From The Straits Times    |


Most of us spend a ton of time “hiding” indoors – which may include air-conditioning, of which more later – but there’s no escape from our daily commute. There are still errands to run, events to turn up for and places you must go to, right?

But a sudden increase in exposure to air pollution and air-conditioning easily affects the skin and weakens it: It now itches and feels dry and sensitive. It also puts our skin at risk of premature ageing in the long run.

So for the past week beauty junkies like me have been adding antioxidant- and moisture-rich skincare products into our routines to fight dryness and free-radical damage caused by pollution.

One habit we find particularly handy is using quick five-minute masks in the morning for an extra boost before a work day. And they don’t take much extra time: Leave these masks on while brushing your teeth, preparing breakfast, or better yet, use them in the shower with hot steam.

Here are the four best masks to incorporate into your morning skincare routine that will help fight the damaging effects of the haze and air-conditioning:

#1 SK-II Skin Rebooster
$119, available at all SK-II counters

We’ve all heard about the wonders of SK-II’s Facial Treatment Mask – just 20 minutes of using the plush cotton sheet mask gives you plump, hydrated and radiant skin. Celebrities swear by it, and so do we. The downside? At about $20 apiece – available as a box of six sheets for $122 – we’re not about to use this just for five minutes in the morning.

SK-II Skin Rebooster Hydrating morning skincare routine protect skin air-conditioning pollution haze.png

Instead, the lesser known – and sadly, soon to be discontinued – Skin Rebooster from the brand is perfect for the morning. This clear gel mask quenches the skin with moisture and SK-II’s vitamin and amino acid-rich pitera. The best part? It works better with steam. So apply two pumps of it and pop into the shower, when you’re done, dab off the excess with the sheets provided, then carry on with your skincare routine. Lovers of the SK-II Skin Rebooster, better hurry out and stock up before they disappear from the shelves!

#2 DrGL Restore Gel Mask
$38, available at, and Sephora Singapore stores

Why we love DrGL’s Restore Gel Mask so much? It conveniently doubles as a mask and a moisturiser, depending on how you use it. Right after you come out of the shower, apply a thick layer of the mask and let it sit for five minutes. Use a tissue to dab off a bit of the excess, then pat the rest into your skin and you’re done with skincare.

DrGL Restore Gel Mask Hydrating skincare routine protect skin air-conditioning pollution haze.png

If you need a little extra moisture, try this little trick: Mix one or two drops of a facial oil with the mask, or if you prefer using it separately, press it into the skin when you’re done taking off the excess. Either way, it helps to lock all the goodness of the mask – antioxidative, anti-inflammatory and moisture replenishing – into the skin and creates the perfect base for makeup application.

#3 Fresh Rose Face Mask
$95, available at the Fresh boutique in Ion Orchard and Sephora Singapore stores

Best for when you’ve got extra time in the morning: Fresh’s Rose Face Mask* not only delivers instant hydration, but provides a short yet refreshing experience from the time you pick it up from the jar to when you wash it off.

First, the gel-textured mask contains real rose petals that instantly melt into the skin as you smooth it over your face. Second, the delightful scent comes from its cucumber and rosewater content, which are both great for soothing and calming the skin (as well as your senses, if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed). Third, there is a mix of antioxidant green tea, aloe vera gel and an algae that all work to cool the skin and deliver hydration in the five to 10 minutes of use. Finally, when you wash it off, the skin does look brighter and more plump. And while you may want to spend a little more time enjoying the mask, it will still do the trick if you’re in a rush (as with most mornings).

#4 June Jacobs Mandarin Moisture Masque
$97, available at Sephora Singapore stores

If you prefer a more citrus-like scent, then the June Jacobs Mandarin Moisture Masque is perfect. But we’re not talking about the instantly-awakening, zingy smell of freshly cut mandarin oranges. Instead, this one has a slight herbal note and tingles on the skin, which gently energises you for the day ahead.

June Jacobs Mandarin Moisture Masque Hydrating morning skincare routine protect skin air-conditioning, pollution haze.png

Its skincare properties are great for the current weather, too. The clear mask not only helps to retain moisture in the skin, but also improves the tone and look of dull or reddish skin in just five minutes. Use this if you had a late night before and need a quick pick-me-up.

There is an antioxidant-rich blend of green, white and red tea as well as fruit extracts that help to heal the skin, improve blood circulation and protect the skin’s cells from free-radical damage. Plus, it also helps to combat the existing visible signs of premature ageing.