If you’ve had a mermaid sighting in local waters, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. The Singapore Mermaid, also known as Syrena, spends most of her time underwater, but when she does surface, she indulges her hair and skin with some serious TLC. She tells Claire Soong exactly what it takes to keep a mermaid’s skin soft and smooth and hair luscious and glossy.
On her makeup routine…
When I started, there was excruciatingly little knowledge of what constituted a foolproof waterproof makeup routine. I spent years investing in experiments (read: shopping at Sephora, Sasa, and Beauty Bay), and found products that worked for me through trial and error. When some of the products I liked got discontinued, I had to start over again and tweak my routine with new items. It worked out for the better, though, because I really got to know what worked best for my specific skin type as well as when it came to performing under water.
My makeup routine takes about 20 to 30 minutes. It used to take longer, but I’ve whittled it down. I’ve even mastered the skill of doing my makeup in a moving car—right down to the feline eyeliner flick! My full mermaid makeup regime is a trade secret and sealed with ancient magic—but I can definitely reveal some spe-shell tips that will help ensure your makeup lasts longer underwater, or in high humidity.
When it comes to eyeshadow and eyeliner, you want to take a good look at the ingredient list. Most products contain dimethicone, which is a silicone-based oil that helps makeup glide smoothly onto your face. Look for the waterproof version of this, dimethicone copolyol. As for lashes—I am an ardent believer in lash extensions. It’s so important to find a skilled studio whose lash technicians know how to apply and remove extensions with minimal damage to your real lashes. My holy grail lash salon is Di’own Beauty.
If you’re after a waterproof lip but don’t want to buy new products, you can DIY your own lip stain. Apply a layer of lipstick, blot with a tissue and repeat both steps until you build up the desired intensity of colour.
I swear by a good primer and setting spray to keep my makeup in place. For primers, I’ll start with a light-weight, smoothing one like Laura Mercier’s Hydrating Foundation Primer to counter some of the heavier textures, then apply a primer that has a slightly paste-like, sticky consistency so makeup adheres to my face. I like Benefit’s Porefessional for this layer. When applying makeup—whether that’s foundation, blush, contour, or eyeshadow—make sure to pat! The patting motion helps your makeup settle more firmly into your skin than with a stroking or smoothing. I finish with a liberal application of the Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray before mattifying with a setting powder. Using a good setting spray and selecting products that contain the aforementioned dimethicone copolyol is what allows makeup to last underwater.
Being a professional mermaid, my main skin concern is dehydration. I’m in the water every day, sometimes for hours on end, so I’m a chlorinated prune by the time I’m done. I also indulge in long, hot showers—which are terrible for skin as well! This is why my skincare routine primarily focuses on rehydrating my skin and restoring my moisture barrier. My first proper skincare product was a bottle of SK-II, and I was encouraged by the improvement I saw in my skin texture.
My skincare routine varies depending on how much time and energy I have, and whether I’ve gone for a swim. I try to streamline it though, so it’s usually about 20 minutes. If I’ve been performing, the first thing I do when I get home is double cleanse. Innisfree makes a lovely Green Tea Cleansing OiI; I give my face a mini massage with it, then add some water and work it into a lather. Once I rinse off the cleansing oil, I use a gentle cleanser to finish the job. I’ve been stealing whatever cleanser my sister happens to have on the sink (sorry sis!)—right now it’s Senka’s collagen-infused face wash.
Next, I use a gentle glycolic acid toner to lightly exfoliate, and follow with a pH balancing toner to prep my skin. Then I pat on a light hyaluronic acid essence, followed by a Vitamin C serum, snail essence and finally, a gel moisturiser. I try to choose products that are hydrating but have a light texture that doesn’t get sticky. In the day, I use a sunscreen by Missha to protect my skin.
I love my sheet masks in between my final serum and moisturiser, and I’ll switch-up the type of mask I use every other day (e.g vitamin C if I’ve spent the day in the sun, madecassoside if I want to give my skin barrier a little boost). I like to throw on a silicone face mask from Daiso that you can loop over your ears to secure your sheet mask to your face—it helps the mask stay wet longer so the essences don’t just evaporate into the air. Every few weeks or so I’ll use an AHA/BHA exfoliant for a more thorough skin resurfacing and my favourite Laneige sleeping mask.
On her fabulous hair…
The ultimate irony is that people think mermaids have gorgeous, healthy, glossy tresses… but the reality is quite the contrary if you’re actually a mermaid! After teaching a class or performing, I’ll wash my hair with a clarifying shampoo to get rid of chlorine build-up. Years of intensive mermaiding have made my hair porous, so it still likes to hold on to chlorine, and it takes a few washes to get it truly clean. Regular conditioners aren’t enough for my hair, which much prefers hair masques.
On what it takes to be a mermaid…
If you have the heart of a mermaid, you’re a mermaid! It’s as simple as that. But if you’d like to physically realise your dreams, I’m here to tell you that dreams can, and do come true. I took the plunge, and now at the Singapore Mermaid School, we have a tribe of amazing women (and the occasional Poseidon!) who are living their fantasies, getting fit, and building a community with some of the most incredible people.