So we’ve talked about the new beauty brands available at the revamped FACESSS – but perhaps even better are the all-new beauty experiences now available there too!
I love getting up close and personal with beauty products in-store; it’s the best way to find out how they work… and more importantly, if they’re actually going to work for you! Given the army of offputtingly snooty/unhelpful/pushy sales assistants who give you stink eye whenever you try and swatch their products, I love that FACESSS are being proactive about advertising these beauty services – so you can book in for treatments and trials that guarantee product playtime and plenty of expert tips, rather than scuttling away post-haste when a MUA corners you against a wall of foundations… if a MUA even deigns to serve you in the first place!
I was lucky enough to trial three FACESSS’ beauty services from Clarins, NARS and Amika Hairdo Bar. Here’s how it all went down…
Clarins Be Touched Facial Treatment
When you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise – that FACESSS actually has some rather nifty treatment rooms tucked away upstairs! I was pleasantly impressed by how nice these rooms were; whilst not spa-sized spacious, they’re a definite cut above the depressing cubicles of some local salons and felt relaxingly quiet and serene.
I tried two 45-minute services: “Get A V-Shaped Face” and “White Plus Total Luminescent” treatments. These were essentially a tour of Clarins’ greatest hits, including their most famous products and signature unique massage techniques. What I really loved about this experience was that it was super hands-on (so don’t book yourself in expecting a nice nap!); my therapist Yumi taught me how to use and apply each product properly (like my lovely Clarins’ Face Treatment Oil), sometimes doing one side of my face herself and then guiding me to do the other.
Trust me, I was pretty sceptical about the whole “V-Shaped” lark… but when Yumi demonstrated using Clarins’ Shaping Facial Lift Serum and Shaping Facial Lift Wrap initially on only one side of my face, there was a real noticeable change! It had basically increased the firmness and decreased the puffiness (which I hadn’t even realised was that bad – until I saw the difference between the two sides!) of my cheek and jawline area, with immediate effect. I also learnt the “Clarins Manual Auto Lifting Method” of applying the serum; it’s actually an innately relaxing method of applying a product, which involves pressing your palms against various parts of your face for 5-10 seconds (kind of like playing peekaboo!). You can see a full video for the tutorial here.
These treatments are also great for finding out what products you really like from a certain brand – and my Clarins favourites, which I’d all consider purchasing for myself in future, were:
– Defining Eye Lift: my eyes are really sensitive so finding eye treatments that don’t make me weep like it’s the end of Titanic are pretty rare!
– HydraQuench Cream Melt: luxuriously thick, rich, spa-quality moisturiser/mask loveliness that doesn’t make me break out… sign me up, Scottie!
– UV Plus Day Screen High Protection & Perfecting High Protection BB Cream SPF 40: I shouldn’t need to tell you that a high SPF base is an absolute essential in your make-up routine. Yumi mixed these two together (the Day Screen is a runny liquid whilst the BB Cream is a tinted cream, so they combine well), giving just the right amount of light coverage for daily use; if you prefer to use more make-up, you could also build on this base knowing that it provides great SPF protection.
Thankfully, this is a facial that leaves you radiant rather than blotchy and oily; I had coffee with my friend Martice afterwards and she claimed my skin was “glowing”. I definitely felt that I left my Clarins Facial with much more beauty know-how than before, armed with info on how to get the best out of their products – and the best out of my skin too!
The Clarins Be Touched Facial Treatment costs $510 for 45 minutes; call +852 3101 9590 to book
The Clarins Be Touched Facial is available in the following five formats (I’d recommend letting your therapist decide which is most suitable for your skin): V-Shaping, Youthful Firming, Youthful Restoration, Ultra-Hydrating and Whitening Luminescence.
NARS Radiance Redefined – The Modern Make-Up Service
For my make-up experience, I figured I should try a brand that I didn’t already know and love (I may mention MAC in conversation more than my boyfriend!) – and although I’d heard many raves about NARS, other than a few eye shadows and nail polishes, I haven’t tried any of their products.
My fabulous make-up artist Grace utilised the whole range of NARS goodies during my experience, including their skincare range. Often, makeovers concentrate purely on colour cosmetics, so it was great to see how she prepped my skin from start to finish. NARS skincare formulas feel really light and have a lovely touch of radiance that naturally reflects light too; even before Grace applied anything else, I already noticed a massive difference to my complexion (yep it’s that dreaded word again: glowing!) just with the skincare.
