Siam Botanicals’ 100% Natural Skincare

Siam Botanicals cleanser and face serums

Even before trying the products, I was already drawn to Siam Botanicals’ packaging which is made from recycled material. The entire look and feel is probably best described as “back-to-Nature”. :D The products themselves wow customers because they are 100% natural, with no synthetics, no sulphates, no parabens, etc.

And I use the Siam Botanicals products with confidence because I can read the ingredients list! No chemistry degrees required! :) You should check out the range of Siam Botanicals products available in Singapore, either online or at Scent Witch Wellness in Novena’s Square 2 (#02-24/25). Alternatively, take part in my facebook giveaway and win the Rose Geranium Milk Cleanser! :)

Because I don’t usually wear makeup, it doesn’t make much sense to buy a bottle of makeup remover. Hence the preference for cleansers which can do double duty and remove makeup when needed. :D The Siam Botanicals Rose Geranium Milk cleanser is one such product.

Why a milk cleanser? Because it’s gentle on your skin and even suitable for use around the eye area! After washing my face, my skin feels soft and clean, not tight and dry. Because of its all-natural content though, the cleanser is a bit pricey at S$36.90 for a 90g bottle.

And this next product is my favorite because it smells really good…

Siam Botanicals Natural Balance Face Serum

It’s the Siam Botanicals Natural Balance Face Serum (S$16.90). As I apply it to my face, I keep breathing in the scent which is so soothing. This may be a face serum, but I’m quite sure it can be an aromatherapy product as well! And why does it smell so good? Surprise surprise, it contains lavender and grapefruit oil! Remember my blogpost about Lavender being the #1 sold-out scent during the exam period? Little wonder why. Products with lavender smell really good and are calming and relaxing.

This face serum is also said to be able to “help preserve the natural balance and elasticity of your skin and protect it from the harmful effects of extreme weather and pollution”. I’m not sure about this point but protection from pollution is definitely welcome.

Once again, a multi-purpose product. No wonder I like this range.  :)

There is also another face serum: the Replenish Face Serum, which has moringa and argan oils. This particular face serum is a bestseller because of its anti-aging and skin-repair properties. It also helps “detoxify and cleanse congested skin of the harmful effects of pollution”.

Purchase them online HERE [ Use code Grace10 to get 10% off regular-priced items now till end-July. Get the same discount in-store by quoting my name :)

Siam Botanicals Face Serums

~ GIVEAWAY ~

One lucky WINNER will receive the Rose Geranium Milk Cleanser worth S$36.90 in the giveaway on my facebook page. Hurry over and take part now. Good luck!~

Siam Botanicals giveaway

http://www.scentwitch.com/

Enneagram: Helping You Understand Your “Difficult” Spouse Better

I’ve previously blogged about my interview with a dating and relationship coach, Cindy Leong. She’d also explained my Enneagram test results to me during a 1-to-1 coaching session, and I began to understand why couples whose marriages are in trouble look for her and take the Enneagram test as well. People who have been single for a while now and are unable to attract the “right one” can also find some answers via this test. Read on as I share my own test results so you get to know me a bit better. :D

Enneagram

[Source]

Put simply, the Enneagram test involves 200 questions (MCQ-style) and helps determine which of the 9 “types” / ‘styles’ you identify most with.

“Bear in mind that your scores may change over time but your “type” is inbuilt and your environment continues to reinforces it. This is unlike DISC, which is a “trait instrument” and changes with situation, Enneagram is a “type instrument”. Having that said, you are not boxed into a single type. When we say you are a particular type, it just means you are more dominant in this type but all other 8 types reside in you, but your most comfortable/preferred type is this particular one. We liken it to a baseball team. You will have your star player, mid fielders and reserves.” – Cindy Leong

Here’s why the Enneagram test is useful:

1) It helps you understand yourself better

I belong to Type 8. Here’s a quick description of Type 8 people: “EIGHTS are attracted to and appreciate power. They endeavor to be strong, independent, straightforward, assertive persons, who use their strength and influence to make the world a more just place. They value equity, the equal distribution of power, and show a concern for the underprivileged and disenfranchised. EIGHTS are chiefly concerned with being their own person, doing their own thing, and protecting their own people and interests”. 

Of course, there’s the other side of things. For instance, I may “frequently desire and actively seek revenge when … unfairly treated”. #sotrue

The report goes on to state:

“When you are stressed, you may become occupied with vengeful fantasies. Your ability to discern others’ weaknesses may get expressed in cruel or even violent ways. Try letting your ability to see the bigger picture help you get in touch with your natural compassion, so that you can be kinder and more humane to yourself and to others”.

I’m 100% convinced by the result. It gives an accurate assessment of my inclinations, and also provides “advice” on how I can use certain good traits to counter the not-so-good ones. :P I’m serious. This report is SPOT ON. 

I haven’t found something I disagree with in the results yet. One other thing that was mentioned about how I may “dislike and avoid situations where there is poor leadership” is also stunningly true. I don’t like wishy-washy leaders and I value decisiveness.

2) It helps you understand others around you better

If you know more about the 9 types, what makes each one tick, what pisses each one off, and how they would like people to relate to them, it makes your life easier – whether you are a husband, boyfriend, salesperson, colleague, boss, etc.

From the session, I could roughly tell which types/styles my loved ones most identify with, but of course, it still won’t be as accurate as if they’d taken the test themselves.

