Model sisters Aimee and Hannah Cheng-Bradshaw on the hard truths about modelling
“It’s no secret that the world of modelling can be quite cruel, especially when it comes to ageing. There’s a short ‘time frame’ (to get work) for a lot of models,” revealed older sister Aimee.
In partnership with Clarins.
Not all siblings are, admittedly, great at sharing. For sisters Aimee and Hannah Cheng-Bradshaw, however, it’s something that is innate. “We share everything. We don’t keep things hidden from each other – definitely not! We’re too vocal,” said the younger of the two, Hannah.
Besides both being models, and clearly having inherited similarly good genes in the looks department, they also seemed to share the same sunny, chatty disposition that was evident when CNA Lifestyle had a quick chat with them on the business of modelling.
Those who remember watching Asia’s Next Top Model, which aired several years back (Season 3 in 2015, to be exact), will find Aimee a familiar face. Since taking the second runner-up spot in the Asian offshoot of the American reality TV modelling competition, she’s gone on to model in numerous prominent magazine shoots and ad campaigns.
Six years on, Aimee’s younger sister Hannah, who just turned 21, looks set to walk the same path. Now a veteran model, 26-year-old Aimee is showing Hannah the ropes to becoming a successful model. CNA Lifestyle took some notes.
THE HARD TRUTHS ABOUT MODELLING
“It’s no secret that the world of modelling can be quite cruel, especially when it comes to ageing. There’s a short ‘time frame’ (to get work) for a lot of models, unless you can attain a level of success where age is less of a factor. So it’s important to keep our skin in the best condition possible so that we can get work for as long as we would like,” said Aimee frankly on the realities of the industry.
“Yes, as models, our skin is the number one thing that we have to take care of, because, you know, our face is our job,” agreed Hannah.
“We have to put on so much makeup and we don’t always have control over the quality of the makeup that’s being used. I understand that makeup artists do try to make sure that the tools and makeup they use are as hygienic as possible, but when you are backstage at a runway show, for example, there are always many makeup artists around having to powder multiple girls down really quickly," shared Aimee.
"It’s very important to cleanse your skin well after that, because if you don’t have that clean base for you to be able to do all your other jobs, it’s going to impact the work that you can get."
As models, our skin is the number one thing that we have to take care of, because, you know, our face is our job – Hannah Cheng-Bradshaw
Who, then, among the two sisters has better skin? While they both look like they have a flawless complexion on our computer screen, during our Zoom call, each insisted that it’s the other who has perfect skin.
The truth, they revealed, is that both of them struggled with bad bouts of acne in their teens. Thankfully, the spots cleared up and did not leave obvious scars on their skin.
“We were both on acne medication for a number of years so we’ve been through the worst phases of bad skin. But because of that, I do stick to a simple routine, especially in times when I tend to have breakouts,” said Hannah.
Aimee described it as “a period of dark memories”: “I did not know how to deal with pimples back then. When I had breakouts around the time when I was 13 or 14, I thought that it was because my skin was dirty, so I would ‘over-wash’ it with cheap, harsh cleansers. I didn’t realise that that was making it so much worse. I feel like I struggled for way too long, and that was so unnecessary.”
“So, when Hannah was having the same skin problems later on, I got her to use gentler cleansers that helped rebuild the skin barrier. And because of that, her skin was a little better – and you’re welcome, by the way,” she said while playfully gesturing to Hannah.
I went through a phase when I was so keen on a 10-step routine and needed all these different products…but my skin still wasn’t clear – Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw
SISTER KNOWS BEST
It’s definitely advantageous to have an elder sister around and Hannah agreed. “Everything I know about beauty, I learned from Aimee – she is the biggest skincare ‘creature’ that I know. Some days, when I’m like just going out to walk the dog for a while, she’ll go, ‘er, you’re wearing sunscreen right?’; or when I’m putting on my moisturiser, she’ll be like ‘oh my, why are you rubbing your face so hard? Be gentle!’”
Hannah has sensitive skin and tries to keep it trouble-free by only using familiar, tried-and-tested products and refraining from “going overboard with serums, scrubs and glycolic things”. “Sometimes with skincare, it’s tricky – it takes a little while to see how a product reacts with your skin, since everyone’s skin is different. My skin can also flare up if I try and do too much to it too fast,” she explained.
“I tend to just use a light cleanser, and then I follow up with toner, serum and moisturiser, and now, eye serum at night – very important. I’m currently using the Multi-Active Day Cream by Clarins and I like how light yet moisturising it is, which is great, particularly for my skin type," revealed Hannah. "I am a fan of the brand’s moisturisers especially, because they are all so hydrating yet gentle on the skin, and I have been using them for quite a number of years.”
Funnily enough, this less-is-more approach is something that Aimee, who admitted to being a beauty fanatic, actually picked up from Hannah. “I went through a phase when I was so keen on a 10-step routine and needed all these different products… but my skin still wasn’t clear. At that time, Hannah was only using a very basic cleanser and moisturiser and her skin was so good. She’s like, ‘I just don’t put anything else on my face, only what it needs’. I tried it and it worked out great,” Aimee shared.
Aimee indulges her desire to try out new skincare products every now and then, but only when she doesn’t have a big shoot coming up. “I cannot risk having some sort of breakout before the shoot, because that would affect so much beyond just me – like the photographer, the shoot-venue booking, that kind of stuff,” she said.
Professionalism in the work of a model entails many things, not least ensuring that one is in her best physical state in order for the entire team to produce ideal results.
Think any facial flaws can be easily covered up with skillfully applied makeup or fixed with Photoshop? While part of it may be true, there is a limit to what can be done. There’s much more that is required “behind the scenes”, including a commitment to taking extra care of one’s own skin, which sounds so simple but is not always easy to accomplish.
Special thanks to Shangri-La Hotel Singapore.
(Photography by Alvin Teo, art direction by Chern Ling and Jasper Loh, styling by Lena Kamarudin-Tambunan, styling assistant Muhammad Rafiqin Bin Razali, make-up by Lolent Lee and hair by John Lee.)