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All things beauty and then some. Andrea Claire has been a hairstylist and makeup artist for 23 years now. A Canadian based in Singapore since 2007, she has appeared on Asia's Next Top Model, Yahoo Asia, Canadian Idol, So Chic and more.

(Gn)awesome with Gnossem this holiday season

By Andrea Claire · December 3, 2014 · 0 Comments ·

*Turn your volume down before hitting play so you don't hate me... music by HOLE. (click the post title again if the video doesn't appear)

Here's a little teaser that I shot with my Canon 600D with the lighting help of Tomas, Gnossem's resident photographer. I'm trying to make use & practice my skills from my TISCH ASIA cinematography course that I took. (Don't expect Spielberg-esque it was a fairly basic two month class.)

The rough and ready gel liner is Bobbi Brown Black Scotch from her holiday collection. I promise to update the beauty notes... I am running to my Derm Goddess and I can't be late!  

I collaborated with online shop-til-ya-drop boutique: Gnossem for this holiday editorial (watch this space). They are also having a pop-up shopping event today & tomorrow. Tomorrow, December 4th, I'll be on hand to share some beauty holiday tips with you or you can flip through my portfolios as I'll be kickin' it old school with my chic leather books. 

NEW!! Beauty contributor for How To Be A Redhead!

By Andrea Claire · December 1, 2014 · 0 Comments ·

How to be a redhead? Pretty sure I've got THAT down-pat

Read the full article here 

The first Mrs Expat Singapore beautified by me!

By Andrea Claire · November 22, 2014 · 0 Comments ·

(this photo was sent to me via Katrina, all other photos of Katrina are mine taken with my Canon 600D)

Congratulations to Katrina Stehle for winning the Mrs Expat Singapore crown! 

Let me share with you her beauty crown & glory by me! (yes, stretching for a tie-in; you can deal)

Always start with great skincare; it makes your makeup apply effortlessly - but you need to take care with eye creams; if they're too emollient then they may cause your makeup to slide and travel.

Dermalogica is my preferred skincare and a staple in my kit.

The eye cream to own:  Dermalogica Multivitamin Power Firm 0.5 Fl Oz $50.00 USD at <a target="_new" href="http://www.shopstyle.com/browse?fl=r849&pid=popsugar&pdata=354512&pid=popsugar&pdata=354512&pid=popsugar&pdata=354512&pid=popsugar&pdata=354512">Amazon.com


Whether an expat wife or a 17 year old model in my chair you can expect this luxurious moisturizer to be applied: Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream $41.00 USD at <a target="_new" href="http://www.shopstyle.com/browse?fl=r1&pid=popsugar&pdata=354512&pid=popsugar&pdata=35451201&pid=popsugar&pdata=354512&pid=popsugar&pdata=354512&pid=popsugar&pdata=354512&pid=popsugar&pdata=354512&pid=popsugar&pdata=354512&pid=popsugar&pdata=354512">Ulta


Primers are tres importante for beauty queens. I love the NARS Light Optimizing Primer SPF 15 $34.00 USD as it helps create the lit from within, perfect skin appeal

Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup, 30mL $64.00 USD at Neiman Marcus


Armani Maestro Fusion Compact Foundation $64.00 at Barneys New York - yes, I used two Giorgio Armani foundations. Different coverages for different needs and that's all you need to know. 


For those of us Pretty in Pink, L'Oréal Visible Lift Blur Blush in Soft Pink $12.99 USD at Ulta - similar to FACEatelier's Facade, it's mousse-like application is sheer and gorgeous.  

For perfect highlighting and contouring this is a MUST. Just pause and order this now: Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow, 16g $65.00 at NET-A-PORTER.COM - question though: I haven't had the opportunity to try this on darker skin tones... anyone? Feed back? I find it's great up to level 7, but that's as far as I've gotten. (reference: level 1 is Casper level) 

I applied Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo Eyeshadow Painted Purple onto Katrina's mid-lid to start, not totally obvious but it does help her eyes pop;$6.99 USD at Walgreens

I applied colours from Bobbi Brown 'Scotch on the Rocks – Warm Glow' Eyeshadow Palette (Limited Edition) $75.00 USD at Nordstrom along with a hint of tight-lining using the LWGL in Black Scotch.

on Katrina's lips I used MAC Cosmetics Private Party (satin) &?, layered with NARS Lip Gloss in Sixties Fan (not shown) $26.00 USD at Nordstrom

Ardell Natural Lash - Black 110 $3.99 USD at Ulta

Top Shop False Lash mascara - yes! I LOVE this mascara!!

I used Ardell Brow Set in Clear to add slight definition with the brows. I didn't want a 'here comes Julie's brows' look because, well, she's Katrina... and I'm not a fan of drag queen brows on women, especially when you have on false lashes - you don't want to hit the beauty point of no return as a woman! 

