of why. If I am required to turn up, I am always able to tune into the confidence and hope people place in me. I don’t bring moods to work — it’s no one else’s responsibility. 

MY MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER AGED GRACEFULLY. AND I INTEND TO.

     

#DEARPAULINE

Anita Kapoor has questions about the integrity of the beauty industry (what are they really selling us?), and wants some real, no-BS skincare and self-care tips. Pauline Ng has the answers.

Anita: There’s so much information out there — a lot of information nobody can actually say whether something really works or doesn’t. So, what are the basic things when it comes to skincare — for both women and men — that we just need to get right?

Pauline: Oh, this is something that everyone should have an education on from their first pimple (laughs). I’d say go back to basics. The Number One rule for me is hygiene. Cleansing your skin properly and exfoliating regularly are a must. Understand that your skin is a living, breathing part of you — there’s a lot that we can control, but also a lot that we can’t. What we can control is hygiene. It’s important to know things like you should never pick at your skin, and at what stage your skin is. What I mean by that is, for example, for women, because of

hormonal changes, there are times when you should avoid facials as it might trigger sensitivity.

Next, your skin type. The easiest way to know is to look at your family history. My mum, my aunt and grandma have skin pigmentation, which means I am more predisposed to the same issue. Prevention is better than cure, right, so if you know you are prone to freckles, start applying sunscreen earlier.

Ultimately, what you want is healthy skin. That requires understanding your skin from a cellular level, which really means that the skin cells need to be healthy. How to keep them healthy? First is water. Second, oxygen. Keep your skin clear, and hydrate not just by drinking water but also by eating water like from fruits and vegetables. And of course, one of the most important things is sleep. Get your sleep cycle right.

Anita: Sleep is the most underrated beauty solution. When I look at myself in the morning when I’ve had a good seven or eight hours of sleep, I…

Pauline: You look like a different person, right?

Anita: Veeery different. I’m really very heartened to hear you speak of, you know, building your skin from a cellular level, because there’s so much out there that is just about preying on people’s fears, right? I mean, we have an entire beauty industry that’s filled with products and services, and quite often, they’re telling you, don’t do this because… or let me scare you into buying this product or having that facial.

Pauline: Absolutely. This really strikes a chord

I’m a low-maintenance girl. I honestly credit that to be one of the reasons why my skin is still in fairly good condition at 47.

with me. Unfortunately, fear mongering is one of the sales tactics, and it’s something I really don’t agree with because I would rather sell hope, you know, I’m much more driven by hope. When my customers come into Porcelain, they are looking for solutions, and we want to offer them solutions. When brands sell on fear, they tell you the obvious like, “you are going to age”.

I believe in education. Yes, we are all going to age, it’s life, so understand how this process takes place? Why do you age? What happens to your skin when you age? How can you slow it down? We educate first before customising a solution to help them. More importantly, once they understand what their options are, we leave the choice to them.

Anita: Exactly. When you talk about hope, it’s not about giving false hope, it’s just really about the fact that anyone can have healthy skin, and that there are ways and means you can get around it.

Pauline: That’s right.

Anita: So, you take care of everybody, and you have a great brand. What about you? How do you take care of yourself when you’re running this business and it’s expanding?

Pauline: I have to work hard at reminding myself, to be honest. We always tell our clients to slow down, to meditate, but…

Anita: You’re not taking your own advice (laughs)?

Pauline: Haha. It is hard! I got a Fitbit a few months ago, and I realised that on Monday meetings, my heart rate can get to 110! You’re just so caught up in the thick of things, you don’t always get a moment to stop and notice how fast you’re going. When I saw my heart rate chart, I thought to myself, no, this can’t be good.

I honestly think awareness is key. What we’re trying to create at Porcelain goes beyond skincare. It cannot just be about how we look, but more importantly, how we live, how we approach life, how we treat each other. That’s the message that we aim to convey, which we did with the #BareWithMe campaign, for example. I see a lot of young people, like my cousins in their teens, I see them scrolling through Instagram, and it’s frightening because there is a very false sense of what beauty “should be”.

Anita: I’m 100% with you.

Pauline: I’m very worried about that, because if that is the ideal of beauty, then that’s very unrealistic.

