Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Salvatore Ferragamo Gancini Icona Saffiano Continental Wallet - New Moka Brown

I first saw Salvatore Ferragamo gancini icona continental wallet on some Japanese fashion magazine about 10 years ago. I instantly fell in love with its classic design and always consider it as my dream wallet.
Two months ago Salvatore Ferragamo had a massive sale and I finally got my hand on this wallet.
After 50% off discount, it came down to AU$393 which is still exorbitant for a wallet but on a lower spectrum relative to other luxury brands.

The colour I chose is called 'New Moka' which I describe it as a neutral milk chocolate brown.
The shade is not fancy or eye catching but  it does not get dirty quickly.
However, my wallet has an obvious dent in the front and it is a big flaw! I did not pay attention to check on the leather before I had paid :'(

This wallet comes with 7 card slots. 1 window flap, 1 zip coin compartment, 1 major bill slot and 4 sneaky slots for receipts, bandage or misc. Although 19cm x 10cm is a standard size for long wallets, this Ferragamo wallet is quite a thick wallet. Mine goes up to 3cm when it is filled with cards.

Metal hardware of this wallet is gorgeous and adds a vintage touch without being dated.

These photos with carpet on the back were taken 2 months after use. Til today, none of the hardware is faded, damaged or rusted. Foil embossed logo looks perfect and wear and tear is not pronounced. Overall this wallet still looks mint. I am deeply in love with this wallet and I am using it for the next 5 years if not longer.

I took some photos when I first got it two months ago. They are way too exposed (from natural sunlight haaa) and the colour isn't true. I decided to put them up to the blog anyway so you know this wallet really does hold up well :)

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Is Eve Lom cruelty free? confused!

If you google 'Eve Lom cruelty free', you will find many believe Eve Lom products as cruelty free.
But Eve Lom products have been sold in China since 2015. Is this brand cruelty free then?

In 2015 July, Eve Lom opened beauty counters at Lane Crawford Beijing, ShangHai and Chengdu as well as has been available on Lane Crawford China official website.
Cruelty Free Kitty published a post on 7 August 2015 with responses collected from different brands, including Eve Lom. From the email (without date) cited , Eve Lom representative wrote "We do not have stockists in China so have not been requested, by law, to test on animals" . So... what about the beauty counters at Lane Crawford in China?
News of Eve Lom opening beauty counter in Lane Crawford Shanghai on Vogue China in 2015

Lane Crawford is a Hong Kong-based department store with branches in prestigious locations in HK (e.g. Causeway bay and Central). It carries an extensive range of luxury beauty brands, including Serge Lutens, Christian Louboutin, La Mer, Dolce&Gabbana and many others. Lane Crawford is next to impossible to sell fakes unless it wants a massive fine from HK customs department and its reputation swept away, along with its contracts with luxurious brands void. 

I also found Eve Lom on TMALL Taobao (Chinese equivalent of Ebay) and  a website claimed to be Eve Lom's offical chinese website. As I am unsure about the authenticity of the TMALL store, I leaved a facebook message on Eve Lom facebook page on 22 April 2017 yet have never received a reply.
Facebook message

From Eve Lom official website, it claims to be against animal testing. It also never mentions its Lane Crawford counters in China. The whole thing sounds confusing...?

I feel really puzzled. I cannot comprehend why Eve Lom doesn't list its counters in China? If those counters at Lane Crawford (although almost impossible) or TMALL stores sell fakes, why didn't I get any response from it on Facebook?

On the other hand, I understand selling in China might not necessarily equal having products tested on animals. Nudestix described its products as "vegan friendly, cruelty-free and formulated without parabens, sulfates and phthalates"on it official website. Although Nudestix does sell in China via Sephora, it claims to retain its cruelty free statue by investing in new plants and obtaining approved ingredients for the Chinese market. (Although it is not verified by any trust worthy cruelty free sources).

But beauty products and new ingredients first imported to China between June 2014 and March 2017 did require animal testing unless EU had already had established testing data on safety, toxicity and irritation of every single ingredient used.

So does Eve Lom sell in China? does it sell in China but managed to pass the import without animal testing? Or does it sell in China but also get tested as required by law? Anyone knows???