3) It helps your loved ones understand you better

I’ll be sharing these results with my fiancé so he knows what married life’s gonna be like. Muahaha. What I love about him, though, is that he’s cool when I’m impulsive and aggressive, he makes me laugh whenever I’m stressed out, and he helps me appreciate the joys of just being alive. :)

And what’s not so useful about the Enneagram test? Well, for one, if you are having trouble with your mother-in-law, you won’t be able to force her to take the test. And two, even if you’re taking the test yourself, bear in mind that you have to answer all 200 questions in one sitting. If you have a “monkey brain”, then the results may not be as reliable. *wink*

Here are some Enneagram events you might be interested in:

1st August – introductory talk about Enneagram

MIX

7-8 August – intensive boot camp for singles + in-depth session on Enneagram

Relationship Rediscovery Adventure

Book Review: ‘Thank You For This Moment’ by Valérie Trierweiler

Reading List

This picture above shows my “reading list” for these 2 weeks, I guess. :D I borrowed ‘Life in the Skies – Everything You Want To Know About Flying’ from the library as I thought it might be a pretty interesting read as most of the cabin crew stories we usually get to read about are sensational or scandalous. This one by Captain Lim Khoy Hing turned out to be pretty mild, and is a 249-page essay to convince you that flying is super safe and there’s really nothing to worry about. And oh, to fly with AirAsia, of course. ;)

The book ‘Thank You For This Moment by Valérie Trierweiler, however, has these words “A story of love, power and betrayal” on the cover. And if I may add, it should be “betrayals” (plural form) because that’s what it seems to be.

Thank You For This Moment by Valerie TrierWeiler

After reading its 298 pages, I’m still wondering if there is any nobler purpose to writing this book. For those who don’t know the author, she was married twice and got divorced twice as well. She was in her second marriage (with 3 children) when she fell in love with (the current French President) François Hollande who was also married and had 4 children at that time. So they each split with their respective spouses and got together, and she became First Lady. In the end, François left her for an actress named Julie Gayet.

* big sigh *

On page 286 is what I think sums up the purpose of this book:

“Before I saw the pictures of François on his way to meet his mistress, I would have staked my life on the fact that he would never betray me or abandon me – that he would never do such a thing to me, not in a million years. But he did and I still cannot get over it. I will not get over it.”

*I also find the name of the publishing house very cute – “Biteback Publishing”. Oh yes, indeed. *wink*

 “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is true. And “sometimes we are our own worst enemies” is also true. We do need to give ourselves permission to move on.

I’m sure it’s now easier for the author to move on since the book has sold many hundreds of thousands of copies.

If anything, this book teaches us all about karma (what goes around comes around) and that cheaters will never stop cheating. I don’t know why the author would compare Julie Gayer to “a snake in the grass” (p127) when the author herself had cheated on her second husband (I don’t know what happened with the first divorce).

Plus, this book just goes on and on with no chapters to divide the story. Yup, it’s one of those rare books with no chapters at all.

While some self-righteous people will say “Cheating is easy, try something more challenging like being faithful”, I’d say that the only thing we need to learn here is to avoid the cheaters. Even if someone appears to be a good catch and he is willing to leave his wife for you, don’t fall for it. He’ll leave you for someone else in a heartbeat.

And the children really do suffer. From hatred of the “mistress” to the hatred of their own dad or mom. I see this very clearly in the life of a prominent blogger – dad cheated multiple times, mom becomes bitter, blogger herself becomes super wary of instances of betrayal and abandonment. Female bloggers she hates get labelled as “whores” and “sluts”. Because the father left the family when she was young, this blogger feels she has been robbed of a happy childhood. I guess this is why after getting married and becoming a mother, she’s still wearing ridiculous kiddy outfits.

But such is Life. We cannot choose the families we are born into. We cannot choose our parents or change the way they behave and think. But we can choose the right person to be in a relationship with. And we can definitely choose to be happy in spite of the situations we find ourselves in. :)

National Achievers Congress – Grab Your VIP Discount Now!

The National Achievers Congress (NAC) is back again [17th to 19th July 2015], and as usual, there’s a key speaker whom everyone is there to hear from (sorry, all you other guys). Last year, I was there to meet Nick Vujicic. Read about my 29 Key Takeaways from last year’s NAC here.

And this year, as you’d have guessed from the video link above, there’s Chris Gardner, the author of the book ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness” which had a spinoff as a movie starring Will Smith too.

Did you get even one takeaway from the video? Mine: that a Plan has to be Clear, Concise, Compelling, Consistent and Committed. :)

I’m looking forward to more gems of wisdom from NAC 2015. Will you be there too? Join me in booking tickets together, and we can benefit from a bulk discount. All you need to do is email me at gracewwg (at) gmail (dot) com if you’d like to order tickets together with me. But first, here are the full prices as stated on the NAC website:

NAC 2015 prices

Simply email me and provide your name, mobile number and category and number of tickets required. I’ll then respond with the price after bulk discount. Hurry and email me before 5th July 2015!

8 Lies Some Employers Tell You Regarding CPF

First up, here’s a quick test of how well you know what sort of allowances and payments attract CPF contributions:

1) Cash gift (e.g. hongbao) given to employees during festive seaon – Is CPF payable?

2) Grooming and haircut allowance for employees – Is CPF payable?

3) Fixed payment to employees for vacation expenses – Is CPF payable?

4) Payment to employees for laundry expenses on personal clothing – Is CPF payable?

5) Make-up pay given by MINDEF/SCDF/SPF for NSmen employees during their NS training period – Is CPF payable?

6) Wages for employees on probation – Is CPF payable?

7) Cash award for staff productivity – Is CPF payable?

