Life | 7 things I won't be getting enough of even in 2019

The end of a year means two things; looking ahead at what's to come and looking back at the year that was. It has been a memorable year but I'm not here with a think piece on setting resolutions and pressing replay on its best moments.
What I'm here for is a round-up of the best items I've used in 2018 which are good enough to take with me to 2019. Through my job and ever-willing spirit to try something new, I've experienced a plethora of makeup, skin and lifestyle products. While most have been good, a select few have gone on to outshine the rest. These are 7 things I've enjoyed using this year which delivered amazing results and ones I'll definitely be using more in 2019.

1. Smashbox Pore Minimizing Primer

At the start of the year, I decided that it wasn't worth spending hours applying makeup if the base beneath didn't stay put. After a few samplings, I settled on the Smashbox Pore Minimizing Primer. It goes on as a super soft formula that gives a powdery-blurry finish. For oily skin like mine, it has worked wonderfully to hold makeup firmly in place, even on the greasiest areas like the lids and cheeks. It's pricey but you only end up using a smidgen for each application. My only regret is purchasing the pore minimizing variant, which I got talked into buying by the store person even though pores aren't a concern of mine, oiliness is. You can purchase the Smashbox Pore Minimizing Primer for Rs 3100 for 30ml.

2. Fitbit Versa

Frequent visitors on Style File may remember that my Fitbit journey began more than 2 years ago and has only been getting stronger. Through the years, I've upgraded models, sported various straps and always found the brand's customer service to be the finest I've ever dealt with. This year, my loyalty and adoration went a step further when I bought the Fitbit Versa. It satisfied my itch for a smart watch that paired sleekly with all my outfits. As this isn't a tech review, I'm not dwelling on specs but in a nutshell, it's the simplicity and beauty of tracking my runs, sleep cycle and even the weather on my wrist that makes this a winner. You can purchase the Fitbit Versa Smart Watch for Rs 21,999.

3.  L'Oreal Series Expert Liss Unlimited Masque

After a great salon treatment this year, I tried to replicate the results at home with the L'Oreal Series Expert Liss Unlimited Masque. The thick shimmery paste is to be applied on damp hair and needs only a few minutes to sink into the cuticle. I leave it for a tad longer to thoroughly penetrate the hair shaft. Even with consistent care, thick hair like mine tends to get rough and dry. This mask is a great fix with results and an incredible scent that lasts for days. You can purchase the L'Oreal Series Expert Liss Unlimited Masque for Rs 780 for 250ml.

4.  Plum Skin Clarifying Concentrate

After unsatisfying results from a clarifying potion by an award-winning beauty brand that cost thousands, I was wary about products with similar claims. When Plum sent this one across, my hesitation was natural but short-lived when I actually began using it. As someone who has experienced the ravaging effect acne can have on one's skin (versus someone with already clear skin), I witnessed the Plum Green Tea Skin Clarifying Concentrate working wonderfully on my skin. It has a lightweight formula, doesn't irritate the skin and showed an improvement on dark spots and dullness over continuous usage over a month or two. If the almost-empty bottle pictured above isn't proof enough, I don't know what is. You can purchase the Plum Skin Clarifying Concentrate for Rs 1,175 for 30ml.

5.  Foreo Luna Mini 2 Skin Cleansing Device

Skin cleansing gadgets have always fallen in the 'will they, won't they' category for me. As in, will they actually do more than a face scrub or won't they be an expensive purchase that doesn't yield results. When the brand sent me the Foreo Luna Mini 2 Skin Cleansing Device all the way from their international HQ, I arrived at my verdict. You can find my in-depth review on NDTV Lifestyle but simply put, it gives my face a deeper, more hygienic cleanse without traditional bristles, hasn't troubled my skin and left it smoother and softer from the first use itself. With a steep price, it's definitely a skin care investment but one which I now can't do a day without. You can purchase the Foreo Luna Mini 2 Skin Cleansing Device for Rs 14,430.

