December 24, 2013

Skincare Cleansing Duo: Clarisonic Mia 2 + Aesop Parsley Seed Mask

I think I found myself a great cleansing companion: Clarisonic Mia 2 + Aesop Parsley Seed Mask. 

I recently bought my Clarisonic Mia 2 from the Sephora 20% sales. I believe it was $170, although I can't exactly remember. This replaces my very old version dated back in 2007. The new one is alot better: the recharging device is magnetic and less clumsy, plus the size of the device is great for travel. I like that it signals a beep every time you are to change from one location to the next. My boyfriend is digging it too. He complains of the dry patches of skin around his chin. I plan to use this daily with my IPSA Smooth Cleansing Foam, and anticipate much clearer skin. 

Combine this routine with the Aesop Parsley Seed Cleansing Mask, you will achieve skin that feels as clean as having completed a 60-minute facial. Aesop is a brand I had always wanted to try, but it has taken me many years to dive into their favorites. I used to work 5 minutes away from the flagship store in Toorak Road at Melbourne, so strangely it was Singapore who made me feel a longing towards Aesop. I am attracted to their body balms - all fragranced with this amazing natural zing.

Think of the Parsley Seed Cleansing Mask as a mud mask but devoid of the stripping tight feeling that you would get with others... effective and gentle in other words. The texture is thin and spreads easily. It contains ingredients containing parlsey seed, evening primrose, and rosehip seed and moderately scented with lavender.

Within 10-15 minutes, the thin layer dries to a tight uplifting mud mask drying up on the skin in patches. After cleansing with warm water, you achieve this immediate clarity, clean skin and dermis ready for good time winter moisturising. I was told by the sales associate to use it twice a week, but I love it enough to want to use it daily. 

Highly recommended as a twice-weekly deep cleansing treat for all skin types.  

Aesop available at Tangs Orchard or online at Barneys and Liberty Beauty.

November 10, 2013

Lancome 2013 Christmas Beauty Set for S$118

Lancome Singapore is running an awesome deal this christmas with their holiday hampers. While I'm not one who would typically get suckered into christmas deals, this is one I simply could not resist.  There are a total of 5 full sized products, 7 minis, and a brush set that contains a powder, foundation and eyeshadow brush. This set can be purchased for $118, upon a purchase of $130 of something else from Lancome. Essentially, it's a purchase with a purchase deal. Still, this deal is definitely worth the $118 because two full sized products together would easily total up to $100. 

These sets were selling out rather fast on the day I got mine, so I hope I'm not too late to get this post out to you. I bought mine from Tangs Orchard sometime last weekend. 

In this coffret you get a full sized Bifacils (125mL), UV expert GN-Shield (30mL), Hypnose Star Waterproof mascara (6.5g), Blush Subtil 01 Perle de Corail, Hypnose Doll Eyes Fraicheur Rosee (2.7g). 

The minis consist of a Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate (7mL), some perfume decant (4mL), Visionnaire Advanced Skin Corrector (7mL), Genifique Yeux Light-Pearl (5mL), Gloss in Love 385 and 323 (4.5mL each), Le Crayon Kohl 01 Noir (0.7g), and Rouge in Love lipstick 132M (1.6mL). 

They come in a fairly large red zip up patent-covered bag. 

3 of these brushes come separately in a brush holder. The texture of the brushes are soft and decent for something that is GWP.

I am a huge fan of Bifacils and their mascaras to be begin with and it was even nicer to receive lovely a neutral eyeshadow palette, which I'll know I will get some use out of, and peachy-coral blush too.

As for my main purchase, I took the opportunity to try out the Visionnaire Serum in 30mLs. I've heard some fantastic things about this serum so I'm certainly excited to incorporate this into my skincare regimen. 

If you love Lancome, this is a deal that you shouldn't miss! I hope you managed to score this awesomeness over and above the holiday specials that are going on right now. 

October 30, 2013

Laura Mercier Face Illuminator in Spellbound

There has been quite a bit of chatter about the Laura Mercier Artist Palette around the blogosphere. I'm dying to get my hands on this palette too and it's sadly only available in Sephora. So, I have been stalking the Sephora aisles nervously. And with each visit to the counters, I seem to be picking up odd bits of new Laura Mercier makeup. 

The Laura Mercier Spellbound Face Illuminator looks like something I will get alot of use. As usual, I'm late to this collection. I walked past the counter in the past, thinking that the collection pieces were only mediocre.

