Archive for category Darren Ng

Bringing Out the Best in Us

Posted by Darren on Wednesday, 17 November, 2010

我是 Urban Homme 及多位现代生活品牌商家联手打造的都市型男!

Spider-Man says, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Mr Urban Homme Icon says, “Great responsibilities means a greater need to take good care of ourselves.”

We are all superheroes. Especially when we live in an urban environment where the demands of city life are many. Boss, employee, teacher, student, parent, child, reader, blogger… we play many different roles and slip from one role to another faster than Superman can emerge from a turnstile or phone-booth. We have to fight the many minions that our urban roles bring, and true victory is achieved when we can give those necessary evils a good wham-bam and still come out of them looking like (insert name of person you think looks really good).

Urban living heightens the focus on our appearance. We live in high density areas with close proximity to people whether real or online. As it takes between 5 – 15 seconds for first impressions to be made about us with the most part that influence the opinions coming from our physical image, good personal grooming could determine if we get that job, sale, or a hot date! Looks are not everything, but it’s the first thing people know us by.

Compared to a rural dweller that lives in smaller communities and faces mainly cows, chickens, ducks and green, green grass, he/she is the boss of them. So long as there’s feed in hand, the animals are not going to form an opinion about the master of their universe.

BIG THANKS to Urban Homme, Omy.sg, TDK, Kenneth Cole, The Boiler Room, The Studio, & Eucrocuffz for giving us men a chance to shine.

Talking about superheroes, do you recall any of them ever looking bad while saving the world? I bet Clark Kent gives himself laser face and body treatments through the red rays he shoots out of his eyes, while there’s a reason as to why Wonder Woman does all that spinning around to transform. It helps her burn cellulite and stay in shape. As for Batman and Robin, they are probably engaged in some perfectly normal and healthy activities that at the same time, generate enough latex to make batty’s body suits.

Superheroes are Made

Like everyone, I’m an urban superhero. We may not be the kind of hero that saves the world on a grand scale, but we make a difference to our own lives, and the world of people close to us. And about a week ago, on 11 Nov 2010, I was given a new superpower (role)… that of being an icon of the urban male! I wasn’t born with this destiny, I was made.

If you’ve read my series of Urban Homme blog entries, you would know how very little I cared about image and self-presentation, which led to my losing battle with age as evident in the grey-suited me below…

I can't believe the organisers sabo-ed me by making a life-sized standee from my ugliest photo! But I 陷害自己 (dug my own grave) by posting that pic up in the first place. Don't I look like some dorky superhero in a grey suit?

Many friends expressed disbelief that I had a tummy and could look like that. They assumed that the ‘before’ photo was taken by the organisers and the problems exaggerated by Photoshop. In a way, I felt many of my friends weren’t qualified to make such an assumption because they hardly see me in person.

My waistline did balloon to that bulge and the photo was taken by my personal compact camera. Except for adjusting the brightness and colour, no digital retouching was done to make anything better, or worse.

My ugly standee had all my friends laughing and posing with it. After that, they even brought it down to a pub where they left it there for the weekend. For all the fun it brought, it's a good thing that happened to me after all.

I wasn’t aware that Urban Homme created a standee using my personal photo. When the standees of all six of us first arrived at the event venue and were lying on the floor, I thought they were made from photos of our ‘after’ photoshoot at The Studio. So you can imagine my horror when I saw that grey monster! My standee was the most revolting compared to the rest of the guys’.

But it was all done in good spirit. Since I’ve already posted that pic in a previous entry where it’s there for the world to see, what more image damage can this standee do? Since I can’t ‘fight’ the choice of photo, I might as well join in the fun! Posing with mky standee, I’m redefining what it means by self-love. LOL

Happenings During the Urban Homme Icon Challenge Finals

First of all, my deepest appreciation to everyone who voted for me. I thought I wouldn’t have many votes since I missed out on a Mary Chia ‘live’ roadshow to canvass for votes (Urban Homme is the male face and body care subsidiary of Mary Chia, a household name in Singapore for female personal care and slimming services).

During the event, we shared our thoughts about the transformation process, got a friend up to share his/her observations of our changes, played a game of charades, & went amongst the audience to get more votes.

Moreover, even though I have more than 3,800 friends in my Facebook friends’ list, only about 2% are active in leaving me comments on wall posts and photo comments and an even lesser percentage heeds my calls for support. If you’re reading this blog post as a result of clicking on my link posted on Facebook, thank you for being an active member in my community of friends and online acquaintances.

And if you may be convinced further to take action, please support my future calls for votes because it does matter! I scored the second highest in terms of online votes for this challenge. Thank you! (Please vote for my LG Life’s Good Ambassador Challenge next. Click here to vote!)

Thank you all so much for your online votes throughout the contest period and for all the 'Kiss' votes received that night. 谢谢!Terimah Kasih! Arigatou! Merci! Kup Khoon Khrup! The kisses had a hard time sticking on to my body. Is it because my skin has gotten smoother from the body treatments?

The night’s events went on smoothly with quite some exciting segments where the finalists got to interact with the audience. I was a bunch of nerves that night with butterflies in my stomach having a rave party. No matter how I could describe about the way I felt that night, they would all be understatements. But thank God for the host – famous creative personality, Danny Yeo (杨君伟).

His hosting skills were superb and if not for his quick wit and sharp humour, my stage segment would’ve been a bigger mess than it was. No wonder he won the Most Creative DJ at the Golden Mike Awards in 2000. For the life of me, I could never get my tongue loose whenever I need to talk about myself in front of an audience or camera. If only I have the telepathic powers of Professor X from the X-Men. Then I can transmit my miles of thoughts instead of letting my mouth run after them.

The Night’s Big Surprises

My biggest surprise was seeing the number of friends who came to support me. I never like to personally ask friends to come because I would be placing a responsibility on them to show up or put them in a spot where they would feel bad if they reject. But the truth is, at an event like this, nothing feels better than seeing familiar faces and see them cheering for you downstage.

I felt like a winner already when I heard whistles and catcalls each time my name was called. My parents even brought noise makers and whistles to make a racket! Their spontaneity and love are so precious and priceless.

My deepest appreciation to my family and friends who came to the event to support me. I'm surprised to see so many of my friends who came even though I didn't ask. Very touched...

And of course, winning the challenge also came as a huge surprise for me. I had actually prepared three reasons why the judges should choose me as the winner but I didn’t get to share them. Good thing too, I do better at thinking rather than speaking out ‘live’ what I think! Anyway, here are the reasons :

1. I need more treatments. Throughout the whole blogging process about the month-long treatments I received, I usually write into the wee hours of night. My blogs are usually completed or posted at around 3:00 am. I slept very little in the past 3 weeks. Moreover, the amount of detailed information I put into those entries didn’t come from me relaxing during treatments, but to constantly think about what I want to share and ask Lyn for answers. Even with a mask over my face, it didn’t shut me up. So I need more treatments to truly enjoy them.

I had an out-of-body moment when my name was called as the winner. It was surreal! Congrats to Peter for winning the Mr Personality award and Dennis for being named Mr Photogenic. Congrats to all 6 of us for achieving better skin and body conditions through the treatments.

2. I need the prize money to buy new jeans. I lost about 2.5 inches off my torso in the preceding weeks and now my old jeans don’t fit.

3. I want to be an inspiration. If the like of me can be considered a well-groomed, polished, confident urban man, then there’s hope for all guys in the world to achieve positive image changes. I started the challenge wondering if I can turn from being a frog into a prince. I set out to achieve the best in me. And I did. So could everyone.