8) Service charge collection by hotels/restaurants and distributed as part of wages to employees – Is CPF payable?

If you answered “YES” to ALL THE ABOVE, you are correct! :D

People often ask me why I quit my previous full-time job to become a blogger, and the conversation usually involves my experience of being wrongfully denied my CPF monies (a total of S$14,653). I’ll share more in a bit if you have not heard the story before. However, other people have also shared their own similar instances of being shortchanged when it comes to CPF contributions.

This blogpost post is for you, if you are an employee taking up a part time job, internship, full time employment, freelance job, etc, to help you understand your rights better and protect yourselves from the lies that employers spin when they want to evade paying the CPF monies due to you.

CPF Board

Source: AsiaOne

CPF non-payment with regard to freelance jobs or part time jobs Singapore citizens (and especially students) sign up for usually involve the lie that it is better to take home 100% of their pay and not have any CPF contributions. Very tempting too, if I may add, when I was earning just S$4 an hour more than 10 years ago as a retail assistant. 

~ The 8 Common Lies Employers Tell Jobseekers ~

LIE #1: It Is In Your Best Interest If You Take Home 100% Of Your Pay And Not Have Any CPF Contribution

One example shared with me is of a Mr Tan, who is an odd-job labourer in his late 50s. He left his ex-company to join another company. His new boss told him that this company doesn’t provide CPF contributions and mentioned that Mr Tan can take home the full S$1,900 he earns instead of contributing 13% of his wages to CPF.

What his boss did not say is that the company will also get away with not contributing the employers’ portion of 12% of Mr Tan’s wages, and that Mr Tan will not receive Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) too because there is no record of CPF contributions from either employer or employee!

No CPF No WIS

After 3 months, Mr Tan realized he didn’t receive the WIS. His boss said since Mr Tan had agreed that there would be no CPF contribution, the company will not back pay the CPF. Thus, Mr Tan quit and found another job that pays CPF.

LIE #2: (Not Providing CPF Contributions And Keeping Silent About It)

This is especially crucial when it comes to part time jobs for students who probably have inadequate knowledge about CPF contributions. Even adults can sometimes be “conned” without knowing. 

Madam Lam Yook Chan worked as an outsourced factory line leader in a pharmaceutical company for five years, working long hours and drawing a monthly salary of S$1150.

She did not even realize that she had never received CPF contributions from her errant employer till her husband spotted a newspaper ad about the launch of NTUC’s U Care Centre and called in to inquire.

Madam Lam visited the U Care Centre at NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) where the consultants’ investigations revealed that she was owed CPF contributions of over five years!

NTUC U Care Centre

Source: The Straits Times

With the MOM and CPF Board’s help, Madam Lam managed to recover over S$10,000 worth of CPF contributions. Through further investigations, another 113 of Madam Lam’s colleagues’ CPF was also recovered. In addition, 45 workers also received higher Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) allotment totaling about $13,000.

During this ordeal, Madam Lam was even offered a private settlement of $9,000 in cash from the company to silence her but she refused it after consulting U Care Centre.
Madam Lam has since resigned from the company and found a new job. She is still a factory worker in the same industry but earns a higher pay. She has also decided to sign up as a union member with her new job.

There are many other workers like Madam Lam who are unaware of their rights and who are missing out on their rightful CPF contributions and their WIS payouts.

LIE #3: “You Decide: You Want CPF OR Your Job?”

Cleaner Auntie

I’ve shared about this earlier (read the full post here). A 65-year-old cleaning lady was told by the cleaning contractor she is working for that she could either choose to receive more take-home pay (S$800) without CPF, or get CPF but with less pay. On top of that, she was not offered a contract of service, thus she was not entitled to annual leave, medical leave and other Employment Act benefits.

Her son, aged over 40, suffers from schizophrenia and lives with her. He has trouble holding down a job but has medical bills of up to S$200 per month.

When she realized her friends were receiving Workfare but she wasn’t, she called the NTUC hotline 1800-255-2828 to enquire about how to sign up for Workfare, not realizing that it is an auto-inclusion scheme by the government as long as the employee gets CPF.

She was referred to the CPF Board, which helped her retrieve 3 years’ worth of employer CPF contributions, amounting to S$2940. Although she gets less take-home pay, the CPF contributions can go towards the rent for her rental flat and foot part of her son’s medical bills. She can now receive Workfare too.

Unfortunately, without a contract of service, the company will not be reimbursing her for the annual leave, medical leave, etc, that she should have gotten during the 3 years she worked for them.

LIE #4: “Don’t Worry! I’ve Put In The Correct CPF Amount!”
Mdm Lau is a part-time cleaner at a coffee shop, earning a few hundred dollars a month. She is a 79-year-old widow who works to keep active as she gets bored watching TV at home the whole day.

Her employer told her that he will contribute to her CPF account. She trusted him to contribute the “proper” percentage of 20% of her pay. She then received her yearly CPF statement but cannot read English so she asked her grandson to translate for her,  and he asked her why there is a monthly $2 CPF contribution from her employer. It prompted her to check with her employer regarding the low S$2 contribution.

CPF Contribution

LIE #5: “Our Company Does Not Pay CPF On Commissions And Bonuses”

Click here to read about my earlier post on my own (unfortunate) experience of this. In 2010, my income for the whole year was S$114,000. The bulk of it was from sales commissions. There was an unwritten company policy that employer CPF contributions on commissions would come from the employee. So employer AND employee CPF contributions were deducted from my salary – do the math and you’ll know it was quite a large sum.

