Monthly Archives: July 2011

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence review

I have a confession. I didn’t know much about SK-II.

About all I did know was that Cate Blanchett was one of their spokesmen and well… if there’s one current celeb female whose skin you wouldn’t mind having, porcelain princess Cate has to be pretty high on the list!

To clear up my ignorance, I was sent a few of SK-II’s bestsellers by the fabulous Bastian (see the full post here), including their most famous product – SK-II Facial Treatment Essence.

The essence has been dubbed ‘miracle water’ by some, with Asian celebs (and their milky white complexions) clamouring to call it their ‘best friend’ or even ‘lover’! Not much to live up to then! I’m not ready to dump the boyfriend just yet (especially after he bought me that Bobbi Brown palette, hehehe) but I have to admit, I was mightily impressed.

The story of SK-II started at a sake brewery in Japan, where scientists noticed that elderly workers, despite their wrinkled face, had beautiful soft hands as a result of being in constant contact with the sake fermentation process. Eventually, scientists isolated the miracle ingredient responsible for holding back the years – Pitera, a naturally-occurring liquid from the fermentation process. It contains a blend of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids that help enable the skin’s natural rejuvenation process by regenerating its outer layer (who else is picturing a Doctor Who style regeneration round about now?!). All of SK-II’s skincare products contain Pitera but the Facial Treatment Essence contains the most, with a whopping 90% of the liquid made up of the stuff.

An interesting story and brilliant brand mythology yet who cares about some wrinkled crones with pretty hands unless the stuff actually works, right?! Had those scientists just knocked back a few too many sakes down the factory or was there something to this Pitera lark?!

The essence is a transparent, slightly hay-tinged liquid with a similar consistency and place in your routine as toner. However, whilst toners have tended to either break me out or uncomfortably tighten me up, the Facial Essence has none of these effects. It’s as gentle as a kiss from a butterfly, so gentle you can even use it over sensitive areas, like your eyes and lips. It absorbs quickly without a trace and leaves no residue.

But the most noteworthy thing about SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence is the smell. It’s a strong sour scent, somewhere between rice wine vinegar and (for me) Thai fish gravy! Not usually the sort of smell you’d associate with skincare for sure! It’s not exactly unpleasant, more surprising, but you quickly get used to it. I guess it’s all that Pitera… so whilst those elderly workers might have had lovely hands, I’m not sure they would have smelt so hot after all those years down the factory!

All the instructions for the Facial Treatment Essence were in Japanese but application is simple. Splash a few drops of the essence onto some cotton wool morning and evening, pat all over the face and you’re done! There is even a handy diagram to illustrate:

I was slightly dubious about seeing tangible effects from the essence, as despite all the ‘miracle water’ worshipping, mention of what it actually did seemed rather vague. But after a few weeks, the evidence was clear. There’s a reason the formula for this hasn’t changed in 30 years – it works. Wonders.

My skin is softer. My skin is brighter. My skin is clearer. I have fewer breakouts and when I do get the occasional blemish, it’s seems to clear up quicker and without as much aggravation. My complexion is more even and less prone to blotchiness and redness. Dry patches (by my nose, lips and one particularly troublesome area near my eye that richer eye creams made worse and normal moisturisers aren’t supposed to be applied there) are now nourished and non-flaky. Similarly, oilier areas seem more controlled too. My skin feels supple and hydrated, neither too greasy nor too dry, throughout the entire day and night. The Facial Treatment Essence claims to balance the skin’s pH and sebum secretion and my skin really does now feel perfectly-balanced.

How do I know all this? After about a month and a half of using the essence, I stopped. And basically, the opposite of all the above started happening!

I’m not a huge fan of having to use cotton wool so frequently in my beauty routine as I find it quite wasteful but having experimented with trying to splash it directly onto my hands and dab it on (which wasted a lot of product both in spillage and it absorbing into your fingers), this is the best way. It probably also contributes to the cleaning process, meaning my skin really does look crystal-clear and radiant. The only things I can think of that the essence doesn’t help with  are pore size, blackheads or providing really intense rich moisturising.

The downside – the cost (allegedly due to the difficulties and expenses of churning out all that Pitera, with only limited quantities produced). Used twice a day, even sparingly, I think you’d be lucky to get much more than six months out of the 215ml bottle.

