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!

Must-haves : Japanese Skincare

As I mentioned in my previous visual diary episode, I wanted to do a round up of some awesome Japanese skincare I have fallen in love with. I go through phases with my skincare, moving from continent to continent. Currently, I am loving Japan’s simplistic approach, adorable packaging and affordable prices.

While I researched more on Japanese skincare, I found very few English sites that does reviews or provide information on Japanese products. It’s especially difficult as most products are entirely in Japanese, without translations.


Tip #1 : Find the item online, even on a Japanese site and cut and paste the ingredients to Google translate. It gives you a rough idea of what’s in the product, just in case you have any skin sensitivities. 


To cover every single Japanese product I love would take ages, so I will probably do a follow up on other things like haircare, makeup and so on. For now, I will pick out my favourites for each category that I think the Japanese excel in.


Here are my top picks.








Japanese sunscreens are where it’s at. Their formulations are always cutting edge, leaps and bounds ahead of others in the market. They are known for their light textures that never leave a white cast whilst providing the perfect base for makeup. My favourites are the Hada Labo Air Aqua UV Day Emulsion SPF 50 PA+++ (S$19.90) and Labo Labo Super-Moist UV-Cream 5H x 5C SPF 30 PA++ (S$21.90). Though they sound they same, they are actually from different companies. Both are drugstore Japanese skincare brands and very affordable. I love these two because they are light but can be used alone without a separate cream underneath. They are undetectable when applied on the skin and are alcohol free.

The Hada Labo one comes in two formulations, but my favourite is the fresh version that contains anti-aging ingredients such as vitamin C, resveratrol and hyaluronic acid. The Labo Labo version is a thicker cream texture, more like a traditional moisturiser that is formulated with 5 types of hyaluronic acid and collagen. Best sunscreens EVER!!



The Japanese are masters at formulating facial lotions. In Western terms, these lotions would be classified under toners. You would soak them on a cotton pad and use them after cleansing to prep the skin for serums and moisturiser as well as giving it added benefits and balance the skin’s pH levels. Japanese lotions come in all shapes and forms but I recently discovered the economical ones that come in giant half a litre bottles. These lotions are unbelievably inexpensive and actually have a simple, yet effective ingredients list.

The one I recommend would be the Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing Skin Care Lotion. The skincare line is based of a famous sake brewery in Japan and features sake as a skin care ingredient to help tone and brighten the skin. What’s mind-boggling is that this giant bottle costs S$14.90. An amazing budget buy that actually works. It comes in two versions. The Light version is great for hot weather as it is weightless and refreshing whilst the High Moist version has added ceramides to help provide extra moisture and is alcohol-free. Both are fantastic, though Singapore weather does better with the light version.

I can’t wait to try other giant bottles of Japanese lotions because they seriously make the best toners and are such money-savers.






Japanese skincare is big on gels and gel-cream formulations because they tend to prefer light, fast absorbing skincare that are great for layering. However, I do love a good night cream that helps lock all the moisture in while I sleep. After much searching, I found one that I am completely smitten with. Presenting the Keana Nadeshiko Rice Cream (S$27) ! This rich cream in housed in an adorable little orb that’ll look just so cute on your vanity. Keana Nadeshiko brand is known for tackling issues with pores using primarily natural ingredients such as baking soda and rice bran oil. This particular cream is packed with fermented sake, rice bran oil, rice bran extract and saccharomyces ferment (aka pitera).

I was initially worried that this would be too rich for my oily, acne-prone skin but I was pleased to find that it’s just right. The cream is luxurious to spread on the skin but sinks in very well. I wake up to plump skin despite using acids and acne treatments on a daily basis. I cannot recommend it enough. I was so pleasantly surprised how much I fell for this product. My only complain would be that it’s a more pricey product and the jar is rather tiny with only 30 grams of product. The results are worth it though.



LOVE Japanese masks. I have written an ode to Japanese sheet masks, which you can read here for an extensive list of my favourites. The one I consistently repurchase again and again are the LuLuLun Masks (S$8.90). They are inexpensive and tackle different concerns depending on which colour you picked. The ones I love most is the brightening mask that comes in a silver packaging.

Another awesome thing is that these masks are so affordable. Even more so than the korean ones. Enough said.



I know this is something you wouldn’t really think is a big deal. But for a girl with oily skin, oil blotters are LIFE SAVERS. I am never without it, ever. I have one packet with me at all times to help me absorb excess oil and keep my face looking fresh. The best kind are the paper ones, and the Japanese variety are just the best of the best. Japanese blotting papers are revolutionary because they absorb oil so well and do not disturb any makeup you have underneath. I find that the plastic film types tend to lift my foundation and leave my face looking patchy. So now, I will only use paper.

The Japanese oil paper blotter are very affordable. No matter the price, they all work the same. If ever you are at a Japanese store or in Japan, I say stock up!


Cotton Pads 

A necessity that no one cares for. Cotton pads are rather dull, really. So no one ever wants to talk about them. However, I am incredibly picky when it comes to my cotton pads. I hate cheap cotton balls or squares that shed lint all over my face. Some that are too thin to hold and deposit your skincare properly. That is not to say that you should splurge on “luxury cotton”.

Japanese cotton pads are on another level. They are so soft, never shed and are designed to be a delivery system for your skincare. And they are affordable to boot! While many rave on and on about the coveted Shiseido cotton pads, I very much prefer the Muji Unbleached Cotton variety. They are identical to the Shiseido ones in terms of thickness, softness and never shedding. Fortunately they are cheaper. But the ones I repurchase the most are Silcot brand. The Silcot Lintfree Cotton Pads (S$4) feel like pillows on your face, I tend to use that for hydrating toners. The Silcot Uru Uru Sponge pads (S$4) are my favourite for acid toners (or really expensive toners) because they help you use 50% less toner. Truly I can attest to that. It’s a sponge-like pad that gets really soaked with very little product, which really help stretch your skincare product for longer.

