Meet our panel of judges for The Weekly’s Best Beauty Buys 2024, who spent weeks testing hundreds of skincare, haircare and makeup products that were nominated by brands. The ultimate goal? To find the beauty products that are most deserving of your time, space and money, as a busy mum/wife/worker.

Trying dozens of beauty products outside of your usual routine may sound like lots of fun, but trust us when we say that it’s also lots of work. Besides simply using the products, the judges had to observe and take notes of each item’s efficacy, scent, texture, user experience, overall value etc., then rate them accordingly. Some products impressed; some not so much. Needless to say, tough decisions had to be made.

With day jobs as writers, editors, makeup artists, dermatologists and educators, our Best Beauty Buys 2024 judges are mums just trying to put their best foot forward every day at work and at home.

One thing they all have in common? The unshaken belief that your skin and hair reflect your life. That, and a not-so-secret unanimous desire for a pampering spa treatment if they ever have a whole day ~just to themselves~.

Here, scope our judges’ personal opinions, experiences and recommendations for some great mum hacks to look good, stay cool, and slay every day.

Estelle Low, 36

Editor-in-chief of The Singapore Women’s Weekly, mum of 2 children aged 8 and 5

What’s your makeup routine like now?

It’s sleep > makeup for me, so I’m very selective about the makeup I wear. Concealers and lippies are for days when I need to look more polished, while eyeshadow/eyeliner and blush are for days when I need to be camera-ready. Otherwise, I’m perfectly happy to rock my no-makeup face. My mum showed me that true confidence comes from within, and how important it is to know my worth (it’s not dependent on what I put on my face). *Cue Try by Colbie Caillat*

Your best beauty hack for busy mums?

Streamline your beauty routine – keep only what works for you – and you’ll find more time for things that truly matter. I used to aspire to follow what beauty gurus recommended or swore by, such as applying a sheet mask daily. But it’s impossible to do so when my kids take turns to accost me every night! Plus, I’d never liked the feeling of something cold and gooey clinging to my face. So I gave up on that idea and started using leave-on masks instead of sheet masks and wash-off masks. That has easily saved me 10 minutes a day, and not to mention, reduced packaging waste and water usage!

Your beauty goals for 2024?

I want to continue to stay hydrated, eat nutritiously as best as I can, and be diligent about using moisturising and brightening products to keep my dark spots from intensifying. I’d also like to practise reapplying sunscreen when I’m outdoors for long periods. Lastly, to clean up my sleep routine. Revenge bedtime procrastination is so real…

Ng Mei Yan, 41

Freelance writer, mum of 3 children aged 9, 7 and 2

How has your skincare routine changed after having kids?

Becoming a mum has made me live more intentionally in ways big and small. I decided to go freelance when my eldest son was born, so that I could be a more hands-on parent, and to have more control over my time. That being said, I definitely don’t have the luxury of spending time on a 10-step routine every night! So I am very intentional in choosing the best products for my skin, making sure that what little stuff I do put on is simple, efficient and effective.

Your beauty mantra?

Movement is medicine, and I enjoy practising yoga and doing BodyPump at the gym to stay healthy from the inside out. When I feel energetic and joyful, it shows on my skin too. Beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin – so I see things like laugh lines, crow’s feet, age spots and eye bags as markers of life experience that I am proud of rocking.

Best mum advice you’ve received?

I love this quote from some parenting influencers: “This is not an emergency.” It basically tells us not to react from an emotional place or fly off the rails each time the kids do something we disagree with. Keeping your inner peace makes you feel better in the moment, helps you handle tricky situations more effectively, and gives you less lines on the face.

Marie Soh, 34

Makeup artist and baker, mum of 3 children aged 7, 5 and 3

Most inspiring moment as a makeup artist? 

As a makeup artist for more than a decade now, I’ve worked with people of all ages. Once, I did makeup for the mother of a bride. She was a very shy lady who looked very motherly and loving, but also looked like she’d never ever had a day to pamper herself in her entire life. I did some simple makeup for her, and when she saw herself with makeup done, the joy in her eyes was really something I remember to this date. She was so thankful. These are the people who really deserve the pampering, and I love being the one to show them that they can feel good and look good at the same time.

Skincare or makeup?

Even though I am a makeup artist, I’d have to say definitely skincare. Good skin is way more important than your makeup skills or the amount of makeup you put on, because when you have good skin, everything naturally looks better and you age better too. 