Our first 'do I set on a Parlux med-size barrel tong after blowing out Katrina's hair with Original Mineral's Rootalicious and bed-dazzled (tousled) it with Aveda's Pure Abundance powder (must have!!) and then held it in place with Original Mineral Original Queenie.

As I was finalizing her coiffe, some random dude came over and said 'Do this!' and started to 'scrunch' her hair. <strong>*horrified face*

</strong>No, I did NOT beat him with my hairspray can... I really can't stand when people who don't do hair do shiz like that... So, ladies (and guys) don't do that - it can actually create frizziness and squash your set. I'm not really sure what he thought he was trying to accomplish and after doing hair & makeup for 25 years, I don't need help from a random... I can't even...

Girl, you werk that updo! 

Katrina and I have very similar colouring but (I do many skintones and types cuz I'm a pro like that) I just can't pull off a red dress like she can. This updo I do'ed in 15 mins... ok, maybe 20. Pressure was on! She hadn't won yet! I left shortly after I did the 'do since I had been shooting an editorial all day before heading to Marina Bay Sands. and got a lovely text from Katrina, I bet minutes after she was crowned:

<em>"Thanks so much for the amazing hair. makeup, support and confidence"

</em>Clearly a confident woman but super classy and confident to express appreciation. 

:) Anytime Katrina!! It was great fun! 

Basic Bitches UNITE!

By Andrea Claire · November 19, 2014 · 0 Comments ·

I own not one, but two pairs of UGGS. Bite me; they're comfortable.

I have a tattoo on my lower back. Bite me. It's not a 'tramp stamp'.

Not me, but the potential of being me.... Poor Jocelyn Wildenstein whom I believe fell victim to society's criticism and her own self-doubt; or maybe this was her goal? Then, if so, whom am I or you to judge? Tragically that can happen to the best of us. Shiiiiit... I just judged there. I apologize...

Really - we are damned if we do and damned if we don't.

I've had Botox twice this year. Bite me. I look pretty good. I can flex my face and you can read my facial expressions. And my face does NOT look like this when I cry so I haven't over-killed with the BasicTox.

And you know what - if I could wear heels [I have a bad hip so alas... *sad face* no heels for this basic woman] I might just wear them with yoga pants (I don't do yoga). AND I'm in fashion.... I can't tell you how annoyed I get when I see comments - (mostly coming from men who work in fashion) calling women Basic Bitches... Well - if this is you utilizing the term 'Basic Bitches' you are basically an asshole... Fair is fair in love and fashion... 

It's hard not to take things overly personally - I'm not sure why I'm cursed that way...blame it on the rain and being a Pisces. I probably just need to work that out in therapy... or just rant about it on my basic blog.

Maybe it's my red hair that gives me the feisty personality or maybe I'm just a little fed up with the dickheads of the world... I'm a Basic Redhead I guess. 

I basically blame the media which by the definition of 'basic' via The Cut " The word basic has become an increasingly expansive stand-in for "woman who fails to surprise us..." This proves the point that media is Basic too, since media fails to surprise us. 

Soccer moms fail to surprise us = Basic.

Men in fashion fail to surprise us. So for example, Karl = Basic. 

Santa Claus, never surprises us. Santa = Basic.

Condescending, egotistical assholes who call people basic never surprise us = Basic.

Basically we are all Basic Global Citizens.
WHOA... who peed in my basic Cornflakes Special K this morning?

That's some intro to tell you about my latest dermatology appointment. LOL. Thankfully my basic therapist is on speed dial.


You may or may not recall but the first time I visited my lovely dermatologist, it was this January. 

My skin has been Botoxed, Thermaged, peeled and now the latest: Sublimed and Mesoed!

Sublime is similar to Thermage but cheaper and you have to go to five sessions versus the one that Thermage can do for you.

Mesotherapy is what I really find intriguing (and you will find in the video above).

"Pioneered by the French physician Dr. Michel Pistor in 1952, Mesotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure that is widely used in Europe and elsewhere to treat various injuries and medical conditions. This medical specialty targets problem areas with microinjections of conventional or homeopathic medicines, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Tiny "medicinal bullets" are delivered directly into the mesoderm (middle layer of skin) that are highly specific to the condition being treated." Mesotherapy.com

Blessed with extra face to love (I have never loved my cheeks) I know it's I'm crazy. We all have things about ourselves that we are not a fan of; my cheeks (and my lack of filter, I tell everyone about everything) is my Achilles heel. Whatever man, I see that as a benefit for you because you get to hear about all my secrets that are not so secret and jumping on the bandwagon of trial and error what to do...So far I've had no errors... well, not with my skincare... but my big mouth? Clearly...

