Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chanel and vending machines

Sick of snooty BAs staring at your kids or bags of groceries as you attempt to pick up just one beauty item you can't do without? Tired to trying to shut down a chatty BA as she tries to 'introduce' you to that one fragrance or product that you need to know about?

Chanel has figured it out. They've placed their latest mascara, Le Volume de Chanel Mascara in a vending machine. 

This Le Volume de Chanel Mascara vending machine is located at Selfridges, London, UK from Apr 25-8 May. Three shades are available - Prune (apparently purple), Bleu (blue) and Noir (black). Chanel has also launched a collection alongside this event- Jeux de Regards (4 waterproof eyeliners, eyeshadow quad and creamy eyeshadow pot). 

This is the first makeup collection to be out since Peter Philips' resignation in Feb 2013 (Chanel Makeup's Creative Director) and although the prep work for the collection must have been done way before his resignation, it would still be interesting to see if the creative team at Chanel Makeup can keep the ball rolling on this one. My money's on "yes, they can!"   

Oh, and by the way, that snooty BA? You still need to talk to her to get the token/coin to purchase a tube of Le Volume de Chanel in the vending machine. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Uniqlo in Hong Kong

Uniqlo opened its latest flagship store in Hong Kong on Fri 26 April, 10 am. Located at Lee Theatre Plaza, Causeway Bay (with one of its 2 entrances just diagonal from Time Square), this is peak Causeway Bay retail space. I was scheduled to fly from Hong Kong on Fri, but figured that I had some time in the morning and would be able to make a quick dash to the Uniqlo store. 

This HK flagship store has a UT store in store, Uniqlo's second UT store in store after its first in Japan. With its T shirt gallery, and the the latest collection on sale (Uniqlo UT Grand Prix 2013 Global T shirt competition), it was difficult to limit T shirt buying to a few. I ended up picking several for family and friends too. I managed to score a David Bowie T shirt from Uniqlo UT Grand Prix 2013 for myself!

UT store in store (Lee Theatre Plaza, HK)


 T shirts galore near the entrance

I also bought a lot of children's clothes for DD and various family kiddies.

plumpynuts children's collection

Naturally, being the flagship store, I did expect Uniqlo Lee Theatre Plaza to get some collections ahead of everyone. But I did not expect so many collections to be ahead of Singapore and ahead of its other outlets in HK!

Collections available in Uniqlo flagship: 
- Lulu Guiness (supposed to be in Singapore in May, already available in other HK outlets)
- Karen Walker children's collection KW2 (supposed to be in Singapore in mid May, did not see in other HK outlets).
- Global T shirt competition (did not see in other HK outlets)
- plumpynuts children collection (no word on when it will come to Singapore) 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nail polish shopping in Hong Kong

Keen to find certain nail polishes in Hong Kong, I contacted a HK beauty blogger, Jacq after reading her entries on nail polish and asked her for some contacts in HK. She was very kind and told me about 2 stores (and agreed for me to include them in my blog post). Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the 2 stores, so am unable to personally share more about them. However, I did come across 2 nails stores myself during my trip.

Cher2 is apparently a chain of nail stores (they have 4 outlets in various areas shopping areas and I went to the one near Central mtr station, opposite the big H & M store. It is what I call an “upstairs shop”. The branch I went to stocks OPI, China Glaze, Essie, Orly, Nubar, Jessica, Zoya, Seche Vita top coats, orange sticks, Cuccio gel polish (along with other brands of gel polishes which will need to be UV/LED cured),  UV lamps, etc. 

Storefront after you exit the lift

Interior of the store 

What I liked about this store is that they provide nail swatches that give you a idea of what the colour actually looks like. There are individual shades as well as combinations (e.g. they paint a base coat of shade X, add a glitter/etc coat of Y and paint a mattifying/effect top coat). Great for getting inspiration.  I saw China Glaze being sold for approximately HK$70 onwards (different collections are priced differently) and Nubar was sold for HK$80. 

Nail swatches for Nubar (2 different layers and a matt top coat)

I also came across Kiss nail store at Windsor House (store no 122, closest mtr: Causeway Bay). The store carries Deborah Lippmann, Butter London, Orly Gelfix, Colour Club and others that I can’t quite remember. The Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Set (Coat of Arms Gel Lab Base Coat and Shining Armour Gel Lab Top Coat) were selling for HKS$485 (vs USD$45 from Nordstorm USA).They also stock nail stickers by Kiss, nail wraps, files etc.

