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As a former beauty editor of about 10 years for a national newspaper and later a women’s magazine, I would often get asked for skincare tips and about my own beauty routine.
And I would feel like an imposter. Why? Because unlike most industry insiders (or even most other women), I have a really pared-down routine. I’ve never worn much makeup except the occasional mascara and eyeliner – though under-eye concealer and lip gloss are musts for me.
As for skincare, even before the K-beauty wave hit us, people would expect me to rattle off at least five to eight products from my daily essentials list. I could see the look of surprise and disappointment on their faces when I confessed that I like to stick to just two to three reliable products.
But these are the five skincare tips that have worked well for me all this while.
1. Spend more on serums, less on moisturisers
A moisturiser is made to sit on your skin surface to prevent moisture loss whereas a serum has to penetrate more deeply to work its anti-ageing, brightening or hydrating magic. This is why if you are buying skincare on a budget, it is a good idea to spend a little more on a serum as most brands pump in their best technology and ingredients into it.
2. Use a dual-purpose or multi-purpose product
A dual-purpose or multi-functional skincare product is good news for those of us who are too busy (me) or too lazy (also me). But not all multi-functional skincare is made equal. For instance, if an eye cream claims to moisturise your neck too, it’s probably lying because the skin around your eyes is thinner and needs an entirely different product from what the thicker skin on your neck needs.
For me, I like a cleansing foam that also swipes off makeup. And that’s because I wear very little of it. If you apply a lot of makeup, use a makeup remover first and follow up with a cleanser (usually a foam or an oil-based formula) that can take off dirt, sebum and any traces of makeup that your remover missed.
3. Keep a skin-calming product on standby
Because my skin can act up suddenly – thanks to a long walk in the sun or travelling in a dusty city – I like to have a skin-soothing cream or gel. One of my faves is the DrGL Restore Gel Mask. How does it work? This thick gel has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory botanical ingredients to calm angry skin. Use it as a moisturiser or as a gel mask – for the latter, wipe off any excess after 30 minutes. What makes it even better: leave your bottle in the fridge and cool down flushed, irritated skin on a hot day.
4. Use a moisturising lotion
Most Japanese skincare brands have moisturising lotions which are waters that you pat onto cleansed skin before you apply serums and moisturisers. It is believed that the lotions help to plump up skin first so that the rest of your skincare will sink in more thoroughly. I actually like using these lotions on their own as an alternative to sheet masks so that I don’t have to spend 15 precious minutes trying to peer at my Netflix movies – with a giant sheet mask covering part of my eyes.
5. Read the ingredients list
Don’t shop for skincare blindly. Always read the list of ingredients as instant research. If a product claims it is made with a super ingredient like green tea or marine extracts, check if this ingredient is high up on the list (meaning that they use a good amount of it) or if it is at the bottom of the heap, after many other strange-sounding chemicals.