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Try Desk: Five Beauty Products From Top to Toe

By Joie Goh

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Shiseido Makeup Synchro Skin Glow Cushion Compact Whitening, price currently unavailable
Philosophy The Microdelivery Detoxifying Oxygen Peel, S$62
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Concentrate Matrix, S$113, available in August 2017
Sephora Shea Hair Sleeping Mask, price currently unavailable, available from August 2017
Chanel Rouge Allure Ink in Highway, S$50, available 27 July 2017
Tung Pham/ Gregory Woo

Shiseido Makeup Synchro Skin White Cushion Compact

At first glance, this cushion compact isn’t very promising. The cushion itself looks primitive, like first-generation cushions: a mid-density sponge with large-ish pores, unlike the latest models, with super-dense, fine-textured sponge cushions, or mesh filters, that ensures even product pick-up. The puff is similar to other brands, smooth and suede-textured. I wasn’t very impressed.

Until I put it on my face.

The finish was flawless, matte and, for lack of a better word, dimensional. It made my skin look like a better version of itself. I was never a big fan of cushion products because they tend to be too dewy and they seem to sit on my skin and make my face look completely flat (plus, I can’t risk touching my face lest I leave finger marks).  However, the formula in this cushion adhered onto my skin beautifully without budging, and enhanced my facial contours without washing them out. It was extremely easy to apply, too – just a few pats and the foundation blended right in.

Verdict: South Korean brands might have originated the cushion concept, but the grand dame of Japanese beauty has perfected it.


Philosophy The Microdelivery Detoxifying Oxygen Peel
S$89, available at Sephora

Unlike most at-home facial treatments, this one is fast – in fact, it only takes three minutes (well, ten, if you include laughing at yourself in the mirror, taking a bunch of selfies, and clean-up). In fact, it was so funny to use, I made my boyfriend do it too.

The three-step pore-unclogging and hydrating process starts with slathering a liberal layer of the Detoxifying Charcoal Gel, which is solid black and goopy. Formulated with activated charcoal, it draws out and absorbs dirt and impurities within pores, but since it doesn’t dry out, it doesn’t strip the skin of any moisture. Immediately after applying the first step, squeeze out a small amount of the moisturising chlorophyll-rich Oxygen Foam Booster and layer it over the charcoal gel.

Notice I mentioned “small amount”? I meant “about a fingertip or two”. That’s because the toothpaste-like texture of the second step very rapidly bubbles up into a thick, shaving foam-like froth. I did not anticipate just how foamy it would become, so I had used way more than required (the instructions said “generous amount” and I mistook that to be a handful), and after three minutes, the foam layer had expanded so thick it nearly blocked up my nostrils and crept dangerously close to my eyes.

The final step involves scraping the whole thing off with the “exfoliating derma blade” (really, just a flat piece of plastic shaped like an ice cream stick). My boyfriend described the sight of me scraping foam off my chin as “slightly disturbing” because it looked like I was shaving my face. The scraping had a purpose, though – it functions as a mechanical exfoliating step, scraping off dead skin cells and aiding with unclogging pores. The result: bright, clear skin with smaller-looking pores, and an entertaining Instagram story feed.

Verdict: Great for nights when you’re bored, although it’s best advised not to drink and do this peel at the same time (I found foam in my glass of merlot and had to sadly dispose of the wine).


Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Concentrate Matrix
S$113, available in August 2017

I vastly prefer skincare to come in vacuum pump bottles, for hygiene’s and convenience’s sakes, but I’m willing to let this one pass. That’s because the cap is attached to a massage applicator wand, in the way nail polish or mascara brushes are attached to their caps, so I can fool myself into thinking it’s less unhygienic that digging my fingers into pots and jars.

Also, it truly makes application far more convenient than the usual way of patting eye cream or serum around the eyes with the fingers. The applicator resembles a flexible silicon Q-tip, and is coated with just the right amount per use. All I have to do is swipe the wand gently under my eyes three times, then sweep it around and over my lids, and pat in the tiny excess around the corners with my finger.

The texture is velvety and easily absorbed as well, and leaves my eye area hydrated but not coated with product, and most importantly, refreshed in the morning. Most anti-ageing eye creams tend to leave my peepers puffy when I wake up due to their richness and heavy textures, so I’m pretty impressed that this product was able to deliver its promises (reduce fine lines, smooth and hydrate the delicate skin and brighten under-eye circles) within its deceptively lightweight serum.

Verdict: Impressively effective, and convenient enough for sustained use.


Sephora Shea Hair Sleeping Mask
Price currently unavailable, available from August 2017 onwards at Sephora

From serums to primers to sleeping masks, it’s only a matter of time that haircare would catch up with skincare. Sephora’s upcoming line of overnight hair treatments features four varieties: acai (for colour protection), coconut (for nourishment and repair), rose (for frizz-control) and shea (for anti-breakage). It comes in a convenient two-part kit that includes a generous amount of creamy mask as well as a hair cap made of the kind of non-woven material surgical masks and supermarket tote bags are made of.

The instructions said to apply the cream to the lengths of dried hair, pop the cap on and go to bed, then rinse off in the morning. It was fairly challenging applying the cream evenly onto dry strands because it just made chunks of hair clump together, and trying to finger comb through the chunks caused a lot of tugging and not a few broken strands (my bleached hair is extremely fragile – breathe on it wrongly and it’ll start snapping off). Once I had sufficiently coated my hair, I put the cap on and went to sleep, which was surprisingly comfortable and did not come off at all.

I was inspired by beauty writer Kelly Mittendorf’s post on Into the Gloss, where she wrote about how she would apply a hair treatment before her workout and then rinse it out later in the shower, so I had planned to go on my usual early-morning runs before washing out the mask. However, when I got up, my hair basically looked like it had been dunked in glue – so I forwent my run and headed straight to the shower. My hair felt soft and lovely, which is no mean feat for my crunchy, bleached mop, and did not require the usual serums and styling products to achieve a sleek, flyaway-free blowout, save my usual pump of oil on the ends.

Also, it started raining heavily about 10 minutes after I got into the shower, so it was probably a good thing I didn’t run in the end.

Verdict: I wouldn’t substitute this for a proper in-salon treatment, but it definitely ranks higher than regular at-home hair treatment masks.


Chanel Rouge Allure Ink in Highway
S$50, available 27 July 2017 at Chanel Fragrance and Beauty boutiques and 4 August 2017 at all counters

Previously, I had ventured into the new world of orange lip colours with some trepidation, only to find that it’s really not too bad. So this week, like a parent dealing with a fussy-eating children slowly introducing new foods to their diet, I opted to test out this benign-looking, pastel orange shade from Chanel’s Fall collection.

It’s gorgeous. I have a thing against pale lipsticks – they tend to wash me out and make me look sick, but this one was somehow magically and phenomenally pretty on me. I don’t even know how it works. It first goes on the lips like a milky orange liquid that makes you go, “meh”, doesn’t really cover up the lips with a lot of pigment, but then after pressing my lips together, the pigment somehow perfectly settles into a soft matte finish and leaves my pout looking cherubically pastel and sweet – on me, the shade looks like a cross between nude and peach.

Verdict: I never thought I’d say this in my lifetime, but orange really is the new pink.