Deborah Lippmann also can be found in Joyce Beauty stores (but they had sold out of the Deborah Lipmann Gel Lab Set 1 month after its launch).

I ended up buying these nail stickers from Hong Kong.

Nail stores recommended by Jacq: 
1) Basement floor of K11 Mall (closest mtr: Tsim Sha Tsui)
2) 2nd floor of Chung King Express (closest mtr: Tsim Sha Tsui)

Disclaimer: I did not receive any payment or payment in kind for writing this blog post. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Shopping trend in Hong Kong - upstairs shops

Due to high rentals in Hong Kong, there have been more and more upstairs shops in recent years. These are stores in mostly nondescript commercial buildings and may not have a street level signboard. The upstairs shops may not be limited to retail and restaurants are common (this article features a selection of upstairs restaurants, bars and art galleries). 

they're not on strike, just holding advertising placards

The upstairs shops typically advertise by distributing flyers and people holding advertising placards in busy areas.

 Sample flyer with map of stores

Sample flyer with shop outlet address

I have found pretty good deals at some of these shops before but it is very often hit and miss. Not all stores sell genuine products, so you do have to know what to look out for. Some of them are actually very good copies (typically for bags etc). The beauty upstairs shops I've personally been to sells nail polishes, Hong Kong domestic brands and Korean skincare brands (not available outside Korea). 

These shops are usually at non-touristy buildings, so if you're interested in the brands after taking the flyers, it's best to ask the person distributing the flyer where exactly the location is. A Hong Kong acquaintance  I was speaking told me that some upstairs shops may only stay in a certain location/space for 6 months, so if you had fun shopping at any particular store, it's best to get their Facebook page or website so that you can be informed of any move. 

Due to the space contraints, the upstairs retail stores tend to be bare bones - think simply painted walls, movable shelves and display counters and a cash register. Some may only accept cash in Hong Kong dollar or their local bank network cards (EPS), so it's best to prepare Hong Kong dollars before shopping there.

I have more pictures and details of one such upstairs shop (Cher2) here

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Out with the old, in with the new - April 2013

Given that I have many beauty products waiting for their time in the limelight, I shall document the progress and evolution.

Skincare (left to right)
1) Cosme Decorte AQMW Repair Emulsion (sample, 9 ml). Original retail price is S$153 for 200ml. In the original Japanese skincare regime, this is meant to use as softening step after cleansing instead of the 'Western' toner.

AQMW is a premium range from Cosme Decorte and they have one of the most beautiful packaging I have seen in the market (white curlicues, heavy glass(?) bottles and jars). Even their sample bottles are far superior, with the white curlicues printed on them. They also have the typical sachets samples (the BA in Hong Kong was kind enough to give them to me), but I do love the bottle itself (although plastic). 

I did like the smell and texture, however without knowing the ingredients list and their effectiveness, S$153 or S$77 per 100ml is simply too much (for me) to pay for a moisturiser. 

Replacement: Hera Aquabolic Emulsion samples or Su:m37 Water Full Moisturising Gel Cream samples

2) Fasio point make-up remover

This was my one and only make-up remover for the eye and lip area at this time. I haven't quite used it all up yet, but have brought it to HK and will discard after the trip as I estimate there's probably only enough for 1 more night-time make-up removal.

Replacement: Softymo Point Make-up Remover

3) DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

I bought this after trying Fancl mild cleansing oil. The DHC oil has a distinctly olive oil smell but performs as cleansing oils should. I used cleansing oil for makeup removal (followed by point makeup remover for eye area).

Replacement: Softymo Speedy Cleansing Oil/ Bifesta Brightup Cleansing Lotion

4) Dr. G Expert Gowoonsesang Actifirm Recovery Emulsion

This was purchased at 50% off at a mall atrium sale. There was only 1 piece, so I took it as a sign that it was meant to be and purchased it. Original retail price was S$61.90 for 100ml of product with an expiry date in 2014 (I believe). According to a sales assistant, this series from Dr. G is meant for aging concerns, for women in their 40s-50s. However, the texture was not overly rich and I was looking for a moisturiser.

