Tag Archives: make-up miracle

Aussie is coming to Hong Kong – the 3 Minute Miracle is here!

Aussie Hong Kong 1

Yes, I am shamelessly using a half-naked man to get your attention – but with good reason!

Clearly, all my wishes on stars have finally been noted by the beauty powers-that-be… because amazing haircare brand Aussie is FINALLY launching in Hong Kong!

Aussie Hong Kong 3 Minute Miracle

Here’s all you need to know:

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Make-Up Miracles: Sebamed Hand & Nail Repair Cream review

*UPDATE: I have since discovered some even more miraculous hand creams – check out my post here to find out more!*

You may have picked up from previous posts that a year at kindergarten dealing with adhesives, snotty children and copious amounts of antibacterial hand-wash on a daily basis left me ravaged, dry, scaly and flaking – and that was just my hands! Or should that be hooves. Seriously, I had the hands of an 18th century scullery maid… in her 60s.

I went through numerous hand creams, body butters, lotions, potions and prayers without any making much of a difference – and some even seemed to make it worse! But one day, reading through the SCMP’s Young Post section (and, in my opinion, the only readable part of the paper), I saw Sebamed’s Hand & Nail Repair Cream receiving a glowing recommendation. I’d had previous success with Young Post recommendations – it was they who put me in the direction of previous make-up miracle, Atorrege AD+ Spots Treatment – and the product didn’t seem too pricey, so I thought I’d give it a go.

I’ve not looked back since. I’ve since discovered that Sebamed is a bit of a hidden gem, a no-frills brand with plain packaging that gets great word-of-mouth Stateside. Their products are formulated to a neutral pH of exactly 5.5, the precise pH of healthy skin (soap, for instance, is a different pH and this is one reason why it can dry out and break up some skins), and this strengthens and stabilises the ‘natural barrier function of the skin’s acid mantle’ (I presume this is make-up speak for protects the skin so your skin can protect you!). Meanwhile, their gentle mild formulas are perfect for sensitive skin.

Their Hand & Nail Repair Cream was no exception. The medium consistency of the lotion seemed nothing to write home about but it absorbs super-quickly and is not at all greasy or oily, like some of the richer lotions on the market. There is a slight ‘bathroom cabinet’ scent but nothing unpleasant, instead vaguely reassuring, and it disappears quickly anyway. The cream also contains ingredients like allantonin, which regenerates the skin and makes it soft and supple, and bisabolol (the active ingredient from camomile), which alleviates irritation.

Although the packing might not be fancy, some of the claims Sebamed make certainly are! They reckon this cream will increase the skin’s capacity to retain moisture, restore the elasticity of the skin, smooth relieve and soften dry chapped hands and strengthen the nails, preventing them from breaking. And for once, each and every single one of these claims came true!

My hands were so dry and flaky that snakes probably mistook them for scaly skin they had shed earlier; my fingers were so cracked that my fingerprints no longer match the ones saved on my HK ID card. But after weeks of regular use (that’s daily, nightly and whenever else I find myself anywhere near the bottle), they slowly started to improve. My hands do indeed feel softer, my dry patches have indeed been healed and my nails do indeed seem stronger and haven’t broken once (also thanks to my trusty Nail Tek II, no doubt!).

My ultra-chapped areas are recovering at a promising rate and are completely smoothed and softened immediately after use, with normal levels of flakiness more ‘too many washing-up sessions with strong detergent’ rather than ‘just endured a trek to the North Pole’ or ‘may be regenerating into fish scales’. I also rub the lotion into the rough patches on my elbows and it seems to do a better job than the much-lauded Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream.

My 300ml bottle with a pump dispenser – which, bear in mind, I use like it’s going out of fashion – lasts me between 6 to 10 months. You can also buy a smaller squeezy tube that’s perfect for on-the-go use to keep your mitts permanently moisturised, especially in HK’s inescapable blasts of sub-Arctic air-conditioning. One thing that could be improved is the amount of excess packaging – the bottle comes in an unnecessary cellophane-wrapped cardboard box, whilst there is also another unnecessary plastic case around the head of the pump.

