Monthly Archives: January 2011

Zoya Edyta nail polish review

Seems someone at Zoya is a Dancing With The Stars fan… they managed to sneakily name their entire Wicked Collection after its dancers – and even one judge! Edyta, a rich mix of blackened moss green and olive gold, is one such shade.

It’s an elusive colour that pictures don’t really do justice to. On first sight, it reminded me of the rainbow of shimmering golds, blacks and greens in an oil slick. On first application, this changed to a nugget of fool’s gold (posh name: pyrite) I had when I was little – a muted murky shade of blackened burnished gold. Finally, in daylight, it becomes a luxuriously dazzling pine green, shot through with ripples of metallic glittering gunmetal (the colour I managed to capture for the photo below).

Edyta is fascinatingly complex and really rather unique. I did have some problems with the formula, finding it pooled in strange places and that the threads of glitter streaked in funny ways, and it’s extremely stubborn to remove but the pay-off is intense and intoxicating. Although I’m not really one to abide by seasonal rules for nail polish colours, I’d say this is definitely one shade too dark and rich for spring or summer, and indeed for daytime in general. Forget pastels and primroses, this is definitely one to vamp up too!

Somehow, it wouldn’t quite have the same level of exotic mystery if it was named after our own Arlene Philips, would it?!

Looks good with: dark colours, cloaks, the witching hour
Drying time: 10 mins
Coats required: 2
Chips: +7 days

Zoya Edyta nail polish, Fall 2009 Wicked Collection, $80, Cher2

Make-Up Miracles: Atorrege AD+ Medicated Acne Spots Treatment review

‘I had got so used to anti-blemish products drying out and tightening up my skin that I’d assumed it was the only way; Clinique proffered a gentler, kinder path that actually produced results.’

That was what I wrote about my last make-up miracle, Clinique’s Anti-Blemish Foaming Cleanser. Well, it seems that good spot treatments are like buses, as after a long dissatisfying wait, another amazing anti-blemish solution turned up as well! The next inductee into my make-up miracles hall of fame: Atorrege AD+ Medicated Acne Spots.

Yes, the English name makes no sense (it’s from Japan). But I promise that once you use it, everything will become crystal-clear. It’s unmitigatedly absolutely brilliant.

As opposed to Clinique’s cleanser, which is as much a preventative for acne-ridden skin as it is a cure, Atoregge’s treatment is best used for neutralising hostile takeovers from the little blighters. It comes in a highly professional looking glass bottle, complete with a glass dropper to dispense the serum-like essence. Basically, this stuff means business.

Atorrege’s translation skills aren’t perfect but given how few Japanese products get translated here (it seems to be a badge of honour for Japanese and Korean stuff to remain unintelligible), we should be thankful we’re getting a translation at all. It promises to eliminate inflammation, prevent acne, inhibit bacteria and lighten blemishes, by way of ingredients like witch hazel, lavender oil, chamomile, soy bean and bark extract from a tree traditionally used in Chinese medicine, huang bo (黄柏 or 黄檗, known as the Amur Cork tree in English).

This seems a fairly ambitious mission statement but Atorrege completely make good on their claims. The essence is a light transparent serum (somewhere between gel and liquid) that glides on and sinks in easily, with application extra-easy thanks to the super-hygienic dropper. Once you feel that familiar tingle signalling a spot invasion, simply rub in a few drops of the essence to the affected area. Unlike so many other treatments designed to zap away acne, it’s completely non-astringent, non-drying and non-stinging, making it absolutely perfect for sensitive skin.

Also unlike so many other treatments designed to zap away acne, it actually works! Your spot will be gone before you know it. It’s not allowed to ferment and become a raging angry red mountain or yellow-headed monster, instead fading away with barely a sigh of resignation. If you’re really lucky, said spot might even wave a white flag and retreat without even making a proper appearance!

My only proviso would be to apply sparingly – only a couple of drops really is enough. The essence includes a whitening ingredient, meaning that if you go overboard on an area that doesn’t need it, you can get a bit of strange pale patch on your skin (don’t worry too much if this does happen, it quickly goes away!). Since you only need so little (and depending on how often you get spots), one teeny 10ml bottle can even last out a year!

