Monthly Archives: May 2011

CND Poppyfield nail polish review

The sun has got its hat on, hip hip hooray, the sun has got its hat on, CND Poppyfield’s coming out to play.

Isn’t coral just such a fabulous summer colour? I’ve been searching for a great coral all year in anticipation of sunny days, blue skies and beach dreams but it wasn’t as easy as I’d thought it would be! A good coral should be the perfect blend of pink, orange and red; you know it’s perfect when it’s definitely not identifiable as being solely any of the colours above but cries out to be called coral! It’s also one of those colours that depends on skintone and surroundings to pull it in different directions, so one woman’s ultimate coral can easily be another’s crash and burn.

Poppyfield’s name doesn’t really do it justice. When I think of poppies, I think of a cheerful bright red, which this polish clearly ain’t. It’s a tangy mostly orange-leaning red that pops with more gusto than an Andy Warhol painting. A Californian poppy at a push, but much more likely a nasturtium, geranium or hibiscus if you must go down the garden path (yes, I did a lot of gardening as a child, what of it?!). In real life, there is a detectable melon sorbet pink tone in there too, but my camera clearly preferred the orange instead (you can see it more in the bottle). So what’s that – mentions of red, orange AND pink? Clear coral territory, for sure.

Poppyfield was the first CND nail polish I’ve tried – and I’m definitely going to be back for more! Unfortunately, Creative Nail Design (to use their full moniker) underwent a revamp a few years back, which overhauled their bottle design for the better, but severely stunted their range of colours in the process. It’s now a mostly uninspiring collection seemingly based on the boring racks in Essie i.e. traditional colours in red, pink and neutral shades.

Such a shame as the formula on this was brilliant. Smooth, creamy, easily opaque in two coats, a high-shine glossy finish and chip-free after well over seven days. I also loved the rubber cap of these bottles, which made such a difference to getting that extra bit of grip and security (my polish-stained blanket bears testament to the number of plastic caps that have slipped through my fingers!). The brush itself was not too memorable (I’d compare it to China Glaze’s in terms of size and thickness) and judging by how relatively neat my nails look here, it must have been pretty good to use.

Poppyfield is a coral that doesn’t just smile – it positively sings. It looks A-MA-ZING (emphasis on the zing) paired with summer brights and it’s the kind of polish that brightens up your whole look. Together with the fabulous formula, Poppyfield is a no-brainer. Flash but not brash, it’s definitely one for your summer stash. Yes, I do rhymes here too.

Looks good with: summer brights, sunnies, shorts
Drying time: 5-7 minutes
Coats required: 2-3
Chips: +7 days

CND Poppyfield nail polish, $60, Nail Concept Company

Retail Therapy Rach-style

I love buying make-up. No, like really, LOVE. So who wants to see some high quality make-up porn photos then? [God knows how many weird Google searches that will send my way!]

Firstly, I had a wonderful surprise again from the GORGEOUS Bastian at Flare, who sent me a goodie bag of SK II products. She always sends me a lovely little card as well… love the personal touch! (Check out the hummingbird seal – so cute!) Don’t these products look haute?!

Here’s a close-up of the products – a bottle of SK II’s Facial Treatment Essence (dubbed ‘miracle water’ by some), 10 Facial Treatment Masks (as famously sported by Demi Moore on Twitter) and a super-cute hi-tech bottle of Cellumination Essence (the bottle has this gorgeous pearlescent opalised finish which I’m in love with already). After reading loads of raves for SK II and having never tried anything of theirs before, I can’t wait to bust these out! Stay tuned for more reviews… and not just on Through The Looking Glass either (hmmm… cryptic right?!)

My friend Mirander went to Singapore recently so I asked if she wouldn’t mind looking for some Urban Decay things for me – and lovely girl that she is, she agreed! Seriously, Urban Decay is my most missed cosmetics brand out here – as you already know, their 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils are one of my make-up miracles and I love their range of exciting edgy colours together with their commitment to awesome quality, which (for me) is unmatched. Of the things I asked Mir to find, only the 24/7 Glide-On Shadow Pencils were in stock, so she grabbed me a few of these.

Firstly, let’s admire the cool iridescent packages. Ooooh… shiny… like a super-sexy oil slick.

Appetite whet, here they are in all their glory, from top to bottom: Delinquent, Morphine, Narc, Midnight Cowboy and Sin. They’re basically big fat versions of my beloved eye pencils (which I’ll admit to sometimes using as shadows, probably very naughty of me); Midnight Cowboy and Sin are absolutely fabulous neutrals that are anything but boring beiges, proper reviews to come!

