When it comes to working in the beauty world, a big part of our job is trying and testing the latest beauty products and gadgets.
Both an enviable perk and occasional occupational hazard, this privilege also means that it’s a constant revolving door for our beauty routine. We rarely make it to the very dregs of any product, so when we do, you can bet that it’s a a real winner – even more so if we decide to repurchase.
So to round up the crazy weird year that is 2020, we’ve checked in with some of our favourite makeup pros and beauty insiders on their beauty haul that have outlasted the hype and made their way to the vanity tables as must-have staples.
Ahead, check out the slew of products that we, along with our beauty industry friends, have come to love and cherish this 2020.
Gucci Beauty Rouge à Lèvres Mat Matte Lipstick
“This is fast becoming one of my beauty empties and I’ve just been trying to savour every use I get out of it before it runs out. I find myself reaching out for this so much because it doesn’t ever smudge even though I wear it under my mask. I also really love how the colour is so vivid yet it doesn’t dry out my lips.” – Kristen, editorial director
Gucci Beauty Rouge à Lèvres Mat Matte Lipstick retails for S$53 at all Gucci Beauty counters and Sephora stores as well as online at Sephora.sg.
Sacheu Beauty Complete Toolkit – Gua Sha + Facial Roller
“Until late this year, I wasn’t aware that the typical materials used to make gua sha tools and facial rollers, such as jade or rose quartz, actually have the potential to transfer unwanted germs onto the skin.
So when one of my favourite beauty YouTubers, Sarah Cheung, spoke about it and then went on to create a stainless steel facial roller and gua sha tool, I knew I had to pick them up for myself. Stainless steel isn’t porous and has a self-cooling effect, which is said to be much better for your skin in the long run.
I try to use the facial roller daily and the gua sha tool once or twice a week. It’s still too soon to tell for now, but my face does look a bit more lifted than before after I started using the beauty tools more regularly with the guidance of Sarah’s mini tutorial.” – Jade, senior writer
Sacheu Beauty Complete Toolkit – Gua Sha + Facial Roller retails for approx. S$86.26 (US$65) online.
IGK Antisocial Overnight Bond-Building Dry Hair Mask
“I started using this after its launch and have replenished a couple of bottles this year to make sure I don’t run out of it. I simply can’t live without leave-on hair mask spray – I use it at night and it makes my hair look like it just had a salon blowout when I wake.
I literally don’t brush my hair as much now after using this spray because it just magically smooths out all the kinks. I’ve even recommended it to friends who are looking for solutions for their frizzy, undernourished locks.” – Lynnett, senior writer
IGK Antisocial Overnight Bond-Building Dry Hair Mask retails for S$52 at Sephora and on Sephora.sg.
Hada Labo Hydrating Premium Lotion
“It’s a watery lotion but I rely on this as my moisturiser instead as most creams are too rich for my skin.
Not only is this the perfect nighttime moisturiser for me, one bottle also lasts me a good year as I only need very little of it for the entire face and neck so I’m glad I managed to stock up during last month’s 11.11 sale!
It’s free of fragrances, absorbs quickly, and doesn’t leave a sticky residue, what more could I ask for in a holy grail moisturiser?” – Gwendolyn, editorial intern
Hada Labo Hydrating Premium Lotion retails for S$24.90 on Watsons.
Supergoop! Glowscreen Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Primer SPF 40 PA+++
“Besides its relatively high sun protection and light coverage, I love that it gives me a glow that helps my skin look more ‘alive’ and moisturised.
With that in mind, I do think it may not be suitable for those with oily skin because it does leave my skin looking slightly greasy by midday – I get around this by dabbing my skin with blotting tissue and the natural glow will look great once again.
Another thing that I love about this product is how it stays put even with perspiration, which is an extremely important factor that I look out for in a sunscreen.” – Melissa, campaign executive
Supergoop! Glowscreen Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Primer SPF 40 PA+++ retails for S$25 (15ml) and S$55 (50ml) at Sephora and online at Sephora.sg.