It is AMAZING. I can’t be without this now. Otherwise I feel like I’m wasting so much product.




And there you have it! If you ever visit Japan and are overwhelmed with the plethora of beauty products, try these out or go for the categories I’ve highlighted.

It’s so amazing that you can get such great quality and results at drugstore prices. I can never justify buying a 50 dollar cream anymore, when the Japanese have such superior formulas for so much less.

Try them out and let me know!

Sheet Mask Smackdown!

Sheet masks have never been my thing.

I have and will always be a clay mask kind of girl. Thanks to my oily, acne prone skin, I found lots of sheet masks overbearing on my skin. Particularly Taiwanese & Korean ones that are absolutely DRIPPING in essence. So much that there is usually a pool of excess essence left in the packet, which is a good thing that people tend to look for. However, for me, it’s just too much.

Most masks are so saturated that it feels as if they are slipping and sliding off my face. The essence is so thick that it feels as if it isn’t penetrating my skin. Thus, I hated “patting” in the goo after I have removed the mask from my face. Often times, I end up breaking out.

As I grew older though, my skin has definitely changed. It’s now more combination oily. Plus, after using retinol, my skin does get dry and I have to be more diligent about hydration.


With new formulations and new brands, I decided to give sheet masks another shot.






LuLuLun Masks, US$3.90-$19

This is my first introduction into Japanese sheet masks. My best friend, Diyanah, brought back a pack for me from Japan. Their masking concept is slightly different because there are 7 sheets in a pack and it is meant for DAILY use. Though it sounds excessive, these masks are perfectly formulated for that. They are thin cotton masks that are saturated in a cocktail of skin-loving ingredients. The keyword here is “saturated” but not soaking, sopping wet. It’s perfect for oily skinned girls like me who can’t stand rich textures. The LuLuLun masks are hydrating and emollient, but not occlusive.

I’ve tried a bunch, my favourite being the brightening one that comes in a silver packet. The moisturizing range is bit heavy for me, so I do find that I have to rinse my face after use, to get rid of any residue. They are alcohol free, which is very important for me and have a short but effective ingredients list. If you are confused as to what is in the different ranges and colours, I found a blog that explains the different types you can get here.

Best of all, they are so inexpensive at less than 10 bucks a pack.


Leaders Insolution & Mediu Masks, S$3-$9.90

The hype on these masks are real. The Leaders masks are well-loved globally. They are pretty pricey, but boast immediate results. I have tried two types and I have to say that I really do like both (insolution & media amino masks). It brightens and any acne I have going on is visibly less red and irritated. The cotton used in these masks is thicker and more plush than the LuLuLun ones. They cling to the skin better and have a better, more luxurious fit on my face.

As expected, I had to wash off the residue after taking off the mask because korean mask formulas are just too moisturizing for my skin. But the results are still noticeable. This would be a special occasion mask for me. Perhaps if my skin is experiencing a bad breakout or is generally looking a little rough, I would splurge on a sheet as a treat.




Naruko Snail Essence Hydra Repair Masks, S$29.90

This Taiwanese drugstore skincare brand always impresses me with their ingredients list. It is packed with botanical extracts and effective ingredients, whilst omitting alcohol, parabens and other nasties. I’ve heard great things about their snail essence mask and I was not disappointed.

First thing you will notice is how incredibly slimy the mask is. Absolutely dripping with snail goo, which isn’t the most appealing thing to slap on your face. But once you get over that, the mask itself is thick and stays wet for a very long time. There is a rather strong fragrance – a notable downside for me. It’s very cooling and this treatment can be left on longer than all the masks I’ve tried.

The essence does drip around a bit so be warned, it can get messy. The result is worth the slimy hassle because I was left with clarified and calm skin. It really helped with my hyper pigmentation and acne scars. It’s another special occasion type mask but it’s great stuff!


Japan Gals Pure 5 Essence Masks, S$24.90

This is, I daresay, my HOLY GRAIL sheet mask. I found this Japanese sheet mask on a whim at John Little. It has a similar concept to the LuLuLun masks in the sense that they are meant for daily use and come in large packs of 7 to 30. Personally, I have never heard of this brand, but what peaked my interest was the simplicity of the ingredients list. It’s very simple, without any alcohol or parabens, featuring 5 main ingredients that make up majority of the formulation. Due to the lack of parabens, the masks have to be used up within 2 months of opening. That pushes me to use them daily and oh my god.

My skin has never been better. The masks come in a giant resealable bag, with plastic tweezers to take a sheet out, making it more sanitary. The cotton masks themselves are of a thicker, more plush cotton than the LuLuLun and they have a larger surface area as well. This is one of the very few masks that completely absorbs into my skin, leaving zero residue. I can put on moisturizer and makeup as soon as I am done masking, without feeling sticky or slimy. With regular use, my skin tone is SO much clearer and even toned. So even that I have been going out without a shred of foundation or concealer. It’s liberating.

I highly recommend this mask for anyone with oily or dull skin. They offer a wide range addressing different skin concerns. It’s relatively inexpensive considering there are 30 sheets in the pack. But keep in mind that these are meant for daily use.


For what it’s worth, unwinding everyday for 10 mins with a little pamper routine like this can do more good for you than your skin. Treat yourself!