Saturday, April 22, 2017

40 sheet masks tested by Hong Kong consumer council. Shocking !

Last week, Hong Kong consumer council (HKCC) published their testing results on 40 sheet masks from different countries of origin and brands, with retail price ranging from HK$3 (~ US$0.4) to HK$108 (~US$15) per piece. These face masks claim to having moisturising property and require no rinsing after use (Dating back 10 years ago, instruction on all paper masks would advise user to rinse their face after using paper mask. Things have changed).

So which one performed the best?  which were rubbish?

First test : Chemical analysis and findings

*click to enlarge image*

Hong Kong consumer council tested 40 face masks for their chemical content, including MIT, parabens, other preservatives, heavy metals and CMIT. Microbiological test on E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, P.Aeruginosa etc. was also conducted.  Safety standards from EU, USA, Taiwan and China were referenced.

FIVE products tested were found containing fluorescent materials which might cause skin sensitivity.

  • (FR) Eau Thermale Avène Hydrating Mask
  • (US) Kiehl's Clearly Corrective White Hydrating and Clarifying Treatment Masque
  • (JP) MUJI Sheet Mask
  • (JP) SK-II Facial Treatment Mask
  • (FR) Lancôme Blanc Expert Second Skin Whitening Bio-Cellulose Mask

ONE product also contained migratable fluorescent materials, for instances, optical brighteners and fluorescent whitening agents, meaning it might not only cause skin allergy but also make your skin glowing in dark.

  • (FR) Eau Thermale Avène Hydrating Mask

ONE product used salicylic acid as preservative.

  • (JP) SK-II Facial Treatment Mask 0.42%. Passed the Chinese standard.

TWO products contained lead. Both are below Chinese SDA standard (10ppm)

  • (JP) Hada labo Gokujyun Mask  0.13ppm 
  • (US) Olay Aquaction Intensive Treatment Mask 0.16ppm 

THREE products used methylisothiazolinone (MI) as preservative. Australian therapectic goods administration has a public note on MI summarised it as "skin sensitisation was sufficiently noted across all the studies", "may also cause systemic acute toxicity (by all route of exposure) and local effects (skin corrosion and the possibility of causing serious damage to eyes)"and "expert panel concluded that 'MI is safe for use in rinse-off cosmetic products at concentrations up to 100 ppm". In 2016, EU placed a ban on MI being used in leave-in skincare products as no safe levels of MI in leave-on products.

In this test, HKCC borrowed Chinese SDA standard that no more than 0.01% MI in skincare products across both leave-in and rinse-off products.

  • (FR) Besilke Moisturising & Whitening Mineral Spring Mask 0.013%, exceeded Chinese SDA standard and HKCC already reported this product to HK customs department.
  • (TW) My Scheming Hyaluronan Hydarting Mask
  • (TW) Timeless Truth Bio Cellulose Hydra-Soothing Moisturising Mask

Over HALF of samples tested used parabens as preservatives. Yet, all samples are free from parabens that are banned by EU and Chinese SDA (isopropyl-paraben , isobutyl-paraben , benzyl-paraben phenyl-paraben, pentyl-paraben)

All samples passed microbiological tests. 

*click to enlarge image*

Experiment : Skin test !
Since all samples claimed they could be used without rinsing, HKCC tested each sample on 24 human subjects/ participants in inner arm area followed by skin moisture analysis.
The samples were applied and left on following instruction from packaging. After removing the sample, technicians measured moisture of participants skin after 1 hour, 3 hours, 6 hours using the sample and compared it with data collected from bare skin.

Moisturising capability and OVERALL performance
Data collected after 1 hour, 3 hours and 6 hours is weighted 50%, 30% and 20% respectively to calculate the averaged score on moisturising capability.

Overall score considered all factors with different weight - chemical analysis (10%), moisturising capability (60%), participant review (25%) and label & information (5%).

On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the worst and 5 being the best, there is no product scoring 5.