While this year's highlighter from Laura seems to be less popular than Rose Rendevous in some previous collection, Spellbound adds an inlit glow that fuses in with darker/olive skin tones. The texture of the powder is absolutely divine too. I use a MAC 168 brush to apply an even stroke of highlighter on my cheekbones. 

Perhaps the only downfall in the aesthetics would be the rather clunky sized outer packaging, measuring a depth of 1.5 times of a normal Chanel Joues Contrast blush. A bit clunky I must say...

The closest cousin to Spellbound would be Dior Amber Diamond, however Spellbound is far more rosier in undertone. 

I love each and every one of my highlighters - the sparkle and shimmer is simply stunning on my cheeks. On days when I like my cheekbones to be pronounced, I will grab for Guerlain Cruel Gardenia or Lancome Blush Highlighter. If I would like a bit of colour to the cheekbones I will go for the nuanced shimmers such as Dior Amber Diamond, Bobbi Brown Rose Gold or Laura Mercier Spellbound.  

Understandably, capturing the light from highlighters is quite difficult to achieve with a normal point and shoot. The shimmer from Spellbound is very subtle and catches the light on certain angles. 

Overall, Laura Mercier's Face Illuminator in Spellbound is a lovely addition to the highlighter stash. It brings a nice inlit glow - an almost healthy looking sheen on the upper cheek bones. It's neither frosty or chunky and does not accentuate fine lines or pores. The quality of her highlighters are very beautiful and I'll be sure to pick up her highlighters in future collections. Is Spellbound a must-have? If you already own Dior Amber Diamond, the answer is no. Am I happy with both? absolutely. 

October 20, 2013

A review of the Rise Salon @ Gemmill Lane

I am excited to share with you my awesome experience at Rise Salon @ Gemmill Lane today. As you have seen in recent pictures, my hair is getting out of control. I have fraying bits of hair all over the place -- some longer than others and not curling at the right places.  Furthermore, the last time I had done a full head colouring was in January so my regrowth shows and my hair looks very lacklustre. I know it's unusual for me to keep my hair unkempt but the last hairjob costed me a whopping $450! While digital perms do cost more, the curls only lasted for a month or so. This was my hair straight after my digital perm. I apologise for the fuzzy picture as this was taken at 11pm at night with my iphone, the best available camera on hand. 

About 4 months later, all my curls have disappeared into what I consider a messy bedroom look. I suppose bedroom hair is ultimately sexy on some days but not so when work is concerned. I was tossing back and forth between medium shoulder length hair and tousled wavy long hair. I wanted something manageable -- something that will give me the flexibility of growing my hair out without worrying about regrowth or dry ends. 

I decided to take it to Rise Salon. Rise Salon @ Gemmill Lane is a purely Japanese joint run by two guys. I had my hair done by Teru, the Senior Stylist. One tip: do have your hair requests ready because they are booked with appointments back-to-back. I spent slightly longer to decide what I wanted because I didn't know where to start with this frumpy mess. 

Here's me this morning before my hairdressing appointment. 

I had my hair coloured in some natural 06 shiseido colour, a shade that's appropriately conservative for work but also reveals healthier locks. The dye was applied firstly to my roots and about 10 minutes later to the rest of my ends. About 20 minutes later, I had my hair cleansed with some fabulously smelling John Master Organics shampoo & conditioner. The head massage was surreal, too. 

We decided to keep the same length, but thin out the thickness especially at the back of my head. Some of the relaxed curls remained which was nice; it saves me from needing another digital perm anytime soon. 

The colour was perfect - I finally realise what was missing with my hair for the longest time. It was missing the shine and vibrancy! 

I have been paying closer attention to the hair of passerbys and pedestrians and noticed how commonplace it is for girls to dye their hair an awful brownish orange. If you have been a frequent follower of my blog, you would have remembered those days where I also had very light-coloured hair. The colour was beautiful but such a pain to manage because hair regrowth is an absolute pet peeve of mine. Anyone in their right mind should be prepared to invest in root touchups every 2-3 months especially if their base colour is >3 shades lighter than their natural colour.

So overall, Rise Salon @ Gemmill Lane is a real gem. The service is very typical of Japanese standards in which Teru took very meticulous attention to detail. I was very well taken care from the time I stepped into the premise and all the way out. This is a huge leap from the usual run-of-the-mill hair salons on Orchard Road. It's a different business model of course - commercial salons rely on technicians to support the hair washes and hair styling. But here in Rise, Teru walked through all the steps of cleansing, colouring, cutting and drying. That to me is quite special. 