Make-up wise, the main product I’m excited about exploring again in future are the NARS Multiples as they’re just so versatile; Grace applied the pearly shimmer of Copacabana on my T-zone and eyelids as an illuminator, then used the sun-kissed bronze of Na Pali Coast as a blush… and I thought both looked gorgeous, if I do say so myself!
For my eyes, Grace used NARS Mesopotamia Eye Paint (a deep brown) as an all-over, long-lasting base, before blending the China Seas Eye Shadows – a gorgeous duo of iridescent plum and shimmering turquoise – on top. Plums can often make you look like you’ve done a couple of rounds in the ring the night before, but I really loved how Grace blended the two shades together to create a really interesting, smoky look (see above).
Grace also had plenty of fab make-up tips along the way, like blending out your base starting from your nose outwards (as the centre areas are likely to need more coverage) or how using a brush, make-up sponge or fingers can affect the amount of coverage a product gives. I was pretty happy with my final look too; I thought it showcased colour, but in a really wearable way, and it felt light and easy-to-wear too.
NARS Wardrobing Make-Up Service costs $700, $350 of which is fully redeemable against NARS products; call +852 2529 0663 to book
Amika Hairdo Bar
Along with TOPSHOP, Laduree and menus featuring lots of bacon, blowout bars are something that should have been in Hong Kong a long time before they actually arrived! Amika Hairdo Bar opened in Soho last year, but this new FACESSS counter – where you can get treatments, blowouts and styling alongside your weekly shop at Great supermarket or before a swanky date night dinner at Café Gray – means that having fabulous hair in a fix just got even more convenient!
A combination of laziness and being utterly useless with my hands means that my hair is usually worn either down or in a ponytail – so when I met Amika’s fantastic Vincent Lann, I immediately requested that my hair get styled into an updo!
Amika Hairdo Bar has a menu of about nine styles, including the Bohemian Babe (think Sienna Miller braids), Faux Hawk (rockstar mega-quiff) and Sex Kitten (Brigitte Bardot bouffant) – but the great thing is that they’re not totally prescriptive. Vincent (who is AMAZING by the way – Amika’s very own Gok Wan) totally understands that every girl is different… and therefore, so are our hairstyles! Our ‘do is our crowning glory so it’s all about finding a style that fits our personality and lifestyle, making us feel happy and fabulous rather than uncomfortable or insecure. So rather than a pin-tight secretary chignon, Vincent went for a slightly looser, relaxed style for me, set off to one side – that I absolutely adored, couldn’t stop patting and wanted to marry and make babies with immediately!
What’s more, the whole Amika environment is totally fun – snacking on free sweeties, sipping on complimentary champers and having a nice old natter with your stylist the whole while. Chatting with Vincent was like making a brand new best friend; we talked about hair and products yes (with Vincent imparting his wisdom on partings, the difference between Western and Asian hair, and boar-hair brushes), but also America’s Next Top Model, the newfound freedom of my freelance life and his favourite much-missed Malaysia food.
The last time I had an updo was for my high school prom – which felt heavy, sticky from hairspray and had so many hairgrips stuck in that I was still shedding them a week later! With Vincent’s expertise and Amika’s genius products (the hairspray was reassuringly unlacquer-like, the dry shampoo not at all talc-y and the hairpins kept to a minimum), my chignon felt light, comfy and wearable. I loved it so much, I even slept in it and it held for most of the next day too!
Biggest seal of approval? My boyfriend, who I’d assured Vincent wouldn’t even notice that my hair was up, was instantly wow-ed – even claiming I looked like Audrey Hepburn *blush*. Proof positive that not only do I need Vincent’s phone number on speed dial, but that I will definitely be hitting Amika anytime I need party-perfect hair… or simply a change in my style to put a spring in my step. I could barely resist taking selfies all night!
Amika Hairdo Bar Chic Chignon Updo Service costs $550; call +852 2110 4076 to book
The best thing about FACESSS having so many different beauty counters is that they can take care of your look literally from head to toe with these new beauty experiences. In addition to the ones I trialled, the likes of Biotherm, Clinique, Fresh, Dior, Make-Up Forever, Bobbi Brown, MAC, Benefit, Shu Uemura, Aveda and Nails n Nails (phew!) are all offering facial, make-up, brow, hair or nail services for your pampering pleasure.
But enough of the talking… it’s time for you to get up close and personal with FACESSS beauty experiences for yourself!
FACESSS locations in Hong Kong:
Stay up to date on all things LAB Concept on their Facebook Page here
Note: these trials were by invitation