Mesotherapy are injectables that targets under the skin delivering various injection cocktail compositions for what ails you; me = my cheeks.

How it works is the cocktail is injected into the fatty tissue of your cheeks and 7 to 10 days later it gets broken down and gets dispensed of naturally.

So here's the before (taken the day of) and after (just 2 days ago). You can check out my #faceof43 on my Instagram for more basic selfies - some loaded with makeup and some not for a collective to decide if you think you want meso or not. My before is clearly bare-faced and the after has some DaLish foundation, FACE atelier Peach Glaze Blush and some Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar highlight. That high-brow is not the result of BasicTox, it's strong facial muscles on the left side - which is my better side. (true, yet trying to make fun of myself) 

I did have warning that there could be some slight bruising everyone bruises differently. I had one tiny dot of bruising; that was it. C'est tout. You could barely see it. But now my cheeks are smaller I am thrilled with the results. It's ever so slight, but definitely worth it for those that have cheek hang ups like I have – yes, I realize the ridiculousness of it all but, so what – I'm just glad there is help for those of us with superficial hang ups. We all have a cross to bear; mine were my cheeks that I don't have no more. *snaps fingers* (Improper grammar on purpose for comedic affect - funny, non?)

Here I am in my basic elevator, in my basic Victoria's Secret shelf bra dress taking my basic bitch for a walk.

I'm basically done. 

I know... my humour is pretty basic.

Behind the seams with CLEO magazine

By Andrea Claire · November 18, 2014 · 0 Comments ·
CLEO Singapore December issue is out and you can check out the as it happened here in the video I shot behind the seams. 

The song is by a band called Book of Love that my older sister introduced me to in the 80s. The self-titled album is a must-have that you can order off of itunes. And the lead singer, Susan Ottaviano in pure where are they now fashion? She's a food stylist in New York!! That's some kind of awesome. {loads of 80s referenced there...

As ALWAYS and forever, I prep the skin with Derrmalogica. Hands-down the BEST. 

Skin Smoothing Cream by Dermalogica (3.5 oz.)
 $66.00$49.00 USD at Amazon.com

If you don't own the above, pause, order and then continue the read... 

The fabulous foundation and highlighter are from DaLish Cosmetics and you can purchase them here via Luxola. (I introduced the two companies because awesome needs to meet awesome and I'm awesome too) 

FYI: I saw that there was a review on Luxola about the highlighter so clicked assuming it was going to RAVE. Shocked that it wasn't raving... I implore you to ignore it. The blendability is build-able and amazing; truly one of my newest additions to my kit that I use all the time... So... I'm not sure what that reviewer is doing wrongly. If she happens to stumble upon this post she should drop me a comment or DM describing her application so I can correct her method. I'm writing this and shaking my head in bewilderment. (yes, I read a thesaurus with my morning Nespresso) Perhaps she's using the doe foot applicator that it comes with? Although that shouldn't interfere with the application either but as an artist I don't apply products with the applicators that they come with as using them face-to-face would spread icky germs and contaminate my kits (models are dirty... just kidding) - so, I use my fingertips and/or synthetic brushes for applying cream textures... hope this helps!  

I used this new M·A·C 'Matchmaster' Concealer $21.00 USD available at Nordstrom. Love it! A medium, build-able coverage with no creasing, yet maintains a satin finish. Another awesome.

That is all. I can't give away all my secrets. *winky face*

Frizzy hair? Fact or fiction?

By Andrea Claire · November 13, 2014 · 0 Comments ·

<span style="font-size: small;">

I am constantly slammed here in Singapore with keratin treatment requests from expat clients who can't deal with the humidity and what it does to their hair. Many of them go and get these rebonding/keratin/smoothing treatments elsewhere and then return to me for their regular cuts and colours. Most regret getting them done and have the complaints that match my warnings about them. </span>

This is my opinion of them, and yes, bear in mind I don't do them, never have - and never will:

I do not do straightening treatments nor do I support them. I don't like what they do to the hair. I've seen many clients have their colour completely stripped out, lots of breakage and/or damage plus many regret doing it because it makes the hair really flat. I have had only two clients tell me that they've actually liked the results. These women both have super, uber thick coarse hair that was transformed to being soft and chic looking.

<span style="font-size: small;">However, in saying that - true frizzy hair is a result of using incorrect products or a lack of product. Since keratin changes the natural texture you need to consider what your hair goals are.

  1. Do you want a complete texture change to get the look that keratin and other straightening treatments give? Then do it.
  2. Is it just to fight frizz but you want your natural texture? You need frizz-fighting products then; not rebonding.

