Must-Haves For A Basic Skincare Routine

Thursday, February 08, 2018

So as some of you may know, I kinda got into skincare last year. My sister asked me for product recommendations because she pretty much finished up all her skincare and wanted to start anew. I started rambling on and on and decided — why not just make a basic
skincare routine post?

Disclaimer: What works for me may not work for you.

Just a few of the products mentioned that I currently have on hand.

#1: Cleanse

Cleansing your face is so important because it removes all the dirt, oil, dead skin cells and other icky stuff that has accumulated on your face throughout the day/night. You should definitely cleanse your face at least twice a day — once in the morning and once at night before your skincare routine. Cleansing your face after exercising is highly encouraged as well. The type of cleanser you should use depends on your skin type! If your skin is usually oily or acne-prone, then a foaming cleanser is for you. Some of my recommendations for foaming cleanser are: KLAIRS Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser or HYGIN-X Antibacterial Foaming Wash (I like to use this with my Clarisonic once a week). Non-foaming cleansers are generally good for normal, dry and sensitive skin. I really like SIMPLE Refreshing Facial Wash Gel & NEUTROGENA Oil-Free Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser because they make my face feel clean and not at all tight or dry. A lot of people recommend CETAPHIL Gentle Skin Cleanser but I personally don't like it because it leaves sort of a film over my face. I guess that's what prevents the skin from drying out? Your skin is not supposed to feel dry or tight after cleansing. If it is, you should probably try a gentler cleanser. / Sidenote: If you like using toners, look for a toner without alcohol avoid any astringents.

#1.1: Makeup Remover

If you wear makeup then this step is very very important. You do not want any leftover makeup on your face or in your pores. I totally love GARNIER Cleansing Micellar Water (the one with the pink cap). It's super gentle and removes every trace of makeup. I'm usually quite lazy and removing my makeup with micellar water takes forever and a lot of cotton pads, so I prefer to use face wipes. SIMPLE Micellar Cleansing Wipes are my absolute favourite, because it leaves your face feeling so clean and fresh.

#2: Exfoliate

Exfoliating is amazing for getting rid of dead skin and cleaning up dirty pores. It's not a key step in a routine, but it can help improve skin tone and battle acne.
— AHAs —
AHAs such as glycolic acid or lactic acid work on the skin’s surface, loosening the bonds between dead skin and your baby skin underneath. AHAs can help improve your skin’s texture, tone, hydration and sun damage. THE ORDINARY Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% is a leave-on AHA which I really like. The Ordinary sells products that work and it's really affordable. Anyway, if you're new to chemical exfoliants, try to start with just using it twice a week and increasing your frequency slowly. Over-exfoliating is a thing. And definitely use sunblock if AHAs are in your routine because it makes your skin more sensitive to the sun. I think COSRX has a few products containing AHA but I've never tried those so I won't comment on that, but you might want to check that out as well.
— BHAs —
BHAs like salicylic acid, can penetrate deep into your skin, through all the oil that clogs your poor pores. I really like this for acne. COSRX BHA Power Cream is one of my favourites and I'm so sad that I just finished my tube. It's $18.90 on Shopee, which to me is a little towards the pricey side, but it's definitely worth it and I'll most likely purchase it again soon enough. STRIDEX Single-Step Acne Control Maximum (red box) is a cult favourite - it's easy to use, inexpensive and effective. It's also alcohol-free, which is great because alcohol is something you want to avoid. I personally haven't tried this product yet but I've just purchased it on iHerb and I'm impatiently waiting for it to arrive. I have high high hopes for this baby.

When you use chemical exfoliants, do not use other exfoliating products on same day — no face scrubs, no Clarisonic or other facial brushes NONE OF THAT. I'm serious. Over-exfoliating can really hurt your skin's moisture barrier.

#3: Treat

Usually for acne spots, I tend to ignore them as best as I can until the whitish stuff comes to surface. Then I'll sterilise my facial extractor (or whatever it's called) with surgical spirit and then stab gently poke that little shit. Squeeze everything out gently with a piece of tissue and once it's dry, I smack on one of those little acne patches. Those are hydrocolloid bandages and my favourites are COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch or NEXCARE Acne Patch. Wear them overnight, and by morning it'd be as if it was never there. Amazing. Life is good. (IMO it's pointless if you put it on an unopen pimple. You gotta squeeze it first or else there's no "wound" and the patch won't absorb anything from your spot). You can also use the Stridex Pads mentioned in Part #2 to really get right into those clogged pores and clear it up for you.