6. Aroma Magic Lavender Essential Oil

After adoring the fragrance of lavender scented beauty products, I went a step ahead and added the Aroma Magic Lavender Essential Oil to my routine. Known for its various skin and wellness benefits, this little bottle has a neat dispenser and doesn't break the bank. Even a drop or two is enough for a relaxing whiff and has found itself in many of my masks and hair packs. You can purchase the Aroma Magic Lavender Essential Oil for Rs 300 for 20 ml.

7. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 10th Gen

As a child, I spent many summers poured over ghost stories and mystery novels. Unfortunately, it's a habit I fell out of as an adult and never picked it back up because of how hassling it can be to purchase books and lug around paperbacks. So the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite E-book Reader seemed like a natural choice for me. I purchased the newest edition of the reader which is waterproof, thinner and lighter with a backlight and slowly but steadily, I've found myself picking up the habit again. I'm no reading purist so I didn't miss the feel of paper between my fingers.  The ease of finding books at my fingertips and reading in the dark before I sleep without straining my eyes has made this a clear winner for me. You can purchase the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 10th Gen for Rs 12,999.

On a separate note; for those who have noticed, I haven't been posting much on Style File and even when I have, the tone and nature of my posts have changed significantly. It's a deliberate choice that I've made for the blog; not only to explore my skill and thought process more but also because content about pretty outfits and new launches have kind-of reached peak saturation in the current digital climate. My intention when starting Style File almost 8 years ago was to write about what mattered to me, regardless of whether it got me followers or went viral. As I slowly get back to more regularity on Style File while balancing my job and the rest of my life, I'd like to thank you for reading what I have to say. Every single reader matters to me and I'm glad to have you on my journey.

Cheers to a year that I don't think I could possibly forget and to the one that is to come!

xo Dayle 

Style Files | The big Bollywood wedding has never been more private

The clock struck 7. Me, and almost everyone in India (and the world, to be honest) who has even the slightest interest in Bollywood glanced anxiously at their home screens. A few refreshes later, it arrived. And by that I mean, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh's first official photos as a married couple. After years of shipping and weeks of waiting, it wasn't a surprise that the coveted pictures went viral within seconds. But why? Marriages happen every day; even in the celebrity world. So what made this one so special? Apart from the fact that they are currently India's most loved celebrity couple, what further heightened the anticipation was that most of the affair was kept under wraps.

Illustration by Leo Alemao / Style File

Last December, Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli made a quiet escape to Italy and returned as a married couple with the only intimation being pastel toned Sabyasachi clad wedding pictures on Instagram. This year started off rather differently in Bollywood with updates of Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja's summer wedding being readily shared online. But days later, maybe Neha Dhupia's surprise wedding to Angad Bedi should have been a telling sign that the secret shaadi was here to stay. Even Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas' union, which saw numerous ceremonies marrying Eastern and Western rituals, came to life in a select spread in People Magazine.

For as long as I can remember, celebrity weddings in both Bollywood and Hollywood have had a reputation for being glitzy, larger-than-life and most notably, public. In 2012, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor's regal wedding spanned across days with the country's finest in attendance. Two years later, Kim Kardashian married Kanye West in a lavish Italian wedding that included multiple designer gowns, a flower wall and 7 tier cake, all of which costed cool millions. In what could be considered a parallel universe, many quieter celebrity weddings have taken place since then. Lisa Haydon's 2016 hushed wedding to Dino Lalvani as well as Preity Zinta's vows to Gene Goodenough in the same year are proof. So was the surprising hush-hush marriage of Justin Beiber and Hailey Baldwin that took place months ago.

It looks like Bollywood took a note out of their book to make their weddings incredibly opulent and luxurious but even more private. On one hand; exotic locations that have only been seen in movies, couture crafted by the world's most talented designers and close pals staying in posh suites. On the other handthe one which we can seea handful of pictures on social media that look like something out of a magazine. It's resplendent and magnificent and we're privy to only as much as they choose to show us. No paps or livecasts; just pictures that are worthy of being turned into a coffee table book.

