With a huge ziplock bag of assorted toiletries that she dragged out of her luggage bag Sonia Chang whips up a few well researched  ‘get-your-money’s worth ideas as gifts for the coming festive season.

Imagine this. At the hype of festivities, presents are handed out from under the Christmas tree. Soon as yours landed in your hands, you rip open the wrapper and there between your thumb and forefinger–a tube of toothpaste!

“I will be very happy if someone gives me this, Marvis travel size toothpaste as a gift,” Sonia Chang who spends her time researching, reading up reviews and testing out the products on herself before recommending them to her friends. Indeed it is not any ordinary toothpaste, it has, according to her friend Christine Cheah, “it is luxurious and has this grandiose feel to it even though the packaging is simple and minimal.”

Sonia is intrigued by it’s range of flavours that includes cinnamon, liquorice and ginger. It comes in a pack of 7 and can be taken apart to be given away separately and mixed and matched with other gifts. It is available at Kens Apothecary for RM84

“Read the labels,” she suggests “ sometimes you can find cheaper brands that can suit your needs. Such as the set of Nu Natural shampoo and conditioner I found at the pharmacy. It is sulphite free and it cleans very well.”

Next from her bag was the Charcoal Black Jelly mask to clean away the dirt and blocked pores from long travels during the festive break. It is easy to carry around and helps to brighten and moisturise the face. “It is by Annie’s Way and available in individual packs for RM30 each at SaSa outlets. Each pack can be used once or twice.”

Buying gifts for men is always a challenge but Sonia feels that men now welcomes good skin products especially the metrosexual types. “Men are generally quite lazy to follow the skin care regime. They would appreciate products that are easy to use to carry around. Dr Wu from Watson’s has a range that is unisex with Hydrating mists, for freshening coming out of the heat, toner and serum. They are good for sensitive skin, moisturise and are mild enough to prevent acne.

One of her must stops while overseas are the pharmacies and convenience stores where she has found low-priced but good quality skincare and hair products such as in Japan and Korea.

Purevivi cleansing sheet– personally, the best for me. I like how it cleanses but also does not leave the skin too tight and irritated especially I have sensitive skin. I feel refreshed after using it especially when rushing. Do not recommend frequent dependency on this only when there are times you are feeling extra tired or lazy

Unfortunately these cleansing sheets are not available in Malaysia. So far i’ve found them in Tsuruha Drugstore, Bangkok, Thailand and Takeya, Tokyo, Japan. They are priced at about ¥1000-1050. The good news is that the cleansing water is available in SaSa stores and Hermo website.

Mise En Scene Perfect Repair Serum– After a hair wash I definitely need to apply a serum and oil because of the multiple bleaches i’ve done. Since I’ve got pretty oily roots and fine hair, a lightweight serum and hair oil is necessary so that as it repairs and moisturizes, at the same time, my hair does not feel heavy and tacky. This serum is not only affordable but does it job in my opinion. I enjoy applying it and it leaves a subtle scent that lingers on making me feel fresh. This is priced at RM39 on Hermo website but if you are visiting Korea you can find it relatively common in stores.

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum Mist– an infusion of oil and water along with one of their best selling ingredient, the Jaum Balancing Complex as a mist for the face. The sprays allow the fine mist to disperse onto the face. I personally enjoy this mist overall. When I frequent travel, I like to make it fast and minimal so I use this in the morning as a lightweight toner before my moisturizer and the scent is so calming while providing hydration. This mist is priced at about RM150. You may find it in Sulwhasoo’s stores located in malls such as Sunway Pyramid and Mid Valley.

La Roche-Posay Sunscreen Mist Spray– I like how fine this mist is its as if it was just a breeze on my face when in actual fact, it is evenly distributed onto my face. Scent is subtle and it is my go-to when i’m looking for a quick protection or to touch up after applying my sunscreen in the morning. Bare in mind that not all countries carry the exact same product or packaging and price may vary. I got this from Japan priced at around ¥1000.

Ora 2 Breath And Stain Care– I like how it is so easy to carry it with me and how I can use it while i’m travelling. I really like the green tea flavoured one because it does not taste strange and the smell that lingers on. Alcohol free. Available at local pharmacies such as Aeon Wellness or Aeon itself. This is priced at RM10 or less.

Kora Organics mist in Lavender scent– I’ve been waiting for this brand to hit Malaysian market years ago and now they are here! Known for their natural ingredients it is safe to say they are one of the organic brands out there. Lavender is known for its calming property and other benefits such as moisturizing the skin, reducing redness, antibacterial and many more. They have 3 travel size kit options depending on your skin type and they are available in Sephora outlets and online. Travel kit is priced at RM136.

Another product I have discovered is Kora Organics Noni Radiant Eye Oil. I was sceptical to try it initially because it is oil based but decided to after many good feedbacks from other customers. It does not cause milia seeds and the oil absorbs well. For me it does what it claims which are smoothen, tone and brighten. Priced at RM165. A little goes a long way!

Sum37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick– Picture gliding a glue stick onto a paper. This is how the cleanser works. Twist it up and apply it onto a wet face. An interesting concept and pretty travel friendly. It is infused with rose petal and scent while cleansing. Product is currently unavailable for purchase till further notice.

Text and photos by YY Chen


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