Face Pack Vending Machine

Face Pack Vending Machine

You know how there are evenings you just NEED a sheet mask after the shops are closed? We’ve all been there, right??

Hmmm… it’s a very appealing idea, though, to imagine being able to dash out at any hour and buy yourself a face pack from a special vending machine.

I saw these Lovely Mart machines in shopping malls in Beijing, and was delighted by them, although never actually got round to trying one out. But this is something I would like to see in other places too, starting with Singapore!


Golden Beauty

Category : Beauty

Gold was being used in Chinese medicine more than 4000 thousand years ago, and in India forms part of longstanding Ayurvedic treatments designed to rejuvenate older people. In the early part of last century, before more ‘modern’ scientific drugs were developed, gold was even used to treat tuberculosis, rheumatism and syphilis.

Surprisingly, it also appears to have many properties which are very useful in beauty treatments, and there are increasing numbers of (very expensive) products out there literally sparkling with promise. I was not sure how far to believe the claims I was reading, but there does seem to be a lot of reputable research around.

So, those little flakes of 24 carat in your face cream may well be worth the price. Because it seems that gold not only has antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it boosts circulation and helps the absorption of other skincare ingredients. Add to this its ability to help firm the skin, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and thus delay the aging process, and you have what amounts to magic in a pot.

I found this trial set, from Hakuichi, Japan, at Haneda airport, and thought it would be a fine way to spend up my remaining yen. The sample sizes were also very convenient for my next trip, and in fact lasted for literally weeks afterwards, which was a nice surprise.

All the products contained a liberal sprinkling of golden flecks, although I soon discovered that if I used a cotton pad to apply them, the gold stuck to the cotton and did not go on my face. Using my fingers got around this problem very well.

The highlight of the set was the folder of gold leaf sheets, to be applied to the face. The trick is apparently to apply serum first, then – using the clean end of the paper slip so that your fingers do not touch the gold leaf – apply the gold to your face. After about 10 minutes, you can then apply a little more serum and massage the gold leaf into your skin.

I was amazed to see that the gold leaf really did seem to vanish into my skin, because I was fully expecting it to be crumbling off into the sink and sticking to my fingertips. Whether just a couple of applications has any noticeable effect remains to be seen, certainly nobody was commenting on my new sparkle afterward, but I enjoyed this range very much and – if the normal size wasn’t so expensive – would consider buying it again.


DIY Herbal Hair Oil

It’s always fun to try some homemade beauty treatment, from yoghurt and honey face packs to beer and egg yolk hair conditioners, so I had to snap up this DIY herbal hair oil remedy on a recent trip to India.

In the southern state of Kerala, fabulous herbs and spices are a constant temptation in the local stores. You can buy fresh peppercorns and nutmegs by the sackful, countless types of fragrant green tea, plus fascinating health and beauty products.

Kerala claims to be the home of Ayurvedic treatments, and many of the spas suggest an appointment with the doctor before a course of massage and or medication is prescribed. We didn’t have time for that, but after experiencing the type of all-purpose massage which left us dripping in aromatic oil from head to foot, abandoning everything for a swift return to the hotel for a shower, the idea of an at-home treatment at a later date was quite appealing. No looking (and smelling) completely bizarre as you try to hail a taxi to go clean yourself up. No rescheduling or cancelling of plans because you can’t possibly carry on with your day right then.

This charmingly basic DIY hair treatment looked like a lot of fun – simply a plastic bottle filled with a twiggy collection of herbs. The idea is to cover the contents with coconut oil, preferably the local variety, leave it all for 3 days until the colour of the oil changes as it absorbs the goodness from the herbs, then apply to your hair. As with most of the hair oils available from the big brand names, you can either apply this as a pre-shampoo treatment, or as a leave-in conditioner afterwards.

I was quite surprised to see that the coconut hair oil I’d bought in India came out of the bottle looking dark turquoise in colour. It also needed a little help with hot water to melt the bottle contents sufficiently to pour them out onto the herbs.

Over the course of the 3 days, the oil then turned a startling dark red colour, which I was half afraid might actually dye my hair. It managed to smell strongly both of herbs and medication, and in retrospect I should probably have considered filtering the oil from the twiggy bits before trying to use it.

