If there’s one word that has stood out in all the recent beauty drops, it’s this: Clean. As of late, makeup, skincare and haircare brands alike have been proudly touting the word, along with other choice phrases like ‘paraben-free’, ‘sulphate-free’, ‘organic’ and ‘vegan’. Being mindful of what you put on your skin hasn’t been a new concept for years now. So why the renewed interest?
Chalk it down to greenwashing, or the belief that brands need to feed into a ballooning wellness trend to avoid damnation. In any case, we tried some of the newest, cleanest skincare products to hit shelves here, to see how just how effective going clean really is.
Dr. Roebuck’s No Worries Hydrating Face Moisturizer
The Australian-born skincare line prides itself on incorporating indigenous ingredients from Down Under—natural goodies like Australian clay and Kakadu plum. That, on top of being paraben-, sulfate-, phthalate- and gluten-free, plus cruelty-free and vegan. It’s a lot of promises neatly wrapped up in minimal white packaging.
Our take: Their signature moisturiser is packed with skin-nourishing ingredients like macadamia oil and rosehip oil. It smells like heaven—a mix of coconut and the sea. It takes about one to two pumps to fully cover your face, and the finish is slightly tacky but lightweight (which in our books makes it a suitable daytime moisturiser). The rest of your routine layers seamlessly on top, thanks in part to the hyaluronic acid inside that helps to smooth over any fine lines. Great for everyday; and paired with the Herbivore Lapis Face Oil, it’s a match made in hydrated heaven.
$58, available at Sephora
Herbivore Lapis Balancing Face Oil
The name should already be a tip-off to the brand’s all-natural philosophy; in place of chemicals, they’ve substituted natural flower extracts and seed oils. Finished in minimal, Instagram-ready packaging, it’s no wonder this 8-year-old label is so well-loved by beauty fans. The product in question is formulated for combination, oily and blemish-prone skin types, and tinted a blue hue from the organic Azulene-rich Blue Tansy oil—an aromatherapy favourite used to soothe and clear congested skin.
Our take: I’ve never been a fan of putting oils on my face—who is in Singapore?—but this one’s divine. It smells like the fresh blue tansy it contains, and two to three drops spreads easily over your face for instant radiance. It’s one of the few dewy products that still shines through makeup, and without the heaviness, though its magic works best on a bare face. Want a quick trick to looking glowy and healthy on the weekends? Look no further.
$41 for 8ml, $112 for 50ml; available at Sephora
Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner
For no-questions-asked reassurance, you can bet your dollar on Indie Lee. The self-named skincare line from the West Coast came about when founder Indie Lee was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumour—which doctors later attributed to environmental toxins in her beauty products. As such, her cosmetic line is toxin-free, cruelty-free, and grounded in natural ingredients; the rebalancing aloe vera-based CoQ-10 Toner included.
Our take: Toner is one of those unsexy things in beauty nobody really wants to splurge on. For as long as I can remember I’ve been religiously using the one from Bioderma. After my usual cleansing, I pump a fair amount of the CoQ-10 onto a cotton pad and take it around my face—only to realise in horror that it’s darkened from residual makeup that didn’t wash off the first time. Have I been doing toner wrong all these years? Apart from thoroughly cleaning your face, it also evaporates swiftly to prepare for your final step. I don’t see how it’s possible to go back to my old products now that I’ve discovered this.
$50, available at Sephora
Kew Organics Deluxe Hydra Nutrient Mist
Homegrown organic skincare label Kew Organics is perhaps better-known for their bespoke facials and facial peels. The skincare line used in these facials, however, retails separately too. Packed with organic and active botanicals, the range builds on water-based textures to fit the climate, and is especially formulated to target acne, scarring and sensitive skin—a prerogative of founder Lily Kew, who previously suffered from serious acne.
Our take: The new nutrient mist is chock full of goodies: organic rose, goji berries, and snow fungus that supposedly holds an impressive amount of moisture. It proves a godsend on a press trip to Bali. After running around the entire day in scorching weather, I barely have time touch up my makeup before the night-time activities—but a few spritzes of the mist instantly calms, helps the morning’s makeup sit better, and refreshes my tired skin in general. It also works great as a one-step prep for the lazy girl who can’t be bothered to get her hands sticky in the morning.
$54.70, available online
Starskin Orglamic Pink Cactus Pudding
A little under the radar, Korean-Swiss Starskin was so named to emulate that much-coveted red carpet celebrity glow. The premium skincare brand makes its products in Korea, working with dermatologists for a long no-list (parabens, phthalates, mineral oils and sulphates) when it comes to nasty ingredients. The all-new Pink Cactus collection spotlights Prickly Pear Cactus Seed Oil for long-lasting hydration and nourishing; co-founder Nicole Arnoldussen even compared the prized ingredient to a “Fountain of Youth”.
Our take: It’s a weirdly goopy product with the texture of Instagram slime, but thankfully also a calming scent of fresh rose. On your face, it sinks right in; and though you can still feel a touch of the putty lingering, the moisture absorbs with lightning speed. In fact, it holds moisture so well (like a cactus?) you wake up the next day with hydrated, dewy soft skin—and none of the sticky overnight residue from pointless moisturisers that never fully absorb into the skin. This is the closest I’ve ever experienced my skin “drinking” a product in; a new go-to for my night-time routine.
$75, available at Sephora
Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream
Getting a Kardashian shout-out definitely gave it street cred, but this Japanese skincare-inspired line has long been a force to be reckoned with in the natural beauty scene. Drawing from the holistic beauty regimes of geishas, Tatcha is grounded by natural ingredients like rice bran, green tea, camellia oil and silk.
Our take: The new Dewy Skin Cream builds on the success of its viral Luminous Dewy Skin Mist. There are still your odd non-natural compounds inside, but at the heart of it is Japanese purple rice bran, a strong antioxidant that helps skin recover from stress, pollution and UV damage—complemented with botanical extracts like ginseng and wild thyme. It’s formulated without parabens, phthalates or synthetic fragrance; what you smell instead is a subtle scent that brings to mind barley stalks waving gently in the breeze (perhaps I’ve just gone mad).
The cream is a richer texture than what I’m used to, but still light enough not to feel cloying on the face. The next morning, the results are instantaneous: I wake with clear, refreshed skin and a lit-from-within glow that I don’t even bother with daytime moisturiser. After a few nights trying this, I can confirm its effectiveness was not a fluke. Splurge now and scrimp later—this is the night cream we all deserve.
$99, available at Sephora