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You’ve probably seen these beauty products being raved about on the Internet, and went out to get one to try for yourself. But then you realise that the product isn’t working like many reviewers said, and you just can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there!

When a product you’re so excited to try and see results with doesn’t live up to your expectations, it can be such a disappointment. But what if we told you that perhaps, the product isn’t working because you may not using it the correct way?

Understanding how to use and apply your beauty products play a huge role in their effectiveness and how well the result turns out. Here are 10 holy grail products that people often use wrongly – go through the list and see if you’re guilty of any of these mistakes!

1. How to use Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil

Different Cleanser Types Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil

Facial cleansing oils are known for keeping oily skin hydrated and balanced, while keeping dry skin smooth and moisturised. Besides removing makeup and impurities for clear skin, cleansing oils are also the more gentle and moisturising alternative as compared to soaps and face washes. The cleansing oil ritual that has been advocated by Mr. Shu Uemura and he and the brand made it popular. It’s without a doubt that Shu Uemura’s line of cleansing oils are among their bestsellers and there are many who swear by it.

The most common mistake when it comes to using Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil (or any of its cleansing oil) is that people simply apply it all over their faces and then rinse off right after. A crucial step that many tend to miss would be emulsifying the oil with water.

Here’s how you can emulsify the oil properly: after you’ve massaged the oil onto your face, wet your hands and then massage again so the oil on your face turns milky. Then, you can finally rinse it off and you’ll find that your makeup has been removed effortlessly, and you no longer feel the grease from the oil. Instead, your skin feels soft, smooth, and hydrated.

Available at Sephora (S$165).

2. How to use The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

The Ordinary Aha 30% + Bha 2% Peeling Solution

With its no frills packaging, active ingredients, affordable prices, and amazing reviews, it’s no wonder that The Ordinary has taken the world by storm.  If you’ve discovered the brand through social media, you’ve probably seen beauty gurus drop this red, sticky liquid all over their face – well, they’re using the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is an exfoliating solution to help fight visible blemishes and improve the look of skin texture and radiance. Combining 30-percent AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and two-percent BHA (beta hydroxy acid) to diminish the look of blemishes, it has been touted as a holy grail product throughout the beauty community.

The most common application mistake made by many is to use this product too often, or to leave it on for too long.

This solution contains very powerful ingredients, so avoid using it more than once a week as it could strip away your skin and cause skin sensitivity overtime. As tempting as it may be to leave the solution on longer than you should to “get the most out of it”, resist doing that! Doing so might cause stinging and further irritation on the skin, so make sure to wash it off in 10 minutes as stated on the bottle. Don’t forget to moisturise after too!

Available at Lazada (S$22.80).

3. How to use SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

Skii Facial Treatment Essence

While essences may have a similar texture to toners, they play a vastly different role of hydrating and nourishing your skin. The SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is one of the holy grail products that come up whenever the beauty community discusses about essences. Its star ingredient is Pitera, which makes up more than 90% of the essence’s content. Users love it as they say that the product encourages cell regeneration, reverses signs of ageing, and rejuvenates the texture of their skin. This treatment essence also works to balance the skin’s pH and sebum secretion, ensuring that oily and dry areas are properly moisturised.

The most common application mistake made when using the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is rubbing in the product with a cotton pad.

Unlike a toner, the essence doesn’t offer any cleansing benefits so it doesn’t require the use of a cotton pad. While it technically still does the application job, using a cotton pad can cause unnecessary friction on the skin, which in turn cause wrinkles and sagging, so you’d definitely want to avoid that.

Instead, use the patting technique, which is more gentle as it doesn’t tug or pull at your skin, and has the added bonus of helping with blood circulation.

For best results, pour about 2-3 drops of the essence onto your palms, then gently pat over face and neck for even coverage. 

Available at Watsons (S$231.20) and Sephora (S$289).

4. How to use Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum

Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum

The Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum is the brand’s best-selling moisturising serum. With 100% Fresh Green Tea Water 2.0™ extracted from the Beauty Green Tea leaf, it super-quenches your skin for exceptional hydration.

The Beauty Green Tea is a specialising moisturising ingredient developed after the study of more than 2,000 Korean green tea varieties. Fresh Green Tea Water 2.0™ is made by extraction of nourishing ingredients of fresh beauty green tea leaves, and has 3.5 times more enriching properties than the original green tea water with 16 kinds of amino acids, to provide excellent moisturising benefits to the skin.

Because of its name, many mistake this serum has one that is to be used right before moisturiser. Actually, this is a “first-care serum” (a K-beauty term for serums that help boost the efficacies of other products) and is to be used right after cleansing.