I asked the CPF Board for help in retrieving my money, and the company even wanted to contest this by engaging a lawyer. Thankfully, the CPF Board told them that they have “no case” and to hand over the monies please.

AKLTG CPF

LIE #6: “Only Full-timers Get CPF”

Your employer is required to pay both the employer’s and employee’s share of CPF contributions every month if you earn more than $50/month. He/she is entitled to recover the employee’s share from your wages.

CPF contributions are payable for Singapore Citizens (SC) and Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) who are:

1) working in Singapore under a Contract of Service; and

Contract of Service

Source: Singapore Business Review

2) employed under a permanent, part-time or casual basis.

However, if you are a SC or SPR working overseas, CPF contributions are not mandatory.

LIE #7: “If You Earn Less Than $60 A Day, You Won’t Get CPF”

[As above] As long as you earn more than $50 per month, your employer should pay your CPF contributions.

LIE #8: “You Are Employed By More Than 1 Employer So You Won’t Get CPF”

If you are concurrently employed by more than one employer, all your employers must pay CPF contributions based on the wages paid.

However, if your total wages exceed the Ordinary Wage ceiling, you may apply to limit your share of contributions on Ordinary Wages by sending in your application to employer@cpf.gov.sg.

All your employers have to pay the usual employer’s share of CPF contributions on the full amount of wages, subject to the Ordinary Wage ceiling. The prevailing Ordinary Wage ceiling is $5,000 per month. Thus if you earn a monthly wage of $6,000, only $5,000 would attract CPF contributions; the remaining $1,000 would not.

From 1 Jan 2016, the Ordinary Wage ceiling will be raised to $6,000 a month.

This means if you’re below 50 years old and earn more than $6,000 a month, you will receive extra employer’s CPF contribution of 17% x $1,000 = $170 more every month!

~

Now that you’ve read this and know your rights when it comes to CPF contributions, please share this article with your family and friends, so NO ONE, especially the older folks and those who are less educated, has to fall prey to these 8 lies ever again. :)

Here’s an Infographic that neatly summarizes this blogpost:

CPF Infographic

Feel Free To Share It With A Link Back To This Post :)

~ Brought to you by the Labour Movement ~

Celebrating 20 Years Of Community Support For The Anti-Drug Cause

Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival 2015

(From Left to Right) Mr Victor Lye, Chairman, National Council Against Drug Abuse, Guest-of-Honour Minister Masagos, Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs and Mr Ng Ser Song, Director, Central Narcotics Bureau launching the Official Opening of the Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival 2015

Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival 2015

(Top row, left) Mr Ng Ser Song, Mr Henry Tan (Senior Director, Singapore Polytechnic), Mr Daniel Tan (Director, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, Singapore Polytechnic), Mr Victor Lye, Minister Masagos, taking a selfie with student volunteers from Singapore Polytechnic during the VIP Tour of the carnival

(Pic Credit: Central Narcotics Bureau)

~

I attended the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign last Friday and had so much fun at the two-day Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival that I popped by Suntec City Convention Centre Hall 403 on both days! :D

If you weren’t at the Carnival over the weekend, here are 3 things you missed:

1) The Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival

I applaud the organizing committee for doing a fantastic job in making what sounds like a potentially boring carnival into one which was a lot of fun. I have to admit that I was surprised at how much I enjoyed visiting the Carnival!

I found it to be a good mix of Education and Fun. We danced, shot hoops, fired Nerf guns, took a quiz and even learnt a bit of skateboarding! :D

Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign 2015

Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign 2015

Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign 2015

I’m hopeless with a Nerf gun but my fiancé is really good at this. He made the Drugs Shootout look too easy!

And it’s always fun to spin these wheels and win a prize, eh? I won the Folder Speakers! :D #solucky

Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign 2015

The highlight of the carnival is a special 20th anniversary photo and timeline exhibition showcasing how the community and government have worked together since 1995 to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs and to rally support for the anti-drug cause.

Anti-Drug Carnival

I definitely learnt a thing or two from these information panels!

Did you know there’s a Clubs Against Drugs (CAD) Campaign? It was started in 2000 to “counter the increasing abuse of synthetic drugs, especially in night entertainment outlets”. Club owners are updated about the drug situation and receive collateral for dissemination within their outlets.

2) The ‘Nelzon’ App

Nelzon app

‘Nelzon,’ a preventive drug education mobile game application developed by students from Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Interactive and Digital Media, was launched at the opening ceremony of the carnival by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs.

The Preventive Education Unit (PEU) in Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) has been working with Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP)’s School of Interactive & Digital Media to enhance two mobile phone game applications created by NYP students in 2013. The game applications are targeted at youths between 13 and 21 years old.

‘Nelzon’ is a runner game based on the life of a troubled schoolboy Nelzon. Players assume Nelzon’s role to evade and battle the Evil Conscience who constantly appears to tempt Nelzon into taking drugs.

Guide Nelzon into jumping and sliding across the 5 different game scenarios and avoid drugs and collect rewards (Coins, Books and Power-Ups)…

Nelzon app

Nelzon app

Go ahead and download the app now – available in iOS and Android versions.

3) The DanceWorks! Competition 

DanceWorks competition

The carnival is also held in conjunction with DanceWorks!, a dance competition involving youth participants from schools and institutes of higher learning.

DanceWorks! is Singapore’s only anti-drug dance competition and it is into its 17th year. It aims to engage our youths in the anti-drug cause through dance and encourage the development of a healthy and drug-free lifestyle. The theme for this year’s competition is “Dance for a Drug-Free Singapore”, with 338 participants from 25 schools/organizations.

