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Try Desk: Five Beauty Products From Top to Toe

By Joie Goh

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Natura Bisse Diamond Extreme Mask, S178
Natura Bisse Diamond Extreme Oil, S$259
Orbis Oil Cut Cleansing Liquid, S$23
John Frieda Luxurious Volume Core Restore Advanced Protein Volumiser, S$19.90
YSL Beaute Vernis A Levres Pop Water in #218 Orange Mist, S$51
Guerlain Black Perfecto by La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum Florale, S$98 for 30ml
Tung Pham/ Gregory Woo
 

Natura Bisse Diamond Extreme Night Dual Treatment

S$259 for the Diamond Extreme Oil, S$178 for the Diamond Extreme Mask

Once upon a time, I might have turned my nose up at home-use kits that promise salon facial results – after all, if I wanted facial results, I would rather go for an actual one, complete with terry-cloth robes and decadent massages – but as my responsibilities pile on and free time becomes scarce, I find that I’d rather spend two hours catching up on Netflix than lying supine in a darkened room. And if I can get a taut, post-facial glow without having to take any time out? Sign me up.

Consisting of a silky oil and a lightweight gel-cream mask, this night treatment fits the bill perfectly: Easy to apply and takes no effort at all. The golden-hued, lavender-scented Diamond Extreme Oil is a fusion of antioxidant-rich chia, amaranth, calendula and carrot oils packed with anti-ageing extracts from seaweed and pomegranate seeds. A few drops smoothed over the face is all that’s required, and it comes with a massager tool designed to lift and tone the skin for improved penetration.

The next step is the Diamond Extreme Mask, which contains purified marine DNA from wild Pacific salmon and supposedly enhances the skin’s natural defence mechanism, as well as copper peptides, anti-inflammatory niacinamide and retinol. I’m usually quite wary of using retinol products – my skin tends to get irritated by the ingredient easily, and I’ve rarely had good results from it. However, perhaps it was the combination of soothing compounds in the mask, as well as the added barrier of the Diamond Extreme Oil, that prevented the usual tingling and stinging I get from retinol.

The entire process took less than 10 minutes to apply, and I woke up to plump, refined skin in the morning, despite having slept less than four hours. Although I ended up binge-watching the entire season of “GLOW” the night before, I found that my complexion wasn’t lacking in glow, itself.

Verdict: The price might be prohibitive, but it does give a facial-like result even if you’re up all night.

Orbis Oil Cut Cleansing Liquid

S$23

When it comes to heavy-duty makeup, the fastest and most effective way to remove it all is with an oil cleanser. Oil dissolves pigment, and with a splash of water, emulsifies into a milky fluid and rinses away all traces.

Oil-free Japanese beauty brand takes the concept a little further with their non-oil oil cleanser. Instead of an oil base, the non-comedogenic, alcohol-free and fragrance-free cleanser uses a blend of sodium hyaluronate with water soluble silicones to lift makeup and impurities without clogging pores.

Personally, I prefer regular oil cleansers – they tend to have a little more slip, and glide onto the skin better. I find this particular one too viscous and thick, which made massaging onto my face a tad challenging. However, it removes makeup just as well as the former, and leaves my skin feeling moist and hydrated without any oily residue or lingering greasy film.

Verdict: It does what it does.

John Frieda Luxurious Volume Core Restore Advanced Protein Volumiser

S$19.90

I have the holy trifecta of limp locks: fine individual strands, low density and hair that grows close to the scalp, as opposed to away from the scalp. On a good day, my ponytail would have the circumference of a twenty-cent coin. Unfortunately, with age and several years of intense chemical processes, good days are far behind me, and I need all the help I can get.

I’m initially very sceptical of any product that claims to thicken the hair cosmetically, because save for hair transplants or hormone therapy, there’s no way one can grow more hair. This leave-in treatment doesn’t promise increased hair density, but instead, works as a daily protein fortifier, infusing thin, porous strands with hydrolysed protein molecules in order to strengthen and thicken each individual shaft.

The first time I attempted using this product, I did not properly read the instructions, which is to apply to washed, towel-dried hair and to blow dry. Instead, I merely glopped it onto my damp tresses and let it air dry (it dried into a weird, stiff helmet full of white flakes). The formula actually requires heat to activate, so the second time, I blow dried my locks after smoothing the light cream throughout the lengths.

The heat did its magic, and while I did not miraculously sprout thousands of new hairs, my existing hair felt bouncy and gravity-defying, even without hairspray. My fluffy bob stayed fluffy despite the humidity and getting caught in a sudden downpour, and lasted the entire day.

Verdict: It works even on my sad, limp hair.

YSL Beaute Vernis A Levres Pop Water in #218 Orange Mist

S$51

Five years after the iconic original glossy lip stain was launched, YSL Beaute is revamping the modern classic with newer shades in the three finishes – the sheer Pop Water, satiny Classic and intense Vinyl Cream – and a luscious formula that plumps and lacquers lips with no stickiness or oiliness.

My reason for loving this revolutionary lip product is a little more self-serving: it stains the lips a lovely flush of colour, which stays on even long after the gloss has worn off. That means I don’t have to reapply as often, and the translucency of the hues remain flatteringly natural, whether it’s a fire engine red or deep plum.

Case in point: the one I’ve selected goes on my lips like a slick of sheer, glossy red (despite its name, there’s nothing very orange-y about it). One sandwich later, my lips are a soft, rosy blush. And three cups of tea afterwards, a hint of baby pink remains. And anything that allows me to be as lazy as possible, is always a win for me.

Verdict: A must-have, whether you’re a lippie junkie or a lazy bum.

Guerlain Black Perfecto by La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum Florale

S$98 for 30ml, S$138 for 50ml and S$198 for 100ml

A quick masterclass on how to re-brand an existing fragrance franchise: amp up the intensity of its floweriest heart note to an almost cloyingly-choking level, add a subversive note, put it in a black bottle and call it a rock-and-roll iteration. Black Perfecto’s concept is similar to other edgy-but-girly scents like YSL Beaute’s Black Opium Floral Shock and Tom Ford’s Black Orchid (something about the combination of the word “black” and a flower-related term seems, perhaps). In the former’s case, it’s a double whammy: it’s a “black” version of its Little Black Dress fragrance.

The original 2009 La Petite Robe Noire scent is a sweet gourmand blend of raspberry macarons, liquorice and vanilla, but 2017’s bad gal version isn’t that different. The intense sweetness is still there, this time with cherry in the forefront, but with an unmistakable hint of leather and roses (the subversive note, so to speak). The bouquet remains overwhelmingly girly and feminine, and dries down to a soft, fluffy and powdery cloud that lingers on the skin hours after the initial saccharine blast has faded.

Verdict: It’s not quite Guns’n’Roses, and more like Ariana Grande in a leather outfit – a little naughty and grown-up, but still a cute pop princess at heart.