Tag Archives: SK II

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

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.)