An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore

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Couponing: $32 Gelish Manicure and Spa Pedicure (worth $126) at Almost Paradise in 2 locations

Date: 7 May 2013

Deal: SGD 32 for Gelish Manicure and Spa Pedicure (worth $126).

•Uses OPI, Zoya and Tins nail polish
•Revitalize dull looking nails
•Removes excess cuticles
•Spa manicure and pedicure include foot scrub, hands and feet mask
•Gelish manicure with longer lasting results
•Expert nail therapists

How it went:

Instructions on the Groupon voucher said to sms and book. I tried on 16 April and then again on 19 April – no reply. So I rang the shop and got through after 2 tries. I wasn’t impressed at all. The address on the groupon said “Raffles Place: The Arcade #03-11A”. It turns out that #03-11A was some other shop and they are actually #03-11. No signage outside the salon, only a sticker saying “Solone” – which turns out to be the brand name of a line of Taiwanese cosmetics. First impressions going downhill. The name of this salon is ALMOST PARADISE and not by any measure is it even close to decent. Look at the pictures and judge for yourself. Can we just cut to the chase and say FALSE ADVERTISING ALERT!!!!??!



To be fair though, the entire process of mani and pedi took less than 30 minutes so I could go back to work in a jiffy. Gelish nails dry fast and my nails are already groomed and short. The nail technician who was doing my hands charged me S$10 to remove what’s left of my last gelish manicure (about 1/4 of my nails). She said that my nails were already short so she’d just shape them. All was well until I was done with my manicure and realised that she didn’t do a good job of cleaning up my cuticles and hello… hangnail after a manicure?!

My pedicurist did try her best with my horrible feet cuticles (I blame running for all the rough skin around the toenails) but the “spa” part of the pedicure was rather perfunctory. It was basically a) remove cuticles and file down nails b) buff the soles with a file c) scrub feet and ankles d) 3-4 brush strokes worth of something (on my shins only) that was maybe moisturiser or a mask.



I chose a really light colour for my hands so you can’t really muck that up too much. And as for my feet… Up close, you can see that it’s got streaks and it’s not smooth – who’s going to go near my feet though?

So ALMOST PARADISE it is not. I paid a total of S$42 for the experience and I dare them to charge S$126 that they say it’s worth. Not recommend. Buyers beware!

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Couponing: SGD18 instead of SGD48 for Classic Gelish Manicure @ Orchard

Date: 22 February 2013

Deal: SGD 18 instead of SGD 48 for Classic Gelish Manicure @ Orchard

– One session of Classic Gelish Manicure
– BeauMax uses SuperNail ProGel
– Wide range of colours to choose from
– Experienced, skilled nail therapists
– Central location in Orchard

How it went:

All the above were true and I was happy. Found International Building easily (it’s right next to Shaw Towers, with the 24hr TCC at the ground floor) and the lifts were fast/accessible. If you like the convenience of town but are afraid of Orchard Road prices, and do not want the noise in the maze that is Far East Plaza, this is a good option. This building is quiet and not bustling with activities. Very private and cosy.


Other than nail services, they also provide facials, waxing and massages. There are 3 rooms and a total of 8 integrated seats (high-back cushioned seating with individual taps for soaking feet) for mani-pedis.

The deal said I could call, SMS or email to book an appointment. I emailed on 18 February and didn’t get a reply, so I smsed on 19th February and within 2 hours, my appointment was confirmed.


I opted to do additional nail art and I kept going back and forth with what I wanted. My therapist patiently explained to me the various prices for all the various types available while she was cleaning my cuticles and shaping my nails. I then settled on adding polka dots to all my nails and 2 hand crafted acrylic bows for an additional $25. So I paid a total of $43. I like gel-based polishes because they are quick to dry and long-lasting. So that’s okay. (Everything took me about 50minutes and I went out with my polish completely dried, so no weird finger action there.)



Overall a good experience – they didn’t hard sell when I told them I couldn’t commit to a 10-session package because I’m not sure how long I’ll be here and I only do my nails once every 2 months or so. They have a good deal going though – $38.80 x 10 sessions includes soak off and 3 additional FOC glitter overlays.

Recommended!! Check out

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Couponing: Facial + Lymphatic Face Massage + Shoulder Relax Massage + Eyebrow Trimming at Xin Beauty

Date: 26 August 2011

Deal: 88% OFF on 75mins Facial (3 Choices) + Lymphatic Face Massage + Shoulder Relax Massage + Eyebrow Trimming @$25 ONLY

How it went:

Midpoint Orchard is a really strange building that’s out of place in fancy Orchard Road, especially with the addition of Ion Orchard, 313@Somerset and Orchard Central. It’s a building that’s stuck in the late 70s with minor renovations done probably in the early 90s. There are so many small beauty salons and electronic shops, I really wonder who patronises them. Xin Beauty is one of those neighbourhood shops that basically transported its entire operation there – no upscaling for town, and the size of my living room!