Etude House Drawing Eye Brow
“I never leave the house without getting my brows done, and this has been one of my go-to brow product this year. It’s super easy to use and very affordable that I’ve replenished it three times this year – that’s how much I like the eyebrow pencil.” – Clarabelle, campaign executive
Etude House Drawing Eye Brow retails for S$17.70 (for three pieces) on Shopee.
Too Cool For School Caviar Lime Hydra Moist Cream
“This was an impulse buy on a trip to Korea but I ended up loving it so much! The texture melts into a semi-matte gel and it has a slight cooling sensation, which I love because it just keeps my skin refreshingly cool, hydrated, and not as oily throughout the day.” – Kuan Yee, senior business development executive
Too Cool For School Caviar Lime Hydra Moist Cream retails for S$33.15 on Shopee.
Huangjisoo Green Caviar Comfort Balancing Toner
“I have eczema-prone skin, so finding a toner that suits my skin has been quite a daunting task until I found this one by Huangjisoo. I find that it works great for sensitive skin as it soothes while giving your skin the moisture it needs.” – Pei Ying, business development executive
Huangjisoo Green Caviar Comfort Balancing Toner retails for S$26.93 on iHerb.
The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask
“This purifying mask is quite underrated compared to other cult favourites, but I think this is a much more affordable alternative which delivers the same results. Unlike other clay masks out there that usually come with a smooth clay texture, this one actually has fine granules and even bits of charcoal which I really like.” – Jessica, marketing intern
B.glen C Serum
“I use this nightly before bed and I just love how it smoothens my skin and lets me wake up to a fresh, radiant complexion the next morning.” – Keith, business and product director
B.glen C Serum retails for S$67 online.
Ahava Men’s Exfoliating Cleansing Gel
“This does the trick of removing dead skin and excess sebum effectively without being too harsh. After using it, my skin feels smooth and refreshingly clean – I also love the subtle, neutral scent that the product comes with.” – Leslie, partnerships manager
Ahava Men’s Exfoliating Cleansing Gel retails for S$46 online.
Roseanne Tang, makeup artist and founder of Bloom Pro Academy
“On top of my list is the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder (S$80 from Sephora). This literally gives you a complete filter finish on your face. After your makeup, dust it on all over with a powder brush and you get this beautiful pearlescent finish on your face. I’ve bought and finished so many of these and I haven’t been able to find any dupe for this powder at all.
I also love the Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam Eyeshadow Palette (S$81 from Sephora). This palette is one of the best – it has a great selection of everyday colors and the pigmentation is soft and full coverage. I’d say that it’s a really good and safe palette to get.
The Chanel Le Blanc Rosy Light Drops (S$85 at Chanel boutiques and counters) is my all-time favourite highlight-and-primer in one single bottle. You can apply this just before your foundation for an amazingly soft glow that stands out in a just a nice, subtle way.
I am also in love with the Make Up For Ever Matte Velvet Skin Concealer (S$45 from Sephora). It really helps to cover and smooth out the area without looking dry. Using this, you will look completely flawless and the coverage lasts really long too. However, it is matte in texture so those with dry skin might want to steer clear from it. Otherwise, it has one of the best finishes for a concealer – I’d say that it’s even better than one of its most popular counterparts.
Another concealer I have on rotation is the Too Faced Born This Way Super Coverage Multi-Use Concealer (S$48 from Sephora). It’s my all-time favourite concealer that offers high coverage but doesn’t look dry at all. It’s super easy to use, which makes it great as an everyday option.”
Sha Shamsi, makeup artist and hairstylist
“Caudalie Beauty Elixir (S$24 for 30ml; S$72 for 100ml from Sephora) is one of the beauty products that I’ve used and replenished time and time again. It’s not the the refreshing aroma that I love, it’s also how the formula softens the skin and can even double as a setting spray to hold makeup in place.
