Singapore’s Vintage Makeup

From makeup to cream and powder, we celebrate Singapore’s 51st birthday by taking a trip down to memory lane on vintage beauty products.

If you grew up in the 1970s or 1980s in Singapore, you’d probably remember shopping institutions like Emporium and Yohan, and the array of skincare products they carried in their beauty aisles. For some, they were products that were just beyond our means at that time.

Nonetheless, there were plenty of affordable options available in our neighbourhood sinseh, medical halls, and drug stores. Apart from ads, the bulk of our beauty habits and buying behaviour stemmed from observing other female members in our family.

Take a walk down memory lane with us, and let us show some beauty favorites of our mothers and grandmothers.

Hazeline Snow:
The soothing base cream of yesterday



Vanishing creams or stearate creams, were known for their smooth, dry sensation on skin and pearly sheen. Products such as Hazeline Snow was widely used as it apparently helped in the reduction of moisture loss from dry skin. The above image shows the early packaging for Hazeline Snow; a screw top aluminium lid was used to reduce the possibility of corrosion from the oil-in-water emulsion.

Though it was being marketed to contain distilled extract of witch hazel, the main ingredient is actually water with no trace of witch hazel at all. It was initially advertised as a helpful product in protecting against winter winds but its popularity transcended and soared in warmer climate countries – “Deliciously cooling and refreshing to hot and inflamed skins as a gentle shower or rain is to sun scorched flowers” was how it was described.

Additionally, it was recommended for ‘prickly heat’, sunburn, and inflammation brought on by the wind, dust, and perspiration.


Kuan Yin Pearl Cream
[Also spelt as
Guan Yin or Kuan Im]:
The acne and freckle whitening solution



Originating from Thailand, Kuan Yin Pearl Cream was THE cream for acne and freckle. Its pearl properties was believed to repair rough skin, activate cells, dry angry pustules, and give a youthful, rosy glow to the skin.

It also functioned as a whitening cream for those seeking a more even skin tone. It came in a cake-like form with a marginally thick texture leaving a slightly fair overlay upon application. The cream claimed to contain a high percentage of genuine pearl powder although was very affordably priced.

On the other hand, do you know that while pearls are precious gemstones, the bulk of a pearl is made of calcium carbonate (which also means chalk)!


Sam Fong Hoi Tong Pressed Powder:
The popular pressed powder

Sam Fong Hoi Tong Powder-VintageSingapore

Sam Fong Hoi Tong Powder-VintageSingapore

Another well-loved product and a favourite for all ladies in Singapore regardless of race, it evokes smiles till today. This face powder came in white, pink, and slightly tinted. The pink was commonly used as a blusher while the white and tinted ones were used as pressed powder.

Created by a Hong Kong company, Sam Fong Cosmetic Co. Ltd, this product was not only a face powder but it could also be used as a facial mask by turning it into a paste with boiling water.

Interesting, isn’t it? Well here’s another fact that will certainly up the ante. Did you know that Sam Fong Hoi Tong Pressed Powder can actually clean and polish silver? And it does a great job at that! It could be due to its ingredients, which amongst other things include magnesium silicate, methyl and propyl paraben, aqua denim, and calcium carbonate — more popularly known as chalk.

It also contains talc and fragrance. Kind of makes you wonder what our mothers, grandmothers, and ourselves have been putting on our face!


Lehcaresor’s Papier Poudre:
The fancy powdered blotting paper

papier poudre-VintageSingapore

Lehcaresor Papier Poudre - Powdered Blotting Paper

Blotting paper, we’re familiar with them. Lehcaresor’s Papier Poudre is a brand of powdered blotting paper that has been around since 1903 and made available in three different finishes such as White, Rose and Rachel to suit the different skin tones.

Each booklet contains 20 sheets of powdered paper and each powdered leaf was said to help cleanse the pores and absorb oil, dust and dirt, leaving skin with a hint of scent and an instant matte finish. Active ingredients include talc, kaolin, magnesium silicate, titanium dioxide and iron oxides.

A trip down memory lane most often than not bring smiles to our face. It has also shown us just how much our tiny island nation has advanced in keeping up with consumer trends internationally, which is a reflection of our economic might in the world stage.

Stand tall, stand proud, Singapore! Have the best 51st birthday!

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