The fail-proof brightening routine

A serum a day keeps the dark spots away

Daily products are the building blocks of good skin. Applying a brightening serum every day keeps your complexion healthy and clear.

Leona Low, Clarins' training and customer care manager, explains: "Using serums is like brushing your teeth - something you need to do daily. Applying masks is similar to flossing, something you do often, while intensive treatments are like visiting the dentist.

'All three have the same ultimate goal, and using them together will definitely give you better results.

However, while you can skip some night flosses or visits to the dentist, brushing your teeth every day is a must."

Weekly masks a must

Adding a mask once or twice a week to your usual routine is a great way to get more immediate results.

Cecilia Tay, La Mer Singapore's marketing and training manager, also recommends them as an alternative for busy women who are "not diligent with their daily whitening regimen" or who do not have time to go for monthly facials

Masks are often infused with more potent ingredients that can deeply penetrate and treat the skin.

Invest in intensive treatments

Chock-full of potent ingredients that might be too strong for continuous use, intensive treatments are best used every three to six months.

These 28-day treatments take the place of your regular serums and work with your natural skin renewal cycle - which also takes place over 28 days - to give you a brighter, smoother and healthier complexion.

Products to try

SERUMS (high range)

What I want: Absorbed instantly

1. Bobbi Brown Extra Bright Advanced Serum, $105.

Has yeast extracts to break up melanin clusters. Not just a brightening serum, it also has whey protein and fatty acids to give you a plump, smooth complexion. I like how the creamy white serum melted into my skin after I had massaged it in and how it didn't leave any stickiness.

What I want:  To l ook rosier

2. Clarins White Plus Total Luminescent Intensive Brightening Serum, $130.

This lightweight watery gel has ginkgo biloba extract to boost blood circulation and give you a rosy radiance. Also inhibits melanin production, intensely hydrates and improves skin's ability to reflect light.

What I want:   Anti-ageing and brightening combo

3. Shiseido Revital Vital-Perfection Science Serum AAA Whitening, $196.

Has extracts of the Chinese herb chai hu to promote collagen production, as well as the whitening ingredient 4MSK to inhibit melanin production. It also has a new complex which promotes microcirculation and cell turnover, giving you a healthy glow.

What I want:  Super-moisturising boost

4. Estee Lauder Cyberwhite HD Advanced Spot Correcting Essence, $160.

This soothing serum has an anti-acne formula to calm irritated skin. It also has natural sugars to brighten melanin-darkened skin cells. Extremely hydrating, it left my sensitive skin feeling protected and moisturised.

SERUMS (medium range)

What I want: No additives

5. Fancl Whitening 
Essence, $65.

Additive-free, it has a watery gel texture that is great for humid climates as it gets absorbed into the skin instantly. Enriched with botanical extracts, it works 
to revitalise damaged and weak cells and boost DNA repair to give you a glowing complexion.

What I want: Vitamin-enriched

6. For Beloved One Melasleep Whitening Vitamin C Essence, $90.

Gets rid of dark spots at three levels: first, melanin production is inhibited from the roots with tranexamic acid. Then, vitamin B3 prevents melanin from travelling up to skin's upper layers. Finally, vitamin C lightens pigmentation.

What I want: Great for dry, sensitive skin

7. Laneige White Plus Renew Original Essence, $78.

Has white truffle enzyme extract to get rid of toxins and melanin. It also uses Jeju green tea extracts to boost skin's hydration levels. This was so moisturising I did not need to apply my usual hydrating serum after.

What I want: Spot lightening

8. Infinity Kose Realizing White Serum XX, $110.

This emulsion-textured serum has kojic acid to inhibit 
melanin at its source and prevent blemishes. It also contains elderflower extract to boost cell turnover and lighten dark spots.

MASKS

What I want: Great slip-proof fit

1. Fancl Whitening Mask, $65 for six pieces.

Made with rayon and pulp, this fits snugly. It is said to contain one bottle of the brand's Whitening Essence. Gentle enough to be used up to three times a week.

What I want: Covers the neck too

2. Dior Prestige White Collection Satin Brightening Mask, $220 for four pieces.

Easily the largest facial mask I have ever used, this covers my face, neck and decolletage. After just 15 minutes, my complexion looked brighter. My neck and decolletage also felt very moisturised and plumped up.

What I want: Skin-soothing benefits

3. Shiseido White Lucent Power Brightening Mask, $100 for 
six pieces.

It's supposedly infused with negatively charged ions, which are attracted to the positively charged deeper skin layers. The ions "carry" brightening ingredients to these layers to eject excess melanin. It soothed my slightly blotchy skin.

What I want: Zaps age spots too

4. Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Whitening Mask, $162 for 10 pieces.

Each piece has been soaked in ginseng extracts for two weeks. Helps get rid of age spots and has collagen-boosting benefits.

What I want: Targets spot-prone areas

5. Lancome Blanc Expert "Sun Loving Zone" Bio-Cellulose Mask, $120 for six pieces.

Surprise, the gel-like mask covers only the cheeks, nose and under the eyes - areas most vulnerable to pigmentation. After a week, my complexion looked more radiant and my dark spots appeared lighter.

What I want: "Holds" more than one bottle of serum

6. La Mer Blanc de la Mer 
The Whitening Facial, $420 
for six pieces.

Comes with a lightweight serum to prep skin. The two-piece mask - one for the top half of your face and one for the bottom half - is said to contain more than a bottle of the Whitening Essence Intense.

INTENSIVE TREATMENTS

What I want: Beautiful 
floral scent

1. Sisley Phyto-Blanc Absolute Whitening Essence, $410 for four 5ml bottles.

Use this four-week treatment twice daily. It reportedly stimulates natural cell turnover to get rid of melanin-loaded cells on the surface of skin. The relaxing floral scent was a nice treat for the senses.

What I want: Fairer skin tone in five days

2. Chanel Le Blanc Intensive Night Whitening Treatment, $415 for four 7ml bottles.

Used every night for four weeks, this creamy serum regulates melanin production and has pearl protein extract to brighten sallow complexions. After five days, my skin tone was fairer and more even.

What I want: Firms up skin

3. Albion Excia Whitening Immaculate Essence, $410 for 28 1.5ml bottles.

Has plant extracts and kojic acid to break up melanin clusters. Also boosts collagen production and prevents the yellowing of collagen fibres. While many intensive treatments are too strong for my sensitive skin, this was hydrating and soothing.

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