Sadly, the infamous Naked Palette and the 15 Year Anniversary 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil set that I also asked for were sold out in Singapore. However, as you all know by now, when I decide I want something, I’ll hunt them down with more persistence than a trained assassin… or something like that. One morning, I woke up really early and after perusing Urban Decay’s Facebook page, noticed some folk saying both of these items were in stock at Debenhams. Unfortunately, Debehams doesn’t deliver to Hong Kong… but Mum Post does! So I snagged these before they sold out yet again and my mum was great enough to forward them on to me… and they are so worth it!

As you know already, I love me my 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencils. This limited edition 15 Year Anniversary 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil set contains 15 amazing eyeliners (most of which I own already), including six new shades that are exclusive to this set. So obviously I HAD to have it! There’s also a sharpener and given that the pencils usually retail for £13 and this contains 15 full-sized ones for only £60, this is an amazing deal. Love.

The Naked Palette is probably one of the most raved about sets on the web; every girl needs some sophisticated neutrals set aside for a rainy day, right? This includes twelve shades of shadow, plus a brush and a travel-sized bottle of Urban Decay’s cult favourite primer potion.

My other favourite make-up brand is Clinique – see here and here are why, for the uninitiated! I saw these Chubby Sticks advertised and loved the cute playful look of them, and once I got in the store, I loved the feel of them too. I’m a lip balm freak, always seen smearing Vaseline on my smackers, and generally go for stronger eye make-up with bare lips, meaning these tinted moisturising lip balms are perfect and ultra-convenient for on the go.

I started off wanting one shade only – Super Strawberry. Then I took a liking to Whole Lotta Honey too and wanted them both, but Strawberry was sold out. Over the next few days, I somehow ended up bagging Woppin’ Watermelon and Mega Melon too… oops… and desperately seeking Strawberry, which is apparently sold out in HK. Proper reviews to come (top to bottom: Honey, Melon, Watermelon) but for now, suffice to say, they’re brilliant.

I also picked up some Clinique Quick Eyes Cream Shadows whilst I was there. HK seemed to only have a limited range of colours so I went for the only two that took my fancy – Rock Violet, a shimmery lavender, and Kiwi, a glowing green-gold. I normally use powder shadows and have heard good things about how crease-free these are, so am looking forward to reporting back!

My boyfriend need some new razors so popped in for what he thought would be quick in-and-out shop in Mannings. But as you know, this isn’t really in my vocab. He was persuaded into buying me some My Beauty Diary face masks (an exclusive to Mannings Cupid’s Love Set, featuring a mix of Chocolate and White Rose ones) and an adorable Mini Teatime Set, that includes a Strawberry Yoghurt Amino Acid Cleanser, Vanilla Soufflé Face Scrub and one Chocolate Truffle and one Earl Grey Tea & Macaroon Sheet Mask. The gift box seemed ridiculously cheap (just over $30); don’t these look and sound good enough to eat?! I’ll be disappointed if they don’t smell amazing although I’ll admit I mostly picked them because they looked pretty!

Of course, no make-up haul of mine is complete without nail polish. Firstly, here are some pretty pictures of the glitterbomb extraordinaires that are my collection of Estessimo Tins. Some, dare I say it, even have a touch of the holographic about them… squee!!!

Left to right: The Neptune (already reviewed here), The Splash Blue (reviewed here), The Relax Mint, The Snow Love, The Spicy Pinwheel.

Left to right and some holographic rainbow goodness: Rich Topaz, Bon Bon Savon, Seductive Amethyst, Alluring Aquamarine, Passionate Ruby.

I also finally found some Deborah Lippmann nail polishes, much raved-about on the Interwebz. These were very pricey (over 3x the price of my usual Cher2 buys!) so I kept it down to two very special unique glitters – Across The Universe and Today Was A Fairytale, which allegedly contains Virgin Diamond Powder. Well, for that price, I bloody hope so! At least some money was spent on packaging I guess!

So, as you can see, I love make-up. I worry for the number of excited exclamation marks that pepper this post. Keep ‘em peeled for proper reviews Retail Therapy Rach-stylesoon!

(My Mum is probably shaking her head in disgust right now. Sorry Mum.)

China Glaze Passion In The Pacific nail polish review

Whilst I was desperately seeking Turned Up Turquoise, I ended up buying a bottle of China Glaze’s Passion In The Pacific to fill the tropical turquoise void in my life. Well, you know, the one that hadn’t already been filled by Essie’s Turquoise & Caicos.

