Winter Essentials: Facial oils that take hydration to the next level

There is a simple solution to luminous complexion and hydrated skin in winters – a good face oil which locks the moisture in your skin. There are a ton of options in the market, deciding on which oil suits your skin needs can be tricky – we’ve spoken to the experts and done the ground work to pick out the multi-tasking beauty staples in the market – all you have to do is swipe your credit card and dab, dab

How Do Oils Work?

Extracted from fruits and different parts of plants, oils are rich in fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants. More importantly, they contain linoleic and oleic acids, which not only (at least in the case of the former) help to prevent acne in oily complexions, but also lock in moisture to curb the ravages of dry skin. Softening the epidermis and penetrating deep into the layers of the dermis, they maximise the benefits of your other beauty products and boost hydration.

Best Facial Oils for Plump Skin 

Pretti5: Miracle Glow Facial Oil 

Facial oil winter skincare gafencu pretti5
(Photo courtesy of Sephora Hong Kong)

For those with sensitive skin or prone to eczema and acne breakouts, it’s important to choose face oils that are light in texture and eschew fragrance, paraben, alcohol and sodium lauryl sulphate, all of which may cause irritation and redness. Natural Japanese skincare brand Botanic Pretti5 infuses traditional Chinese medicine remedies such as snow mushroom, gold flower root and liquorice root extract into its products. Its Miracle Glow Facial Oil is a case in point, liberating the epidermis by soothing irritation and locking in moisture. Suitable for vegans and all skin types, it is rich in anti-inflammatory jojoba oil and squalene – a natural emollient found in olives, delivers a healthy bloom and protective shield to the complexion.

Drunk Elephant: A-Golei Maretinol

Facial oil winter skincare gafencu drunk elephant
(Photo courtesy of Drunk Elephant)

Another vegan-friendly option is American clean skincare brand Drunk Elephant’s A-Golei Maretinol. A blend of vegan oil, virgin marula oil, ceramides and retinol, this cruelty-free face oil treats hyperpigmentation, blemishes and sun damage while sealing in moisture with its linoleic- and oleic-rich virgin marula to benefit both dry and oily skin. While some beauty enthusiasts have reservations about retinol due to irritations it can cause under the sun, the brand’s balanced formulation claims to guard against these effects during the day, so you can apply it early morning or late at night as you prefer.

Kiehl’s: Midnight Recovery Concentrate

(Photo courtesy of Kiehl’s)

Kiehl’s has been around for a while – 1851 to be precise – its skincare formulations are night time essentials for beauty cabinets and loyalists swear by the transformative wonders of its primrose oil, lavender, and squalane-infused Midnight Recovery Concentrate. The oil promises to reduce fine lines, moisturise tired skin and leave it radiant with just one night’s use. One night, we can’t say, but with just one week of regular application, it’s lightweight, magical formula made the skin lively supple and happy, almost negating the use of makeup altogether (big win!). 

Cubed: Soothing Body (and face) Oil

Facial oil winter skincare gafencu cubed
(Photo courtesy of Sephora Hong Kong)

For a product that works overtime, even in Cubed has put out an intriguing alternative product, simply called Soothing Body Oil. Catching the wave of the CBD boom, this topical hemp seed-based oil doubles as a face oil and is said to curb swelling, itchy, red and flaky skin, thus offering the eczema-prone a quirky yet welcome salve. Mix a couple of drops in with your favourite body butter and face moisturiser, then massage it onto the body, neck, décolletage and face for an evening pampering routine, so you wake up feeling refreshed.

Caudalíe: Premier Cru The Precious Oil

(Photo courtesy of Caudalíe)

Popular French skincare brand, Caudalíe‘s luxurious, multi-purpose Premier Cru The Precious Oil is a winter staple for dry skin. It’s jojoba wax and grapeseed oil absorb in the skin to smoothen, nourish and reduce dark spots. We love that 99.5% of the ingredients here are of natural origin. Free of parabens, phthalates, SLS, mineral oils & animal ingredients, the oil is infused with resveratrol, coriander oil and polyphenols that work on fine lines to unveil a clear, radiant and plump complexion. 


Also Read: Winter Skincare: Avoid Dry, Flaky Skin this Season


Facial oil winter skincare gafencu pai skincare
(Photo courtesy of Sephora Hong Kong)

Pai Skincare: Viper’s Gloss Age Confidence Facial Oil

Take, for example, Viper’s Gloss Age Confidence Facial Oil from UK-headquartered clean beauty brand Pai Skincare. Formulated with a sumptuous blend of 10 potent plant-based oils, it helps to hydrate, regenerate and relax the skin while replenishing it with a dose of vitamins, omega-3 and -6, as well as other essential nutrients. Suitable for sensitive skin, the glistening cocktail promotes healthy skin metabolism and ultimately a firmer, more radiant complexion. 