One thing you would tell your younger self?

Pile on the SPF EVERYWHERE. Hands, neck, face, arms – everywhere and anywhere that is exposed to the sun, just pile it on. To be honest, I was never really a big user of SPF when I was younger. I only started applying it in my early 20s, when I read up on it. And one thing I’ve learnt from my work is that it isn’t the wrinkles that make you look old, it’s actually an uneven skin tone and dark spots on your skin. Seriously, hands-down SPF is the best. The end.

Melody Bay, 34

Contributing associate editor at The Singapore Women’s Weekly, mum of a 3-month-old

What do you miss most in your beauty routine since becoming a mum?

Definitely the slow, relaxed skincare routine I enjoyed pre-baby, because what even is free time now? I also miss having the time to sit down and experiment with different makeup. Now, there’s that mental load of worrying whether my baby is going to cry in the next minute or so… I try to make time for skincare, but everything’s done in a rush now. Bye bye mental relaxation!

What’s your biggest skin concern now?

My main skincare concern is hyperpigmentation at the moment. Pregnancy made my sunspots worse. Also some skin congestion, because there’s not been much time to follow a strict regimen during the newborn chaos. I’m a bit sad about it, and have laser treatments on my to-do list. But it’s not really a priority right now because I’ve read that laser treatments may not be safe for breastfeeding mums, so that will have to take a backseat, until I stop breastfeeding at least.

Best beauty hack so far?

One thing that has really benefited my skin while in the thick of navigating newborn chaos, was setting and following a routine that works for me. I started skin cycling before pregnancy and it’s become such a deeply ingrained routine that I don’t even think about it. Right now, it’s a retinol alternative one night, then glycolic acid the next night, a mask on the following, a hydrating cream on the last, then back to the retinol alternative.

Coni Liu, 42

Dermatologist, mum of 14-year-old twins and a 5-year-old

One surprising thing you’ve learnt about skin as a dermatologist?

The wide array of cell and immune processes that happens within the skin, leading to a huge multitude of skin diseases – and we are still discovering new variants today. Understanding and targeting the correct root cause is the key to maintaining healthy skin.

What are your biggest beauty concerns and how do you deal with them?

At 42 years old and three kids in, skin laxity is definitely hard to ignore. Losing the sharp jawline silhouette, gaining a double chin, seeing loose neck lines develop, having flabby arms and a pouchy tummy, and spotting all those cellulite on the thighs… These are the cumulative results of the loss of collagen that comes with age. As a mum, time has become my most precious commodity. I only want to use my time on effective clinic treatments for maximum efficacy that last as long as possible. My current favourite regimen is regular skinboosters – they are like injectable skincare that gets delivered right to where it’s supposed to go.

Advice for your children?

Find a good dermatologist who will help you look after your skin instead of trying to fix it yourself. And listen to your mother, especially when she is a dermatologist!

Faz Gaffa, 37

Global content writing lead, mum of a 6-year-old

How have you dealt with the changes to your skin since becoming a mum?

It’s funny how I notice a lot more things about my skin the older I grow: both hyper and hypopigmentation, uneven skin tone, hollowing of my undereyes… I could go on! I became a mother in my 30s, and truly, it was when I realised that I needed professional help with my skin. Finding a trusted aesthetic doctor has been a saviour because there’s just so much topical skincare can do. My fave hack for better skin at the moment is an annual treatment to up collagen and elastin production.

Why do you love makeup?

I think makeup should be fun, no matter how old you are. I’ve always loved colour and trying new things, and I still do now; I wouldn’t think twice about adding a touch of trendy thang when I do my makeup – whether it’s a 90’s lip, an iridescent mermaidcore eyeshadow or a cold girl flush (even when it’s sweltering outside!) Have I said already that I love makeup? I am perfectly confident in my skin without it, but really, it’s a form of self-care, and also an extension of me as a creative. But please, don’t ever ask me to do someone else’s makeup. I’d definitely poke their eye out!

What are some of your favourite beauty trends?

I have so many favourite beauty trends, but skinimalism has got to top it all. People are inundated by so many products and yes, full shelfies make a great IG photo, but over-consumerism is not it – not for the earth, for your pockets, or for your skin. Tailoring your skincare to exactly what you need gets all the yeses from me!

Karen Fong, 42

Freelance editor and lifestyle writer, mum of 2 children aged 4 and 2

What is your beauty routine like now?

