Mother and daughter skincare secrets


It is not unusual for daughters to look like their mothers, but in the case of Natasha Chiam, 29, and Ivy Chiam, 58, the likeness extends far beyond appearance.

Apart from glowing complexions, which they credit to years of using sunscreen and moisturiser, the mother-daughter pair share an infectiously sunny disposition.

The younger Chiam used to be a beauty writer for Female magazine, but left journalism in 2013 to focus on her own food business here, the Ice Cream and Cookie Co, a gourmet ice cream sandwich company. The elder Chiam dedicates herself to "home duties", splitting her time between Singapore, where Natasha is based, Los Angeles, where her son is a student, and Australia, where the Chiam family has lived for 20 years.

They laugh generously at themselves and at each other, showing that a mother is often not just a caregiver, but a best friend and confidante.

When did your mum allow you to wear make-up?

Natasha: She was always quite liberal, but I started wearing make-up only when I went to university.

Ivy: What was more important for me was teaching her how to clean her face. How to cleanse and moisturise rather than how to apply make-up.

N: Yeah, when I was 13, my mum gave me my first proper moisturiser from Clarins.

What is your skincare routine?

N: A lot of my routine is based on what my mum does. She uses Cetaphil, so I use Cetaphil. She doesn't use toner, so I don't use toner. We both use lots of moisturiser and sunscreen because when we were in Australia, the sun was really strong.

Both mother and daughter use serums and sunscreen (above) as part of their daily routines.

That was the one thing my mum was insistent on. Regardless of whether it was raining or sunny, we always had to wear sunscreen.

I: I tried Cetaphil when I was younger and found that it worked, so I kept with it. Even until today, I use Cetaphil facial cleanser, though I do alternate it with Bioderma.

During the day, I also use CE Ferulic antioxidant serum, which I follow with a Clarins moisturiser and sunscreen from SkinCeuticals. At night, I use La Prairie eye cream and serum.

N: Our routines are more or less the same - cleanser, moisturiser, eye cream, serum, sunscreen. Every dermatologist I have ever met recommends vitamin C serum so I put one in my routine.

At the moment, I am using a moisturiser from Estee Lauder, but my skin tends to get used to products very quickly, so I try to alternate the Estee Lauder with the Lancome Hydra Zen.

I: Sometimes, we share skincare products, but not make-up because she is more adventurous and has a whole palette of items that she experiments with. At my age, I keep to the things which I know work for me.

Did you inherit any make-up tips from your mother?

N: Yes, she has this method for applying lipstick.

I: I always tell Natasha "less is more". Just keep it simple.

N: Yeah, but you also do the blotting thing.

I: Oh, right. Apply a first layer, blot it with tissue or dust it with powder, then apply another layer. This way, the lipstick stays on for a longer period.

My own mother did not wear much make up so I learnt everything I knew from books, magazines and years of trial and error.

When Natasha was younger, I was the one telling her what to do, but when she grew older, and especially when she became a beauty writer, the roles reversed. Nowadays, I am the one pinching ideas from her or asking, "do you think this looks good?", "is this too much for my age?"

Do you have any beauty secrets?

I: We drink a lot of water, don't we Natasha?

N: Yup. Growing up, we never had soft drinks or sweet drinks around the house. Even now, the only drink I have in my refrigerator is water.

I: Diet is very important for good skin. We do indulge occasionally, but most of the time, we eat at home and eat lots of greens. We also drink juice.

N: Yes, lots of fresh juice. Lately, we have been using a lot of pomegranate. We mix it with everything - broccoli, kale, lemon and celery. We do not follow a recipe so, sometimes, it turns out good, other times not so good.

I: Exercise is another thing. I play tennis and do hot yoga, which I believe is good for the skin.

N: I try to run or do yoga as well but it's hard now because I have a busy schedule. When I was in Australia, I swam quite a lot.

I: Yes, she is a very good swimmer.

What is your idea of beauty?

N: It's a mix of personality and outer appearance.

