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.


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.


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…


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.


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.


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


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.


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