Doesn’t the cheque look big? You have to forgive me for this is my virgin experience in receiving such a huge cheque and for a moment, I was thinking how am I going to bring it to the bank?! Seriously. I was making plans.

One of the highlights of the night for me was meeting Mdm Mary Chia in person. Her success is a rags-to-riches story, a true 白手起家业者. The magnate of Singapore’s beauty industry started out as a one-woman show going from home-to-home during the 1970s to provide facial services.

When she saved up enough, she opened her first salon that led to a chain of salons in HDB heartlands in the 1980s. Then bringing in results-proven slimming technologies from Japan in the 1990s and partnering with her daughter Wendy Ho, the spa chain has expanded regionally with plans to go global.

Even though I met Mdm Chia for only a very brief moment, the magnate of Singapore’s spa industry came across as being warm and down-to-earth. She never revealed her age to the media, but an approximation is that the grandmother should be in her late 60s to early 70s. Look at her, does she look even a day past 50? Whatever anti-aging stuff she’s doing, they must be working!

Life's Good when you have family & friends to share your joys and triumphs with! But don't ask for free treats hor. Coz I've spent every cent liao!

Personally, I’ve experienced the face and body treatments and they work. I’ve been watching my diet and gymming for the longest time but my middle-age spare tire showed no signs of retreating. The body sculpting treatments burned off more fat than my sit-ups and crunches. But of course, in order to get great abs quickly and safely, I also cut my carbo intake and increased my cardio output in the gym. Combined with the treatments, I lost the inches in half the time.

My super fashionable urbanite gadgets set to activate an iconic lifestyle! Prizes I received include - S$2,000 cash, Urban Homme treatments (worth S$5,000), Kenneth Cole timepiece, Eurocuffz cufflinks (Royalty collection - S$450), TDK iWave (S$199), & TDK WR700 wireless headphones (S$329). Thanks for ALL the prizes & the experience!

With winning, comes responsibilities. My transformation journey doesn’t end with being named Urban Homme Icon. The challenge to reverse the signs of aging is an ongoing challenge. Maintaining the results I’ve gotten will require superhuman willpower. And I don’t want to maintain, I want to keep getting better. Thanks to Urban Homme for the Icon Challenge that gave six ordinary guys an opportunity to reveal the best in us.

As the reigning Urban Homme Icon, I take it as my duty to share with you my journey in skincare for men… to experience first-hand body shaping technologies and give you a detailed account… to dive into the science behind ingredients used in products… to understand more about what causes the problems on our face and body and blog about them… so as to empower us guys with knowledge to make informed choices about personal care… to bring about the right for guys to have facials and slimming treatments… and with greater complexion, tighter abs and higher self-confidence… to be a force for goodness throughout humanity… and bring about WORLD… PEACE!!

If you’re interested to read some of my past posts on Health and Skincare, please visit my blog : celebratelah.wordpress.com. Don’t forget to vote for my LG Life’s Good Ambassador Challenge.

Here’s wishing you every success in achieving positive growth and change!

揭茧核 Core of Transformation

Posted by Darren on Tuesday, 9 November, 2010

不知不觉,一个月的 Urban Homme 美容及修身护理将于 11月11日2010年(星期四), 7.30pm,在 St James Powerhouse 举行的《都市型男大挑战》总决赛告一个段落。如果您当晚有空的话,请到场与我们同乐!

你可能觉得奇怪为什么这篇部落格我尝试用中文写。这是为了小玲写的。小玲是这几个星期来为我美容养肤的护理师。她来自中国吉林省,英文还有待进步所以之前我所写的她都只是看照片。非常感谢小玲这些日子以来把我的肌肤照顾得那么好,也为我解答了许多美容上的疑问。护理的时候,可怜的小玲不仅要动手,还得不停的回答我苍蝇般的问题,讲到口水都干了!

这金黄闪亮的物体不是琥珀,里头没有存着原始昆虫,而是用来为我们做脸部护理的营养凝胶之一。但,个人护理要取得成功,靠的不是这些护肤品。那,是什么呢?

在之前 Urban Homme 的一系列部落稿里,我分享了许多关于美疗机器及护理过程,还未真正深入介绍过位于 Ngee Ann City 的 The Cocoon 美容瘦身室。为什么要特别介绍呢?应为它装潢优雅,室内设计特别。就一个字。。。赞!听说新传媒还来过这里好几次为电视节目取景。

我中文写得不好,要写一行字把字典都给翻烂了。因此,我就通过照片以及简言为您揭开这茧的魅力。要改头换面,先由环境开始。。。

坐在舒服的宽椅沙发上享受足浴与按摩实在是超级爽快。你别看地板是完整一片,它可是内有乾坤的哦。

茧中的圆形灯饰犹如一枝枝柳垂的冰莹柱,看上去十分让人陶醉。

护理之前先走走猫步!两面水帘墙给人一种新潮 Zen 的感觉,而水声把一天的烦恼也洗掉,好让脑袋放松,享受接下来的美疗步骤。

这是 Urban Homme 仅有的更衣室。我每次治疗后都呆在里面很久,东照西照,左拍右拍。常要被工作人员问是否我发生了什么状况才出来。真不好意思!

Urban Homme 讲究高科技,就连存放个人物件与衣物的橱柜也由指纹辨认系统定开关。7号柜子很坏蛋,我每次要案上指纹好几次它才肯开,可能是舍不得我走吧。哈哈

这是肌肤分析器。它能把表皮的肤质放大至 60倍,所有的皮肤问题都逃不过它的蓝眼睛!它也能测试肌肤的保湿度和光滑度。不知道在总决赛那天会不会再遇上它,看一看我的肌肤是否在这一个月内有改善。

这位帅哥就是为我们量身策划个人美容及修身治疗的 Vince。他也是 The Cocoon 的经理,是一位尽责,典型的都市型男。我有他四分之一的 cool 就够了。

这,就是被我折磨手脚和口齿的小玲啦。她的耐心及谈吐都让我觉得美疗的过程十分轻松爽快。她讲话好好听的,有时候我表示自己不足的地方,她都有办法让我往好的方面去看待事情。

看过了照片,揭开了茧的核,其实都只是改造外形肤浅的花边装饰而已。想要变,靠的还是自己的意志力和努力。但往往单靠自己的坚持与力量是很不一贯性及稳定的。

在我眼里,我觉得这个月来的护理虽然不算长,但我个人觉得已经相当成功。我的成功不仅是仪器、疗程的功劳。更重要的是 The Cocoon 里的人。他们才是我能够坚持,继续的理由。虽然说经历的美疗配套都是免费的,但如果不 enjoy 的话,何必受苦呢?

服务业真的蛮艰辛的, 得应付一些顾客古怪或不规矩的要求, 护理师都必须宛转的应付客户而在需要的时候保持专业立场。非常感谢 The Cocoon 所有的工作人员给我那么好的回忆。。。除了 Vince 和小玲以外,还有为我做过修身护理的 James 和 Jacky、凤尾眼眯眯,让我想起林忆莲的小精灵 Wendy、及办事果断,善解人意的 Jasmine。

他们的友善,笑容与关怀让我觉得来这里不是接受美疗,而是和一群新结识的朋友说说笑笑,开朗身心,由内至外,这对我来说才是改造自我的真正奥秘。

Sun of a Beach

Posted by Darren on Friday, 29 October, 2010

Greetings to all from Ko Samed!