I love that it’s suitable for all skin types, for all ages and can be used all over the face. The effects are subtle but noticeable, giving you a youthful natural glow. In short, it’s a wonderful addition to any beauty routine.

One bottle of SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is sold every 28 seconds, with over 20 million bottles sold to date. Well, it’s now 20 million and one. Chalk me up with the statistics – I’m converted! Miracle water all the way!

SK-II Miracle Water… oops, I mean Facial Treatment Essence, $980 for 215ml; see all SK-II locations in Hong Kong here

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Go Hard or Go Haul!

Believe it or not, I don’t actually like Mac make-up much. [Yeah, I can tell you don’t believe me.]

But the Semi-Precious Collection was SO pretty. Marbleised multi-coloured glittering domes of wondrousness; a cross between precious minerals, gemstones and cosmic galaxies. I just fell in love with the lot on first sight. Incidentally, swatches on the Internet just DO NOT compare. They make them look gritty and dull and sheer, but in real life, they are shimmery multi-dimensional wondrousness.

And I went accordingly overboard. Before I got in the store, I only wanted the Golden Gaze eye shadow (the outright gold star of the collection) and Pearl Skinfinish. Such is the power of a great shop assistant! And the allure of these babies in person!

I’m still in the ‘bring them out and stroke lovingly’ stage of ownership – they’re just too pretty to touch! I said to my boyfriend I should have bought two of each, one to use and one to look at; I was only half-joking. So these are photos to preserve the beauty!

Mineralize Skinfinishes in Pearl Rose Quartz and Crystal Pink. Glowy gorgeousness in a pan.

Mineralize Eye Shadows in Golden Gaze, Hint Of Sapphire, Jade’s Fortune and Clarity. I know others have complained about the lack of pigmentation, but for me, the lightness is what makes these so useable and great for my fair skin. They all shimmer different colours in different lights, like magic. Stunning!

My lovely boyfriend bought me this limited edition Bobbi Brown Bronze Eye Palette from the Tortoise Shell Collection.

Bobbi Brown aren’t exactly known for being exciting but they do great quality neutrals and this palette absolutely epitomises that. I LOVE the classy packaging – in the words of the awesome Alex Perry, it looks expensive (say with Aussie accent for full effect)! I love how compact is it, with the pull-out drawer, and the shades are all complimentary browns, golds and bronzes. Great for travelling and creating easy lovely natural looks.

I’ve recently got into The Balm, which is now sold at Sasa. It’s an American brand with retro packaging and witty names, kind of a B-List Benefit. After learning my beloved Benefit Georgia was discontinued, I have been on the lookout for a similar peachy blush. The Balm’s Hot Mama blush had quite a lot of good write-ups (including from blush queen herself Jenn)… and it all escalated from there!

I received the Shady Lady Eye Shadow (Mischievous Marissa, a lovely glittering beige) as a free gift for purchasing two The Balm products; I also got a Read My Lips lipstick in Letter To The Editor (a shimmering bronzed berry). Next, I got a free It Girl Lip Gloss for buying two of their Sexpot Mineral Overshadows. The latter are highly-pigmented loose powders in No Money, No Honey (a light bright gold) and Work Is Overrated (pink champagne), with gorgeous 50s pin-ups on the lids. I blame these on Vicki getting me hooked on L’Oreal’s intense Infallible eye shadows, which aren’t available in HK, although these are much less adventurous colours!

Meanwhile, the baked Pupa Luminys Eye Shadow on the left is a Semi-Precious hangover. There were no really nice purples in the Mac collection, so this is the result!

I also got these two Canmake Jewel Eye Shadows in a very glittery gold and a very glittery melon. I had been lusting after Benefit Creaseless Creams but these were about a third of the price, whilst make-up queen Jenn recommended them as cheap Jill Stuart eye jellies! Sold! Plus, a freebie Sasa Garden Fairy hand cream.

After my wonderful day at Elemis Day Spa, I wanted to buy some of their products and kept reading about this gift set in the UK magazines my mum sent me. This gorgeous leopard-print Elemis Safari Traveller is designed by Alice Temperley (only one of my favourite designers!) and I thought it would be brilliant for carrying all my toiletries for travelling. It didn’t disappoint in person – nice and hefty and again, a touch of the Alex Perry (i.e. expensive!)

