31 Dec 2014

Carolyn's Best of Beauty 2014: My Favourite Skincare and Makeup Picks

This was written after I posted my 2015 favourites, which was quite counter-intuitive because shouldn't 2014 come first? However, I was quite new to skincare in 2014, and was super slow in writing so I'm starting everything slow.

I decided to write a 2014 favourites, after listing down everything I started using in 2014 and realize that oh wow I did have a lot of 2014 products that I could share with you guys. And most of them I haven't got a time to write a single review on. So why don't I just share it here then? Besides, most of them are also commonly available brand at Malaysian drugstores so this review will be helpful for local Malaysian readers as well. Let's go through them!

Drop me a message or comment below if you are interested to know about any single products here:

★★★★★ my holy grail
★★★★ excellent and I really enjoy it
★★★ good but totally replaceable
★★ yuack, something about its quality turns me off
★ gosh, why did I ever waste my money and time on it?!
PS: the rating is based on my 2014 "tastes". My standard and set requirements have gone up over the year. These rating will be 1-2 stars lower if I were to use my current standard.


  • Senka Perfect Gel ★★★★
  • Hada Labo Hydrating Makeup Remover ★★
  • Biore Makeup Removing Facial Foam ★
  • Nature Republic Soothing & Moisture Cleansing Gel Cream ★★★★

My favourite makeup remover/first cleanser is Senka Perfect Gel. I have used 2-3 bottles of this already before I moved on to Nature Republic Cleansing Gel Cream and subsequently Innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Water. I must say that this is an effective, gentle yet economic way of removing your dirts, debris, sunscreen and light makeup. Don't use this to remove your oil-based or heavy makeup though.


Both Hada Labo Whitening Face Wash and Nature Republic Aloe Vera Foam Cleanser are my 2014 favourite cleansers. The Hada Labo one is a citrus-smelling, gentle, foam-up-nicely and effective cleanser. My skin feels distinctively soft, clean, yet not too tight after cleansing. The Nature Republic one, on the other hand, smells heavenly like its most other aloe vera products, is really moisturizing and gentle on the skin. I couldn't decide I like which one better so I rank them my two favourites.


My 2014 favourite skin booster/boosting essence/serum has to be the Nature Republic Saccharomyces Ferment The First Essence. It's a great-smelling, water-like treatment essence which has improved my skin tone greatly. My skin feels brighter, more radiant and clearer after using this. It helps my skin to turnover faster, hence I get less whiteheads and blackheads as well. However, do make sure that you use a nice hydrating moisturizer if you are using this, and DON'T use other products from the line. Otherwise, you will feel really dry and tight since this whitening product is not hydrating at all, rather quite drying.


For me, toner is a step where I include to prep, hydrate and lightly treat the skin. I don't have acne problems so I am not paying much attention to pH balancing of my skin back then. So, all of these toners are judged based on their ability to prep and hydrate my skin. Among them, I like Aqualabel Moisture Lotion R the most. It is really watery and refreshing on the skin. It makes my skin feels baby soft and silky. The smell is also heavenly as well, which feels like a threat to have for my skin. As for why I don't like Dr. G, this toner is not really bad but something in it breaks me out in little milias badly. I rarely get adverse reaction to any skincare products I use, this is the exception. Dr. Wu, on the other hand, deteriorates really fast under the room temperature. I know Malaysia is hot but it is just odd that this product deteriorates that fast. Something about the preservative and vitamin C content inside are unstable which makes it to break down within 2 months. I don't dislike Hada Labo, I just find it too boring and old school/classic for my skin so they are "meh".


I don't have any favourite treatment for 2014. Dr. Wu Intensive Whitening Serum is a decent one, but the effect is too mild and the price is too high to be my favourite.


I'm very particular about the texture and smell of my moisturizers. After all, they are not toner and treatment that will prep, hydrate and treat. Their major role is to moisturize and seal actives in. Hence, my preference will be heavily influenced by the user-friendliness of the moisturizers. Among all moisturizers (lotions/emulsions/creams) I have used in 2014, my favourite (if I were to pick one) would be the Dr. Wu Extra Whitening Lotion with AA2G. This is a light-weighted, nicely formulated lotion that spreads nicely on my skin and does the moisturizing job really well. Other moisturizers are mostly too thick or have weird formula that I don't like.


My favourite sunscreen in 2014 is the Biore Watery Essence Aqua Rich (the 2014 version). I prefer the 2015 version better, as the renewed formula is much more moisturizing and soothing on the skin. However, since I wasn't that good at picking sunscreen products back then, most other sunscreens  I used are horrible. Cetaphil, Neogence and It's Skin are too thick and overwhelming to apply 1/4 tablespoon (which is the required amount for maximum protection) whereas the Nature Republic sun spray always leaves me a fear of inhaling the sunscreen filters. Hada Labo one was okay, but too mild and non-moisturizing at all compared to the Biore one.