By no means is this a grouse or complaint; just commentary on the shift of the big celebrity wedding in Bollywood. The paparazzi may be unhappy with the trickle of precious wedding content and so may be the rest of the media. But at the end of it, the celebrity couples are making their wedding their own and driving up their following, who keep hitting refresh. Now all that's left is the anticipatory wait to see if the trend continues. That all starts by checking your mailbox to see if the next wedding invite has arrived.

x Dayle

Style Files | Why the hustle is highly overrated

The first time I heard the word hustle probably dates to a decade ago. It originally meant something of a swingy dance and found inclusion in rap lyrics at the time. Today if you look up its meaning, you'll have to sift through thousands of entries which have nothing to do with music. In millennial speak, hustle is now commonly known as a synonym for working extremely hard.

I've never actually used the word in my vocabulary but it has found favour in inspirational-positioned Instagram captions. More often than not, hustle is used in a positive context. For example, "she's really hustling by working day and night" or "you've got to hustle if you want to earn the green". Hard work is an exemplary value but when it's in the guise of wearing yourself too thin, that's where the problem lies.

Many of us are on almost 24 hours a day. I sometimes check my email first thing in the morning from the crack of my eye, even before I get out of bed. Jobs have the accessibility of being done at home in your pajamas, which is great; but not always. It means you can't switch off; so to-do lists always have tasks, meetings are always scheduled and your phone is constantly buzzing. After tending to all of them, you're left with blurry eyes, decreased focus and a full night's sleep that is more worthy of being called a nap. Most of us who work in careers that can be done remotely have experienced this at some point or another. Egged on by pseudo-motivational words on social media, we push ourselves and we try and we push ourselves even harder, just because hustling is what we're supposed to do, right? I mean, everyone else is doing it.

The challenge is knowing where to draw the line until the hustle starts affecting your personal life and health. When your phone is beeping off the hook, you can't afford to take a day off or don't have the stamina for a leisure activity, that's a telling sign that you've crossed it. As Nigel popularly said in The Devil Wears Prada, "Let me know when your whole life goes up in smoke. Means it's time for a promotion." Many sacrifice so much in the journey to be a part of the phenomenon known as the hustle; which is worrying. With the value of mental health growing increasingly important, it's about time that changed.

Working hard is essential but when you're doing it to compete with others, prove a point or post a motivational picture on Monday, you're doing it wrong when you should be doing it for you. The hustle is nothing more than an extremely overrated digital trend. It can make you feel invalid if your buddy is clocking in overtime on Friday night while you're out getting cocktails when you should be enjoying your evening. Create a wholesome life for yourself, not one spent running on fumes to keep up with what everyone else is doing. Hustling may go out of style but living well certainly won't.

Beauty | Society's problem with body hair

While gabbing with acquaintances recently, one took a pointed look at my exposed ankle and suggested that it was time for me to visit the salon. The reason? To her, a few stray hairs peeking from beneath my trousers meant that hot wax was a necessity. Almost immediately, I remembered the numerous instances of exposed body hair from the likes of Gigi Hadid, Madonna, Penelope Cruz and Drew Barrymore. Of course, I laughed it off but it sparked something within.

What's the problem with body hair? Nothing, really. Scientifically speaking, the functions of body hair are wondrous; other than to annoy you during summer. Body hair is meant to protect the skin, regulate the body's temperature and facilitate the evaporation of sweat. So why are we so averse to seeing it on a woman's body? That answer isn't quite as easy. Women removing their body hair dates back to ancient Egypt and Rome. Through the centuries, methods evolved and fuzz-free areas grew larger and larger. Today, almost every part of women's bodies are completely free of hair. From shaving and waxing to lasers and depilatory creams, the methods are many to achieve the same hairless result.

When you think about it, the problem with women's body hair is entirely based on how we've been conditioned. The second we see a strand, we immediately deem it unsightly, masculine and unattractive. Not because of the fact that women have just as much hair as men (okay, maybe a little less) but because we've been conditioned to think that way. Although it's deeply rooted in society and probably won't change for a long time to come, if each one of us changes the way we perceive body hair, that's a start.

By no means am I suggesting you toss your razor away and follow no-shave November like your man. Neither am I saying to strip every follicle of hair. I do and will continue to wax and shave my body hair whenever I deem necessary. But when I choose not to, that's my choice and even if it doesn't fit with society's idea of what is unsightly or attractive, that's okay. Maybe one day the generations ahead will be conditioned differently but till then, let's remember that keeping or removing body hair is a personal choice and there's absolutely nothing wrong with either of the choices.