TOP 7 Moisturizing Face Mask

(JP) Utena Puresa Sheet Mask -Rose Extract and Hyaluronic Acid (~ HK$15 per piece)
Moisturization : 4    Overall : 4 [✓ methylparaben]

(JP) Mandom Barrier Repair Facial Mask - Moist (~ HK$14 per piece)

Moisturization : 4    Overall : 4

(KR) Leaders Aquaringer Skin Clinic Mask (~ HK$19.5 per piece)

Moisturization : 4    Overall : 4

(JP) Ettusais Skin Version Up Super Mask (~ HK$19 per piece)

Moisturization :  4   Overall : 4 [✓ methylparaben]

(JP) YUMéI Water Glow Skin Renewal Facial Mask (~ HK$34.5 per piece)
Moisturization : 4    Overall : 4

(KR) MíOGGí Snail Nutrition Hydro Gel Mask (~ HK$30 per piece)

Moisturization : 4    Overall : 4

(JP) Kracie Hadabisei Moisturising Facial Mask - Extra Rich (~ HK$15 per piece)

Moisturization :  3.5   Overall : 4 [✓ methylparaben]

Other products and their overall performance:

(?) JOSERISTINE hyaluronic acid moisturising mask  (~ HK$14 per piece)

Moisturization :  3.5   Overall : 3.5 [✓ methylparaben]

LANEIGE water bank double gel soothing mask (~ HK$48 per piece)

Moisturization :  3   Overall : 3.5

(JP) FANCL Moisturising Mask  (~ HK$55 per piece)

Moisturization :  3   Overall : 3.5

(?) HELLO CARE intensive aloe vera collagen treatment mask (~ HK$5 per piece)

Moisturization :  3   Overall : 3.5 [✓ methylparaben]

(JP) KOSE COSMEPORT ClearTurn white hyaluronic acid mask  (~ HK$9.2 per piece)

Moisturization :  3   Overall : 3.5 [methylparaben]

(US) KIEHL’S Clearly Corrective White Hydrating & Clarifying Treatment Masque (~ HK$66.7 per piece)
Moisturization :  3.5   Overall : 3.5 [✓ fluorescent materials]

(KR) MEDIHEAL N.M.F. aquaring ampoule mask upgrade EX (~ HK$6.6 per piece)

Moisturization :  3   Overall : 3.5

(JP) Hada labo Gokujyun Mask  (~ HK$9 per piece)

Moisturization :  3.5   Overall : 3.5 [✓ methylparaben] [✓ lead]

(KR) FAITH IN FACE  (~ HK$23.3 per piece)
Moisturization :  2.5   Overall : 3.5

(JP) MUJI Sheet Mask  (~ HK$30 per piece)

Moisturization :  3   Overall : 3.5 [✓ fluorescent materials]

(?) REGENE crystal mineral silk mask  (~ HK$12 per piece)

Moisturization :  3   Overall : 3.5

(KR) A.H.C premium hydra soother cellulose mask  (~ HK$16.5 per piece)

Moisturization :  2.5   Overall : 3.5

(US) GARNIER Aqua Defense - hydrating glow essence 2nd skin mask(~ HK$9 per piece)
Moisturization :  3   Overall : 3.5 [methylparaben]

(TW) DR.MORITA hyaluronic acid facial mask (~ HK$5.2 per piece)
Moisturization :  2.5   Overall : 3.5 [methylparaben]

(TW) MY BEAUTY DIARY hyaluronic acid moisturising mask  (~ HK$7.5 per piece)

Moisturization :  2.5   Overall : 3.5

(?) DR.ALTHEA essential skin conditioner silk mask  (~ HK$15.6 per piece)

Moisturization :  2.5   Overall : 3.5

(KR) TONYMOLY Pureness 100 Hyaluronic Acid Mask Sheet  (~ HK$8 per piece)

Moisturization :  3      Overall : 3

(JP) SHISEIDO White Lucent Power Brightening Maks  (~ HK$100 per piece)

Moisturization :  3   Overall : 3 

(HK) SASATINNIE water glow essence mask  (~ HK$34.6 per piece)

 Moisturization :  3     Overall : 3

(US) Olay Aquaction intensive treatment mask  (~ HK$20 per piece)
 Moisturization :  3     Overall : 3 [✓ propyl-paraben] [✓ lead][✓ ethyl-paraben] 

