We all want the best for our skin, but with multi-step skincare regimes, it has become increasingly difficult to allocate equal resources to each of our beauty staples.

The good news: the skin on different parts of our body is different and has different needs. The skin around our eyes is thinner and more sensitive than the rest of our face and requires dedicated care. On the other end of the spectrum, the skin on our body is thicker than that of our face, making it less sensitive to ingredients and less susceptible to premature ageing.

Another key factor to consider is how long a product remains on the face. Makeup removers, cleansers, and toners won’t stay for very long so you can save on those. Lastly, think about how deeply a product penetrates the skin to maximize the efficacy of active ingredients. After all, it certainly makes sense to put your money on the hardest-hitting products. 

Save on: cleansers and facial wash

No matter what powerful or rare ingredients are listed on your cleanser, they are only staying on your face for all of five seconds. So don’t splash out on these either. Look for a gentle cleanser that lifts off impurities without stripping your skin of its natural moisture, and which won’t leave your skin feeling dry and tight.

Try: The DERMA LAB Hydraceutic Amino Gentle Cleanser, $19.90 (100 g) strengthens the skin barrier and locks in moisture, leaving the skin healthy and hydrated. It’s enriched with Amino Acid, an ultra-gentle, pH-balanced cleansing surfactant that cleanses without stripping away your skin’s natural protective oils.

Save on: makeup remover and micellar water

Its key function is to remove makeup effectively without stripping skin of moisture, so don’t get too caught up with fancy ingredients or scents of high-end brands. Many drugstore micellar or oil-based formulas get the job done just as well. Just remember to give the product enough time to dissolve makeup and avoid tugging on your skin, as that would contribute to the formation of wrinkles.

Try: Bio Essence Bio-Water Micellar Water, $13.90 (400 ml) clears makeup and soothes the skin with its proprietary formula that boosts the skin’s ability to repair and renew itself.

Save on: toner

Toners are great for oily skin because they balance the pH levels of your skin and close up your pores after you’ve cleansed your face. You don’t need to splurge on a toner, and some people might even choose to skip it entirely.

Try: Simple Soothing Facial Toner, $12.90 (200 ml) is suitable for all skin types and will leave the skin feeling clean and refreshed. Hypoallergic and dermatologically tested, this is a no-fuss toner that gets straight to the point.

Splurge on: serums

With smaller molecules than moisturisers, serums and essences penetrate deeper into the skin. They tend to have a higher concentration of active ingredients. This is where you want to put your money and pay for the best active ingredients such as enzymes, retinoids, antioxidants, peptides, and vitamins. 

Try: Clinique Even Better Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter, $150 (50 ml) is a clinical-strength serum that effectively improves the appearance of dark spots, age spots, and acne. With a blend of anti-irritants and soothing botanicals, any irritation on the skin is calmed down.

Splurge on: eye cream

An average person blinks 28,800 times a day. The skin around the eyes is thinner, more sensitive, and usually the first to show signs of ageing. It requires high-performance active ingredients dosed for delicate skin. 

Try: Origins Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins™ Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Gel Cream For Eyes, $83 (15 ml) is perfect for dark circles and dullness around the eyes. Soothing and refreshing, this eye gel comes with a cooling applicator that hydrates and helps create a more radiant appearance.

Save on: sunscreen

With a hot and humid climate, as long as you can find a moisturiser that’s light enough, oil-free (if you’ve got oily skin), and has sun protection, it’s a winner in my books. You might even prefer to use a more expensive moisturiser and save on a lightweight sunscreen, but these days there are plenty of budget moisturisers with SPF that are worth the spend.

Try: Sunplay Skin Aqua Tone Up UV Essence SPF50 PA++++, $27.90 (80 g) colour-corrects, brightens, and protects the skin from environmental aggressors. The first lavender-coloured sunscreen introduced this sunscreen tints and keeps your skin illuminated.

Splurge on: night cream

The most important time of the day for your skin is night time, as your skin does the most work to repair itself while you sleep. You get a lot more effectiveness out of night serums or creams as they tend to make the biggest difference. This is especially true when it comes to anti-ageing products, as more powerful cosmeceutical-grade ingredients like retinol don’t come cheap.

Try: Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Repair Cream With Retinol, $49 (50 ml) uses a unique mix of retinol, peptides, and antioxidants to revitalise and renew the skin with a wonderfully rich texture. This concentrated anti-ageing moisturising cream works to hydrate and soften signs of ageing.

Splurge on: sheet masks

You want to get as much out of a mask as possible in the 10 to 20 minutes you’re keeping it on your face. Splurging on something with more powerful ingredients is worth it in this case, especially since you aren’t likely to use it as often as a moisturiser.

Try: Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mask, $68 (4 pieces) effectively nourishes the skin with hydration. Inspired by a classic Japanese beauty technique, this sheet masks contains green tea, rice, and algae, ingredients that leave the skin with a dewy glow and protects it from signs of ageing.

Save on: lip balm

Keeping your lips moisturised can be as simple as a drugstore balm with vitamin E. Good lip balms under $10 are incredibly easy to find, and some budget ones even boast SPF! If you’ve got very chapped lips, a more heavy-duty lip repair treatment at night will do wonders.

Try: Nivea Lip Care Ultra Care & Protect SPF 30 Lip Balm, $6.90 contains SPF30 and protects the lips from intensive UV ray damage. It’s dermatologically approved and is water-resistant for up to four hours. Enriched with sunflower extract, this prevents moisture loss and leaves the lips feeling smooth and luscious.

Text: Alyssa Dhaliwal/HerWorld Plus & The Singapore Women’s Weekly April 2020 print issue, Additional Reporting: Atika Lim & Annie Tan

This post was first published on July 4, 2016, and updated on July 15, 2020. 

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