Frizzy hair caused by humidity means that you don't have enough moisture in your hair to block out the moisture in the air. Keratin seals the cuticle making it lie super flat so moisture can't get in but it also straightens the hair. Naturally straight hair has a flat cuticle which is why many women with straight hair don't have a 'frizzy' hair complaint. Think of sponges that are dry - when you add water sponges absorb what they can until you can't get them to absorb more. Hair and humidity kinda works the same way. So if you are armed with the proper moisturizing care for your hair, you can have lustrous curls or texture without the 'frizz' or just giving up and getting your hair rebonded.

 Some products to help you fight the 'frizz' battle:</p>

Pro Naturals
has a complete hair care system based with Argan Oil which is Nature's gift for you to have amazing hair. I've been trying their Argan Oil and loving the results. My hair is not weighted down so I can style as I want and the shape remains. The bonus with argan oil is there is also UV protection which is important for protection whether the UV rays are bouncing off sand or snow. Being a veteran hairstylist I've been playing with it on clients and models with various hair types with positive feedback from them.

Oribe Supershine Moisturizing Cream, 150ml $49.00 USD via NET-A-PORTER.COM

Living Proof 'No Frizz' Humidity Blocking Conditioner for All Hair Types $10.00 USD via Nordstrom


<span style="font-size: small;">Now, being a feisty redhead and stubborn anti-hairstylist hairstylist for 25 years I didn't want to just thrust upon you my rebonding opinions so I emailed my mentor and senior from my Aveda days, <strong>Ana K who is an Aveda Global Master:  

"Hi My Darling girl, I totally agree I will share my little trick to helping in the frizz..." 

</strong>If you want her trick, you'll have to reach out to Ana on Twitter and ask for it. It's a trick only us trained professionals can do. nah-nah-boo-boo</span>

And for gosh-darrn-sakes Ladies - if you must, please at least stop buying your Groupon beauty; a $300++ rebonding service for $50 is just asking for disaster. 


Conversation starter: beauty and the creative copycat

By Andrea Claire · November 11, 2014 · 0 Comments ·

I think it's time we had a conversation about trust. There's no wrong answer here and I hope that my colleagues, juniors and wannabes join in.

Protecting the idea... 

Now, I'm married to a lawyer so I do have some insight from my countless rants and my husband's head-shakes; but I want to hear from YOU. Yup. You. The fellow idea creator and the not-so-fellow idea steal-er. 

As many of us creative-types can agree - we have a flooding of ideas all the time. I think I have ideas more often than I pee.

Some we share, like creative herpes... maybe I should reference glitter here vs the herps...

and some ideas we hold dear and tight...

But regardless - there's a lot of flow in the garden of creative Eden.

Now with that creative flow - it needs to go somewhere... we can't bottle it up and since we left-brainers need to share and create, which is our second form of breathing - we'd explode if we don't. This is where trust and integrity should be insurmountable... alas... 

Photo by me using my Canon 600D in Sri Lanka

I personally can tell you of many ideas that I've shared and have been implemented by others where the elephant in the room is pointing to the rightful owner of the idea (me)... Trust begins to waiver... yet, not sure about the rest of you but... I have this thing called "HELP I'M TALKING AND I CAN'T SHUT UP!!" my inner voice says 'don't share this one' but I shut her down and talk... It's a curse.

Also blog posts share ideas so... why milk the cow when she just gives it away...why buy the milk...? wait... what?... (that's a saying, right??)

I wrote a blog here on me wee random blogisphere about hair that a local magazine to Singapore wrote about as well (2 months later)... now, I know that their interns frequent my blog [direct analytics shows me so] SO: a) I'm flattered (but I know my beauty shiz so they should read... but perhaps they could consider crediting me as a source) and b) it's hard to finger-point and call out 'FOR SHAME!!!' because I've sat in rooms for creative brainstorming and have seen that many of us have similar to same ideas... One could argue that there are not really any new ideas anymore but variations of. Homages to each other - actually an homage will respectfully credit the originator...   

Like this example of one idea I had: A beauty show that would take you to various parts of the world and show you what in that country is their idea of beauty and what are their beauty secrets... I pitched it in a very amateur way (because I stupidly trust human beings - I know. DUH) by sending an email to a reality TV production house in LA. I never heard back but then this aired over a year later... I'm not saying they took my idea. I know that would be insane. I also know that unless you have an in, the chances that someone tied to the show actually read my email pitch are slim to none. This shows you that many creatives would/could/should have a similar to same idea.