Overall, my hands are somewhere back to the plump, soft, never-seen-a-day-of-hard-graft status that they were at before my stint with a class of wild five year olds. And it’s solely down to Sebamed (I suppose Young Post could get a biscuit too). So welcome Sebamed’s Hand & Nail Repair Cream into your gallery of make-up miracles too – your hands, and anyone else who has to touch them, will be forever grateful!

Sebamed Hand & Nail Repair Cream, available from Meka and selected Watsons

Make-Up Miracles: Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energising Mask review

You may remember, about a year ago, I had one of the best days of my life thanks to a bag full of Bliss goodies sent by the lovely folk at Flare Communications. Yes, the way to my heart is paved with free make-up. As if Flare (and in particular, the gorgeous Bastian) hadn’t been generous enough, they sent me ANOTHER package to see in Chinese New Year. Wonderful wonderful people indeed. Once my gleeful dancing had subsided, I realised I hadn’t reviewed nearly enough Bliss products on here, so here’s a Make-Up Miracle that’s been a long time coming – the Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energising Mask.

I think I left it so long for purely selfish reasons; basically, I didn’t want to let the rest of the world in on this stunning skincare secret! The Triple Oxygen Mask delivers spa-fresh skin in five minutes all from the comfort of your own home – ok, that home may not be quite as comfortable as Bliss Spa (bring on the brownie buffet) but, for a fraction of the price, the results are almost as spectacular as the famous Triple Oxygen facial itself.

I was recommended the Triple Oxygen Mask by the Bliss therapist who did my facial, who said it would help prevent the bacteria that caused spots. These invariably hang around looking red and angry on my pale skin long after the pimple itself had done its worst and she reckoned the mask would help restore my fair skin to its natural blemish-free radiance (well, I’m sure it’s lurking somewhere!). Give the woman a pay rise because she was so so right.

The mask comes out the pump dispenser as a pale peach gel with a light fresh fruity scent to it (the same apricot-esque aroma as the Triple Oxygen Energising Cream), which you then massage onto damp skin. You have to work reasonably quickly, as this is what happens (be warned, immense ugliness follows):

It foams! And then it foams some more! Be warned, it tickles! This, I presume, is the oxygen part happening right before your eyes – and Bliss says, it’s this that creates a hostile environment for those evil blemish-causing bacteria, which are anaerobic and thus can’t survive in the presence of some good old O2. The formula also contains Vitamin C, which lightens and tightens the skin, plus antioxidants that protect against damage from those pesky free radicals.

The foaming dies down after about five minutes, leaving a sticky residue that you rinse off and follow with your favourite moisturiser. And that’s all there is to it!

For something so quick easy and fuss-free (it’s really no more work than a good cleanser), the results are nothing short of miraculous. Well, this section *is* called Make-Up Miracles! Your skin looks instantly rejuvenated, fresher, brighter and more radiant. What’s more, this gorgeous glow doesn’t disappear as quickly as the foam itself – you’re certain to still see the effects for at least a few days afterwards. Those oxygen bubbles must deliver one hell of a pep talk to dull sallow skin!

The Bliss Triple Oxygen Energising Mask may seem a little pricey at first yet it has effectively wiped out my previous expenditure on monthly facials – quite simply, the results from this at-home treatment were more obviously and instantly radiant than from the work of my local beauticians. I also think that the noticeable glow lasts long enough to ensure you wouldn’t really need to use it more than once a week anyway and certainly not every day, so one bottle lasts for quite a while.

The Triple Oxygen Mask works really well as an impact treatment, when your skin just looks sucky and continues to do so no matter what you do and however many Glee songs you sing. One application and five minutes later and your complexion is so invigorated that it may as well come complete with a sparkling sound effect!

In short, it does everything you’d expect a Make-Up Miracle to do. Hence why it’s here. Obvious really!

