For a little background on this series, please read this post first.

Needless to say, I'm a little overly excited about this series because I have a severe skincare obsession. Moreso than makeup, I enjoy my love affair with skincare rather more thoroughly.

Today we're going to talk a little about my morning routine, and I am well aware that everything won't work for everyone, so I've put in a few suggestions for alternatives. I've tried to make sure the majority of the stuff is readily available here, but if it isn't it's not impossible to get hold of either.

As a caveat, I do need to state that I enjoy being a skincare guinea pig, so my routine changes quite a lot. However, this is the first time I've been so happy with what's happening that I've stuck with the programme for over a month and it's kept my skin very happy. None of these products caused any issues when I switched over them, which is a very good thing. Sometimes a change in skincare can cause problems in terms of an adjustment period, but not in the case of any of the stuff I'm using right now.

[My Morning Routine]

[Michael Todd's Charcoal Detox Gel Cleanser]

Around August last year I did a post on my Michael Todd Haul, and to date I haven't reviewed the stuff. To summarize, I love almost everything, as you will see in this series.

This cleanser is absolutely fantastic! First of all, it smells like straight up lavender! Granted the packaging in terms of colour scheme leaves a lot to be desired, but don't let that put you off.

I adore how this comes with a pump, making it quick and easy to dispense. It also comes a true charcoal colour, which can be a little daunting at first. 

It doesn't get overly foam-y, which is good because that's what ensures it's still gentle enough to leave your skin's nutrients in-tact. I don't find this stripping at all, and I even use it around my eye area without any problems. Without a doubt one of my favourite cleansers to date. I'm almost out of the bottle, but I won't be repurchasing as yet because I have a tub full of cleansers (only half of which are featured in this post) to pick through. I'm on a cleanser-purchasing ban!

Then we come to toning. I've got a 2-step process on this front because I use a clarifying toner, and can't use it around the eye area.

My first step is to put some rose water on cotton and press it onto my eyes for 10 seconds each. This just helps my eyes feel a little less puffy and withdrawn because I am perpetually in a state of sleep deprivation (even now it's 4 am, which can't be good for what's going to happen to my skin tomorrow). 

[Jasanga's Rose Water]

I've yet to find a specific brand of rose water that I like, but this is definitely not it. It's a RM2.50 bottle, and they are on the whole generally quite cheap. I prefer Lingam's which was around RM1.80. This has a very odd smell to it if you don't shake it up. Steer clear! 

Then, we have face toning! I've recently moved away from hydrating and moisturising toners to the exfoliating and clarifying variety, to much fanfare from my skin.

[Antipodes' Resurrect Clarifying Toner]

I don't think I can express how much I love Antipodes without tattooing it across my forehead. Seriously! I've not tried a single product from them that I don't love and I'll be doing a more in-depth review on this toner in the coming week. 

For now, however, if you're looking for a good clarifying toner, this is it! 

It comes with a spray nozzle, so you could very well spritz it over your face, but I like to spritz it 6 times onto cotton wool, and run it over my face and neck. That's another thing, I use my skincare down the neck as well because I refuse to subject myself to turkey-neck in a few years!

I love this toner, and no matter how well you clean your skin, it will get more dirt off! It also smells lovely and natural, so it's rather nice to wake-up to. 

Personal Story Time:
Usually when I'm PMS-ing, I tend to break out, and the last 6 months have been particularly bad, with long healing times in between. Since I started using exfoliating and clarifying toners, this hasn't been a problem. It's ensured my skin is balanced and clean, and kept breakouts to an absolute minimum. If you have the same issue, you might want to look into a toner of this sort to help mitigate the madness.

Then, there's eye cream. This is another area that I'm a little undecided about. I LOVE Antipodes' Kiwi Seed Eye Cream, but I'm trying to find a cheaper alternative that doesn't expire quite so quickly. The search continues, though Origins' GinZing is an excellent choice which I rather love as well.

In the mean time, we have Bio-essence. 