My good friend Sital Patel and fellow makeup artist sent me some whatsapp photos from a behind the scenes creative she did with glow in the dark makeup. It's awesome and so is she. I've pitched that exact shoot to a magazine here so immediately told Sital that I've been planning the same idea. We both know that we came up with this idea separately and inspired from various sources. So, see - creative minds can have a similar flow.  #thinkalike

The Risky Pitch disguised as a Go-See

One thing that I find incredibly frustrating is meeting a potential client for a potential job... a go-see as us industry folk call it... So we literally go and see people with our portfolios and ideas... You have to sell yourself which includes jamming ideas so they see that you come to the table with something... the risk is clear... you give ideas to hopefully get the job but you risk your ideas being snagged and they use someone else. In my 25 year career that has happened to me... thankfully not countless times. A handful. I know the clients who have done this and I'd love to name and shame but that's inappropriate. I have actually invoiced one and said that I noticed that they used my creative idea without me and so I expect to be paid for my idea. It's hard to put a price on ideas... since we don't really have the way to measure what kind of work would have accumulated from that one idea. Maybe nothing or maybe it was the new wheel... Bitches.

(In that SAME kinda idea - I've been pitched to, to do hair & makeup by description to find out after the shoot that what they referenced was actual published work/art and that annoys me. If you're stealing someone's idea and you want me to implement it - tell me that it's been done so I don't look like an asshole. This doesn't apply to trends. Trends are trends...)

This summer I was part of the fabulous group of 10 ladies to 'Embrace Paris' and within this bunch was the lovely Lisa Ferguson, Strengths Mentor. We each did a session test (Lisa - that's not the right term is it?) where we had our top 5 strengths shown to us after we've done an online Q&A. One of mine (or was it a weakness??) was my inner compass of morals. Really it kinda said that I'm super trustworthy and hold those accountable who do wrong. Yup, I'm perfect. There were some things I was shrugging to and thought: meh- dunno... but this inner compass YES! I think it's both a strength and a weakness. Strong because I do believe in good, trust - I'm not a liar and I pretty much want to make the world a better place. It's a weakness because I do not forgive and forget easily. Sure if you make good and apologize I can move on, but if you justify being an asshole than you stay an asshole. I try not to be the chief of the morality police but it's so friggin' hard... I see where this can be a problem... no need to try to educate me. ;) 

Before I go way off topic...

I had a thought this morning which began this rant/conversation starter...

Specifically to my fellow artists: 

Seniors (and I don't mean old people): Do you implement a one page NDA (none disclosure agreement) to assistants and potential clients so any ideas you schpeal remain yours?

Juniors: Would you think an idea mentioned to you by a client or senior is fair game in your climb up the ladder to success?  

And to potential clients: If you haven't paid for the service of an artist would you think their pitch for the job is yours regardless if you hire them or not? 

Again - not really a wrong answer - well - clearly I have a strong moral compass so I may think you're wrong if your answer isn't mine. (insert winky face with the tongue out)

Image source

Qi Mantra: a facial miracle

By Andrea Claire · November 10, 2014 · 0 Comments ·

Anti-aging can at times really be nothing short of a miracle... and genetics, but that doesn't mean you just cross your fingers and hope for the best. 

As the self-proclaimed #faceof43 I do invest time and money into good habits, products and services - the fountain of youth can't solely be left up to chance. </p> <p>
It's no secret that I frequent Singapore's Qi Mantra, mainly for their Good Vibes RF facial with Jeslyn. It all started with a gratis trial from their PR department and the WOWZA factor hooked me into buying a package - which if anyone is in ear shot of my package-pushing rants you'd know that I really have to be a believer and committed to buy a package. Well j'adore the good vibes from the people at Qi Mantra so when I received an invite to try out their Miracle facial - it was a beauty no-brainer. </p>
Miracle Facial (MF)                                                       
(90mins of bliss!) 
This facial incorporates the latest VPL technology and the Miracle Cell product. The combination of the two helps awaken the skin's cells while stimulating the growth of collagen.   
Miracle cells are derived from soy phyto placenta extract which is rich in protein and amino acids. The result from the facial is skin that glows from within, and is more supple. The skin will also be more firm and elastic – radiating with energy and vigour.  The Miracle cell product actually consists of stem cells from Korea. The usage of Soy Phyto Placenta extract is due to the bio-similarity it possesses to the human placenta without the ick-y factor...</p>

By now, everyone has heard of Intense Pulse Light (IPL) which is the intense focus of light therapy. This technology itself is very intense compared to Variable Pulse Light (VPL). VPL technology is more advanced and actually much safer than IPL. It gives the therapist and customer a sense of security and comfort when using this machine as it allows the intensity to be customized to suit each customers preference.   