In my previous life, I might have been a sea turtle, or seagull. I love a life by the beach. Blue skies, blazing sun, powdery shoreline and shimmering crystal blue waters draws me like a moth to a flame. I especailly love those beaches where the water is so clear, you can see the bottom and there is marine life close to shore.

I would spend hours snorkelling and free diving to explore every inch of the colourful corals and the creatures that live amongst them. It’s a whole new world down there and I’d never get tired of swimming with shoals of fish. And it didn’t matter that I’ll be terribly sunburnt thereafter.

So you can imagine my misery when I have to stay indoors the whole time while the glorious sun is up at one of Thailand’s most beautiful resort island, Ko Samed.

All I could do at Ko Samed is photograph the beach & lusting after it; yearning to plunge into the crystal clear waves. But alas, I can only stand there longingly & let my saliva become part of the sea.

It’s my 3rd day here at Ao Prao resort, Ko Samed, and I’ve been staying in the room or surfing the internet at the hotel lobby (where I wrote this entry). If you can’t go into the sea, there’s very little to do here. Felt that this is kinda like a wasted trip. What a bummer feeling… sun of a beach.

Urban Homme or island primate?
But for the sake of making the best of the Urban Homme treatments I’m currently going through, I must endure!

There’s no greater motivation to give up something when you know the sacrifice will bring about even better things to come. Well, at least that’s how I consoled myself. Each time I hear the rush of the waves, my determination gets washed that much thinner.

In the last week preceding this trip, I’ve had all kinds of facial pampering by Urban Homme with Diamond Microdermabrasion, PHA treatment, Oxygen Face Spa, Thermal Eye Therapy, and a series of nourishing facials. It would be a waste if I don’t restrain myself from the sun now and jeopardise the results.

Furthermore, the treatments have revealed my younger layer of skin so damaging it now is going to cause even greater repurcussions. So I have to stay in and if I really want to go out, I’m all covered up. The islanders and tourists all gave me the “this guy is nuts” look.

Apart from dressing up like a militant terrorist, my next line of defense is the range of skincare products I’m slapping onto my face. After-treatment care is equally, if not more important than the treatments themselves because that’s when they skin recovers and heals and you want to make sure it has all the best materials to rebuild. So I jammed my home-based skincare routine up a few notches.

Adding to my fantastic four – cleanser, toner, eye cream and moisturiser, I’ve included a few skin repair and nourishing products as well as sunblock. Yes. Sunblock. It used to be a swear word to me. Now I swear by it.

Number of t-shirts I brought on this trip : 4. Number of skincare products : 9.

After-care products are not included in the Urban Homme Icon Challenge’s range of treatments so I had to buy them. Now I’ve lost an arm, and possibly one foot. Here are the 2 products I bought – MU Anti-Melanin Lightening Cream and MU Emollient Essence (MU stands for Mary Chia-Urban Homme). The Heliocare SPF50 sunblock was given by my mum.

White face, blood red tee, & no sun. I'm an urban vampire!

I invested S$588 into the two products. With this amount, I’m not expecting them to be magic potions, I expect them to be miracles! But I think they’re giving my skin a virgin birth effect because photos of me on this trip showed a more even complexion, and my face is white as sheet. I look like a vampire. Yikes!

I think the ladies would love to have whitened skin like mine and I think it could be due to the ingredients in the two MU products apart from the Titanium Dioxide used in the sunblock. Titanium Dioxide is white in colour.

The two MU products weren’t exactly cheap but I’m going all out this time to see just how good my skin can become. But I’m also convince by the premium ingredients used in the products.

MU Anti-Melanin Lightening Cream uses Arbutin, a plant-based phytonutrient extracted presumably from Bearberry and has the ability to fade pigmentations and discolourations as effectively as hydroquinone but without the carcinogenic perils of the latter. Arbution has also been shown in clinical trials to block future melanin formation. Melanin is the stuff that causes dark patches on our skin.

MU Emollient Essence contains a plethora of the most established and latest in skincare technology. Of the 26 ingredients used in the formulations, of which many are botanically-derived, the one that caught my attention was inclusion of Placental Protein. This is the latest darling of the cosmetics industry with its superior skin-whitening effects and ability to re-ignite the skin’s natural ability to regenerate itself.

Combined with the other ingredients, the Emollient Essence is a comprehensive product that can repair damage, revitalise new skin production, and eliminate oxidative stress on the skin caused by free radicals. For me, I just like that it doesn’t feel heavy on my face. The only thing heavy about it is its price!

Trading high carb foods with more protein & fibre. Losing weight is not about starving but eating fit food. But fat foods just taste so much better!

So much about what I’m doing for my face. Body-wise, I’m trying to control my diet as much as possible and it’s pretty hard! Thai food is just too delicious. I haven’t been really disciplined in what I ate on this trip so far but I try to keep to the rule of high protein, low carbs.

There’s no gym at the resort here so I can’t workout and previous commitments to jog by the beach has given way to white wine by the lobby lounge. Who would have thought being in the challenge would be so challenging?! The self is the biggest barrier.

Having hide out at the lobby area the whole day to wait for sunset, I lost no time in getting into the sea. Even if it was just for a little while.

In order to achieve something, we must be willing to give up something else and do whatever it takes. It is a choice. But looking at the beautiful beach and clear waters before me, I can’t help thinking if it’s all worth it. What’s the point in looking good if you can’t enjoy what you love doing?

Well, if we continue to do what we love, then we must be prepared to bear the consequences. This Urban Homme Challenge is calling for more than just a physical makeover. It’s a lifestyle re-direction.

Anyway, I held myself back enough. I couldn’t stand it any longer. As soon as the sun began to lose the height of its power, I sampled the resort’s pool and took a dip in Mother Nature’s sweat tub… Everything tastes sweeter (saltier) when it’s forbidden. Moments like these are more cherished when you know they’re going to happen less often.

Burn Belly Burn

Posted by Darren on Tuesday, 26 October, 2010

Hot! Hot! Hot! That summed up the series of inferno treatments I went through at Urban Homme’s The Cocoon studio today. I totally needed that. Since posting up the photo of me looking like some latex gym ball in my last entry, I’ve been getting calls, smses and Facebook emails from friends and readers bemusing the impression they have of me, a tone-fit guy, and the actual size of my belly. I’ve already warned earlier that the Urban Homme Icon Challenge will expose all my problems right? Now you know the real me.

But a BIG thanks to everyone for your reactions to the photo, it lets me know you’re reading. :) And your shock fuels my will to drive to burn off that belly even more. In the last five days, I’ve cut my carbo consumption and increased gym time. Hopefully I can stick to it because it’s a lot of sore muscles and the pain of giving up food, and my passion for eating lots of it. So please continue to encourage me. Thanks!

This is the front view of my pre-treatment bulging tummy. It was taken during my first body trimming session last Wednesday (20 Oct 2010).

My session today was super long as I’ll be missing treatments for a week while I’m away in Ko Samed and Bangkok. Will I be able to resist the temptation of frolicking in Samed’s aquamarine waters and that fatty but absolutely delicious Thai pork knuckle rice? Vince gave me strict orders to stay out of the sun and keep up with my skincare regime. This is the first time I’m travelling with more facial products than clothes. Not young anymore, so I should really take care of the damnage.

