My Top 5 Skincare Products (Plus 2 Subs) | Updated Skincare July 2013 & a Cheatsheet

I’ve decided to not include sunscreen and makeup remover in this post and decided to focus on the following steps that I have chosen to generally follow for the past few months : Cleanse, Exfoliate (1x-2x a week), Tone,  Nourish (3x-5x a week), and Moisturize.  Plus I know what you’re thinking, you’re like “but those are 7 items in the photo!”.  For moisturizer and cleanser you’ll notice they’re double-decked in the shot meaning you can substitute the product on top for the product below and vice-versa (also because I wanted to give local options).  Thus, that makes the real working arsenal a total of 5 essential items.



L to R: NIVEA Baby Smoothy Cream, ORIGINS Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask ( just an overnight cream), CLARINS Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner (w/ Tamarind), Le Couvent Des Minime – Gentle Rose  Cleansing Milk (Mineral Oil-Free), Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa (Malunggay) Cleansing Balm, Moringa O2 Malunggay Herbal Facial Toner, PAI London Rosehip BioRegenerate Facial Oil (Bazaar Beauty Awards 2011) Pls. bear in mind I don’t use all these every day.  I generally do Cleanse, Tone, Moisturize 3 steps/3items on a daily basis…then the Exfoliate and Nourish steps only 1-2x a week.

I’ve concisely written my thoughts on each item below but I’ve also linked any individual reviews I’ve already done to the product names in case you want to know more and see close up photos of the products.  I’ve also provided a sort of scheduled skincare cheat sheet at the end of the blog post to show you what my week in skincare kinda looks like, I really tried to think honestly at the end about how I’ve rounded up the use of my skincare picks. Read more to get to the product breakdown and how I get around to using each of them.

1. CLEANSE – I’m pretty much through for now with foaming cleansers ever since I heard repeatedly via Ms. Hirons (aka that foaming soaps alkaline the surface of the skin I’ve practically steered clear of them, for now at least, I know I won’t be able to resist when I’m in transit.  Right now I’m really enjoying and benefiting from the use of Le Couvent Des Minime’s Gentle Rose Cleansing Milk.  I’m not a fan of rose scents but this is scented very mildly so by now I hardly notice it while cleansing and you can hardly smell it afterwards.  It just wonderfully shifts and lifts makeup (not waterproof mascara) and gently emulsifies with water for a second milky cleanse after you’ve gotten the makeup off.  The Emma Hardie Moringa (malunggay) Cleansing Balm 50ml, £16.00 (mine is from Ebay) with its lovely fresh scent of course impressed me and it performs in the same way as the Cleansing Milk but in contrast Emma Hardie is able to remove waterproof mascara with some help from fingers (I was smothering it on w/ glee with the thought that C. Hirons uses it daily, fangirl much…) however it wasn’t practical for storage in our local tropical climate.  To this day it still lives in my refrigerator because otherwise it would melt, which is why I fell for the convenience and local availability of the Le Couvent Des Minime Cleansing milk instead.  Both cleansers are very hydrating so in a humid country like ours you may or may not skip additional moisturizer depending on your skin type.

2. EXFOLIATE – We’re talking about exfoliating the face.  New research has shown that manual exfoliating products (with beads/grains), some anyway, can be quite rough or too abrasive against the surface of the face especially for women in their 30s upward.  Manual exfoliators if not used properly could be cause for broken capillaries around the nose and mouth plus if you have acne the grains supposedly spread the bacteria.  The approved and updated way to “exfoliate” facial terrain is with the use of acidic toners (better if they contain fruit enzymes) that dissolve dead skin and lift away remaining dirt your cleanser MIGHT have left behind.  I purchased the CLARINS Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner (in U.S. it’s the CLARINS Bright Plus HP toner) which is a toner (not alcohol-free but C. Hirons approved) containing a minimal amount of glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and tartaric acid (safe acids made for the skin) meant to microscopically clear away the layer of dead skin you get on the skin surface once or twice a week.  This is a C. Hirons’ recommendation as well, it’s her go to exfoliating toner if she doesn’t want to think (see her post here) and doesn’t have her fave luxury P50 toner on hand, she also says it’s the gentlest among exfoliating toners containing even LESS amounts of acid than the Pixi Glow Tonic (not on website and always sold out in UK Pixi boutiques though it is a permanent product, call in to order).  I use the CLARINS Exfoliating Toner once or twice a week only, if you get dirty on the commute a lot C. Hirons says it’s safe enough to use daily, but I wouldn’t because I have sensitive skin and it’s not alcohol-free.  I try to make sure I use it during evenings before bed when I’m not going to be under the sun or otherwise I really make sure that after I’ve exfoliated I apply lots of HIGH SPF and use makeup with SPF, too…because once the dead skin layer has been stripped by the toner, the new skin beneath is vulnerable to UV rays for at least a day or two.  Using this toner once a week has changed the surface of my skin in such a good way.  This wasn’t available locally when I checked, they told me they don’t stock this I purchased mine from StrawberryNET when they went 10% off all skincare, that plus my loyalty discount of 7.5% helped me decide quickly.

