Shu Uemura Oleo: Moist active-encapsulated cleansing oil gel
If you’re looking for a cleanser that does the job without stripping your skin dry, then Shu Uemura’s oleo:moist is the answer. Based on the brand’s renowned oil cleansers, this latest incarnation is a white gel containing vitamin E and Japanese muguet herb capsules. Simply slather on a small dollop of the product, massage it into the skin, and watch as it transforms into oil. The product effortlessly picks up impurities and make-up, and is rinsed off easily with water, but what made it stand out for us was that – unlike with oils – there’s no risk of it wastefully dribbling down our arms.
Caudalie Beauty Elixir
Inspired by the historic “elixir of youth” used by Queen Isabelle of Hungary, this facial spray contains extracts of grape, rosemary, orange blossom, rose, myrrh and organic balm mint. With an ingredient list like that, we’re pleased to report that the result is just as refreshing as it sounds. But it’s not just about the smell – this little glass bottle of goodness is both a toner and face serum. What’s more, it’s suitable for all skin types and can be used at any time of day: just hold the nozzle 30cm from your face, close your eyes and spritz liberally. Available in 30 or 100ml, this multitasking product is our new in-flight saviour.
“This is more than just a great lotion. My colleague Vincenzo La Torre and I keep bottles in the office for emergency spritzes – the peppermint helps wake us up when we hit that post-press-lunch sleepy spell.” Christina Ko, editorial director, Prestige Hong Kong
Guerlain Orchidée Impériale White the Age-Defying & Brightening Serum
Guerlain continues to expand its impressive range of products with the Orchidée Impériale White The Age-Defying & Brightening Serum. The result of extensive research conducted at the Guerlain Orchidarium, this serum boasts the exclusively patented White Orchid Extract as its star ingredient. While there’s certainly some scientific data to back up its miracle claims, perhaps the biggest testament to its efficacy is the cult following it has gained since the line’s original launch in 2009. Its devotees rave about the product’s silky texture, its luxurious packaging and its distinct orchid scent. We’d have to agree with the fans.
“This actually works! It’s one of my favourites. My skin feels more protected and plump.” – Olivia Lee-Davies, guest judge
Chanel Le Lift Masque de Massage
There’s something about taking the time to apply a cream mask that puts us in mind of a spa – and this neroli-scented massage mask from Chanel, reminds us of a very nice spa indeed. Offering firming and anti-wrinkle powers, this rich cream even comes with a leaflet detailing the massage ritual specially created by Chanel’s laboratories. And speaking of labs, Chanel scientists (surely the chicest boffins of all) toiled for 12 years to bring this remarkable product to fruition.
La Prairie White Caviar Illuminating Moisturizing Cream
Whitening products that really work are few and far between, which is why this one by La Prairie has achieved cult status among beauty aficionados. Silky and luxurious, this ultra-hydrating cream is nonetheless absorbed quickly to leave a luminous – not greasy – finish. The use of Larch tree extract brightens the skin, while Vitamin C and liquorice-root extract help prevent new dark spots from forming. For that extra touch of decadence, La Prairie also uses golden caviar extracts, white truffle, white-wine extract and white honey. All of which leave us rather hungry.
AmorePacific Time Response Intensive Skin Renewal Ampoule
When it comes to skincare, the Koreans know their stuff. So when one of the country’s best-known beauty brands debuted in Hong Kong, we were naturally excited. This anti-ageing treatment promises younger-looking skin in a month, and Amorepacific even goes so far as to chart the expected week-by-week progress. Combining the restorative powers of green-tea stem cells, green-tea saponin and EGCG (an antioxidant 200 times more powerful than Vitamin E), these little bottles are a worthwhile investment. We’ll be stocking up before special occasions and big events such as weddings.