So, what are the fat busting treatments I had today? First of all it’s my good pal, the LPG machine, to warm up my body and also to turn on my lymphatic function to detox mode. Again, I was pinched all over but this second encounter wasn’t as painful. After that, I was introduced to a new machine…

Advanced Wave Frequency (WF) Slimming

The fame of this machine precedes it. I was told that it guarantees taking off at least 0.5 inch off the waistline. Vince told me that the highest record they ever achieved at Urban Homme was 1.5 inch in just one session!

Warning to All Fat Cells : This is James. When you meet him, you are doomed. He holds in his hand the thermally lethal WF gun that will reduce waist circumference by 0.5 to 1.5 inches GUARANTEED. So fats, there's nowhere you can hide. Resistance is futile!

With clinically proven results in just one session, it’s hard not to anticipate how much I would lose. How it works is by sending radio frequency waves deep into the dermal and subcutaneous tissues to dissolve fat cells by causing them to heat up and burn.

The process involves James, my body therapist for the day, first measuring the temperature of my ab area and then running the sonic gun over it. There’s no pain, but at some parts, it got too hot and I experienced some stinging burns. But these burns weren’t like those caused by fire and there was no injury or wounds.

The WF machine waisted no time in trimming my mid-section. Does my tummy look smaller than the pre-treatment pic. And I didn't suck in my tummy when having it taken.

From what I gathered, the acute burning sensation happened because some of the parts may retain residual heating effects when the WF pass through it the first time and when it runs over the same area again, the acute burning sensation occurs. As the heating is somewhat like that of a microwave oven and not fire, the ‘burning’ didn’t cause any harm to me.

The above photo was taken after I had the WF treatment. I don’t know how many inches I’ve lost but when I measured at home, my waist is size 30 no more… I lost about 1 inch! But I don’t know if it’s the sole effect of the WF machine or the combined outcome of all the treatments because after WF, I was given another treatment where I was wrapped up like a mummy.

Detoxification & Drainage Programme

When James told me many clients have a love-hate relationship with this programme, I was wondering why. I found the warm hug of the thermal blanket comfortable and relaxing. I was enjoying it. Then 20-minutes laer, I wanted to jump out!

It got hot, I was perspiring profusely, my heart was pounding like I’d just ran 2.4km and I can’t move. I almost panicked. James came in a couple of times to check if I was ok. I assured him each time there wasn’t a nary of the problem and I was doing just fine. But I was not. It’s an inferno in here! I must be burning in hell for lying.

Felt like I was the emperor herbal chicken soup dish being marinated with dead sea mud, wrapped in plastic, then covered up by the aluminium foil. I was literally cooking under the blanket. Darren soup... anyone?

But when I felt the prespiration dripping off my body and my lower abs totally sunken, I endured. Finally, after 40 minutes, I was free! Normally, a treatment takes only half an hour but James decided to extend mine for 10 more minutes because I only started to heat up quite late into the treatment.

What this programme does is to encourage the body’s natural metabolism rate to increase so as to burn fat and drain toxins out of the body. By the end of it, I left behind a huge pool of sweat. And I’ve never felt better!

But I wasn’t the only one feeling better. Daniel had his facial session today and when I saw him afterwards, I was so jealous. That guy’s skin was like a baby’s bottom and he’s four years older than me!

Check out Daniel's clear and radiant complexion after his facial treatment... Skin so smooth, even my camera wants to smooch!

Actually, I didn’t fare too bad either. After my two facial treatments last week, my friends who saw me over the weekend during a friend’s wedding all had good things to say. I’ll share more about the facial treatments in later posts. For now, I shall re-check that I’ve brought my sunblock, hats and long-sleeved tees.

Can you imagine going to a beautiful beach resort and you can’t swim or play sea sports? This holiday is going to be a test of will. If I succeed, it would’ve been a dead boring holiday. If I don’t, well, you’ll see some sunburnt pot-bellied pics here next week.

Pinch that Inch

Posted by Darren on Friday, 22 October, 2010

My tummy area has been hurting the whole of yesterday and today. But it’s a good kind of pain, which resulted from going through a series of body sculpting treatments at Urban Homme’s The Cocoon studio on Wednesday night (20 Oct 10). And when you see my photo in the grey suit below, if you are a kind person, you would wish even more pain for me.

Loose don't show, tight can't lie. After Vince, who tailored our treatment programmes, saw me in the figure revealing LPG skin suit, he promptly, immediately, instantly, added the LPG procedure to that day's treatment & another body sculpting session for my next visit. Grrr...

I used to have flat abs because I was underweight before age 19. It wasn’t rock-hard washboard, just flat. Now, the letter ‘L’ has gone missing.

Since I turned 30 six years ago, so did my waistline. And my battle with the bulge began. I was briefly victorious and my waistline hovered around 28 inches for a while. Then last year, I had to buy new jeans. Size 30 ones.

When your waistline is 30 inches but your tummy circumference is 32 inches, you know you are on your way to make the ladies very happy… by showing them that men can get ‘pregnant’ too. I am pro-life but this is one ‘pregnancy’ I need to abort for health’s sake. Fortunately, Urban Homme is here to help with Vince, the Branch Manager for The Cocoon, and Lyn, my dedicated treatment consultant here to pound, knead and pinch those inches off.

It's only to be a bumpy ride on my body sculpting journey with a hump this size! "Mai hump, mai hump, mai hump..." ('Mai' means 'don't want' in Hokkien & 'no' or 'not' in Thai.)

Generally, it takes the body and abs about 3 months to metabloize fat through cardiovascular exercises and weight training to look visibly toned and sculpted. But when the exercise routine is paired with the body sculpting treatments, you can get results in half the time. Which leaves me with 1.5 months (6 weeks) to put the ‘L’ back in ‘fat’ and take it out from ‘flab’.

As the Urban Homme Icon Challenge runs for a month, I only have 4 weeks to get where I want to go with my abs. Moreover, I’ll be away for a week from 27 Oct to 2 Nov so I’m losing precious treatment time. So what results can I get in such a short period of time? See for yourself when Benson, Daniel, Dennis, Emeric, Peter and I unveil our new bods on 12 Nov 2010 (Friday) at St James Powerhouse, 7 – 9 pm. So come on down and see our transformations up-close and personal if you have the time!

To guarantee I would be stage ready, I started my gym and diet programme today (I know it’s a bit late, but have to try!) to maximise the results from Urban Homme’s ab treatments. Here’s a look at the weapons of mass construction that were unleashed upon my tubby tummy…

Step 1 : Integral Quartz Macro Body Treatment

This treatment is where this blog entry got its title from. And I have a love-hate relationship with the machine that was used to perform it – the LPG Lipomassage.

I met this machine during the audition for the challenge two weeks ago. Finally, I got acquainted with it. It's one bad-ass fat buster with a nasty pinch!

It looks like something out of Star Wars but the LPG machine with its tentacled arms can cause some serious damage. To fat cells that is. Especially stubborn ones. Our bodies have a natural balance to produce and eliminate fat. But with age, fats tend to get stored more than they are being eliminated. That leads to excess fat in the body and the appearance of cellulite. As for guys, we are genetically predisposed for excess fat to gather at the mid-section, thus causing pot / beer bellies.

While I’m not too flabby generally, my lower ab has this hump of stubborn fat that is visible from outer space. No matter how many crunches, sit-ups or leg raises I do, or dietary restrictions I impose on myself, the bicycle tyre just kept self-inflating. But after my close encounter of the mechnical kind with the LPG machine, it felt like a valve has finally been installed for the tyre air to escape.