Quite simply, it’s the most effectively method at beating the little blighters I’ve met yet, but with none of the trauma of the evil old ways. And who can argue with that?

Atorrege AD+ Medicated Acne Spots, $220 for 10ml, available from selected Watsons

Hong Kong Banksy?

If you’ve been in Hong Kong longer than oooh… twelve hours (and that’s a conservative estimate), the sign on the right will be very familiar.

A symbol of Hong Kong’s ceaseless quest for construction, the apologetic workman usually appears overnight on a sign next to a hole in your road. Apparently the touching of helmet is a gesture of apology for the fact that real-life workmen will be ruining your daily bus journeys and attempts at lie-ins for the foreseeable future.

The piece on the left appears to be a clever riff on the sign, in one of Hong Kong’s few examples of graffiti. Adorned with a pair of devil horns and the slogan ‘Sorry we come again’, plus Hong Kong’s international dialling code (the cool kids’ slang for HK itself i.e. ‘Holla! I’m back in the 852!’), it’s hopefully intended as a witty and searing critique on HK’s interminable schedule of building work. Or something like that. What with the stylised stencil-look of the piece, could we have a Hong Kong Banksy on our hands?

If we do, it’s safe to say he ain’t responsible for the “artistry” displayed below.

Pity the poor tourist who asks his taxi driver to pick him up from ‘Stoned Nuttah Lane’ (it should read ‘Stone Nullah’ but they’ve done a quite convincing job). What’s the reckoning this was done by some oh-so-hilarious international school kid en route home from a wild night at Carnegies?

I think I know which type of graffiti I’d prefer.

Update: I think this is the work of Hong Kong street art collective Start From Zero!

Elementary, my dear Watsons: my epic quest for Gosh Cosmetics

If you have been following my blog since its infancy (…poor you!), then you’ll be familiar with the term ‘Treg’s Luck’, introduced in my early post about the beautiful Waterfall Bay and the numerous misfortunes that occurred as we looked for it. Check out the post itself for a more detailed explanation (and some lovely photos), but it basically boils down to Sod’s Law – anything that can go wrong for me, generally will. Especially if until now, everything had previously been ticking along far too well.

My quest to find a certain shade of Gosh nail polish is a case in point. By now, you’re all well aware how my indifference to nail varnish has bubbled up into a full-on obsession, helped along by the multitude of nail blogs sprawled across the Interwebz. Having spotted a particularly lovely Gosh lacquer on such a blog, I remembered seeing the brand sold in Watsons (think Superdrug, but not as good) so set out to claim a pot of glittery goodness for my own. Alas, none of the colours in the Tin Hau branch took my fancy.

Having stopped off at every Watsons on the way back home from Tin Hau, it transpired that Gosh Cosmetics were only sold at selected Watsons stores. Specifically, absolutely none near me. Most people would shrug, sigh and move on to bigger and better things. Unfortunately, I decided that the most important thing in my life from that moment was getting hold of Gosh nail varnish.

So my quest got more professional. I found their Facebook Page, which helpfully listed all the Watsons stores that stocked their cosmetics line. In Chinese.

I can’t read Canto. God bless those Gosh folk, they’d tackled their task with gusto, listing at least one hundred stores and my auntie would probably have a breakdown if I presented her with such an essay to translate. But things were looking up – my boyfriend understands certain characters and was able to pinpoint the section sub-titled ‘Hong Kong Island’ i.e. area where I live (and obvious best area in HK, fyi). Once he’d gone to sleep and was oblivious to my raging obsession being put in action, I painstakingly copied and pasted each string of characters of around twenty locations into Google, who showed a map of each possible destination.

‘The ones with the star next to them’

I was thus able to narrow my quest down to Wan Chai, in order to disguise my mania with a trip to Marks & Spencers Food. Wanting to double-check the exact locations of the stores, I presented my auntie with this small section of Wan Chai stores, asking her to translate ‘the ones with the star next to them’ (the asterisk denoted Gosh Cosmetics were sold there, as opposed to Skincare). I even pointed for good measure. My auntie confidently told me one was at some China Insurance Centre that I couldn’t figure out her directions for, the other the Hopewell Centre.

