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Beauty

Female's Top 25 Makeup & Skincare Picks

Why these 25 beauty products are a cut above the rest in their categories: They boast truly inventive technologies or ingredients, and give the most obvious – or immediate – results. Moh Shuying reports.

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#1: Nars Dual-intensity Blush, $68
This can be worn wet or dry, but it’s the former that left us most impressed. By misting your makeup brush with water before picking up the pigments, the effect is a wash of colour that blends naturally into skin, creating a subtle flush that’s never blotchy. Extremely buildable, you can continue to paint on the pigments for greater intensity. Each blusher compact even comes with two shades that you can use separately, or mixed together. #2: Make Up For Ever’s Step 1 Skin Equalizer, $68 each
This powered-up primer works as a highlighter, base, and colour corrector. It not only helps your makeup go the distance, but also promises to hydrate skin and boost cell renewal. There are 11 variations – four targeting skin texture and seven focusing on tone-correcting – so you’re sure to find the perfect one for your skin. See: Find out which primer shade suits your skin tone here. #3: Laneige Water 
Sleeping Mask, $42
Fake a good night’s rest with this fifth-generation version of the popular leave-on mask. It now has evening primrose root extract, which is said to help repair damage accumulated during the day and boost skin’s detoxifying functions, so complexion looks fresh, bright and well-hydrated. Once applied, it stays on as a thin, cool gel layer for around two to three hours to lock in active ingredients. Not that you have to wait that long – its non-sticky formula means you can go straight to bed without worrying that it’ll smudge on your pillow. #4: Nars All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation, $75
It’s hard to find a foundation that offers strong coverage yet feels lightweight, because pigments are basically powders that tend to absorb water. Read: The more pigmented you want your makeup to look, the heavier it feels. To prevent this, Nars uses coated pigments that are water- and sweat-resistant, so it takes fewer pigments to deliver full, long-lasting results. Fun fact: The formula was tested in a sauna for 30 minutes and stayed true without wearing off. Weightless and oil-free, it gives a natural finish that lasts 16 hours. #5: Burberry Face Contour 
Effortless Contouring Pen for 
Face and Eyes, $54
For years, this was the backstage item that stars like Cara Delevingne and Sienna Miller were hounding the brand’s makeup artistic consultant, Wendy Rowe, for. Previously used only at Burberry shows and photo shoots, it has a natural-looking effect that gives your face the appearance of sharper contours. One of the best things about it: a formula so blendable that it works even on fair skin. #6: Diorskin Nude Air Nude Healthy Glow Ultra-fluid Serum Foundation SPF25/PA++, $88
Feeling more like a serum than a foundation, this skincare-infused makeup is so watery and weightless that it’s dispensed with a dropper, and so fluid that you can apply it with your fingers – no need for brush or sponge. It also contains a hyper-oxygenated oil packed with air bubbles to help perk up and brighten skin. See: The full Dior Spring ’16 makeup collection #7: Skin Inc Skin-Revival Infusion Cleanser, $82
This does what most cleansers don’t: It not only cleanses, but also leaves the complexion noticeably brighter, smoother and more radiant. The cream transforms into a rich foam when lathered, and has apple and soy extracts to soothe and plump skin. See: Try a Skin Inc facial at its new pop-up space in town #8: Sulwhasoo Timetreasure Renovating Eye Cream EX, $338
Talk about taking out the trash. This rich cream has red pine tree and wild mushroom extracts, which are said to limit the formation of lipofuscin – a waste product in skin cells that causes premature ageing – and remove it from cells. Skin feels smoother, firmer, more lifted and fresher after just a few weeks. See: A peek at the Sulwhasoo flagship store in Capitol Piazza #9: Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence, $68
This watery liquid works on both the skin’s protective barrier and cell turnover, almost like a toner and softener in one. To be used after cleansing and toning, it has iris florentina flower extracts, which reportedly helps to hydrate and strengthen the skin’s barrier function, as well as lipo hydroxy acid (derived from salicylic acid) to gently boost the natural exfoliation process. The result: a smoother, plumper complexion. #10: Shiseido Ultimune Eye Power Infusing Eye Concentrate, $98