Oh, did I mention the machine has a mouth filled with two huge roller ‘teeth’?

My tummy looks flat in this picture because my arms were stretched all the way back, pulling the fat away from my abs. This is what I want my abs to look like while standing up and sitting down when wearing rubberised shorts

How it works : For the treatment, a body suit must be worn to reduce the friction when the machine sucks in a portion of fat and pinches it between to rollers to trigger the reactivation of fat elimination and production of collagen and elastin. It breaksdown the fatty cells and sort of liquify them so that they could be discharged by the lymphatic system via sweat and urine.

The process involves Lyn running the mouth back and forth over my body, tummy and love handles like she’s mowing the lawn. It felt like someone pinching my body rather comfortably but it’s ouch! at the more sensitive parts such as the inner thigh and triceps. This step also serves as warm up to stimulate blood circulation and makes the body more receptible and responsive to the other treatments that followed.

The evidence behind it : I saw many benefits listed in the brochure about the procedure, but being naturally conservative about marketing claims, I went in search for supporting scientific proof that the technology works. Apparently, there’re over 85 studies done that is supported by the International Scientific Committee of Research (COSIRE) for the LPG system and it shows that the system improves fat elimination by 50% and reactivates the body’s ability to produce collagen by 240% and elastin by 160%! Wow!

Benefits : So what does it really do? The benefits is one long list but in summary, it firms and tones the body, improves skin texture, gets rid of flab and cellulite, thin down fat deposits around arms and thighs, and most importantly for me, the promise of sculpting my abs and chiselling away those love handles! And the best thing is that all these are achieved naturally by triggering the body’s own metabolism to melt away fat without surgery or other mildly invasive methods such as mesotherapy.

Step 2 : Abdominal Trimming (G5)

After LPG, came the second machine that has an appendage that resembles a black shower head with protruding nodes. A layer of moisturing gel with a very fragrant and calming lavender scent was applied to lubricate my abs and love handles before Lyn ran the device across those areas. This one felt like a hundred jackhammers pounding me.

Poor Lyn was getting slightly out of breath from having to run the machines on me. She made sure every inch was taken care of. It's hard work on her. Thanks a million!

How it works : Running on gyrating rotary motors, the shower head sends a series of high-frequency shockwaves to the layer of cutaneous (surface) and subcutaneous (stubborn) fat covering the ab muscles. The rapid vibration shatters and smashes the fatty structure into smithereens thus allowing the body to use it as energy more effectively. It can also be used as a massage gadget.

Benefits : When the applicator first went on me, I immediately felt a heating and itching effect from increased blood circulation to the treated area. I can literally feel my bicycle tyre being poked and punctured repeatedly to deflate it, and it’s equivalent to doing hundreds of sit-ups in just 15 minutes! I love the feeling! Apart from increasing circulatory flow, the muscular system in the treated area is also enhanced with the abs becoming firmer and the skin tone improved.

Step 3 : Self-Heating Body Mask

Having treated my ab like a punching bag, this treatment gave it a rest. Do you remember the time when you’re a kid and had a tummyache, and your parents heat up medicated oil by rubbing it between their palms rapidly, and then applying the soothing warmth on your stomach?

The self-heating body mask treatment felt like that for me.

A creamy self-heating body mask was used to fire up the fat burn. I love the warm feeling over my tummy. It brought back a very cherished childhood memory of my maternal grandmother.

I’m not sure what ingredients go into the mask but it felt like there’s mint in it because while it was hot, it was cool too. The paste was left on for 15 minutes before it hardened and was lifted off. By then, my ab had reddened and felt tender. But it looked bigger!

That’s because the treatments were causing the area to swell. But that’s not the end yet! Next up was the Intensive Weight Vaporiser.

Step 4 : Intensive Weight Vaporiser

The name sounds very cool and hi-tech but the machine turned out to be very warm and endearing. Maybe it’s due to the fuzzy brown blanket used to trap the heat within the half cylinder that made it look so huggable…

Doesn't this look like a delicious Swiss roll cake? But I'm the one who will be baking inside the torso oven while being rocked side to side.

But hug not! This is another meanie that is a total jerk too! I laid on the bed (not too bad, quite comfortable) and the heat was turned on (okay, it’s steaming, but I can get used to it). Then the vibrating switch was flipped. The whole bed started rotating in a circular motion and the leg rest began vibrating vigorously. I felt like a rag doll being jerked around on the bed.

I was told to close my eyes and sleep. Sleep?! Are you kidding? I was trying to anchor my head and feet the whole time so that only my torso and lower body rocked to the vibration. If you ever go on one, keeping your head and feet still would be most effective for the treatment and most comfortable as well.

The Intensive Weight Vaporiser is also known as the lazy man’s exercise machine. With the heat and constant motion, 15 minutes on this monster is equivalent to running for 45 minutes. When I came out of it, I was deliciously cooked with a sprinkle of sweat glistening off my body and what seemed like four shy humps on my upper torso. Gasp! Did all that vibration mess with my vision, or am I seeing the first hint of my six, possibly eight, packs?! *BIG SMILE*

Step 5 : Sauna & Plastic Popiah

The last step was 15 minutes in the sauna and a plastic wrapping around my waist. I found it really comical when Lyn brought in the plastic roll. Felt like I’m putting on a man corset. I guess this would be my first encounter with plastic ’surgery’?

I had to leave the binding on for two hours and I wasn’t allowed to shower after being soaked through in the sauna. Never mind, think of army days and bear with the stickiness.

After the LPG overall body toning, abs trimming, self-heat mask, weight vaporising, & sauna, my midsection was wrapped up like a popiah for another 2 hours to keep the fat burning action going.

When I unwrapped the plastic, I got a surprise. My earlier four molehills were gone and my belly was swollen without me being bloated from food. And my bicycle tyre had become a motorbike one! But I guess sometimes things have to get worst before they can get better. Just like cancer patients going through chemotherapy. They will experience a lot of side effects such as hair loss and vomiting before they start to recover.

It’s been two days since my ab treatments and the tummy area is still sore, but the swell is subsiding. And it looks like my body renovation will be replacing the big hump, with some smaller ones soon. :)

“Once Upon a Time” No More

Posted by Darren on Tuesday, 19 October, 2010

Since last night, I’ve developed a fetish for slapping my own face. And this is an account of how this strangely gratifying habit got formed. But please, this disclosure is not an invitation for you to slap my face when you see me. :)

First treatment appointment. At the entrance of Urban Homme Ngee Ann City before I step into its flagship outlet, The Cocoon studio. Will I emerge a butterfly? Will I become firm but not fat? Or will I remain as Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth? (Actually, I was trying to form the wings of a butterfly on my face but I ended up like a bad Halloween costume.)

A week ago, I had my in-depth skin and body analysis done for the Urban Homme Urban Icon Challenge. I came face-to-face with my coarse pores and skin blemishes magnified 60X by the skin analyser. What a sight for sore eyes! Body-wise, I don’t have too much of a problem except for a firm rim of fat connecting my lower abdomen to my love handles.

Last night, after carefully reviewing all our test results and videos, Vince, the Branch Manager at The Cocoon finally tailored a facial and body sculpting programme that will help turn my image woes into woohoos! So for the next month, I’ll be going through an intensive 3 times a week treatment process. And I’ll be giving you the scoop on the various treatments and behind-the-scenes look at what’s it like for a guy to go through a beauty regime. Every step of the way.

