Cleansing Powder

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.


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.


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!

 


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.


Peeling Kit

This was new at Etude House, and I rather liked the suitcase design of the packet, not to mention the fact that a proper peeling is quite an expensive business and these kits were very good value.

The packet pulls apart into 3 handy sachets, and you start at the bottom with the peeling swab. This is like a giant wet cotton bud, which you wipe carefully over your face from centre to the sides, avoiding the mouth and eyes. It felt a little tingly, but not in a painful way.

Next the brightening peeling serum, which is a clear liquid, then finally a slightly gelatinous sheet mask to cool off and soothe the skin.

I enjoyed the 3 part process, but have to say I did not see any noticeable ‘peeling’ even though the ingredients list includes lactic, glycolic and salicylic acids. It is possible that the effect only becomes noticeable after a day or so, but even so, I suspect I will be sticking to the regular sheet masks instead.


Nose Wax Kit

It’s not that I have a particular problem with nose hairs, just this home care kit I saw in Tokyu Hands looked unusual enough to try.

And in theory this is quite an interesting idea – using wax to remove unwanted hairs in the same way you might groom your legs. The note on the back of the box saying that this was Brazilian wax also made me laugh… obviously.

The kit contains enough pieces to give your nose a Brazilian 3 times over. There’s a plastic beaker in which you put some water, then 3 small paper cups, 3 bags of wax pellets and 3 pairs of plastic wands with which to apply the wax.

You add 1 bag of pellets to the paper cup, sit this on top of the beaker and microwave for 1 minute until the steam melts the wax. Then you dip the wands in, one at a time, to cover the ends in the wax. Run this round the inside of your nose, press firmly so it all sticks, then pull.

This was the point where I remembered how much I hated waxing, and how very painful I found it the only time I ever tried. I hesitated, the wax went cold, then came straight off the wand when I tried to pull it out.

Cue panic, as I realised I had a nostril plugged with solid wax and no clear idea what to do next.

Well, it took tweezers, scissors and fingernails, leaving my eyes watering in pain as the hairs did finally come away. I am ashamed to say I could not bring myself to do the other side, and am still fussing over the sore, hairless and slightly waxy inside of the abused nostril.

You could call this a valuable learning experience. I may donate the remaining bits of kit to one of my daughters, but I will NOT be trying this again!


Man ‘Blotters’

Facial ‘blotting paper’, carefully packed into decorated folders about the size of a business card, can be found in the handbags of many Japanese women.

They provide a sort of halfway stage of freshening up before you need to actually get out your makeup and make repairs. That is, if you start to feel slightly shiny, a few dabs with one of these will usually do the trick.

What I have not seen before, however, is the male version, and I only really noticed it on the shelf because I was wondering why this particular packet held twice the number of sheets but was cheaper. Not only that, further inspection revealed the blotters are specially embossed, to absorb more and stickier sweat, all without it leaking through the paper onto your hands.

Although it is designed for men, this product is also perfectly suitable for ‘active women of metabolism’, apparently. Which is a nice way of suggesting that you might be sweating more than the delicate ladies version can cope with.

As this was packed into a small square booklet with a gold cover, and was actually called ‘Gold man’, I was a little disappointed that the pages inside were just a slightly shiny caramel colour instead of something more sparkling.

Also, my husband professed himself baffled at the suggestion that he might find them useful – he had never heard of these and saw no reason why he might ever use them.

Oh well… I suppose it’s the thought that counts.

I


Miniature Compact

There’s something very appealing about those make-up compacts you find in airport duty free shops – the ones combining everything you might need to paint your face into one handy, slim line container. Never mind the fact that half the colours don’t really suit, or it’s the wrong type of mascara…

I’ve even been known to make my own, cannibalising some existing compact or (for really short trips) pressing together a variety of different colours into one small lidded tray.

This one, though, is the tiniest, most adorable compact I have ever seen. In fact, it is so cute I cannot bring myself to use it, but simply take it out to delight over once in a while.

A cube barely 3 cm a side, it has slide out trays and manages to include 6 eye shadows, 2 lip and cheek gels plus 2 incredibly small brushes with which to apply them. Not to mention the mirror in the lid so you can see what you are doing.

I bought this in Tokyo, at the Daikanyama Minipla, and don’t regret a single yen.


Blackhead Pen

The illustration on the packet misled me slightly, here. I thought I was buying some sort of silicone ended tool which would ease out blackheads by gentle friction.

What this actually involves is a black plastic stick with a hole at each end, the edges of which you run round the offending area. It seems to do more damage than simply squeezing with your fingers, and the picture that confused me turns out to show the inner piece which pushes out to help you clean the tool afterwards.

I won’t be passing this on to either daughter.


Kids Masks

When it comes to Korean skincare and cosmetics, their excellence is generally a given. It takes great packaging and/or how cute you look when you are using them to make one stand out from the rest.

And, Asian girls being what they are, for every sheet mask that is printed with an elegant design of lace or flowers, there are five or more adorned with animal faces or cartoon super villains.

Imagine, then, that you have children, who are fascinated to see Mum sporting the face of a grinning sheep or shark. Of course they are going to want to try them too. And why not? The earlier you instil a great skincare regime into your offspring, the better their complexions will be.

So here you have child sized versions of those massively popular sheet masks, either the same designs made smaller, or kid-friendly cartoon characters from their favourite movies. I only saw them in Shibuya, but I expect they will be everywhere before long.

I think this is a great idea, and it’s also catching potential new customers really young. If daughters #1 and #2 were still small rather than grown-ups now larger than me, I would have bought a bunch of them on the spot.


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