5 Skincare Staples I Used Up

We are well into the new year. I can’t believe that January flew by already. Honestly, the older I get, the harder it is for me to grasp the concept of time. Since this month is all about starting afresh, it’s only right that I throw away all the trash that I’ve been hoarding, and finish up all the products that are close to the end of its life.

Turns out, I managed to finish up quite a lot, which I am pretty cuffed about. My resolution this year is to use up as much of my stuff as possible and get the most out of everything. And to buy less beauty products in general, so that I can use everything fully. I have this bad habit of getting bored of the item halfway and switching to another. Hence, I have to so many half-empty bottles lying around.

So a disclaimer: Any product I feature in my empties mean that they are relatively good products. I usually will give away products that don’t suit me, sell them off and try to find a good home for them.

Here are 5 staples that everyone needs:





1. Banila Co. Clean It Zero Purity, SGD$30

This is a CULT product from South Korea, sort of their take on cleansing balms. The Clean It Zero line features a solid sherbet cleanser that you scoop out with a spatula (that’s provided). Upon contact with the warmth of your skin, it melts instantly into a thin oil that obliterates makeup. It’s amazing for waterproof eyeliner and budge-proof liquid lipstick. This Purity version is the best one they offer, in my opinion because it isn’t mineral oil based. It contains hydrating oils like argan oil and evening primrose oil plus a bunch of plant extracts, making it the ideal choice for people with sensitive skins like me.

Once your face is an oily, streaky mess, you just add water to emulsify the oil into a milk and then rinse. The product rinses clean, which is CRUCIAL for me as I have oily, acne-prone skin. I won’t recommend the other Clean It Zero formulas because I find them overly fragranced and have a more potentially skin-irritating ingredients deck. But this one, I do recommend.

2. BCL Tsururi Ghassoul Oil Cleansing, SGD$19.90

For my skin, however, I tend to prefer straight up oil cleansers. Midways through my Clean It Zero tub, I realise that I didn’t enjoy using it to remove my face makeup, simply because the texture was too thin for my liking. It felt like I was tugging at my skin, even though it removed makeup decently.

Hence, I went back to my tried and true. This is my third bottle of this stuff and I can’t tell you how much I love this oil cleanser. It’s thick and plush, almost the texture of honey. It spreads onto the skin effortlessly, without any tugging, so there is almost a blanket of emollience separating your hands from your face. This formula is olive oil based, with honey to add moisture (it’s also a great antibac) and charcoal to draw out impurities for a deeper clean. I LOVE this cleansing oil. It removes makeup so well, whilst still leaving the skin balanced and completely purified.

So, I used this to remove my face makeup and reserved the Clean It Zero for my eyes (mostly so that I won’t run through this cleansing oil so quickly).



3. Boscia Detoxifying Black Cleanser, SGD$41

I got this on a whim. Mostly due to my obsession with charcoal. The texture is a strange, thin, black gel that lathers decently. Once you rub the gel onto your damp skin, it instantly warms up. Most people might find this gimmicky and horrible in a tropical climate like Singapore, but I find it comforting. It heats up for about 10 seconds. It gets pretty hot too, I might add.

I use it as a second cleanse, but it does remove makeup well enough. I just prefer to cleanse my skin rather than remove makeup. This is a relatively small bottle, you think “only 150ml?”, but don’t worry! It lasts literally forever. You only need a small amount to clean your whole face and this bottle lasted me almost a year. Midway I got bored using it and was frustrated with the nozzle constantly getting clogged with charcoal, but once I scraped the dried charcoal off and used it again, I realised how much I really liked this cleanser. The ONLY reason I wouldn’t repurchase is the price.



3. Keana Nadeshiko Rice Cream, SGD$27.90

I wiped this tub CLEAN. I am so deeply, enamoured by this simple tub of moisturiser. Again, this is a Japanese brand that mainly uses rice and sake as their signature skincare ingredient. This formula contains rice bran oil, sake and other soothing ingredients to calm and balance the skin, whilst still injecting it with a shit ton of moisture. The texture is my favourite part of this cream. It appears to be a hefty cream but melts into the skin beautifully, not at all greasy. For my oily skin, it’s just the perfect amount of supple moisturisation, without being clogging and overbearing. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to putting on at night.

