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Try Desk: Five Beauty Products From Top to Toe

By Joie Goh

Foreo Luna Play Plus, SG$79
Bioderma Hydrabio Brume, SG$29.90 for two
SK-II Atmosphere Airy Light UV Emulsion SPF30/PA+++, SG$99
Shiseido Maquillage Flat Change Base, SG$36
Botanist Botanical Hair Oil, SG$29
Tung Pham/ Gregory Woo

Foreo Luna Play Plus
S$79, available at Sephora

“There’s no excuse for a modern woman to not invest in a cleansing device,” Aubrey Bautista, Foreo Asia’s regional manager, tells me. Citing a multitude of reasons including advancements in makeup technology for longer-lasting, life-resistant formulations, daily application of said makeup, and busier lifestyles, she makes a compelling case for owning a buzzing beauty gadget.

This macaron-looking device is the latest addition to the Swedish grooming gadget maker’s lineup. Travel-friendly and frankly, cute as a button, it employs up to 8000 sonic pulsations per minute to lift and dissolve impurities in the skin, despite being battery-operated. Unlike typical cleansing brushes with nylon bristles, the silicone body is non-porous and bacteria resistant, so they don’t require constant replacements or special care; I just rinsed it off after use and tossed it into my gym bag.

Using it was slightly confusing initially, as I was used to the Clarisonic’s self-timing function, which broke up the sections of the face. However, the Foreo Luna Play Plus buzzed for a minute straight without any pauses, so the first time I attempted to use it, I had an extremely clean right cheek. I since learned that the best way to use it is to massage it gently all around the face, then focus on areas that need a little more deep cleansing, like the T-zone.

Verdict: The perfect device for post-workout showers, when the skin is too hot and red from sweating to tolerate nylon-bristled cleansing brushes.

Bioderma Hydrabio Brume
S$29.90 for two 300ml bottles

As I’m entering my 30s, my skin has started to become more sensitised (no more waking up to fresh, clear skin after a late night of hard partying). However, these past couple weeks, my skin had become even more temperamental. Even a gentle, alcohol-free calendula toner left my cheeks burning and my complexion broke out into a constellation of pimples.

So, I scaled back. I ditched all my skincare, and whittled it down to only three products: a micellaire-based makeup remover and cleanser, an unscented moisturiser for atopic skin, and this mineral water spray to function as a toner.

Containing Bioderma’s signature ingredient complex that combines antioxidants with hydrators and anti-inflammatory agents soothes and strengthens the skin, while the water itself is pH-balanced and contains calcium and magnesium to nourish skin cells. Most importantly, my skin calmed down almost immediately after spritzing. After a week of use, my breakout cleared up completely, and I no longer felt like my face was burning and smarting – it could even tolerate makeup without becoming an itchy, blotchy mess.

Verdict: Lifesaving. If you’re dealing with heightened skin sensitivity, or just need a skincare detox, swap your regular toner or lotion for this spray.

SK-II Atmosphere Airy Light UV Emulsion SPF30/PA+++

Not all sunscreens are created equal, and that’s okay. Just like skincare, sunscreens today are formulated with physical filters or chemical blockers for different skin types and different occasions – just ask Supergoop!’s founder Holly Thaggard.

I work out every single day of the week at the break of dawn, so I had been using a gentle SPF15 sunscreen as I would only be exposed to the sun for the duration of my workout. However, the drawback of my usual sunscreen is that when I perspire, it comes off like milky rivulets of sweat and stains my activewear, which, coupled with my tomato-red face and damp braids, do not make for a very attractive picture.

Boasting a texture and finish as light and non-greasy as my previous ‘screen despite having double the SPF and PA+++ protection, SK-II’s latest sun protection launch actually lives up to its name – airy and light. I often forgo moisturiser before my workouts, and with this one, I didn’t even need one, for it left my skin feeling well-hydrated but not oily.

The best part? Even after sweating buckets, it did not leave me looked streaked like melted ice-cream, and my easily-irritated skin tolerated it with no issues. Of course, I still look awful after my workout, but life’s about picking battles.

Verdict: The Holy Grail of sunscreens, even for sunscreen haters – no greasiness, no heaviness, and oh-so- easy to apply.

Shiseido Maquillage Flat Change Base

I admit – I only picked this because I had assumed, by its name, that it would somehow give my flat Asian face the illusion of depth, like higher cheekbones and a more pronounced nose bridge. Alas, cryptic Japanese English has failed me, for it does nothing of that sort.

Instead, it’s a silky, colourless balm that you’re supposed to smooth onto your “diamond zone”, the area of skin that falls within these four points on your face: tip of the nose, outer corners of the eyes, and right between your brows. The balm works like a mattifying, blurring primer, softening lines and almost completely camouflaging pores.

On bare skin, it reduced shine on my nose, so I could get away with just sunscreen and concealer. It also creates a very smooth base for foundation or BB cream. However, when I tried to apply the balm over my makeup, it caused my foundation to ball up and slide off my skin like dried glue – so reserve this for pre-makeup and not for touch-ups.

Verdict: Great for #nomakeup days, and as a makeup primer. Just don’t confuse it for lip balm.

Botanist Botanical Hair Oil Moist

I love hair oils. In my mid-20s, religious oiling habits took my shoulder-length, dye-damaged shag to a glorious, so-shiny- it-looks- fake, hip-length mane (which I then promptly destroyed by bleaching my entire head platinum blonde – four times).

My colourist had commanded me to stop using my beloved Moroccanoil, because its pale golden hue was actually turning my almost-white hair yellow and brassy. Bleached hair is extremely porous and picks up random colours from its surroundings like a sleazy broseph at a nightclub – sebum, the colour of your hair products, even clothing, if you’re not careful. However, this one from Japanese natural haircare label Botanist is completely clear, so I happily made the switch.

A blend of 20 different plant oils, including rice germ oil, shea butter and argan oil, the lightweight oil claims to prevent hair discoloration and dryness in damaged hair. It initially leaves locks looking heavy and greasy, but after letting it sit for five minutes, my strands soaked it up and turned soft and silky like what I imagine the Elves’ long tresses in Lord of the Rings are like. The added manageability also made it much easier to braid my hair, as the strands do not tangle as much, but not so slippery like most silicone-laden drugstore hair oils tend to do.

I even don’t mind the scent, even though it smelled like synthetically fruity, like shampoo marketed to pre-teens. The apple and peach fragrance disappeared quickly enough, and all that lingers is touchably soft hair.

Verdict: Worth the buy, especially for bleached blondes and pastel-haired unicorns.