As you can tell, none of these are my favourite, which is very telling about how I choose skincare in 2014. Both Bio-Essence and Innisfree Jelly Softener are indifferent. They are not necessarily bad, but they don't really make any difference for my skin health. Natio is too abrasive and harsh to deserve the label "gentle". As for Holika Holika, this thing does nothing at all for my nose. Not a single blackheads extracted. It is also a lot more expensive than Skinfood Egg White Nose Strip that works. Methode Swiss eye cream is a complete waste of money with nothing impressive. It doesn't even get absorbed and will form solid residues on my eye surface. As for Mentholatum Maxilip Caviar Lip Balm, it deteriorates within 1 month of use so I always prefer the Pure version made of beeswax.


My favourite jar masks (sleeping/wash-off/deep cleansing) would be the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask and Neogence Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating & Revitalizing Gel Mask. They are highly similar products, with Laneige focuses more on light-weighted moisturising and smoothing and Neogence one on hydrating and revitalizing. Your skin will feel silky soft and smooth with Laneige and deeply hydrated with Neogence. Individuals with acne-prone skin or those who cannot use Laneige can try out the Neogence one as it is gentler and more light-weighted.


  • Bio-Essence Celebrity's Choice Inchloss Body Cream Extra Strength ★★★
  • Bio-Essence Celebrity's Choice Cellulite Treatment ★
  • Bio-Essence Celebrity's Choice Inchloss Shower Scrub ★
  • Innisfree Green Tea Pure Body Gel Scrub ★
  • Enchanteur Double Moisture Body Serum ★★★★
  • Nature Republic Aloe Vera Soothing Gel ★★★★
  • Elizavecca Origin Ma Cream ★

I have dry, chapped and damaged elbow and knee areas due to my 4 years living in Vancouver and the subsequent times in an air-conditioned office. Hence, I am looking for a light-weighted yet highly hydrating and moisturizing body moisturizer. Although Nature Republic Aloe Vera Gel is a lovely hydrating gel, but it often feels indifferent for those drier parts of my body. So I am delighted when Enchanteur came out with this Double Moisture Body Serum that I truly enjoy. It is light-weighted, more like an oily-serum that gets absorbed into my body easily. Truly my favourite body moisturizer in 2014.


I have tried numerous products ever since I came back from Canada, from Clear, Head and Shoulder, Loreal Paris, to Dove. None really works to scalp my itchy, oily-dehydrated scalp. Tsubaki Head SPA Shampoo managed to calm my scalp down a little bit, makes it less itchy. Regardless, after using about 2 bottles of it, I realize that it makes my hair so dry and frizzy that I switched to something else in 2015.


I have two favourite hair and scalp treatments this year: the Tsubaki Head SPA Mask and Mise en Scene Perfect Repair Hair Serum. They are different products. The Tsubaki one focuses on nourishing and revitalizing the scalp whereas the Mise en Scene one is more about hydrating and smoothing of the hair. Both leaves my hair and scalp feeling happy and healthy. Although the tsubaki one will only be able to keep my scalp happy for about 1-2 days, it is by far the most effective scalp treatment I've ever used in 2014.


  • Kanebo Freshel White C Mineral BB Cream ★★
  • Nature Republic The First Fermented Essence BB Balm SPF25 ★
  • ZA liquid eyeliner ★★★★
  • Holika holika jewel eyeliner #amber ★★★
  • Holika holika light pink eyeliner ★★★
  • ZA eyeshadow #brown #pink ★★★★
  • Missha the style lip tint #red orange ★★★★

I know these sound pity, but these are by far the only makeup items I have in 2014. I rarely wear makeup, only during festive seasons and dinners. The Freshel BB Cream is unimpressive. The coverage, finish, formulation and moisturising power is far far worse than Skin79 one. My skin looks grey and dull after wearing this BB Cream. As for Nature Republic BB Balm, it is worse. It cakes up easily and will not be able to spread evenly on my face. I know why Nature Republic gives them to me as a gift. The rest are quite decent. ZA liquid eyeliner, although not quite smudge-proof, is still blendable and easy to use for beginner. Holika Holika one is again less smudge-proof compared to CLIO Gelpresso, but is relatively cheaper with good blendability. The ZA shadow palette are also beautiful and highly pigmented. As for Missha, my only lip makeup product in 2014, it is highly pigmented with vivid colour. The only downside is that it is a little bit drying on my easily chapped lips.

[Disclaimer] This is NOT a sponsored review. Products are purchased with my own money. All copy right of contents and images in this article is strictly mine.
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