This is Lyn (小玲), my therapist. We started the treatment session with a relaxing feet soak and mallet massage. Oddly, the song with the words "Hong Kong, Hong Kong" kept floating in my head. I wonder why.

Unfortunately, I can’t take too many pictures during the treatments in part because I want to relax and enjoy being pampered, and the other part being the sensitivity of revealing Urban Homme’s propreitary machinery and trade secrets. So when you see a pic on my Urban Homme blog posts, you know I went up knife mountain and went down fire sea to snap them.

I have more of a face problem rather than a body problem (although I think they’re both equally bad), so my treatments would focus more on rejuvenating my complexion. A penchant for the tanned beachboy look in my younger years is giving me Dalmatian skin now with laugh lines and fine wrinkles threatening to map out the whole MRT network of Singapore before all the stages are completed.

All the treatments will continue for the next 4 weeks and end with a grand unveiling of our new face & body at a 'live' event. Details will be announced later so if you're free on Friday, 12 Nov 10, join us for some fun! My knees are already soft from thinking about having to catwalk on stage...

So we embarked on our treatment journey with a 2-hour facial using ingredients that are fit for royalties. How does cleansing your face with diamonds and ginseng sound to you? It sounds like ouch to me but the results were stellar to say the least. And that’s when I started my face-slapping habit. I can’t get over how smooth and good to touch my skin is at the end of the facial. I think I’m slapping myself to wake up from a fairytale. But this is real. And here’s how my complexion achieved its silken tofu quality…

STEP 1 : Deep Cleansing

My face was cleanse twice. First with a cleansing lotion, followed by a cleansing gel. As my face belongs to the combination category with an oily T-zone and dry cheeks, the cleansing lotion will melt away grime and debris on my cheeks without stripping it of moisture while the gel cleanser absorbs the oil on my T-zone while removing dirt.

STEP 2 : Diamond Microdermabrasion

This treatment had me going gaga over because after it, my skin was visibly clearer and brighter. Lyn did half my face first to let me see the difference. While it is hard to tell under the low light condition in the treatment room, a closer examination in the mirror did show up a 钟无艳 (Zhong Wu Yan) looking back at me. Zhong Wu Yan is a legendary Chinese heroine with one half of her face white, and the other half black.

Yellow, yellow, dirty fellow... my dead skin cells, grime, whiteheads and blackheads were all extracted onto this piece of cotton pad through Diamond Microdermabrasion. Look closer, any diamond left behind too?

Here’s how Diamond Microdermabrasion works : A diamond tip wand made from natural diamond chips is used to abrade the skin to remove dead skin cells while a vacuuming effect sucks up the lose skin and debris onto a cotton filter. An older form of microdermabrasion is Crystal Microderma using aluminum oxide or sodium bicarbonate crystals. The micro crystals are jetted onto the skin with a high-speed flow to abrade the skin and the vacuum sucks all excess crystals and debris back. Diamond Microdermabration is also sometimes known as Diamond Peel.

Benefits : Apart from removing blackheads, whiteheads, and other skin impurities, the procedure gives the skin an instant rejuvenation. It is commonly used as an anti-aging treatment to smoothen fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars and sun-damaged skin.

I thought the process would be like rubbing sandpaper on my face but it was painless and after 10 minutes of being polished by the wand, my face as cliches would have it, sparkled like a gem. But the problem is, with my skin tone lighting up, my deep-seated pigmentations and skin tags became more obvious. Perhaps the upcoming facial treatments in the next few weeks can improve the situation. Just as Vince puts it, “The bad one don’t go, the new one won’t grow.”

STEP 3 : PHA Treatment (15%)

After the diamond polishing came the fruit acid treatment in the form of PHA (polyhydroxy acids) at a strength of 15%. PHA is a newer generation of fruit acids that doesn’t irritate the skin as much as AHA (alphahydroxy acids). There are a few acid types that are used in PHA treatments but Urban Homme uses Lactobionic Acid which is derived from lactose in cow’s milk. I did feel a bit of stinging (like ants bites) when the PHA was first applied on but it quickly dissipitated. After that, my skin felt like it had a big drink of water!

Benefits : As it is all natural and biological, and close to the acids contained in human’s skin, Lactobionic Acid is better tolerated so it provides the exfoliating benefits of AHA with minimal occurence of that red burning that sensitive individuals usually succumb to. But as with AHA, the skin does get used to prolonged usage of PHA and the strength of the acid may be increased to 30%.

How it works : As the Diamond Microdermabration may cause some dryness as it strips away the surface skin (epidermis), PHA is used to first balance out the PH levels of the skin to stabilize it before the moisturising action of the acid kicks in. PHA has been shown to bind more water in its molecules and forms a thin film on the skin to provide healing and hydration rentention effects. This leads to the skin plumping out and looking fuller.

No hocus pocus! This is the Oxy Epidermal Mist Spray magic wand used to blow oxygen and nutrients into my skin. Feels like an angel's continuous kiss. The kiss that has the real power for transformation.

STEP 4 : Oxy Epidermal Mist Spray

By now, I’m already half stoning and totally relaxed on the treatment bed so I didn’t asked Lyn too much about this procedure. Basically, a hydrating gel with various botanical-based extracts was applied onto my face and an air pen was used to jet oxygen onto my skin surface. Sort of like air-brushing.

The stream of oxygen automatically adjusts its strength according to the pressure on the skin and gently pushes the nutrients deep into the skin. The molecules of the gel content are also made smaller than our skin pores (but not at the level of being nano-sized) so penetration is faster and deeper. After the gel had been blown dry, my face felt light, like a tissue paper or feather.

STEP 5 : Foundation Mask & Ginseng Mask

After all the steps taken to deep cleanse and treat me skin, the final step before toning and moisturising was the application of 2 layers of mask. The first layer was a foundation mask which I gave up asking about because my mind was loaded with information on all the other treatments and I was fighting to stay awake. I just remembered it was thick and felt like a clay mask.

Mirror, mirror in my hand... who will be the finest urban man? You can decide with a vote and receive a S$145 Mary Chia / Urban Homme gift voucher. Christmas coming, can use to pamper yourself or give as gift!

But the second layer I remember. It had a very fragrant and refreshing ginseng smell. I love that smell and apparently, ginseng don’t just energise you on the inside. When applied to the face as a mask treatment, it can invigorate dull and stressed skin. Lyn told me the mask is freshly made by mixing ground ginseng powder (probably made from red Korean ginseng) with toner.

As Lyn applied the last stroke of the mask on my face, suddenly, the gentle rushing waves of the new age ambient music in the room filled me. The two layer of masks pressed firmly to my face like a security blanket, my eyelids heavier still, and the beautiful, light scent of ginseng filled my consciousness…

I dozed off for a while. About the 20 minutes it took the masks to dry. Just enough time for me to have a short reverie with my skin where once upon a time it was youthful and radiant.

But as the mask came off, the lights turned back on, I opened my eyes and saw myself in the mirror. And I just stood there… and glowed. I had to slap myself out of it.

This is my old face. I'm leaving it behind.

Percentages Don’t Lie!

Posted by Darren on Sunday, 10 October, 2010

It is not very often that one can say, “I’m happy that I’m old.” But last night, my age came in really useful because without it, I wouldn’t have the pleasure to reminisce. If I wasn’t born in the 70s to be in time to grow up during the 80s, I would’ve missed out on all that cheesy, orh-bit (Hokkien for ‘tacky’) fun of the decade! Who could forget the music of Stock Aitken Waterman, teenyboppers, and that fashion trend that should never be revived?