[Bio-essence's 24k Bio-Gold Eye Gel]

I got this on sale, so I figured it was worth a shot. It's a pretty decent eye cream, though for the fact that it's sold in pharmacies, the price is shocking. It's around RM100! I KNOW! It's a gel (with actual flakes of gold in it) that sinks in very quickly, and you can actually feel it tighten the area. I might be imagining things, but I feel like it's actually made the lines under my eyes a little less visible, and this makes me happy. However, I don't like the fact that sometimes it leaves a speck or two of gold on my undereye area. This is not a James Bond movie, so I don't need to be weirdly shiny under the eyes. I've only been using this for a couple of weeks now, so I can't give you a conclusive opinion. I like it, but I wouldn't repurchase it for now. Discussion to be continued!

The next step is one of my favourites: Serum! 

A while ago, Algotherm sent me a serum and I've been testing it out. 

[Algotherm's Marine Life Serum]

This is quite a nice serum that smells lovely. It's also a nice pearlescent shade of pink, which makes me very happy!

I do like this serum because it's hydrating and I feel like it's definitely helped keep my skin clearer since I've been using it. I do enjoy it, but it's still not Holy Grail status the way Estee Lauder's ANR is. Purely based on the fact that this is in the same price range, I wouldn't repurchase it because I'd rather go with ANR. 

Due to the fact that I have oily skin, I've been experimenting with omitting moisturiser during the day. So far it's been working for me, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the sunscreen I'm using. 

Yes, I've recently started using sunscreen! I know! If you'd like a mini lesson on why sunscreen is essential, check out this post.

It's entirely possible that my past hesitation to do so was large due to the fact that most sunscreen are awful. They're thick, sticky, clog my pores and just feel utterly uncomfortable to wear.

Enter Yadah! 

[Yadah's Oh My Sunblock!]

Seriously, best Sunscreen I've ever tried! LOVE!

After rubbing the sunscreen into my skin, I tap my fingers along my eye area to help keep that area safe as well.

If you're like me and you feel like sunscreen is killing your skin, try this out. It's inexpensive and utterly fabulous. It even smells good! I'm almost out of this, and I do want to try out Caudalie's before committing wholeheartedly, so I won't be buying another just yet. But if Caudalie doesn't work out, I'll be coming back to this. I'll review this in full soon!

Now, let's talk about other stuff that's good, but I'm just not currently using it becuase I'm one of those people who has 10,000 half-empty bottles of cleanser lying around!



I'm going to start off first with something that cannot possibly get enough credit for how awesome it is: Shu Uemura's Cleansing Oil.

[Shu Uemura's Cleansing Oil]

I know a lot of people, especially us oily girls, have concerns about using cleansing oils because of the fear of exacerbation of our problems, but this is a serious misconception. While I can't speak for other cleansing oils because I am a true devotee of this stuff, and they may not work, I would highly recommend Shu for anyone. One of the main reasons for this is that they have multiple concoctions of the stuff targeted towards different skin types. The Pink bottle above is for oily/combination skin and is wonderful. They've recently reformulated it, and it's better than ever! 

The other misconception people have is that cleansing oils are purely for makeup removal. NO! They are just all-round awesome! Because it's an oil, it adheres to all the stuff that's on your face and draws it out like a magnet so that when you wash your face, all the gunk washes off with it. What's lovely is how wonderful this leaves your skin feeling. 

I know there are people who break out when they use this, but I strongly suspect it's because they're not doing it right. If you don't emulsify the product totally before washing it off, you will clog your pores. Simple! I'll review this fully if you guys are interested, so just let me know! 

Next up, let's talk about cleansers for all skin types, including sensitive skin. As a note, these are all safe for the eye area, as far as I've experienced. If you go blind, it's not my fault!

[Yadah's Bubble Deep Cleanser]

This is a lovely, light and very gentle cleanser that won't irritate your skin. When you pump it out, it's a nice frothy foam, and you cleanse your skin with bubbles. It's a very fuss-free cleanser that leaves your skin feeling fresh and clean. 

Yadah is so awesome! I don't understand why they aren't given more credit!

[Origins' A Perfect World Cleanser]

This cleanser is wonderful! I adore it! It smells like oranges, so it's a nice cleanser to use in the morning, and it just feels light and calming on the skin. Plus, it's got White Tea in it, so you can't go wrong! Tea makes the world a better place! 

