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I became a beauty junkie when I was 15 and have tried a ton of products. Initially, I started off with drugstore ones, which were more inexpensive, because my pocket money was only so much. Haha. Then, I gradually dabbled a little into higher-end products but never fully went into them. The truth is, I think drugstore products can work just as well as their more expensive counterparts. It really depends on what your skin is like and the combination of ingredients that work well with it.

For me, I go for what works and fits my budget. My vanity area is filled with products from both affordable and luxurious brands and here’s my holy grail list from both sides of the coin:

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The Drugstore Favourites


Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (SGD14.90 for 250ml)

What it is: For all skin types, this mild and gentle cleanser does not irritate and cleanses your skin without stripping any natural oil. You can choose to rinse it off with water or just wipe it off with a cloth and leave a thin, moisturising film.

Why I love it: When I was a teenager, I had serious acne and tried all sorts of strong medication. The medication completely dried out my skin, so I wanted a gentle cleanser to balance things out a little and came across Cetaphil. And I have been using it ever since then. It is one of the very few cleansers out there that doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry and taut after cleansing.


Maybelline Eyestudio Master Precise Ink Pen Eyeliner

What it is: This felt tip liquid eyeliner comes with a 0.4mm brush for the ultimate precision. The spring cap ensures that formula is kept fresh and pigmented for a long time.

Why I love it: This was really a chance encounter. I dropped my opened eyeliner on the floor of Dublin two years ago, and had to randomly grab something off the shelves as a replacement. This “random purchase” ended up to be so good that I bought four backups when I was in Durham earlier this year. This eyeliner is ultra black, glides across the skin smoothly (No tugging!), doesn’t smudge, and stays on all day.

(Editor’s note: You can find a similar product, the Maybelline Eyestudio Hypersharp Laser Liner that comes with a 0.01mm tip at SGD19.90 in Singapore)


Skinfood Black Sugar Strawberry Wash-Off Mask

What it is: This scrub is choke-full of mineral-rich Brazilian black sugar, strawberry seeds and strawberry seeds oil to help gently exfoliate away debris and dead skin. It leaves your skin smooth and moisturised.

Why I love it: The sugar in this scrub aren’t coarse and kind of melt away as you scrub it. It washes off easily without any irritation and leaves my skin soft and smooth. There is a slight residue but it’s thin, comfy, moisturising and doesn’t stay. Sometimes, I leave it on as a mask for 10 minutes.

The High-End Ones


Ettusais BB Mineral Cream (SGD38)

What it is: With ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Glycerin and acne-preventing AC-Control Oil, this BB cream treats while providing coverage. It conceals pores and uneven skin tone, while controlling oil and preventing sun damage (SPF30 PA ++).

Why I love it: This is a huge favourite of mine right now, because it doesn’t emphasise the dryness of my face and hydrates it a little. It gives an almost porcelain doll-like complexion, with all redness, pores and small spots vanishing with a few taps. Of course, some of it wears off towards the end of the day, but my complexion still looks pretty fresh.

Fresh Sugar

Fresh Sugar Face Polish (SGD95)

What it is: Made with brown sugar and strawberry seeds, this hydrating scrub clarifies and moisturises for a crystal clear, glowing complexion.

Why I love it: Senior VP of Coty, Catherine Walsh raved about this in an old beauty interview and because she sounded so incredibly genuine and sincere about the goodness of this scrub, I promptly went to Sephora and bought a tub. No questions asked. And it is pretty amazing. My skin looks really clean after a good (gentle) scrub and feels moisturised and well, very pampered. (I have found a less expensive substitute for it later. Heh. It doesn’t feel as luxurious but hey, it’s only a fraction of the price.)


Rodin Olio Lusso Face Oil (USD158)

What it is: This facial oil is made from 11 essential oils derived from flowers and botanicals. It hydrates and leaves you with a radiant complexion.

Why I love it: This is a favourite among many in the beauty industry and after coming across it in only a gazillion interviews, I decided to get a bottle. A few drops go into my moisturiser and the next day, the redness in my face is calmed down, clarity improved, and my spots looked a little less angry. The only downside is that this really hurts the pocket. A whole lot. You can get this from net-a-porter.com.

Click to the next page to find out other drugstore and high-end favourites that have been raved about online.

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The Drugstore Favourites


Bioderma Créaline/Sensibio Micellar Water (SGD26.90 for 250ml)

This cleanser/makeup-remover cleans, soothes and calms irritated, sensitive skin. People love how gentle and effective it is at cleansing and removing makeup (No stinging when it comes to eye makeup!). Skin is left feeling fresh and not the least bit taut. The only gripe is that this is really expensive even though it’s a drugstore product.


Cure Natural Aqua Gel (SGD49) 

Touted as ‘Japan’s No. 1 Exfoliator’, this fragrance- and preservatives-free gel reacts with dead skin and removes them with gentle scrubbing. It removes blackheads and whiteheads easily, and makes the skin really smooth. Again, this is pretty pricey for a drugstore brand but you only need to use it once or twice a week.


Hada Labo Goku-jyun Clear Lotion (SGD22.90)

This lotion can be used alone or as a pre-step to your serums and moisturisers. The key ingredient is Super Hyaluronic Acid that helps to hydrate and retain moisture. It is gentle enough to be used on the neck too. This clears up the skin and gives you a radiant complexion.

The High-End Ones

lancome advanced genifique


Lancome Advanced Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate (SGD130 for 30ml)

Tapping on the power of gene science, this serum promises to make skin look and feel more youthful within seven days of application. Many users profess this has their holy grail serum that they can’t live without and others rave about how it helps make their skin much more hydrated.

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX (SGD115)

This is probably the most famous product by the brand because of how users who have tried it raved about its efficacy online. A first-step serum, this comprises of five precious medicinal herbs to boost skin’s natural defence and appearance.

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