It’s a beauty time capsule very dear to me, as I revisit old-fashioned beauty tips during my grandmother’s time.

I will always remember her immaculate skin (sometimes overly powdered), her kohl liner to tightline even without a mirror, and her ultra-black hair. 

We are in a time of embracing maximalist proportions — more is more — and it’s an era where beauty tools have gone through levels of advanced science and technology. It’s now a billion dollar business scaled to revolutionary proportions; skincare-like makeup, a broad shade range and a (finally) much needed diversity-check. And bless that! We are lucky to live in the now.

Back in the day, our grandmothers resorted to simple and resourceful beauty tips without fancy gadgets. A Foreo, sheet masks, a claw clip; I will never be able to tell how much I would thrive if I was blasted back where these tools didn’t exist in the masses. 

Our grandmothers didn’t just make do with whatever product they have. In fact, they absolutely owned it. So, I found out more about it.

1. The Gua Sha Glow

Gua Sha has returned full force to our melting pot. A traditional Chinese jade beauty tool that is flat and rounded to scrape over the skin. 

If you’re looking to liven up your morning complexion, the Gua Sha promotes circulation to reveal that post-workout blush. It is a nifty tool that absorbs oxygen and nutrients into your skin for that healthy after-glow. And if you easily bloat, the Gua Sha drains your toxins to reduce puffy areas. Benefits aplenty; it is also a stress-relief alternative to release built-up tension from migraines and overworking — think excessive frowning at your home screen everyday. 

Before usage, ensure your skin has been prepped with water or facial oil, as Gua Sha is too harsh to be used alone on bare skin. Hold the curved side to your face and glide it in an up-and-out motion. If you’re used to a contouring motion, take note that this is not alike to a contour! Instead, opt for short strokes in one direction, instead of going back and forth. You can begin from the neck, jawline, hairline or above your nose bridge to tackle all pressure points. Remember to stroke down until the neck to drain fluids with a light to medium pressure. Guasha while televiewing at the same time? You can do that too! 

Psst! If you prefer professional assistance, Kew Organics offers a Lumi-Lift Detox Organic Facial to restore your skins vitality. ‘Lumi’ refers to their Gua Sha technique that stimulates blood circulation and ‘lift’ is a Gua Sha workout for your face that helps sculpt and tighten sagging skin. Overall, it’s an organic detox that is gentle and leaves you with a brighter, clearer complexion. 

2. A Bedak Sejuk Mask

Bedak sejuk literally translates to cold powder, but frankly, this was the hottest and most accessible beauty product during our grandmothers’ time. This was a beauty staple that held a lot of gravity in the past that my grandmother used often to achieve radiant, smooth and clean skin. Although she didn’t specifically show me the ropes, it is easy to learn and everyone can do it. 

When using bedak sejuk, you will notice tiny white beads that are hard-textured. To really maximise its use and fluid forms, mix a bead or 2 with a little bit of water to create a semi-thick paste. It’s exactly like a mask, and that’s what its role is! Apply it all over your face and use it weekly or nightly for radiant results. 

Bedak sejuk is jam-packed with amino acids and fatty acids; the same ones used in the beauty industry to moisturise skin and regenerate your cells. Additionally, the rice panicle extracts within, called phenolics, are antioxidants that are meant to reverse ageing signs. They are also antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Sounds too good to be true? There is no catch. In fact, It’s safe for you. Made with grocery store-bought rice and filtered tap water, free from heavy metals and harmful bacteria, you can use a bedak sejuk mask to embrace the times when beauty was kept so simple, creative and resourceful.

3. A Mole Like Marilyn

The allure behind a beauty mole is linked to the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Cindy Crawford, Natalie Portman — even Enrique Iglesias. Sultry, attractive and glamorous, beauty moles were a beauty standard. Previously, they were more perfect-looking as compared to today’s spotlight on an imperfect form of perfection. More specifically, freckles and light, sporadic moles. Back then, just one mole was enough to make a statement. Hence, it should be pigmented, located at an obvious area and perfectly rounded.

Attempt to recreate a beauty mole by using a gel liner (any liner in your makeup pantry) to create a precise application. Focus on one area of your face that you want to highlight and draw in your mole. There’s really no special trick nor surgery to it, except to keep your base clean so that the exclamation point would be on the mole itself. 

4. Cover Your White Hairs and Hair Gaps

Genetically, I’m stuck with the fate of premature white hair. Coupled with everyday stress, the white strands peek through more. Bald spots also tend to be apparent when I put my hair in a tight ponytail. 

If you are in dire need of a last minute touch-up for those pesky white hairs, or a product that enables you to rock a tight ponytail (with no gaps!), consider a black kohl to naturally hide your whites and conceal the empty spots. This overall entails the illusion of a filled scalp and thicker hair around your hairline.

Technique-wise, it’s the same as doing your brows — filling it in but not going too heavy-handed to maintain a natural look. 

My grandmother did this all the time, sometimes alternating between black and brown kohl liner. Brown when the scalp gaps tend to stand out more, and black when she parts her hair to the side. Your kohl need not be sharpened. In fact, the blunter the ends, the more blurred out and natural it looks. Wash off at the end of the night, and reapply when you need to go out. Simple. 

5. The Pencil-Bun

Other than ornamental chopsticks that can work for this trick, my grandmother used to put a pencil in her hair to achieve a low-maintenance bun. Pencils were more accessible and it was the first choice to reach out for when fussing over your hair while doing homework (Or nostalgically, when she accompanied me). All you need is just one pencil to tie your hair and you’ll get a hairstyle that is elegant, but looks effortless.

Always opt for a pencil that has been sharpened so that your hair will be ‘poked’ and in place. This trick, after much experimentation, would suit finer and thinner hair as compared to thicker tresses. But, that doesn’t mean it will never work for you! Here are the instructions that you can follow through:

  1. Collect hair to make into a ponytail 
  2. Lay your pencil across (sharp part up) the base of your ponytail 
  3. Use your left hand to hold your ponytail and with your right hand, turn the pencil in a clockwise direction
  4. Poke it in place! 

If it still doesn’t stay up, here‘s a video tutorial for you!

And if it feels impossible — let a thin hair tie give extra support, while the pencil decorates the up-do instead. 

6. The Concealer Of The Past: Kuanim

In this specific case of Kuanim, it’s my precaution to you and is not a beauty tip. 

Before we get into it, Kuanim is a “pure pearl cream” to achieve fairer and radiant skin. I, however, have come to discover that Kuanim contains hidden mercury levels that can harm our kidneys and liver. Regardless, I included Kuanim as a beauty throwback because it was the most memorable product in my home. My grandmother continued to use it back then, but I believe only because beauty information was much harder to access!

Kuanim is balm-like. As such, I remembered she would offset any dryness with some water to smoothly glide on the areas that needed concealing. Initially, it might look powdery, but with wear, it sinks in the skin. However, I disclaim again — it’s best we steer away from this one! 

A beauty blast from the past, it’s always heartwarming to discover beauty from our grandmothers’ time. Old and new beauty tips; they all start from somewhere. Whether it’s discovering hidden beauty ingredients, adopting tips that still work today to learning from a wrong. In essence, we learn and appreciate, because that’s what makes beauty so encompassing and special. Missing you, grandma!



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