My only qualm is that it’s a pretty small tub for the price and I ran through it pretty quickly, considering that I only used it as a night cream. That is the ONLY reason I would hesitate to repurchase.



4. Sephora Mud Mask Purifying & Mattifying, SGD$26

This is the older packaging but this powerful clay mask is now housed in a different tub. It’s enhanced with zinc to help mattify and soothe the skin, while the clay sucks out all the gunk in your pores. This one doesn’t play games. It is often referred as the dupe to Glamglow masks (that are extortionately expensive). I personally think it’s more powerful that that. If you have sensitive skin like me, the initial application will feel as if your skin is burning. It’s a sign of activity because once it dries and I’ve washed it off, my skin isn’t red and aggravated. Instead it’s noticeably clearer and calmer, albeit in need of a moisturiser.

It’s rather difficult to wash off as it clings to the skin like super glue and it is a tad too drying to be used frequently. Despite that, I enjoyed using it and it’s godsend for when your skin is breaking out. It works great on blemishes and clogged pores. Plus it’s heaps cheaper than the Glamglow counterpart.

I would recommend all 5 of these and they are ALL staples. Everyone needs a good oil cleanser to breakdown makeup, detoxifying cleanser, soothing moisturiser and purifying mask.

I’m trying a new skincare routine this year and will definitely keep you posted on any gems I find.

My quest for the PERFECT skincare routine continues!

Empties #3 : Makeup

More and more empties! This, in particular, is a round up of makeup items that I’ve thoroughly finished up, along with my thoughts and whether I am willing to repurchase ’em. You know the drill by now, and yet I still preface these posts.

God knows.

Makeup tends to be my kryptonite when it comes to empties as it is really tough for a makeup addict like me to actually use a product constantly until it is completely done. Hence, majority of the products mentioned are my makeup essentials and are always in my makeup routine, regardless what eye or face look I end up going for that day.

My number one essential is of course, BROWS.

The one thing I cannot leave the house without doing are my brows, which sadly are non-existent. Therefore, I am not only very picky with brow products, but I tend to use them up quite quickly.




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Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Colour, S$30

Eyebrow pens are my favourite type of eyebrow product. To me, they are better than pencil, powder and pomade. They can mimic the look of hair most realistically, in my opinion. I tend to use them for the front and tail end of my brow, which are my most sparse areas. I draw them on with hairlike strokes and they last all day on me without fading or smudging.

The Stila version in medium has been my go-to for years. I have repurchased many times, but have since then found drugstore dupes that work just as well for half the price. The Etude House Tint My Brow Pen, particularly, is a pretty spot on one.


Anastasia Brow Wiz, USD$21

One of the brands that has not made its way to Singapore shores, much to my dismay. Anastasia was all the rage a year ago and the hype died down a bit after other companies started to make their own micro brow products, pomades and liquid lips. We tend to forget that Anastasia was one of the OGs.

I love this brow wiz. I go back and forth with this product because as much as I enjoy using it, I cannot warrant the price tag, with very similar products available at the drugstore. The brow wiz has a tiny nib, making it perfect for creating hairlike strokes on the brows. While it does create the illusion of fuller brows, I think it’s a little TOO pigmented for my taste. I have to consciously use a light hand, for fear of blocky “Instagram” brows. Instead, I prefer its hip younger sister…


Urban Decay Brow Beater, S$33

She is the cooler, edgier sister to the brow wiz. The packaging is just stunning. It feels luxe but young. Not mention, the writing doesn’t rub off as easily as the Anastasia one does, so you won’t lose track of your shade. Besides the outward appearance, the product itself is very similar. Retractable, micro fine nib with a handy spoolie at the other end.

To me, the result I get with the Urban Decay is more desirable. The formula is waxier than the brow wiz, doesn’t deposit too much pigment and gives me a more natural looking brow. Only problem with stiffer formulas is that they tend to break off easily, which was what happened with mine. The price hurts my wallet as well. So I didn’t repurchase this one.




Anastasia Clear Brow Gel, USD$22

More brow products! Can you tell I have a problem? This is the coveted brow gel that everyone swears by. It’s so bloody expensive for what it is. The packaging is lovely. I wish all clear brow gels are housed in such an elegant, opaque casing such as this one. It’s weighty and the brush is slightly large-ish, though it doesn’t really matter as you don’t have to be super precise with a clear gel. It holds my brow hairs in place without looking wet or stiff. Plus, my brows stay that way all day.