I: I agree. The ideal beauty has both inner and outer glow. In fact, how a person interacts with other people can often be more endearing than how they look.

Do you disagree over any beauty issues?

N: Dying my hair. She does not like me to do it, but I do it anyway.

I: It will spoil her hair, not because she does not look nice.

N: She thinks my hair is going to fall out.

I: Yes, you are going to be bald by the time you get to your 40s.

I suppose when she was younger, there were also times when she thought she was fat and I would ask, "Where? Where is the fat?"

N: Mothers are always so supportive. They are blinded by love, so even if anything is wrong, they will say "it's okay, it's fine".

I: That's true. To us, our daughters will always be the most beautiful girls in the world.




Student Iman Fandi is following in the footsteps 

of her mother, former model Wendy Jacobs, 43, from South Africa.WENDY JACOBS AND IMAN FANDI

The 15-year-old was a finalist in last year's New Paper New Face modelling competition and was awarded Miss Popularity and New Look Miss Fashionista. This led to a cover shoot for Elle magazine with models Fiona Fussi and Vivien Ong.

Jacobs, who is now a part-time etiquette and grooming teacher at the Institute of Technical Education, is married to football legend Fandi Ahmad, 52. The couple also have four sons - Irfan, 18, Ikhsan, 16, Ilhan, 13, and Iryan, nine.

What is your skincare routine?

Wendy: I'll wash my face when I'm in the shower and, sometimes, I'll use body cleanser to wash my face out of convenience.

After drying my face, I'll put some moisturiser. I don't use any anti-ageing products, eye cream or anything else, and I've never had problems with my skin.

Iman: I'm just like her; the only two things I use are cleanser and moisturiser.

W: But she likes to do face masks every now and then.

I: Well (laughs), I guess I'm a little more high-maintenance then.

What beauty tips did you inherit from your mother?

W: My mother always said go as natural as possible; she was never quite keen on make-up. So when I don't have a shoot, I wear very little or no make-up.

My mother is in her 60s now and has aged gracefully. I'd like to age like her. Her skin is always beautiful and I'm lucky to have inherited those genes.

I think that when you don't use that much make-up, you really don't need to do much.

I: She taught me to be fuss-free, too. Less is more. I've actually learnt a lot about beauty from YouTube vloggers, such as Amanda Steele and Bethany Mota. Sometimes, my mum does ask me for advice. Once, she tried to put on false eyelashes, but they were crooked, so I got her to take them off.

W: That's how low-maintenance I am, I couldn't even put on false eyelashes.

I did teach her not to shave, as it causes in-grown hair, and that waxing is much better.

Which are your favourite beauty products?

W: We love Bio-Oil. It's a South African brand that you can get at the pharmacies here.

I had two big operations on my knees when I was younger, and the oil helped to lighten the scars. I've also used it for stretch marks. It's good as a make-up primer for a dewy look.

I: It's a very good moisturiser to use at night. I'll just use a small drop on my face, so it's not too oily.

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What beauty treatments do you indulge in?

W: I think she started to develop an interest in beauty when we lived in Indonesia.

We used to have a girls' Sunday when we would spend all day at the spa.

I: I loved it! We got everything, from our hair to toe nails done, and we even ate dinner there.

W: Now, we go to the spa only once a month for a nice massage. It's not about spoiling her, but because she needs her muscles to be relaxed. Even though she's no longer in the Singapore Sports School, she's at the gym every day.

Do you go shopping for beauty products together?

I: For some reason, every time we go out, we'll end up at Watsons.

W: We're not brand conscious, so we shop for our beauty products at Watsons. We're there at least once a week. There's always something to buy there. I'll start at the make-up area, then move on to the vitamins and go back to the make-up again.

I: When we're in South Africa, we love this health and beauty store called Clicks - it's the equivalent of Watsons.

W: One thing that we have in common is that if we buy a cleanser from one brand, we'll also get other products from the same brand. It's not because they work better together, but because it helps the bathroom look nice.