“Silky and weightless!” – Chelsea Chau, guest judge
La Prairie cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Eye Cream
One of our favourite things about this eye cream by Swiss skincare brand La Prairie is its use of Alpine plants. After all, we live in an age where provenance is power. We want to know the origins of everything, from our morning cup of Joe to the meat we buy for dinner. Why should skincare be any different? There’s something charming in reading this ingredient list and seeing names like alpine snowbell, purple saxifrage and Swiss snow algae. Even more charming is seeing the difference such sweet-sounding ingredients make: dark circles are brightened, skin is smoothed and puffiness magically disappears.
“The area around my eyes feels moisturised after use – I like the creamy texture and it’s great for night-time.” – Cissy Wang, guest judge
Sisley Supremÿa yeux at night the supreme Anti-Aging Eye Serum
One of the most common mistakes when applying skincare around the eyes is getting the dosage right. Too much and it sits on top of the skin, doing little other than causing puffy eyes the next day. Not enough and you end up dragging the skin around during application. Fortunately, a little really does go a long with this potent eye serum by Sisley. In fact, one pump on the tip of your finger is enough to take care of both eyes. Use regularly and reap the rewards of firmer eyelids and diminished wrinkles.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask
Sheet masks don’t come more space-age than this metallic-foil version by Estée Lauder. Introduced in Korea (the Brave New World of Beauty) before launching worldwide, this Iron Man mask features dual-matrix technology that locks in the brand’s Advanced Night Repair super serum. Thanks to the foil coating, there’s no chance of the formula escaping and the whole process is speeded up. With noticeable results after just 10 minutes, we recommend making this part of your Sunday night routine to prepare for the week ahead.
Dior prestige La Crème
Suitable for all skin types, Dior Prestige La Crème is one half of the brand’s new Dior Prestige duo. While its partner, Le Nectar, has twice the concentration of the active ingredient (Rose de Granville Nectar), it was this luxurious day cream that impressed us most. Packaged in a lavish white-and-gold jar, the rich cream smells of roses and bestows petal-soft skin. It moisturises without leaving an oily film, and the rose extracts help soothe inflammation. We particularly like the way the inner, cream container pops out so the product can be refilled. After all, when the packaging looks this good, who could bear to bin it?
Chantecaille Rose de Mai Face Oil
When it comes to face oils, Chantecaille’s Rose de Mai is The One That You Want. Supercharged with skin-nourishing goodies such as Vitamin C, this unique formula does the job in just a few drops. Mind you, the story behind one of the ingredients is so romantic that it would have wooed us even without its ability to induce a brighter, fresher complexion. As the name of the face oil suggests, it’s made from the rare Rose de Mai, whose shade of pink borders on purple, and blooms only for three weeks during May in the hills surrounding the French perfume capital of Grasse.
Clé de Peau Beauté La Crème
When it comes to repairing itself, everyone knows that the skin works hardest at night – between the hours of 10pm and 2am, in fact. As such, it’s vital to find the right night cream so you can wake up to the complexion of your dreams. This anti-ageing offering from Clé de Peau Beauté targets sagging, wrinkles and dark spots with its armoury of high-performance ingredients. We were sold on the non-greasy texture (the cream is almost gel-like), its subtle floral scent, and overnight results.
“It’s heavenly; no wonder it’s called The Cream.” – Olivia Lee-Davies, guest judge
Clarins Extra-Firming Neck anti-wrinkle rejuvenating cream
By now, we all know the importance of using specialised creams for specific areas. We’re diligent about using hand creams for hands, eye creams for eyes and face creams for face, yet we often make do with just a wipe of face cream for the neck. This lightweight neck-firming cream contains powerful sunflower auxin extracts, along with extracts of organic green banana and lemon thyme to smooth and firm the neck and décolleté. We love the relaxing ritual of applying the cream, using sweeping motions from the chin downwards, and nobody does a firming product quite like Clarins does.