For proper use, immediately after cleansing, gently towel-dry your face and apply 2-3 pumps of the Green Tea serum. This replenishes your skin with the necessary moisture and oil for a soft, glowing complexion. This serum should also be the first step in your skincare routine to help subsequent products be more effectively absorbed.

Available at Innisfree stores and Shopee Mall (S$37).

5. How to use Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Ultra Light Refreshing Moisture Booster

Eucerin Hyaluron Filler Ultra Light Refreshing Moisture Booster

The Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Ultra Light Moisture Booster is designed to boost complexion by delivering a hydrating treatment to thirsty, dull complexions, supporting a supple and fresh finish. The lightweight gel contains two highly concentrated forms of Hyaluronic Acid blend with Glycerin to help draw moisture from the surrounding area into the skin, promoting a plump and healthy-looking visage.

It’s important to apply The Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Ultra Light Moisture Booster before your other serums because the Hyaluronic Acid helps every other active ingredient get deeper into your skin by drawing it in. One pro-tip for applying skincare products is to go from the more watery to oily products in that sequence, as products with a lighter consistency will absorb better.

If you have a facial oil (like oil-based moisturisers) in your routine, make sure to use this product first then layer your facial oils. If you don’t, the water-based hyaluronic acid cannot penetrate through the oil, and is effectively useless because it’ll just be sitting on top of the barrier formed by the oil.

Available at Lookfantastic (S$45) and Watsons (S$48.30).

6. How to use The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Another fan-favourite, The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum is an oil-free, alcohol-free and silicone-free formulation made up of a high concentration (10%) of Niacinamide, also known as Vitamin B3, and additional Zinc (1%). This bestselling serum is a must-have for oily and acne-prone skin, promising to help clear congested complexions and minimise the appearance and severity of blemishes.

However, if you find that the serum is pilling, over-foaming or feels too soapy, you could be using too much of the product – a common mistake that many users are guilty of. 2-3 drops should be more than sufficient, and you’ll want to gently pat the serum onto your skin with your fingers instead of rubbing it on with a cotton pad.

You might also be building a skincare routine with Vitamin C, which is known to improve uneven skin tones and fight against pigmentation. However, it is important to note that The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum and Vitamin C should not be mixed together, as mixing these two products can cause it to turn into Niacin, causing redness and tingling.

If you’d still like to have Vitamin C and Niacinamide in your routine, you could apply them at alternate times, with The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum during daytime and your Vitamin C product in the evening.

Available at Amazon (S$17.90).

7. How to use La-Roche Posay Effaclar Duo

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo

Known for their dermatological skincare solutions targeted towards sensitive skin, La-Roche Posay’s products are trusted by those with eczema, acne, and skin allergies. Their best-selling La-Roche Posay Effaclar Duo is a hydrating and mattifying gel-cream that claims to help rapidly clear existing spots, prevent their reappearance and limit the risk of marks. This spot treatment is formulated with 5.5% micronized benzoyl peroxide and micro-exfoliating lipo-hydroxy acid that tackles acne blemishes, pimples, blackheads and whiteheads.

Spot treatments work most effectively when the pimple itself has been extracted, so that the ingredients from the spot treatment can seep into the pores and disinfect the area from the root. If the pimple is not extracted yet, all you’re doing is drying out the surface layer of the skin.

When using this product as a spot treatment, make sure to apply a moisturiser first. By taking care of the skin barrier and keeping it hydrated, the benzoyl peroxide will work more effectively.

Available at Watsons (S$42.90).

8. How to use Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion

Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion

The Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion is a cushion foundation that promises a long-lasting, slim fit cover, and glowing finish.

Ever wondered why using the Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion makes your makeup look cakey despite being touted as one of the best K-beauty lightweight foundations? A lot of times, your makeup could look cakey because of the rubbing motions used to apply with either a brush or fingers. By doing so, you’re creating micro-exfoliation, which lifts and balls up dead skin cells, causing the cakey look.

With this cushion foundation, all you have to do is gently pat the puff onto your skin for a more airbrushed look. For areas that require more coverage, simply pat on another layer!

Available at all Sulwhasoo boutiques and counters, as well as Sephora (S$80).

9. How to use Benefit Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain

Benefit Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain

Benefit’s Multi-functional Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain is a perennial favourite and a classic holy grail. The rose-tinted lip and cheek stain is sheer and buildable, and also transfer-proof (which is exactly what we’re looking for in a longwear lip colour).

However, this means that when it’s used as a blush, the stain needs to be dotted onto cheeks and blended with fingers immediately. If you find that there’s random red spots on your cheek no matter how hard you’ve tried to blend it out, that’s probably because you’ve left it on for too long!

Available at Sephora (S$31).