We're in the Dove phase now, so our shampoo, body wash and deodorant are all from Dove. It could be another brand next month.

Do the boys ever try to get involved in your beauty routines?

I: Ikhsan does. When I'm not at home, he likes to look at my stuff. One day, he found the bleach cream that I use to lighten the hair on my arms, and he wanted me to try it on the hair on his head. I helped him and it worked.

W: They kept laughing throughout the process.

Initially, we bought the cream from Mustafa just to try it out. It really works, so now bleaching the hair on our arms has also become a thing that we do together.



Norlinda Zainuddin, 39, says it is always difficult to stay angry at her daughter, Shanise Lozzi, 14, and son, Filippo Lozzi, 10, because they come up with the most endearing ways to apologise.

Previous antics include writing apology notes on toilet paper as well as sneaking off to buy flowers after forgetting Mother's Day.

From 1998 to 2002, Norlinda, who usually goes by Linda Z, lived with her former husband in northern Italy. That was also where Shanise was born. The two converse in a hybrid of Italian and English, though Linda, who works as a concierge, is keen to teach her children more Malay. Shanise, who is a student at Bedok North Secondary School, used to learn Chinese when she was at Yu Neng Primary school.

It is clear that Shanise has inherited her mother's natural beauty, but in the eyes of Linda, her daughter is much more than just pretty features and a slim figure.

Shanise laughs affectionately by her side as Linda holds back tears. The proud mother explains: "I am glad to have brought up a daughter who is so independent, creative and compassionate."

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When did your mum first allow you to wear make-up?

Shanise: She never restricted me, but I started when I was nine.

Linda Z: From a young age, she would watch YouTube videos and experiment with make-up. It also helps that she has good, steady hands. She can draw eyebrows better than I can.

When I put on make-up, I often need help from my younger sister, who is a make-up artist.

S: Yeah, she's amazing. She always does our make-up for special events.

L: Every Hari Raya, we have to go as early as we can to her place because there is always a queue of people waiting for her to apply make-up.

What is your beauty routine?

S: I start off with a Garnier facial scrub, then I put on a Freeman Avocado and Oatmeal clay mask, followed by a L'Oreal Total Repair cream.

L: For me, I use a L'Oreal foam make-up remover when I come back from work, followed by a Kiehl's facial wash. I also try to moisturise with Argan oil and apply some eye cream. My LifeCell eye cream is the only thing I spend on. It retails at US$79 (S$105) and I have to buy it online from the United States, but I love it because it really reduces my dark eye circles.

What beauty tips have you passed on to your daughter?

L: I tell her not to overdo the make-up. I do not want her to go out looking older than she is.

S: I do not usually do up my whole face. Most of the time, I just stick to mascara and lipstick.

L: Yup, we are both minimalists when it comes to beauty. I have to wear make-up for work but once I am off work, I will just use lipstick and an eyebrow pencil. I also do a lot of sports, so wearing a full face of make-up can be inconvenient.

Nowadays, Shanise is the one giving me tips rather than the other way around. She is my personal beauty critic and I take her advice seriously because I know she wants me to look good.

Do you have any beauty secrets?

L: Exercise. It is what gives you the happy hormones that shine through in your appearance.

I am into triathlons. I was always a runner and in my 30s, I started swimming and biking competitively. Last year, I did the Half Ironman Triathlon in Melbourne.

S: My mum often takes my brother and I to MacRitchie Reservoir to run. In school, I play floorball and, when I can spare the time, I take part in races with my mum. It is tiring but it feels good.

L: Yes, I remember that when she ran her first triathlon as a 10-year-old, she was one of the only girls there.

Apart from being fit, I feel like it's also important to be in tune with your spiritual side. Regardless of which religion, faith has the ability to give people a light and a sense of calm.

Do you follow any beauty trends?

L: Not really.S: I tend to change my brows a lot. In the past, they used to be really arched. Now, I draw them slightly flatter.