The universal language of retro music brought us together. I have no idea who they are, but we all know shoulder pads, baggy pants, & scrunchies!

The Retrolicious Concert at Fort Canning last night made it feels sooooo good to be in my mid-30s. We were freed to be Electric Youths once again to the big hits of Johnny Hates Jazz, Debbie Gibson, and Rick Ashley. But after the music has stopped, the beer lost its high, and I woke up with a slight hangover this morning, I swear I would do anything to Turn Back the Clock.

And yes, help is on my way! Today, 10/10/10 marks the first step of an age-reversing transformation… a journey that will be spurred on by the skin and body treatments provided by Urban Homme Singapore through the month-long Urban Homme Icon Challenge. I’m curious to see how much change can be achieved in just 4 weeks with them. But first, I have to attend the skin and body analysis this morning at 9:45 am. Last night’s late partying immediately showed on my analysis results.

Our skin & body analysis were done in these skimpy bathrobes and boxer shorts. But don't salivate yet, our pre-treatment state would have you covering your eyes. Well, at least in my case.

This morning’s session was the first time I met all the other five finalists together and they are a really nice bunch of guys to know. This being the first-ever approach to market men’s spa through the real-life accounts of six regular guys through blog entries, we could say we are the pioneers… the brotherhood of the creams.

So what did the brotherhood go through during today’s session to set the baseline for our transformation? In-depth skin analysis that determined our skin’s moisture level, evenness and type, and a body analysis that exposed our BMI, body fat content and amount of water retention.

Having my skin analysis done. Thankfully I didn't have breakfast so I have nothing to throw up. Gosh, my skin looked so gross!

Because I woke up late and in part due to the fact that we’ll be taking our BMI, I cheated by not having breakfast. It may have helped. My BMI was within the normal range, which it has been for many years, but I was surprised that my body fat was normal too. Body fat is not determined by how physically fat one is, but by how much fat there is in the body compared to muscles. So even skinny guys can have high body fat. And I have crossed the line at my last check some years back.

After face, we had our waistline, body composition and thigh measurements taken. Talk about a body of evidence! Mine's showing up the exhibits of beers, buffets, & long hours of blogging...

The other thing that surprised me was that I have a water retention problem. Wha?! I am under the impression that water retention is more of a women’s problem. All six of us have water retention problems. I guess men aren’t from Mars, and women aren’t from Venus afterall. We’re both from Mercury (水星 water planet).

Always not meeting the recommended 8 glasses of water a day, I thought I would be dehydrated, not having a pool party for my organs! But according to Benson, high salt intake causes water retention in the body. So watch the salt. Or drink more water to flush it out?

Look front, turn left, turn right... We had to profile our pre-treatment skin and body conditions on video. I hope the camera doesn't shoot in High Definition. And I hope Daniel won't kill me for posting this pic!

As a way of showing the authencity of our transformation results, our face and body were videoed. No photos were taken at all! Photos can be doctored by Photoshop, with videos, it’s almost impossible to cheat especially since we’re not filmed against a green screen. And the cameraman never give chance one. Every scar and cranny was filmed.

I was made to turn my face a couple of times so that we could capture clearly the scar on my face. I have a scar on my top right eyebrow. It’s embarassing how I got it so I won’t go into details… Is that the sound of your curiosity I’m hearing? Okay, since you want to know, and not that I have diahorrea fingers, I shall reveal… I walked into the edge of an open door. It split my flesh open and left a gash. It happened about 8 years ago.

With all the video-ing, what it means is that what you see, is what you get. I can’t wait to see my before and after videos! I hope the after version is HD worthy.

The bathrobe could hardly contain our full bodied Peter. Looks like Emeric is trying to memorise the brochure so as not to stare at, err, Peter's manliness?

As for my skin, the in-depth analysis showed that my left side is drier than my right side with 25% moisture compared to 37% and my T-zone (forehead and nose) is oily (49%). That gives me a combination skin type which is typical of tropical Asians, especially Singaporeans. Our hot and humid weather causes excess sebum overall but when we sleep, excess moisture from the sides of our face gets absorbed into our pillows. Unless we sleep like a corpse, most of us, men and women alike will have combination to oily skin.

On top of that, many of us work in air-conditioned environments which is very dehydrating. So the skin gets confused. Outside is humid, inside its dry. So what to do? Create rojak skin type lor. Through the treatment, we’ll try to achieve an even 37% moisture thoughout my face.

Here's Benson giving a Michelin-class reply to our 2 interview questions - Do you know you have these skin problems & how they affected you? Again, I can't recall what I said except something about Photoshop.

The next test was for skin evenness. In other words, how smooth my skin is. My left side fared slightly better than my right side but the worst was my nose. It has 100% unevenness! Not surprising because I’m aware that the pores on my nose are huge craters.

When blackheads accumulate at the end of a day, I can see them visibly in the mirror. And they look even more revolting under the magnifying eye of the skin anaylsis machine. I just so wanna stick one of those black and whiteheads removal strip over my nose and yank them out. But that’s not advisable because in the long-run, the pore-size can get even bigger.

So it seems that the prudent way is to shrink the pore sizes to reduce the amount of dirt accumulated in the openings rather than a quick-fix to remove the blemishes but not the source of the problem. Hopefully Urban Homme can shrink the my nose’s pore sizes or make them appear smaller.

We all have high hopes for Urban Homme to fix our skin & body problems & it'll be an even greater challenge to improve something already so good like Dennis. Urban Homme, are you feeling stressed yet?

After going through the surprising finds from the analysis of both face and body, we were interviewed about the discoveries. I for one found the use of these machines to provide a scientific, measurable way to chart a treatment course for the problem areas to be very professional. Although I suspect I have combination skin, the tests today confirmed it. But I didn’t know my cheeks were that dry because I do moisturise daily. Maybe my current skin condition is due to the fact that I had too much sun in Bali just less than a week ago.

My other skin problem, a problem caused by skincare ignorance in my younger days, is pigmentation. I used to love suntanning and never once touched sunblock. Not anymore. But the damage is done and now, hopefully my skin tone will even out with the treatments.

This is an exciting time. It is exciting because this could be my last chance to achieve my dream physique with 6-pack abs and skin so smooth, ants with not be able to climb on. Will the brotherhood and I get to cheat the percentages at the end of our treatments? Stay tuned to our blog entries to find out…

Going Into Cocoon Stage

Posted by Darren on Thursday, 7 October, 2010

Woohoo! Made it as one of the six finalists for the Urban Homme Urban Icon Challenge! Time to start a month of free skin and body treatments at The Cocoon, Urban Homme Singapore’s studio at Ngee Ann City. I’m feeling really excited but at the same time, super-duper anxious. I look forward to all the treatments but to share every step of how they will fix my problem areas is gonna blast open the floodgates to all my insecurities.

Videos and photos will be taken throughout the treatment processes by the organisers so there’s no hiding behind Photoshop-ed images I’ve been posting of myself on social media sites. My online acquaintances who are used to pics of me with smooth complexion, firm body and tight abs will be in for a rude shock!

Dreaming of Tofu Skin & Egg-Tray Abs

I have to admit I’ve been blessed with clear complexion and a body that never grew out of the youth department for most part of my ife. But middle age changes everything.

In addition, being an outdoorsy sun-lover in my younger days, my once peachy skin is turning into a prune… with dark circles, eye lugguages, uneven skin-tone, and age spots making my face a gameboard for join-the-dots. And that’s not the worst. My waistline is fast becoming the most protruded part of my body.

