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Try Desk: Five Beauty Products From Top to Toe

By Joie Goh

Sun Sun Sun Sun Sun
NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer in Seaside, S$65
Sisley Black Rose Skin Infusion Cream, S$240
Dior Hydra Life Deep Hydration Sorbet Water Essence, S$110
Mamonde Creamy Tint Lip Balm Intense in Matte Pop Orange, S$16
KMS Thermashape Hot Flex Spray, S$40
Tung Pham/ Gregory Woo/ Carolyn Cheng

NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer in Seaside

If anyone told me 10 years ago I would be trading my brightening skincare for bronzer, I would’ve laughed them out the door (and then applied more sunscreen in case a stray UV ray touched my skin while the door was opened). But here I am, the proud owner of three bronzer compacts and not a single product that has the words “brightening”, “lightening” or “whitening” in them. However, despite having quit skin-lightening products in exchange for hydrating and soothing skincare, my skin is still quite fair, which does make bronzer-shopping a tricky thing – most tend to look like smudges of dirt on my skin, or look too sallow, or just look too brown and obvious.

So, I’m very pleased to report that the lightest shade from new bronzer collection from Nars is perfect in every way: it gives a soft warmth without any yellowness, lends pale skin a hint of the sun, and has a matte, non-shimmery finish that allows it to double as a very subtle contour. Even better, it also blurs imperfections like pores for a soft-focus effect, and cut down my weekend makeup routine to only five steps (sunscreen, bronzer, brows, liner and lipgloss) while still looking polished.

Verdict: It works. If your foundation shade is always the lightest available, this is the everyday bronzer/contour for you.


Sisley Black Rose Skin Infusion Cream

Luxury creams are very often two things: they are extremely effective, but they are also very rich. The latest I owned would give me unbelievably glowing skin – if I could deal with the heavy, greasy finish, even if I only used a blob the size of a fingernail (and I have small fingernails). Therefore, I initially did not have high hopes for this cream, which would understandably be rich due to three factors: first, it’s Sisley, a premium French skincare label, and the French love their rich, comforting creams. Secondly, it’s a spinoff of the number one cult mask in France, the Black Rose Cream Mask, which is as heavy as it is luxe. And finally, when I opened the lid, the cream appeared very thick and decadent, unlike those sorbet-like lightweight moisturisers currently in vogue right now.

Well, I’ve since learned not to trust my eyes and my biases, for this is one of the loveliest, feather-light yet intensely hydrating creams I’ve ever used. The rich cream melts into the skin with a refreshing watery texture and leaves the skin looking matte and velvety. I had used it at night at first, thinking it would have a heavy texture better reserved for sleeping in an air-conditioned room with, but because it was so light and hydrating, I used it the next morning as well. I found that my makeup applied better and looked smoother even, and because my skin was well-moisturised, it didn’t get shiny as quickly as it usually does and I didn’t have to blot until well in the afternoon.

Verdict: I know I’ve been claiming many, many moisturisers as my Holy Grail moisturisers, but this is my Holy Grail of Holy Grails.


Dior Hydra Life Deep Hydration Sorbet Water Essence

The storied French brand’s latest skincare line is inspired by natural, minimalist formulas (and marketed towards millennials). Gentler on the skin, more eco-friendly, and packaged in sleek, pared-down bottles and jars, they are all paraben-free but still retain the luxurious, sensorial feel that fancy skincare have (and by fancy I mean expensive). In fact, Dior is so committed to the environmentally-friendly aspect of this line that they have removed all the unnecessary elements in the packaging, like leaflets, corrugated cardboard and cellophane wrapping, and retaining only the other box (which, frankly, is also unnecessary – but it’s a start).

The Sorbet Water Essence is meant to be a 3-in-1 product, combining the “ultra-concentrated hydration of a serum, the toning effect of a lotion and the radiance boost of a gentle peel”. Mallow and habelea leaf extracts hydrate the skin, while natural fruit acids lightly exfoliate for a brighter complexion. The instructions are to dispense one or two drops and apply to the skin, but the drops are tiny. Instead, I pumped at least four or five drops and smoothed it onto my bare, just-cleansed face. The serum is very light and evaporates almost instantly with a refreshing sensation, but I’ve yet to see visible effects save for added hydration. But, it does reduce the need for a lotion, and I’m always down for anything that cuts down on my skincare routine.

Verdict: Still unsure about all the promises, but it works well for lightweight hydration and the packaging is friendlier on the environment that most luxury brands.


Mamonde Creamy Tint Lip Balm Intense in Matte Pop Orange

I’ve never bought into the whole K-pop orange lipstick hype. In fact, I had never considered orange a viable or wearable colour. When Elle Woods said that “whoever says that orange is the new pink is seriously disturbed” in Legally Blonde, I amen-ed. Orange anything is a recipe for disaster (just look at the current White House).

However, I must (grudgingly) admit that this orange lippie outdid my expectations. The shade was flattering and actually wearable – it’s undeniably orange, yet not clownishly so. Despite the balm-like texture, the pigment is very intense and the matte finish can rival that of an actual lipstick. The colour glides on and feels as comfortable as a matte balm can. I’m used to glossy, emollient balms, so this one feels slightly drying, but only very slightly, and it lasts impressively long compared to other balm-type lipsticks, which tend to slide off within an hour of wear.

Verdict: If I’m willing to wear orange lippie more than once, that means that it has exceeded my expectations.


KMS Thermashape Hot Flex Spray
S$42, available at selected salons

I have bone-straight, limp and fine hair that I made even finer and thinner by repeatedly bleaching it. It doesn’t hold any shape, other than hanging limp and straight, which is my go-to style. However, if I ever dared to defy nature and curl my locks with the aid of heat and irons, they would inevitably return to its normal flatness within an hour or so (less, if it’s humid, and slightly longer if I used at least half a can of hairspray).

This hairspray, however, is a game changer. A prep spray for heat styling and a heat protectant as well, the fine mist contains heat-activated polymers that are extremely flexible when heated, and locks in place when cooled. To use, spray it thoroughly onto damp, washed hair, and blow dry until completely dry. Spray it throughout the lengths again, and curl with a hot curling iron.

My curls lasted almost all day, even without strong hold hairspray to lock down the style. While the volume from my root area died within an hour of going outdoors, the rest of my hair remained bouncy and curled until I threw it up into a messy bun at the end of the night to take a shower. And remember when I mentioned that the spray’s polymers are flexible when heated? It meant that the next day, I could simply re-style my hair again with a hot iron, without needing to rinse it out, shampoo and spray it on again.

Verdict: It totally works, and is perfect for lazy people and those with extremely fine, style-resistant strands.