“It makes my neck look younger.” – Olivia Lee-Davies, guest judge
Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective white Skin Brightening Exfoliator
There’s something inherently satisfying about exfoliation. Whether it’s the immediate difference it has on the skin, or just the therapeutic nature of repetitive motion, it makes sense too. There isn’t any jargon to struggle with, no dubious pseudo-science to get behind: you just scrub. Of course, it matters what you’re scrubbing with. This exfoliating product from Kiehl’s is paraben-free, fragrance-free, and colourant-free. What’s more, its white birch and peony extract, combined with plant-based glycerin, mean that it also promotes hydration and reverses skin discolouration. Ultimately, we loved how effectively it brightened our city-life complexions and unclogged our poor pores.
Skinceuticals Phyto Corrective Gel
Clear, dewy, glowing skin ... that’s the Holy Grail, isn’t it? For some people though, it takes more than drinking plenty of water and getting eight hours’ sleep. It takes a scientifically proven, complexion-calming gel in a slightly worrying shade of green. Containing mulberry, cucumber, thyme, and olive leaf along with a hyaluronic acid base, this oil-free treatment gel hits the spot. And that spot. And even that just-beneath-the-skin one too. It works because Skinceuticals knows how to look after sensitive and problematic skin, without resorting to harsh chemicals. Nicely hydrating with a matt finish, this product is a game-changer.
Skinceuticals Ultra Facial Defense SPF50
If there’s one thing all dermatologists agree on, it’s the importance of daily UV protection. Yet this is often the thing we skimp on the most, relying on the in-built SPF in our make-up instead. While it’s a bonus that many foundations come with SPF, the truth is we don’t cover our entire face in the stuff – and even if we did, the SPF can sometimes be too low. This sunscreen from Skinceuticals offers an impressive level of SPF, and provides protection against both UVB and UVA rays (the ones that can penetrate through windows and clouds). With a fragrance-free formula that’s suitable for even the oiliest skins, this product can be easily incorporated into any morning routine.
“I always use a sunscreen, and this is a good choice.” – Olivia Lee-Davies, guest judge
AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel
Treat your skin to a little enzyme action with this botanical-based peel from AmorePacific. Designed to even out skin tone without chemical abrasives, this gentle exfoliator relies on natural papaya enzymes instead. Heavily scented, the product is a powder that turns into a foaming cleanser with the addition of water. We’d suggest adding just enough water to turn the powder into a paste before massaging into the face for 45 seconds. Rinse off with tepid water, and feel the pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming difference.
SENSITIVE SKIN PRODUCT
Fresh Crème Ancienne Soft Cream
If the original Crème Ancienne formula is too rich for your skin, then this soft cream version is your new best friend. Featuring meadowfoam oil, Vitamin E, chamomile wax and echinacea, the hard-working cream not only hydrates but also tackles the visible signs of ageing. Most of all, we love how effortlessly this glides on and how gentle the ingredients are on even sensitive skin. With its fluffy, whipped-cream texture, this product works wonders as a day cream or a make-up base – we’ve even been known to slather it over dry patches or mild eczema, too.
Givenchy Prisme Libre Mat-Finish & Enhanced Radiance Loose Powder
Since its launch in 2006, this four-shaded loose powder has become a beauty icon – particularly in Asia. We love the idea of creating bespoke shades every time you use the powder, as this saves us the hassle of buying different products depending on the time of year/our level of tan. The formulation gives a lightweight finish and is a dream to put on. Suitable for all skin types, this one-of-a-kind powder can be used after foundation, or on its own for a radiant complexion that lasts the whole day.
Shiseido Perfecting Stick Concealer
When all else fails and your skin turns against you, this nifty little concealer stick is here to help. Designed to blend in seamlessly, the product spreads and covers imperfections with no creasing or fading. It also lasts a heck of a long time. But it’s not all about camouflage. This multi-tasker contains lempuyang extract, which inhibits melanin production to decrease the chances of dark circles and spots. We love how it melts into the skin and leaves the face looking natural – not caked in concealer. Consider it Photoshop’s spot-healing brush, but in real life.
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
It seems every make-up artist and beauty vlogger swears by Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation. With its fluid, ultra-smooth texture that practically skims across the skin, it’s not hard to see why. We especially like how the coverage can be varied depending on application: dab on with fingers for a light daytime look, or buff on with a foundation brush for a night out. It’s available in 21 shades and, despite the name, there’s no need to worry about it being too shiny. Great for combination/oily skin, this stuff will see you through from morning to evening. In short, it’s the make-up equivalent of Jennifer Lawrence: natural, hard-working and loved by all.
