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Less is more

Beauty Product Reviews

By Zsarlene B. Chua

SPENDING two years indoors has allowed me to re-evaluate my relationship with my skin and I have found that, sometimes, less is more when it comes to skincare.

Before, I used to subscribe to a “more is more” approach, influenced by the 10-step Korean skincare routine. It did work and has worked for me for years, but what I realized is you can achieve the same result with less product, at least indoors, as I’m sure my routine will once again change once I’m outside more because routines are ever-changing.

Here, I have listed three products that I have been using for a month or so that you can try incorporating to your skincare routine.

Please note that I have normal-to-dry skin. These are product recommendations that have worked for me and may not necessarily work for you. If you used any of these products and experienced sensitivity or irritation, please stop using them immediately.

(Prices are accurate at the time of writing.)

(P875/120ml on BeautyMNL)

Good Molecules is a San Francisco-based skincare brand that claims that it’s all about ingredients that work, sans frills, and this plays a part in their competitive pricing.

It’s not the most affordable toner out there but for those who want to splurge a little, this Niacinamide toner is a great option. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that supports the skin barrier, improves skin texture by making pores look smaller, balances oil production, lightens dark areas, and is good for all skin types. It’s a very hardworking ingredient which is why it’s a constant favorite of mine.

Aside from Niacinamide, the toner also has Vitamin C and arbutin (for hyperpigmentation).

Toners are used after cleansing (both day and night) to return hydration to the skin and prepare it for the next products. It’s a crucial step in my routine because it creates a clean canvas for my next products. How I like to apply it is putting a few drops on my palm and applying it to my skin.

As a toner, Good Molecules is a very good one — it has a very mild scent and a very light, almost watery texture that is quickly absorbed into the skin. The packaging is also great because it has a really tight stopper that dispenses the product at a very controlled rate so you only use what you need without spillage.

Do note that since this product has Vitamin C, you need to apply sunscreen in the morning because the vitamin can increase sensitivity to sun damage.

Anyway, you need to wear sunscreen every day, even indoors.

(P750/50g at Shopee)

Nacific is a Korean skincare brand known for its cult-favorite Herb Origin Serum, but is also home to skincare lines for different skin concerns and needs. One of those is the Fresh Cica line specifically made for acne-prone, sensitive, and irritable skin.

My skin is often normal so I’m fortunate it does not give me a lot of problems, but I do experience increased sensitivity around the time of my period — redness, and small comedones pop up because of hormonal changes. This is why I found the Nacific Clear Cream a lifesaver.

At first, knowing that it’s a gel put me off as my skin needs all the hydration it can get, but what surprised me is how it’s fast absorbing yet substantially hydrates my skin for a long time. With the Green cica complex that is mainly Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort), the cream helps calm weak and sensitive skin. It also has ceramide and panthenol that help rebuild and strengthen the skin barrier.

It does have dimethicone though, so for those who want a silicone-free product, this may not be for you.

I found that applying the cream over my troubled skin does calm it down overnight, and the fact that it’s not sticky yet very hydrating is a massive plus for me. The foil squeeze tube that prevents spillage is also an advantage. It’s quickly working its way up in my list of must-haves.


I love eye creams because they do help take care of my eyes, which has become necessary as I grow older. I understand that many people find that eye creams are optional, but for me, having a cream that keeps my under-eye area hydrated and sans fine lines is a non-negotiable.

Often, I use the AHC Pure Real Eye Cream for Face, but recently I discovered the Nacific Fresh Herb Origin Eye Cream through a PR package and have been in love with it since and it will certainly enter my rotation.

The Nacific eye cream has Niacinamide, Hyaluronic acid, and Adenosine. Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient that hydrates the skin by attracting water molecules from the environment into the skin while adenosine helps decrease the appearances of wrinkles.

It’s also very lightweight and a little goes a long way — but it does take time to dry down so I use this in the evening and my trusty AHC in the morning. So, I wake up with softer under eye skin.

Here’s a pro-tip to make your eye creams work harder — apply it on your smile line and any place that is prone to wrinkles to maximize the benefits.

(The author is a former BusinessWorld reporter and now works in a PR firm which has no cosmetics or skin care clients.)