This week’s Ten Questions go to Yi-hwa Hanna, deputy editor of Good Housekeeping magazine and fashion and travel blogger at footlooseandfamished.com. Yi-hwa spends her days working on one of the region’s best-selling magazines and flitting from meetings to events. A self-described ‘travel aficionado’, she spends most of her free time traveling the world to discover it’s best kept secrets, which she generously reveals on her blog. Read on for Yi-hwa’s best beauty tips for global citizens.
1. What does a normal day look like for you?
I typically wake up at around 7:30am, and work starts at 9am. During the day I spend a lot of my time at my desk at our Dubai Media City office writing, researching and editing features across all sections of the magazine, but during events season this is often interspersed with me running around between a couple of different events during the day as well. After work, if I manage to finish on time (officially, that’s 6pm) I head to the gym to work off any tension and stiffness from the day. Unfortunately by the time I get home I’m usually too tired to catch up with blogging, so I either do this when I have a quiet night or during the weekend. On the few nights where I have nothing on after work and get home nice and early, I love either catching up with friends and family over dinner, or kicking back with my favourite TV shows or a book.
2. How do you look after yourself? Do you work out, meditate, get massages, etc?
I work out 4-6 times a week and I enjoy getting massages at least once a month even though it’s not always easy finding the time for it! I also like to have my nails done every couple of weeks (in between professional mani/pedis, I do my nails myself at home), along with all of the other typically girly grooming things like eyebrow threading and so on!
3. What do you do to relax at the end of a long, stressful day?
Take a bath, watch my favourite TV shows, or enjoy a meal or glass of wine with friends, family or my other half.
4. How would you describe your beauty personality? Low maintenance or high maintenance? An experimenter or loyal to one regimen?
Can I say “medium maintenance”? Haha! I’m not low maintenance in that I do spend time on skincare, getting ready each day and care about looking relatively put together, but I’m also not what I’d consider high maintenance in that I’m not too bothered about always looking perfectly groomed and I don’t think one always needs to go out with a full face of makeup on. While I have my favourite salon treatments and used to think I indulge in these relatively often, I was surprised to discover several years ago that I do so less than many other women in the region. I think women in the Middle East are very particular about their beauty habits – and compared to women in other parts of the world I’m definitely not low maintenance, but compared to many women in this region I’m not what you’d call high maintenance either! I like to find a balance between taking care of oneself and not becoming too precious or obsessed with beauty regimens. Due to my job I often try out new products or treatments, so I am willing to experiment, but when it comes to things I come back to time and time again I’m very loyal to my usual regimen and favourite products.
5. What type of skin do you have?
I have combination skin that errs a little on the oily side.
6. Describe your morning beauty routine.
After washing my face (and putting in my contacts – I’m blind as a bat without them!), I put on day cream with an SPF of at least 15 and a light daytime-friendly eye gel. If I’m going to be out until the evening, I’ll put on some primer, followed by my favourite multi-purpose BB cream – as a bonus, mine has SPF42 in it.
7. Describe your evening beauty routine.
No matter how tired I am, I ALWAYS remove my makeup before going to bed. When I was younger I’d sometimes be lazy after a late night out, but I discovered that not only does it make my skin hate me, I actually sleep better with a clean, fresh face. Plus when you wear contact lenses on a daily basis like I do, you’ll always remember to take them out before going to sleep (falling asleep with your contacts in is horrible, and so bad for your eyes) and by the time you’re in your bathroom with clean hands and removing them, you think “I may as well remove my makeup too.” After using makeup remover, I wash my face with a gentle facewash (once a week, I’ll supplement this with an exfoliator) then use a toner. Next, I’ll apply a really good serum, followed by eye cream and a light SPF-free face cream. If I remember, I’ll swipe some lash-growth eyelash conditioner on as well. Then comes the flossing, tooth-brushing (which I am very careful about!) and moisturizing (I can’t sleep with dry skin, be it on my hands or body). My nighttime routine takes a lot longer than my daytime one, and I wish there was some way to do it faster but I think of it as a few extra minutes that’ll I’ll be thankful I put in as I grow older, plus when you do it every day it becomes like clockwork and takes a lot less time than you think.
8. Do you have any natural or DIY skincare or beauty remedies that you can share with us?
Rosewater works as an amazing natural, fresh toner (and it smells divine, too!) and is so easily available to us here in the Middle East. If your skin has been looking dull and feeling clogged, slather Manuka Honey all over your face and leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing off with warm water for a super-easy, naturally anti-bacterial face mask that’ll leave your skin soft, smooth, detoxified, and glowing. It’s amazing stuff – when it’s medical grade, it’s even used to help heal wounds, though I just use one with at least UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) 15 on my face (and only occasionally since it can be quite expensive). I also like using homemade body scrubs: Mix 1 cup granulated sugar with olive oil or coconut oil until it has a thick but still spreadable consistency, add in several drops of your favourite essential oil and you’re good to go! If you’ve made too much, you can store it in a jar.
9. Who are your beauty role models?
Brigitte Bardot, Leighton Meester, Angelina Jolie, Olivia Palermo, Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Monica Bellucci, Miranda Kerr, Charlize Theron… so many!
10. What is the best skincare or beauty advice that you’ve ever received?
Always take off your makeup before bed, moisturize (with gentle hands!) at least every time you have a shower or wash your face, and never forget the sunblock on your face for day. All pearls of wisdom from my mum, from a young age! Also, a makeup artist once taught me how to properly apply eye cream (using the fourth fingers only and around the socket, not right up under the eye!) and I am always grateful for that – I’d been doing it wrong for years before that, and it has really made a difference.