It comes stuffed with seven Elemis miniatures that I can’t wait to get stuck into (including the Papaya Peel I enjoyed so much during my facial) and a percentage goes to charity, so what’s not to love? Sadly, it’s not being sold in Hong Kong so I purchased it from Lookfanastic.com, who offer free (and speedy!) international shipping.

I couldn’t just buy one thing from Lookfantastic though! So popped the Urban Decay Ammo Eye Shadow Palette in there too. I decided on buying this rather than several of their individual eye shadows (which I love), which would have ended up costing much more. Another typically fabulous and unusual array of colours from UD and in a very pretty box too!

I’ve been busy putting together a Hello Kitty birthday package for Aimee and sadly for my wallet, that means I’ve been swept along on the Sanrio steamroller of cuteness too! I bought a Cinnamoroll folder and two tins to hold all my eye pencils. They’re so lovely, they cheer me up just by seeing them!

And too cute not to show you some close-ups! I particularly love the Cinnamoroll pencil tin – the soft dusky colours are so haute! This is the sort of crazy-pretty-silly-cute-loveliness I missed so much when I lived in England; I used to have so much of it when I was young here so I’m just resuming my collection!

Whilst Aimee’s weakness is Hello Kitty, mine is Stitch. I just can’t get enough of that cute blue bug-eyed little alien! I’ll probably do a post documenting all my Stitch stuff, as there’s lots of it, but here are my three latest little buddies. Yes, that is a Soy Bean on his head. And no, I don’t know why either – but it sure as hell is cute!

More non make-up goodies thanks to my Kwai Fong shopping spree with BFF Mirander, including cheap and cute headbands, beautiful earrings and Miffy propelling pencils. I love that mini padlock on the headband and who could possibly resist watering cans on earrings?! Not me, that’s for sure!

Gwen Stefani is one of my style icons and I’ve loved the super-kawaii bottles she’s been putting out for her Harajuku Lovers perfume range but have so far resisted as, apart from my trusty Chanel No. 5, I don’t use scents. But resistance finally crumbled in the face of this limited edition G Of The Sea fragrance – IT’S A MERMAID. Amazing.

And finally… no haul of mine is complete without nail polish, right? Firstly, some pa nail polishes, a Japanese brand with tiny bottles but a rainbow of colours. I picked up some of the more unique colours  – a silver glitter with antique-rose-copper sequins and a purple with a gold shimmer, plus this charcoal holographic polish I found in CitySuper.

A reader, fellow HK polish and holo addict CaCa, tipped me off about some amazing undiscovered BK holographic nail varnishes. Well, she didn’t need to tell me twice – I was there in a flash to get my stash of rainbows in an (admittedly tiny) bottle!

I already showed you the NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils I bought from the “Make-Up Fiesta” (read more about that hyperbole here!) so, since I have no idea when I’ll get round to trying them all, here are all the NYX nail polishes I bought too. Are those flakies i.e. amazing shreds of rainbow awesomeness, I see before me?! And some multi-coloured glitter and duochromes too!

So as you can ascertain, I went hard AND went haul! Now for a rest I think!

Red Carpet Rundown: I ♥ Kate Middleton/Duchess of Cambridge/Princess Kate

There was a time when I didn’t even like Kate Middleton much. I even preferred Prince Harry’s spunkier beau, Chelsea Davy, because she actually seemed to be doing something with her life, as opposed to just hanging around with immaculate hair waiting for her boyfriend to pop the question.

How times have changed.

Now I can’t get enough of Princess Kate. Thankfully, the media can’t either, so I have been happily gorging on photos of her daily thanks to Wills & Kate’s Great North American Adventure. And now I don’t just want her hair… I want her wardrobe too!

Kate’s style has been criticised as ‘boring’, but I can’t remember the last time I didn’t think she looked lovely. Isn’t it refreshing to see a young woman in the public eye who isn’t slavishly following every trend going or trying to reveal as much boob as possible? Kate’s style is elegant, refined and obviously, totally her own. No stylist required.

Obviously, being a royal means there’s some element of conservatism to her look – yes, wah wah wah, she has to wear skin-coloured tights but frankly, she wears them so well that I’m considering buying some! Yet she still looks young and fresh, un-stuffy and gorgeous – and I suppose being in love with the future King of England helps too.