[Avene's Gentle Gel Cleanser]

You can't really talk about gentle cleansers without discussing Avene. This is just the simplest, most fuss-free product ever. If you are having any anomalies with your skin, switch over to this and it will likely soothe everything. If you've never tried it, you absolutely should! 

[fresh's Soy Face Cleanser]

This is another rather underrated product. I've become a bit iffy about fresh's stuff of late because it's all overpriced and overrated. This, however, is a pretty good cleanser, though I don't think it's worth the price. I do enjoy how gentle it is, and how it leaves your skin feeling pepped and prepped, but it's not the perfect cleanser by any stretch of the imagination. 

Then we've got the "Clean Skin" gurus - Ren!

[Ren's Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Gel]

This is a lovely, gentle cleanser which will leave your skin feeling soothed and pampered. Ren has yet to cause any form of irritation to my skin, so I'm a huge fan of theirs! Genuinely good, gentle stuff!

[Nuxe's Fondant Cleansing Gel]

It always disturbs me that this is called "Fondant" because I feel like ants will nest on my face after I use it. Nevertheless, it's a light cream that gently cleanses and nourishes the skin. It's made for the sensitive lot, so it's a good bet if you're looking for some French pharmacy loving!

Our next category relates to the oily/combination lot of us! 

Sticking with the French, let's talk some Chanel!

[Chanel's Foaming Mousse Cleanser (Source)]

Chanel has the most underrated skincare selection ever. Seriously! I've yet to try out their toner, but their cleansers are fabulous! Not only does this stuff smell like roses, it makes your skin feel pretty like one as well. It's so gentle and soothing, but it definitely deep cleanses! Love, love, love! 

[First Aid Beauty's Face Cleanser]

This is another product that isn't talked about nearly enough. First Aid Beauty is absolutely awesome, and this foaming cleanser will keep your skin in check. It smells fresh and lovely, and might be on the slightly stripping side, so if you are on the oilier side of things, this will do wonders for you. I've reviewed this stuff in detail here.

If you're like me, and your skin takes well to exfoliation, Nivea's latest offering is a good bet as well.

[Nivea's Mud Scrub]

I love this because it's got very gentle exfoliating beads in it, but they get the job done. The only reason this isn't more highly rated by me is because it can't be used around the eyes, and I do like cleansing my eye area as well!

[Nuxe's Reve de Miel Face Cleansing and Make-Up Removing Gel]

This is another lovely offering by Nuxe. It's a reasonably heavy-duty gel without being problematic, and it does a great job of clearing off makeup. I do love their Reve de Miel range! 

[h2O+'s Dual Action Exfoliating Cleanser]

This is another scrub-y product that I would recommend if you enjoy daily exfoliation. I've done a full review here, but let it be said again that this is fantastic stuff! It needs to be reiterated that h2O+ is an absolutely amazing brand, and if you're oily, please go look into their Oasis range because it's amazing!

[St. Ives' Green Tea Gel Cleanser]

If you're acne prone, or have a bout of breakouts, St. Ives' Green Tea Cleanser is excellent. It has salicylic acid in it, so I wouldn't use this around the eye area, but it does an excellent job of providing a deep clean and keeping your skin clear. Affordable and amicable!

We're now moving on to cleansers for those with dry skin.

Let's re-visit Chanel, shall we?

[Chanel's Rich Foaming Cream Cleanser (Source)]

This is a full-on rich, creamy, moisturising cleanser that will kiss your skin with comfort! Honestly! When I bought this (I know, I'm an addict), I used it as a night cleanser and it left my skin feeling divine. So yes, if you're oily but want a bit of pampering at night, this would work perfectly!

[Superdrug's Vitamin E Hot Cloth Cleanser]

This was a true impulse buy when I was in London last year, and I'm surprised at how much I like it. It came with a muslin cloth, but it works just fine without it even. I do love this because it's heavy, but doesn't exacerbate my oiliness too much. Still, I wouldn't use this regularly! I use it pre-exfoliation only. However, if you're on the drier side, your skin will lap this up and love it. It's a shame it's only available in the UK though!

