updated 23 Oct 2013, 09:52
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Sun, Jul 28, 2013
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Xiao Kai's beauty secrets
by Gladys Chung

Chang Ching-kai, 34

Better known as Hsiao-kai, the Taiwanese is a resident make-up expert on the variety lifestyle show, Lady First.

Mr Chang was in town to hold a workshop with cosmetics brand Make Up For Ever at Sephora in Takashimaya Shopping Centre last Saturday.

He is also the founder of cosmetics line 1028 (named after his birth date of Oct 28) and will release his fourth make-up book here at the end of the year.

What is the one beauty product you cannot step out of the house without?

There are three products from Make Up For Ever that I must have in my bag.

The High Definition Elixir ($64, from Sephora stores) is a serum that preps the skin and makes it look smoother. You can apply it under foundation to make it last longer or use it at midday to refresh your make-up. Just drip some onto your palms and pat onto the T-zone areas to mattify them.

The Mist & Fix spray ($48) prevents foundation from oxidising, shrinks pores and gives skin a glow.

The High Definition Powder ($57) is like a Photoshop for your face. The loose powder is very fine, hides imperfections with light-reflecting particles and is suitable for all skin tones.

What is the one grooming service you cannot do without?

I have a very busy schedule, so I prefer to groom myself in the comfort of my home.

When I feel like having a spa session, I light my own candles and use the scrubs and oils that I stock up on. I also do my own manicures.

But I can't cut my own hair, so I get it done by celebrity hairstylist WeiBo-ru, who grooms the tresses of stars such as A-mei, Wang Lee Hom and Takeshi Kaneshiro.

It took me about a year to get MrWei to agree to cut my hair because he is busy and selective about his clients. He did so only after we worked together on a project and he got to know me better.

What is your favourite perfume?

I don't really have a favourite, but I like fresh, citrusy, woody and ocean notes. I will wear any perfume, even if it is a woman's fragrance, as long as I like it.

I own at least 200perfumes because I think beautiful scents make my life more colourful.

The way I choose a perfume for the day is similar to how a woman picks a pair of heels to suit her mood and the occasion.

I took Jo Malone's Grapefruit Cologne ($194 for 100ml) with me on this trip because it is a perfect light scent for the tropical weather.

Guerlain Homme ($110 for 80ml, from Sephora stores) is another current favourite because I like its luxe packaging. I also use perfume bottles as ornaments to spruce up my dresser or office.

What, in your opinion, is the best beauty invention?

The Clarisonic cleansing brush ($215 for the Mia 2 model, from Sephora stores). I bought mine about three years ago from Hong Kong but started using it only recently. I love it because it is safe to use and you can see the results instantly.

After the first use, my skin felt cleaner, tighter and the products that I applied on my skin afterwards were more easily absorbed.

Now my skin constantly looks like I've gone for a laser treatment or fruit peel; my face looks lifted and my pores are refined. I also think it's a great tool for women who tend to forget their hairline and jawline areas when they wash their faces. The brush will automatically cleanse these spots as you glide it over your entire face.

The other fantastic gadget that I cannot do without is a hairdryer that you can get only at traditional hair salon supply stores in Taipei. It costs less than NT$200 (S$25.70) and blows gentle but very hot air.

This means you can style your hair more precisely. The masters of hairstyling in Taiwan use this machine to create perfect finger waves or even Shanghainese-style slick-back dos on men.

What is the most ridiculous thing you've done in the name of beauty?

About four years ago, I got hair implants on my sideburns to make them longer and thicker.

I'd always wanted bold sideburns that extended all the way to just above my jawline because I think that makes my features look more defined.

I spent NT$90,000 (S$3,800) to implant 800 follicles, retrieved from the back of my head, onto my sideburns.

It was painful and I was on medical leave for one week after the procedure.

It took the sore areas one month to heal and the hair started growing only after three months.

It was worth it, though.

What is the best beauty tip anyone has given you? When I was 23, I had the honour of doing actress Maggie Cheung's make-up for an Elle Taiwan cover.

She told me to apply as little make-up as possible on her. This was way before the natural look was popular.

After her make-up was done, I was worried and wondered if the pictures would turn out right.

But the moment she put on her dress, and the lights of the camera were on, her personality shone.

I understood then that make-up should allow a woman to show her true self, not mask her soul.

For me, it was a great lesson in understanding the concept of beauty.

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