First, to M&S, which, true to form, had barely any of the items I wanted to buy (I should have spotted the Treg’s Luck warning signs from here). We then plodded from Gloucester Road all the way to Hopewell Centre on Queen’s Road East, where pots of glittery goodness would be waiting to be snapped up by yours truly. On arrival… no sign of Gosh Comsetics. Argh.

My boyfriend has 3G on his iPhone so I brought up the Facebook Page to show him. Even his limited grasp of Canto was enough to tell me that my auntie, in her infinite wisdom, had wonderfully managed to translate every location listed UNDER each asterisk. ARGH!

Not wanting a wasted trip, I picked up some other toiletries at Hopewell instead. On reaching the check-out, I was presented with a plastic bag bulging with random stuff as a free gift. Normally, people use the word random when they mean anything but. No really, this bag was random. I presume it was a clear-out of Christmas stock they couldn’t flog anymore. Then the saleslady decided my bag of free crap wasn’t quite complete… she wanted to include some cereal bars too. Alas, this involved authorisation from the manager, eating up a further five minutes. I eventually emerged from Hopewell Centre with: three packs of my pill (sadly, not free), box of yoghurt berry flavour CelebritySlim snack bars (impressively not even past their sell-by date), mini bottle of Listerine, red Garnier mobile phone case/purse, Olay sample, overnight CracKare moisturising patch (no… me neither), strange but cute fruit/alien shaped shower pouff and masses of pent-up annoyance at auntie.

Initially, my plan had been to catch a bus home from outside Hopewell. But now my determination to get Gosh nail polish had intensified further. Another location was Johnston Road, merely a street away. Off we went.

Bizarrely, the folk at Gosh aren’t too keen on divulging actual shop numbers on their list. Luckily, I used to work in Wan Chai so had some vague recollection of which Watsons they meant, or else we could have trotted down the wrong side of Johnston for who knows how long. On arrival at Johnston Road Watsons… a Gosh concession! Hurrah!

By now I wasn’t even bothered about the original colour I’d set out for and just wanted any nice nail polish to show for my efforts. I had a few back-up choices courtesy of those damned nail blogs… my boyfriend immediately noted that the space labelled with shade number ‘541’ was empty. I felt a familiar sinking feeling in my stomach as I used his 3G to Google it… yes, 541 was the very number of my next best back-up choice, Gasoline. Treg’s Luck strikes again.

I was weary, frustrated and all tregged-out, ready to admit defeat and head home. But my boyfriend knew that if we left now, I’d no doubt be horrifically annoying for hours/days/weeks on end, wondering if the other location (Hennessy Road) had my shades in stock. So on we marched, continuing to walk further back on ourselves and our ill-fated trip to Hopewell, including passing where we had started off in the first place.

This time, Gosh had given us a shop number: 205-207. Do I need to tell you that we found ourselves at the single-digit end of Hennessy?! We plodded on and got to the place we really should have gone to in the first place, where an amply-stocked display of Gosh Cosmetics awaited us… and, what’s this, plastered in red stickers offering 25% off!

Gasoline was there… so was Golden Dragon (another back-up favourite)… so I grabbed my booty. Horrors! A sales assistant starting removed the 25% off signs but, after some badgering, she reassured me I’d still receive my discount. By now, I was fielding calls from my auntie asking when I’d be home since some friends had arrived and would like to see me. So, of course, it was destined that I’d be served by an assistant who looked like Tubbs from The League Of Gentlemen and was mystified by the workings of her till and how to do 25% discounts. Fifteen minutes and three failed attempts later, I’d finally paid for my haul (receiving some no doubt erroneous further discounts along the way) and my lip-biting, hand-quivering mania was quelled. By now, I was so exhausted, flustered and late that I cancelled out all savings made by hailing a taxi home.