Replacement: Yet to be confirmed

Disclaimer: I did not receive any payment or payment in kind for writing this blog post. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Two Girls 花露水

Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandma and grandpa's place. There were always interesting items to be discovered although their place wasn't big and I treasured the quilt my grandma made despite the hot weather. 

Even as a child, I loved to poke around in jars and creams. Among the metal tins of Nivea & glass jars of Pond's, Chinese ladies in cheongsams usually appeared on bottles and boxes. One of them was a brand called Two Girls.

I came across a store by this brand in HK on a trip a few years ago, but didn't encounter any stores since then. However, I came across a vending machine selling its products on this trip! 

I remember grandma having  its floral dew tonic (花露水, if you translated each character individually, it'll be "Flower Dew Water"). Not quite your Melvita Floral Water but back then(I'm guessing 1940s onwards as my grandma would have been in her 20s in 1945), this was extremely popular. 

The stars of Chinese cinema in the 1940s-1960s predominantly came from Hong Kong. Hong Kong actresses and celebrities were deemed as super glamourous, with their fitted cheongsams, attention to makeup and the appeal of the silver screen. Some stars during this time include Lin Dai and Ruan Lingyu. So skincare products, coming from Hong Kong, land of the stars, must have sold well. 

Oriental beauties in cheongsams have been used on packaging in recent years to sell almost everything from cosmetics to fashion apparel to mooncakes. But the images used by this brand to me reeks authenticity. 

Note: there is a similar brand (English name is Shanghai Vive) that uses similar images. The Chinese names of Two Girls and Shanghai Vive are also similar (the first 2 Chinese characters of Two Girls is the Chinese name of Shanghai Vive). 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Taiwanese luxury facial masks - For Beloved One vs Dr. Wu

During my Taiwan trip in March, I hauled back a ton of beauty products. Today's post is about 2 famous Taiwanese brands: For Beloved One and Dr. Wu.

Among those were 6 boxes of For Beloved One facial masks for N. I 'purchased' a single piece of the For Beloved One Extreme Hydration Extreme Mask from her to try out this brand. This brand first shot to fame with its Melasleep Whitening Bio-Cellulose Mask due to East Asian women's fascination with whitening. The brand founder is a former beauty editor who discovered the cellulose material while hanging out at her family's business.

Its Mandarin name is 寵愛之which to me translates far better to "To pamper oneself". Google Translate is up to par on this one, translating the chinese characters to "Beloved One", close enough to its official English name.

For the Extreme Hydration Bio-Cellulose Mask, the packaging states "Calmosensine Tornare Hydrergy Moist24". My web searches reveal nothing much about these ingredients, so I am unable to confirm the effectiveness of these ingredients. 

Ingredients list

The mask itself is sandwiched between a netted paper towel layer (A) and foil/paper layer (B). Instructions state that you take the middle piece and apply the wet side to your face. Figuring out which is the wet side is easy as the layers surrounding the mask itself are different. The side closer to layer A is the side meant to be applied on the face.

The mask felt cold and thick as I placed it on and adjusted it to my face contours. Being unaccustomed to the thickness of this mask, it felt as if someone had placed a single layer of 九层糕, nine layer kueh lapis (a Singaporean snack) on my face. I would believe that the amount of pressure exerted by the mask due to its thickness is not suitable for thin-skinned consumers or those who have slight cuts on their faces. 

After removing it, I followed the instructions to massage the excess into my neck, knees etc and went to bed after it had been absorbed. I felt my skin was not as dry as usual when I woke in the morning but could not tell any other visible effects. 

For Beloved One Bio-cellulose masks comes in 3 types: whitening, hydrating and anti-aging (launched in early 2013). For Beloved One can be found in Sasa and Watsons stores in Taiwan (retail price of NT$1170 for 3 pieces). In Singapore, For Beloved One can be found in Sephora stores. 

Dr. Wu is arguably the most famous Taiwanese cosmeceutical brand outside Taiwan. The brand has established itself in Singapore (available at Watsons) and HK (available at Mannings). Dr. Wu has also launched a Bio-Cellulose Mask meant for hydration. According to the packaging of both brands, the materials are similar - Bio-Cellulose.

Ingredients list

According to the instructions stated (above pic), it would seem that like For Beloved One, you would place a certain side onto your face. However when I opened the package, I saw a mask sandwiched between 2 pieces seemingly identical netted paper (A & B). 

