Cover Sarah Illyas (Photo: Chee Wei)

The head of strategic partnerships of Zalora and mother of three also shares her affinity for ayurvedic skincare

"When I first moved to Malaysia, I tried to bleach the hair on my face with a home DIY kit," shares Sarah Illyas with a bashful laugh. "I burned my skin and had to go to the doctor. I spent the next few weeks with cold potato skin on my face."

Like most of us, Illyas has experienced some highs and lows in figuring out what works best for her face. In this beauty profile, the style trailblazer gives us a glimpse of her beauty journey over the years, including the lessons she has learned along the way and how her routine continues to evolve during the pandemic. 

See also: Asia's Most Stylish: Meet 18 Malaysian Style Trailblazers of 2021

What is your beauty philosophy?

I strive to be gentle to my skin and use organic products where I can.

I'm from Sri Lanka so ayurvedic skincare is second nature for me. I always go back to things like turmeric and yogurt pastes, especially during each of my pregnancies. My mother is also a big believer of natural ingredients—she actually cuts open the aloe vera leaf and sticks it under her eyes! It's like the OG under-eye patches but I'm still glad PIXI made it easier with their DetoxifEYE hydrogel eye patches. 

What is your go-to beauty look?

Before the pandemic, I would go into work every single day with make-up. Not necessarily a full face but it was enough to affect the skin. This has definitely changed for me. 

These days, I only focus on three things: base, lips and eyebrows. I mix my moisturiser, sunblock and a little dab of foundation, warm it up on my hands and apply it on my face to keep it hydrated and protected. I highlight my brows and add a bit of colour with my Benefit Lip Tint (I use it on my cheeks as well) so that I don't look like I haven't slept, which is the reality with three kids!

See also: The Secret To Ung Yiu Lin's Effortless Beauty

Tatler Asia
Above Photo: Chee Wei

What are the beauty products you cannot live without?


  • Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair serum


  • Right now, it's Sì Passione Giorgio Armani but my favourite always changes. I have a memory box of empty perfume bottles from over the years.


  • Capello by Nina Argan Oil Serum is so gentle and great, I even use it on my kids!


  • L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil

Do you have any beauty advice?

People—myself included—often look at everyone else's flawless skin and forget that what works for one person might not work for another. Everyone's skin is completely different.

And as much as you do, it can sometimes just come down to genes. I always say that if you want to know how you'll look when you grow older, just look at your mother and grandmother. 

See also: Kim Raymond Shares Her Beauty Must-Haves

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