L: Are brows in trend?

S: I think so. I feel like they are really important.

L: True. They set the face. You can have a beautifully made-up face but if you have sad eyebrows, you will look sad.

Have you ever struggled with the idea of beauty?

S: Sometimes I complain about my complexion, but I do not worry about it to the extent that I feel insecure.

L: Occasionally, she will also tell me that she needs to lose weight and I will reply: "Where? Your thumb? Your ear?"

Then again, I understand that there are times when we just need someone, be it a daughter, a mother or a sister, to tell us that we are okay.

When I was growing up, I was often told to stop running because my skin was already dark. It affected me for a while and I felt like I needed to use whitening products. However, over the years, I have learnt to embrace my colour.



Inspired by her mother's entrepreneurial spirit, 27-year-old Lee Wan Jing, who is a legal counsel in a bank, launched her online dress rental business, The Dress Access (, two months ago.

Her mother, Ms Christine Tan, 60, owns the Citispa chain of beauty salons, Spa Club and Dermacare Aesthetic & Laser Clinic. Ms Tan, who is married to a retired police officer, also has four sons, aged 36 to 43, and a younger daughter, 24.

What is your skincare routine?

Wan Jing: Cleanser, toner and then suncreen.

Christine: I have a few more steps. I'll moisturise my skin and apply an eye gel after applying the toner and before the sunscreen.

What beauty tips did you inherit from your mother?

C: Because I'm quite vain, I learnt everything on my own. My mother was not interested in beauty - she ran a tyre shop with my father.

W: To remove my make-up, no matter how tired I am.

C: And don't forget that you're not supposed to rub your face too hard as that will cause wrinkles.

I think her friends got tips from me too. In secondary school, she would bring her friends to our home for me to take a look at their pimples and give them advice.

W: She also stresses the importance of an active lifestyle for good skin and health, so I make sure that I go to the gym regularly.

C: I do ballroom dancing at least three times a week and take part in competitions.

When did your mum allow you to wear make-up.

W: Before I left for university in London, she got my sister-in-law to teach me how to put on make-up.

In my first year, she sent me a whole box of M.A.C make-up; there were several bottles of foundation, concealers, blushers and more.

C: When she left for university, it really hit me that she was a grown woman and I wanted to make sure she had everything she needed.

W: When I was still experimenting with make-up, I used a lot of products, but now my routine is very simple.

Instead of foundation, I use this product called Lycogel, which is available at Spa Club. It's a concealer that provides enough coverage and has SPF. After that, I'll use another concealer for my eye area because I have pretty bad dark circles. And then I'll draw my eyebrows.

How did you develop an interest in beauty?

C: Since I was young, I have loved everything beautiful and making people beautiful. So after secondary school, I took classes in fashion design, hairstyling and beauty treatments. But being a beautician was what interested me most.

I opened my first outlet, which had only two beds, at Shaw Towers in 1975 with about $20,000 that I had saved. From there, I grew my business to what it is today.

W: Growing up, I spent so much time at my mum's shops that I developed an interest very naturally. I remember looking forward to watching my mother give people facials once I was done with my homework.

I may consider joining the business some day, which is why I'm currently taking beauty therapy classes at the Citispa training centre.

Do you share beauty products?

W: All the time. By the way, I've taken your Aromatherapy Associates serum.

C: And I've "stolen" your Innisfree Second Skin mask sheets.

W: Oh that's my favourite. It's so thin, but has a lot of product on it. I see an instant brightening effect each time I use it.

C: Most of the products that I use are from brands that I carry at my spa, such as DermaC Cosmeceuticals and Aromatherapy Associates.

Wan Jing is the one who experiments more and recommends new brands to me.

W: Yup. I experiment with more affordable brands. When I feel like I want to pamper myself, I use hers, which are more expensive.

What do you think is her best feature?

C: People say we look alike and I think everything about her is beautiful.

W: Her big, bright eyes.


This article was first published on May 8, 2015.
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