[The Body Shop's Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter]

I did a review of this back when I first bought it, and I didn't understand the concept of such things. This works like a solidified version of a cleansing oil, and while it's worked rather well in that capacity, I'm spoiled rotten by Shu, and I can't look back! However, if you're looking for a more affordable option of Shu's Cleansing Oil, this would be a good bet, as would The Body Shop's Camomile Cleansing Oil. 

We have now arrived at toners! An exciting lot these are!


We'll kick things off with a couple of multipurpose products everyone should have in their stash: Micellar Water.

For those of you who are unsure what micellar water is, it's basically water with little oil particles in it to help remove impurities. While traditionally used a makeup removers, there are a couple on the market that double up as excellent toners. It's no surprise that both of them are decidedly French. 

[Bioderma's Crealine]

It's not possible to talk about micellar water without Bioderma creeping into the picture. While they have 3 different varieties of the stuff, the only variety that I feel is suitable for toning purposes is Crealine. It's made for sensitive skin, and it does a good job of removing all impurities left behind. This is also the only variety that feels like water so you won't feel any residue on your skin. The Crealine variety (for oily/combo skin) leaves a bit of a film of oil which I wouldn't leave on. 

[Melvita's Micellar Water]

However, if you're having active skin issues, Melvita is the way to go. Whenever I have problems with my skin, Melvita's micellar water is one of my treatment steps! This stuff is truly lovely and very comparable to Bioderma. 

[First Aid Beauty's Facial Radiance Pads (Source)]

Now for the niche stuff: Chemical exfoliant! This is going into the suitable for everyone category, unless you have skin that hates you. If your skin is extremely sensitive, steer well clear of chemical exfoliants please. Nevertheless, this needs to be discussed because it's just so damn good and on the infinitely cheaper side of things! I've reviewed it here, and now I'm sad it's no longer in my stash. It's the only chemical exfoliant I would feel comfortable using twice a day too because it's really very gentle. Happiness-inducing stuff!

Now for the stuff that's truly for sensitive skin.

[Kiehl's Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner]

I've discussed how I'm not a fan of Kiehl's at great length here, but this is one of the products that I truly enjoy thoroughly. It's a nice, light, soothing toner that feels wonderful to use. It helps that it's very pretty with all the calendula flowers as well!

[Nuxe's Gentle Toning Lotion]

Nuxe's toner isn't one I would re-purchase simply because it's so gentle. If you have very sensitive skin, this is a good bet for you.

[h2O+'s Marine Toner]

As mentioned, I love h2O+ in all its glory, and this toner hits the mark. It's not exceptional, but it's an extremely good toner and I wouldn't hesitate to repurchase if I were going back to non-clarifying, non-exfoliating toners. 

Now, on to toners for the oily/combo lot!

[Clarins' Toning Lotion with Iris]

It wouldn't be a skincare post without some Clarins thrown in! I love everything I've tried from them, though I don't have any of their stuff on hand that I can tout. It's been a while and I might give their stuff a shot again in the future. Too many products, too little skin. These are the times I wish I was a Siamese Twin! 

Anyway, I digress.

This toner is lovely, and Clarins does a range of the stuff to suit different skin types. Highly, highly recommended!

Next up, we have another product that you can't get here unfortunately. 

If Tea Tree works for you, Lush is the way to go. I HATE The Body Shop's variety. 

[Lush's Tea Tree Water]

I am personally not a fan of tea tree, so I use this as a pillow spray to disinfect my linen and avoid skin irritation because of any bacteria my hair may transfer to my pillow. However, if the stuff works for you, this is absolutely excellent! I do use it as a facial treatment when my skin is particularly surly.

Finally, a good toner for most skin types, especially those who are dry.

[Murad's Hydrating Toner (Source)]

This is actually light enough to be used by oily types as well, and it feels lovely on the skin. It's got a bit of a funky smell, but that dissipates very quickly. 

As with all toners, I spritz them onto cotton before sweeping it over my face. I'm not too keen on using it in spritzing form because I like double cleansing. 