“I like the feel of the foundation. It blends well and gives good coverage.” – Olivia Lee-Davies, guest judge
Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Brightening spf 50+ / PA+++
Perfect for those with oily skin, this latest offering by Sulwhasoo gives a borderline matt yet satin-like finish. The product itself is a fluid, which is held in the squishy sponge within the compact. Thanks to some 800,000 holes on the sponge’s surface, the compact dispenses just the right amount of fluid when pressed with the puff. We were especially taken with the state-of-the-art puff, which gave a refreshing cooling effect on the skin – ideal for summer. Available in five Asian-friendly shades, the key ingredients include magnolia extracts to brighten dull skin, and liquorice purifying water for long-lasting hydration. With practically zero transfer of product when blotting with a tissue, even on the tricky T-zone, this is one compact you can get away without setting.
“Very light texture, not too oily and looks natural.” – Cissy Wang, guest judge
Helena Rubinstein pure ritual Care-in-oil intense cleansing massage oil-in-gel
This revolutionary cleanser-cum-make-up remover starts off as a creamy gel, then transforms into an oil as it lands on your skin, binding with dirt and make-up particles as it’s massaged into the face. Mixed with water, it emulsifies into a milky lotion, hydrating the skin both outside and in before everything is rinsed off, leaving behind a squeaky-clean canvas. Helena Rubinstein has long been known for its technological innovations, from the world’s first waterproof mascara to its first cosmetic firming product, and this invention is no less exciting.
Shiseido Glow Enhancing Primer
Designed to impart a healthy glow, this lightweight, oil-free primer maximises the wear-time of your foundation while also caring for your skin. Featuring Shiseido’s very own emulsion-based formula, this product distributes light across the skin’s surface for a subtle shimmer. We were particularly impressed with how it covered pores and corrected uneven skin tone, even after just one layer. Best of all, it features a respectable SPF 15 to safeguard your face from the harmful effects of sun damage.
“This creates the perfect glowy canvas.” – Chelsea Chau, guest judge
Urban Decay Naked Flushed
As the creator of the best-selling palette on the market, Urban Decay knows a thing or two about pressed powders. This blusher, bronzer and highlighter set is available in four harmonies (Naked, Native, Streak and Strip), meaning there’s one for every skin tone. Whether you’re a contouring pro or just looking to add a touch of colour to your complexion, this palette is a great all-rounder. We love the flawless, non-streaky finish and the healthy glow it leaves on the skin. With a sleek magnetic case and mirror, Naked Flushed is perfect for travelling or keeping in your bag for quick fixes.
YSL Beauté Touche Éclat
Peek inside the make-up bag of every editor, blogger or beauty junkie and you’re sure to find this iconic gold pen. Yes, it’s the inimitable Touche Éclat by YSL Beauté As the original brush-on highlighter, it has gained a global fan base thanks to its unrivalled powers to brighten and conceal. With the recent surge in popularity for Kardashian-levels of contouring (or should that be “kontouring”?), this wonder pen carves out cheekbones and brings radiance to your face. It’s almost like shining the world’s most flattering spotlight on all your favourite features. Try dabbing some at the inner corners of the eyes for a more wide-awake look.
Diorshow Lash Extension Effect volume Mascara
Do you remember a while back when there was all that hoo-ha about a drugstore beauty brand digitally enhancing eyelashes in a mascara ad? So we’ll be honest. This won’t give you the doe-eyed look of a set of falsies. It won’t even turn you into Zooey Deschanel. But it will plump up your natural lashes, coat them in a lovely rich colour, and define your eyes with no clumping. The dense tapered brush allows you to catch every last lash, and build up the volume to your heart’s content. What’s more, its patented air-lock wiper also stops the formula from drying out, which means none of that flaky mascara struggles towards the end of its life.