Well, by being selected as a finalists, the organisers are essentially saying, “Darren, we can see the obvious problems you have. And we can help.” There’s great comfort in that. But frankly, maybe because I’ve never tried these beauty treatments before, I have my doubts that they really work.

All those diamond facials, fat zappers, lasers and Intense Pulse Light (IPL) therapies are but mere marketing gimmicks to me. Just like the Slendertone belt I got to get rid of my lower belly fat. I’ve been using it for months, about 3 times a week… waist still not slender. Neither is my abs tone. And crunching till I get cramps in the gym didn’t force out any torso egg-trays either.

I’m putting in double the effort on my face and body, but not getting half the results. Everything is going downhill. And it’s not a nightmare. Because I can’t wake up from it.

The Ugly Truth

Being selected for the Urban Homme transformation couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. I shared 3 months ago (1 Jul 10) in my post, From Feather to Leather, that I want to gym harder, eat better and take care of my looks and physique. Today is 7 Oct 10. That’s 13 weeks later. What have I achieved? Well, here’re 2 photos of me taken in Bali 3 days ago…

4 Oct 2010. If I hold my breath to suck in my gut any longer, I'll turn bluer than my trunks. Will Urban Homme be able to carve something out from this mould of lard?

I hope I didn’t cause what you ate yesterday to be all over your computer keyboard now. Compared to a photo taken of me wearing the exact same trunks 2 years ago in the post, From Feather to Leather, there’s no doubt about the size of my mid-life crisis!

So how will the full range of therapies offered by Urban Homme fare? Can they give me chiselled abs and restore my sun-damaged, leathery skin to its peachy past? Does this frog still have a chance to transform into a prince? Or will my next kiss just turn me into a leather bag?

Real Men Use Eye Creams & Moisturisers

Posted by Darren on Thursday, 7 October, 2010

Well, in a way, it depends on the definition of a real man. I don’t know about your definition, but I define a real man, or woman, as someone who has the guts to be who he/she is. And not with reckless self-indulgence, but a true-to-self demeanour that at the same time, benefits others and the surrounding environment.

And what makes a real URBAN man? Well, a guy who does the above-said while looking dashingly, drop-dead good! Not sure if it makes sense but that’s my answer when asked for my thoughts about what maketh the modern homme.

That question came to me during my audition for the Urban Homme Urban Icon Challenge. Organised by Urban Homme, Singapore’s premium face and body studio for men, the contest will pit 6 male bloggers against each other to be the epitome of the Sensitive New Age Guy (SNAG). Today’s audition was to select the 6 from a shortlist of 15.

The selected 6 will go through a month of personalised treatments and blog about it, and an overall winner will walk away with a year’s worth of free treatments and cash prizes. The total value in prizes is worth over S$35,000! Get free treatments and win prizes, how can I not try for this?! But it turned out to be a pretty nerve-wrecking experience despite the organisers assurance that it was a casual affair.

The Cocoon

With a name like this, I wonder what metamorphosis awaits the guys who step in. This flagship Urban Homme studio is located at Ngee Ann City, #05-22.

Held at The Cocoon, one of Urban Homme’s 4 wellness studios for men, I didn’t know what to expect. It was the first time I’ve ever attended something like this, a session to determine that you’re good enough to be made good. But attending this audition was more than just skin-deep, it sent me on a spiral to think about my masculinity.

Guys should be thinking about careers, F1, football, beer and sex… not worry about eyebags and wrinkles right?

Cocoon nest

This is The Cocoon inside the studio. It serves as a waiting area where clients get to soak their feet while sipping tea and listening to relaxing music on a large comfy sofa. But, I could hardly relax with the impending audition!

But I do concern myself with how I look. Especially when I’m a single guy past the age of 35. I need to extend my dating shelf-life. Plus being an insurance agent, looking sharp and professional is part of the deal. Yet, I am sloppy and no trace of a well-groomed man can be found on me. Wearing a plain black t-shirt, scratched jeans and sneakers, I was the most under-dressed amongst the candidates who came in shirts, jackets and leather shoes. I felt apologetic about how I looked.

But that’s just me. Someone who never fuss too much about personal grooming and presentation. That’s ironic. I concern myself with my looks, yet do little about it. Most guys are like that, we do not know what to do or are just too lazy. We could probably get away with it in our younger years, well I did, but when age catches up, looking good requires effort. A lot of effort. And it takes a real man to take charge of the problems and ask for help!

Concentric Icicle Lights

A concentric pattern of light icicles formed a mesmerising centrepiece inside The Cocoon. As I sat there watching the lights, I started to drift off... with the bright spots reminding me of the size of open pores on my nose.

My mum is my beauty advisor and I use whatever I come across on her vanity shelf. That’s until she got me my own set of cleanser, toner and moisturiser. Cleanse, tone, moisturise. I’m not unfamiliar with that routine. Top that with an eye cream and an occasional hydrating masque, and I have my beauty salon right at home. However, this routine has begun to lose its magic. Age spots are sproutting out faster than I could slap on sunblock.

Yet, that’s only my secondary problem. My fastest growing problem is the waistline. I used to eat like a cow and have the waist of a wasp, but now, even just the smell of food is enough widen the inches. I’m not kidding. No amount of sit-ups, crunches and dieting could get my tummy to be ribbed. That damn fat is so stubborn! And I don’t need love handles because there’s no one to handle me lovingly.

Lipomassage

With a serious machine like that sitting in the middle, you know you're gonna get results. It's called the Lipomassage and it slims problem fat areas and smoothes cellulite. I'll need 10 of these going at full power.

So here I am. Sitting in a vanity cocoon for the first time, coming to terms with the fact that self-help fixes need a powerful external ally. There is nothing un-man about taking good care of ourselves. Healthy skin can prevent infections and a trimmer waistline takes the pressure off the back and knees. Besides, who doesn’t like to look good and have a partner who is the envy of others?

I still have to get through the audition first. True to the organisers’ words, the process was casual. More of a chat to find out our personalities. As usual, when speaking in front of a camera, my thoughts ran miles ahead of my tongue and I ended up with half-baked answers again. But the questions asked really did get me thinking about what it means to be an urban man.

The interviewers

They are the ones who will pick the 6 finalists from a total of 15 shortlisted for the audition. They were surprised when I asked to take their photo. Well, this is what it's like working with bloggers. You become the subject too. Ha.

I was asked to rate myself on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being un-urban and 10 being the most urban. I gave myself a score of 5.3657… I feel I’m slightly above the half-way mark because I may have fulfilled the part about being a man, to live honestly, but I’m hardly urban. I’m still primitive in the way I take care of myself. So I hope I’ll make it through the selection to be inducted into an urban lifestyle. To start having an idea about what could be done without costing me an arm or a leg!

But what if I don’t make it? Well, then I’ll have to start making plans to move to a rural part of the world.

Urban Icon Finalist – Darren Ng!

Posted by admin on Thursday, 7 October, 2010

darren

 

Name: Darren Ng

Age: 36

Occupation: Insurance Agent

 

 

 

 

Reason for joining:

I’m a frog trying to be a prince again. No, you don’t have to kiss me but a month’s worth of aesthetic renovations should do the magic. Where cleanse-tone-moisturize and diet-rest-exercise no longer work, I hope that by being selected for the Urban Homme Urban Icon Challenge, I can experience your age-reversing services and transform my tubby tummy into fab abs.