Tag Archives: skincare

The best hand creams ever: Physiogel A1 Cream, Cetaphil Intensive Moisturising Cream & Herbacin Wuta Kamille Glycerine Hand Cream

best hand creams ever

Think you have dry hands?! Think again! I’ll show you some PROPER dry hands…

Actually, I won’t. My hands had reached such Sahara states of dryness that frankly, they were not fit for public viewing. Upon catching sight of my shedding digits, people would “ewww” entirely unprompted. There was talk of steroid cream. I genuinely had no fingerprints left.

[If you think I’m exaggerating for comic effect, Hong Kong ID Cards use fingerprint recognition machines at immigration; thanks to my fingers being a lovely combination of burn-victim raw red patches and papery dry cracks and ridges, my fingerprints no longer registered. So there!]

My beloved Sebamed Hand & Nail Repair Cream had halted further deterioration but didn’t seem able to actually rescue my skin. I had begun to make peace with the fact that I would be a reasonably preserved twentysomething with the hands of an ancient medieval peasant. But thankfully (!), I had to go to the doctor’s with yet another bout of gastroenteritis (welcome to Hong Kong!) and thought I’d get the good doc’s verdict on my hands whilst I was at it.

Lo and behold, he recommended me a couple of amazing hand creams that performed minor miracles. So I thought I’d spare you the $300 consultation fee and share my three handcare saviours: Physiogel A1 Cream, Cetaphil Intensive Moisturising Cream and Herbacin Wuta Kamille Glycerine Hand Cream.

These hand creams aren’t sexy. They don’t smell delicious, or feel luxurious, or look dressing table worthy. But they bloody hell do the job!

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Innisfree Hand Cream Collection review – Green Tea Pure Gel Hand Cream, Tangerine Blossom Perfumed Hand Lotion & Canola Honey Hand Butter

innisfree hand cream set

This is one review I never thought I’d get round to writing.

I have long had to make peace with the fact I’ll never manage to blog about every single piece of make-up I want to; however, after trying the Innisfree Hand Cream Collection, I was so pleasantly surprised that I felt the need to share the good news with you all!

Innisfree is a Korean beauty brand that opened its first stores in Hong Kong (in Causeway Bay and Mong Kok) earlier this year. Unlike other Korean cosmetics brands like Etude House and Tony Moly that concentrate on the cutesier side of beauty, Innisfree has a much fresher, cleaner feel – they’re all about natural pure ingredients found on the Korean volcanic island of Jeju (a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, doncha’know). Forget hand creams shaped like penguins or make-up ranges themed around princesses – Innisfree’s packaging is simple, chic and eco-friendly; both the store and its products give me a Body Shop vibe but with an Asian twist.

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The Saem Mint Foot Treatment Mask review

the saem foot treatment mask

Feet are just intrinsically rather gross, right?

People that post pictures of their pedicures… sorry. I. Just. Cannot. Even princesses and fairies probably have manky feet. Hey, I can cope with seeing the beatific Princess Kate’s boobs… but the thought of copping a glance at her feet – no thanks!

Suffice to say, my feet get very little love, hence explaining why they’re dry rough gnarled specimens that are kept in socks or slippers at all costs. (I still shudder thinking about how I had to go barefoot at school for gym.) So in the effort to try and make my feet bear less resemblance to those of a mountain goat, I decided to give this The Saem Mint Foot Treatment Mask a go.

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Lush Jilted Elf shower jelly review

Before the Christmas season is entirely done and dusted, I wanted to share with you one of my favourite festive products from this year – Lush Jilted Elf Shower Jelly!

Showers are usually pretty mundane affairs but, as ever with Lush goodies, shower jellies bring a splash of fun to the bathroom! These are exactly what you’d guess from the name – super-squishy, wonderfully wobbly, jiggle monsters! Whilst the different types of shower jellies come in a rainbow of colours and scents, all feature seaweed gel as one of their main ingredients, which is chock full of natural vitamins and minerals to make your skin and hair feel super-soft. Some people use it as a shampoo or to shave their legs with, and you can even freeze it for future use; however, I just use it a shower gel and it does the job just as brilliantly than a regular body wash… but with a tonne more fun!

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Beauty Spot: Lush Christmas Factory, Christmas products sneak peek!

Lush has to be one of the most aptly-named cosmetics companies on the block! They LOOK lush, they SMELL lush and they just ARE lush, full stop.

Their image and ethos is also super-distinctive and uber-unique. I’ve talked about them before briefly in my Lush Cupcake Mask review but just to recap – their products are all handmade, their packaging is all recyclable and they have a firm animal-friendly eco-friendly stance, using mostly natural vegan ingredients in their gorgeous goodies.

