Peeling Pad

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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.


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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…


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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…


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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…


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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…


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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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Cleansing Powder

Always a fan of skin care products that can be transported easily in hand baggage, I was intrigued by these tiny cones of cleansing scrub. No liquids here to consider as you decant items into small containers for a holiday.

From Korean company Skylake, this is a weekly scrub rather than a daily cleanser, but is still a space saving and disposable item which is easy to take along on a trip. Each little cone is barely 4cm long and contains just 1.5 grams of powder. And with a box of 30 costing exactly S$30, that means just one dollar each, which isn’t bad.

It works very nicely, too. You empty the powder into your hand, mix it with a little water, and massage onto your face for 3 to 5 minutes before rinsing away. It not only exfoliates but apparently polishes away dead skin and impurities too, to ‘refine pores, lighten freckles and pigmentations, promoting a fresh, radiant and glowing complexion’.

The powder is supposed to contain oriental herbs, and some translation of the ingredients list revealed these to be skullcap, marsh parsley, azuki and mung beans. The only problem is, the combined scent of these, together with the various added cleansing agents, reminded me strongly of curry powder. Which is, let’s be honest, not exactly what you want to be smelling of when you’ve washed your face.

My skin did feel smoother, though, and applying regular face creams afterwards seemed to mask the curry smell very efficiently. All in all, I think I shall continue to use these.


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Penguin Cool Bath

Category : Beauty

Sometimes I have to try things even though I’m pretty sure I’m not going to like them much, and this particular product falls firmly into that category.

I love a bath, but definitely prefer the water to be as hot as possible. The last time I willingly stepped into a cool bath was shortly after moving to Tokyo for the first time, many years ago – the air con wasn’t working and the temperature in September was so hot and humid after autumnal London that I thought I was going to expire. Keeping the tub full and taking regular dips seemed the best way of staying cool…

This sachet of Japanese Cool Bath Liquid, spotted in Tokyu Hands, brought back a few memories, and although these days I am more than accustomed to constant heat and humidity, I was curious as to how the contents would work.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the bright blue colour and fresh minty smell made it feel very much like I was bathing in mouthwash. Possibly the menthol in the product is supposed to have a cooling effect on the skin, but the only thing I could really feel was a decidedly uncomfortable prickling sensation in certain delicate areas.

To be honest, this was a bit of a waste of a good bath.


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Tok Zen

This is Thai massage with a twist and not for the faint hearted – alongside using pressure from the hands, knees and elbows in the traditional way, a wooden hammer and chisel are also deployed to work the meridians (or zen) of the body and unblock the flow of chi.

The story is that this rather specialised form of massage was invented by farmers whose exhausted bodies needed more serious therapy than that offered by the usual massage style. Simple wooden tools like hammer and chisel were also readily available, and can be used with much less effort needed from the masseur.

My long suffering husband was brave enough to try this, and at the time did not find it any more painful than a proper Thai massage can be. By the following day, however, he was definitely suffering the after effects, especially along the arms and legs where the tapping went closer to the bone.

Investigation reveals that the best tok zen tools are made with wood from a tamarind tree which has been struck by lightning, then blessed by a Buddhist monk. It seems unlikely this was the case with the hammer and chisel used in the Silom massage parlour we visited, but the experience was something special nonetheless!

 


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Placenta Beauty?

This is a tricky one… depending how you look at it, using beauty products which contain placenta could even fill you with horror and disgust. And that is without considering if the placenta involved comes from humans, sheep or pigs.

There’s also the worry that scientific studies on the use of placenta have so far been very limited, and there is no clear evidence to support the theory that the hormones it contains can do you any good. It might even be bad for you, although since it has presumably been through a series of industrial processes before it winds up in your product, it could be safe to assume it isn’t anywhere near as potent as it was to start with.

The big beauty companies don’t seem to be using it, which should probably make you wonder a bit, but here in Asia it does crop up fairly regularly in face creams, sheet masks and supplements.

When I saw pouches of hydrogen jelly with placenta in my local convenience store, apparently designed as a tasty snack with the added bonus of being a beauty aid, I decided it was time to try it.

This peach flavoured ‘drink’ is from Kiyorabi in Japan, and the placenta it contains is from pigs.

There’s a double whammy here, as the hydrogen part of the product is also a feature – apparently adding extra hydrogen to the drink enables these molecules to capture and eliminate excess oxygen which could be damaging your body.

It comes in an aluminium pouch, which apparently does not allow the hydrogen to escape in the same way as a glass or plastic bottle would, and there’s a handy screw topped tube which you drink through and can reseal if you want to save some for later.

I made the mistake of pouring some of this into a small bowl first, to see what it looked like, and found the jelly blobs in the liquid to be very off-putting. Actually then swallowing them from the pouch was not a pleasant experience. The peach flavour was strong, but there was also a slightly salty aftertaste. It is safe to say I did not like this at all.

The placenta sheet mask I tried shortly afterwards was a different story.  Of the two I had stashed away, I tried the Revital (in the brown packet). This was essentially a sheet mask like any other, with the added promise that the hydrolysed placenta it contained would give my skin elasticity and nutrition, helping rough areas become shinier and healthier.

Even though the directions suggested that I use this mask 2 to 3 times a week for 4 weeks, for a concentrated skincare programme, I swear my skin felt smoother and tighter after just one mask. But having now read far more than I wanted on the pros and cons of using placenta for beauty treatments, whether or not I try this particular mask again, or the alternative one I still have, remains to be seen.


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