Our Favourite Beauty Products: The July Edition

If you’ve been busy travelling in the past month (or will soon hit the road), this month’s instalment of beauty reviews is for you. From an anti-ageing essence to a calming gel mask (great for after-sun), convenient yet potent makeup remover wipes and a scalp sunscreen, the editors at ELLE Singapore tried and reviewed a bunch of new beauty products while on-the-go:

1. Bichup First-Care Essence by The History of Whoo (S$142)

Photograph by Gregory Woo
Photograph by Gregory Woo

What It Is: An essence that’s meant to be worn over fresh, bare skin (aka first-care, or first-step care, a concept that’s popular in Japanese and Korean beauty cultures). Claimed benefits are aplenty: hydration, radiance, promotes blood circulation to the superficial layers of the skin, de-puffs water retention, soothes redness—altogether termed anti-ageing. While the product usually comes in a simple, gold-toned bottle (S$122 from Tangs), pictured above is this year’s iteration of the essence’s annual limited edition packaging—emblems of flowers hand carved and painted into a weighty, white porcelain body.

What We Say: For the first four days that I incorporated this essence into my skincare routine—it became the first thing I put on my face post-cleanse, morning and night—I couldn’t see what it was supposed to do for me. Even scrutinising my skin with my eyeball just a few inches from the mirror wouldn’t let me in on the magic of this non-tacky, fast-absorbing brown liquid, until the fifth day where my complexion looked a little brighter. I’ve been told to give skincare at least two weeks in general to yield, but for someone whose routine is a grand total of two steps (cleanse and moisturise!), it’s just not life-changing—or rather, skin-changing—enough for me. That said, I’m still spending 30 seconds, twice a day, rubbing this into my face and waiting for the slow burn to ignite. You’ll hear from me if it does.

2. Red Barley Whitening Gel Mask by 23.5°N (S$33)

Photograph by Gregory Woo
Photograph by Gregory Woo

What It Is: A lightweight day and night whitening gel mask by the clean Taiwanese skincare brand, 23.5°N. With the key ingredient red barley, accompanied by a dozen other low-risk ingredients, this mask promises to brighten out dull and fatigued skin, even out uneven skin tones, pigmentation, and zit scars. While this mask has been around in Taiwan for a while now, it’s now retailing in Singapore at the local clean beauty multi-label online store, Peau Peau

What We Say: The gel is way thicker than it appears to be. Upon application, it leaves a thick layer of goo behind so you look like you have a megawatt gloss on your face. “Icky,” I initially thought. Yet, the dry-down was surprisingly fast. In barely five minutes, the layer of gel disappeared totally, leaving behind a matte finish on my skin. “Wow, let’s see if it holds up.” 

It did—and very well at that. Onboard flights, my sorely dry skin usually flakes and cracks. With this gel mask on, nothing happened to my skin—no flaking, no cracking, not on the face nor the neck and chest (where I applied the mask) by the end of a four-hour flight. Bravo.

3. Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist (S$65)

Photograph by Gregory Woo
Photograph by Gregory Woo

What It Is: Formulated for dry to normal skin types, this is a face mist that’s meant to hydrate, soften, and refresh the skin with or without makeup. It comes in a beautiful scent of rose essential oils (sensitive and eczema skin types please be cautious).

What We Say: My favourite thing is the ombre of the glass bottle which holds Jurlique’s series of newly reformulated mists. I tried the Rosewater variant which calmed and soothed my skin, giving it a boost of mid-day moisture (mattifying to boot!). Unfortunately, that’s where the pros end. We’re (not just me) not entirely fond of the nozzle which dispenses the product with such force we’d almost say it’s more of a spurt than a mist. As refreshing as it was, when makeup was applied over it, the mist managed to dissolve my concealer, leaving behind a streaky mess that wasn’t quite what I had hoped for.

The Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist (100ml) is available at Jurlique Plaza Singapura.

4. Lip Balm by Fenty Beauty (S$28)

Photograph by Tung Pham
Photograph by Tung Pham

What It Is: A peach-vanilla scented lip balm with a non-greasy formula that promises to hydrate, soften and smoothen chapped lips. The applicator brush’s supposedly unlike any other in the market—more “luxe”. Product omes in a squeeze-y plastic tube. 

What We Say: I’ve always had insanely chapped lips, so I’m always trying out new lip balms. I do have a love-hate relationship with them though. While I love that they are super moisturising, I dislike the sticky texture they leave. I have some go-tos—Dior’s Addict Lip Glow ($50), Glossier’s Balm Dot Com for an intense overnight treatment—so I’d say it’s not easy to impress me when it comes to new lip balms.

With that, Fenty got really excited when they unveiled the Pro Kiss’r Luscious Lip Balm on Instagram. At first glance, the doe-foot applicator (instead of the traditional squeeze tube) immediately scored a win. That applicator meant that users don’t have to squeeze out the balm (worse if the balm has separated into oil and goo). Although the formula’s creamy, thick, and non-sticky, it could definitely have been even more moisturising—to this, I would rate the moisturising factor a 6/10. I would recommend this for a daily pre-makeup treatment, best to prep the lips for matte or liquid lipstick. It’s likely not intense enough for an overnight treatment, and too thick to be worn under conventional lipsticks.