More pictures and the list of winners can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/lifedoesnotrewind

~

Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign 2015

It’s easy to overlook the importance of such anti-drug campaigns if you have never met people whose lives (or that of their families) have been destroyed by drug abuse. I have encountered a few of such ‘victims’ before and I believe in the cause of the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign. What is alarming is that there has been an increasing number of drug abusers arrested who are below 30 years old –  the figure has increased by 34% from 826 in 2010 to 1,110 in 2014!

Also, there are drug clusters forming among young people (when one drug abuser influences his friends into joining him). And contrary to popular belief, there has been a changing profile of youth abusers (especially cannibis abusers) with many of them performing well in their studies and coming from middle class families!

Some think cannibis is not harmful, mistakenly believing that it is a “soft” drug and that it is less harmful and less addictive than tobacco. Unfortunately, cannibis (aka marijuana, weed, or ganja) is addictive and harmful. It has been linked to impairments in teenage brain development, lower psychomotor skills, development of psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, and even cognitive decline with a drop in IQ!

Spread the anti-drug abuse message and submit an anti-drug pledge now at http://bit.ly/1Fi2Tx8

Caffeine Helps Combat Hair Loss – No, It’s Not About Drinking Coffee!

I attended a very interesting presentation on hair care recently, and one of the main takeaways from the event was the stunning realization that “white hairs are good hairs”. Dr. Alvin Wong shared that the (black) pigmentation is gone after about 10 hair cycles, so people start seeing white hairs when they are about 40 years old. However, these hairs are good hairs (they just don’t have the pigments anymore!) so we shouldn’t be plucking them out! Instead, the doctor recommends that we simply dye our hair.

And of the many concerns people have with regard to growing old(er), the main ones are hair loss, weight gain, and wrinkles. The top 3 factors we think are responsible for our hair loss are (1) Stress, (2) Too Many Chemical Treatments and (3) Vitamin Deficiencies. A survey done this year showed that 72% of respondents actually use hair volumizing products! If you are concerned about hair loss or poor hair growth, read on ‘cos this blogpost is for YOU! :)

~

On a HOT day like today, a hair wash with cold water is quite a treat. If money is not an issue, and I’m a real tai-tai, I’ll be getting my hair shampoo-ed daily in hair salons such as J’s Salon:

J's Salon

This picture was taken on a recent visit. And as you can probably tell, a hair spa here is a luxurious treat. The plush seats are so comfortable, and there’s even a foot rest! And beneath your feet is a stunning view of the Singapore River. Ahhh…

I was introduced to Plantur’s range of haircare products during that visit, and took home two sets of products – I’m giving away one set… at the end of this blogpost :D

Plantur 21 Nutri-Caffeine range

Made in Germany, the Plantur range helps to combat poor hair growth and premature hair loss. The brochure states that “caffeine activates the hair roots and improves hair growth” and the products also come with valuable micronutrients such as biotin, zinc, calcium and magnesium. Even if you don’t end up purchasing these products, do take note of these micronutrients and ensure you get them via your diet. *wink*

I’m currently using the Plantur 21 Nutri-Caffeine Shampoo and Elixir. The shampoo comes in the form of a colorless, clear liquid with a faint but nice smell. Despite the name, I’m not sure if the Elixir really works (I hope it does), so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed. And honestly, there’s no real way to tell. I’m most certainly not going to count the number of hairs I lose on a daily basis. LOL.

Plantur haircare

I’ll be giving away the Plantur 39 range. It’s for people above the age of 40. The products also contain active ingredients like soy and white tea – “phytoflavones, active botanical ingredients that… help to strengthen the resistance of the hair roots and improve their energy supply… [supporting] growth and regeneration.” If you, or someone you love, is above age 40 and would like to try these products then take part in my giveaway! :)

*You can find Plantur products in pharmacies and supermarkets islandwide.

~ GIVEAWAY ~

Plantur 21 Giveaway

I’m giving away the Plantur 21 Nutri Conditioner (since my hair is rather short, and I have no use for this) and the full set of Plantur 39 – for people aged 40 and above!

Head over to my facebook page for details on how to win these products! :D

Interview with Dr Jonathan Obaje, Pain Relief Expert From URAH (Unique Recipes for Active Health)

Are you currently taking oral glucosamine and experiencing gastric irritation, nausea, shortness of breath or wheezing?

Have you purchased creams or patches to soothe your aching muscles but find that they don’t actually provide relief?

Are joint pains and body aches stopping you from leading an active lifestyle or going back to work after retirement because of knee problems?

Firstly, Glucosamine is a good biological molecule produced naturally in your body and used to make soft tissues such as cartilage, ligament, collagen and synovial fluid for the body. However, Glucosamine is difficult to deliver to the body (unlike most health supplements) because of low absorption in the gastric system. Glucosamine compounds are also acidic and can cause gastric irritations and ulceration.

And secondly, many of the off-the-counter products claiming to provide pain relief tend to put menthol or capsaicin to provide the “cooling” or “warm” sensation that makes you THINK the product is “working”. This is largely a temporary placebo sensation that may not give you any real benefit.

I’ve done an interview with URAH scientist, Dr Jonathan Obaje, and found that the company focuses research on degenerative diseases because they believe immobility is the root of many chronic diseases. URAH therefore makes products which help to keep people “mobile” and enjoy ‘active’ lifestyles again.