Style Files | What 13 Reasons Why taught me about healing

Whether you didn't care enough to watch the show or couldn't stop raving about it, ever since its release in 2017, 13 Reasons Why couldn't be ignored. Amidst many warnings of it being unnecessary and too graphic, I decided to watch it last summer and found the experience a slightly uncomfortable necessity. Before I say any more, a spoiler alert is in effect as I'll be diving right into the show so expect to see sensitive material of the plot and my opinions on it.

13 Reasons Why was unlike most shows I'm used to watching. It touched upon depression, rape, substance abuse and suicide; something I barely expected from a TV show about high school students. The second season of the show released last month and got even murkier. Along with the previous premise of Hannah's very graphic suicide and her notes left via cassette tapes, the new season also depicted more bullying, mental health disorders and loss. As you'd imagine, the death of their classmate left a Hannah-shaped hole in the lives of the teens at Liberty High. But that's only the start of the turmoil going on in their lives.


Clay, the closest to Hannah, is seen to be hallucinating and even communicating with a vision of Hannah, at one time almost pulling a trigger because she won't stop talking. It's evident that Clay is heartbroken, lost and seeming to sink deeper into the dark end. He finds temporary solace in Skye, tries to right the wrongs done to Hannah and even attempts to get inked but healing is a far more complicated process. Thankfully, Clay seems to find some semblance of balance when he opens up about his love for Hannah during her eulogy where he finally accepts the grief and anger to let her go.

Jessica, Hannah's ex-friend, has her own devastating ball game going on. Besides being dragged into Hannah's trial, she is also coming to terms with her own rape. Jess coping with her situation has got to be the most heart-wrenching of them all. From the bold, bright cheerleader and part of Liberty's it couples, she turned into a quiet, scared little girl who went into a shell. Her friend Nina on the other hand, copes with things a bit differently by reaching out and taking charge of how she wants her story to be heard. Alex's failed suicide attempt was possibly the most drastic of coping mechanisms seen in the show's two seasons. It wasn't only Hannah's death that drove him to take the step but also the mix of guilt and grief that weighed on his shoulders.

There were many more characters like Zack and Tyler who were affected by the events but these stood out to me the most. Although Clay seems to have finally started moving forward, him asking for help about Hannah's manifestations would have been ideal. Because like it or not, they did affect him mentally and almost physically. Jess opens up steadily through the season, especially post the trial and falling back into old habits (i.e. Justin Foley) may be her way of doing so. Friendship, self-deprecating humour and physical therapy is what seemed to have put Alex back on track. For Nina to put her traumatic rape behind her, erasing it once and for all by burning the Polaroids seems to be her method of choice.

Healing is a funny thing. Everyone does it in their own way; sometimes that's with meditation, other times it's more destructive. That was one of the stand-out points for me on the second season of 13 Reasons Why. There was a lot more going on but how the characters cope with loss and pain play a crucial part, especially at a time when healing is key for me. Thing is, you can't put a time limit on it, imitate someone else's method or quicken the process. All you can do is create an environment that's conducive and hope for the best. To heal, the destination is far more important than the journey you take to get there.


Life | Snapshots: Summer Break 2018

My love for summer is renowned and this year, the wait for it seemed endless. The past couple of months have been physically and emotionally exhausting so the second the temperature began to rise steadily and my travel plans were confirmed, all joy broke loose. Especially if you live your whole life in the city, the smell of clean air and blissful sound of silence are a welcome change. From eating dinner under the stars to 8K treks up hills, it was heavenly to just live with the sea, sand and sky as my constant companions.

I've come back renewed, focused and peaceful, feelings I haven't felt in a long time. It's also why I haven't been present on the blog as much as I would have liked but slowly, I will get back into the swing of things. Till then, here's a look at what transpired on my summer break. Be warned: If you're in dire need of a holiday, this might not do you any good.