“I love wearing heavy make-up so I was looking for a mascara to lengthen my lashes and make it look super thick. This one does the trick.” – Sheena Khemaney, fashion writer, Prestige Hong Kong
Shiseido Maquillage Lasting Foggy Brow
A quick look at beauty trends throughout the decades and the one that sticks out the most is eyebrows – our fascination with how we shape them, pluck them and draw them continues. Nowadays, full, dark eyebrows with a hint of an arch are de rigueur. For some people, this can be hard to achieve, which is where Shiseido Lasting Foggy Brow comes in. The in-built brush allows the wearer to fill in their brows with thin strokes, for a more natural-looking result. The “lasting” part of the name comes from the filming agent within the formula, which gives a soft, powdery finish that is sebum-, sweat- and smudge-resistant. We were most impressed with how easy it is to get the hang of this set – without even resorting to YouTube videos.
Gucci Magnetic Shadow Mono #060 Iconic Copper
Metallic make-up was all over the catwalks this season, and with good reason. Metallic eyeshadows in particular are that rarest of combinations: high-octane glamour but easy to wear. It’s best to stick to warmer shades such as the copper tone shown here, as opposed to silver which can look a bit “Anaemic Ice Queen” on mere mortals. So for us, Gucci nailed it with this pigment-saturated, shimmery shadow. Use with liquid liner, eye pencil and volume-boosting mascara, but if you don’t want to bother with the whole shebang, simply wear it as a liner.
“Adds a bit of drama to an evening look.” – Olivia Lee-Davies, guest judge
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil
There’s a lot of hype surrounding this not-so-humble eye pencil, most of which seems centred on the fact that it does what any decent eye pencil should do by staying on. But our scepticism was duly eradicated once we tried it. For a start, it has a creamy consistency that glides on to the eyelids with nary a pull in sight. This surprising ease could have indicated a pencil that would smudge at the slightest provocation, but no. Instead, the formula stays creamy for long enough to blend (smoky eye never dies) then dries to a waterproof, stubborn finish. Made with jojoba oil, Vitamin E and cottonseed oil, it comes in 40 colours – and we want every single one.
YSL volupte Tint in Oil
Is it a gloss? Is it a tint? Is it a balm? No, it’s the new Tint-In-Oil, which kind of works like all three. It’s less of a commitment to colour than lipstick, but more playful than a simple lip balm. It has the slickness of gloss, but the lasting power of a lip stain. Encased within the opaque silver bottle is a formula rich in botanical oils, which softens and moisturises the lips throughout the day. We like how there is no need for a mirror, as the application process is so easy and intuitive. Best of all, there’s none of that hair-sticking-to-lip problem that you get with a gloss.
Chanel Le Vernis #697
Every season, there’s one Chanel nail polish that comes to define the mood of the moment. For us, it’s Terrana 697. A moody, shimmery, plum metallic, it works with every skin tone and gives a good glossy finish. The ingredients list is also reassuringly free of toluene, formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or camphor. With a thin brush for easy application, this nail varnish provides uniform coverage in just two coats. The best part? There’s no chipping, so your manicure stays looking immaculate for days.
“Terrana 697 goes with everything and looks cool, especially at night. I’ve never worn a metallic plum shade like this before, but it’s so much more fun and edgy!” – Sheena Khemaney, fashion writer, Prestige Hong Kong
Laura Mercier Infusion de Rose Nourishing Lip Balm
Did you know there’s something called lip-balm addiction? Although not a clinically defined addiction, the term is often bandied around in dermatology and psychology. All of which is to say, after using this Laura Mercier lip balm, we can kind of see where they’re coming from. What we love most about it is how it locks in moisture, which means you don’t need to top up constantly throughout the day. Made with rosehip seed, kukui, and macadamia seed oil, it’s a thick, beautifully scented balm that helps protect against environmental stressors. The result is pillowy lips, as velvety as rose petals.