Augustinus Bader: The Face Oil

Facial oil winter skincare gafencu austinus bader
(Photo courtesyof Sephora Hong Kong)

But what is skin metabolism, you might wonder. Put simply, it is the biological processes that regulate the dermis’s cellular turnover, determining the rate of skin renewal and collagen production and its ability to counter damaging free radicals caused by ageing and UV exposure. This is where those valuable fatty and amino acids in face oils come into play. The Face Oil by award-winning Parisian medical-cum-beauty expert Augustinus Bader features its patented TFC8 technology
and a blend of richly nourishing, cold-pressed oils, namely babassu, argan, hazelnut and karanja. Ultra-lightweight and non-greasy in texture, it offers clog-free pores and the perfect everyday protective layer for any skin type. 

Indie Lee: Overnight Facial Oil

Facial oil winter skincare gafencu indie lee
(Photo courtesy of Sephora Hong Kong)

As the hours pass, the body’s sebum secretion gradually decreases, which explains why skin tends in your sleep. Overnight Facial Oil by clean beauty brand Indie Lee offers nothing less than a spa sensation. Apply to a clean, moisturised face before bedtime and treat the skin to vitamins C and E and rejuvenating oils such as rosehip, lavender, jojoba, almond, grapeseed and marula. The result? A refreshed, supple and brighter complexion in the morning. If none of the above tick your boxes, then a CBD-infused oil for both body and face might. Hong Kong-based cannabidiol skincare brand to dry out and need hydration later in the day.

Also Read: Health and Wellness Trends That Will Define 2022

Skincare Secrets: Five beauty truths that the industry won’t tell you

The skincare industry has become a multimillion-dollar sector that has earned its global legion of fans for its promises to help people of all ages beat the ravages of time and maintain optimal dermal health. However, there are a few secrets that even the most dedicated of skincare enthusiasts may not have been aware of. From skipping on the day-and-night eye cream ritual to the misleading truth about marketing labels, here are five beauty truths that might just change the way you view skincare…

1. Skip the eye cream
Basically a miniature moisturiser, most eye creams don’t actually contain any special ingredient that specifically benefits the ocular area. Although it doesn’t do any harm, it could be that normal creams could be just as effective…

2. Beware of ‘Hypoallergenic’ and ‘Noncomedogenic’ labels
These are two inaccurate marketing terms that can commonly be found on even the most popular skincare products, despite still containing potentially harmful ingredients such as parabens, sulfates, and chemicals that can irritate the skin and cause free-radical damage.

3. SPF levels in most moisturisers and foundations are not enoughAlthough some moisturisers and foundations claim to offer some SPF protection, they quite often don’t offer sufficient protection against the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays for two reasons:

​(i) Most of these products don’t contain ingredients that block out UVA, a primary culprint of skin cancer and ageing.

(ii) Because of how thin-textured these creams are, it would take about 15 times more layer to adequately recieve the kind of SPF protection the product claims to provide.

4. Natural is not always the best
There’s no real regulation for terms like organic, natural and vegan that guarantee their quality or that their production processes are sustainable. Besides, certain organic ingredients such as some plant-based essential oils, if not carefully applied, can cause burns and irritations on the skin. ‘All-natural’, on the other hand, is a term that is worth looking out for in products as they are typically more transparent about their biodiversity and are certified organic.

5. Opt for ‘fragrance-free’, not ‘unscented’ products
Fragrance-free means that synthetic fragrance materials or masking scents are not used in the product. On the other hand, unscented generally means that the product may contain chemicals that neutralise or mask the odours of other ingredients, leading to other irritations or allergic reactions.


Anti-Ageing: Ditch the dated look for a more dewy demeanour…

Anti-ageing doesn’t need to be sleight-of-hand, with coy contrivances adopted to inveigle an improved Instagram image. Instead, it should be all about restoring the health of your eroded epidermis, with reality – not appearance – being your ultimate objective. Sounds impossible? In fact, all you need is a little commitment, a few apt insights and, of course, the perfect portfolio of pampering products.

Albion’s Excia Embeage Cream Parfait
Albion’s Excia Embeage Cream Parfait

Thankfully Albion’s Excia Embeage Cream Parfait may be a perfect answer. Packed with ANRIL, an essential cell-rejuvenating polymeric molecule, it could just restore those lost teen skin tones.