The equivalent of a booster shot, this eye serum strengthens skin against damage with a complex blend of Bulgarian rose water, yeast and a botanical trio of ginkgo, perilla and thyme that reportedly restores the function of Langerhans cells. These cells, which are responsible for skin’s immunity,  guard against external damaging factors when performing optimally, but are weakened over time by dryness, UV exposure and stress. The serum contains an ingredient called ectoine – derived from a microorganism that thrives in harsh desert conditions – that reportedly keeps Langerhans cells from dying due to heat or UV exposure. Another plus: white birch extract, said to enhance skin immunity and hydration. #11: Cle de Peau Beaute Intensive Brightening Mask, $35 per sheet
Sheet masks are known more for nourishing benefits, and not so much their clarifying properties. This one, however, not only hydrates, lightens dark spots and boosts skin radiance, but also has sugar beet extract, which acts like a gentle chemical peel to exfoliate and remove surface dead cells, so your complexion immediately feels smoother and looks brighter. If that’s not enough, the top half of this two-piece mask has raspberry extract, a natural astringent that balances the oily T-zone area, while the bottom half has Chai Hu root extract to tighten pores around the cheek area. See: 5 facial masks to fix all your post-party skin concerns  #12: Shiseido Global Suncare Perfect UV Protector SPF50+/PA++++, $59
It’s not just water resistant, but also the first sunscreen we’ve come across that actually becomes stronger when it gets wet. According to studies done by the brand, the SPF value – how well skin is protected from UVB rays – of a non-waterproof sunscreen can drop by about 30 per cent when it comes into contact with water. This sunscreen, however, increases by about 20 per cent thanks to new Wetforce technology (reportedly able to absorb water and perspiration into its formula). The result: a denser sunscreen with a stronger water-repellent function. It’s gentle enough for sensitive skin, and can even be used around the eye area. It provides up to eight hours of protection and washes off with a regular cleanser. #13: Estee Lauder New Dimension Liquid Tape, $110
Made of a special polymer that instantly tightens facial contours as it dries, this allows you to “draw” your way to more lifted-looking features. Apply a small amount (about a half-pea size will go pretty far) with the brush-like applicator along areas you want to lift, such as from the edge of the brow bone towards the temples, across cheekbones, and from the corners of the mouth upwards. The gel dries into an invisible film and skin feels tighter immediately. Containing skincare elements as well, Liquid Tape promises to firm, tone and sculpt the areas where it is regularly applied over time. #14: SK-II R.N.A. Power Essence, $124
If you want fresh, youthful skin, you need to first protect the source. That’s the premise behind this new serum, which works on RNA messengers (proteins that affect the makeup and synthesis of stem cells, including those of the skin). Boasting a new R.N.A. complex made with natural yeast and soy, it promises to preserve the messengers that affect skin firmness, so skin looks younger and more lifted. #15: Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask, $115
Made with hand-harvested mud from the Irish countryside that’s said to have been around for about nine millennia, its rich mineral and antioxidant content helps to deeply cleanse and decongest – without drying skin. While it’s recommended to be left on for 10 minutes, I once kept the jelly-textured mask on my face for half an hour without the formula hardening or losing its bouncy texture. And after wiping it off, my complexion was noticeably softer, brighter and more refined. #16: The History of Whoo Bi Chup Ja Saeng Essence, $205
Applying this to skin is like drinking a herbal tonic – it supposedly boosts immunity while keeping you in good health. With traditional Chinese ingredients like Siberian deer antler, angelica root and acanthopanax bark, this supposedly infuses skin with protective antibodies, while detoxifying, balancing and boosting its energy levels to improve cell turnover and repair. #17: Clarins UV Plus Anti-pollution Day Screen Multi-protection SPF50/PA++++, $74
This sunscreen not only protects against UV damage and pollution, but goes one better to fight pollution-related skin damage. It has extracts from the alpine sanicle plant, lampsana plant and a marine microorganism to reportedly boost skin’s natural defences and barrier function, so it can better ward off urban pollutants like dust, dirt and smoke, which cause premature ageing. While it’s also available in a neutral white shade, we are obsessed with the peachy pink and blue-toned variants. The former gives skin a luminous finish, while the latter makes the complexion significantly fairer. #18: Astalift Lighting Perfection Liquid Foundation SPF25/PA++, $72