The verdict? This was quite entertaining, and worked reasonably well, leaving my hair soft and shiny without turning it red or smelly. But to be honest, it is far easier and a great deal less messy to use normal hair oil, which is what I shall continue to do.

 


Ginseng Skin Tonic

Just a few kilometres away from the DMZ is the North Korean town of Kaesong, which is famous not only for being the sole place that switched from South to North Korea after the armistice was signed, but also for its ginseng. Something about the soil and the water supply there means that it produces a high quality crop which is much sought after.

You can buy this special ginseng and the various products made from it in other places, notably Pyongyang, but Kaesong itself is the best place to go shopping.

Face packs, candy and natural roots aside, the item which particularly caught my eye was this skin tonic, mostly because it comes with an actual ginseng root suspended in the bottle. (Spoiler alert for family members: I brought several of these home to stash away as quirky Christmas presents…)

The Koreans call ginseng the ‘elixir of life’ and make many claims as to its properties if you eat it. I can’t say I agree with any of them, as eating ginseng tends to make my nose bleed, but this skin tonic was irresistible.

Not only does it claim to maintain the moisture balance of your skin, keeping it smooth and elastic, it also apparently improves the colour and prevents your skin from aging. The product is unisex, and the instructions say to massage it into your skin with your fingers after washing or shaving.

I actually found it quite drying, although it would probably work very well for oily skin. The jury is still out on the anti-aging, so one can but hope.

At the moment, the only way of getting more seems to be to go back to North Korea. Unless of course there is a breakthrough at the summit in Singapore next week….


Peeling Pad

This little exfoliation pad looked like fun from the picture on the packet, but was a bit tricky to figure out. As I opened it before taking a proper look at the instructions, I ended up using both sides randomly – probably in the wrong order but never mind.

Later investigation revealed that you tuck your fingers into the handy pocket, then start with the slightly dimpled side, circling gently over your face to remove impurities and excess sebum. You then flip the pad over and use the smooth side to even out skin tone, soothe and moisturise.

Or that is supposed to be the idea. There was quite a lot of product on the pad, which foamed up nicely in use, and I could see the peeling effect had worked pretty well. But all the flakes of skin left behind needed washing away, at which point any moisturising from the other side of the pad was gone, too. My skin felt tight and dry, but very clean, so having to use my own face cream afterwards was not a problem.

I wouldn’t want to use this every day, but once a month or so it would make exfoliation far quicker and more convenient that using my current product. This is Korean, obviously, from High&High, although I bought it in Japan for just ¥500.


Secret Flower Jelly Enchanted Lipstick

Alright, this product from Kailijumei Japan has a very silly name which has probably lost a lot in translation, but look at it – a gorgeous clear lipstick with flecks of gold leaf and a tiny dried flower set inside the jelly. It smells fruity, the clear gloss transforms into varying shades of pink on your lips, depending on your body temperature, and the case is shiny gold with pearls set into the base. Who could resist?

Certainly not me, when I spotted it amongst the girlie delights on sale in the basement arcade of Lumine, Shinjuku. At more than ¥5,000 a pop it was a bit pricey, but for entertainment value worth every yen.

It feels a bit sticky going on, which together with the strong scent reminded me very much of the roll-on lip gloss we all used to wear when I was a teenager, but in a good way. The blurb seems to say that the various different lipsticks all turn into the same colour on your lips, the only difference is in the colour of the flower inside the stick. I suppose that means you only need to buy the one, which considering the price, is just as well…


Beauty Bar

A first in Singapore, this cashless automated ‘store’ dispensing cosmetics and skincare items is something of a novelty, and has been attracting quite a lot of interest at the new Downtown Gallery complex.

Touch screen displays allow you to choose the product you are after, and once you have wielded your credit card a cushioned drawer opens up to reveal your purchase. It is all incredibly efficient.

I was slightly perplexed by the whole idea at first, but it actually makes sense. If you need an emergency lipstick before that important, unexpected meeting, or you don’t finish working on those vital documents until after the shops have closed, this could be a lifesaver.