My happy place

Image of pink frangipani champa flowers with green leaves growing on a tree in Goa
Blooming buds, all rosy and bright, at their peak

Image of a woman's feet besides a river with small fish swimming in Goa
Afternoon solitude by the riverside

Image of a dark grey sky surrounded by clouds on top of the mountains and hills in Goa
A mountainscape dotted with grey clouds that look like something straight out of a documentary

Image of a woman wearing printed shorts going for a walk with a brown dog in Goa
Afternoon walks with a furry new companion

Image of a basket full of green mango fruit in Goa
It doesn't get any better than harvesting your own drool-worthy produce, right in your backyard

Image of lightning striking the sky during a thunderstorm while cars drive on the roads in Goa
Almost otherworldly scenes with zipping cars and strikes of lightning at night

Image of a fishing net filled with fishes and crabs freshly caught in the sea in Goa
First catch of the day, fresh out of the ocean

Image of a sunset by the sea in Goa with the sky in shades of orange, peach, purple and gold
This is one of the many reasons why I adore the sea, through and through

Image of fresh berries on the brand of a bush in Goa
Evenings spent berry-picking and eating all our day's work, almost instantly

Image of a young woman in denim shorts under a flowering tree in Goa
Absolutely overjoyed at finding flowers blooming and beautiful

Image of a vegetable vendor sitting in a market selling carrots, beetroots, capsicum and cucumbers in Goa
You can only imagine how good food tastes with produce as fresh as this

Image of a green mango fruit hanging from a mango tree in Goa
What a delight to get a glimpse of (and eat!) more mangoes than the eyes can see

Image of a boats on a beach surrounded by mountains in Goa
Quiet mornings and empty shores at beachside towns

 Photography: Raynor Pereira / Style File

Hope you enjoyed the pictures as much I loved experiencing all of them. It'll be back to business on Style File soon so here's to a fabulous last few weeks of summer.

Dayle Pereira

Life | Why self love is easier said than done

Look up 'self love' on Google and you'll find trillions of tips to make it happen and affirmations to chant every morning. And why not? In the recent past, words like body positive and self image have become regular buzzwords, which all fall under the neat package that is self love. I've always been a 100 percent and more for it. I've even written about the time booty went back to being big (hah!) as well as my trials and tribulations of being petite. But did I believe every word of what I'd written? I'm afraid not.

The idea of self love is so much easier to wrap our minds around than self love itself. Who wouldn't want to wake up every morning, admire their fantastic figure and clear skin, blow a kiss to themselves in the mirror and walk out the door. The reality of it however, is very different. Remember that self image isn't just your body; it's also your skin, your hair and your every other feature on your person. And once you step into that divine bubble of self acceptance and love wholly, everything falls into place. You overflow with confidence and joy, which seeps into other aspects of your life.

But how does it start? You've tried so hard but when you see yourself looking back at your reflection, with the marks, split ends and muffin top, do you really love what you see? Or is the concept of self love making you think you do?  It's something I've struggled with for a while now. After acne reared it's ugly head in my early 20s and then further, an injury; the scars it left in its wake seemed to be stubborn guests that refused to leave. I've envied women who can look fresh-faced when they wakeup. Or the hordes of Instagram influencers who do mini reviews but have flawlessly clear complexions without a stitch of make up. I had heard the chorus of self love and even preached it but fell short when it came to practising.

The quotes about 'loving yourself for you' are easy to spurt out but to live them? Not so much. The cold, hard truth is, self love is difficult and draining; a far cry from the sunshine quotes we're so used to associating it with. A large part of that is because of how closely our self worth is tied to our physical appearance. A single pimple, a few kilos, a bad hair day and instantly, we crumble beneath it and hate what we see looking back at us. Another reason is because of how acclimated we've gotten to unrealistic beauty standards. Day in and day out, we're privy to pretty young things across social media that resemble barbie dolls with airbrushed skin, thick brows, lifted butts and miniscule waists. In the due course of time, it's natural to have our own standards distorted.

With that out of the way, will you and me wake up in the morning tomorrow and love all of the flub, scars and hairy bits? Don't kid yourself. But the silver lining is, somewhere down the line, it's possible. It may not happen next week or even a few months from now but self love is gradual and can sometimes take a lifetime. Till it kicks in, allow space for gratitude. There are millions who would do anything to be in your shoes and being thankful eases in love. Give it space to envelope you, don't be afraid to feel your feelings and be honest with body. It'll take you on the journey ahead.