Rise is quietly tucked away at a small lane near Far East Square (ChinaTown) and best accessed with taxi. Sundays are the best time to book your appointment because there is generally less traffic and the weekday working crowd. I had my hair coloured and cut for $290, including a complimentary duo of John Masters Organics Shampoo & Conditioner valued at $65.

So I hope this review helps anyone who's looking for a decent Japanese hairdresser in Singapore. 

Address: 12 Gemmill Lane Singapore
Number: +65 6438 3138 

October 19, 2013

A review of the Vichy Normaderm essential line and some thoughts about treating acne

I was sent a couple of products to try from the Normaderm Range, a range engineered to target blemishes and imperfections for asian skin types. This is my first time trying the Vichy line and I'm glad to be given a couple of products to use for a few weeks. I have always encountered the Vichy line in French pharmacies, but have always preferred Caudalie, Bioderma, and La Roche Posay for their carefully selected range of products. 

Altogether, I have used cleansing - toning - spot treatment - moisturising steps for 3 weeks now, which gives me a good sense of how my skin is doing with this new series of skincare. 

First of all, let me first explain my skin type. My skin is quite sensitive after a year's worth of Roaccutane treatments, lasers, and many prescription acne creams. After years of suffering from adult acne, my skin is now trouble-free. I am left with acne scarring that appears as blemishes or small pits on my cheeks. I no longer get angry zits, but instead, have small occasional white heads from bouts of stress or grimy exercise. 

When my skincare is concerned, I use products that contain skincare ingredients that I am familiar with -- so these would be salicylic acids, hyaluronic acids, AHAs, etc. I am a skeptic with other kinds of patented or pending-patented skincare ingredients are advertised on new anti-aging products. I think my dermatologist would only agree with me on this. So I stick with the basics and so far a simple regimen of cleanse-tone-moisturise has been easy to follow and effective. I used to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on skincare in the past. Today, my skincare is so simple that I wouldn't even dream of forking hundreds for a new anti-aging cream. If I remember correctly, Normaderm products are priced at $20-30 for the basic cleanser and toner, and less than $40 for the moisturiser. You can get them for a discount of course... and Watsons is having their usual 'up to 30%' sale this week.  

Briefly, the Vichy Normaderm range is targeted for age groups from teens to early thirties. The common theme with their products is to minimise pores, improve texture and imperfection of the skin, target blemishes, and cleanse effectively to prevent further acne break outs. So if this sounds like your kind of product then read on. 

Lets start with the Vichy Normaderm Purifying Cleansing Gel. This was a tough contender between my beloved IPSA Cleansing Smooth Foam. To me, cleansers must give me the awesome experience -- so scent, rich lather, cleansing and the texture of the skin are important features.  This cleanser was ok at producing lather and leaves my skin feeling cleansed but not tight. It promises to eliminate impurities and unclog pores... all wonderful. But I guess it really boils down to 'experience'. I find that it lacks the super dense rich lather that I so enjoy with many of the Japanese cleansers. However, lathering experience (for lack of better term) is purely a personal preference since lather has very little to do with cleansing. 

Active ingredients: salicylic acid, glycolic acid and LHA. In short, these are acids that help to texturise the skin. 

The maximum lather I achieved...

After the cleansing and towelling off, Vichy Normaderm Imperfection Prone Skin Lotion would be the next step. It gently tightens pores and contains 0% alcohol. Good for skin that is acne prone and oily. 

'Toner is just a marketing gimmick' - nod your head if you agree with this statement. I certainly did in the past. I think it's funny how toners are never called toners anymore -- instead, they are termed beauty waters, lotions, essence waters, elixers, etc. I think I'm going to get into trouble for saying this, but I seriously believe that SK2 Treatment Essence is just a toner with SOME skincare ingredients. There, I said it. So if SK2 Treatment Essence has been effective for you, then please ignore my comment OR contend with me on this because I have not achieved $100-$200-worth of spectacular results. Ok, fine... I'm frugal, but I'm realistic too. Save those $$ for lipsticks instead! 

Anyway, lets resume. The Vichy Normaderm Imperfection Prone Skin toner was good at best to prepare the skin for serum/moisturisers. It has a slight clean scent too which I liked. Would I buy this next time? Maybe. I would really like a toner with more hydration. 

