I was an early bloomer when it came to skincare.
Since young, I have always had this nasty rash that would appear on random parts of my body. Steroid creams were my best friend then. I remember vividly how I had gone on a trip to Australia with my primary school after PSLE and due to the cold air, returned with this horrible breakout on my face. My form teacher even jokingly teased me when I collected my results, “Why? Puberty ah?” My ego took a hit then. My mum brought me to countless doctors but as all people with inflammatory skin conditions would know, there is hardly anything the doctors can do other than prescribe more steroids and encourage the use of moisturizers.
And so, moisturize it is!
The first brand I used then was Simple, which performed mediocrely on me. Soon, I moved to luxury skincare, despite my young age at secondary school, because I never liked the packaging of drug store products anyway. To be honest, I am quite a form over function kind of person. My first luxury skincare brand was Biotherm. I was very much into mandopop during my teenage years and when I saw that Angela Zhang was their spokesperson, I bought their aquasource set the very next day. I remember (lotsa remembering in this post) taking the train back home with a TANGS paper bag full of Biotherm products and their freebies. I remember I was peeping into the bag constantly, as eager as can be. Since then, I cultivated my love for skincare.I love touching and sampling products in stores, I love purchasing new releases out of novelty. Eventually, it even became my reason for taking up Pharmacy and my reason for choosing to work in Watsons as a retail pharmacist (imagine being surrounded by all these skincare everyday!).
Skin changes and I am always on the lookout for better products. I have tried all sorts of brands, including La Mer, but somehow, I always fall back on Biotherm. Lately, I bought the Trilogy Rosehip Oil, after reading so many raved reviews on it. It was on a 20% off sale when I grabbed it. Some time later, I saw it in a different store on a buy 1 get 1 free promo. And I grabbed two more bottles. (Yes, I am a hoarder and quite a mindless one too.) It all went well initially. I was even starting to buy into the whole organic skincare thing. Unfortunately, a week or two into the regime, my skin started to look dull and even began to break out. My T-zone and cheeks were red with inflamed pores. That was definitely not a pretty sight. I didn’t attribute it to the oil initially but I just grew lazy and went back to my old regime of Biotherm serum + aquasource moisturizer. Within two days, my skin cleared up, looked bright and even glowed. There. I am back to my Biotherm regime. This happens ALL THE TIME. I have been on it for more than ten years, always trying to switch to cheaper alternatives, but always going back to it. It calms, soothes and plumps my skin like no other products. Which is why, I swear by Biotherm. It is my Holy Grail of skincare. It never fails to give me skin that people would compliment me on.
Wow, that was a long background on how I started my skin care journey haha. Anyway, because many have asked, here’s a detailed post on how I take care of my skin.
1) Remove makeup:
I use Biore’s oil based makeup remover. It cleans off my waterproof mascara very effectively so I stuck by it, bottle after bottle. No complains on this one and I can’t imagine needing any other brands when this does its job so well.
I use pretty much any kind of cleansers (i.e. just grab my brother’s (usual Gatsby) in the shower) UNTIL I used K’s Jack Black cleanser just a few weeks ago. Now, that was a game changer. My skin used to feel taut after cleansing and I didn’t use to care because you just slap on some lotion almost immediately and all’s good. After cleansing with the Jack Black facial foam, my skin felt clean AND moisturized. I don’t even know that is possible! I know Jack Black is line of skin/body/hair care for men but I LOVE IT.
I use Hada Labo’s lotion right after I cleanse to lock in the moisture. I love the formula! It’s a little sticky when it dries but after the next few steps, it won’t be. Moist skin absorbs better so using this product really boost the effectiveness of the subsequent ones you apply to your face.
I was an ardent fan of the Ettusais Massage Eye Essence because it was the only one that did not give me milia problems. I also believe that it was the antidote to keeping my dark circles at bay. However, it wasn’t exactly cheap so I was always on the lookout for light formulas that moisturize. On a recent sale, I decided to purchase the Hada Labo Eye Cream along with my hydrating lotion. It works! I would say it is a super basic formula. It feels super comfortable around my eye, hydrates the area adequately without clogging my pores. I’m now on my second bottle!