Given their shops are usually piled high with their colourful bath-time products and they always look and smell good enough to eat (although, as also previously mentioned, do not actually try eating them like my friend did!), the theme for their Lush Christmas Factory – where they introduced their entire line of upcoming festive products – was Willy Wonka-inspired… right down to the Golden Ticket invite that dropped into my inbox!

It was a totally awesome event, entirely befitting of Lush’s fun, quirky and creative identity! I went with my friend Mirander (on hand for translation duties) and had an absolute ball! Everyone was in fancy dress (there was even a magician!) and all the products looked AMAZING.

There are three key themes for their Christmas range. Candy Cane Delights are generally pink, girlie and super-sweet. I loved the Magic Wand Bubble Bar ($89) – an enchanted sweet-scented star that you waft around your tub (for up to three uses) to create a truly magical bubble bath!

You can also see the super-cute citrusy Satsumo Santa Bath Ballistics ($55), the scrumptious-looking Candy Mountain Bubble Bars ($55), which reminded me of marshmallows and produce tonnes of vanilla foam, and the peppermint Candy Cane soap bars ($55).

Gold Rush is pretty self-explanatory! Lots of festive golden goodness – and something that looked really disturbingly like a delicatessen sausage (not pictured, freaked me out too much).

My favourites here were the Melting Snowmen Bath Melts ($49), which melt into your bath to create softening vanilla, cocoa butter and almond-infused water, and the utterly adorable Gingerbread House Bubble Bars ($55), straight out a fairytale and with a scrumptious ginger snap scent!

Finally, To Infinity And Beyond, space-themed stocking-fillers for all the little (and big!) boys out there. Trying to resist all out-of-this-world puns…

The star product here is the Rocketeer Bath Ballistic ($55), which zips around the bath like a space shuttle set to zoom! I’m also keen to try the Australian Igloo Sugar Scrub ($59), a body buffer made with sugar, coconut oil and eucalyptus – no prizes for guessing that this smells totally delish!

All their gift sets look absolutely incredible and beautifully-packaged (basically everything you see in a box or gift-wrapped in my photos is a set)  and they’re great value, total no-brainers for Christmas presents. A few of my favourites are shown above *hint hint*

Lush also encourage wrapping their items in scarves as opposed to wrapping paper for a more eco-friendly – and adorable! – approach. I have to mention the Penguin Knot Wrap (just $19) that makes me coo with its uber-cuteness, and re-using these lovelies would certainly make me feel less cheapskate than saving up used wrapping paper!

There was fro-yo on tap and Lush even managed to theme the flavours around their products – I suppose it’s the nearest we’ll come to getting to taste those scrummy smells!

We also got to make our own bath ballistics. It was interesting to see all the ingredients that went into it (they really are au naturel) and I stuffed mine with loads of lavender and rose-petals. It smelt more gorgeous than it looks, trust me!

Alas, a future as a Lush Bath Ballistic maker probably doesn’t lie in wait as mine disintegrated at the slightest touch! Hence why it is still sorrily entrapped in its mould.

We also got to take home a goodie bag of some products of our choice. Here’s the goodie bag bar in a rare moment of peace and quiet. Lesson of the day: never come between a beauty writer and free product! There was a massive scrum there for near-enough the entire afternoon (not helped by inclement weather ensuring that all the lovely stuff outside had to be bubble-wrapped up to stop thousands of dollars of stock being ruined and a huge bubble bath engulfing the place); Mirander said most of the Canto chatter she heard was discussing how and when to pick up all the freebies!

Most of the stuff on offer was bath stuff and, as we learnt from the last time I won something from Lush, I don’t actually have a bath… so here’s what I managed to bag.

Actually, a few words just for the gift bag! So cute! So colourful! Love it!

In addition to the Magic Wand Bubble Bar I already mentioned (yes, I know I don’t have a bath, but it was TOO pretty to pass up), I picked up a big bottle of Glögg Shower Gel ($249), some Jilted Elf Shower Jelly ($79) and some pretty Celebrate and Snow Fairy Lip Tints ($89).

The Glögg is inspired by a traditional Swedish festive mulled wine drink – it smells of cinnamon and sweet beer, an unusual but not unpleasant combo! Meanwhile, I was told the Jilted Elf jelly (and it really is jelly, it looks like that silly putty stuff you played with as a kid!) contains vodka – needless to say, I can’t wait to try it! Apparently, you can even freeze it for future use, which is pretty cool. If you click for the enlarge, you can see it even has some gold glitter sprinkled in it, plus it has an awesome name (no enlargement required).