As a multi-tasking mum trying to juggle kids, work, and somehow squeeze in some me-time in between, I’d have to say the biggest change is mainly speed. I need to be faster and do my makeup or skincare in as little time as possible, with two toddlers running around. I am grateful that I have a helper and a husband to help keep them at bay, but mums will know how this usually ends up! Now I only really do a full face of makeup for big events – whereas when I was kid-free I’d put makeup on for brunch with friends.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?

I grew up in Canada and at that time there wasn’t much diversity in makeup, and the rise of Asian skincare was still decades away, so lots of products just wouldn’t work as well for me and didn’t make me look as good as I’d hoped. That made me feel insecure and sad. So I would definitely tell my younger self that it wasn’t about me, and that companies just hadn’t figured out that everyone deserves to look and feel their best with products that suit their skin tone and specific skin needs. I’d also tell myself that there’s no need to use makeup like an armour or to think of it as some kind of social defence – because motherhood will eventually prove I have no time for those insecurities.

Your best hack for mum life?

Lately I’ve been trying to schedule, schedule, schedule. There’s so much I need and want to get done, including finding time to meet friends, carving out time for just myself, getting chores done, organising my life, kids stuff… The list is really endless. Scheduling helps me keep it all together somewhat, because if it’s in the schedule, I feel better knowing what’s coming next, and also more equipped to manage anything that comes out of the blue.

Eileen Chia, 49

Publishing director, mum of 4 children aged 17, 14, 10 and 4

Who’s your biggest beauty influence?

My mum. She is always well put-together, with her eyebrows nicely done, lipstick on, and her nails neatly manicured. My mum says all the time that there are no ugly women, just lazy women – something which I find to be so very cliche but true. 

What’s your current beauty philosophy?

I’m all about using no-fuss, simple and efficient products. No matter how busy I am, I never fail to apply my sunscreen daily, exfoliate weekly, and moisturise moisturise moisturise. I multi-task and try to save time by doing my makeup in the car. I also save time by brushing my teeth and washing my face while in the shower.

Your time-saving beauty hack?

I leave an extra bottle of serum, eye cream, or moisturiser by my bedside table, so that I can easily grab those and put them on my face just before I melt into my bed on days when I’m extremely exhausted. I also keep an extra tube of sunscreen in my bag, so that I can apply it on the go if I forget to do it in the morning. Tried and tested to work.

Vanessa Tai, 37

Freelance writer and editor, mum of an 18-month-old

Your best beauty hack?

Drinking lots of water is definitely great for your skin and keeping your energy levels up. I have a sweet tooth and often reach for sugary drinks, but I also try to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water every day. And I always start the day with a glass of warm water.

One step in your beauty routine you cannot do without?

I would say there are 3 steps I cannot live without: washing my face, applying moisturiser and applying sunblock. Living on the equator and working in women’s magazines have drilled into me the importance of proper sun protection so I never leave the house without applying sunblock.

Your beauty goals for 2024?

To be more diligent with my skincare! I’m usually so tired by the end of the day that I only have energy to wash my face and slap on some moisturiser – even my husband is more diligent with his skincare than I am! As a full-time working mum with no helper, my days are often pretty hectic and harried. However, I know that if I have the time (and energy) to scroll through TikTok, I definitely have the time to get my skincare back on track!

Iqah Saad, 34

Teacher, mum of 3 children aged 6, 3 and 1

What is your beauty mantra?

As someone who is quietly resilient in trying to achieve her goals, my focus is on keeping my skin healthy and resilient. I do this by maintaining a simple, fuss-free and practical routine to attain clean and acne-free skin, with brands and products that excel at basic functions such as cleansing, toning and spot-reducing. I strongly believe that to be beautiful, you don’t need to cover everything up on your face. It’s about the confidence you carry.

One beauty thing to prep yourself for a long day?

I’ve just re-started my face roller routine first thing every morning. It’s quick and easy, and makes me happy. Starting the day with some pampering me-time is great. Practically speaking, it helps reduce puffiness, and prepares my skin to better absorb serum and other products. Win-win!

Advice for your children?

If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams. Smiling is an easy choice to make, to be beautiful.

Text: Kelly Ang
Photography: Clement Goh
Art direction: Michelle Lee
Hair: Sha Shamsi, Kenneth Ong
Makeup: Eunice Wong