The result of this miracle is reconditioned skin texture, less redness and smoother, silkier skin. </p>

Presenting a youthful face of 43:  

I realize that before (left side) my facial and after (right side, duh) show that the main difference is that on the right I look like I just woke up... because I did... I fall asleep with every facial at Qi Mantra now... kinda embarrassing since my HB says I snore. [he's probably lying.] The main reason why you don't see a huge difference is because I'm a skin care addict... I get almost as many facials as I do new dresses... But I have had many clients get hooked on my skin care brand and my facial Goddess (Jeslyn) - plus: Instagram doesn't lie. </p> <p>Qi Mantra on FB


By Andrea Claire · October 16, 2014 · 0 Comments ·

A little add-on 2 weeks after my original posting.... 

I posted this piece for a few days then unpublished it. I was thinking:

'Did I over-share??' Probably.

'Will people think I'm promoting plastic surgery?' Maybe. For sure those who missed the point... and the trolls of the internet. 

There were other wild thoughts from the head of Andrea Claire...

But then I had a client sit in my hair chair and part way through her appointment she says 'Oh! I read your blog all the time!' [me a sheepish 'thanks!' as my mind reflects on my latest posts and rants] She tells me how she loved this post [I had unpublished it by this time], how real it was and how it's nice to hear from a real person who shares a lot of what our age group thinks about. So I decided, that if one person reads this or any other overly personal rant I have and feels better about their inner thoughts, fears and just feels like they have a voice with a common-ish ground... well... I had to put it back out there. So here it is... judge or feel a sigh of relief. I'm ok with either... just leave any troll-y thoughts to yourself and watch Aristocats for that lesson... 'If you can't say something nice...'

And so here it is, the original post about my belly...


There is one thing I can honestly say about myself: I am an over-sharer. I have no filter and frequently catch myself revealing Too Much Information.

photo by Zurina Bryant 

I have an 'I'm an open book' personality as well as I am in the fashion/entertainment industry. It's a world of 'look at me'. It's not wrong, but, I do feel it's put me in a bad habit of talking about myself. Honestly, it's not horrible for many reasons, one being, our industry is gossipy; I do make it hard for anyone to accuse me of gossiping since my hot topic is, well: me.

Being fabulous is exhausting. I kid.

And on the subject of being fabulous and TMI let me share with you my most recent adventure: a hernia repair paired with a tummy tuck. Yup. I tried to fight vanity, vanity won. How Smurfy.

If you have been following my blog then you would know that I relocated with my daughters to Singapore in 2007 after I remarried. During the honeymoon stages of my fairy tale life I had a baby and then got bit by a mosquito that gave me chikungunya - it's become my Aedes aegypti heel. From 2008 to now, I've suffered the after effects that doctors say is officially an autoimmune disease with similar symptoms to arthritis, thus, reactive arthritis limiting my ability to work out. Wah wah. Boo hoo. Poor Andrea Claire.

Image source 

Before I move on to the dramatic fold - let me tell you something that you may or may not have known. Larger babies, repeated births and multiple births can result in a diastasis recti; the muscle wall separates! What can this mean? Well, the muscle wall is there to protect your abdomen and organs. There are risks depending on the degree of separation, for example: the smallest of separations can trap a piece of your intestine causing it to strangulate resulting in potential emergency surgery. Of course add in the esthetic, the degree of separation dictates the bulge that leaves you puzzled as to why you can't get rid of it. Not only had I not heard about this throughout my pregnancies, but not even during high school health classes nor prenatal classes; not one professional felt the urge to share this info.

I discovered this hernia post-babies, post-mozzie illness, post-relocation to Asia where everyone is body conscious (and not really in a healthy manner) post-40 and post- some 4 year old calling me fat on set of a fashion editorial shoot. Self-doubt and insecurities were not invented in Asia but the general criticism on appearance here doesn't help. Reformer Pilates was my latest working out venture that was easy on my joints that I managed to do consistently for six months and although my GP confirmed that the muscle wall closed a little, it wasn't enough. I have succumbed to the knife. But I do feel that for me, it was a necessary evil vanity. Well, there are medical reasons too but because it's a man's world and the insurance companies make manly decisions they consider this elective surgery. I BET that if it were men fighting the battle of the organ bulge (not the one they think with) , this surgery would be compulsory. 


I woke up from my surgical slumber, anesthetist hovering over me and at my feet lay a plastic jar. She called to the nurses, scolding them to remove it, apologizing to me. I asked what it was, she replied with some words I don't remember but BEHOLD it was my old belly button surrounded by the flesh that was cut away.

Like driving by a train wreck, I had to see it... 

The anesthetist hesitantly brought it to me which I responded with 'looks like sausages' and immediately returned to sleep. She reminded me of that conversation when I was awake in my room.  Thanks for the reminder forever killing my desire to eat sausages ever again.