Whilst the location was good, everything was so basic that I’d rather not get a facial in town. My hair was sticking up after the facial and there was no space, nothing to help me get out into public without looking like a doofus. I just needed a hair brush and a hair dryer to sort the mane out. I went to one of the small hair salons and they tried charging me $12 to do just that. I’m not even asking for a wash. Just blow and brush. ARGH! Luckily they had those old fashion hand dryers in the toilets and I bent down, put my head under the hot air stream and brushed my hair out with my fingers. Sometimes old fashioned is good. Forget those fancy air-stream hand dryers where you dip your hands in.

Practical sized room. Just enough for the bed & a tray of products.

Practical sized room. Just enough for the bed & a tray of products.

Ok so anyway, this is a $25 facial in the heart of town but in a dingy building, where the entire shop (reception, pantry, and treatment rooms) was enclosed in a space the size of my living room (I’m not even joking). The deal was that I could choose from 3 facials – Option 1: Skin Perfector Anti-pigmentation Treatment; Option 2: Anti-blemish Skin Renewal Treatment; Option 3: Oxy-Pure Rejuvenating Treatment. I had no idea which treatment I received and it certainly didn’t match any of those fancy-titled options. It was largely one of those old fashioned “Mode Circle” (anybody remember those?) facials that I had in the early 90s. As a pimply teenager, I’d have been okay with it, thinking that facials were all like that. Painful, uncomfortable and awkward. But I’m not. It didn’t feel like it was worth my time. I didn’t feel any better after the treatment. Firstly, the technique was so-so. I wouldn’t say it was bad but I’ve had a lot better, many more times. Secondly, the products used were very generic and hardly anything special. Thirdly, I could hear the girls outside gossiping at the top of their voices because the entire space was open on the top and it is really small.

Generic products

Generic products

So was it worth $288? Nope! Of course not! But to be honest for $25, I suppose it’s justified. Also I might go back again (if I have a ride straight home) because the beautician working on me thought I was still in school. She thought I was a 22 year old with really dry skin. She tsk-tsked me when I said I barely used home care products other than the basic facial wash, make-up remover, exfoliator and sunblock. When she asked me to guess how old she was and it turned out she was only 5 years older than I was heehee… Cheap thrills, I know. But people should stop tsktsking me when I see so many people my age who actually look older!

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Couponing: Signature Radiant Facial with Eye Treatment + Neck Care + IPL at Angel Face

Date: 2 August 2011

Deal: $38 for 90 min Signature Radiant Facial with Eye Treatment + Neck Care + IPL at Angel Face (Worth $432)

How it went:

The Adelphi is actually walking distance from my office, so I sauntered there after work. However, the beauty salon was hidden in a quiet corner in the basement and I had to make a few turns before I realised where it was. It would’ve been a great way to end the work day if it weren’t for the fact that the beautician (Li Yong, I think) was really rough. (Well to be honest, I don’t think she is unskilled but too rushed and rough for my liking because I did really want to relax.)

Tucked in a corner, right next to the National Council of Churches Singapore

Tucked in a far corner, right next to the National Council of Churches Singapore

Why do all these spa places only speak Mandarin to you? I usually respond in English, just in case I use the wrong words or say the wrong things. I hardly speak Mandarin, save for learning it in school. I’m not comfortable with it. I’d rather if you need to speak a Chinese language to me, you speak Cantonese. At least I converse with my Grandmother on a daily basis in Cantonese. Also, I thought it was kinda rude when she looked at my name and asked me “You not Chinese ah? You what? You Malay? You Philipine?”. I smiled and didn’t bother answering her.

Drapey curtains over the ceiling...

Drapey curtains over the ceiling…

The room was rather large and had 2 beds. The decor was a little surreal. It had fake brick walls, these flowing chiffon drapes on the ceiling but also a very quaint antique-looking Chinoiserie basin. I did notice it was really really quiet though. And I could’ve really just fallen asleep if it weren’t for the fact that the therapist kept bumping into the treatment bed or knocking over things. Also, I had no idea what she was saying to me and what the hell she put on my face. The first lotion she put was biting and it stung my entire face. She mentioned something about it softening my blackheads. Then she used something to scrape at my entire face and it hurt like a bitch. I tolerated it because I just wanted to see what their “Signature Radiant Facial” meant. She said RF RF RF several times and I didn’t know what she was talking about – I really thought it was something about radio frequency. Then when I left, I realised RF meant Radiant Facial because she kept insisting that I look in the mirror after the treatment because I looked “radiance”. I saw nothing to be honest, and I was kinda glad because I thought the scraping would’ve left some unsightly red bruises. I didn’t enjoy this facial at all. The therapist wasn’t thorough and she was very rough. After the treatment, I got up and I saw that my neck still had a huge patch of mask. She tried to quickly wipe it off and was really rough again.

The quaint basin... but the curtains hides a huge mess of machines

The quaint basin… but the curtains hides a huge mess of machines

So was it worth $432? NOPE! I don’t know what this facial was all about and I didn’t even relax! (However, if you need to do a multi-pronged programme. Go to Li Yong, she’ll have you in and out within an hour.) After the treatment, as usual, I was told there was a promotion that I had to get that very day. That I should stop buying vouchers and really buy a package at 1 fixed place so that my therapist can work on the condition of my very bad, very dull, very dry complexion. When she asked what skincare products I used and I said “L’oreal”, she ppffft at me and said that I can’t just buy cheap off the counter skincare when I really need intensive treatments. Little does she know, I don’t even use L’Oreal. I buy whatever is cheap that month. BAH! Will I go back again? Nope! Not even if there’s another $38 coupon waiting. Sorry!

