1. Clarisonic Smart Profile Uplift
$530 including Smart Profile device, $75 for massage head only
A few years ago, I met a remarkably youthful-looking 40-year- old mother-of- three, whom I had initially assumed to be in her late 20s. Her secret, she told me, was daily facial massages for the last 20 years, demonstrating her fairly complicated routine. I attempted to emulate her for two days before giving up.
Several years on and a pair of starting-to-sag cheeks later, it appears that life has given me a second chance in the form of this facial massager. Applying the science of mechanobiology to the skin, L’Oreal R&I worked with Singapore’s Mechanobiology Institute to produce the most optimum kind of vibrations that can apparently strengthen and tighten the skin (in technical terms: a 75 Hz frequency, generating 9000 micro-massages per minute).
You’re supposed to use it twice a day, and each round takes three minutes – 30 seconds on the decollete, 30 seconds on the neck, 30 seconds on each cheek, and one minute on the forehead. I was initially sceptical, but it fit in my morning and evening routine easily (after applying body lotion, I would smooth on my facial moisturiser and fire up the device, while waiting for the lotion to sink). So I stuck to it, and by the third day, it was immediately apparent that my cheeks weren’t as puffy or saggy as before. Two weeks on, I felt confident enough to lay off the contour – my jawline actually looked defined, sans makeup.
Verdict: It works. Worth the investment – and if you already own a Smart Profile device, you only need the massage head attachment (unfortunately, it doesn’t work on other Clarisonic models).
The lovechild of a hydrating sleeping mask and an overnight at-home chemical peel, this boasts all the exfoliating goodness without any of the irritation. A combination of alpha hydroxy acids (namely, glycolic and lactic), encapsulated retinol and probiotics encourage cell turnover, while high molecular weight hyaluronic acid moisturises and slowly releases the brightening complex of bearberry and licorice extracts, and niacinamide. To soothe any inflammation, Manuka honey lends its natural anti-bacterial and repairing benefits.
Despite being a massive fan of the brand’s 1A All-Day Mask, plus this product’s impressive ingredient list, I did not manage to yield the bright, clear skin it promised. Perhaps my sensitive skin was far too temperamental; I used it for two consecutive nights, as instructed, but I ended up breaking out and developing red splotches on my cheeks. Another point to note: it’s recommended that the brand’s Molecular Saviour Toner Mist be sprayed onto the skin prior to the application of the Bright Future Overnight Facial, and after. Using the two products in tandem would amplify the hydrating effect. I had, however, used the latter directly on my bare skin.
Verdict: The ingredients list is promising, and the packaging is gorgeous, but it would perhaps work best on skin that’s not too sensitive.
Finally, a makeup remover developed specifically to effortlessly take of the brand’s cult-status makeup and eyeshadow primers, long-lasting foundations, budge-proof eyeliners and lipsticks, and fixing sprays that preserve your final look to last the next century. Despite its claimed potency, the spray is supposedly so gentle, it contains only three ingredients: conditioning vitamin E, cyclopentasiloxane and caprylyl methicone. The latter two are liquid silicones: the former is a conditioner and solvent, while the latter acts as a gentle cleanser. Both completely evaporate, leaving no residue on the skin.
Although the instructions on the bottle says to spray on a cotton ball and use it to wipe away makeup, what’s the fun in that? I sprayed it directly onto my face instead, fully expecting to see my makeup dissolve and slide off my skin.
Nothing of that sort happened.
Eventually I had to use a cotton pad to wipe it off, and it left my skin feeling greasy until I used a foaming cleanser. The black smudges around my eyes also showed that my mascara and eyeliner weren’t completely removed either.
The second time around, I followed the instructions and found that it worked as promised – makeup slid off easily and my skin didn’t feel coated in oil and silicone. Moral of the story: always follow instructions.
Verdict: It works, but only if you do it the proper, boring way.
I was a teenager when the original came out in 2000, and my mother owned it – multiple bottles, I believe, for the iconic slim flacon was a mainstay on her dresser for several years. Because she used it so often, nearly everything she owned smelled like Flower By Kenzo, from her clothes to her bedroom. Powdery and floral, heavy on rose and violets, it was the scent I associated most with the woman who raised me.
The newest iteration, a collaboration between the original’s nose Alberto Morillas and Amandine Clerc Marie (of Chloe Eau de Parfum, Ferragamo Emozione and Atkinsons Oud Save The King fame), adds citrus in the form of Calabrian bergamot to the mix for a blend that’s purportedly fresher and more radiant, the scent of light recreated.
Despite my fond memories of the original, I’m not a fan of feminine, flowery scents. My tastes veer towards green citrus notes, and I wear traditional colognes like Guerlain’s Imperiale, Farina’s 1709 Original and 4711 Original eau de Colognes on a daily basis. The promise of a citrus note drew me to Flower By Kenzo Eau de Lumiere, so I decided to douse myself with it for one day.
The opening notes were pretty – too pretty, in fact. Fresh and feminine, the rose and other florals were very apparent initially, but eventually dried down to a classy, ladylike sweet musk. It lasted all day, and I would keep getting whiffs of the scent and be reminded of my mother each time. Not exactly something I enjoy; besides who really wants to be an outdated, early 2000s version of their mother, anyway?
Verdict: Best suited for girly, feminine women, or a perfect Mother’s Day gift.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting very much from this. I have oily lids, and even powder eyeshadows end up collecting in my eyelid creases by the middle of the day. Cream eyeshadows? Forget it.
This one comes in a pretty little pot and a small brush for application. I deliberately picked a shade I thought wouldn’t look good on my Asian skintone – a shimmery, red-toned dark brown, that would likely resemble a bruise. After all, what’s a challenge without a tonne of odds?
Well, colour me impressed. I loaded up the little brush with lots of cream shadow and applied it to the middle of my bare, unprepped lid, brushing it outwards, then blending inwards and around for a soft, smoky look. The residue on the brush, I used it to softly line my lower lashes.
The whole thing took less than thirty seconds, and I had produced a natural, flattering smoky eye that would’ve required several shades of brown eyeshadow and a number of different brushes. The shade, against my expectations, worked impressively well with my fair, yellow-toned Asian skin.
The cream sets very quickly as well, and didn’t budge for the rest of the day. Think gel liner, but in a sheerer, layer-able form for the lids. That does mean that if you want a more intense, darker look, you’ll have to work fairly swiftly, applying a few more layers of the cream shadow to punch up the depth, and buffing out the edges for a softer, blended appearance.
Verdict: This is my new go-to everyday eyeshadow now. Run – don’t walk – to snag yourself one or many (it comes in six permanent and two limited edition shades) the moment the line hits stores.
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