The essence in Dr. Wu mask was far more runny compared to For Beloved One's viscous essence. The Dr. Wu mask dripped over the table top as I was removing it from its packaging. The mask itself felt like a thicker version of the typical paper masks I had been used to and did not give the impression of weighing down on the skin like For Beloved One. 

Due to the similarity of the layers (A and B), I couldn't tell which side was the 'essence-side' but since the mask felt like the typical paper facial mask, I just went ahead and placed the 'wetter' side (one side felt more moist to my fingertips) and adjusted to my face contours.

 (Layer A on the left, layer B on the right- they are identical to me!)

Like For Beloved One, I removed the mask, massaged the excess into other areas and went to sleep. Waking up in the morning, my skin felt more hydrated than if I had not used any creams before bedtime but not as moisturised as after For Beloved One. 

This mask was selling for NT$199 for 1 piece (the store information indicated that this was an 'introductory' price, meant for consumers to trial the mask). But the Taiwanese and HK beauty magazines have been showing this mask sold as a single piece since 2012 (my estimate, since I don't have many magazines released in 2011). I found my Dr. Wu products at Watsons in Taiwan (this mask retails for NT$1050 for 3 pcs). 

Disclaimer: I did not receive any payment or payment in kind for writing this blog post. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Quirky finds in Sg drugstores Apr 2013

I like to wander the aisles of drugstores and beauty stores. Sometimes to see what's new in the world of consumer products, sometimes to gaze at wonderment at what cosmetics companies would think women would pay good money for. 

My wanders came up with these finds.

Eggshell essence & charcoal pore pack (wait a minute, isn't eggshell essence effectively crushed eggshell?)

Paper false eyelashes by Paperself (not new to Singapore but I didn't expect to see them in a suburban shop) 

Detclear Fruits Bright & Peel Jelly

Meishoku Organic Rose range 

There is apparently a Pore ballerina known as Porerina and she does a face wash. "When the pores are clean, the mind dances. Porerina will make you happy." 

Gmarket Korea haul April 2013

My last Gnarket haul was in Sep 2012 (which makes it a whopping 7 months - I've lost my original Gold membership grade and have been levelled down to "New"!). Actually this time round, the haul was initially inspired by DD. We spotted child watercolor crayons used by our Taiwanese friends' DD and asked about them. Mr Effort was impressed by them and I told him that I could order it online. 

For once, my online shopping skills were tested to the maximum. With only 2 photos of the crayons (the box had no English words except "Made in Korea"), no brand name (not even in Korean), I had to seek them through Gmarket Korea. 

But I did it! Although the crayon seller wasn't the cheapest and there was a delivery charge, it was the one of 2 sellers that I found that had the crayons sold in 24 pcs in stock. Unfortunately, one of the 2 pieces I ordered came cracked despite being wrapped in bubble wrap. My Korean failed me in other ways (read on).

I also decided to order skincare samples, Peripera lip items and CC cream from Banila Co since I was ordering from Gmarket Korea anyway.  

Haul (excludes items from skincare samples seller)

I ordered skincare samples to address hydration issues. Alas, my ability to pair Korean characters failed me (Hera aquabolic emulsion for normal-dry skin was delivered instead the normal-oily skin I wanted). I also ordered a Tony Moly lip tint (4,500 kwon) and a Tony Moly Lip Balm Bunny (4,500 kwon) since the seller sold selected Tony Moly items. 

So for 6,900 kwon each (original price 7,000 kwon, seller had store discount of 100 kwon), I received
1) su:m37 Water full moisturing gel cream (20 sachet pcs)
2) su:m37 Water full essence (20 sachet pcs)
3) Hera Aquabolic serum (5ml X 7 pcs)
4) Hera Aquabolic emulsion (normal-oily skin) (5ml X 25 pcs)

Banila Co (items on the white paper on the right are freebies!)

Peripera lip (the middle tube is actually a ballpoint pen!)

Have already reviewed Peripera Peri's Tint Jelly here and will post other reviews after using them.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

MAC Chromographic Pencil and Baking Beauties

Despite MAC being a beauty staple brand (its foundation shades are almost universally used by beauty bloggers to reference their skin shades), I've actually never owned a single MAC product. 