My favourite looks from the North American tour are numerous… so this post is as much for my personal squee-ing viewing pleasure as for yours.

I knew it was going to be a good few weeks when Kate’s first look was this navy lace shift dress from Erdem. Subconsciously, I’d been longing for Kate to wear Erdem since… well, forever. Erdem does lacy florals in a way that is so far away from grannie’s doilies and cushion covers that you’ll forget chintz even existed; instead, they’re contemporary, chic and oh-so-breathtakingly pretty dresses every time. I LOVE this dress. I want it. You’ll hear this phrase a lot this post.

The marriage made in heaven (and I’m talking Kate & Erdem, not Kate & Wills!) continued with this second Erdem dress. This time it’s a more vibrant shade of royal blue, a colour we’ve seen Kate wear a lot recently, obviously purely coincidentally setting off that engagement ring. Again, I love it. I want it less than the navy one though. The navy was just SO effortlessly classy yet still a little bit sexy. This is beautiful though. See what I mean? Modern yet conservative and still young and fresh. Delightful.

Another designer that Kate should wear more of is Jenny Packham. Packham is actually British-born, yet has so far received more attention from young American starlet types who are drawn magpie-esque to her sparkly feminine designs (see Emma Roberts, Ashley Tisdale, Miley Cyrus, Jayma Mays and Sandra Bullock). This is also an excuse for me to shoehorn in my second-favourite Princess Kate look of all time (second to THE wedding dress, obvs) courtesy of Ms Packham from the ARK Gala – delicate blush colour, shimmering silver sequins, a floating romantic princess dream topped off with ribbons on her shoes. She looked stunning in every single photo, from every single angle – the power of a totally magical dress.

But back to the dresses from the tour. They’re just such a perfect fit for Kate. Delightful, charming and pretty, simple yet with an easy sophistication. She got a bit windswept in the primrose yellow frock so I’m hoping this will get another Reiss engagement dress re-run because it’s utterly gorgeous. Easy and breezy without a Covergirl advert in sight. It’s a shame Kate tends towards nudes and neutrals as colours like this really light her up. She looks years younger. Adorable.

Similarly, she should totally wear more prints. She can carry them off – and so easily too! Ideally, she needs to amalgamate these two looks and do *quelle horreur* a bright print! Baby steps, I know… This is yet another effortlessly gorgeous outfit and the print, in an array of pale neutral hues, is just beautiful, light and chic. I love the way those butterfly-like sleeves fall too. It’s the little details!

Onto the Alexander McQueens, forever destined to be overshadowed by THE wedding dress. Part of her duty as a royal is to champion British fashion so well done Kate for finding McQueen pieces that work with her sensibilities – and not only work, but weeerk (you know, said with a Tyra hip thrust or Mr Jay finger wag). This vaguely nautical-themed cream cable-knit dress is just that little bit quirkier than Kate’s usual choices; it was worn for her visit to the place where Anne Of Green Gables was set and she just looks… delightful. What’s the word count for that adjective already? Classic but cute. Hair up looks good too, huh?!

The biggie of the tour was this full-length lavender ball-gown with a crystallised waistband worn for the Baftas Brits To Watch event. If this isn’t a princess dress, I’m not sure what is. It looks like it was designed by Disney artists for that final romantic waltz in the clouds accompanied by the Disney choir reaching crescendo. The sparkly waist reminds me of the after-wedding McQueen gown, whilst accessories are strictly from the school of sparkly princess stuff too. It’s so soft and silky and swooning. On a night when Hollywood’s A-List were out strutting their stuff (and, in celeb anecdote gold, J.Lo was apparently shoving Mary Louise Parker out the way), Princess Kate wafted down the red carpet like she’s been doing it for years. Beautiful.

So these dresses are the proof why Kate should give colour a few more spins. Look how much brighter and vibrant and youthful she looks in these bold eye-popping shades. The purple Issa and green Diane Von Furstenberg are both very simple shapes that let the colour do all the talking – but it’s one hell of a conversation! Issa’s speciality is flattering shapes in vivid colours (remember the engagement announcement dress?) and this is no exception. I just wish I could make unforgiving jersey look this easy! Meanwhile, it’s always been one of my aims in life to buy myself a DVF – the designer has a reputation for making flattering, quality clothing for women of any age in all kinds of lively prints and colours. This is just selling the brand to me even more.