People with darker skin (sad for us Malays/Indians) are at higher risk for Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). These are basically flat spots that form when inflammation/acne is healing, and can range in color from dull pink/purple/brown or black, depending on your skin tone and extent of discoloration. Literally every acne spot that comes up on my face, goes away leaving a dark spot behind. And it's ridiculously difficult to get rid of, and also difficult to cover with makeup. For PIH aka acne "scars", I really like THE ORDINARY's Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. It's a serum that not only balances your sebum activity - all us oily bitches can definitely benefit from this, but it also reduces the look of skin blemishes.

#4: Moisturiser

Yay moisturisers. I'm obsessed with moisturisers. I used to avoid moisturisers like the plague because I'm oily af. I hated the feeling of moisturiser because it made me feel icky and sticky and oilier than I started with. But after learning more about skincare, moisturiser is easily one of the things I can't live without. My skin was producing so much excess oil because I had severely dehydrated skin. Like it's not only me that's thirsty, my skin's thirsty, too. My top three favourite moisturisers are: CLINIQUE Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief — I absolutely love the texture. It's an oil-free gel-cream that just like sinks into your skin and leaves your face feeling silky smooth. Really expensive, it's like $75 for 50ml on Sephora in Singapore, but I get mine from Qoo10 for about $37.90 for 75ml (after all discounts/coupons) Really good deal, c'mon. Sephora's out there stealing your money, but I gotchu. This next one makes me want to scream because I love it so much but I'm about to finish it. CERAVE PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion — Comes in a cute little pump bottle, holds magic inside. This baby is non- comedogenic (I had to spellcheck that, I always spell it like comodo dragon... bless you spellchecker) meaning it's not gonna clog your pores, it contains Niacinamide aka that magic ingredient I mentioned in Part #3 of this post, and best of all - ceramides!!! You might go like wadaheck is that - That was me six months ago. Ceramides are essential for healthy skin, it helps to restore and maintain its natural protective barrier. I get so excited just thinking about Cerave. You won't find it in stores in Singapore (I think, I don't get out much) but you can find it on iHerb or Shopee. Last but not least, my true love ORIGINS Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask. A very good friend of mine gave hers to me because she didn't want it/didn't work for her and I was complaining endlessly about my dry skin............. I fell in love. It has glycerin and hyaluronic acid and it smells divine and I want to put it on my face every second of every day but it is also unfortunately a little pricey. Moisturisers are so important, please don't skip it. I'll update y'all if I ever find a good moisturiser that's inexpensive.

#5: Sunblock

On to the much dreaded part, sunblock. I don't like sunblock. Never have, never will. But unfortunately, it's like... non-negotiable. You have to use it. We live in Singapore, it's 1 degree north of the equator and the sun is gonna be there shining directly on your face, and you gotta protect yourself. (The sun can also worsen/darken your acne scars/hyperpigmentation). I like my NEUTROGENA Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF50+ because it feels really light, it absorbs quickly into the skin and it's water resistant. I've been using the same sunblock for awhile so I can't recommend others. I'd just like to say that zinc oxide & titanium dioxide in your sunblock will leave a whitecast, especially on darker skin. Those ingredients are the ones blocking the UV rays from harming your skin, but not all sunblocks will leave you looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost. My sister really likes COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50+, it blends well under makeup with no waiting time needed. Don't. Skip. Sunblock. (This is advice I should heed)

I wanted to do a mask section but... this post is getting too long. I could talk a lot more but I really wanted to keep it simple. It's a lot of information but I hope if you read all the way to the end, that you have learned something? Hopefully.

#1. Cleanse your skin with a foaming cleanser if oily, non-foaming if dry
#2. Exfoliate with acids, but be careful
#3 Use acne patches to heal spots & use products with salicylic acid to treat your acne
#4: Moisturise!!!! Moisturise!!! Moisturise!!!
#5: Protect yourself from the sun.

Keep glowing,
♡ Tiara ♡

You Might Also Like


  1. Wow! I'm definitely keen on implementing lactic acid into my skincare routine now.

  2. Love this, I'm yet to find a skincare routine that I have seen good results from so I will definitely give some of these a try:)

    Luisa x