3. TONE – When Miss Hirons said it’s best to have 2 toners I thought it was a bit silly, but when she mentioned one was for exfoliating and one was for general toning then it made sense.  On an almost daily basis, probably 4-5x a week (I try my best) I tone right after cleansing using my Moringa O2 (Alcohol-Free) Malunggay Herbal Facial Toner.  Toning is essentially prepping the skin for moisturizer or sunscreen.  This local one I get for Php95.00 has an aloe water base, no alcohol, and it’s very hydrating and doesn’t sting me.  The fragrance isn’t annoying, it basically smells like a mild Elizabeth Arden Green Tea sort of scent.  I really like that we’ve come out with an alcohol-free, organic, hydrating toner locally and it’s at a price that makes it affordable to use daily.  Clarins also do a Sensitive Soothing Alcohol-Free toner that’s available locally if you prefer high-end.

4. NOURISH/PROTECT – This is the part where any hydrating or nourishing serums, facial oils, eye creams, or “anti-aging” products go in .  I have to say I’m a facial oil girl all the way simply because I believe they contain less complex and less chemically processed ingredients and my skin agrees with how they absorb into the skin.  No need to fear the word “oil” because only 2 or 3 drops are supposed to be mixed into your moisturizer.  That’s how they work for me.  My current favorite is the Pai (London) Rosehip Bioregenerate Facial Oil (vegan, cruelty-free) which I first spotted on the lovely Fushigi Lady’s blog who has a similar sensitive skin type.  This has to be the BEST rebalancing facial oil I have ever tried, if my skin goes wrong it sets it right overnight, EVERY TIME.  From problem reactive skin the day before I wake up to what is like a skin reboot of me 30 years ago, 6 months in nappies.  I’m not fond of the “foodie” scent it has when it goes on, kind of like a corn sort of scent, but it gets mostly neutralized when I mix 2 drops of it with a pea-sized dollop of my moisturizer and no facial oil has been able to match how it remedies or improves my skin overnight.  I use this facial oil around 2-3x a week.  My friend Trixie in Singapore bought this from the Pai website and brought it home for me.  A local alternative to this facial oil would be the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate which is also a facial oil that works similarly but smells cleaner and more pleasant.  I don’t use eye creams regularly, I’ve tried in the past but haven’t found one I super duper like that I can stick with. So I just take the moisturizer together with this oil around my eyes.  I’m not all for anti-aging…but I do believe nourishment in clean forms helps us age more gracefully.  You can also insert the sunscreen step here if you like, or after the Moisturize step if you prefer, unless your moisturizer already contains a sunscreen.

5. MOISTURIZE – Okay, forgive me Miss Hirons for I have “sinned” for a long time and I still like what I have “sinned” with to this day…eek, because it really makes my skin baby soft and calms irritation plus it comes in  a huge tub so you can use it on the body as well.  In spite of being paraben and mostly nasties free it turns out that one of the biggest base ingredients of my favorite moisturizer NIVEA Baby Smoothy Cream (Php170) is Paraffinum Liquidum aka MINERAL OIL.  The only “nasty” it contains is Mineral Oil but I like how this cream calms and makes my skin feel so I still bought another pot after knowing all this (something is seriously wrong with me?).  I tried to do further research and found that Mineral Oil…to say the least, isn’t LETHAL, it’s just not as naturally beneficial and absorbed into the skin as organic oils are because it sits on top.  It’s not lethal…however, it does break some people out (that some isn’t me, this Nivea cream calms my skin) there is stronger concern when it comes to the different “purity grade levels” available in different products in the industry.  Among the higher end brands of course they use the highest and purest grade level of mineral oil available.  My more “holy” moisturizer alternative is not a local product and is more expensive but it’s really very good, the Origins Drink Up Intense Overnight Maskwhich isn’t really a mask, it’s a night moisturizer.  This stuff I really like before bed because it goes on just slightly more heavy than a day moisturizer in the evening (quite concentrated, 1 pea size squidge can do your whole face)…in fact you might feel it’s a little sticky to the touch after you first apply it…but then you go to bed and you wake up and say OMGS = OH MY GREAT SKIN.  I don’t strictly use this only for evening, I just apply a smaller amount for daytime, but honestly I moisturize more at night so that I don’t always have to during the day because I’ve got pretty normal skin and we’re in a humid country.  So what am I planning to replace my Nivea Smoothy Cream with in the far future?  I have my eye set on this expensive Perricone MD Hypoallergenic Moisturizer but that’s not on the budget so most likely that’s not going to happen.  YuBe, a Japanese brand, does a C. Hirons approved drugstore price moisturizer which I will have to track down.