But is it worth repurchasing? No. Personally, I get comparable results with the Milani Brow Shaping Clear Gel and the Elf Brow and Lash Clear Mascara. Granted the packaging isn’t as amazing, but it does the job.


Nudestix Lash & Grow Mascara, S$37

Possibly the best mascara in the world. Ever. I wanna sing love songs to this mascara. That’s how good it is. It lengthens my lashes to the point that they actually look like falsies. You can layer coats without ever getting clumpy. Your lashes just look long, volumized and fluffy. It’s sexual.

Plus, it has peptides and ingredients inside that help your lash grow too. I can definitely attest to the fact that my lashes are so much stronger when I use this compared to other mascaras. Can you tell I love it? My only issue is the price. That is honestly the only reason why I have yet to purchase a third tube. 37 bucks for mascara is painful. I’m definitely repurchasing once I can afford the splurge.


Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer in ‘Light’, S$19.90

When this concealer finally made its way to Watsons, I literally squealed. I have heard nothing but rave reviews. The coverage is amazing with a thin consistency. However, I found that it looked a little dry under my eyes, despite having eye cream underneath. I felt that the tiny lines under my eyes were more prominent, even though it completely cancelled out my dark circles. I prefer the Maybelline Fit Me concealers instead. They are less heavy duty in terms of coverage, but far more hydrating and blendable. If dark circles aren’t a big issue for you, I suggest switching to the latter.


There you have it. Mini reviews of makeup products I’ve gone through. Safe to say, I have a brow addiction. I’m on a mission to use up more products because I can never completely finish up one thing before moving on to another. It’s an awful habit and something I am determined to get better at.

Here’s to more makeup related empties to come!

Empties #2 : Japanese Faves

Recently, I am making a point to use up my current rotation of products before buying any new ones. And so far, I  have been doing really well.

Japanese products are where it’s at when you want something that is effective and affordable. I initially fell in love with their “no-nonsense” approach to skincare, and slowly found myself in the middle of a Japanese product invasion – right down to the toothpaste I use.

It all started with my desire to use more affordable skincare, after finishing up my SK-II facial treatment essence. I found that with daily use, though effective, high-end skincare products are just too burdensome for my measly pockets to warrant repurchasing again and again. I realised that there were many offerings in the Japanese drugstore category that perform amazingly! *cough* Hada Labo *cough*

After using a couple items up, I thought I would do a small round up of my thoughts from using these products from start to end.


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1. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, S$99

Let’s begin with the item that kickstarted my Japanese product craze. I bought a trial pack of the coveted SK-II treatment essence after reading countless raves about this “miracle water“. Their patented ‘pitera‘ is made from fermented rice and is said to be the key ingredient in keeping your skin balanced and fight against aging. The trial pack came with an SK-II sheet mask and a 75ml bottle of their essence, which lasted me a long, long time (more than a year). I did see an improvement in my skin clarity and it does help balance my skin. My acne scars faded more quickly and overall, it was a great addition to my skincare routine. However, I found that there are now a lot of other essences, priced affordably, that feature their key ingredient ‘galactomyces saccharomyces ferment filtrate’, also known as ‘pitera’.

Therefore, currently I have switched out my SK-II for Missha’s First Treatment Essence and it has been working well. There were more visible results from the SK-II, but in terms of its anti-aging benefits, the Missha suffices.


2. Hada Labo Tamagohada Mild Peeling Lotion, $17.90

Speaking of essences and lotions, this Hada Labo one is absolute holy grail status for me. This is the 8th bottle I’ve gone through and needless to say I will continue to repurchase this amazing skincare item. For people with sensitive skin who want to exfoliate without irritation, this is your answer. I use this as a very mild exfoliating toner as it contains ‘gluconic acid’, a natural enzyme occurring in fruits and wine. On top on that it also has ‘tranexamic acid’ that helps to brighten the overall complexion (similar to ferulic acid).

As with all Hada Labo products, the pH is slightly acidic and perfect to protect your skin’s acid mantle, making this a suitable for all skin types. It doesn’t dry out the skin and can be used day and night, to prevent the build up of dead skin cells and clogging of pores. No nasty ingredients in this one. More importantly, it’s affordable and effective. I highly recommend.