My hard-fought Gosh haul is pictured above and thank God, they are worth it (even more so at discount, reviews to follow). My auntie is using the phone case, I managed a fleeting hello to the friends as they left and Tubbs learnt how to use the till. Needless to say, I have since discovered that the original shade of polish I wanted has been discontinued and was probably never available in Hong Kong anyway. Treg’s Luck strikes again!

[Banner photo: Tim Ellis’ Flickr]

China Glaze IDK nail polish review

One of the more unexpected nail trends to emerge for Spring 2011 is the unstoppable rise of glitters. It seems nail varnish companies have (finally!) locked onto the fact that their most bling-tastic of polishes go down a treat all year round, as opposed to just with lashings of festive spirit. In China Glaze’s case, this has meant producing a twelve-strong collection of glittering gleaming finishes for their 2011 Tronica Collection… a task that probably didn’t require too much work as it basically entailed reproducing one of their much-loved and lusted-after sets, the OMG Collection.

Alas, as with most awesome things, the OMG Collection is now preceded by the word ‘discontinued’. Like your favourite ever lipstick shade, your favourite ever childhood chocolate bar or your favourite ever Disney movie, brands seem to just love stashing away the good stuff to cause much stamping of feet and gnashing of teeth all-round. I don’t think I’ve visited a nail varnish blog where the OMG Collection isn’t talked about with a reverence more befitting of the Holy Grail. And bizarrely, I lucked out on finding two such mystical polishes kicking around in the bargain bin at a little toiletries shop down a side-street in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Having now checked out OMG in its entirety online, I have come to the conclusion that I found the obvious best shades (!) – IDK and 2Nite (the worst thing about the set was that they were all named in txtspeak).

Strong sunlight vs shadows (click to enlarge)

IDK is a lovely dusty lavender, a colour I’d love even if it wasn’t for OMG’s special ingredient – a holographic finish. This basically means it shimmers and glimmers in a whole rainbow of colours, like those shiny silvery stickers you used to collect when you were a kid. You know, they had a whole special page in your sticker book and they were the most prized possessions for trading with friends. [So, given the barter value of holographic nail polishes, not much has changed!]

IDK was a joy to apply, even in its two year-old, mouldering on a lonely shelf state (note: not actually mouldering, merely separated pigments and an air of being unloved). Despite having read you shouldn’t apply it with a base coat, my Nail Tek II and I are never parted and I had no problems. Initially, it looked like it was going to streak and pool in strange formations, yet it dried rapidly to a beautiful smooth and even finish with just the one coat. I applied another coat for luck and we were good to go!

Before I wax lyrical about IDK’s many other magical properties, I’ll mention the only downsides. Like many other holographic nail polishes, it chips easily and without warning. Secondly, the formula feels very thin, meaning when it does chip, it flakes away with abandon, peeling off like thin parchment. But even with these negatives, IDK is SO worth it.

It’s an absolute dreamboat of a colour, reminiscent of how you imagined butterflies to be when you were little – actually glittering, a light pretty lilac, flashed through with rainbow sparkles in the sunlight. In short, it’s a total ‘wow’. And whilst some might say it’s flat and dull without the holographic effect (which really does only show up angled against natural light), I even love in its plain old alter-ego as a pale dusty purple. An unusual subtle shade that I’ve not managed to find sans glitter, it’s right up my street.

Think of me as Rio Pacheco, torn between love for both flashy glamorous Jem and more grown-up Jerrica on favourite-ever cartoon Jem & The Holograms – alas, also now discontinued. Sob.

Looks good with: florals, childhood wonder, definitely not just Christmas
Drying time: 1 min
Coats required: 1-2
Chips: 2 days

China Glaze IDK nail polish, Spring 2008 OMG Collection, $80

Red Carpet Rundown: Golden Globes 2011, Part IV

The final red carpet rundown from 2011’s Golden Globes (and let’s not dwell on how many times I’ve mistakenly typed Golden Gloves) is a collection snappily entitled: stuff I wanted to talk about but couldn’t fit anywhere else.