As I lay in my hospital bed, day two post hernia/tummy tuck, morphine revoked, popping the equivalent of Tylenol 3s every 6 hours... I said to my lovely surgeon Dr Harry Fok "What the Fok was I thinking" (Let's be honest. I said f*ck.)

I remember cutting a client's hair in Toronto years ago who confided in me that she had a hernia fix / tummy tuck. Said it was the worst pain that she's ever felt, however worth every moment. 

The amount of pain that I was in was beyond anything I could have imagined – popping out mini watermelons from my vagina was less painful. Ok – they were my daughters, not watermelons and all three girls were over 9 lbs! (Bragger)

The nurses asked when I'd like the catheter removed - um, like, NEVER. At that moment lying in bed and peeing into a bag didn't seem all that bad. The thought of rolling over to hoist my new bod out to walk 15 steps to the toilet just didn't seem appealing. Death seemed more appealing at that moment. Drama Queen.

My friend Faz Gaffa  came to visit. I told her the story about the jar and then noticing tucked away in my hospital room corner was a grocery bag that I never had... um, no...!! Was it?... Faz courageously opened the bag... Yes. Behold! The jar with my stomach and sitting pretty as I looked down into it was my old belly button. (I have a photo but maybe here is not the place to put it? Yes? No?)

photo with the scar under my bikini by Zurina Bryant

Now behold my new: origami belly button! I'm sure it's a different method than origami but that's what comes to mind, a kind of paper folding trickery to make a new belly button.

 The decisions to have elective surgery for aesthetic reasons cuts deeper than the knife. Ultimately I decided for me. If you are not your number one reason for making this decision then perhaps you need a session or two with a therapist to help you decipher the real reason; after all you are going to be faced with hip-to-hip scarring that could be a negative or positive reminder – that's all up to you.

Ashley Judd touched on the female competitiveness in the world and sadly, I do see it. A mother's life, working or not; is not full of excuses, couches, bon-bons and daytime dramas. But tales of mistresses with their claws out, threatening that you keep your man happy or else they pounce; painful remarks made of mommy belly hurts down to the (lack of) abdominal core; advertisements selling to the post-baby 35+ using 17-21 year old models to set up false self-expectations and expectations from those who don't know any better. 

After your surgery you will need to wear compression garments. I did try control top underwear but two things: I never realized the stomach muscles involved to pull up control-top girdle undies. THAT HURT like a MOFO! And, if your hernia repair is quite high, the high-waisted band sits at a funny place cutting into the stitches leading to pain and swelling; that was me. The best undergarment that I've found are Design Veronique. There's a zipper along the side so you aren't ripping the muscles you had fixed contorting yourself to get in them and with a French name, they're clearly chic as well.

The running theme of TMI, which I prefer to call 'empowering sharezies', I had a disastrous pelvic floor.  

I swear my bladder was becoming weaker as I aged (#faceof43) and post three children; not once did I ever have an embarrassing moment but I truly felt it became close many times. Thank god I learned where all the toilets in Singapore were situated. Sure, I've done my Kegels... I went to my doctor prior to this hernia repair and she suggested physio - vaginal strengthening is apparently done with some special wand... I asked if it would vibrate. Apparently not. I might have tried physio then...I kid. I'm not a prude but that was just weird to me. She said it would be done by a woman. I think I'd prefer to DIY that at home.

(We need a mommy app to source out toilets globally when we are preggers or dealing with a weak bladder)

Speaking of toilets....

Some of the painkillers you get will cause constipation. If we are old enough for this surgery then you understand what fruits and veggies do. When our diet fails us, I found the best thing to help while I was going number two (having a poo).... Roll up a bath towel to counter any pressure. 

Getting out of bed I found the best way was rolling onto my left side and pushing up from my bedside table.

Scar repair is important. There are many creams and natural remedies. What the Fok said: Stratamed. He did say many women use Bio Oil, vitamin e or even honey; they all work. Honey is a little messy as it is sticky and won't absorb. I found that the Stratamed needed a little time to absorb so that was my opportunity to do the morning beautification process - blowout and makeup while dancing naked.

photo of Zoie and I by Zurina Bryant 

Zoie, who you will find online as #stuffZoiesays, loves to stare at my scar "I love disgusting stuff", she squeals. This is where I dubbed myself Franken-Mommy. Of course my children know I had this surgery. Zoie is six so she understands the six year old version and then I have teenagers who can read. I explained to them the hernia repair, and while one cannot deny the aesthetic value of the tuck, it has vastly improved my physical well-being.

Of course the emotional value is important to address. Some of you may remember me from the W Network's Stylin' Gypsies. After the show aired and we were still in production I remember being called into the editing suite to be shown a freeze frame of me bent over, mixing hair colour and asked if I could do something about *this* - pointing to my belly. Not only was I horrified and defensive but that's not what the show was about. I loved the show because we weren't about 'scalpels and skinny is beautiful'. We were about empowerment. I told them not to shoot me from that angle and stormed out.