Beauty | 4 Liquid Makeup And Beauty Products That Upgraded My Routine

Through the years of reviewing and featuring beauty products, I've tried and tested many of them. Regardless of whether they came in simple tubes or luxurious tubs, what's within is all that mattered. Gels, mousse, powders, creams and liquids - you name it, I've tried it and amongst them all, liquids stuck with me past the trial stage. Liquid products not only blend a lot easier, their finish tends to be higher in coverage and more pigmented, without that icky heaviness.

An image of Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser, NYX matte finish setting spray, Benefit cha cha tint and Makeup Revolution liquid illuminator in front of a peach background for a beauty review

While organising my dresser recently, I realised that my preferences have begun tilting quite a bit towards liquid products for my face. Besides my previously featured Neutrogena face wash and Cover FX custom cover drops, a few new liquid face products have found their way into my life and made me wonder how I lived without them for so long.

For comfortably clean skin

An image of Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser in a white bottle in front of a peach background for a beauty review

Let me start with the only skin care product on this list and one I keep going back to. I'm not even kidding when I say I'm on my 3rd bottle of Cetaphil's Gentle Skin Cleanser. I discovered the unassuming bottle a few years ago when I was figuring out a skin care routine during a particularly difficult acne outburst and it did just what it promised without any frills and fancies. The slippery liquid cleans without that familiar lather and dryness we're used to, softens the skin while doing so and thankfully, has no fragrance. It's also a favourite in skin care circles, no surprises there.

 For dewy skin that looks like it's kissed by an angel

An image of Makeup Revolution liquid illuminator in a rose gold bottle with a dropper in front of a peach background for a beauty review

For the past couple of years, the world has been obsessed with highlighter and admittedly, I've got swept up in it too. While my resolve has been strong enough to stick to a single trusty powder highlighter, when I wanted an overall dewiness rather than specific highlighted main points, I picked up Makeup Revolution's Liquid Highlighter. An affordable dupe of Cover FX's illuminator drops, just a few drops are enough to leave the whole face glistening. It does require quick blending with the fingers so that it doesn't look patchy and once I got the technique down pat, I've been adding it to foundation, moisturiser and even applying it directly on my cheekbones.

For makeup that lasts all day and all night

An image of NYX matte finish setting spray in a black spray bottle in front of a peach background for a beauty review

One of the greatest troubles of oily skin is the fact that makeup unfailingly melts off by midday. When I was trying to change that by searching for a makeup fixer of sorts, I came across this viral review which led me to what I needed. The NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray sprays a bit too heavily which leaves you looking like you got wet in the rain so keep it at a safe distance when spritzing. Once it dries, it fixes face and eye makeup brilliantly but in keep in mind, this also works in hand with how oily or dry your skin is. Although greasiness begun setting in 4 to 5 hours later, my makeup stayed put and has held well for a good 6 to 7 hours overall.

For a naturally flushed face

An image of Benefit cha cha tint in a shiny glass bottle with a white cap and brush in front of a peach background for a beauty review

I've become more focused on skin over makeup in the past year which has led to 'lighter is better' becoming a sort-of motto for me. This, along with the fact that summer practically begs for a natural flush, made me choose Benefit's Cha Cha Tint. I'm always wary of highly raved about products because a lot of times, they come with empty promises. But like the original Moroccan Argan Oil, this stain too lived up to every reputed review it received. Its runny formula gives the cheeks and lips a sheer hint of colour but needs quick fingers to blend, or else it looks blotchy. The kicker? It can be layered so that you can decide how pigmented you want your lips and cheeks to look.

Dayle Pereira

DIY | How to wax your body hair at home

I've been waxing for years now but the realisation that majority of people don't do it themselves hit me only recently. While a sudden dinner date makes me reach out for my razor; when I have the chance to plan my schedule, waxing is my hair removal method of choice. Agreed, it's painful to the extent that I've had tears well up after the strip was pulled but the advantages exceed it - it removes hair right from the root, results last so much longer and it even removes dead cells on the skin's surface.