For lips, I like to alternate between Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF30 (S$28 at Kiehl’s boutique and online) and Chanel Hydra Beauty Nutrition Nourishing Lip Care (S$58 at Chanel boutiques and TANGS) – both of these work magic for dry lips.
Another item on my list is the Dior Backstage Custom Eye Palette (S$83 from Dior boutiques and Sephora). I just love how usable all the neutral colours are that they can work for literally any skin tone.
I’m also in love with the Chanel Ultra Le Teint Foundation (S$88 at Chanel boutiques and TANGS) – not only does the formula last long even in our humid climate, the foundation has quite a wide range of colours to choose from too.
Last but certainly not least is the M.A.C Studio Conceal and Correct Palette (S$40 at M.A.C stores). When I use it on any client, the finish is really impressive and I also like how it’s so easily buildable during times when I need more coverage.”
Diana Ong, founder of PR agency The PR People and former beauty editor
“I’ve got to start with the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream (S$50 for 15ml; S$150 for 50ml from Sephora); it seriously gives the best feeling ever when you apply it on your skin – I am into my third jar this year. It may look scarily thick but it actually sinks into skin so fast, leaving a comfortable, velvety afterfeel that doesn’t feel heavy at all.
When I use it, my skin feels super pampered and looks radiant enough that I don’t need anything else to get it ready for makeup! It does have a hefty price tag but it’s such an indulgence for your skin that I get why it’s a cult classic now.
Next on my list is the D Program Moist Care Lotion (S$40.90 from Watsons). When my skin flares up, I try to give it a break and simplify my skincare routine rather than add on extra skincare steps.
So on days when I feel like my skin throwing a tantrum (it gets all bumpy with new pimples and looks like a tired parent), I soothe it with this lotion from D Program which, by the way, is the top sensitive skincare brand in Japan.
This watery lotion provides hydration and feels super weightless on the skin, I can literally feel my skin calm down so quickly afterwards. I went through a bottle in a blink of an eye when I had maskne a while back this year because I just wanted to keep splashing my skin with it for the cooling and calming effects.
The pandemic gave us an opportunity to reassess our skincare routine and for me, I fortified mine with the IDS C-Plus (S$160.50 from IDS’ e-store; use DV-exclusive promo code ‘DVJYX15‘ for 15% off). This is such an awesome vitamin C serum in my book because I feel like there’s nothing it doesn’t do – it brightens, fights acne, reduces lines, and is just such a great multi-tasker to have in any skincare regimen. I always get compliments about my skin when I am diligently using it, so that’s how I also know it works.
Pre-pandemic, I didn’t want makeup to budge through the day, and post-pandemic, I didn’t want it to get all over my mask. So M.A.C Prep + Prime Fix+ (S$37 from M.A.C stores and Sephora) has been a staple in my routine and is my go-to last step in making sure makeup stays where it is and does not slip or smear. I trust this to help my makeup stay put, especially on days when you have nine back-to-back virtual meetings on Zoom.”
Larry Yeo, makeup artist
“Heure Beauty Ageless Serum (S$190 from Heure Beauty) has done great things to my skin’s hydration level. In fact, this serum offers three components that I know my skin needs: hydration, peptide regeneration (with their amazing skincare technology), and antioxidant protection.
Another serum that I enjoy using is the Est Serum O.N.E. (S$180 from Isetan, refillable). I’ve been using their original skincare kickstarting treatment, Dodai Essence, for about a year and this is the amplified, grown-up version of the Dodai. I find that it helps step up my subsequent skincare products, which is exactly what it’s designed to do.
SPF protection is a non-negotiable for me and currently, I have the Anessa and D Program sunscreens (both available at Watsons) on rotation. I’ve gone through two to three bottles of each now simply because both these formulas give me great sun protection as well as that soft matte finish that is sweat-resistant.