Eye cream is something people tend to miss out, and I don't think that's such a good idea. At least, I can't go without eye cream. While I try to double up my moisturiser for that purpose, I end up with millia, so it's a bit of an issue. Anyway, I love stuff, so eye cream is just another means of having an extra pot of goodness in my hands!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I LOVE ANTIPODES!

[Antipodes' Kiwi Seed Oil Eye Cream]

Seriously, this is the best eye cream ever. Prior to using it, I was having some serious issues with millia because I had been using too much product (serums and moisturisers) on my eye area. For those who don't know what millia is, it refers to the little white dots along your undereye area. It's horrible! 

This is a nice rich eye cream that sinks in incredibly easily and feels wonderful and hydrating! I love it, but I probably wouldn't repurchase it purely because it's really expensive for something you don't have a prayer of finishing. Seriously. You don't need to slather on eye cream during the day, and with this you will have to in order to finish it off in the 6-month time frame that you're allowed to use this for. 

What a shame! 

[Origins' GinZing Eye Cream]

This is quite a fantastic eye cream. I've already reviewed it here, but prolonged use hasn't changed my opinion. It's got pigments in it which make it a salmon-y shade, so if you have dark circles, you will adore this! It lightens and brightens them wonderfully, leaving you with pepped up eyes because it uses caffeine to depuff as well. It's the insomniacs best friend!

[h2O+'s Moisture Replenishing Treatment]

Yes, there is a need for h2O+'s eye cream in this section as well. This is a fast-absorbing, moisturising gel that's just plain easy to work with. I've reviewed it here, but it's an eye cream I would recommend primarily for people in their early 20's who are just incorporating the stuff into their routines. 


And so we arrive at serums! Need? Absolutely!

Honestly, if you value your skin, just go straight for Estee Lauder.

[Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair]

This is just the best invention in the universe. Honestly. If aliens invade Earth, you know it's to get hold of this stuff! It's basically good skin in a bottle, and a full review can be found here.

Next up, we have something that's a decent second to ANR. 

[The Body Shop's Nutriganics Drops of Youth]

While in my review I proclaimed this to be a perfect dupe for ANR, I did not anticipate the tolerance aspect of it. I was a bit surprised at how quickly my skin became tolerant to this stuff - around a month and a half. However, it's not going to waste. It's working very well for me as a pre-serum at night, and I'm quite happy with it still. I'm just sad it didn't pull its weight as a serum for a more prolonged period. And so, ANR reigns supreme! 

Skincare sans Caudalie, is not complete! I'm in the midst of testing a few of their other serums, but for now I have surety on only one.

[Caudalie's Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum (Source)]

This is such a brilliant hydrating serum, and it absorbs practically immediately into the skin. While I love it, this isn't a recommendation if you're looking for anti-aging skincare. It's more for younger skin, i.e. teens and early 20's. It smells and feels lovely, and I do wish I knew about it when I was younger! A full review can be found here.

[Origins' Make A Difference+ Rejuvenating Serum]

Finally, a bit more hydration! Origins' Make A Difference+ comes in 2 formulas to tailor it to differing skin types. This particular variety is for oily/combo skin and is a lighter, gel texture that sinks in wonderfully well. I really do like this serum, and would definitely recommend it if hydration is your goal and you can't get hold of Caudalie. 


Now for skincare's top coat (I won't be putting sunscreen options in because Yadah is the way to go!)

If you're oily/combo, just run out and get this:

[h2O+'s Ultra Hydrator]

I haven't used anything before or after this that kept me as matte for as long! A full review can be found here.

And a little Michael Todd needs to be brought into the mix as well!

[Michael Todd's Citrus Cream Moisturiser]

Let's start with what I don't enjoy: The scent. It's not bad per se; it's just not my thing. Nevertheless, it's really good stuff! When you squeeze it out of the tube, you would think that it would clog your pores and leave you an oil slick, but that isn't the case. It sinks in wonderfully and leaves your skin feeling moisturised and balanced. I quite enjoy it as a night cream as well. 

[Ren's T-Zone Balancing Day Fluid]

This is made for combination skin, and works really well as a day moisturiser. Well worth looking into!