After many salon trips in my teens ended up with me getting bumpy patches and improper regrowth on my somewhat sensitive skin, I decided to take things into my own hands. At first, it seemed daunting to wax my own body hair but years later, I'm glad I started. A number of benefits came along with waxing my body hair at home: I could adjust the dreadfully hot wax temperature as per my liking, pull the strip according to the right direction of my hair, do it as often as I liked, maintain my own standards of hygiene since it wasn't a mass salon for hundreds of women, wouldn't have to face the judgement of the parlour ladies and most importantly, I could save a ton of money doing it myself.

A flatlay image of honey like hot wax in a metal tin along with a metal applicator on a white background

I've been waxing myself for at least 3 years and except for the unforeseen times I've needed quick hair removal with my razor, I've kept going back to my little salon set-up. If you'd like to take the resourceful route and save a whole lot of money every month by waxing your own body hair at home, this post is meant for you as I go through the steps to wax, tools you need and precautions to take.

An image of a blue wax heater filled with yellow hot wax and disposable waxing strips with a metal applicator on a white background

What you need:
When waxing at home, you only need a few purchases that last for multiple waxing sessions.
1. Automatic wax heater
I have a Clairol automatic wax heater which doesn't seem to be available online but there are plenty of alternatives available on Amazon. When making this one-time purchase, make sure it's sturdy with no exposed wiring, has an automatic cut-off which turns off when the wax is hot enough and a medium size since no one needs an industrial size metal bowl for a single person waxing.

2. Hot wax
Just simple unflavoured hot wax does the job of hair removal efficiently. In the attempt to see if flavoured hot wax like fruit and aloe vera wax removes hair better, I've even tried them. But apart from a strong synthetic fragrance, I didn't find any difference between them. Store hot wax in a cool place and make sure it never comes in contact with water.

3. Disposable waxing strips
Basic disposable strips that can be used on either side are enough. Don't mistake them for ready-to-use strips though. Keep a few packets on hand because you can never tell when you will run out.

4. Applicator
A flat metal applicator without sharp ends is ideal, I use an old blunt butter applicator. Never use a plastic applicator as it will melt.

How to wax:
Now on to the actual waxing process.
Step 1 - Use your applicator to put 3 to 4 tablespoons of hot wax into the heater, turn it on and leave it to heat. Ensure the room has no running fan, air-conditioning or direct breeze as that'll restrict the wax from reaching its melting point.

Step 2 - Once you find the hot wax has reached a thick liquid state and resembles honey, take a small quantity with your applicator, blow on it for 2 or 3 seconds and apply it on the skin directly in the direction of your hair.

Step 3 - Quickly place a wax strip over the applied area and press it firmly down. Hold an end section of the strip as a handle and pull it off in one swift motion in the opposite direction of your hair growth.

An image of sleek hot wax in a metal tin with a metal applicator on a white background

That's literally all there is to it. Once you get used to the motions, you'll wonder why you ever went to the parlour for something so easy.

That being said, it's important to keep a few points in mind when waxing, especially if you're a hot wax newbie so here's a little of what I've learned from my experience.
1. Blow on the wax before you apply it. Regardless if you're used to the temperature, the heat always tends to sting.

2. Rather than doing large areas of the body, start with small patches of 3 to 4 inches and keep an eye out for hair growth directions when applying.

3. While it's fairly easy waxing hair on the limbs, for more sensitive areas where the skin is thinner like the face and pubic area, it's best left to a professional.

4.  If a few stubborn strands of hair refuse to come out, don't go over it immediately as that will only irritate it further. Let the redness subsides, wash off the excess wax, dry it and retry.

Now go on and keep your next weekend aside for a self-waxing session rather than checking in at the parlour.


Life | 8 self-care practices that I've added to my routine

Call me cliched but the start of the year always leaves me reflecting on the one that was. I've yammered on about 2017 being incredibly rewarding but it wasn't without its share of lows. While it's only human to pretend everything was rosy; especially on social media, life doesn't work like that - at least mine certainly doesn't.