Whenever I know I have to don a face mask for more than four hours, I reach for the Derma Lab Lumiclar Mandelic Renewal Serum (S$59.90 from Watsons) and I use it under my mask – it keeps my maskne at bay and even accelerates the healing of my pimple marks!
As a makeup artist, I cannot not have M.A.C items on my list. The Studio Fix 24-Hour Smooth Wear Concealer and Eye Brows Big Boost Fibre Gel (S$41 each from M.A.C stores and Sephora) are my favourite.
The concealer works great and grips well on my skin without budging at all, while the brow gel – I use the Fling shade – keeps my arches in excellent shape even after an intense HIIT class. I’ve already repurchased twice for both items this year – that’s how much I love these in my routine.
The Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray (S$50 from Clinique counters and Sephora) is one of my favourite products of all time – I’ve been purchasing it since its launch and have never regretted adding it in my routine!”
Candy Tiong, makeup artist, hairstylist, brow and lash artist, and founder of A2i Makeup
“On days when I need to dress up my eyes, I reach for the Lancôme Hypnôse Start Waterproof Mascara (S$50 from Lancôme counters) – it does a great job at lengthening my lashes, plus it’s waterproof and smudge-proof.
For daily use, I like the Decorté AQ Radiant Glow Lifting Liquid Foundation (S$167 from Metro). I love that it blends really well onto my skin and has plenty of skincare benefits to boot.
Another favourite of mine is the Decorté Sun Shelter Water Resistant Sunscreen (S$58 from Isetan). It offers high sun protection – that’s SPF50+ PA++++ – yet feels featherlight once it’s applied on the skin.
Dr. Innoderm Post LaserCooling Ampoule Mask (S$50 from Shopee) is my trusted sheet mask that I have around to perk up tired skin. Immediately after usage, my skin feels super hydrated and even looks brighter!
The MD Miraculous V3 Peptide Eyelash Tonic + Essence (S$60 from eBay) is a hidden gem that I found on my trip to Seoul. I love that this formula helps lengthen and reinforce my non-existent lashes so well that they have become thicker and stronger.”
Cheryl Ow, makeup artist
“The Dior Rouge Dior Ultra Care Liquid in 999 (S$52 from Dior boutiques and Sephora) is my favourite shade of red from the brand. This liquid lipstick, with its almost mousse-like texture, feels light on the lips, and I like to blot it with tissue paper to take away the excess so that it leaves a beautiful matte stain after. Also, the scent is divine.
Meanwhile, It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream SPF 50 (S$62 from Sephora) is my go-to daily makeup base. I literally use my fingers to spread it all over my face, that’s how easy it is. It’s got a very buildable coverage, and I like to tap a little extra product on areas that need a bit more help. With this, I look like I have a naturally fresh complexion that still looks it’s my real skin.
I bleached my hair several times this year to get a grey shade, which I subsequently dyed it purple then bleached it again to make it pink. Yes, my hair’s been through quite the transformation this year which is why I’m glad I had the Olaplex No. 6 Bond Smoother and No. 7 Bonding Oil (S$46 each from Sephora).
This duo saved my over-processed, hay-like hair and made it look decent and healthy when it actually was not. I’ve since toned it down to a basic brown crown and with these products working their magic on my hair, no one was any the wiser.
NuFace Mini (S$308 from CurrentBody) is my new beauty toy which I absolutely love. With this gizmo, I can actually feel the micro currents when I use it on my face. If you do it on one side of the face first, I can assure you that you’ll see the difference when you compare it to the untreated side.
Rounding off my list is the holy grail that everybody loves, the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex Serum (S$224 for 75ml from Estée Lauder boutiques and Sephora, four other sizes available). I’ve finally tried it this year and truthfully, my skin looked clearer the next morning.
I remember staring in the mirror for quite a while and telling myself that this serum really does work! The texture is so lightweight that my skin absorbs it within seconds. I must say, I’m not a fan of how it smells but you know what? This stuff works, so I’ll gladly accept the funky scent.”