A nutritionist by training, Jo’s love for food and travel led her to embark on a career in journalism. In her eight years in the publishing industry, Jo has written for Singapore’s key gourmet and lifestyle magazines including 8Days, Appetite and Food & Travel, and has also contributed to The Straits Times, Singapore Tatler, Tatler Homes, and several restaurant guides. She currently lives in Singapore and is on a short sabbatical to spend quality time with her three-month-old son, Jude.
I was beyond excited when Jo agreed to be featured on this week's Beauty Wardrobe. Jo and I grew up together chatting about make-up, shoes and boys. Working on this article with her brought back many fond memories of my teenage years, shopping along Orchard Road, hanging out, trying out new fashion trends, going to that small jeans shop in Queenstown Shopping Center and crying on her shoulder over broken relationships. We only reconnected last year through Facebook (where else!) after almost ten years and simply picked up right where we left off. I think true friends are like that. I am proud to learn of her career and life achievements, and even more delighted to confirm my admiration in her always effortless beauty, which clearly radiates from her warm, kind heart has not changed a single bit.
Here, I present to you, Josephine Soh's beauty insider tips where she shares her favorite undereye concealer, the secret to her work-life balance, the biggest inspiration that changed the way she cooks and a special ritual she follows to reveal natural beauty from within.
What is your skincare routine?
I keep my routine pretty basic - cleanse, tone, moisturize and eye cream for both day and night, and use mainly brands that can be found at drug stores. For cleanser, I’ve recently started using Nuxe Reve de Miel as I like how it leaves my skin feeling soft and sweet-smelling. I’ll then proceed with this Alcohol-free Toner, Eucerin's moisturizer and Olay's Eye-lifting Serum. For sunscreen, I go for La Roche Posay Anthelios XL as it doesn’t feel heavy on the skin.
Do you wear makeup?
Yes I do, and I like it natural and light.
Tell us about your make up routine?
If I’m just heading out to the neighbourhood, I’ll dab on concealer, add a light brush of loose powder to take away shine and some Bobbi Brown blusher for a healthy flush. I’ll then quickly finish with Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Honey for a natural rosy tint. I veer towards mauve shades for lip colors.
What if you’re doing something fancier?
I like the natural look, even for fancier dos. I’ll simply switch the concealer for BB Cream as the latter gives great coverage yet feels lightweight, and add on two coats of mascara and a light sweep of Silver Moon. The rest of my makeup remains the same.
What is your night-time routine?
One of the first things I do once I get home is to remove my makeup. If I’m wearing just concealer and loose powder, I’ll use Bioderma Sensibio H20 to remove my light makeup. Otherwise, I’ll use an oil-based remover. I love this from Kao Biore as it removes makeup thoroughly without stripping skin of its moisture. I’ll then proceed with my daily cleansing routine.
You were Deputy Editor for Asia's well-known Appetite magazine before motherhood came along. Do you miss working and what is your outlook on staying-home after having a career?
Yes, I miss the buzz that surrounds publishing. I stopped working when I realised I was pregnant with Jude several months after my miscarriage of twins. It wasn’t easy coming to that decision as I was worried that the lack of income would put a strain on our family finances. But I’m glad I took that step because there is just one chance with each pregnancy. My husband was supportive and we made adjustments to our lifestyle and are enjoying each day with baby Jude. These precious moments are what money can’t buy. That said, I’m looking forward to returning to work when Jude is about 6 months old. Being financially independent is important to me too.
Do you have any tips on food styling and on food journalism?
I’ll skip the food journalism part. In this current climate, it’s not easy being totally objective especially when writing reviews, because client’s interests have to be taken into consideration. That’s why sales and editorial frequently clash, haha.
When sourcing for fresh produce for styling, I prefer to buy from Japanese supermarkets as the produce is guaranteed to be at optimal freshness and almost perfect-looking. For simple food styling, a pair of tweezers is handy for repositioning ingredients, while a small spritz bottle of water is useful for freshening up salads. To add a nice sheen to cooked food, use a small paintbrush dipped in a little oil and brush lightly on key spots.
What do you love most about writing for a food magazine? What is your least favorite?