With its good and bad, the silver lining was that I learned how far I could go and what I needed to reach there. I was thrust into many unfamiliar situations ranging from infuriating to just-leave-me-to-curl-in-a-ball. Most showed me that I really could do it, while every now and again, some showed me that I couldn't and that was okay.

In times like those, just shutting down my laptop and focusing on me helped greatly. Especially when I grappled with anxiety or got overwhelmed, a few practices saw me through. I didn't know it back then but they're called self-care habits, because well, they're meant to care for oneself. Besides just that, self-care soothes the senses, boosts confidence and deviates one mind from the problem at hand. Here are 8 of them I've started practising, which are now a regular part of my daily routine.

An image of hands holding beauty products, St Ives apricot scrub, Cover FX custom cover drops and colourpop highlighter as part of her self care

1. Night time routine

I've slathered on moisturiser and sunscreen since my teens but I really got into a night time routine over the past year. For an article I was researching on Korean beauty, I came across the statement that Koreans look at their skin care routine as a mini-pamper sesssion, not the 'lets get this done with' attitude we often have. That changed the way I looked at my night routine. Once I'm completely clean and dry, I get into applying eye cream, moisturiser and prescription creams, all slowly and gently, to make it as relaxing as possible.

2. Waking up early

I'm terribly guilty of having an erratic night schedule. On some days, it's lights off before midnight and on other days, I'm scrolling through Instagram at 2 am. Together, all of that makes doing anything in the morning unbearable. Once I started slowly winding down in the night, waking up was easier, which made the rest of my day more manageable.

3. Meal prep

Sounds weird, I know but I've found that readying my meal for the next day also has a calming effect on me. I'm lucky enough to eat my Mom's home-cooked meals but prepping and packing a side salad, fruit, a snack and water in my bag the night before makes me feel a little more prepared about the next day.

An image of a young woman with straight hair and eye makeup applying coloured eyeliner as part of her self care

4. Outfit planning

You've surely read this elsewhere as a life hack to avoid a rushed morning and I couldn't agree more. Besides cutting down on time tremendously in the mornings, picking out my clothes and ironing them for the next day saves plenty of time and also makes me feel less scattered about what's ahead tomorrow.

5. Exercise without electronics

When I saw almost everyone on my morning workout with headphones in, I realised how beneficial it is to exercise without a phone or iPod, only my FitBit. Not being distracted by a phone means I'm observing my surrounding, hear the birds chirping and can hear my breath. Also, exercise overall is self-care magic. There's a world of difference on days I workout in the mornings versus ones I don't - my head is noticeably clearer, I'm so much more energetic and I get the most peaceful sleep at night.

6. Step away

From the time I wake up in the morning to when I'm home from work, I'm either checking emails, writing or listening to music. While I can't stop most of that, I try and step away from my desk when possible. Every hour or two, I go outside for a quick walk, take in the view on the terrace or sit in the sun on a bench outside. Unplugging gives your brain a break and while that's not always possible with a 2 week beach vacation, mini breaks like these help a great deal.

A 360 degree image of a beach landscape with coconut trees, sand, shore, water and boats

7. Take the day off

Since I'm barely at home during the week, I like taking one day off solely for myself, which usually is Sunday. Sundays are for me-time, which is the best kind of self-care. No matter how busy the week is, on Sundays I'm camped in my PJs organising my closet, scheduling blog work and cleaning the house. When I'm done with all that, I use the rest of the day to catch up on TV shows while looking my finest; with a face mask and hair pack. Sometimes, I even fit in an at-home pedicure and movie night so by the end of the weekend, I'm rested and ready to take on the world.

8. Always grateful

Last year really taught me the value of gratitude and how easy it is to take all of it for granted. That's why this year, I'm making an effort to be more conscious of what I'm going through and be thankful for every minute of it, good and bad. Even when you're down in the dumps, taking a step back makes you realise how small your problems really can be and how lucky you are to even be a living and breathing at this moment.

Many of these self-care practices may seem simple enough but that's exactly what makes them so easy to fit into your routine. They've helped me a great deal in overcoming difficulty and dealing with anxiety and I hope they do the same for you too.





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