Fast forward to me living in Singapore. I did a guest appearance for Tresemme on Asia's Next Top Model. As I was being mic'ed - with the padded mic wrap they do around the waist that any woman with on-camera experience tries to avoid, I was asked by some Australian man on the production if I would prefer the large t-shirt so it would fit better... Through gritted teeth I said that the medium was fine.

I worked as the key hair & makeup artist on another program here in Singapore where the director who had a massive gut made a joke in front of the entire crew, patting his belly and referencing me... WTF is wrong with people anyway?! Where is this ok? No place.

I wrote a piece for xoJane on my experience being called fat by a four year old and why I don't allow the F word in my house. The readers' comments proved to me that it was a failed article. Many said I was denying a valid body type and that I was fat shaming. No. I was not. Fat, according to many readers, was a valid descriptor word. I don't believe it is; and sure maybe because society has given FAT a negative power. My point was trying to express how bullying and shaming was not right and that we need to watch what we teach our children MANNERS. I've heard children in public ask their parents why some stranger is so fat; my children look at me horrified and always say 'that's not nice' because I have taught them to respect others and frankly, that isn't nice.

This is before and four weeks post surgery.

So yes, I had my hernia repair (and tummy tuck) because of many factors, some from my own desire and some that included me feeling bullied by people who should have chosen a more constructive method to express… actually, nothing. No one has rights to talk to you about your body unless you came out of their vagina, you married them or they're your medical doctor – perhaps a BFF or two.

Just turning 43, I was doing my best not to crack the 'getting work done' seal and I know it's not for everyone. I stress - do it for you - I'm happy with my choices even though I am still in recovery. I've actually seen many improvements including in my pelvic floor. I'm not dashing to a toilet while focusing on not wetting myself.


I wrote this piece for a Canadian magazine months ago and now I'm posting it here. On me wee blog for my 2.5 readers. I'm still VERY happy with my surgery. I had hip surgery in January too. It's been a tough year in the Andrea Claire bubble.

Yes, there are bigger things in the world than Andrea Claire's tummy melodrama; like human-trafficking... Read how I help fight that battle too.

Have you got the Beauty Blues?

By Andrea Claire · October 13, 2014 · 0 Comments ·

*refresh the blog post title if you don't see a video

Blue in beauty has been around forever and you don't need to look like you're about to shout BINGO when you're wearing it.

This behind the scenes video I iPhoned *wink* is with Fiona Fussi for Urban SG cover shoot published months ago. I used NARS Eye Paint for the blue but did a second line with a black liquid liner - a duo-coloured winged-tip liner?! Craziness!  

Nars Eye Paint
 $25.00 USD at Neiman Marcus

My Furla inspired manicure using China Glaze colours. I believe the colours are: Shower Together (blue) with Mind the Gap (gold)  

I often get inspired by the ladies at Tips Nail Bar. Their nail techs are wicked-awesome-talented as well as Leeanne humours me when I ask her how-to or nail questions; for example, recently I had an art-deco-inspired mani and the manicurist here in Singapore used acrylics for using on canvas. Being a beauty pro me-self, I was a little leery of the artists' tube and the safety of the chemicals...

"I wouldn't say it isn't safe. In the 90's that's what we used for nail art. Nail art was a lot different then. I just don't know why they would! It doesn't last as long as regular polish or gel polish." Leeanne CEO and celebrity manicurist at Tips Nail Bar

Of course I'm a Drama Queen and couldn't stop there. 

"I couldn't find the MSDSs for that brand but I have attached it for Golden paints (also acrylic).
Generally they are pretty safe -they do contain small amounts of ammonia and formaldehyde.
The main health hazards are from the heavy metals in the pigments of the artists colours. Student colours don't usually have these - they are cheaper so they use cheaper pigments. 
The brand you indicated says they use fine pigments but the price looks kind of low so I wonder if they really do use artist pigments. It is hard to be sure. You can see the adverse health effects of the various pigments in the attached MSDS from Golden." Roohi, Occupational Medicine specialist and creator of Leaves of Trees (another must-have beauty product!!) 

If you don't have friends on speed dial like I have then you can also take a moment to Think Dirty with your beauty products.

Have a beautifully tanned glow to your skin? Whether naturally sun-kissed or powder-bronzed add NYX Color Blue Mascara  - it has a great payoff from little makeup effort! 

Men can get the blues too... 


A makeup artist styles a model with blue contact lenses for the Autumn/Winter 2014/2015 fashion show of German designer Patrick Mohr.




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