New Basics for Fantastic Skin

Streamline the most complex skincare routines and focus on five essential steps for fabulous results.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Streamline the most complex skincare routines and focus on five essential steps for fabulous results.


Over the last decade, skincare science has made substantial leaps forward, with products that pack more powerful actives, work harder and penetrate deeper than before. Yet, skincare rituals have become more complicated than ever. In place of the basic three-step – cleanse, tone and moisturise – we now have mind-boggling 10-step, 12-step and 15-step regimens from South Korea.

But do you really need a cabinet full of lotions, and 30 extra minutes every morning and night to achieve glowing skin? Luckily for the busy girl, the answer is “no”. You only need to use specific care products for your skin type.

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UV rays, air pollution, and even our cellular metabolism and various skin processes create free radicals that contribute to premature ageing. Antioxidants protect skin by binding with these free radicals and neutralising them, thereby preventing inflammation and reducing the look of pigmentation and wrinkles. For best results, use skincare products with antioxidants morning and night.

1. Sloane Inc Skin Drink S8.9 ($128.40) is an ultra-hydrating antioxidant serum that soothes extremely dehydrated skin and calms skin redness or irritation with squalene that comes from naturally sourced olives.

2. A powerful free-radical fighter, Lancome Energie de Vie The Liquid Care ($115) boasts a cocktail of extracts from antioxidant superfoods such as goji berry and cranberry. It also reduces inflammation with lemon balm while giving skin a shot of hydration.

3. Enriched with perilla extract, Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate ($105) promises to neutralise free radicals to give you a more radiant-looking complexion. It also has ginkgo biloba leaf extract, shiso, thyme, Bulgarian rose water and yeast extract to protect and fortify skin.


As we age, our bodies’ cellular renewal slows down, and our skin needs a little more help to slough off dead cells. The build-up of these dead cells as well as sebum can clog pores, leading to acne breakouts. That’s why you should make exfoliation part of your weekly ritual – it gets skin feeling and looking smooth, soft and radiant, and enhances the absorption of products.

4. If you plan to exfoliate daily, pick an ultra-gentle product such as Hada Labo AHA+BHA Mild Peeling Lotion ($17.90). Made with gluconic acid, it protects the skin’s moisture barrier while polishing away dullness and softening the look of fine lines.

5. Shiseido Waso Soft+Cushy Polisher ($55) has a whipped-tofu-like texture and plant-based granules to gently buff away dead skin cells. Rich in lecithin derived from soya, it simultaneously hydrates and soothes.

6. In a hurry? Lancome Energie De Vie Exfoliating Mask ($85) has lemon peel, jojoba pearls and glycerine to exfoliate and hydrate skin in minutes. Simply massage the product in, leave it on for three minutes, then rinse off.

7. Remove dead skin cells and allow healthy ones to migrate to the surface with Sloane Inc Skin Superfood Pumpkin Purifying Enzyme Peel S3.6 ($69.55). Enriched with pumpkin enzymes, it exfoliates and is said to help reduce redness as well.


During the day, skin is too busy defending itself against sun and environmental damage to focus on repair. Free of such burdens at night, it better absorbs active ingredients for repair and renewal. This means that whatever you apply – acne solutions, brightening actives or wrinkle correctors – works better at night. This is especially true for light-sensitive ingredients such as vitamin C and retinol, which tend to break down with sun exposure and increase the likelihood of skin sensitivity.

8. An antibacterial and anti-inflammatory salve, Sloane Inc Acne Therapy Tonic S4.5 ($85.60) is said to tackle acne-causing bacteria, reduce redness, unclog pores and balance skin sebum levels.

9. Lancome Blanc Expert Melanolyser [AI] Intense Whitening Spot Eraser ($165) lightens spots with a synthetic form of vitamin C and ellagic acid, and encourages cell renewal with salicylic acid.

10. Formulated with pure retinol and brightening ingredients, Shiseido Vital-Perfection Wrinklelift Cream ($160) promises to plump up skin while reducing the look of wrinkles and expression lines for a smooth, radiant complexion.

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Every day, your skin is stifled by impurities. These include toxic exhaust particles from heavy vehicles and cigarette smoke, bacteria from mobile phones, oxidised sebum, and microscopic pigments that give makeup its sheen. If this layer of grime and gunk is not properly removed, it can cause skin irritation and inflammation. This not only contributes to skin sensitivity and premature ageing, but also forms a formidable barrier that prevents skincare products from fully penetrating it. Double cleansing each morning and evening helps clean the slate. You can use the same cleanser, or start with a purifying one and finish with a balancing or treatment cleanser that helps to refresh or moisturise.

1. Sloane Inc Active Cleansing Gel S2.3 ($53.50) is an oil-free product that removes excess sebum and dead cells with AHA and BHA for clear and shine-free skin.

2. Lightweight and non-greasy, Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil ($41) is said to gently lift off waterproof makeup and impurities with its Gentle Quick-removing Technology while detoxifying skin.

3. Hada Labo AHA/BHA Foaming Wash ($15.90) has moringa seed extract, phytic acid and biosaccharide gum-4 to sweep away microscopic pollution particles, while AHA and BHA refine pores.

4. Upon contact with water, Lancome Miel-en-mousse ($75) transforms from a honey-like liquid into an air-whipped mousse. It also has acacia honey to moisturise and soften dehydrated skin.

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Parched skin looks dull and sunken, and its fine lines are more pronounced. A good moisturiser pumps essential hydration into each cell for smoother and more lustrous skin. Besides the immediate hydrating benefits, a moisturiser also keeps skin healthy in the long run by supporting its barrier to fend off pollution particles, and maintaining the optimal environment for cellular regeneration.  

5. Lancome Absolue Precious Cells Intense Revitalizing Emulsion ($350) boosts the skin’s hydration levels. It also has Pro-Xylane to protect against moisture loss, leaving skin looking plumped and smooth for easy makeup application.

6. Hada Labo Lifting+Firming Cream ($41.90) saturates skin with four types of hyaluronic acid for instant hydration. And it supposedly strengthens the skin barrier to help lock in moisture. It is also said to enhance the skin’s ability to produce collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin.

7. A luxurious overnight moisturiser, Shiseido Future Solution LX Total Regenerating Cream ($390) infuses skin with moisture and ingredients meant to prevent premature skin ageing. These include burnet extract to encourage an optimal repair process.