Check out my review of another great face mask (that smells like chocolate!) here

Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energising Mask, available in Hong Kong via Bliss Spa @ W Hong Kong in Kowloon, or Bliss counters at Faces and Lane Crawford

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

Make-Up Miracles: Nail Tek Foundation II base coat review

Let’s get one thing straight – I am a total non-believer in nail polish upsells. Stuff to make it dry quicker, last longer, chip less, improve the finish – not interested. Why? Because I (naively) believe that given I’m buying supposed premium quality polish, the manufacturers should be trying to make the original product do all those things in the first place! However, there’s one concession I will make – base coat.

Just as I believe it’s vital to begin your make-up routine with a good base, such is the case for nails. Why? Well, you wouldn’t start building a house on unsound foundations, right? I’ve explained most of the benefits of a face primer here and many of the same qualities apply for your base coat. Firstly, since you’re slathering your face/nails in chemicals, having a protective layer in-between seems wise. Admittedly, your protective layer is also made of chemicals, but hopefully chemicals designed with your health more in mind than just a rabid desire to look good.

Secondly, a good base provides a better surface for your cosmetics to sit on. This ensures better coverage, a more even finish and a greater longevity for your make-up. Think of your base as the greaseproof paper between baking tin and cake – yes, the cake will cook fine without it, but with minimum effort, the greaseproof paper not only soaks up the bad stuff, but leaves you with less washing-up and an even better cake at the end. Result!

So, dodgy baking analogies aside, what’s the best nail polish base coat? It has to be Nail Tek Foundation II.

Once again, the lovely people at Cher2 came up trumps, with one girl whisperingly recommending that it was better than any of the bases made by more famous nail varnish brands. Nail Tek Foundation II comes packed to the hilt with conditioners, strengtheners, micro-fibers and natural fillers, meaning it not only fills ridges and smoothes uneven surfaces but also repairs damage and strengthens the nail in the long-run. The final result – somehow, my nails are miraculously in better condition after weeks of ever-changing lacquer than they were before!

It also gives a lovely smooth base for your nail polish to glide onto and makes it a hell of a lot easier to remove, with even the strongest pigments and most steadfast glitters bidding farewell with barely a strain in sight.

Frankly, it would make my life a whole lot easier if every nail varnish company could employ the same formula as Nail Tek. The brush is so easy to use and so obviously just the right size and shape that you barely even notice you’re finished! A few quick and effortless swipes and you’re done – no mess, no fuss, perfect coverage. The end result is a translucent matte milky colour that dries in seconds and strangely, isn’t smooth to the touch but is the obvious secret weapon behind getting super-smooth nails.

Have I sung its praises enough yet?! If you use nail polish, or even if you just want healthier nails, Nail Tek Foundation II is a no-brainer. This secret weapon just had its cover blown!

Drying time: <1 min
Coats required: 1-2 (depending on the health of your nails)
Chips: doesn’t!

Nail Tek Foundation II ridge-filling nail strengthener, $80, Cher2

Make-Up Miracles: Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Foam review

At a recent facial, my beautician was so impressed with my skin that she proclaimed it to be ‘like bean curd’. I’m hoping she means the soft, milky-white kind as opposed to the yellowish wrinkled deep-fried stuff. If this was the case, my next make-up miracle can take most of the credit: step forward, Clinque’s Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Foam.

Prior to the entrance of Clinique’s Anti-Blemish Cleansing Foam in my life, my forehead was suffering from a life-long breakout. Even when spots weren’t springing forth in all their shiny red glory, they were bubbling under as unsightly bumps lying in wait for a day when I’d need my photo taken to make their ugly presence felt. I’d tried various cleansers designed especially for acne prevention (Clearasil, Oxy, Witch) to little effect, plus continuous application of supposed miracle product Freederm only resulted in a constant headache and my family wondering why I smelt like the medicine cabinet.

Part of the problem was the type of Pill I was on – the one the NHS puts you on first as it’s the cheapest – so my GP switched me to a different brand. I became blessed with wonderful skin but also with a mystery nausea that steadily ruined my life and was basically akin to morning sickness during pregnancy. Blood tests abounded until someone worked out it was the Pill and switched my brand; whilst I no longer felt a 24-hour urge to vomit and lie in a darkened room, my forehead was back to square one.

