Photography: Winston Chuang; Art direction: Nonie Chen
Craving crystal-clear complexion that doesn’t read as greasy in Singapore’s clammy clime? Easy. It’s all about the base, baby. Get your fundamentals right by prepping your skin with a luminising lotion, and you’re well on the way to looking like you’re in the prime of life.
Bewildered by the baffling parade of potions lining the beauty aisles? No sweat. Here’s a rapidfire run-through of a sextet of my favourite salves, for your perusal and prospective purchase, please.
Cosme Decorte AQ Meliority Makeup Essence 01 Makeup Base, $145
This exquisite elixir is such an incredible investment. Why? You’re “essentially” getting an essence and makeup primer in one, for starters. And because this is Cosme Decorte we’re talking about, expect all the thoughtful touches emblematic of the quietly elegant J-Beauty brand: Plumping peptides, revitalising rice bran extract and a dash of brightening white birch water.
Big beauty bonus: The perfectly respectable SPF 20/PA++ rating means that cubicle-dwelling folks should be able to skip sunscreen if they like. (Just remember to top up before venturing out into our searing streets!)Texture-wise, the satiny serum-like consistency makes for supremely comfortable wear in sweltering Singapore, and the universally flattering flush is fabulous on bare skin as a as a brightening base; on no-makeup makeup days, this base alone should suffice.
Marc Jacobs Beauty Invisible Under(cover) Perfecting Coconut Face Primer, price unavailable
Mm, Marc Jacobs. The all-American style savant’s foray into the beauty world has paid off perfectly, with this chic little concoction offering a finish that’s a happy medium between the almost obscenely “wet” K-Beauty look and the matte mask-like miens of the Kontouring Kardashian Klan.
Maximum marks possible for packaging: This posh perfector is ensconced in a very Instagram-friendly tube of matte white and translucent glass – a truly couture-like collectible that demands pride of place in your powder room. More intriguingly, the luminising liquid within boasts a milky “mouthfeel” courtesy of comforting coconut-derived polymers; no synthetic silicones in sight!
Best of all, this sumptuous salve is highly hydrating and superbly smooth; if you have particularly parched skin, a smidgen of this should do double duty as a thirst-quenching moisturiser. Blend like there’s no tomorrow for a breathtakingly beautiful translucent finish.
Tom Ford Complexion Enhancing Primer, $100
This swanky skin saviour is superb for days when you can’t be arsed with tedious eight-step regimes. The comfortably creamy product has become well-nigh indispensable in the mornings; on frantic workdays, slipping on this salmon-hued tincture alone should do the trick.
Need a tad more coverage? Easy: Tap tiny dots on your brow bone, cheeks and chin and blend under your foundation to lend light to specific focal points on your face, particularly on the highest plane of your cheekbones. I’ve found that this V-shaped contour lends my visage a sun-kissed smolder – very fetching, very flirty, very natural.
Top tip: Avoid layering a rich serum underneath if you’re wary of weighing your skin down with too much product. My suggestion: Pair this pretty pink primer with a watery day serum for maximum hydration and minimum heaviness. Will repurchase this in a heartbeat!
Yves Saint Laurent Beaute Touche Eclat Blur Primer, $65
#Yas, YSL’s legendary Touche Eclat highlighting pen (“often duplicated but never imitated,” as a seriously snarky makeup artist once noted) now comes in the form of a phenomenal priming fluid.
Million-dollar makeup question: Is this primer as good as its predecessor? I’d say yes on account of sheer sensorial satisfaction alone: This boasts a skin-tinglingly sensuous texture, sort of like liquid cashmere caressing my face. The gorgeous gold specks swirling about in the translucent salve also transforms this bottle into a “snow-globe” of sorts – delightfully darling and quite mesmerising to behold, really.
Then there are the beautifying benefits to consider too, seeing how this comes with a carefully curated blend of botanical oils designed to soften skin without imparting shine. Here’s the one-minute trick I deploy whenever I’m in need of an emergency, is-she-or-isn’t-she shimmer. Swirl a generous dollop of this into your liquid foundation, then use a blusher brush to blend this into your cheekbones, keeping the rest of your face beautifully bare. The featherweight formula leaves zero telltale streaks, at least on my combination skin.
Beauty Bonus: If you’re going for broke, top up with Touche Eclat itself: Simply sweep along the nose bridge and under the eyes to draw attention to the middle of your face; dot on your cupid’s bow to give your puckers a poutier appearance; and finish with a dab in the middle of your chin. Easy-peasy!
Lancome Absolue Precious Cells White Aura Miracle Illuminating Finisher, price unavailable
It’s no secret that I’m a skin snob; give me luxury or give me death! On that front, Lancome’s new luminiser from its top-of-the-line Absolue range is as swanky as it gets. Posh packaging aside, I adore the incredibly intriguing texture: It glides on as a milky cream and melts within seconds into a gorgeous glistening gel – makeup at its most magical! The subtly shimmery pigments are so very pretty on the skin, and get straight to softening signs of facial fatigue – think hollows under the eyes, ashen cheeks and deep lines around the lips.
The result? With any luck, you’ll get that lovely, lit-from-within glow the brand’s face Lupita Nyong'o is famed for. But now for the bad news: This press preview-only sample is as yet unavailable on our sunny shores, more’s the pity – but the fab folks at Lancome tell me they may just introduce this come 2016. Fingers crossed!
VDL Lumilayer Primer Fresh, $36
This makeup maximiser is quite literally of the essence – VDL says that more than 70 percent of the formula is composed of an oil-encapsulated hydrating essence. Also new is the carefully calibrated symphony of gold, red and white pigments for a boost of vivid vibrance – slapping this on is better at fending off signs of fatigue than snatching forty winks, in my opinion.
If you’re leery of looking like a disco ball, consider concocting your own custom mix. My recipe: One part of your favourite foundie to one part VDL Lumilayer Primer Fresh. Use this extra-moist “highlighter” on your cheekbones, then switch to a matte-finish concealer to “spot” correct any pimples peeking through your base.
Honorary mention must surely go to the subtle scent and picture-perfect presentation – the violet vial this primer comes in is heart-stoppingly pretty! – and is just another instance of the thoughtful little touches this J-Beauty brand is justifiably renowned for.
Right, then. It’s prime time, pretty people; good luck getting your glow on!