One of my other favourites from the tour was rather understated and underrated. I’ve loved Roksanda Ilincic’s designs for a long time now – there’s just something about the way she drapes her fabrics that’s artful, interesting, tactile and feminine; structured but unstructured, if that makes sense. She isn’t afraid of a bright colour either and most of her pieces have an effortless grace to them, yet are still very modern. In short, Kate should be wearing this British designer much more! And also in short, I obviously want this lavender pale blue grey Peridot dress for my own. See that twist at the neckline? The way the material folds so beautifully around the figure? The way it just feels feather-light and delicate and dreamy yet could see you through practically any occasion? LOVE.

I have to mention the Reiss Nanette dress re-run too. It’s always endearing to see celebs wear outfits again – Camilla recently trotted out her entire wedding guest garb! – and it feels a very British thing too. It’s such a high-profile dress to recycle (worn for one of the official engagement photos) yet shows how much new life can be breathed into an outfit through stylish accessorising… and of course there’s the whole Canadian flag, red-and-white theme going on. The Lock & Co red maple leaf fascinator is charmingly quirky, the Lulu Guinness fan clutch is AMAZING and I want one, the maple leaf brooch borrowed from Her Majesty herself is a lovely touch and the ruby heels tie everything together. And the dress is still the very gorgeous clean crisp and modern thing it always was.

Finally, the Catherine Walkers, my least favourite of the favourites. For me, these are a little too mature for Kate yet still have some exquisite features about them. The dress-coat feels a little old-fashioned for Kate (I think it’s that heavy collar) but the shape of that full skirt is rather wonderful and I’m getting a cute Mary Poppins vibe off the whole outfit. Kate’s colouring actually suits red very well and I’d love to see her wear it more often.

The grey pencil dress is a little too formal – it feels too much like work-wear and consequently feels a little uptight. But the collar is very cute on Kate and from the back – well, it’s a whole much nicer, more interesting, more modern dress.

For those that can’t be bothered to traipse through 1500-odd words of fawning, here’s the short version: Princess Kate, I love you, can I have your clothes now please?

Awwwww…

Photos: Daily Mail, Just Jared, Go Fug Yourself, My Hollywood Life

Zoya Dannii nail polish review

I actually forgot I had swatched Zoya’s Dannii, that’s how uninspiring it was.

Which, if you know me and my love for all things purple, is a massive surprise. After all, Zoya’s official description of a ‘metallic purple orchid with pink and champagne highlights and flecks of silver metallic shimmer’ sounds positively purple perfection. But for me, the best description of Dannii would have to include the word ‘anticlimax’.

What I thought would be a vibrant pink-toned orchid turned out to be a much darker murkier almost brown-toned purple that just didn’t stand out at all. The champagne shimmer that I’d thought would give a beautiful glimmering glow to the polish was barely evident and when it was, it didn’t even look nice combined with the muddy purple. I could see the silver shimmer more often, but it wasn’t an appealing effect at all; the combination of that purple plus those shimmers just did not work. Zoya’s glitters are usually stunning shining stars in the nail polish firmament, but this flat murky finish was a dim flickering light bulb at best.

The formula was also not at all what I expect from Zoya – thick and gloopy, making application difficult. Basically, me and Dannii didn’t get on at all – it didn’t look nice with my skin tone, it didn’t look nice with my clothes and it didn’t look nice with my high expectations.

I think this polish was named after former X-Factor judge Dannii Minogue, but frankly, it’s more of a Sharon Osbourne. And that just about says it all.

Looks good with: good question
Drying time: 8-10 mins
Coats required: 2
Chips: +7 days

Zoya Dannii nail polish, Spring 2011 Intimate Collection, $80, Cher2

Nicole By Opi Diva Into The Pool nail polish review

Believe it or not, I have been wearing nail polishes other than coral this summer. My next pick has instantly become one of my favourite polishes full stop, summer or otherwise – Nicole By OPI’s Diva Into The Pool.

Nothing’s as bad as a pun that doesn’t quite work right?! Even Diva In The Pool would make more sense. But don’t let that put you off. Anyone with a weakness for turquoises – see my responses to Zoya’s Charla and Essie’s Turquoise & Caicos to see which camp I’m in – will definitely want to dive headlong into this colour. It’s a shimmering tropical aqua, as cool and refreshing as dip in the water.