Whew that was a long one.  Now what you are about to see here is My Week in Skincare, or at least how I try to have it as much as possible, when I’m actually thinking about what I’m doing LOL!  It’s not doubt that my most used product of the last 2 months is the Le Couvent De Minime Gentle Cleansing Milk.


Do any of you have “FIXED” Skincare regimes?  Mine is hardly legalistic nor fixed but I do believe it’s pretty close to what I’m showing you here.  My regimen has totally improved in terms of product selection thanks to the lovely Caroline Hirons from the UK, plus I rarely get facial allergies now.  Sometimes having a regimen can actually cure skin allergies or reactions because you begin to feed your skin something it’s been lacking on a more regular basis whether it’s nourishment or moisture.  Have any of you guys been tweaking the home regimen lately?  Just remember if you’ve got reactive or troublesome skin it’s best to consult a dermatologist before making any drastic changes.


The NEW Clinique Dramatically different Moisturizer +
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  • i think i have to create a scheduled chart for the skincare.. no more lazy modes! =)

    thanks for the idea =)

  • My go to routine is mainly Celeteque products (facial wash, toner, moisturizer, serum). I rotate the moisturizer with Nivea Baby because it feels so good on the skin and doesn’t break me out. I also use an exfoliating wash once a week (Garnier).

  • CK

    Are you aware of the Atopiclair Cream? I suggest you try it and if you got time, make a review as well. I’m a user but haven’t seen much reviews about it except for moms who apply it on their eczema-prone babies. Good luck! It looks similar to Embryolisse, too.

  • CK

    Also, thanks for sharing such detailed routine!

  • Nic

    I love Origins products! But I’ve finished all my Origins products 🙁 Where did you buy yours? Is it available locally or online?

  • NY

    I’m using Atopiclair Cream. At first, I only applied on the dry areas of my body but started using it on my face when I had developed these dry patches / flakiness/ redness over the summer. I have combination skin (oily T-zone with mild acne, the rest, I guess is often dehydrated) and so I was primarily hesitant on putting it on my face because of its rich creamy texture and that it would break me out even more but when I did, my face calmed down and it felt like baby-bum-soft within a minute. I bleep you not. I was like holy-banana-batman-what-is-this!? It has shea butter, so I think my face reacted well with this ingredient. I’ve also tried the Nivea Baby Smoothing Cream but it didn’t have the same effect as I had with Atopiclair.

  • chelsea

    Re clarins, I searched for a review in paula’s choice site, and it says it contains harmful alcohol 🙁

    I was about to get this too from strawberrynet na but looked for reviews muna. You may NOT see the damage to your skin right away, but this reminded me of my bf’s uncle whose face now is…… severely damaged? Like he looks way too older for his age. I met him years ago and he looks ok. My bf said it’s due to the ‘alcohol’ products he’s been using… think Eskinol and the likes.

    Anyway…just sharing lang. I stumbled upon your blog lang and i’ve been spending too much time here hehe 🙂

  • ann

    hi! i’ve been looking for the cleansing milk
    you bought at watsons megamall but they said they never had this brand. where can i buy it. i really want to try it. help pls! thanks!

  • Thanks for your beginner tips!!! I’m still trying to put a makeup kit together, but I had no idea what I needed. I tried enrolling in HD Makeup School ( but it was the WORST experience ever. I think I’ll stick to blog tips for now ‘coz we’ve already lost, like, P7200 from them :/ Looking around your blog for more beginner tips! 🙂