Confident that the technology is capable of moving into the international arena, MP Inderjit Singh came on board as the Chairman of URAH, and with more investors joining, I’m excited about the upcoming new products which will help more people regain their mobility and lead pain-free lives. :)

But first, here is the current URAH product range. The brand has been around since 2009. I’m using the Sporting Cream because I do sometimes injure my knees from running:

Urah cream review

Sporting Cream: Is designed for active folks, both young and old. It is very good for sprains and body aches you experience after exercising.

Joint Health: Is recommended for those above age 45. In addition to relieving the pains, it also helps people who experience numbness by improving their blood circulation.

Bone Health: Is a “Double Barrel” cream useful for both osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. It helps to increase bone density by about 10% after 7 to 8 months of usage.

Odourless and non-greasy, these creams provide quick relief for everything from neck pains and backaches to pain in the fingers and wrists from typing too much – what bloggers like me, and office workers, tend to face.

Urah sporting cream

URAH products are available at Unity, Watsons and Guardian stores. Check in-store for the latest promotions. :)

URAH Dr Jonathan Obaje

Dr Jonathan Obaje

1) Dr Obaje, why are there so many conflicting reports about Glucosamine therapy, with some articles saying it works and others saying it doesn’t?

The current misunderstanding and misinformation about Glucosamine is linked to the historical development of Glucosamine as a therapeutic agent. The first group of scientists who studied the therapeutic application of Glucosamine were biochemists (in Sweden 1950s). They tested Glucosamine on biological cells in test tubes and they discovered that the cells grew better when Glucosamine was added. They repeated the experiment and confirmed that Glucosamine indeed enhanced the growth of chondrocyte (cartilage) cells. They published their research findings in 1958 in a scientific journal. Then a pharmaceutical company in Europe saw the article and thought that Glucosamine would be a good drug for people suffering from arthritis and joint pain so they began to manufacture and market Glucosamine capsules, tablets and even powders. This assumption was later discovered to be naive as Glucosamine has low absorption in the gastric and may also cause gastric acidity.

In the 1980s, the European company went to USA to register their product with FDA. FDA refused to register their Glucosamine product as a drug because according to the scientific understanding of Glucosamine, our bodies produce it naturally to make proteins (proteoglycans) used for making soft tissues. Since Glucosamine is naturally produced in our body, it does not qualify as a drug, and should be classified as a health supplement because it supplements what your body already has. This was good news for the company because no rigorous clinical trials were required and the product could be sold straightaway in the US market.

Unfortunately, due to the loose regulation of Health supplements, many more pharmaceutical companies jumped onto the bandwagon to manufacture and sell Glucosamine tablets and capsules in the US market.

By 1990s, almost every pharmaceutical company in USA had its own Glucosamine brand, choking up the market. Patients would read about Glucosamine on websites and even went to hospitals to ask for Glusosamine prescriptions from their doctors.

But doctors and pharmacists, who were never taught about Glucosamine from the universities, were embarrassed to be educated by patients about the benefits of Glucosamine. Doctors and pharmacists began to complain to FDA about the lack of research done as to whether swallowing this Glucosamine stuff has any benefit at all.

In 2000, one of the US authorities agreed to sponsor an oral Glucosamine clinical trial. There were two groups of participants – one ‘active’ group swallowing Glucosamine tablets, and another ‘placebo’ group. This took about 3 years. The results were collated and analyzed at the end of the clinical trial. It was shocking to find that there was no difference between the active and the placebo group. This was a real blow to Glucosamine therapy. The full result was published in a very reputable journal in the US in 2006 (The New England Journal of Medicine Vol.354 No.8 Feb 2006). Their conclusion was that whether you take Glucosamine alone or combined with Chondroitin, it has no significant effect.

URAH’s research team was curious to know why Glucosamine is effective on the cells in the test tube but not effective when humans swallow it. Research began to show that there is little absorption of Glucosamine in the gastric system. When swallowed, not much of it gets absorbed into blood circulation. The second problem is that Glucosamine compounds are acidic and can cause gastric irritation. Many people are suffering gastric problems from Glucosamine but they don’t know about it. Some people, after taking the usual 1500mg Glucosamine tablets in the morning, ignorantly top it up with a cup of coffee too (adding on to the acidity levels)! The gastric side effect will not take long to show up.

2) So if Glucosamine is applied in the form of a cream, it is fine? 

Initially, Urah Scientists thought topical application of Glucosamine will solve these issues BUT later discovered it is difficult to formulate Glucosamine into creams because Glucosamine makes the creams separate into two layers of water and oil. This is why some of the products in the market come with a “shake before use” label, because they don’t have the technology to blend Glucosamine into cream form.

Some other companies add very little Glucosamine into the cream and they don’t state the exact amounts on the packaging. You will not see any effect from using those creams because the concentration of active Glucosamine is too low. The onus is on the consumer to choose the right product. As mentioned already, health supplements are not regulated like drugs.

The second problem of making Glucosamine cream is the skin penetration. Some brands of Glucosamine Cream which claim to have high concentration of Glucosamine do not have the technology to deliver Glucosamine across the skin layers. When you rub the cream on your skin, after 8 to 10 minutes of application, if you rub the spot again pressing a bit harder, you will notice Glucosamine powder rubbing off from your skin like powdery residue because the skin is an excretory organ and not meant to take in stuff.

Our skin is a natural barrier for taking in any drugs. In fact, what good cosmetics do is “window-dressing” of the top coat of skin to be radiant by moisturizing them for some hours. The dead cells on your skin are just going to be washed away in a few days and cosmetic products do not go past the skin layers! No matter how good your cosmetic product is, if you stop using it for one month, you may not like what you see. That’s the difference between cosmetic and transdermal products – the latter goes through the skin and into the blood circulation.