Helena Rubinstein's Prodigy Cellglow
Helena Rubinstein’s Prodigy Cellglow

Quite apart from complementary cosmetics, the skin has its own natural renewal programme. Sadly, its effectiveness diminishes with every life landmark we pass. Fortunately, Helena Rubinstein, one the L’Oréal stable of luxury brands, claims its anti-ageing Prodigy Cellglow can help reboot this natural renewal cycle, restoring your skin to its firm and supple prime.

Estée Lauder’s Revitalizing Supreme Anti-Aging Power Soft Emulsion
Estée Lauder’s Revitalizing Supreme Anti-Aging Power Soft Emulsion

Rather than rebooting, Estée Lauder’s Revitalizing Supreme Anti-Aging Power Soft Emulsion takes a slightly subtler approach. Its judicious use of stem cell extract is said to unlock the skin’s lost lustre, while burnishing its natural moisture barrier.

Sisleÿa L’Intégral Anti-Âge Contour Cream by Sisley
Sisleÿa L’Intégral Anti-Âge Contour Cream by Sisley

For those looking for a more targetted zap, though, there is Sisleÿa L’Intégral Anti-Âge Contour Cream. According to Sisley, its Paris-based maker, it’s an anti-ageing solution that’s all but guaranteed to smooth out those wrinkles and leave you laughter line-free.

Super Serums: Give your face a new glow with these rejuvenating ranges


Today’s fast-paced modern life is the biggest enemy of youthful skin. To combat stress and fatigue at their very source – the skin cells – Gafencu’s beauty team has hand-selected the best boosting super serums for a refreshed, just-got-back-from-Bali look.

Dior Science recently studied the mechanisms of cellular fatigue in order to combat “inflamm-ageing” (low-level inflammation associated with ageing). The Rose de Granville’s 20 precious micro-nutrients are extracted, with their life force being preserved through a cutting-edge micro-encapsulation process.


The Serum from Clé de Peau Beauté combines four ingredients: Chai Hu extract, cornflower extract, Inositol (a natural nutrient), and white lily and tormentilla extract (an herb), to bring out the skin’s natural beauty.

Natura Bisse’s Inhibit High Definition Serum contains a 71 percent concentration of active ingredients, including anti-ageing components. They work as a bio-emulsion, meaning they are immediately absorbed into your skin, getting right to work where it’s needed most.

Lancôme’s Advanced Génefique Sensitive and Natura Bisse’s Inhibit High Definition Serum

Lancôme’s Advanced Génifique Sensitive is a dual concentrate which contains the iconic Advanced Génifique Youth Activator, a new soothing probiotic fraction, and a blue ampoule infused with extremely pure antioxidant ingredients.

Albion’s newly launched product – Infiness Upsurge Solution – promotes the growth of dermal tissue. This has a lifting effect, leading to firmer and fresher skin.

For something extra luxurious, Rodial’s new Rose Gold range is enriched with 24-carat gold and fresh white rose cells. The products work to reshape the face by smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles while visibly lifting and plumping the skin.

Incorporate any one of these super serums into your daily skin regime, and you’ll be feeling – and looking – younger in no time!

Kiwi Crazy: The green goodness that keeps on giving

After taking off in late September, the Southern European kiwi season is now officially in full force. Paving the way for certified European kiwi in Hong Kong, Greek farmers who harvest the fruit flew in recently for an intimate party at Grassroots Pantry (108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan).

Organised by Tasting Kitchen, the European Kiwi Party featured “gooseberry” cocktails (kiwi rum punch) by award-winning mixologist Jay Khan, savoury and sweet kiwi canapé and a showpiece kiwi cake designed by Joanna Yuen, cake artist of The Secret Within (

Kiwi isn’t just delicious, it’s good for you, too. Two kiwis have twice the vitamin C of an orange, as much potassium as a banana and the fibre equivalent of a bowl of whole grain cereal – all for less than 100 calories! They’re also rich in magnesium, potassium electrolytes and amino acids. Even the seeds are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, which lower the risk of coronary heart disease.

The fuzzy fruit is also a boon for beauty enthusiasts, containing high levels of vitamins A, K and E (for skin cell moisturisation and regeneration) as well as flavonoid antioxidants such as beta carotene, lutein and xanthin. The latter are major antioxidants that can delay the effects of ageing while aiding digestion.

Check out the latest issue of Gafencu’s print magazine or the Gafencu app for easy-to-make DIY kiwi masks, face scrubs and even a recipe for Raw Kiwi Pie!

Text: Julienne C. Raboca