Why didn’t I go to Clinique sooner?! I’ve already told you why they’re practically a make-up miracle in themselves but here goes anyway – stringently allergy-tested, 100% fragrance-free, great for sensitive skin, dermatologist-developed and with a long and trusted reputation for putting your skincare into their white-gloved hands.

After about a month of using the Anti-Blemish Cleansing Foam, my skin was – and still is, she says frantically whacking on wood – the clearest it’s ever been in my adult life. 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.

It works like any other cleanser – massage onto wet face, morning and night, rinse off, follow with a moisturiser of your choice. The pump dispenser is convenient, ensuring no mess (especially safe for travelling), and the foam itself is very light but easy to work with. As well as clearing up and preventing acne, it does the other basics of a cleanser, removing dirt, unclogging pores (another noticeable difference to my skin was how my blackheads were substantially reduced) and reducing redness. Whilst AM and PM cleansing is standard for the sweaty summer months, I find just a morning cleanse is enough in winter and only one or two pumps of the foam can go a long way – meaning one bottle generally keeps me going for upwards of six months, which I think is fantastic value given the stellar results.

My skin is softer, smoother, brighter and lighter – the coveted ‘bean curd’ that my beautician was on about. Clinique, my forehead sends you its eternal thanks.

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Foam, $170 for 125ml

Make-Up Miracles: Clinique Cream Eyeliner review

Ages ago, in a dim and distant millennia, Benefit’s Get Bent brush was my very first make-up miracle. I proclaimed it the only make-up brush worth having and that its prowess for applying eyeliner was unbeaten. Well, that hasn’t changed. But now, I have found the perfect eyeliner for it to apply. Step forward Clinique’s Brush-On Cream Eyeliner.

Having never mastered the art of liquid eyeliner without looking like a jellyfish inked in my eye and sick of pencil eyeliners sliding down my face and making me look like a panda practically before I put it on (especially in HK’s humidity), it was obvious some kind of middle ground was required. Cream/gel eyeliner, here we come.

Clinique’s is certainly not the only cream/gel eyeliner on the market yet in my opinion, it’s the best. Having sped through Mac’s, Bobbi Brown’s and even my beloved Benefit’s without getting a feel for them being ‘The One’, I turned to the ever-dependable Clinque for answers.

Clinique the brand is practically a make-up miracle for me in itself. It’s one of those reliable, safe and well-regarded companies whose make-up counters are not fronted by some Next Top Model also-ran trying to plaster every shade of her brand’s eyeshadow on at once, but by someone in a white coat. Oooh, science-y.  All their stuff is allergy-tested (7200 times for each product fyi) and 100% fragrance-free, which is great if you have sensitive skin. Or in this case, sensitive eyes – like me.

Admittedly, Clinique’s Cream Eyeliner can’t compete with Mac in terms of colour – the four shades available (Black, Brown, Grey and Black Honey) are squint-and-they-all-look-the-same similar – but it beats them on every other front. It goes on like a dream, stays put all-day (pretty much the only eyeliner I’ve found that does so) and can be fiddled about with easily for either a low-key daytime look or a sultry and sexy night out.

My shade of choice is Smoke Grey – softer and less harsh than pure black for day but can still be layered on for proper darkness come the midnight hour. My appliance of choice, as you’ve established, is the Get Bent brush, which sweeps it on at precise angles to achieve the perfect flick. And my place of choice is perpetual residence in my make-up bag, where one tiny pot seems to take on Tardis-like levels of seeming bigger than it is by lasting forever; it genuinely is my ‘Can’t Live Without/Desert Island Essential’ product ever since I developed a deep-seated addiction to eyeliner in my teens. Thankfully, my look is a little more grown-up than the smudgy-eyed racoon style I sported in those days – and I’ve got Clinique to thank for it.

Clinique Brush-On Cream Eyeliner, $130 for 5g (doesn’t sound much but lasts well over a year!)

Article also available at Teentoday.