Face off the new year by streamlining your skincare and makeup kits and regimes.
I’ve always found it fascinating to uncover other women’s boudoir rituals.
There’s this friend who schlepped along kilos worth of full-sized potions for our four-day Bangkok trip. Each night before bed, she spent one-and-a-half hours following the (in)famous 15-step Korean ritual of triple cleansing, double masking, applying several serums and so on, while catching up on the latest K-drama. Never mind that it meant staying up till 2am and skimping on sleep.
Another had nine almost-full jars of face cream on her vanity counter — she would buy every single new one, hoping to find THE magic elixir to tame her rosacea.
One used her Clarisonic thrice a day. She loved how clean her skin felt, yet I couldn’t help but notice her complexion had gotten dry and flaky.
Dermatologist Dr Joyce Lim, who has been in practice for 27 years, says it’s common to come across patients who are overzealous about skincare.
There are those who wash too frequently as “they are obsessed with cleanliness or wrongly think that dirtiness is the cause of their acne or skin problems. Some use strong or medicated cleansers such as Dettol wash, or overuse facial masks and scrubs to the point they are literally scrubbing off their skin”, she says. “Others apply too much moisturiser, or too thick a layer of foundation hoping to cover blemishes, but instead, highlight them.”
The result? Raw, pink or peeling skin, with eczema in between the raw skin, or really bad acne, Dr Lim notes.
Another girlfriend is a makeup junkie who’s irresistibly drawn to cosmetic counters — yet every time I see her, she’s bare-faced save for tinted lip balm.
Many of my male friends moan about wives/girlfriends who take two hours to put their party faces on.
Makeup artist Kenneth Lee, who has more than 20 years’ experience, says: “There’s a lot of wastage. Take a look at the crowds in Sephora — women, from teens to 50somethings, love buying cosmetics. When I go to clients’ homes, whether brides-to-be or taitais, I notice they often own more makeup than me! Many offer to give me their barely-used items — usually recommended by friends but which they don’t know how, or can’t be bothered, to use. It’s ironic considering the clean K-beauty look, which is so trendy, doesn’t require much to achieve.”
Many of my friends express surprise at how pared down my skincare and beauty regime is. They expect, because of the years I worked in women’s magazines, that I’d have a really elaborate setup comprising all the latest goodies.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
I “decant” my foaming facial cleanser, day moisturizer, night cream, facial scrub and sleeping mask into hand-labelled, travel-sized clear Perspex pots so there’s less physical and visual clutter on my bathroom counter.
It also somehow seems more hygienic to use up small batches of product at a time. They’re easy to take with me on vacation — just grab and shove into a zippered mesh pouch the size of two stacked iPhone6’s. It also means I don’t have a separate set of travel-sized skincare items mouldering away in between trips.
My makeup collection is similarly bare bones.
One pressed powder compact, one concealer, and a skin-toned pencil that camouflages freckles and sun spots.
One dark brown eyeliner. Two eyeshadows — ivory, and a light bronze one with a hint of sparkle.
One eyelash curler. One black waterproof mascara, which I hardly use.
One chubby highlighter stick in rose gold for the tops of cheekbones, nose bridge and under the eyebrow arches.
A two-pan eyebrow powder kit in smoky grey and deep brown.
One lip balm, one matte lipstick in deep berry, one sheer chubby in fuchsia — they can be worn alone, mixed together, or further toned down with aforementioned lip balm.
I like that it only takes me 10 minutes to cleanse, tone, moisturize and apply no-makeup makeup, leaving me more time for other important things in life.
Dr Lim’s recommendations for a minimalist skincare routine?
- You need a cleanser, a moisturiser and a sunscreen at the very least.
- Wash and moisturize your face twice a day.
- Use a cleanser for normal skin that doesn’t leave skin feeling tight after washing.
- Make sure your moisturizer contains the right active ingredients for your skin condition. Acne prone skin does well with fruit acids, retinol or salicylic acid. Mature skin needs antioxidants such as Vitamin C, peptides, and growth factors that act as building blocks for collagen. Dry skin needs ceramides or any other natural moisturizing factor, while sensitive/red skin requires calming ingredients like chamomile, or actives that reduce redness, such as niacinamide.
- If you’re outdoors a lot, incorporate sunscreen into your skincare routine, and use a moisturizer with antioxidants to counteract free radicals.
- If you’re acne prone, minimize sunscreen use — only upon sun exposure.
- Most Asian women are prone to skin pigmentation and melasma. A skin lightener can help you achieve an even skin tone.
- Opt for dermatological treatments only when creams don’t work — laser for deep pigmentation, or antibiotics or chemical peels when acne fails to clear after using topical cream.
Kenneth Lee on assembling a “less is more” beauty kit:
- First, discard all expired products, and give away anything you don’t use. The only things
you then really need are:
- Foundation in your skin tone
- Loose powder
- One eyeliner
- One eyebrow pencil
- One mascara
- One two-pan blusher palette
- Two lip colours: one natural/nude, and one in red or brown depending on your
- One or two eyeshadow colours.
For day, use just enough eyeliner and eyebrow pencil to define features, use the lighter blusher, and dab on the nude lipstick with your fingers. You don’t even need eyeshadow.
For night, create a cat’s eye or smoky eye with your eyeliner, and a stronger, more defined brow with the eyebrow pencil. Use the darker lip and cheek colours.
And there you have it: beauty, decluttered.