1 Apr 2018

My 2017 Skincare Holy Grail


In this review, I'm gonna list down some of my skincare holy grails as of 2017. I started my beauty journey since 2014, became more active in 2016 and achieved greater popularity and outreach in 2017. My beauty taste has changed a lot since 2014. I used to be an stern believer of using the same products from the same skincare brands and lines. My choice is also more limited to things I can find in local health and beauty stores. But now I have expanded my knowledge to brands outside of local drugstores, some are even things you can't find in Malaysia.

As I gain more knowledge and experience in the field, I also become more picky. I no longer focus a lot on packaging and scent. I also pay less attention to every single ingredients because what matters is the performance of a product not fancy ingredients. I also learn to accept that YMMV in skincare and be more mindful in giving out skincare advice. And finally, I think the real beauty comes from within so I am also spending significantly lesser on skincare and more on fresh food.

Having said all these, below are a list of my skincare holy grails:


  • A.H.C Eye Cream For Face Season 3, 4 and 5
  • Belif Creamy Cleansing Foam Moist
  • Belif Numero 10 Essence
  • Belif The True Cream - Aqua Bomb
  • Bifesta Moist Cleansing Sheet For Normal & Dry Skin
  • Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA++++
  • Blithe Patting Splash Mask
  • Blithe Tundra Chaga Pressed Serum
  • Celeb Face Sparkling Cleanser
  • Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch
  • Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18%
  • Hada Labo Arbutin Whitening Face Wash
  • Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence; Essence-Like, Oil-Like
  • Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin & Lotion
  • Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum
  • Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence
  • Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Skin
  • Innisfree Jeju Sparkling Mineral Essence
  • IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning
  • Kose Sekkisei Lotion
  • Kose Sekkisei Sun Protect Essence Gel N SPF50+/PA++++
  • Lador Tea Tree Scalp Clinic Hair Pack
  • Laneige Water Bank Mineral Mist
  • Laneige Water Sleeping Mask
  • Laneige White Plus Renew Original Essence
  • Lirikos Marine Oxygenic Essence EX
  • LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule
  • L'Oreal Paris UV Perfect Super Aqua Essence SPF50+ PA+++
  • Make P:rem Clean Me Radiance Cleansing Pack
  • Make P:rem UV Defense Me Capsule Sun Gel SPF50+ PA+++
  • Mise En Scene Perfect Repair Serum
  • Nature Republic Argan Essential Deep Care Hair Pack
  • Nature Republic Beauty Tool Natural 5-layer Cotton Wipe
  • Primary Raw Soy Milk Azulene Gel Cream 
  • Primera Free & Free
  • Senka Perfect Gel
  • SK-II Facial Treatment Essence 
  • Son & Park Beauty Water
  • St. Ives Apricot Fresh Skin Scrub
  • Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum_EX
  • Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water EX
  • Suzuran Attirer Puff
  • The Body Shop Shea Nourishing Whipped Lotion
  • The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% 
  • The Saem Urban Eco Harakeke Toner
  • Watson's Air-Laid Facial Puffs
  • Whoo Ja Saeng Essence 




A.H.C Eye Cream For Face Season 3, 4 and 5


A.H.C eye cream comes out with new formula and texture pretty fast. I remembered I was still using its Season 3 like 2 years ago and now it already has Season 5!!! A.H.C eye cream is one of the cheapest you can get out there (as long as you buy it from trusted seller). It uses quality ingredients like shea butter, ceramide, and several botanical extracts. And the texture is simply gorgeous! Lightweight but super nourishing and moisturizing. Perfect for all skin types! A must have for students!

Belif Creamy Cleansing Foam Moist


My favourite foaming cleanser of all time. It was a love at first sight ever since I tried it. It is by far one of the most moisturizing, good-smelling and gentle foaming cleansers I have ever used. It is suitable for normal to dry skin but I think combination will like it too! Will keep repurchasing.

Belif Numero 10 Essence


This is NOT a love at first sight, but more like a remarriage thing. I used a few miniatures and was not impressed due to its tacky texture. But that tackiness improves greatly when I learned to apply it on damp, freshly washed face after shower. DO NOT USE IT ON DRY FACE. It hydrates, preps and balances my skin really well. Definitely a greater skin booster, first serum and hydrating essence to have!