Chanel Rouge Coco
Trust Chanel to come up with a lipstick that makes you feel like an old-school film star. Before you’ve even opened the packaging (the black-and-gold tube with that iconic double C), the lipstick feels luxurious and weighty in your hands. Once you’ve opened it, slick on a moisture-rich coat of sumptuous colour, before popping the cap back on with a reassuring click. The new Rouge Coco range comprises 24 shades, each of which is named after a close friend of Mademoiselle Chanel. Featuring a combination of three vegetable waxes (mimosa, jojoba and sunflower) this nourishing lipstick is a timeless treat to apply.
“Always a classic: beautiful colour, no taste or smell and glides on smoothly.” – Olivia Lee-Davies, guest judge
Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve
Made for severely dry and active hands, this industrial-strength hand product can’t even rightly be called a cream – it’s a salve. This means that it does more than tackle dryness, it also contributes to the skin’s healing process. The potent combination of avocado oil, eucalyptus and sesame seed oil, along with natural olive-oil derived wax, provides a protective barrier against moisture loss. We’ve taken to applying it after washing our hands because, unlike other heavy-duty hand creams, it’s surprisingly non-greasy and doesn’t leave fingerprints on keyboards/phone screens/leather handbags. Its clean eucalyptus scent makes it a great unisex option too.
“Whether it’s from the cold winter weather of Europe during fashion week or the wear and tear of the barbells I lift while doing CrossFit, my hands have quite a rough time. This Kiehl’s cream, however, is a real saviour. I love its velvety and non-greasy texture and its nice smell, which is not too delicate or overpowering.” – Vincenzo La Torre, managing editor, Prestige Hong Kong
Aveda Stress Fix Body Creme
Asking your body lotion to fix stress is a tall order, but Aveda has harnessed the power of pure plant essences to stunning effect. One of its key active ingredients is organic French lavender, which has long been associated with relaxation. Its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties are also well known, and help soothe stressed-out skin. Other ingredients include mood-lifting herbs such as clary sage and sustainably harvested sea algae that provides deep hydration.
Ren Moroccan Rose Otto Body Wash
As one of the world’s most expensive and prized essential oils, Moroccan Rose Otto oil is as deluxe as it comes. To use it in a shower gel feels like something Cleopatra would do – if she could be persuaded to leave her milk and honey bath. This multi award-winning body wash features a handy pump dispenser, which gives just the right amount of liquid. We love how it calms any redness or irritation, and lathers up into a rich foam that leaves your skin softer than ever. Needless to say, it also smells divine.
Jo Malone Geranium and Walnut Body Scrub
For a body scrub that’s gentle enough for frequent use, look no further than Jo Malone Geranium and Walnut Body Scrub. Rich, thick and lightly aromatic, this indulgent exfoliator is a recent addition from the British brand. Nonetheless, it has already earned its place in the heart (and bathroom shelves) of beauty connoisseurs around the world. The environmentalist in us loves the fact that this product uses walnut shell to buff the skin, as opposed to microbeads, which can end up in waterways and harm marine life. Another thoughtful touch: the scrub’s soft scent was designed to work with each and every Jo Malone fragrance.
Atkinsons 24 Old Bond Street
What does London smell like? According to British fragrance house Atkinsons, it smells of juniper, rose, black tea and smoky, oak-casked whisky. Of course, there’d be very little demand for a scent that smelled like the Tube during rush hour, so we can understand the poetic license at work here. In fact, we applaud it. We love the fact the brand so whole-heartedly celebrates “200 years of perfume snobbery”. We love the dapper cartoon bear that’s the house’s emblem. We love that even though this is a men’s scent, there are women out there who’ll love to wear this spicy cologne too. In creating this fragrance, renowned perfumer Christine Nagel and nose Violaine Collas have distilled the essence of English eccentricity and elegance.
Clarisonic Smart Profile
Clarisonic evangelists will be elated with the new upgrades in the Smart Profile model. Boasting patented sonic technology, a choice of two brush heads (for face and body), and even a USB port for charging, this latest product has been redesigned to be the most functional and intuitive Clarisonic experience ever. When it comes to the face, there’s a choice of four cleansing speed settings: delicate, universal, powerful and prescriptive. Offering a head-to-toe cleanse that’s six times more effective than using hands alone, this gadget has demonstrated its efficacy time and time again.