[Ren's Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream (Source)]

I LOVE this stuff! Honestly! The Evercalm range focuses on sensitive skin, but it works wonderfully as a moisturiser, even if you're oily. It didn't make my issues any worse, and in fact I think it helped them a little. Love it and this is the only moisturiser other than h2O+ that's on my to purchase list if I start using the stuff during the day. 

[Ren's Vita-Mineral Day Cream]

Yes, Ren is extremely heavily featured here, but only because their stuff is so damn effective! This is more for the dry lot because it's heavily moisturising and will keep your skin feeling well-balanced and happy!

[First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream]

This is a lovely, lovely product! It actually doubles up as a body lotion, so you can imagine just how moisturising it is! I have used it as a moisturiser in a cooler climate, and it worked fantastically, but as a day cream here, it just can't work for me. It's not the worst, but I can't get away with it. It is, however, a good night cream! A full review can be found here.

And for those of you who made it through the insanity, here's a little something!

I'll be giving away a full-sized Algotherm Serum to 1 person. 

Giveaway Rules

We'll keep this simple. Comment below and tell me why you want to win this! Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on the 31st of May, 2014.

And that's the end of installment 1 of Skincare Sunday. The next installment will actually be up on a Sunday (and not 6 am on a Monday morning)! If you'd like reviews or clarifications on any of the stuff mentioned here, do let me know and I'd be happy to elaborate! 


  1. I WANT it.. simply because I want to look as good as you. Seriously Arpita, you're skin is positively glowing and knowing how you abuse it by not sleeping enough, it looks like you've just stepped out from a facial every-time I see. And if Algotherm is making your skin happy I' reckon it'll make mine too :)

    1. Thank you! Algotherm's serum surprised me because I wasn't really expecting to like it! Truly, if it weren't for good skincare, I'd be a lot more haggard than I currently am! Fingers crossed for you! <3 <3 <3

  2. So now that we're done with that bit, I can go on with my 2 cents in your comment section. So how about we start with OMG !!! Seriously, you put all of to shame, you are the goddess of skincare, make-up and decadent deserts.

    Like you I love Nuxe, their Reve De Miel range is lovely. Have not tried Melvita's toner but I've got it signed and sealed with Bioderma, i doubt I'll go out with another after. It's a super-steady relationship. As for the rest, we have some common loves and not's, but either way I loved this review... Cant wait for your next installment next Sunday !!!

    1. Hahaha I like that your comment came in 2 parts too: The entrant and the friend!

      What can I say? I have a rather obsessive personality, which helps with such things!

      Reve de Miel is one of the best lip balms ever as well! It's not touted close to enough and I think I need a dedicated post on it! I can't blame you for swearing by Bioderma. It's amazing stuff! I'm quite keen to try out the rest of their skincare (it's all available in Guardian in Singapore) as well, but as you can see, I truly can't justify the purchase of more skincare!

  3. i see myself now has turned to a skincare hoarder too, except the fact that i cant suka-suka buy things yet XD would love to try a lot from your list here and i have to high 5 you that Yadah products are awesomely excellent! i've been using them since they first arrived here and i definitely would recommend it to everyone :)

    Hmm, giveaway...who doesnt love giveaways? haha! I wanna win the Algotherm serum because I have never tried anything from their range nor do I know where to get it. If you said it works fine on you then I would love to try ;)

    1. Skincare is the best, isn't it?! I think a lot of people don't take Yadah seriously as a brand because of the packaging. I was the same till I tried their stuff out.

      Fingers crossed on the serum for you!

  4. Gosh I guess I hoard skincare like you too, but that credits goes to all the beauty bags and boxes I subscribed for the past year and now it's all lying in their pretty boxes. Need to find the time to use them, rather than purchasing new ones. I wood definitely like to give the Algotherm a chance to be in my skincare routine, age is definitely catching up and my skin around my eye bags haven't been to kind. I think I'm starting to have some little wrinkle under my eye thanks to late night sleep. So please, please, please if rezeki is on my side, I would definitely want this baby in my skincare routine.

    1. We all have these problems hahaha. Yeah the samples from the beauty subscriptions are crazy! My room is flooded with them. I do think that at some point it would make sense to just toss the ones I'm keeping for no good reason out. I'll definitely keep my fingers crossed for you!