The ELLE Edit: Best Beauty Picks For March

With every new month a slew of new beauty products hit our desks. A lucky problem, yes, and while we’re certainly not complaining, we understand the conundrum of women and men everywhere as they question what they should actually spend their money on. A considerably underserved market are the large majority of non-beauty junkies who simply want to know what works, what’s overhyped, and what will be worthy investments for their particular skin and hair type.

For those who don’t have a privilege of testing out yet-to-be launched products, it can be difficult discerning what to splurge your hard-earned pay cheque on and what you can probably to do without. From specialist shampoos to luxury perfumes, ELLE will pick the products that catch our eye each month, and then put them to the test. The first eight products to meet our criteria include a luxurious soufflé-like cream, a second skin foundation that can be paired with a portable brush and a beauty potion that straddles the line between being a water and an essence. Intrigued? Read on to find out our thoughts.

1.Ouai Body and Scalp Scrub, S$47

What it is: A coconut-oil infused scrub with sugar crystals to exfoliate both the skin on the body and the scalp.

We say: We’re fans of the brand’s products like the Treatment Masque and the Wave Spray, but we understand that they may not work for especially curly or coarse hair. This two-in one is a great multi-tasker to have in your bathroom to tackle both the dry skin on your knees and elbows as well as the delicate skin on your scalp. Despite the coconut oil in its ingredients list, it doesn’t have a strong smell — the fragrance is light and unobtrusive, which comes as no surprise since brand founder Jen Atkin says the scents are formulated in the same factory that produces Tom Ford fragrances. It does leave a light coating on the skin, so while it’s great for hydrating dry skin, you will want to rinse it off your scalp thoroughly so it doesn’t leave it feeling too greasy or cause your hair to look limp.

2. Clé de Peau Beauté Essential Refining Essence, S$130

Clockwise from middle top: Clé de Peau Beauté Essential Refining Essence (S$130), Sisley Sunleÿa G.E. SPF 50 (S$330), Sulwhasoo Bloomstay Vitalising Cream (S$198), Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Cream (S$105).

What it is: A bi-phase essence that is used after your cleanser and lotion, but before your emulsions or cream to help refine the skin and reveal its inner radiance. To use, shake well and apply with a cotton pad in a gentle, patting motion.

We say: This is a great starter product from the luxury skincare and makeup brand that proved to be so popular among users that it sells itself with little promotion. The reformulation works even better than before to address the additional issue of visible pores. We love the lightweight texture that feels cool on the skin and sinks in effortlessly. This also easily slips this into any routine to refine the complexion and amp up hydration levels without the need for heavy duty products. Over time, skin looks smoother and more even-toned, so makeup goes on well and your skin will look better both in person and in photos.

3. Sisley Sunleÿa G.E. SPF 50, S$330

Sisley Sunleÿa G.E. SPF 50, S$330

What it is: A high SPF, luxury sunscreen that prevents ageing and the formation of sun spots thanks to innovative technologies that target these issues. It is especially good for initial sun exposure and for very fair or sun sensitive skin.

We say: Sunscreen is an essential part of any anti-ageing routine, but one from a skincare game changer like Sisley truly pushes the envelope. The texture was a bit rich, which means it is better suited for dry or mature skin — those with very oily complexions might fine this a tad heavy. But we tested it out on a beach holiday in sun-drenched Bali and escaped without little to no skin darkening and more importantly without any redness, irritation or sun spots emerging. This is trusted sun protection that will not let you down and the fact that it is working on firming the skin, and banishing wrinkles and spots beyond just providing a high level of UVA and UVB resistance is a major plus.

4. Sulwhasoo Bloomstay Vitalising Cream, S$198

Sulwhasoo Bloomstay Vitalising Cream, S$198

What it is: Designed as a line for younger women with anti-ageing concerns, this day and night cream is packed with plum blossom and yuzu extracts to tighten the skin and imbue it with a natural glow.

We say: First up we love the soufflé-like texture, that is like a bouncy whipped cream that absorbs rapidly into the skin. We think that younger women will appreciate this intensely hydrating formula as it still feels weightless when applied on the skin. We would recommend wearing a thin layer of this cream in the day, as suggested by the brand and loading up with a thicker layer at night for a boost of hydration as you snooze. The scent is super relaxing and you’ll wake up looking like you actually slept the requisite eight hours, even if you’ve been bingeing ‘Russian Doll’ on Netflix.

5. Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Cream, S$105

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Cream, S$105

What it is: A clean formula of 1.0 per cent vegan retinol that reduces the appearance of lines, wrinkles and sun damage for a more youthful-looking visage.

We say: It’s quite rare to see a retinol cream sitting plainly on the beauty floor in Singapore, as these are usually available by prescription. The brand claims that A-Passioni does not cause redness and irritation. We appreciate that it is packed with superfoods like apricot and passionfruit to replenish lipids and moisture, while antioxidants in the formula defend against skin stress. This did not cause any irritation for us, but those with sensitive skin should introduce it slowly in their routines, and load up on sun protection while using it, as retinol can cause peeling and redness on sensitive skin types. We didn’t see instant results but with regular use, this should dramatically improve your skin.

6. Chanel Rouge Coco Flash in Amour, S$52

Clockwise from top left: Chanel Rouge Coco Flash in Amour (S$52), Guerlain L’Essentiel Natural Glow (S$94), Guerlain L’Essentiel Retractable Foundation Brush (S$77)

What it is: A silky, lightweight lipstick that cocoons the lips in comfort thanks to plant butter and oils.

We say: Shine is making a comeback and this is a perfect starter lipstick and gloss in one. We can’t talk about a Chanel product without mentioning the packaging and we like that this has an ingenious, transparent top so you can have a peek of the shade that lies inside, and that it is sleeker and smaller than a regular lippie. This particular, deep pink shade is ever so slightly sheer but it’s the perfect evening look — neither too bright nor too dull. On the lips, this feels as hydrating as a lip balm and definitely delivers on the promised silkiness without that dreaded stickiness. It might not last as long as a more matte or cream texture, but it definitely has more staying power than a gloss.

7. Guerlain L’Essentiel Natural Glow 16H Wear SPF20 S$94, and Retractable Foundation Brush, S$77

What it is: A foundation that is made from 97 per cent naturally-derived ingredients that gives skin a fresh glow — but lasts for up to 16 hours.

We say: First up, we love the bottle design and think that it’s some serious beauty candy for your top shelf. We are also pleased that Guerlain has extended its shade with 30 colours available, so it can appeal to a wider range of skin tones — call it the Fenty effect. The formula is light and once brushed on the skin it almost shade adjusts to better match the complexion, and also takes on a powdery, matte finish without looking too unnatural. But we are most impressed with the design of the accompanying brush. The soft, yet densely packed bristles means that application is a breeze — we can see this taking less than two minutes in the morning — while still giving a polished, radiant finish. That it retracts and can be covered makes the foundation and brush duo instantly portable, so you can carry it on your business trips and glamorous vacations.

8. Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream Sunshine, S$118

Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream Sunshine, S$118

What it is: Like liquid sunshine in a bottle, this combines notes of orange blossom, gold raspberry and solar musk for an alluring scent.

We say: From the four limited edition fragrances from Marc Jacobs this season, this was our favourite. Master perfumer Alberto Morillas, the nose behind this scent, perfectly captures the feel of pure sunshine on the skin — this radiates warmth and joy and is intensely wearable. It’s sophisticated enough to take you from the day into the evening and if the daisy-dotted, bright yellow bottle doesn’t make you smile… then nothing will.