Belif The True Cream - Aqua Bomb


I have talked about this many times in my previous review. It was a love at first sight and that feeling lasts until now. I have never tried a cream that can hydrate and moisturize. It will work great for average skin, be it combination, normal or dry. It may be a bit sticky for some people but your skin will feel super plump once the cream is absorbed. It also smells super enticing and relaxing with its herbal lemonic scent. Love it! Already repurchased numerous times.

Bifesta Moist Cleansing Sheet For Normal & Dry Skin

Bifesta would be my first choice when it comes to cleansing wipes and makeup remover for eyes and lips. It is cheap, effective and gentle when it comes to makeup removing. The only downside is of course its alcohol content, which may be a bit irritating for sensitive skin. It doesn't sting my eyes though compared to other cleansing water without so much alcohol inside!

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA++++


Biore now comes out with a newer 2017 version which is stickier with water-resisting properties, but that doesn't stop me from loving it. This is by far the most lightweight, refreshing, easy-to-absorb and high coverage sunscreen I have ever used. I can use 1/4 tsp easily of this (1/4 tsp is the minimum amount of sunscreen you need to put on your face for maximum coverage) if compared to those creamier and heavier sun lotion or cream. Most importantly, this stuff is so cheap. It retails for only RM 30 at various drugstores and pharmacies and sometimes you can get it at RM 20-25 at sales.

Blithe Patting Splash Mask

This is a chemical exfoliant in the form of water. It is an acid with ~pH 3.5 which is perfect for surface cleansing. And since it is also a wash-off mask, you don't have to worry about the irritability of having low pH treatment on your skin since it will only stay on your skin for a few seconds. It is also super convenient as you can just do it during the shower. It is also really effective even though it may only stay on your face for a few seconds. Your skin will look polished, clear and radiant with continuous use! A must have in my current routine!

Blithe Tundra Chaga Pressed Serum



Literally the only heavy cream that I like. This is a heavy cream with tofu- or pudding-like consistency. It is quite creamy but gets absorbed really well into your skin. Do not put on many layers of skincare when you are using this as they will pill. Having said that, you will love it for rushy morning because you can just rush out your home wearing only this, a toner and a sunscreen (if you do not apply makeup). It has plenty of antioxidants inside, and is super moisturizing too. Love it!

Celeb Face Sparkling Cleanser


This is probably the most convenient makeup removing cleanser that I have had. It also takes significantly lesser time compared to, say, bubble mask. It is a gel that will turn into foam automatically when you apply it on your face. I notice that it will only do so when there is moisture in your surrounding or when your hand is wet. It won't work on dry surface applied using dry hand. It can remove eye shadow but not deeper colour or waterproof makeup though. I like how it saves my time in the morning as it can auto-cleanse. It also leaves my skin super clean and clear!

Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch

This is the most effective pimple treatment that I will always come back for. Just one patch and you will see those zits and inflammation going down. Stock up when Hermo or Wako Beauty is running some sales, you can get it for as cheap as RM 12. I have tried so many acne treatments before, from blemish cream to cica but none works as well and as fast as this. Definitely a constant repurchase!

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18%

Mandelic acid is a unique AHA because it is oil-soluble hence making it great for combination and oily skin too. Dr. Wu mandelic acid offers the gentlest and effective AHA solution compared to Cosrx that I've tried. My mom who uses it keep sending me snapshots of her face everyday as she can't stop noticing how this product has helped her achieving a smoother, poreless and brighter skin. As for me, it helps to fade some of my freckles and reduces blackheads. So far the only AHA serum that I am using.

Hada Labo Arbutin Whitening Face Wash

This is one of the oldest cleanser I have used asides from Dove and Nano White. I really love how gentle and non-drying it feels on my skin. The bubbles formed are big and mild, and it will not strip my skin off moisture. The best part is also its price, at only about RM 26, cheaper than many Korean cleanser out there.

Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil Essence; Essence-Like, Oil-Like


One of the most nourishing yet non-heavy and non-sticky moisturizing essences I have ever used! I love the scent, texture and packaging a lot. My skin always feels so plump, baby soft and supple after using this. I like this much better than Laneige because it has antioxidants inside and the oil content is what my normal-to-dry skin needs without the greasiness of oil. Will keep repurchasing!

Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin & Lotion
Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum


Innisfree green tea line is one of the first Korean skincare lines that I have tried. It was a love at first sight. I stopped using them for 2 years and then went back again, and was again in love! They smell amazing, the texture is super lightweight and you will feel your skin's thirst quenched. The idea of having freshly squeezed green tea juice on my skin excites me a lot! I love anything green tea, and this Innisfree green tea line is the best green tea beauty products that I have tried!

Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence
Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Skin


Jeju Island is said to be one of the prettiest places on earth. Hence, I know I can't miss stuffs made of seawater harvested from the Jeju Island. Actually, there isn't much botanical extracts in these products, but something inside really plumps, hydrates and keeps my skin healthy and dewy, so I think it is indeed the miraculous power of the healing seawater brewed by the lava surrounding it for tens of thousands of years! Love them! Will definitely repurchase!

Innisfree Jeju Sparkling Mineral Essence


Literally my favourite sparkling beauty product! Even the Laneige ones aren't as good as this. This Jeju Sparkling Mineral Essence brings a lot of refreshment and hydration to my skin. Using it on my skin is as if feeding it with soda water. A must have in the summer time and I have since repurchased twice!

IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning

The closest copy of SK-II FTE at 15-25% of its price! This essence works really well to prep, hydrate, renew, regenerate, refine and revitalize the skin. My pores appear smaller and more refined ever since adding this into my skincare routine. Something about it makes my skin appears dewy, less prone to breakouts and younger. A definite repurchase!

Kose Sekkisei Lotion

I love this toner! It is one of the few that will actually brighten up my skin after using. I like to use it most as lotion mask, where I soak a generous amount of the toner on thin cotton sheet and apply it on my cheek area for extra care. The herbal ingredients inside somehow manages to tone up my skin, making it a lot radiant and brighter. The alcohol content inside also offers a pleasant refreshing texture that I like. Something I would keep repurchasing in the future!

Kose Sekkisei Sun Protect Essence Gel N SPF50+/PA++++


Kose sunscreen is one of the best that I've used. I have repurchased numerous times and I think they are great value for money! If you divide the price by its volume, it is actually not more expensive than normal Korean sunscreen. It is of course pricier than Biore but given the quality of herbal ingredients inside, and its really skin-friendly texture, I'm more than willing to pay the price to enjoy that lightweight sun protection that this sun essence gel offers!

Lador Tea Tree Scalp Clinic Hair Pack


I have finished using at least 7 tubes of this. This is by far the best scalp treatments I have ever used. It is a soft lotion that you can apply directly onto your scalp. The ingredients when then hydrate, moisturize and repair your scalp to make it produces less sebum and dandruff the next day. Your scalp will become less scaly and itchy after prolonged usage. Something I will continue to repurchase!

Laneige Water Bank Mineral Mist

I have mentioned this in my previous reviews, that the Laneige Water Bank Mineral Mist is my indisputable favourite among all other facial mists that I have used. It is super hydrating, moisturizing, and refreshing. It also smells great too! I have since repurchased numerous times.

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask


Actually the Water Sleeping Mask is not really a ride or die product for me. I have used many other sleeping masks that are better. But the Laneige one is the one that I keep repurchasing (due to the price factor). It is also the first sleeping masks that catch my heart so I want to include it here as my "least-holy-grail” holy-grail! It is a lightweight, very hydrating and refreshing gel cream that will offer overnight protection. Not something nourishing or moisturizing though, unless if you have oily skin, but definitely pleasant to have if your skin is a little bit cranky and dry before going to bed!

Laneige White Plus Renew Original Essence

I have tried so many brightening serum and this one works. My skin appears more luminous, radiant and a tone brighter after using this for weeks. I think it works better than Kiehl's in term of skin brightening properties but not so much for hyperpigmentation. Now Laneige has reformulated this thing into a brand new White Dew line and I'm gonna keep repurchasing that one too.

Lirikos Marine Oxygenic Essence EX


Rightfully the BEST moisturizing essence in my life!  This offers lightweight yet intensive hydration to my skin. I can feel oxygen being pumped and injected into my skin, nourishing every part of my cells. It smells great too! Something I keep going back to despite the higher price tag!

LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule

This is a cute little thing that will give your skin a subtle glow. It contains ample of propolis extract, vitamins and niacinamide to strengthen your skin's moisture barrier, repair skin damages and brighten up your complexion. A few drops of this with your cream will pamper and nourish your skin with nutrients. Dabbing it on your cheek and forehead will give you makeup-look but much more natural illuminating effect. Literally the only thing that works as well as highlighter! Have since repurchased 5 bottles of it!

L'Oreal Paris UV Perfect Super Aqua Essence SPF50+ PA+++


This is the best alternative I found for Kiehl's Ultra Light Sun Lotion. It contains mexoryl (ecamsule), an effective UVA filter patented by L'Oreal Paris. It is very lightweight, fast absorbing with high UVA protection, exactly what I need for someone who is prone to freckles like myself. It is a bit pricey though, given that it contains only 30ml but retails for RM 45-50.

Make P:rem Clean Me Radiance Cleansing Pack


The reason why I put this as my holy grail because no other clay mask is as hydrating, gentle and as convenient as this. This is a clay mask to foam cleanser that will deep cleanse your skin in less than 5 minutes. You can do it in the shower and your skin will be baby soft after. Perfect for individuals like me who wants some clay mask goodies once in a while without the wait time.

Make P:rem UV Defense Me Capsule Sun Gel SPF50+ PA+++

This is the most lightweight sunscreen that I have ever used. It uses more photosensitive ingredient "avobenzone" but since I am using it mostly in the morning and in the office so I have no issue with that. It shortens my time spent in the morning routine by a lot. And considering the amount in it (75ml), the price is also quite reasonable (about RM 70). I also really like its pump-top that allows me to control the amount of sunscreen that I'm putting on my face, without having to refer to my measuring spoons (1/4 tsp). Overall, a great sunscreen that I really enjoy and will keep repurchasing after Biore and Kose.

Mise En Scene Perfect Repair Serum

This is undoubtedly the best hair serum I have ever used. This is sold at least a million copies worldwide ever since its appearance in the popular Korean drama "My Love from the Star". Not only does the drama super popular and boosts the popularity of this product, the product itself is also of great quality. It is nourishing without being overly greasy or heavy on the hair. It smells great too! Now it has expanded to include light, rich, and limited rose edition to the collection. There is also a base essence and a styling serum for different consumer needs. The only hair serum line that I will keep going back to!

Nature Republic Argan Essential Deep Care Hair Pack

My favourite wash-off type hair treatment. This is made of argan oil to nourish and repair split ends and frizziness. Your hair will be super soft and smooth after using. Literally the only hair treatment that will leave my hair soft after rinsing. Other brands seem to all gone from my hair after I wash them off and it will be my bathroom floor's turn to get silky soft.

Nature Republic Beauty Tool Natural 5-layer Cotton Wipe

Literally the best facial cotton that I've used. It consists of 5 thin layers, with both exfoliating and smooth surfaces. You can use this for toner and essence, but I wouldn't recommend using it with cleansing water as it would be quite a waste to do so. Soft, wouldn't waste product and really cost-effective.

Primary Raw Soy Milk Azulene Gel Cream 


This is a gel cream that is as moisturizing as cream. It is very hydrating, refreshing, cooling and moisturizing at the same time. The scent is super enticing and you will fall in love easily with it! A jar like this comes in 100g so although the price is quite high, you are actually getting what you are paying for! Not to mention the beautiful jar it comes with that will be perfect for your vanity! A definite repurchase!

Primera Free & Free

This is my numerous purchase. I bought this many times over the past few years. It is a feminine cleanser that is super gentle and effective. I like it better than local drugstore brand. And it is made of either chamomile or artemisia which are herbs that are known to possess excellent anti-inflammatory properties!

Senka Perfect Gel

This is a perfect makeup removing cleansing gel if you have budget concern. It works as well as cleansing water, especially for colour makeup. It will dissolve pigments and dirts immediately, without stripping your skin off its natural moisture. A tube can last me for about 4 months so you are actually getting a lot back with the money you spent!

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence 

Many people swear by SK-II FTE, and I am no exception to that. It is a miraculous solution that can regenerate and renew your skin, making it appears younger and brighter over time. It will also correct your skin tone and "eat away" dead skin cells, blackheads and acne. I normally go for the set that comes with a toner, instead of the product alone, which is more "worth-it" in my opinion.