Emma Stone in Calvin Klein – As soon as I saw this dress, I knew it was Calvin Klen. Sleek, chic, minimalist – it’s basically Diane Kruger’s Met Ball dress in peach. It’s also from the same collection as Claire Danes’ Golden Globes dress but Danes is just a bit blah whereas Emma is obviously fun and sparkly and cool, meaning I’d rather dedicate 100 words to her instead. Plus, there is the whole blonde hair thing to discuss… Yes, it’s for a role and yes, her PRs can keep spinning the whole she’s a natural blonde thing but she was clearly meant to be a redhead. If it’s true that Judd Apatow was the one that made her do it for Superbad, then that’s easily the best thing he’s done since Knocked Up. Red makes her look fiery, sexy and unique; blonde makes her look like just another cookie-cutter dead-behind-the-eyes starlet (I’m looking at you, Kate Bosworth). However, the peach gown would definitely not have worked with red hair but with blonde, it looks deliciously cool, refreshing and somewhat edible, like a melon sorbet. It’s a more grown-up, refined look for Emma and she pretty much pulls it off. That gold clutch is rather yummy too.

Mandy Moore in Monique Lhullier – I’m glad Mandy Moore made the transition from pop star to actor, rather than being stuck in the post-Britney/Xtina hellhole that Jessica Simpson currently inhabits. Her rich chestnut brown hair is far more becoming than the bottle blonde of old and this ballgown is sweepingly sophisticated, in a knockout royal blue colour. The only thing I’m not keen on is the transparent asymmetrical yoke thing, which is just unnecessary and spoils the lines. Otherwise, it’s positively dreamy.

Megan Fox in custom-made Armani Prive – It’s nice to see Megan not going straight for the groin with this gown. We’re used to seeing her clad in vampy colours with dresses that stick to her like a second skin, so this delicate breath of romance was rather unexpected and much appreciated. I love the intricate lattice-like criss-crossing of the bodice and the soft palette of creamy shimmery pastel pinks but what’s up with Megan’s face? She looks as if she’s been embalmed and whoever did it lacked some serious skills. And as ever, that hideous Marilyn Monroe tattoo shows up to spoil the party once again.

Jane Fonda in Georges Hobeika – I really adore this dress. It’s black without being boring and Jane shows she still knows how to work it with the best of them. While it’s an inspired choice for the more mature woman offering that element of upper-arm coverage Mirren is always sporting, I think it would work just as well on someone younger and would be interested to see how that panned out. Either way, it’s classy, it’s sophisticated and just a little bit sexy too. Nice work, stylists!

Scarlett Johansson in Elie Saab – It’s a shimmering, romantic and oh so pretty dress beamed down direct from Cloud Nine. So, of course it’s by Elie Saab! It would be an astoundingly beautiful dress whether worn by fairy queen or evil troll so that’s not the issue… it’s Johansson’s bizarre Bride of Frankenstein hairdo. I’ll leave you to mull over this strange experiment in back-combing and toxic amounts of hairspray…

Oh, hello Robert Pattinson. I’m not sure how you got here… think of it as my treat to myself after 4000 words of Golden Globes coverage. See you at the Oscars.

Red Carpet Rundown: Golden Globes 2011, Part III

And now for the third section of my 2011 Golden Globes coverage entitled, ‘Ye God, My Eyes!’

Julianne Moore in Lanvin – A former favourite who has lost her way. Gone are the gorgeous jewel tones and classic elegance from pre-2009, instead replaced by an uncanny knack for choosing the worst gowns from various designers’ collections. This time, her obsession with Lanvin, its weird cuts and its bizarre sleeve policy rears its ugly head once more. The bubblegum pink isn’t terrible flattering for Julianne’s colouring, the creases have me itching to iron and the strange sleeve seems to have come from not just one different dress (possibly American quarterback-inspired?), but two! An unmitigated mess.

Halle Berry in Nina Ricci – Halle Berry is one of the most beautiful women in the world, blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda. But over the past year, no-one has been more alert to this fact than Halle Berry herself. It’s been permanently tight, short and bangers o clock round Halle’s place. Here, she’s turned up in her (slightly bondage-esque) underwear complete with fetish cuffs, with a sarong tucked around as an after-thought by Berry’s disproving Dr. Jekyll side. As such, it’s oddly unsexy and makes her look a little desperate.