I initially thought Passion In The Pacific would be a shimmery zingy emerald to Turned Up Turquoise’s true turquoise hue – but in fact, they ended up as much closer cousins than I would have imagined. Just like Turned Up Turquoise, Passion In The Pacific becomes a lush jewel-toned turquoise in the brightest artificial white light and just like Turned Up Turquoise, it’s a standard summery palm tree green practically any time otherwise.

The main difference is the finish. Whilst Turned Up Turquoise has that trademark semi-matte finish of most neons, Passion In The Pacific is a definite ocean-in-the-sunlight shimmer. I’d even be tempted to call it a frost, if it didn’t seem utterly strange calling a colour evocative of beaches, summer and sarongs something so cold, stark and wintry.

I had all kinds of problems with it though. I don’t know if this is because Passion In The Pacific is an older polish so has a different formula than the China Glazes I know and love or if I just got a dodgy bottle, but it was dishearteningly difficult to work with. Extremely thin, watery and streaky, prone to air bubbles, looooong drying time and brush-strokey finish when dry. I hated it. As usual with polishes I hate, that meant it decided to stay with a vengeance – I managed a full week chip-free before I finally caved in and ditched those mocking air bubbles.

Under bright artificial light (plus flash)

The colour pay-off is a nice summer bright but probably not that unique – if I’d have known that it was so similar to Turned Up Turquoise, indeed if I’d have known I’d find Turned Up Turquoise in the first place, I probably wouldn’t have bothered. After all, there are enough top coats in the world that could probably recreate that oceanic shimmer, except without all the application problems and maybe look even better.

In short, Passion In The Pacific is a great summer colour – but only if you can’t find any other similar alternatives! Looks like he’ll be enjoying his beach-side cocktail on his own!

Looks good with: tropical brights, bikinis, cocktails with umbrellas in
Drying time: 10 mins
Coats required: 3-4
Chips: +7 days

China Glaze Passion In The Pacific nail polish, Spring/Summer 2006 Fiji Fling Collection, $60, Cher2

Red Pepper restaurant review – the spice of life

Ask my boyfriend what his favourite restaurant in Hong Kong is and his answer may well be Red Pepper.

Red Pepper has been a staple of Hong Kong’s dining scene for years. It’s the kind of place that old-timers in HK for flying visits make a point of visiting, the kind of place businessmen take clients for impressive banquets and the kind of place that tourists get told to try. Consequently, some of my local friends shake their heads and complain it’s only for ‘gweilos and expats’, with its Sichuan dishes geared towards Western tastes. Oh well, leave it to the gweilos and expats then, as that means more prawns for us!

Continue reading

Sweet like Chocolate Rain

I promised you more Chocolate Rain cuteness after my post on Hong Kong Creative Ecologies and whaddya know… it doesn’t just rain here but it pours!

The mall in Olympian City (yes, named after the Olympics) had a super-kawaii installation dedicated to Chocolate Rain and I couldn’t resist taking some photos, much to my boyfriend’s annoyance (‘You’re so local’).

I’m more used to shopping centres in the UK too depressing to even warrant a George A Romero-style zombie stampede but malls in HK are a totally different ball game. [Remember that awesome Lane Crawford installation in Pacific Place?]

What’s more, there are so many malls here that it’s a competitive game, especially during Christmas and other special occasions, where they all attempt to out-do each other with special decorations, performances, giveaways and exhibits – HK folk do love their photo opps, after all! Hence the Chocolate Rain one here, called Olympian City’s Easter Dream Brûlée.

I just love artist Prudence Mak’s distinctive patchwork style for Chocolate Rain – absolutely lovely and just that little bit quirky too – and I love that a locally-designed brand can challenge the cute character powerhouse that is Sanrio. But most of all, as you know, I just love pretty things! And this delivered pretty things in abundance.

The Fatina doll character was dressed in colourful costumes inspired by different ice-cream flavours whilst the centrepiece was a 30-foot banana boat. Overall, it felt like I’d wandered into a village straight from a fairytale!

Truly scrumptious!

China Glaze Turned Up Turquoise nail polish review

Have you cottoned onto the fact that I like turquoise – a lot – yet? It should come as no surprise then that, after seeing pictures of China Glaze’s Turned Up Turquoise on some blogs, I just knew I had to claim that turquoise for my own too!

Part of the Summer 2008 Ink Collection, which were somewhat bizarrely based on the hues of tattoos, it proved pretty difficult to track down – but as you know with me, the journey is half of the fun… or something like that (see tracking down Gosh Cosmetics, flakies and even Waterball Bay for further evidence!). The whole collection is made up of bright buzzing neons that practically jolt you to attention and Turned Up Turquoise is no exception. It’s an intense saturated turquoise colour that floods the senses with its zing. So far, so amazing.