3. Hada Labo Air Aqua UV Day Emulsion, SPF 50, PA+++, $19.90

While we are on the Hada Labo train, I finished up my holy grail sunscreen, also by the same brand. This is my second bottle that I’ve gone through and I already have a back up waiting. I can’t stress enough how much I love this SPF. It’s perfect for everyday, super lightweight and sits well under makeup. It comes in two formulations, one for oily/combination skin and the other for dry skin. I’ve tried both and both work well! The dry skin formulation is perfect for lazy girls that want to just slap on only one thing. It definitely can be used as both a moisturiser and SPF, thanks to the addition of skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, resveratrol and vitamin C.

I would repurchase this again and again. It’s alcohol free and fragrance free, perfect for sensitive and acne prone skin types that usually break out due to SPF. So affordable and beats a lot of high-end SPFs I’ve tried, even the coveted Shiseido/Kiehl’s ones.




4. LuLuLun 7 Days Premium Face Masks, $10.90

I’ve always had an issue with sheet masks, particularly the Korean ones that are over saturated with essences. I find them too rich for my oily skin to use on a regular basis, even though I want my skin receive the extra nutrients. So I stopped using sheet masks for years, until I was gifted this one by my best friend. The LuLuLun masks are super popular in Japan, not just due to its adorable packaging, but also because of its ‘daily mask’ concept. These masks are formulated to be used daily and come in a pack of 7, folded into one zip-lock bag. My prayers were answered with this one.

It has no alcohol and parabens. Everything in the ingredients list is lush. More importantly, the masks are saturated just enough to hydrate the skin deeply, without over burdening the skin or clogging it. It’s because it is more serum based and is formulated to be used every day. Thus, it’s much lighter. I use this every other day and I am loving the results. My skin is so much more radiant and plump. I managed to find a seller in Singapore that carries it, so I’m already on to my next packet.


5. BCL Tsururi Ghassoul Oil Cleansing, $18.90

I call this my underdog pick. I found this one at Tokyu Hands (a magical place by the way) and read the ingredients at the back. I had just finished my previous favourite oil cleanser, the Muji Mild Oil Cleansing, and was itching to try something new. This particular one drew me in because it is olive oil based, just like the Muji one, but has the added benefits of Moroccan lava clay, charcoal powder, honey, oat extract and organ oil. It comes out a black oil and takes off makeup like a dream. It’s more purifying than other cleansing oils, without leaving the skin feeling stripped. The clay and honey also helped my acne prone skin tremendously with its anti-bacterial properties.

The only drawback is that is comes in a measly 145ml bottle! Lasts roughly 2 months. I switched it out because of that but after a week of using something else, I came back to this one. My skin just loves it too much.


6. Ora 2 Stain Clear Premium in Aromatic Mint, $8.90

BEST. TOOTHPASTE. EVER. I know you’re thinking, it’s just toothpaste. How amazing can it be, right?


This stuff has SAVED my coffee-and-tea-stained teeth. If I had not found the Ora 2 Stain Clear range, I probably would have the yellowest teeth, known to man. Pirate-like. I initially tried the range because it has cool flavours like ‘peach mint’ and ‘apple & rose mint’. But then I realised how amazing it is at keeping my teeth looking white. Granted, it does not replace whitening strips. However, it’s amazing for daily maintenance and keeping stains at bay. Plus, I get compliments on my teeth and trust me, that wouldn’t be the case if I didn’t use this one. I’ve tried other whitening brands, but always go back to this one.


7. KOJI Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner in Brown, $24.90

As much I love Japanese products, I tend to use their skin and body care more than their makeup. But if there’s one thing the Japanese got down, it’s their eyeliner formulations. The Dolly Wink eyeliners have a brush, calligraphy tip and the most adorable polka-dot packaging. It lasts forever, even on my oily eye lids and is saturated with pigment. I tend to use brown liquid liner more than black because it offers a softer look, plus it’s less likely to show uneven wing liner application.

I love this one, and would probably go back to it. Though I am not particularly loyal to this brand yet. I feel any Japanese or Korean eyeliner would do the trick.



And there you have it! My recent Japanese empties. Loads of them I’ve already repurchased. Most are affordable and so effective. I am just enamoured by Japanese products currently.

Who knows which country I will be obsessed with next time.