The Lip Tints were flying off the shelves quicker than they could keep them in stock, so I’m betting these will be extremely popular stocking fillers for girls of all ages come Christmas. They smell super sugary-sweet and look as if they’ll be pretty pigmented too. Even just after touching their products for just a few minutes, my hands smelt divine so I can’t wait to try them properly. As ever, in what is fast becoming a catchphrase for my blog, expect some full reviews soon.

It was a totally fab event and hopefully I’ve shared a bit of the adventure (you can click on any of my photos for enlarged versions, which pick up some more of the finer details and vibrancy of the colours). Big thanks to Lush for inviting me and I CANNOT wait to go on a major Xmas shopping spree soon!

Dr Wendy’s Botanical Skincare Gentle Moisturiser review

Long gone are the days when the word ‘organic’ was associated with straggly-bearded hippies in hemp shirts. I’ve already covered the awesome side of organic food with my post on HK’s Life Café and just as organic eating has been embraced by the mainstream, organic cosmetics are growing in popularity too (Avalon Organics is now stocked in many supermarkets). So may I introduce you to Dr Wendy’s – a 100% botanical skincare range from New Zealand, which launches in Hong Kong this month.

The whole range, created by Dr Wendy Maddocks-Jennings with over 15 years of experience in healthcare, is 100% natural, plant-based, vegan-approved and free from chemicals. All the products use high concentrations of New Zealand-grown organic ingredients and the potent blend of natural ingredients means many are perfect for HK’s hot, humid and polluted climate.

I was lucky enough to be given a sneak peek of the line from Kristine prior to its launch here and received its Gentle Range Moisturiser to trial over the past few months. There are four key ranges to Dr Wendy’s skincare products, each designed for different skin types and comprising of a cleanser, toner and moisturiser, and the Gentle range is light, lovely and developed for oily or acne-prone skin.

Regular readers will know I’m prone to the occasional breakout (now kept mostly at bay by the likes of Clinique’s Anti-Blemish Cleanser and Atoregge’s Spot Treatment) so this seemed like it would complement my skin well. It boasts a light formula that makes it perfect for summer and with a consistency somewhere in-between cream and gel, it absorbs easily too, making it a good base for make-up. It comes out via a hygienic pump dispenser, although it took a few weeks to calibrate itself properly and not spurt all over me every morning!

The moisturiser is made with fragonia, sandalwood and teatree essential oils (which all have anti-bacterial properties to keep those zits away), plus lavender to help skin repair and Australian jojoba to moisturise. Apart from all these obvious skincare benefits, it makes for one of the best aspects of Dr Wendy’s Gentle Moisturiser – the amazing smell! It smells like all those yummy fragrances they waft under your noses at spas and massages, yet still managed to be light and refreshing rather than overpowering.

I’ve been using the moisturiser day and night for a few months now (incidentally, one bottle seems to last a while!) and am reasonably pleased with its performance. It has a soothing feel and a scent that I frankly look forward to every day (no comments on the sadness of my everyday life thank you!) whilst breakouts have been minimal, my complexion is clear and bright and my skin feels soft and hydrated throughout the day. I think this is a great moisturiser for spring and summer but may not fare as well during the dryer winter months, as it wasn’t strong enough to combat a few of my flaky patches on its own. Also, after long-term use, I felt like it contributed to blocking my (admittedly enlarged) pores. Meanwhile, those of you with dry skin should head for Dr Wendy’s Replenish Range and you lucky girls with a normal complexion should go for the Balance Range. There is also an Ultra-Light Range brilliant for the hottest, sweatiest summer days and which is ideally suited for sensitive skin.

I also received a few samples of other products but they’re a bit too small to judge properly on any long-term effects. The Ultra-Light Toner is worth a mention, as it’s also recommended as a handy handbag spritzer to refresh your face, especially apt for all ‘cook an egg on your forehead’ summer temperatures! Unlike many old-fashioned toners, it’s free from alcohol and instead stuffed with useful organic ingredients (like olive oil, lemon geranium, hempseed and rare buckthorn oil, which have antiseptic and nourishing properties) so it a perfect non-irritating mid-afternoon pep-up for the face – especially for those of you, like me, who don’t use a toner in their morning and evening skincare rituals.

This isn’t just a range for eco-warriors with an agenda; Dr Wendy’s is organic done right. No preaching, top-drawer ingredients and great products. I think Dr Wendy will fit into HK nicely!

Dr Wendy’s Gentle Moisturiser, $350, ThreeSixty

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