But unlike Essie’s Turquoise & Caicos, I don’t think I can describe this as true turquoise. It’s simply not content to be just one colour! Turned Up Turquoise is a bit of a tropical chameleon in a way that I don’t think most Internet swatches have shown. Sometimes, it really would look like the perfect turquoise adrenaline rush; other times, it leaned massively towards a mouth-watering candy-coated green. All the pictures on this page were taken in daylight (apart from one I’ll mention later), with only minor adjustments to hand positions and the natural variations of sunlight and shade to blame for how differently they all turned out!

The greenest shades remind me of the most vibrant green of cartoon palm trees whilst the most truly turquoise make me think of the clearest, jewel-like tropical oceans. Either way, they’re all violently vivid, although some seem to have had a heftier dose of lime juice than others. As you may guess, my favourite hue is the most traditionally turquoise one… but to guarantee that colour, you have to stay in the brightest sunlight or the whitest lighting possible at all times!

Like many neons, Turned Up Turquoise dries to a semi-matte finish. I think it might look even more awesome glossy, but the matte effect is stopped from falling flat by a slight shimmer that’s been thrown into the mix too. It proves somewhat elusive to catch in photos; the slightly blurry one below taken under artificial light comes closest to capturing the subtle glow that stops it from looking chalky and dull.

Application-wise, I found it a little difficult to work with simply because, like many mattes, it dries quickly. Unlike all those OPI Suedes that I’ve loved, Turned Up Turquoise seems to have a thicker consistency that meant it was difficult to make perfect, without visible brush-strokes, in the short time before the lacquer started setting. Even though the colour was so strikingly strong and intensely-pigmented to only require one coat for opaque coverage in a colour that looked exactly like it did in the bottle, you might need to go for two just to try and clean things up a bit. But like the other matte finishes I’ve tried, this didn’t wear too well, with chips appearing after just one or two days.

Turned Up Turquoise does have its faults, but for that extreme rich colour pay-off, it’s definitely worth it. When it does decide to give you a glimpse of its turquoise side, it’s a turquoise so eye-poppingly amped up to the max that you’re shocked into submission, yet without appearing garishly fluorescent. And hey, those green shades aren’t too shabby either, right?

Looks good with: neons, high contrast, high NRG
Drying time: <2 mins
Coats required: 1-2
Chips: 1-2 days

China Glaze Turned Up Turquoise nail polish, Summer 2008 Ink Collection, $160, Nails From The Heart, Admiralty Centre

China Glaze BFF nail polish review

And so the holo madness continues, with China Glaze’s BFF.

Short recap if you haven’t been keeping close track over my nail polish obsession: Rach discovers lacquers that have rainbow holographic effect reminiscent of her favourite stickers from childhood, Rach decides she must have as many of these holographic lacquers as possible, regardless of colour, price or availability. Polish connoisseurs regard China Glaze’s Kaleidoscope and OMG Collections as the zenith of shimmery rainbowy goodness, so Rach dedicates huge numbers of man hours, resources and dollars to tracking down said collections. Rach is so zombified by doing this and blogging about 85 dresses as 2011’s Met Gala that she starts referring to herself in the third person.

Back to BFF. BFF is the colour of rhododendrons or mallows in full pinky-purply bloom. Except with added rainbows, of course. It looks a lot pinker in my photos than it did in real life, as it’s very much an in-betweeny mix of cool mid-toned pink and a pale dusty magenta. Unlike DV8, which gave a more marine-flavoured spectrum, BFF has the more traditional full rainbow glow when it hits the sun.

An easy fast-drying two-coater, BFF reverted to type when it came to chips too. DV8 unexpectedly lasted a whole week without any obvious wear but BFF started flaking away after a few days. Generally, shampoo day is the death knell for any holos I wear, and DV8 looks like it was the exception that proved the rule!

Normal light vs artificial light

Although BFF probably isn’t the most stand-out colour from the OMG Collection, it’s actually one of the most wearable whilst still providing that revelatory wink of rainbows. It’s not a too-girlie pink, but nor is it a not-safe-for-work blast of purple. Fully deserving of being every girl’s BFF, it’s pretty much the perfect Trojan horse for holographic goodness.

Looks good with: most things
Drying time: <2 mins
Coats required:
2
Chips:
3-4 days

China Glaze BFF nail polish, Spring 2008 OMG Collection, $115, Nail Concept Company