It took URAH Research scientists many years of research to come up with the Micellar Delivery Technology which is able to “deceive” the skin into “opening up” and taking in Glucosamine for delivery into the blood circulation. That is what makes URAH unique and different from all the other Glucosamine products in the market. URAH’s special technology delivers Glucosamine right to where it needs to be. And Urah formulation is based on patented Urah technology in Japan, USA and Singapore.

In 2009, we voluntarily performed clinical research, and worked with about 20 clinics in Singapore. Patients diagnosed with arthritis volunteered to use URAH products for 8 weeks each. Two of the doctors were so impressed with the results that they agreed to collate the results together and publish it in a scientific journal in 2011. URAH is the 1st and still the only Transdermal Glucosamine product with a technology patent number, and has also done clinical research and published the findings on the efficacy of the products.

3) So why do people buy those other products?

As a scientific research company, we rarely do advertisements. You can usually find us in the laboratories. While other companies focus on big advertising, we are more focused on giving scientific results and education to the Doctors and Pharmacists about Glucosamine therapy.

Many products in the market which do not have technology to deliver glucosamine add chemicals such as menthol or capsaisin to create the ‘warm’ or ‘cooling’ sensation. Many people think because they ‘feel’ it so the product must be working. We call it a ‘temporary placebo sensation’. URAH scientists decided not to add any of these. You won’t feel a warm or cooling sensation when you use Urah products but after a few days, you will notice that your pain is gone.

We need business people to take the product to the market. But so far, the product has been able to ‘sell itself’. People who use it recommend it to their friends and even doctors are beginning to support us by recommending Urah Creams to their patients. Urah products are now in most government hospitals and in all major pharmacies in Singapore.

4) Can URAH products be used on everyone?

Yes, young or old, you can use URAH products. The sporting cream is designed for people who are active. It is good for sprains and body aches you experience after exercising.

Joint Health is recommended for people above age 45. In addition to relieving the pains, it also helps people who experience numbness by improving their blood circulation.

Bone Health is a “Double Barrel” Cream useful for both osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. It helps to increase bone density by about 10% after 7 to 8 months of usage.

And did you know about the danger of swallowing calcium supplements?

Urah was the first to start talking abt this. Research has shown that people who swallow oral calcium supplements are at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases and kidney stones. Why? Because when you take oral calcium, it is quickly absorbed into your blood circulation and it stays there. It does not get taken up to make bone cells. Within the blood, calcification takes place and blocks arteries, leading to cardiovascular issues. Some get filtered out to the kidneys, forming kidney stones. This is well-researched and published in many journals.

Calcium is best absorbed from natural sources, from milk, etc, because it needs the presence of other vitamins and minerals to create the right environment for calcium to be used by the blood for bone cells. That’s why we came up with URAH Bio-Calcium + Glucosamine + vitamins – for their synergy – and delivered by our micellar technology.

We focus on degenerative diseases and on how to help people lead active lifestyles. The reason they cannot lead active lifestyles is due to joint pains and body aches. So it doesn’t matter how long you preach to them about exercise; they listen then they sit back because they already have knee pains. The government promotes active aging and encourages retirees to go back to work. But what if they cannot stand for even one hour due to knee pains? MOBILITY is key to a healthy life. Anything that hinders you from being mobile is dangerous to your health. Immobility is the root of a lot of chronic diseases so it is important to get people moving.

5) And how long should we use URAH products for?

Try to finish at least one tube in 1-2 weeks, depending on your condition. If the pain is due to wear-and-tear for a very long time, and you have been advised by your doctor to go for knee replacement surgery for example, then you need to use the products for an extended period of time because the cells need time to start repairing.

But if it is a sprain, or swelling, within one hour of application, you can feel the pain going down.

One of our customers did 2 X-rays, with the doctor advising him to go for knee replacement surgery. He used URAH for a year and he can now can climb stairs without problems, and has not had to go for surgery!

Our body naturally produces Glucosamine so continue to use the products for the purpose of replenishment and maintenance of your health.

Why do we feel pain in the first place? It’s because our body cannot make enough Glucosamine, and the soft tissues start wearing out. When your bones rub against each other, you’ll feel the pain. Use URAH and you rebuild those tissues, but once you stop, the natural process kicks in again. Even if you don’t have pain, don’t wait, use URAH as a lifestyle. Some ladies use URAH as a body lotion and they say it is because they have experienced pain previously that they don’t want to go back to the same situation again.

URAH products do not help just at the point where you rub it on. It goes into your blood circulation and helps your whole body recover. There are no side effects even if you apply the whole tube in one day.

6) How did you get interested in science / biochemistry?

As a child, I had no choice. Very early in my life, I couldn’t pass Arts subjects (e.g. History). But anything to do with Science, I could score an ‘A’ with very little effort. Therefore you can say I had no choice. :D

That’s how I developed my passion, and an interest in the history of Glucosamine. I had initially written it off because of the initial published research findings then I became more fascinated as we learnt more. I guess I’m naturally quite inquisitive. :)

~ SURVEY PLUS SPECIAL PROMOTION ~

Head over to URAH’s website for a special buy-2-get-2-free scheme: http://www.urah.com.sg/register_survey Purchase 2 tubes and URAH is happy to sponsor another 2 free tubes of URAH creams for you! :)

*If you are wondering why some products have 8% Glucosamine concentration and others, 10%, the 10% ones are for those who have arthritis AND are concerned about osteoporosis. If you don’t have osteoporosis concerns, then the 8% is good enough.