I love getting to know chefs and the luxe gourmet travels that come with the job. The constant deadlines are my least favourite part though.
Which chef inspired you the most and why?
It has to be Alain Passard of L'Arpege in Paris, whom I first interviewed in 2007 when I was working at Appetite. We caught up again when he visited Singapore several times over the next few years as guest chef at gourmet events, and we became friends. Watching the man eat taught me to appreciate each dish not just for the taste and texture, but also for its aromas, its colors; that each element on the plate is an expression of the artist who created the dish. Watching him cook, I witnessed the elegance, lightness and respect with which he treated ingredients, to create poetry in flavor and food. From then, tasting and cooking, for me, became more than mere work. Instead, food -- tasting, cooking and constantly learning it -- has become the necessary fuel for this marathon that I run. In food, I found bliss.
Are you a morning person?
Yes I am and have been since young. I love the quiet of dawn, especially on weekends (and even on travels) as it gives me my much needed quiet time. Now that baby has come along, I appreciate the occasional lie-in too!
What is your mom/life balance? How do you manage to care for Jude, your husband, home, find time to feed your own passions and keep it all together?
I’ve taken a short sabbatical from work to care for Jude and it helps that I have a live-in helper who takes care of the housework. Hubby is pretty low-maintenance when it comes to food so it makes cooking for our family meals relatively easy. I find that being around my sister and mom helps to center me emotionally, so I make it a point to visit them at least twice a week. They are my pillars of strength and I wouldn’t have come this far in motherhood (and in life) without them.
What are your guilty pleasures?
I eat pretty healthily, though lately, I’ve been having one too many cups of Taiwanese bubble milk tea! I love the occasional affogato too as it gives me the caffeine hit of coffee and the cold creaminess of ice cream.
Do you have any game-changing beauty products?
Having tried many brands of concealers, I highly recommend Cle de Peau’s for its excellent coverage and light, smooth texture that glides on easily.
Do you have any favorite tools?
Enjo Face Glove. It’s a dual-surface facial mitt containing special fibers that deep cleanses pores and helps stimulate blood circulation to give the face a fresh glow. I use it daily with my facial cleanser.
Do you have any regrettable beauty moments?
Yes! Not being diligent in removing makeup during my teenage years. That, I believe, is the cause of my acne-prone skin.
Are there any foods or drinks that help you feel your best?
Young coconut water whenever I can find it. Also, fresh vegetable juice (I like the earthiness of carrot, beetroot and ginger) or green juice (a mix of wheatgrass, green capsicum, green apple, celery, cucumber, bittergourd and a squeeze of lime) on an empty stomach each morning. Eating for Beauty by David Wolfe is a good read if you’re interested in eating well to look your best.
Do you have any other rituals that help you feel good?
I indulge in a monthly hydrafacial, which leaves my skin feeling thoroughly cleansed and refreshed. A strong and energizing body massage and some aromatherapy works too. I love doTERRA’s peppermint essential oil for the car, and Mt. Sapola’s lemongrass essential oil for the home.
What do you do to care for your hair? And for styling?
I have fine, thin hair that I wash twice a day with this Rosemary and Mint Shampoo. The scent lifts my mood. I skip conditioner though I try to use a hair mask whenever I remember to. I don’t stick to a particular brand of hair mask though. Any brand from the drug store will do.
I don’t use any styling product as my fine hair doesn’t take to DIY styling. It all goes flat once I step out of the house.
What was a time in your life when you felt beautiful?
I felt most beautiful during pregnancy. There’s just something about carrying another life inside you that changes how you feel about yourself.
What do you feel makes a woman beautiful?
Inner happiness. When you’re truly happy, you radiate a glow that is undeniable.
What advice would you give your younger self?
On beauty: Get enough sleep and be diligent when it comes to skincare.
On life: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Last but certainly not least: do you have an overall beauty philosophy?
Use what works for your skin-type and budget, rather than following the latest fads or buying from the most expensive brands.
Thank you so very much, Jo!
(Images of Josephine and family kindly provided by Josephine Soh; Appetite magazine images courtesy of Appetite magazine; bubble tea image via here; hydra facial image via here; peppermint image via here.)