(FR)BIOTHERM SOURCR THERAPIR Revitalising Tissue Mask (~ HK$70 per piece)

Moisturization :  3   Overall : 3 [✓ methylparaben]

( ? ) DAISO bb face mask with hyaluronic acid (~ HK$6 per piece)

Moisturization :  2.5   Overall : 3 [methylparaben]

(JP) SK-II Facial Treatment Mask  (~ HK$88 per piece)

Moisturization :  2.5    Overall : 3 [✓ methylparaben] [✓ fluorescent materials]

(FR) LANCÔME blanc expert second skin whitening bio-cellulose mask  (~ HK$108 per piece)

Moisturization :  2.5   Overall : 3 [✓ methylparaben] [✓ migratable + normal fluorescent materials]

(HK) WATER360 BY WATSONS mieral spring hydrating mask   (~ HK$20 per piece) 

Moisturization :  2   Overall : 3 [✓ methylparaben]

(US) NETROGENA deep hydrating mask    (~ HK$18 per piece) 

Moisturization :  2   Overall : 3 [✓ methylparaben] [✓ ethyl-paraben]

(FR) EAU THERMALE AVENE Hydrating Mask  (~ HK$54 per piece)

Moisturization :  2.5   Overall : 3 [✓ fluorescent materials]

(KR) Innisfree skin clinic mask – hyaluronic acid ultra thin  (~ HK$18 per piece)

Moisturization :  2.5   Overall : 3

(TW) My Scheming Hyaluronan Hydarting Mask  (~ HK$7.5 per piece)

Moisturization :  2   Overall : 2.5 [✓ methylparaben] [✓ MI]

(FR) BESILK moisturising & whitening mineral spring mask  (~ HK$3.1 per piece)

Moisturization :  2.5   Overall : 2.5 [✓ MI]

(TW) TIMELESS TRUTH bio cellulose hydra-soothing moisturising mask (~ HK$15 per piece)

Moisturization :  2   Overall : 2.5 [✓ MI]


Moisturization :  2   Overall : 2.5

(TW) BEAUTYMATE hydro power collagen mask (~ HK$7 per piece)

Moisturization :  1.5   Overall : 2.5 [methylparaben]


- Read the ingredient list before you buy!! Nobody wanna have fluorescent face or use leave-on skincare with MIT.

- Being expensive doesnt necessarily equal better performance or contain less concerning ingredients.
  Although sheet masks from SK-II and Lancome are exorbitant (over 10 USD a piece), both contain paraben & fluorescent materials and perform less prominent than other affordable brands (e.g. leaders and mandom barrier repair).

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thailand - Free traveller SIM card

All you need to do is to head to tourist customer service counter at any CentralWorld Mall and sign up for a tourist pack. The tourist pack includes various coupons and more importantly -
 a voucher for a free traveller sim card. 
This AIS SIM card offers 10MB internet and 50 minutes local calls.

AIS has another really cheap plan for traveller - a SIM costs 199 bahts and comes with 7 days unlimited data, free calls to other traveller SIMs and 15 bahts call credit.

If you are travelling with your friends/ family, each person can get one tourist pack and it can make your trip much easier. As I did not know about it, I bought my SIM card before going to CentralWorld. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bangkok Haul + What Asian Tourists buy in Thailand? (I)

My mum and I went to Bangkok in August and we sure had a good time shopping around although the heat was unbearable! We Asians are known to shop wherever we visit (which can be good and bad). So what are some 'Must Buy' items Asians buy when other foreigners miss out? What did I buy?

Edible Goods

Non-Asian tourists might find it odd why Asian tourists all flock to supermarkets????
Hey, supermarket is the best place to go if you try to look for local yummy food to bring home.
It is clean and air con cooled making it a much more comfortable place to shop at :D
Everything is marked with price and you need not to do all the bargaining (I hate it!).
However, if you want to buy fresh fruits or dried seafood, going to food markets is a better option.

