Peh first made a name for herself when she clinched dual titles in the 2002 instalment of the beauty pageant, Miss Singapore Universe. Shortly after, she joined the local entertainment industry as an actress.
She was 19 — a teenager with a bout of acne and milia seeds around her forehead.
So, at the audition for Miss Singapore Universe, Peh walked in, bare-faced, with all those blemishes on her forehead. “I went into the audition with no makeup — because that was the brief,” she laughs as she recounts. “And then the girls who were with me all had makeup on. And they were like, “No! You can’t go without makeup! Come with me!”
Peh’s fellow contestants brought her to the bathroom, showed her a concealer and started dabbing away at her face. “And that was the first time I put on concealer and knew that there was such a thing,” Peh continues.
It was a wake up call for Peh as it made her realise that there was a world of beauty out there she had to quickly be acquainted with — and one which eventually proved vital for her acting career.
“I think it was just because I wasn’t very in tune with the whole beauty thing,” the 35-year-old recalls. “When I was young, I didn’t quite understand the concept of ‘beauty’. When it came to skincare, I didn’t do much about it. I didn’t know.”
So she started learning.
Peh started with very simple products “like Hazeline Snow,” she recounts. Then she moved on to a three-stepped skincare regime, and tried to remedy her forehead outbreaks.
All these came at a time when she started acting — so it became urgent that she had a clear complexion.
“You know, when you go on cameras and television, it just shows. It was very frustrating because people were like, “Oh, you know your forehead there’s like a…” They would trail off, but Peh got what they were driving at. “But I didn’t know what to do about it and got stressed, and it got worse!”
When she came of age and moved into young adulthood, the hormonal breakouts tided over. Peh’s skin cleared up and she found herself with a normal, combination skin type. “The T-zone was oily and I had combination skin, that was about it,” says Peh.
Later in her acting career, Peh ventured into luxury skincare.
One of her earliest introductions to prestige skincare was, surprisingly, through her then-colleague and now-husband, Qi Yuwu. “The first time we did a travel programme together, I discovered that he had more products than me!” Peh exclaims. “I mean, we had makeup and wardrobe [teams] with us during shoots. So I literally didn’t bring anything.”
So when Peh saw Qi’s display of skincare products, she got a shock, “He had like a whole luggage of it! And I was like, “I thought we had hair and makeup?”
“He knew more about skincare than I did,” Peh admits in hindsight.
In that luggage of products was a brown bottle, Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair serum. Peh remembers the distinct look of that bottle.
Eventually, when they got together, Peh spotted that brown bottle amidst Qi’s skincare stash once again. “When we got together, I saw it on the vanity table. I was like, “Oh okay! Then I use lah!”
Today, Peh’s skincare regime is minimal yet rigorous. “Ever since I came to understand skincare, I’ve actually been very diligent,” says Peh.
Although she has a morning and evening routine, there are two things that Peh swears by — post-shower skincare and proper cleansing. “I always do skincare after a shower, so the pores are still open and the skin can absorb the products,” says Peh. “And I cleanse thoroughly.” She reiterates that she has “never, ever” gone to bed with makeup on her face.
Yet, that’s not all to her skincare regime. Peh’s biggest skincare goal is to care for her emotional well-being. “This has been my goal for the past — since I got pregnant with my first child,” says Peh. “If you are able to focus on your personal wellbeing, it will make you glow from the inside.” In her own time, Peh decompresses with guided meditation apps. “It really helps you to calm down and focus,” she says. “I love it.”
It’s been 17 years since Peh stepped into that pageant audition and had her first encounter with skincare and makeup. Her skincare journey has come a long way — and with it, her self-esteem and confidence too.
“The skin is our largest organ and you see a lot of it,” says Peh. “When you don’t have good skin, you get stressed, and you have low self-esteem and low-confidence because you are just — embarrassed.”
“That was how I felt when I had that acne thing going on,” she continues. “I always feel like we can do what we can. But we cannot forget to work on our wellbeing. If that is stable, then sometimes, everything else will be okay too.”