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Couponing: Facial + Foot Care Treatment at Y. S. Beauty Salon

Date: 16 July 2011

Deal: $26 for a Facial + Foot Care Treatment at Y. S. Beauty Salon worth $269

How it went:

This was one of the first coupons I bought and I didn’t check where this beauty salon was located. It took me ages to get from Kovan to Clementi and you still had to cross the road and walk a few blocks as it wasn’t located at Clementi Central itself. This is very honestly a neighbourhood beauty salon and save for 1 person, the other people in it didn’t speak much English. I am assuming they do not only serve the neighbourhood but also ONLY Chinese-speaking customers.

My therapist was a woman called Jess (why do people with English names not speak English?) who tried her earnest best to explain the treatment to me in English. I understood her enough and I didn’t really want to talk when I was trying to relax. The scary machine strikes again and I literally begged her to stop. She was puzzled because it was an expensive treatment. The mist-spraying machine came out and I didn’t like that either, but out of courtesy, I braced myself for it. This woman has strength. Her massages were forceful (not firm, but with force). (Surprisingly, I didn’t bruise this time.) So other than the face and upper body massage, the “foot care treatment” was actually a soak, scrub and leg massage (not unlike your run-of-the-mill foot reflexology or pre-pedicure routine). The room was merely partitioned panels and I could hear people laughing and talking at the top of their voices while I had the mask on and was told to relax. Not exactly spa-like but I guess it’s typical of your suburban neighbourhood outlets.

Another thing not in their favour is trying to charge me TWICE. I handed over my printed voucher before the treatment and after the treatment, they asked me how I was going to pay the $26. I asked them why I needed to pay for anything and it turns out they have been charging OTHER CUSTOMERS $26 despite their having a voucher. I explained that the fact that the voucher was in my hand proved that I had made payment via VoucherWow. I was told that “some customers” haven’t paid for it and that they weren’t sure how this voucher thing worked. ALARM BELLS! Poor aunties who got double-charged.

Was it worth $269? Uhm no. Maybe not even $69 because it was located in a far-out HDB flat downstairs shop. At the same time, while I think their prices are too outrageous, it might be because they are misguided into thinking that it is the “standard” price. I’d pay $200 for a facial if it was located in a convenient place, has a relaxing environment and if it came with all the frills. Sometimes, it’s not just the treatments. You pay for the perception of quality too.

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Couponing: 100 min CLARINS slimming treatment & massage at Eden Spa

Date: 12 July 2011

Deal: 87% off 100 Minutes Clarins Slimming & Contouring Treatment + HerbalDetox Footbath + Lymphatic Drainage Head & Face Detox Massage @ Eden Spa at Purvis. Only $48 instead of $360

How it went:

Purvis Street is not far from where I work so I had a leisurely stroll to the boutique spa. It looked a lot smaller than it really is on the inside. Definitely more than meets the eye. Everyone was quiet and soft-spoken inside and I felt very relaxed. Maybe it’s because I had a long day at work. But really – great use of space. Nice decor. Nothing overtly ostentatious and it felt like a place I could return to. I liked that from the moment I entered the spa, aromatherapy calmed me down.

The rest area inside

The rest area inside

Ginger footbath

Ginger footbath

Linda took time to first introduce me to the CLARINS products used in the spa and then explained what the treatment I was going to receive. Afterwhich, I was taken inside to a room with 4 large leather armchairs to soak my feet in a hot tub of ginger detox solution. Whilst flipping magazines, I actually started to nod off. It was THAT relaxing! Dark, quiet and the hot water… mmmmm… After 20 minutes, I was brought upstairs where the treatment rooms are but I asked to use the bathroom before we start. Love what they did with the place! So spa! Stone tiles, soft lighting, rattan seats in a verandah, spacious showers and dressing areas.

The massage itself was interesting. It wasn’t the kind of relaxing aromatherapy massages I was used to. It was vigorous and hypnotic. Not exactly uncomfortable but a bit weird. It was ticklish at some points especially when she was working my upper thighs and my waist. But it was quite strange how even though she was using a lot of force, I nodded off and started snoring. This lymphatic draining massage technique is quite bizarre! Then after about 30 minutes or so, she wrapped me in clingwrap and told me to get back on the bed. It was of course a struggle because I was like a mummy! But I fell asleep soon after when she started the head and face massage. Oh… zzzzzz….

Was it worth $360? Probably not. Even when I read the list prices, I’m not sure how this worked. The entire session took about slightly more than an hour and it was a combination of a few things. But because Linda took time to explain to me about the products as well as offered me a very attractive package, I took a small 4 session one. I also like the environment a lot. I don’t know, this is kinda different than what I’ve done before. I need to read up more about this detox and lymphatic whatever. I’m not sure how it stimulates whatever to help you slim down or encourage weight loss.