Michelle Williams in Valentino – Michelle Williams used to get it red carpet right all the time. Remember that mustard yellow Oscars gown, widely regarded as one of the best of all-time?! Sadly, she lost her red carpet mojo when she had her hair cropped and bleached for her role as Marilyn Monroe, but where the hairdresser was mistakenly given a picture of Pat from Eastenders instead. It’s made her look old, dowdy and frumpy and she has started to dress accordingly, wearing stuff that you imagine grannies picking out as misguided presents for their recalcitrant relatives. This empire-line dress with an unfortunate case of boob-squeeze has managed the quite incredible trick of making her look both bottom and top-heavy. The print was last seen in the reduced aisle of tablecloths and shower curtains.

Helena Bonham-Carter in Vivienne Westwood – Oh, that Helena Bonham-Carter, she’s so ker-azy, isn’t she? So wacky, a one-off, a true British eccentric… isn’t it cool that she doesn’t care what everyone else thinks?! However, this ensemble makes me think she cares very much indeed. Wearing mismatched shoes that are actually the same shoe in different colours that both happen to match the tones of the dress make it look like someone has put rather too much effort into looking ker-azy, hence turning the look from breath of fresh air to contrived drama-school project. I actually like certain aspects of the dress – the neckline’s classic uber-flattering Westwood, although it looks like someone slashed it to death on its way to becoming a halter-neck – and the colours and the print are pretty. But it’s so obviously Westwood that it’s very nearly a pastiche and then she had to go and wear sunglasses too… if it takes you this long to look this silly, why not try looking great instead?

Christina Aguilera in Zuhair Murad – Christina’s red carpet run for Burlesque has been pretty poor, where she’s generally looked old, plastic, washed-up and like she doesn’t know what dress size she is anymore. She continues in this vein here, with her wig-like hair, overdone make-up and oddly plump face, serving up a definition of ‘sexy’ so hackneyed and obvious that even Martians with no concept of the word would be telling her to put it away. It looks like the sort of a thing a blousy Mae West wore in her 70s, that Miss Piggy would wear in an attempt to seduce Kermit and even her own tacky perfume bottle. None of those looks is a good thing, by the way.

Christina Hendricks in Romona Keveza – Christina Hendricks is famous for her boobs. In case you hadn’t realised this, she’s taken to sticking something oversize and attention-grabbing in the vicinity just to make it that little bit more obvious. Big red hair, big red flower, big red boobs. At least it’s an improvement on the baby falcon she sported last time. I feel like we’ve seen this all before and would like to see Christina switch up her style before it’s too late.

Jennifer Lopez in Zuhair Murad and Marchesa – J. Lo specialises in playing the diva. There’s nothing too overblown for her – feathers, sequins, beading, animal print, bling, cleavage, bring it on! To be honest, tt feels like a role for show (I’d love it if she really sat at home in trackies eating ice-cream from the tub) and here are two of her latest incarnations at the ceremony itself and then for the after-party: most creative way to wear a wedding veil (as a poncho) and better-late-than-never audition for Black Swan. If she gave me an Amber Riley-sized grin, it would look like just bit a fun but she’s taking it all far too seriously for me to not think she just looks ridiculous.

Sandra Bullock in Jenny Packham – This dress is actually beautiful, a glimmering cobweb of loveliness that’s utterly delightful, uncontrived and perfectly-accessorised. The problems begin and end with Sandie’s facial area. The heavy blunt black fringe hangs over this feather-light confection like a black cloud of doom, Emily The Strange having an even worse day than usual. It’s one of those things women in their forties get told makes them look younger, when in fact all it does it make their face look the size of a postage stamp. Secondly, she looks so very sad. I understand why she might be feeling sad at how much has changed since last year’s Golden Globes, but no one wants to see Sandra Bullock sad, do they? It’s like kicking a kitten. It makes me feel sad and it probably makes the dress feel sad. Which is a shame as it really is a lovely dress.