Durian ***

Thailand is known for growing quality durian and durian is one of those signature Asian flavours. If you are not sure whether you will like it, most supermarkets have free sample of dried durian you can try.
Best Place to get
- Fresh Durian : Or Tok Gor food market or any food market
- Dried Durian : Major supermarkets (Big C, Tesco Lotus etc.) and souvenir stores

Among brands we tried, Durian King is the best. Strong aroma and balanced sweetness.

All kind of South East Asian Dried Fruits!

Attap fruit, tamarind, coconut, jackfruit, long gong, mango or any dried fruit you see from supermarket is worth giving a go!!

Meat Jerky and Pork Floss

Everyone loves charcoal grilled meat jerky (sorry vegetarian / vegan :P)!! Meat jerky and pork floss have been on Asian tourists' shopping list for over two decades and they are still considered one of tourists' favourite!

There are two brands everyone buys - Ha Kee Lim Jing Hieng or (Original) Lim Jing Hieng. They were owned by the Lim family but managed by different sons.

Although it has a shorter history, Ha Kee Lim Jing Hieng is doing very well as it reformulated traditional flavours to what customers nowadays prefer and its products won quite a few awards. You can find its products mostly from its Chinatown branch and small souvenir stores.

(Original) Lim Jing Hieng is usually more accessible as supermarkets and major souvenir stores stock it regularly.

Flavoured Crispy Seaweed

The company only started in 2003 but Tao Kae Noi seaweed is now one of Asian tourists' "Must Buy" food items.
Another good brand is Triple M. Although it is less famous compared to Tao Kae Noi, I actually prefer Triple M for its stronger flavour! My favourite is grilled squid flavour <3 3="" p="">

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Bonus  -  Snacks I love!!!

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<3 p="">Bento Squid Snack

I have loved Bento since a little child and it is my most loved squid snack <3 p="">

Toasted Shredded Coconut

It is heavenly delicious ! This brand does the best toasted shredded coconut.
If you like coconut and happen to see this in store, just buy it and I am sure you will love it!!

Rinbee Chips Seasoned with Nori

I grabbed it at Big C and never expected it to be this good! Must try !

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Animal cafes in Tokyo (1) - dogs, cats, bunnies, hedgehogs and owls!

I have always loved fur babies but sadly I cannot have pets at where I live. 
Therefore, I decided to visit as many animal cafes as I could in Tokyo. 

Calico cat cafe きゃりこ 新宿店
Address: 〒160-0021 Tokyo, Kabukicho, 1−16−2
Tip : Try to visit before meal time. After being fed, cats get sleepy and do not want to play.

No reservation needed and you can walk in anytime. This two-storey cat cafe has more than 40 cats in different breeds & sizes and I am sure you will find (more than) one you like.
This cafe sells chicken cat treat for 500 yen and you should add it in your budget although it is not compulsory.

We thought we could get by not paying 500 yen for chicken and just play with cats.
Yet, the reality is - all cats there were utterly food driven as if they were underfed!! 
If you have no food, the cats won't bother to come near you... :( 
We did end up getting one pack. All cats came for food then left when it was done. 
Still a great fun to be surrounded by cats and stroke them.

Staff were very gentle when caring for their cats and it is a good thing to see. Most cats were active and healthy but a few looked sick with watery eyes.

Address: 1 Chome-45-2 Tomigaya,  Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 151-0063
Tip : Do not go over weekend or peak hours!
Tip : Dog walking is better than play time.

Honestly I am not a big fan of this cafe and do not recommend it. Reasons being :
1. This tiny 300-square dog cafe is way too small to be home of 11 dogs. I saw dogs going circles as they were bored. Also, some dogs got uncomfortable and try to hide as the guests sitting/ standing at its favourite spots. Dogs do need more space...

2. My fiance was underwhelmed by the lack of variety. 7 toy poodles, 3 beagles and 1 golden retriever. You might like it if you are a big fan of poodles. Yet, the selection is really limited.

* 3. Besides play time in cafe, this cafe offers dog walking experience and it is what the problem lies. Dogs there are not interested in playing with humans but going out for walk. Every single dog there wants to go out for walk and they will run to the door when they see new visitors. It happened more than 5 times in 30 minutes we were there. Dogs also bark fiercely when their fellow are back from walk or when they see someone pass by walking their dogs...