Even if it isn’t an emergency, for someone working in one of the many offices nearby, this must be a welcome opportunity to save time and trouble. A quick stop here and you can spend your lunch hour chatting with friends over a gourmet salad rather than slogging over to the centre of town and fighting the department store crowds. Yes, you could shop online with the same effect, but here you have the product in your hand immediately with no waiting for the mail or collecting missed parcels later.

The bank of screens offers a range of designer cosmetics from firms like Shiseido, Clarins and Nars, and seems to cover a comprehensive range of products. Free samples are also available once you have made a purchase, and there are assistants hovering in case of any problems. I am tempted to try this out just for the fun of it…


Belly Button Cleaner

Obviously, this is the product you have been crying out for. I mean, who does not need to spend $30 on a special kit to clean their belly button?

Suffice to say I did not buy this, only snigger with amusement as I took photos. If your regular bathing routine does not leave you with a clean belly button, I am not sure you are the sort of person who would spend this much money on a fancy gel to do the job instead. The kit does come with a ‘soft stick’ but honestly – a disposable cotton bud really ought to be just as good and is probably more hygienic.

If you really want one of these, I suggest you get down to Tokyu Hands before they sell out…


Mouthwash Sachets

‘Experience this innovative mouthwash!’ boasted the packet – ‘The latest oral hygiene etiquette product!’ Who could resist?

This Propolinse mouthwash comes in a box of 6 handy 12ml one-use sachets. They are rather convenient as something to keep in your bag for after lunch, or if you are still scarred by that time your travel-sized bottle of mouthwash leaked and turned everything in your toilet bag blue and minty.

The name and package design suggests that it contains honey, but a swift glance at the ingredients reveals that this is quite low down the list, below the likes of artificial sweetener and citrus extracts. There’s menthol and castor oil in there, too, which probably explains why it tastes more like cough syrup than actual honey.

This is a Japanese product (although apparently made in Korea and packed in Singapore) and is tagged as especially suitable for smokers and to prevent bad breath. It also has an unnerving way of rinsing way more from your mouth than a regular brushing seems to do.

The blurb on the packaging says it all: ‘I’m surprised to see, detergent in the new sense mouth’, not to mention: ‘All the dirty microbes are now visible’. I love the sachet idea, but definitely prefer the regular minty version. As for my husband, he thought it tasted “sour and fruity, almost like vinegar”, which isn’t much of a recommendation. I don’t think I’ll be buying this again…


Toothbrush Sanitiser

They say you should replace your toothbrush every month or so, and even sooner if you have been suffering from a sore throat or other mouth-related problems.

This sounds like perfectly good advice, as – if you think about it – just rinsing off your brush after using it means bacteria from your mouth mostly stays on the bristles, ready to re-infect you next time.

(Pause to imagine how disgusting that sounds…)

Short of using a new toothbrush every day, putting it through the dishwasher on a regular basis, or installing one of those ultraviolet disinfecting machines you see at clinics and salons, there isn’t much to do about this apart from stifling your imagination and hoping for the best.

Unless this entertaining device I found recently actually works…

From Dr Tungs, a brand I have never heard of before, it’s a snap-on toothbrush sanitiser that claims to use natural essential oils to kill germs and neutralise bacterial growth on your toothbrush. A small disc attaches to a regular toothbrush cover, with tiny holes on the inside surface which apparently release disinfecting vapours.

For S$6.50, you get a cover with a disc attached, plus 2 extra discs. Each disc lasts 2 months so this gives you 6 months protection – not a bad deal!

The packet says the disc contains one or more of lemon, lime, peppermint, tea tree and thyme oils, which surprised me slightly. I mean, is there not a consistent recipe, or would any of these oils do the same job by themselves?

The disc in my toothbrush cover smells very like it contains tea tree oil, and I was slightly concerned that this would be overpowering as I cleaned my teeth. So far, though, although the brush does smell when I take it from the cover, giving it a rinse and applying toothpaste makes any potential taste undetectable.

I’m not saying this works, and I’m not sure how I would be able to tell either way, but there appears to be no harm in continuing to give it a try.


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