It’s a little green-leaning but has an immaculate crystal-clear finish, with a finely-milled glitter that’s similar to Zoya’s trademark foil effect. I was initially worried at the extremely sheer first coat, but you get a gorgeous wash of colour after just two coats, although you could go for three for extra opacity if you wish. The polish was a nice consistency, extremely easy to work with, and I have to say I prefer Nicole By OPI’s flatter brush to OPI proper’s fat one – I’d say it’s most similar to China Glaze’s brush, though Nicole’s seemed to fan out even more nicely.

As my first Nicole By Opi, I do have to rant about the bottle shape though. Whoever designed this is clearly not a person with a make-up stash! One bottle of polish taking up the space of two – madness! As anyone with nail polish bulging out of their drawers will tell you!

I just love how clear, clean and crystalline Diva Into The Pool looks – as beautiful as the tropical oceans you always see on holiday programmes and heavily-photoshopped brochures. It’s a glowing aqua that got me tons of compliments; you can see how exquisite that fine-shimmer finish is even in close-up.

Sparkling without being a show-off and in such a stunning shade of turquoise too… is it any wonder I was won over by Diva Into The Pool? And after these pictures, I fully expect you to be too!

Looks good with: summer, swimming pools, sunglasses
Drying time: 7 mins
Coats required: 2-3
Chips: 3 days

Nicole by OPI Diva Into The Pool nail polish, $75, selected Sasas

Chanel White Essentiel Whitening Modeling Effect Base in Rosée review

My hunt for the perfect primer continues with Chanel’s White Essentiel Whitening Modeling Effect Base in Rosée.

You may remember that I was very happy with the glowing effects of Benefit’s That Gal primer, so why change? Firstly, I seemed to be getting through my That Gals at a too-speedy-for-my-wallet pace, plus the bottle design meant that it was impossible to predict when its time was up – leaving me high and dry on a few occasions! Instead, I found myself drawn to the Chanel White Essentiel Base because, unlike That Gal, it contains a high SPF of 30, essential (or should that be essentiel!) for HK’s scorching summers. Secondly, it had been developed especially for Asian skin – I’m half-Asian, I have skin, a perfect fit, surely!

I was recommended the Rosée shade for my complexion, which has a cool-toned pale pink tint to the very white fluid. [The other shades are yellow Mimosa and blue Azur]. This would supposedly revive my pale and tired complexion and add a touch of radiance that I thought might not be dissimilar to That Gal’s pinky glow. How wrong I was.

But let’s not jump the gun. I like the chunky but compact packaging and was glad it’s plastic rather than glass; too many bottles fall out of my bathroom cabinet thanks to vigorous door slamming from my auntie for glass to be a viable option in this house! After shaking the bottle (it makes a clicking sound in the old-fashioned way I remember my Mum’s foundation doing), the fluid is dispensed via a dropper-type nozzle on the top of the bottle (see photo, apologies for rubbish description). There’s a definite knack to learning how to use it, and the first few times, far too much liquid splurged out.

The liquid itself is quite runny and can be used sparingly (so far, my bottle has lasted well over 6 months; it ended up lasting well over a year!). However, that’s just about where my positives end. It requires a lot of rubbing in to be absorbed and once it has, leaves my skin feeling chalky. Looking pretty chalky too. Whatever pink there is to the fluid is null and void and rather than brightening, it’s just whitening – in the ‘seen a ghost’ sense! Yes, it’s too pale even for my milky bean curd complexion! I know some Chinese women like their face looking several shades too white for the rest of their body (hi Fan Bing Bing) but I’m not one of them and thus, there’s no chance of being able to wear this product on its own, like the sales assistant said I could, or like you can with some other primers. Then again, I suppose the ‘Whitening’ in the name should have given it away!

It also has quite a strong scent, a very artificial sweet floral scent that I’m not a huge fan of. To White Essentiel Base’s credit, it does allow your make-up to glide on super-smoothly and keeps it set for your day. Thanks to that chalky, almost mattifying effect, it seems to minimise sweat and oily patches, although the downside is that it doesn’t give a luminous radiance like the light-reflecting particles of That Gal.