~ SEND IN YOUR QUESTIONS & TESTIMONIALS ~

Urah cream review

If you have tried URAH products, or if you are going to purchase and try them, send me your testimonials (email gracewwg AT gmail DOT com) and URAH will send giftsets to those whose testimonials end up being featured! :D

Similarly, send in your questions for Dr Jonathan Obaje as well, and you just might win a prize too! *wink*

If You Know CPR, Would You Save Your Enemy?

CPR Class

Photo from hcdps.com

Went for a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and AED class today. And a question that came to mind right after I’d signed up for the class was “Would you save your enemy if the person had a cardiac arrest and collapsed in front of you?” In all honesty, that question stumped me, and I hope I don’t ever find myself in such a situation. ‘Cos those moments of deliberation could literally make the difference between life OR death for someone.

So, I’d love to pose the same question to YOU: Would you save your worst enemy? You know… the one who’s a thorn in your side, who makes your life miserable, and whom you wish would just disappear from the face of the earth? Yeah. That one. If you are the only one around who knows CPR, and that person collapses in front of you due to a cardiac arrest, would you save him/her?

Did you know that if no one does anything, and everyone waits till an ambulance arrives, only 1 in 30 would survive a cardiac arrest. Not very good odds of survival at all.

Ok, perhaps that first question is not quite fair. When I’m angry at someone, I might say there’s no way I’d ever save the person from certain death. But when placed in such a situation, I just might put the enmity aside and try to save the fella immediately. I may regret it later, but what the hell, saving a life is more important than petty differences, right?

Now, here’s a question that’s easier to answer: Would you save a loved one if you know CPR?

Do I hear a resounding “YES”? Good!

In Singapore, about 1,800 cardiac arrests occur every year. Only about three per cent of these patients survive the cardiac arrest compared to 20 per cent survival rates in Tokyo or Seoul, according to a Channel NewsAsia report yesterday.

And I believe more people can be saved if more of us know how to perform CPR. And in case you are wondering, after all those channel 8 dramas you have watched, that CPR involves mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, there is simplified CPR which only involves chest compressions.

And there is now a credit card-sized device* which can aid responders by indicating whether the rate of compression is good or too fast or slow. It can also tell if the compressions are of the right depth. Yes, sometimes applying too much pressure can lead to cracked / fractured ribs.

But as our trainer shared, which is better – broken ribs or death? Doctors can help fix broken ribs but they cannot do anything to reverse death. *wink*

(*The device is still in its trial phases, and yes I do own one, but hope I don’t ever have to use it)

And when it comes to the AED – the Automated External Defibrillator – which sends a controlled electric shock to the patient’s heart, it’s a lot less work as compared to chest compressions which can get pretty tiring very quickly especially if you’re not using your body weight correctly to assist you.

Do look out for those AED devices in community centres, schools, shopping malls, the airport, etc, so that you can be of assistance by fetching these devices even if you are unable to perform CPR.

And in the event of an emergency, please don’t take photos or videos with your phone. Use it to call 995 and get an ambulance instead. And, if possible, try not to hang up untill the ambulance arrives. Switch your phone to speaker mode and allow the dispatcher to communicate with the responder to keep tabs on the situation.

If you are trained in CPR, there’s also a free ‘myResponder’ app which you can download. Besides alerting you of cases requiring your assistance, it can also show you where the nearest AED is located. :)

If there’s no one in your family who is trained in CPR, well, you might want to go for a 2-hour or 4-hour lesson. I have no doubt that you will want to save your loved ones if they collapse due to cardiac arrest. They have just a 3% chance of survival if you are not equipped with the knowledge and skills to revive them! So… don’t wait.

Get A FREE BOOK & Great Book Deals At The Book Expo Singapore

Book Expo Singapore

Here’s my haul from the Book Expo today! :) If you’d like to pop by and get some great reads at unbelievably low prices, do note that the Book Expo ends tomorrow (Sunday) at 9.30pm! Make your way down to Singapore Expo Hall 4B today or pop by from 11am tomorrow! :D

The books come tagged with stickers to denote their prices. The orange tag ones are impossibly cheap. As an avid reader, I feel super happy when I see these prices, but as an author I feel scared for the future of book publishing. (@_@)

Book Expo Singapore

The book ‘Stand Strong’ by Nick Vujicic costs something like S$20+ in Popular bookstores and elsewhere, but at the Book Expo, it has an orange tag (1 for $4, 3 for $10)!!! Where else can you find such prices?!

Book Expo Singapore

And here are a few other books which caught my eye but I didn’t buy them; just snapped pics. :)

Remember the blind lady who won the MasterChef competition one season? Here she is:

Book Expo Singapore

Just S$6 and you can bring home the hardcover edition of Christine Ha’s book. Amazing!

And, of course, there’s Gordon Ramsay:

Book Expo Singapore

His book is just a tad pricier at S$10 (green sticker).

And here’s one book with a really interesting title. LOL…

Book Expo Singapore

With over 10,000 titles to choose from, be prepared to spend quite a while in here just browsing though the huge selection of books. Also…

1) Claim your free book – You can get a book for free, with no purchase required! Just go to SG Book Deals FB page and claim the offer, and print out the email that is sent to you to exchange for a book. You can choose any book at the expo with a sticker label on it and take it home for free!

2) Fill a box with books and take it home for just S$88! Just get one of the cardboard boxes at the Expo and fill it up with books of your choice, and you get to bring the whole box home for just S$88, an impossibly good deal!

~ Happy Reading! ~