“Great for cleaning the face, the Clarisonic really gets into your pores so your skin feels fresh, soft and smooth.” – Cissy Wang, guest judge
Kiehl’s Amino Acid Shampoo
While the words “acid” and “shampoo” should probably never sit so close together, we’ll make an allowance for this all-around champion product from Kiehl’s. First of all, it’s mild as anything. Forget those other hair-care products that employ harsh chemicals to strip your hair of its necessary natural oils. Instead, Kiehl’s uses amino acid and pure coconut oil to gently cleanse the hair, while wheat starch and wheat proteins add body. Unlike some other natural shampoos that eschew foaming agents, this one still manages to give a high lather. It’s perfect for dry or normal hair that requires frequent washing.
Diamonds are Forever at Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
British skincare maven Carol Joy enjoys a cult following among discerning jet-setters who can enjoy her services at some of the swankiest hotels in the world, such as The Dorchester in London, and the Four Seasons Hong Kong Spa has recently made her potions available on our shores. They take centre stage in this treatment, an ultra-hydrating facial that includes the application of some of the line’s cult items such as the Diamond Forevermore Serum and Caviar Boosting Mask.
“To get the full benefits of the facial, book the 90-minute version. You really don’t want to miss out on the caviar mask and microdermabrasion, which aren’t part of the 60-minute deal.” – Vincenzo La Torre, managing editor, Prestige Hong Kong
Duet Treatment at Angsana Spa at Hotel Icon Hong Kong
This may be a couples treatment, but don’t be surprised if you forget your partner by the end of it. Two hours of pampering begins with a half-hour flower body polish for her and jasmine-frangipani body polish for him, followed by a 90-minute massage session and 30 minutes to slowly return to reality afterwards, bath time and refreshments included. A sister institution to the famed Banyan Tree spas, Angsana spa offers the same Thai-inspired relaxation philosophy, with a brighter branding twist.
The Good Hour Stand Taller massage at Lush Spa
The decor might read more quaint little coffee shop than dim den of relaxation that’s standard in Hong Kong’s pamper palaces, but Lush applies its brand of quirk to treatments in a way that’s warm and welcoming rather than kitschy. The Good Hour seems like a straightforward full-body, deep-tissue massage, except that it’s longer than the traditional hour and comes with fun multi-sensory touches like a foggy sea-scented environment and customised music that takes you out on the ocean.
“A really different spa experience, this was relaxing and I loved the scents and the unique theme. The masseuse was attentive, friendly and informative and I liked the sea-themed touch of serving rum at the end. I felt relaxed and rejuvenated afterwards.” – Cissy Wang, guest judge
Vedic Aromatherapy Full Body + Facial Marma Therapy at The Peninsula Spa
The star of The Peninsula Spa’s new Ayurveda aromatherapy programme, Sattva, is undoubtedly the blissful Vedic Aromatherapy Full Body and Facial Marma Therapy, which combines ancient Vedic traditions with modern techniques to rejuvenate and harmonise the body. Particularly likeable are the hand-blended, warmed aromatherapy oils and the heavenly Marma facial massage. With the signature Pen hospitality, extending to a post-massage relaxation room with cut fruit, coconut water and that spectacular view of the harbour, this was a treatment that will have you walking out into Nathan Road as if on air.
Dermo-lifting Face Treatment at I-Spa at the InterContinental Hong Kong
Botox without the Botox? Sign us up. Using products from Ivo Pitanguy, a skincare line launched by a cosmetic surgeon, this facial speeds up cell regeneration so that the skin appears firmer immediately. It starts with Pitanguy’s Instant Lifting Cure, a potent ingredient that softens surface wrinkles. A moistened gauze enhances the process, while a specialised anti-ageing massage and dermo mask give the entire face an immediate lift within the 90-minute treatment time.