5. Velvet Matte Lipstick by Christian Louboutin (S$142)

Photograph by Tung Pham
Photograph by Tung Pham

What It Is: A highly-pigmented, matte lipstick in Christian Louboutin’s signature red (from the red soles of his shoes). Although this is a matte formula, it supposedly hydrates the lips instead of drying them out. The product is housed in a Middle Eastern Art Deco-inspired metal vial that doubles up as a necklace’s pendant. Although this is not a new product, it’s making its first appearance in Singapore as Christian Louboutin Beauty lands ashore this month. 

What We Say: The red is somewhat similar to his soles—red with a hint of orange (its not a deep red). The application was super easy and smooth—also because it’s very pigmented. Although it looks matte to the eye, it’s not a matte finish. Its texture is satin, not glossy. But what I liked most was that after you eat and drink, it leaves a nice lip stain—a very nice, long-lasting lip stain that’s beautifully even and not patchy.

6. Eyeshadow Palette by Alice + Olivia x Maybelline (S$26.90)

Photograph by Gregory Woo
Photograph by Gregory Woo

What It Is: A six-shade mini eyeshadow palette with varying shades of neutrals and peaches in both matte and glittered pressed powders. The palette comes in a plastic case that’s emblazoned with the New York clothing brand, Alice + Olivia’s logo and caricatures in this collaboration with Maybelline New York. 

What We Say: This is definitely not a day-to-day eye palette unless you are a glitter kind of girl. Nonetheless, the colours are pretty and very shimmery but I do not think it’s the most pigmented product out there in the market. This works well if you’re fond of layering multiple shimmery tones for day use. When it comes to the applicator, it’s soft (yes, great!) but not functional—it’s way too small for users to blend the colours. Yet, then again, this isn’t uncommon for drugstore palettes. 

One thing that I didn’t like about this palette is that the glitter grains didn’t stay on my lids. By the end of. the day, my face was a shimmer party. All in all, the colours were undoubtedly pretty but this is a palette I’ll save for the occasional mambo nights.

7. Scalp Sunscreen Powder by Supergoop! (S$50)

Photograph by Gregory Woo
Photograph by Gregory Woo

What It Is: A powdered sunscreen meant for the scalp—especially where the hair parts. The powder formula comes in a universal nude shade, is made of mineral (or physical) sun-deflecting ingredients, and is housed in a lightweight plastic spray bottle. 

What We Say: It’s kind of odd to apply sunscreen to one’s scalp, much less a powdered hair sunscreen. So when trying this, I was skeptical as can be. You could liken this sunscreen to a dry shampoo—part your hair so that your scalp shows, spray, and massage your scalp with your fingers to spread the powder. Here’s the surprising part: the powder doesn’t transfer to black T-shirts (when I wear them over my head). Hours into the day, I checked in once again and by now, the powder has absorbed all the oil from my scalp. Guess what, my hair looked fresh! I wouldn’t mind this hair sunscreen when on a beach holiday, to be very honest. It’s a yes!

8. Aqua Allegoria: Flora Cherrysia by Guerlain (S$118)

Photograph by Tung Pham
Photograph by Tung Pham

What It Is: A new addition to the French perfumers, Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria series—essentially Eau de Colognes (or perfumes with a touch of freshness).

What We Say: There’s something magical about a classic fragrance with a twist. It’s relatable, there’s a sense of familiarity, but novel enough to invoke excitement. That’s what we’d say was our first impression of this fragrance. A blush pink liquid enclosed in stately bottle with a honeycomb cage over top. The actual juice is refreshingly floral for a European fragrance house. Where traditionally, other houses might’ve taken a more expected route, this fragrance opens with almost naively adolescent notes of watermelon and lime, but throughout the day dries down into a nice, floral almost clean finish that leaves just an exhale of rose, cherry and white musk – almost as if you woke up, took a shower and tumbled through a on-estate flower orchard before even heading out the front door. 

9. Makeup Wipes by Senka (S$13.90 for 44 sheets)

Photograph by Tung Pham
Photograph by Tung Pham

What It Is: A pack of dual-function skincare and makeup remover wipes drenched in Shiseido’s cleansing oils. Besides removing waterproof makeup, the formula supposedly contains skincare ingredients such as squalane, xylitol, and hyaluronic acids. 

What We Say: WThis cleaning sheet is small but mighty. Although the size of each sheet is smaller than most cleansing wipes on the market (I previously used Bifesta and Nivea), it’s so potent, powerful, and smooth. Just take for instance, it easily removed my Marc Jacobs Magic Marc’er (waterproof eyeliner, S$44). One sheet was enough to remove an entire face of makeup. All you have to do is to wipe. The sheets are smooth and surprisingly thick so they don’t break.