Who : Smita DeSouza

Profession : Beauty editor and makeup artist, Founder at The Beauty Desk

Location : Singapore

Instagram : @smitadesouza

“As a child, I loved to play dress up. I would drape my mum’s sarees, put on makeup and prance around the house. Thank god Instagram didn’t exist then! A part of me always loved makeup – I just didn’t know how to apply it. So I read every tip and comment by any and every makeup artist and celebrity in every magazine I could get my hands on. Much later, in college, I discovered my passion for writing. But rather than be an author or news reporter, I wanted to work in women’s magazines that I had read growing up. And so, after my journalism course, I secured an internship with Femina. There I was given to handle the beauty pages and thus began a passionate affair with makeup, skin and hair care. I had so much fun, it didn’t seem like work at all. The more I wrote about cosmetics, the more I learned: sunscreen is a must, cleansing is the first step to good skin, moisturise according to your skin type.

My Skin type 

I have very dry skin, which gets taut if I spend too much time in an air-conditioned/dry/cold environment, and so I use slightly heavier creams. I look for ones that give you maximum hydration without feeling heavy or sticky. If my skin is feeling extra dry or tired, I will mix in a couple of drops of oil or use a face mask.

AM skincare routine

On a daily basis, there’s also a lot of emphasis on prevention – of sun damage, effects of pollution, dehydration and fine lines. I like the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream that keeps my skin feeling comfortable even when the air con is freezing in the bus and office, but light enough to be worn on a hot, humid day. Skinceuticals CE Ferulic is my go-to antioxidant as is Apivita Radiance serum. Murad does a good hydrating serum, the Hydro Dynamic Quenching Essence, which I add in if my skin is feeling extra dry. A current favourite is the Vichy Mineral 89 Skin Fortifying Daily Booster, which is simple, lightweight and easy to layer over. I never leave the house without sunscreen and my favourite is the DHC Gel Suncut Q10EX SPF 50 PA++++, this layers well under makeup and of course, no white cast when worn alone. The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi Protection Essence SPF 50 is a similar product.

PM skincare routine

At night, there’s a couple of oils I’ll add to the mix, because sleeping in air con (you have to, in this heat) can dehydrate your skin like nobody’s business. Two oils always close at hand are  – Kama Ayurveda Kumkumadi Miraculous Beauty Fluid and Botani Olive Serum, which is packed with squalane. If I need to use a mask before I’ll pick from the SK-II Facial Treatment, Innisfree Second Skin or HadaLaboGokujyun Super Hyaluronic Acid Moisturising Mask.

Of course, I do a double cleanse and remove all makeup before I start my skincare routine at night. The Neutrogena Deep Clean Eye and Lip Makeup Remover takes off stubborn mascara and matte lipsticks with ease, after which I use the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil to do my first cleanse followed by DrSheth’s Basic Brightening Daily Cleanser (gentle enough to be used for an AM cleanse as well).

Skincare Must haves and Weekend extras

One beauty product that I absolutely need to have on hand at all times is an exfoliator. I prefer to exfoliate with acids – AHAs and specifically glycolic acid – over physical scrubs, which usually tend to dry my skin further. Exfoliating helps speed up turnover of skin cells which in turn makes your skin look youthful. If you’re just starting you can try the Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid toner, which is what I started with first. Now I use the Murad Rapid Resurfacing Peel that is 10 per cent glycolic acid and works like a charm to give me brighter, even-toned skin.

On the weekend, I will usually use a peel like the Philosophy The Microdelivery Vit C Peptide Peel or the new Detoxifying Oxygen Peel, followed by a clay and/or sheet mask depending on what my skin needs and finish with an overnight hydrating mask into which I may mix a couple of drops of oil, when needed.

If I’m prepping for a big occasion, I will get a facial a week before (it’s important to let the skin settle before using any makeup). If I don’t have time for a facial, the night before I will go all out and do a peel and over night mask so my skin is fresh, hydrated and ready for makeup the next day.

Makeup routine

When it comes to makeup, what I use largely depends on how much time I have. When I am rushing I’ll reach for my Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Serum Corrector in Peach, followed by the Erborian CC Crème High Definition Radiance Face Cream or the IT Cosmetics CC cream, both of which can be blended in with your fingers. I’ll use a neutral eye shadow like the golden one from the NARS Kalahari Duo or the H&M Fluid Hues Eye Colour in Shifting Sands and line my eyes with MAC Teddy kohl pencil. A bright lipstick like the MAC Retro Matte in Fashion Legacy or the NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in Give It Up completes the look.

When I have the time I will use a liquid foundation like the Illamasqua Skin Base (12) or MAC Face and Body foundation, over the Kat Von D Featherweight Primer. I’ll add in a highlighter – some favourites are the Illamasqua Gleam in Aurora (great in a dry climate and for dry skin), Marc Jacobs Dew Drops Coconut Gel Highlighter (great if you live in humid weather), Hourglass Ambient Lighting palette (if you like powders), and the Revlon PhotoReady InstaFix Highlighter (a good budget option). Some of the blushes always on rotation are MACs Warm Soul and Mocha, and NARS Isadora. Whether I am rushing or have all the time in the world, I will always fill in my brows. The two products I constantly use are Benefit Precisely, My Brows (4) – the fine tip allows me to get into all the little spots and fill ‘em up as does the Kiko Precision Eyebrow Pencil (01).”


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