“Totally loved the whole experience, especially the motorised bed as I do get rather uncomfortable lying on my back for a long time, but at I-Spa, you’re placed in different positions during the procedure. That’s real pampering!” – Olivia Lee-Davies, guest judge
Mother’s Love at the Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
Lying on your front for once is luxury enough already with the spa’s specially designed pregnancy massage mattress, but that’s only the beginning of the pampering process in this pre-natal treatment. A salt and honey scrub preps skin for a healing aloe wrap, then a 90-minute massage soothes the aches and pains most associated with pregnancy — fatigue and swelling, a sore back. Also available for post-natal recovery, this treatment is tweaked to help detox and slimming, while encouraging the body to heal itself.
It launched in Hong Kong near the end of last year, but Skin Laundry has made quite an impact on the society scene. The facial centre offers one treatment and one alone, a laser/light facial that’s done and dusted within 15 minutes, promising immediate results, zero downtime and affordable efficacy. Therapists warn that you can “smell” the pore-clogging dirt as it disintegrates during the facial (it’s true), but you can also see the effects – which include fading discolouration, fighting acne, improving texture and smoothness – with your own eyes.
Tao of Detox at Chuan Spa at Cordis Hong Kong Mongkok
A five-element questionnaire helps determine which elements are imbalanced, so that the therapist can effectively target problems. A full-body exfoliation kicks off the experience, pushing lymphatic drainage to kick into high gear, then a warm marine algae wrap draws out toxins trapped under the skin. Finally, a traditional Chinese acupressure massage follows, intended to release energy blockages, while an oxygen-boosting facial wakes the skin up where it’s most needed.
“A self indulgent treatment leaving you pampered and renewed.” – Chelsea Chau, guest judge
Christian Louboutin manicure by The Nail Library at The Upper House
There are only two spots in Hong Kong authorised by Christian Louboutin to use its edgy polishes: The Nail Library and The Upper House (though both experiences are powered by technicians from the Library). And though we love following the red-soled footsteps up to the special treatment corner in the flagship nail salon, we were even more won over by the luxury of having our tips painted in one of the city’s best hotel rooms. The experience, too, is impeccable, from the rose-petal hand bath down to the final layer of topcoat.
“The Louboutin polishes have a glossy Shellac-like finish with the most striking packaging. I only ever wear red nail polish and this one hits all the high notes. The perfect combo of The Upper House and The Nail Library team adds up an A-plus experience.” – Chelsea Chau, guest judge
Sense of Touch Vaser Slimming Treatment by Sense of Touch Arbuthnot
“The appearance of cellulite will be reduced and stubborn fat will melt away without any exercise,” claims Sense of Touch Arbuthnot of its Vaser Shape treatment, which was voted Best Non-Surgical Body Shaping Technology at the 2012 Aesthetic Awards. The therapist first stimulates the lymph nodes, then applies dual ultrasound transducers to spots such as the tummy to target subcutaneous fatty tissue and drain away excess toxins and fat, followed by micromassage to allow lipids to leak through cell membranes. The fat is then hoovered up by vacuum massage and directed to the pre-stimulated lymphatic system by zonal massage, leaving you a little light-headed, but also, it’s to be hoped, light-bodied.
Shanghainese Pedicure at The Mandarin Spa
An array of blades come into use in the famed Shanghainese Pedicure that draws fans from around the world, but there’s no pain involved in the process, which is handled by experienced master Samuel So, who boasts decades of experience. Dead skin is expertly trimmed from the foot, and even the nails themselves are cut by knife. Not just a blade man, So also paints a mean toenail, so your tips are perfectly coloured and your feet baby soft.
High-quality wax and a hygienic environment are extremely important when it comes to one of the more unpleasant experiences you can have in a spa (no matter which way you spin it, having unwanted hair ripped from their follicles is no walk in the park). But even more essential is technique, and the therapists at Flawless have deft hands that not only help minimise the ouch factor, they make sure ingrown hairs don’t plague you afterwards.