Son & Park Beauty Water

This is a cleansing toner that can tone, exfoliate and remove your makeup. Normally I use this in the afternoon to touch-up my sunscreen. However, many artists are using this before or after their makeup. It is convenient and effective. The texture is not sticky at all. Its alcohol content also makes it really refreshing. It smells amazing too! However, with the amount of essential oils, surfactants and alcohol inside, I still would suggest those with sensitive skin to patch test before using to avoid disappointment!

St. Ives Apricot Fresh Skin Scrub


I love to use this as body scrub. It is really cheap, smells good and will leave your skin smooth and soft. Way better than spending 10x its price on other body scrubs from The Body Shop! However, I wouldn't recommend using this on anyway above your neck as the particles are too rough for your skin. Overall a really economic scrub for your body!

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum_EX

I am not exactly sure what can this do for my skin. But my skin does feel healthier, more revitalized, and plumper after incorporating this into my routine. Asian girls use this to make their complexion "less yellow". In other words, this functions like a skin tonic to flush out all the biological waste that will contribute to the “yellowness” or "dullness" look on your face, so that it appears younger and more "genki". It is not a ride or die product, but I enjoy my every drop with it!

Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water EX

This is a great anti-aging and moisturizing toner that I am currently in love with! I also bought its whitening one which has excellent skin brightening properties. Sulwhasoo products are always fantastic (except for the price) and this is probably one of the best Sulwhasoo encounters I've ever had! Lightweight, non-sticky, but awesomely moisturizing with ginseng benefits! How cool is that?

Suzuran Attirer Puff

I think this is by far the most cost-effective facial cotton for toner and essence that I have used. It is very economic, quite soft, and will not produce lints when you swipe it across your skin. You can definitely find better quality cotton out there, but nothing at this price.

The Body Shop Shea Nourishing Whipped Lotion

This is my holy grail body lotion. Not only does it smell super nice and enticing, the creamy texture actually does a great job at nourishing and pampering my dry skin! I have tried other brands but none works as well as this at moisturizing my skin. The smell is also a major reason why I keep going back to this. It always reminds me of a good summer evening where I can relax and enjoy the sunshine. Definitely a constant repurchase for me!

The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%


This is my first retinol product and I am loving it a lot! It is an emulsion that you must finish within 6 months because of the potency. You can only use this at night. I cannot see much of a wrinkle-improving effect because I don't have a lot of wrinkles to begin with. However, I do notice that my acne goes away faster on this than on other chemical exfoliants. It works really well to regenerate the skin and heal breakouts. I used the 2% retinoid in squalane but was not impressed so I think I'm gonna stick to this for future retinoid treatment. Did I also mention that it is really cheap for a retinol product?

The Saem Urban Eco Harakeke Toner

If I were to recommend a toner below RM 50, The Saem Harakeke would be the first to come to my mind! It is a highly hydrating toner with harakeke juice and other botanical extracts. Harakeke is native to New Zealand and has similar skin soothing properties to aloe vera. I never try out Nature Republic aloe vera toner so I cannot judge on that but so far I think The Saem Harakeke deserves more attention.

Watson's Air-Laid Facial Puffs

I have tried the Silcot Facial Puff but I still think Watson's one is better and cheaper. Watson's Air-Laid Facial Puff is basically a very thin cotton sheet that you use as lotion mask. You soak it with toner or essence and then apply it onto your cheek or your whole face to sort of "force feed" those nutrients into your skin. Doing so everyday will make your skin stays hydrated and plumper for longer. The results are like the popular Korean 7-Skin Method!

The History of Whoo Ja Saeng Essence 


My favourite anti-aging serum thus far! This is a honey-like amber syrup that will melt into watery essence when it touches your skin. It is very moisturizing, with skin lifting and pampering benefits. Perfect for anyone with flaky, scaly, mature and dry skin! Your skin will love it (although your wallet might not)!

FINAL THOUGHT

They are things I loved, and will most likely continue to love for the rest of 2018. Some are my repurchases, some might not due to budget constraint. Do keep in mind that these are my personal favourites and skincare is always YMMV hence don't go and buy everything I list down here. Read up on them and judge for yourself whether you truly need them.

To sum things up, I hope all of you stay beautiful in 2018. Season greeting and wishing everyone a beautiful and happy 2018 ahead!
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