I soak normal cotton pads I get from Watsons and tone my entire face and neck.

Interestingly, the Vichy Normaderm Hyaluspot Treatment was the only product from the line that caught my interest immediately. I've always been a creature to wander into pharmacies and hunt for the elusive pimple cream. ALWAYS. I don't think I am the only one either. 

So hey, this little guy seems to be able to combat the bacteria that loves to create eruptions in our oily skin... this is none other than the P.acnes bacteria. This annoying bug loves oily skin too because it can only survive in conditions that is devoid of oxygen -- quite like vampires being afraid of sun, the P.acnes bacteria is afraid of oxygen. So this spot treatment helps to reduce excess sebum production, and thus prevents the 'ideal conditions' for P.acnes bacteria to flourish and party. 

It claims to eliminate 99.9% of pimple causing bacteria in 2 hours! I can't validate this claim. I hardly get zits as frequent as I used to. I certainly would try it out if this product was available 10 years ago. This Normaderm spot treatment contains hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that provides a protective coat over the active pimple, to prevent bacteria from entering. 

It comes in a nearly-transparent gel that is somewhat viscous when first applied. In a few seconds, it dries down matte and non-sticky finish. It's lovely all in all and is something I would recommend to my friends dealing with acne. It also seems to keep my t-zone oilies in control.

I usually apply the spot treatments around my t-zone and cheeks.

Finally and foremost, my most favorite product of the range -- The Normaderm Tri-Activ Moisturiser. I would credit this moisturiser, together with the spot treatment, for keeping my skin less oily throughout the day. It claims to work on blemishes, pores, redness, shine, pimples and uneven complexion. I think I am in agreement for most of the above. I love the texture; it spreads easily and dries down within seconds to a matte feeling. It comes in a tube that squeezes the moisturiser out to a pointed tip so there is great control in getting the desired amount of product out. AND, it is within the affordable price range for moisturiser that works. This is the product that I will continue to repurchase once my skincare backups run out. 

Overall, the Vichy Normaderm line is great for those looking to manage their acne actively and great for those in the early 20s. I like many aspects of the Normaderm product range. They stick with skincare ingredients that even dermatologists would be familiar with and the packaging is fuss-free. Perhaps my favorite of all four products would be the Tri-activ Moisturiser because my skin experienced less midday oiliness. I'm not sure if this line would suit those living in non-humid climates because it seems to lack the oomph in hydration.

While it is important to have good skincare, it's also important to be well-rested, hydrate with at least 8 glasses of water daily, and have healthy bowels. Good lifestyle habits results in better skin. No skincare product is able to compensate unhealthy habits, such as smoking, drinking, dehydration, eating fried foods, etc etc. BUT, assume that you do have all the healthy habits then extra good skincare can really help. From someone who used to suffer badly from acne, nothing could ever replace the advice given from a dermatologist. My dermatologist gave me skin that is much more manageable today and has given me the confidence to wear makeup once again. 

October 15, 2013

FOTD with MAC Paint Pot in Camel Coat

I picked up MAC's Pro-Longwear Paintpot in Camel Coat. This creamy little pots released from the Pro Longwear collection last month have some wonderful matte neutral shades - perfect for the quick morning get go. I have a few others but they're still in their boxes. 

The only downside I have with these paintpots are that they do tend to dry up quickly. I had one paintpot which I hardly used and the sides of the product has shrunk significantly. I couldn't be bothered to work with something half-dried so that went straight to the bin. 

On the left, Camel Coat is a muted beige with pinkish undertone. Unlike, Illamasqua Hollow (right), Mac's Camel Coat appears more cool toned and matte.

The shade seems to blend into my skin colour, leaving a soft hint of some colour. It's hardly noticeable. Perhaps if you are an NC20 or lighter, this could be a more suitable shade for you. I am currently an NC25 with beige undertones. 

I am thinking of cutting my hair. I am tired of managing these tresses. They have held up very well this year with very little split ends. I have managed to steer clear of chemical treatments until recently with my perm. Luckily my hair seemed to have survived that last round but it feels dry at the ends. I envy the girls with beautiful streaks of coloured highlights and bleached hair. I don't think I'll ever go back to dying my hair every 2 months. While it was different, I didn't think it was all that spectacular. 

So  I think I will keep a simple hairstyle. One that will give me some freedom to practice yoga daily and that I can throw back into a ponytail. Lets see what comes out this coming weekend. 

New haircut, new life? That's what they always say, don't they? 

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