Oh, I've been attracted before. Like Nordstrom-exclusive MAC collections and various bits and bobs here and there. 

But this might be just the season to change that. The coral hue of Lasting Sensation (MAC Chromographic Multi-Use Pencils) seems an excellent addition to my current collection of bright/orange lippies. I can only find the swatch of Lasting Sensation here inspite of the fact that it should be available in USA before UK. Perhaps the USA bloggers have different press samples?  

On another note, the Baking Beauties MAC collection (available for sale in USA) bears a striking resemblence to Etude House's Sweet Recipe.  

Have spotted only one item from both collections I actually might consider buying. 
Pearlmatte Face Powder (MAC Baking Beauties) 

Baby Choux Base (Etude House Sweet Recipe)

There is no available information on when Baking Beauties will arrive at MAC counters in Singapore (if they follow to form, since USA is getting them now and UK has not received them yet, we might get them in late May/Jun? If we're lucky). Etude House's Sweet Recipe collection is available at Etude House shops. 

Update 16 May: Baking Beauties arrived in Singapore sometime in early May. I saw the visuals and the counters were stocked with the collection.

Crabtree & Evelyn Somerset Meadow

Crabtree & Evelyn will release a new collection, Somerset Meadow in mid April in Singapore (the brochure I received states 19 April). 

This new fragrance collection comes in a Eau de Toilette (60ml), Bath & Shower Gel (200ml), Body Lotion (200ml), Hand Therapy (100g) and Perfume Gel (12ml). 

Disclaimer: I did not receive any payment or payment in kind for writing this blog post. I received the information via a direct mailer sent to me from their membership database as per a member/consumer.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor & dupes

As I was hard at work on my Peripera Peri's Tint Jelly post, I came across another blue lippie, Lipstick Queen's Hello Sailor. Apparently, this blue lip offering from Poppy King is actually a tinted blackberry coloured lip balm. Out only in stores in May, Lipstick Queen's done the smart thing and released samples for bloggers and press in both USA and UK at the same time.

I first read about it here. Refinery 29's Megan McIntyre described it as "very sheer, very creamy.... It was a naturally bright, flushed appearance to my lips." Swatches can be found here. The swatch looks more greyish than the Peri's Tint Jelly in Sky Stick swatch I did but unfortunately I have not been able to find anyone swatch on their lips to make a fair comparison. 

With its nautical name and packaging, my first thought was that Lipstick Queen is launching this brand to ride on the Fleet Week (last week of May 2013 in NY). Hello Sailor, indeed!

The basic marketing speak behind Hello Sailor seems to be "Shocking/never done before colour (in this case, blue) turns into a beautiful lip colour." Such lip products don't appear new to me. These 3 blue lippies are from various Korean beauty brands. They share the same concept - feature a 'shocking' colour (the brands also do a purple lippie) which promises to turn into a beautiful/ previously unimagined shade upon application.

Peripera (shade launched in 2013)

The Saem

Banila Co

I purchased my Peripera blue lippie at approximately S$7 (about £4 or USD$6) not including shipping vs Hello Queen's price tag of USD$25/£20 (not including shipping). 

However, this is not a fair comparison. Lipstick Queen has got a good reputation mainly due to Poppy King and the packaging and casing of Hello Sailor looks luxe to me. I also do not have the chance to try Lipstick Queen products myself so am unable to comment on their texture/glide/pigment etc. Clearly, the price points are departmental stores vs drugstore pricing. 

If you wanted to add a blue lippie to your luxury beauty bag, I would say go for Hello Sailor. But if you just want to try the trend and possibly toss the blue lippie aside after a while, try searching for Korean beauty brands which stock similar products.

Hello Sailor is available at Barnes New York (USD$25) in USA and  SpaceNK (GBP£20) in UK from 1 May onwards. In Asia Pacific, Lipstick Queen is available at Joyce Beauty in Hong Kong (Hysen Place, New Town Plaza, Harbour City outlets only) and at Kit Cosmetics in Australia (Myer departmental stores).  It is undetermined if Hello Sailor will arrive in Asia Pacific, so if you really want this shade, your best bet are the USA or UK locations.

Update April 2013: Lipstick Queen retails at HK$180 for a typical lipstick and the Lip Noveau set (Butterfly Ball Fly, Saint Berry, Red Sinner) goes for HK$420 at Joyce Beauty.