Overall, I wouldn’t re-purchase this product – it’s too pricey for something that obviously doesn’t work well with my skin tone. As a newer Chanel product exclusive to the Asian market, I feel it still needs a bit more tinkering to make it great. So whilst it’s effective enough as a base and the high SPF is a bonus, there are really no other benefits… unless I need to audition as a geisha anytime soon.

Chanel White Essentiel Whitening Modeling Effect Base in Rosée, $350; see all Chanel Beaute locations in Hong Kong here

Kylie Minogue: Aphrodite Live @ HKCEC concert review

‘I’m fierce and I’m feeling mighty
I’m a golden girl, I’m an Aphrodite!’

And so with her show opener, Kylie (no surname required) set the agenda for her Aphrodite Live concert in HKCEC.

Fusing elements of Greek mythology with lavish Busby Berkley-style Broadway musical sequences, plus a dusting of trademark Kylie high campery on top (was there a male dancer who ever had a top on?!), Aphrodite Live delivered pure pop spectacle at the highest level. So that’s more costume changes than Kate Middleton on her American tour, high-flying acrobatics from dancers potentially responsible for a world shortage in baby oil, a 90-minute-plus crowd-pleasing set-list, an on-stage replica of the Parthenon and a few butt wiggles every now and then too. Who else could make singing on a golden chariot pulled along by a coterie of half-naked men seem the most normal thing in the world?

Believe it or not, even with fluffy wings on her ears (beat that, Hermes and your winged sandals), descending from a golden Pegasus or being embraced by a dancer whose angel wings put all future hen party efforts to shame, this was actually a scaled-down version of the Aphrodite: Les Folies tour that has been doing the rounds in the rest of the world. But thanks to Kylie’s effervescent stage presence, a rapturous crowd reception and razzle dazzle to spare, you barely noticed the missing much-vaunted ‘splash zone’ or that you couldn’t really see the dancers unless they were cavorting on high wires until the glittering festivities were all over anyway.

The all-star set-list, featuring new tracks from her latest album (the eponymous Aphrodite) plus old favourites and a few surprises too, was almost perfectly-judged. Once Kylie entered the fray wearing a Masters of Ceremony top hat complete with shiny gold basque, the evening truly rocketed up to Olympia – the hypnotic Cupid Boy was followed by a euphoric rendition of Spinning Around, an unabashed call to the dance floor in Get Outta My Way and a whizzingly joyous What Do I Have To Do. Elsewhere, the blissed-out dreamy beats of The One and In My Arms suited the Grecian goddess vibe here far better than they did the anonymous electronic mish-mash of parent album X, whilst there was no doubting the crowd favourite – chants of ‘La La La’ started practically before the opening chords of Can’t Get You Of My Head itself, almost raising the cockroach-roof of HKCEC in true rave-up style.

It’s nice of Kylie to provide an obvious toilet-break moment in the slow-jazz version of Slow (cue nightmares of the similarly-treated never-ending Locomotion from the Showgirl tour), meandering floaty number Everything Is Beautiful was another momentum-killer and Better Than Today probably isn’t a strong enough track for the closing section. However, I was downright smitten with her cover of Eurythmics’ classic There Must Be An Angel, a generously open-hearted version that added a enchanting gospel-feel to one of my favourite songs of all time – and for all those that criticise Kylie’s thin vocals, her trilling here was positively beatific.

An acapella version of If You Don’t Love Me served mainly as a vehicle for the audience to (loudly, continously) declare their undying love for her, and her near-inability to finish the song due to laughter just made it all the more charming. Meanwhile, the request section yielded a rollicking run through The Locomotion and I Should Be So Lucky (complete with reminiscences about bubble perms), whilst her costumes grew all the more insanely dazzling – one dress looked like shiny wrapping paper, another outfit featured a bejewelled swimming cap, another looked like it had claimed the life of an unsuspecting Muppet. Yes, it was a little bit corny, a little bit cheesy, a very big bit camp – but that just made it all so right. And if you can’t enjoy cheesy at a Kylie concert, then when can you?!

A true one-off in a sea of Gagas, Ke$has and Katy Perrys, Aphrodite Live proved exactly why Kylie deserves her place in the pop pantheon. Then again, she never had to prove it in the first place.

Kylie Minogue, Aphrodite: Live concert, Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, 1 July 2011