Skincare brands are often born out of a quest for better beauty solutions, and CS12’s story is exactly that.

The boutique Malaysian skincare brand was crafted by longtime skincare enthusiast Heng Cheng Sim and her beauty blogger daughter, Ashley Ong, who wanted to create a high quality, clinical-grade product meant for Asian skin, and more importantly, to tackle skin sensitivity caused by the stressors of city living.

With 40 years of skincare know-how shared between them, the mother-daughter duo launched CS12 in 2010. It quickly gained traction by word of mouth, particularly in the blogosphere, and the brand has recently introduced its products in Hong Kong and Macau over the holiday season. We took a dive into their hero products to see what the fuss was all about.

The Miracle Mask

CS12 - Miracle Mask

Now in its third upgraded formula, the best-selling Miracle Mask may have donned a snowy motif for its winter holiday special edition, but it’s an equally apt design for the summer in Asia because of its refreshing cooling effect — I particularly enjoyed reaching for this lifesaver after a scorching day out in Sai Kung. The silk sheet mask comes sandwiched between two plastic sheets, heavily saturated with serum. Application can be a little fiddly, but worth the trouble to unwrap and place neatly on the skin.

Sitting flush against the skin, the texture of the Japanese premium-grade silk sheet mask allows for better face-hugging application than generic masks, which means the delivery of nutrients is also more thorough. The serum just doesn’t drip off your chin the way it can with a poor quality cloth. It fit seamlessly around the curves around my nose and lips, and completely covered my wide oval face, though it left about a third of my forehead exposed (Rihanna-style large forehead sisters, beware!), so I massaged extra serum here.

CS12 - Miracle Mask
(Image credit: Aiony Haust/Unsplash)

The serum itself doesn’t give off any strong fragrance, if anything just a clean, minty sensation. Made in a German laboratory and FDA-approved, the mask is packed with hyaluronic acid as well as six active botanical extracts that have anti-inflammatory ingredients — made to to calm and soothe irritated skin after UV damage. It’s equally great to heal the skin after laser or high frequency skin treatments such as HIFU. Vitamin B3 also helps to keep the skin hydrated and plump.

With so much leftover serum on the plastic sheets, I used the extra liquid as moisturiser for my neck and any other body parts that need a boost of hydration. I peeled off the mask to reveal a pristine porcelain complexion, with my skin tone instantly evened out, my whiteheads and clogged pores immediately softened — seemingly melting away my dead skin cells — and even the dark circles under my eyes looked considerably brighter.

Each box contains just seven pieces, but whether you use it religiously over a week or if you spread it out over a longer period, you’ll notice that results are immediately visible: clear, balanced, brightened and wonderfully smooth and hydrated.

The Calming Ampoules

If you’re looking for an even more intense boost of skin nutrition yet you live with easily irritated skin (which means you can’t use such high impact clinical ingredients) you’ll want to give CS12’s Calming Ampoules a try. The FDA-approved and patented kit contains seven amber ampoules, so you can do a weeklong programme of skin restoration by splitting one ampoule for day and night use. Or, give yourself a pampering session by massaging the entire bottle’s worth onto your skin as an at-home facial.

CS12 - Calming Ampoules

Not only does it contain nourishing hyaluronic acid, there’s also witch hazel leaf extract as an antibacterial and astringent ingredient to ward off skin-irritating germs. Cowslip extract can help clear pores and treat itchy inflamed skin, while veronica officinalis (also known as common speedwell), heals damaged skin. Finally, beta glucan helps create a shield to protect skin, while conditioning skin cells to strengthen itself. The more you use the ampoules, the stronger your skin barrier becomes in the long run.

Each new ampoule bottle can attach to a dropper tool for easy application. The serum itself felt slippery, but it sinks quickly into skin, as if filling into uneven cracks and pores to plump up tired complexions. I had recently developed faint red patches on my cheekbones after a sweaty day out, causing a faintly itchy irritation — the serum felt refreshing on my skin, calming the redness down and evening out any swelling and bumpiness in a matter of minutes. I can only imagine the benefits this can give for people tackling eczema or allergies.

CS12 - Calming Ampoules
(Image credit: Christin Hume/Unsplash)

Whether you often deal with flare-ups or just want a gentle yet luxuriously nourishing formula that can transform your skin throughout the week, CS12 is definitely an Asian beauty brand you want to try.

Evelyn Lok
Managing Editor
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. At Lifestyle Asia she covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.