In the day, I use Biotherm’s Whitening serum, which I have used for years and have gone through many generations of it (I think easily 5 or 6 generations). I’m quite convinced it’s the secret to glowing skin because sometimes when I stop repurchasing due to the price ($121) , my skin would be reduced to a duller state. No idea if it’s all in my mind but placebo effect is better than no effect at all.
By night, I use Differin, a vitamin A derivative that helps to regulate skin cell production, hence effectively reducing acne, sebum production and helps in fighting aging. I’m using the product more for the latter effect. Differin is a prescription medication in Singapore and is more often than not, prescribed for acne prone skin. However, apparently you can purchase it without a prescription in Malaysia. I get my friends to buy it for me if they are there. One thing to note though, that Differin might break you out initially when your skin is adjusting to it. You can start very slow by applying a thin layer of it on alternate nights before titrating up the frequency to minimize the side effects. I have had my initial stages of dry spells and red, angry, purging skin and I’m glad that that acclimatizing period is over. I’m very stable on it now!
Perhaps the most important step in my regime! I strongly recommend Biotherm’s Aquasource moisturizer because it worked very, very well for me. Like I have said, I have tried so many products over the last ten or more years but this one is a staple. I use the gel version because I love the smell! Sometimes I go for the cream or even the latest mousse but the gel one is my favorite! When my skin is parched, perhaps from the sun, I simply put on a thick layer of it at bedtime. By morning, my skin would have drank it all up! 😀
Sunscreens are a must and I only go for SPF 50 because I’m kiasu like that. I’m using Biotherm’s UV Supreme right now which is really light and comfortable, but I also recommend La Roche Posay’s range. Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before leaving your home so that there’s sufficient time for it to be absorbed and for it to work. Most of the sunscreens in the market now are chemical sunscreens so this is important to note.
I like to try out an assortment of masks because they all serve different purposes. My go-to SOS mask is definitely the SKII Whitening Mask. It is so pricey but so, so effective. I used it a lot during my A levels days when I am very stressed up. I would look forward to going home on a hot afternoon, after a major test. I would blast the AC and lay in bed with this on my face. 30 minutes later, my skin would be glowing and I look absolutely stress-free.
For very practical reasons, I do not use SKII often. When I was touring in Korea two years back, I discovered the existence of cheap and good masks. They cost about 50c per piece?! I tried many and among them, these emerged favorites.
This Tony Moly Snail Mask appeared to give me results similar to the SKII mask mentioned above, but at a fraction of the fraction of the price! All my friends who tried a variety of the Korean masks agreed so it’s not just me! There is a more expensive version for snail masks in Tony Moly, which I tried as well but the cheaper one is better. Really.
I’m obsessed with Skinfood’s White Rice Mask. I like that it is very mild scrub with a comforting rice scent. It is so gentle that I use it almost everyday in the shower. I would scrub it all over my cleansed face lightly and then leave it on for as long as my hair is soaked in conditioner (approximately 5 minutes?). In fact, I’m so obsessed that I have like 9 tubs of this in my house at one time. I stocked up because it is much much cheaper (more than 50% cheaper cus there was a triple pack in Korea).
I also have the Skinfood Black Sugar Mask which has grittier bits in it and scrubs better. I use it on days I feel like my skin needs a good rub!
Besides using the right products, which is honestly a lifetime of trial and error (i.e. whatever I claim that works for me here may not work for you), I have always believed that application techniques play an important role in ensuring that the goodness of the products you are using is optimally absorbed.
For instance, I’m a fan of double cleansing to ensure that all traces of makeup is removed before I proceed to my rigorous moisturizing regime. When I am applying my lotions, serums and moisturizers, I would pat my skin for a good one minute or two in an outwards and upwards direction.
I feel that by applying my skincare in this manner, they are absorbed more easily and does not leave a layer of tacky residue behind. Patting on moisturizer also promotes blood circulation to the area and reduces water retention.
And that’s about it about my skincare! I do find a few novelty products here and there but the above mentioned are definitely my fall-back’s and go-to’s. Let me know if you have any other questions here (x) and I’ll be glad to answer them to the best of my abilities! Feel free to share with me your Holy Grail of products as well!