Anita: You know, we’re sitting here and doing a beauty shoot right now, and it has taken a whole village, so to speak — hair, make-up, outfits and all that — for us to look like this. There’s nothing wrong with wearing make-up, getting your face done, having a great hair cut and wearing nice clothes, but I think you need to ask, is that all there is? We know we’re deeper than that. So I think it’s really wonderful to hear when a company is very deeply involved in the beauty business giving beauty advice like “eat well, drink water, take a chill pill”…

Anyway, I have this very important question, and it’s a super selfish question — it’s about me, and how I live my life. I travel a lot, and it’s often across different time zones, different weathers, and I am a really fuss-free person. I do not appreciate taking 15 products with me, I just don’t. I take at most three products. So what’s the one thing I can do every time I’m in a different environment, different climate than I’m used to in Singapore to keep my skin healthy and balanced?

Pauline: First, understand your skin type. Do some research on the weather conditions where you’re headed. When you travel so frequently, you expose your skin to conditions that are foreign to what your skin is used to. A lot of places are not humid like Singapore. Everywhere else always feels drier, right?

Anita: Starting with the plane, yes. Humidity is so wonderful for your skin, I keep telling everyone. So, before I get on the plane, and while I’m onboard, how should I prep my skin? Because I have tried to ask everybody for some really good tips, including flight attendants, and nobody can give me great tips.

Pauline: I’d love to hear some of the tips they’ve shared.

Anita: Well, you know, none (laughs). For example, when you spritz your face with all the various mineral water sprays, I actually find them very drying. They don’t do anything for me. All I do is make sure I cleanse my skin, put on my usual skin care, and when I’m in the plane, I go and wash my face again after a few hours and re-apply my skincare.

It cannot just be about how we look, but more importantly, how we live, how we approach life, how we treat each other. That’s the message we aim to convey.

— Pauline Ng (picture, next to Anita)

Pauline: That’s good. You’re on the right track. If you’re flying in the day, make sure you wear sunscreen. Sometimes the window shades are not shut, imagine the UV rays coming at you. I would really advise moisturising before you get on the plane, and then wash your face and re-apply your moisturiser. Unless you have a moisturising face mist, I wouldn’t recommend spritzing your face with water.

Anita: OK, so, none of those spring-water-type mists? None of that?

Pauline: It’s best to use an oil-based, slightly richer lotion or serum that can really penetrate into your skin and stay there to do its job.

Anita: Serums are great. You can just pop one in your bag. And again,

I think the way that we’re living life now, we just don’t have the space, and we don’t want to have the bulkiness or heaviness of things. So yes, serum. So I’ve been doing the right thing.

Pauline: Yes! That’s why you look great. Also, if it’s a long-haul flight, slap on a mask and recalibrate.

Anita: How do you slap a mask on in the plane and not scare the people next to you?

Pauline: It’s okay, they’ll understand. You’d understand, right? (Laughs)

Anita: I know, I know. I’m not sure about slapping the mask on, but

 

EAT WELL, DRINK WATER, TAKE A CHILL PILL.

definitely the serum and the moisturiser.

Pauline: What I like to do as soon as I’ve checked into my hotel room — your skin by this point will be feeling so tired, and your body is trying to adjust — is do an exfoliation and have a really nice bath. Put a day mask on to help reduce inflammation and sensitivity, and then a hydration mask. Just three steps, and your skin will thank you.

Anita: That’s already three steps too many for me (laughs).

Pauline: Laughs.

Anita: Hey, I’m a low-maintenance girl. I honestly credit that to be one of the reasons why my skin is still in fairly good condition at 47. Of course, the genes, too. If I can share with you a tip that I use, it’s really drinking more water than you think you need. Like, two litres a day. Because you feel really clear-headed,

you actually notice it in your skin, and also you just kind of feel better in general.

Pauline: Agreed.

Anita: You know what I love about this conversation? All along, underlying everything we’re speaking about in terms of beauty, we’re actually talking very realistically about wellness. Beauty is not just skin deep, it’s right inside. It’s how you feel. And how you feel is how you look.

Pauline: Exactly. What’s most important is enjoying your time, your life. Make the choice to surround yourself with people who are positive, and you, too, can make the choice to be positive, you know. Like right now, this last half an hour of conversation with you has been really, really great. We get to share and hear each other’s points of view and tips, and call that work — how amazing is that? Thank you, Anita.

Anita: Thank you.

ART DIRECTION + PHOTOGRAPHY  //  KARMAN TSE
MAKE-UP & HAIR  //  VERA LIM, LOVE BLUSH
OUTFITS  //  PETERSYN (ON ANITA). ANNA OCTOBER (ON PAULINE). BOTH AVAILABLE FROM LE LOOP
LOCATION  //  PORCELAIN ORIGINS (THE PARAGON #04-48)

 

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1. Quote “Dear Pauline” when you book your appointment.
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