This foundation gives the sort of radiant, dewy finish usually achieved only with a tonne of luminisers. It uses Sakura Aura Powder to help reflect and diffuse light, giving skin a “soft-focus” effect and concealing flaws. Meanwhile, the antioxidant-rich ingredient lycopene keeps the complexion moist and soft. #19: Dr. Ci:Labo Aqua-Collagen-Gel Enrich-Lift-EX, $75
Inspired by the skin-tightening ultrasound procedure Ulthera, this uses a cocktail of hyaluronic acid, collagen and rye seed extract to supposedly create an invisible veil that lifts and firms skin. What’s more, this multitasker is a lifesaver if you’re pressed for time. Said to be able to replace the rest of your skincare routine, it softens and nourishes skin like a toner, provides treatment like a serum, hydrates like a moisturiser, and smooths skin surface like a makeup base. You can even apply it around peepers and skip targeted eye care. #20: Cle de Peau Beaute Synactif Eye Care Ritual, $750
This do-it-all eye treatment kit comes with a daily use cream, as well as six sheet masks for use once a week. It not only promises to improve the skin’s lymphatic system, thereby boosting the eye area’s natural purifying and detoxifying abilities, but also to soothe inflammation. Another benefit: It helps prevent sagging and loose contours, reportedly by working on the dermis level to tighten and firm skin. The results are immediate: The eye area looks more luminous, rested and dewy, while skin feels soft and smooth. See: 6 eye creams and serums that remove fine lines, prevent saggy skin & more #21: Cosme Decorte Liposome Treatment Liquid, $157
This highly fluid product is so hydrating that we swear skin looks dewy and plump immediately after. It’s supposed to clarify and moisturise, while evening out skin texture. But we love it because after patting it on (you can use it like a softener), skin looks brighter and feels significantly bouncier and smoother. #22: SK-II Mid-Day and Mid-Night Miracle Essences, $89 each
This duo act as round-the-clock skin boosters. While they might have less Pitera than the brand’s signature Facial Treatment Essence, both contain other hydrating ingredients that promise to boost radiance, fight free-radical damage and strengthen skin’s protective barrier. The mist particles are reportedly four times smaller than your visible pores, so they penetrate quickly, even through makeup (yes, waterproof formulas too). The night version also has menthol extract to cool and soothe skin irritated by damage sustained during the day. #23: Lancome UV Expert XL-Shield Fresh UV Aqua Gel SPF50/PA++++, $75
Literally a do-it-all sunscreen, it – and this is going to be a mouthful – gives indoor protection by shielding skin from long-range UVA rays that can pass through windows, has a cooling sensation to soothe irritated or hot skin, brightens the complexion, calms inflammation, boosts hydration levels, and controls sebum production to leave a semi-matte finish. What’s equally impressive: Despite being loaded with benefits, it has a lightweight texture and sinks in fast without leaving any white residue. #24: Elizabeth Arden Prevage Anti-aging Wrinkle Smoother, $120
This wrinkle filler provides both immediate and long-term results. It has optical diffusers and silicones that immediately “fill up” lines – almost like how cement covers cracks – and blur their appearance. Over time, ingredients like the powerful antioxidant idebenone, vitamin A, hyaluronic acid and botanical extracts promise to help boost collagen production, relax expression lines and plump skin for smoother, more youthful-looking skin. #25: La Prairie Anti-aging Rapid Response Booster, $450
Think of this serum as having a built-in GPS for its key ingredients. Not only does it encapsulate a cocktail of anti-ageing ingredients to help hydrate and energise more mature skin cells, it also has a targeting peptide made of amino acids that supposedly encourages a more precise delivery of these skin-loving goodies to cells that support collagen production. Without having to take the long route or deal with unnecessary delays, these targeting peptides are said to help the anti-wrinkle serum work faster – results reportedly can be seen in just two weeks, instead of the usual four promised by similar products. An adapted version first appeared in Female‘s January issue, out on newsstands now.  Like this? Check out 10 beauty resolutions you should be keeping in 2016.