Xenia Wong started using makeup at 15. She wanted the perfect, dewy skin of K-actresses Jun Ji Hyun and Song Hye Kyo. But the more makeup she piled on, the worse her skin looked.
This made her curious. And a little obsessed. It gnawed at her even through her university days at NUS Business School, where she studied business administration.
After graduating in 2017, she decided to chase her dream of perfect skin. By then, she had tried more than 70 foundations in pursuit of that K-star look. “I thought it was a skill I didn’t have,” she says.
To hone her makeup techniques, she enrolled in a six-month course at Jung Saem Mool Art & Academy in Seoul, named after one of the most renowned celebrity makeup artists in Korea. At Wong’s first lesson, Jung – who teaches some classes herself – asked them to bring in their skincare for a critique.
Wong’s class of eight brought in piles of products. That was when she learnt her first crucial lesson: Getting glowing K-skin isn’t just about makeup. The skincare you use under it plays a part.
“I realised it was more about taking proper care of your skin, and that overlayering skincare can cause makeup to slide, especially if the products aren’t absorbed well,” she says.
What you should do: Use moisturiser and primer, or moisturiser and sunscreen – never all three together.
It got her thinking: If too much layering is bad, why not use double-duty products to get two functions in one skincare layer? It’s in line with the Korean skincare trend of “skip care”, which favours multitasking products.
With that idea, Sigi (say see-gee) Skin was born. Using her own savings and seed money from her parents, Wong launched the brand in November 2018.
It keeps things simple with just three products, which Wong says are essentials for glowing skin: a sunscreen-moisturiser, a makeup remover-cleanser, and an eye serum-lip balm.
“An intensive skincare routine does not mean using as many products as you can. It’s about efficacy – three can be as good as 10,” she says.
The products are made at three separate factories in South Korea, chosen for their strengths in each product. Wong visited them after getting contacts from trade shows. She decided on Korean factories because they could create the feels-likenothing textures she wanted.
For the active ingredients, Wong wanted something she was familiar with: superfoods. She’s used matcha powder as a detoxifying mask for three years, and her brother uses avocado mash for his acne. “My DIY avocado and honey masks worked wonders for my skin. This spurred me to create a no-nasties skincare line with superfood extracts.”
Her beauty-junkie history made up for her lack of cosmeceutical expertise in product formulation. She’s tried more than 50 sunscreens, so she knows what makes a good one. She habitually scours product ingredient lists. She also did plenty of research before negotiating formulas with the factories.
“I had to read and understand lots of research papers before I dared contact the factories,” she says.
Doing all that research was how she came up with the formula for the Morning Glow Sunscreen, for example, which has 4 per cent niacinamide to build up a weakened skin barrier. She says the niacinamide is useful for urbanites who face environmental pollution: “It’ll work with the sunscreen for all-over protection.” – CT
Sigi Skin is available at www.sigiskin.com.
Just Three Double-duty Products:
Eye serum-lip balm: Pink Nectar ($62). It moisturises and firms the eye and lip areas. To use it as an eye and/or lip mask, apply generously. Its ingredients include peach extracts and propolis.
Makeup removercleanser: Kaleanser ($38). Use on dry skin first as a makeup remover, wash off, then use again on wet skin for the second step of double-cleansing. Jelly-like, it glides on and doesn’t irritate. It has kale and soya extracts.
Sunscreenmoisturiser: Morning Glow ($58). This physical sunscreen (SPF50/ PA++++) has a light, whipped texture that moisturises skin and doesn’t leave a white residue. It has avocado and acai extracts.