An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

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

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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!


Couponing: Eyelash Perming Session at Shine Nail Beauty

Date: 1 August 2011

Deal: $20 for 45 min Eyelash Perming Session at Shine Nail Beauty (Worth $68)

How it went:

POMO was fairly accessible. It’s one of those malls on the edge of town – not too far from everywhere else. I also located the shop easily. It was quite near the escalator so when you reached level 3, you’re almost there. The shop was manned by several middle-aged Chinese ladies who spoke a rather strange dialect – Hakka? Hainanese? Throughout my treatment, I kept hearing them talk. One would come in and say something and the other who was attending to me just chit-chatted. No privacy there!

Anyway, the layout of the shop was strange. It was long (not small, but I didn’t get to see the entire place) and messy. I was told to remove my shoes and just leave it there. No where in particular, just a finger pointing in the general vicinity of a table and some chairs where other people’s shoes were strewn around too. Like a house?

The room that I was in was basically a partitioned area just big enough for a treatment bed, a lamp and a chair. I reckon it was less than 1.5m wide. But because I went after work, it was rather quiet and I managed to nap (after my eye stopped tearing and the 2 women stopped talking around my head). It wasn’t the most comfortable treatment and my eyes were obviously irritated by whatever perming lotion she used. It smelt bad too! She also used some plastic clips to hold my lashes in place but she clipped so close that it clamped onto my eyelids. My eyes couldn’t stop tearing and I was literally crying. Even when I got home, my eyes were bloodshot red. Not a good sign. Either I’m too ultra sensitive and shouldn’t perm my lashes again OR she didn’t do a good job.

Curly lashes at the expense of bloodshot eyes

Curly lashes at the expense of bloodshot eyes

Was it worth $68? Maybe. I’m not sure. Let’s see how long this perm lasts and if my eyelashes start dropping off. Heh. Definitely though, $20 was pretty reasonable I think (possibly going blind non-withstanding).

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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.


Couponing: Oxy Miracle Peel + Neck Infusion at Skin Inc

Date: 14 July 2011

Deal: $38 for an Oxy Miracle Peel Treatment + Neck Infusion Treatment at Award Winning Brand, Skin Inc Worth $226

How it went:

Scary! That’s how. I’ll never do another facial with machines ever again! I’ve done Diamond Peel a couple of times and I was scared stiff each time. This Oxy Miracle Peel requires a jet spray of Oxygen (or so they say) all over my face and my neck. It was uncomfortable, ticklish, loud and scary! I was so nervous and I couldn’t relax at all. It made me so tensed up, the therapist had to calm me down a few times.

Other than that, as usual, I fell asleep. I like face massages and I like being in a spa environment. And I’m generally a sleepy pig anyhoos (even though I could hear children shouting outside when we were in the treatment room). This wasn’t a spa but 2 treatment rooms in a shop that sold skincare products. NEX mall at Serangoon is indeed crowded all the time, even on weekday afternoons! I’ve walked past this shop a few times but I didn’t realise they did beauty treatments there because the shop front was full of bottles of serum.

My therapist/consultant Shannie was shocked to see how terrified I was but tried to remain professional. Despite knowing that I might not go back again, she was patient and explained the various treatments and products available. So Skin Inc, huh? They seem to have won many awards. $128 for a bottle of serum that apparently works wonders and can be customised to all your needs. I don’t have a skincare routine and I’m a basic cleanse-wash-sunblock woman, so I listened to her explain. I’m curious and I might go back. Just need to spend a little more time researching about the encapsulated seaweed or whatever product she was talking about. The serums did feel like they were absorbed really quickly and were non-greasy. I am interested in UV protect at least. But prices, prices, prices. A major deterrent there!

So was it worth $226? I’m not sure. There’s an Oxygen jet spraying machine and some “expensive” serums involved. But I was too frightened to enjoy the treatment. Maybe some other women would. I don’t like these hole-in-the-wall facial places. Give me a full-service spa anytime, please!


Couponing: Award-Winning Facial & Eye Treatment at FIL Skin, Body & Spa Intelligence

Date: 4 July 2011

Deal: Voucher for $30 for an Award-Winning Facial and Relaxing Eye or Neck Treatment at FIL Skin, Body & Spa Intelligence Worth $320

How it went:

I arrived harried and quite disturbed because I couldn’t remember if I had brought my wallet with me and lost it or I simply just left it back home. They asked for my IC so they could register me and when I explained that I don’t have it with me and I might have lost it, they were a bit shocked and told me I couldn’t register without any form of identification. I was prepared to walk out and go home. Seriously, it’s a $30 facial and I might have lost more than that. If you can’t register me, forget it right? So anyway, it was sorted and I proceeded to a consultation room with Lyn.

Overall, a rather upmarket and comfortable environment. I went to the FIL at Dhoby Ghaut, just next to the Plaza Singapura taxi stand. Lyn assessed my face and discussed my needs before offering 3 types of treatments to me. I picked the “whitening” one because it’s supposed to help with uneven skin tone (and I do have some sun spots on the side of my face that I hate). My therapist was Nana and she was really nice. Her technique was good and she applied just the right amount of pressure for everything. The only downside is that she kept speaking to me in Mandarin and because it’s not my first language, I react very slowly.

The room I had my facial in was decent. Compared to Amore and Beyond Beauty, it was a tad tiny but I had enough space to move and it was comfortable. Unlike Amore, I could hear people talking outside as it was one of those folding doors. But other than that I liked it a lot though. The location was great too. You could tell that the products they used were more expensive than compared to d’Light Spa or Fresver. Unfortunately I was too worried about my lost wallet to relax and enjoy the entire treatment.

Was it worth $320? Nope! Only because I asked and Lyn said it usually costs $158. She asked if I wanted to find out about their latest promotion and because I genuinely enjoyed the treatment and could see myself coming back, I said yes. She pulled out a very good offer. At $75 per session, there were about 30 or more different types of face, body and slimming treatments (inclusive the whitening one I had just experienced) to choose from. The only thing was I had to buy 20 sessions at a total of $1500. If I had my wallet with me, I’d have signed up. 20 sessions will last me about 2 years! $75 per treatment at a convenient and comfortable environment. The only thing was, she said if I was interested I had to pay now or at the latest tomorrow, because it was a promotion from last month. Alarm bells rang! It was all good and professional up to that point.  There was no hard-selling sales pitch but, this “only for you”/”must buy now” thing has been happening too often. So I found my wallet at home *phew* but I don’t think I’ll be going back tomorrow to put down any money. I do still have a couple more facial vouchers and if I really can’t find something better, I’ll definitely go back to FIL.

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Couponing: Anti-aging facial at D’Light Spa

Date: 1 July 2011

Deal: $28 for 75 min Hydro-Source Anti-Aging Facial with Sparkling Eye Treatment at D’Light Spa (Worth $196)

How it went:

Booking an appointment was easy and when I had to change my appointment from Wednesday to Friday, it was easy too. I had it in my head that Punggol wasn’t that far from Kovan (where I live now) since it was only a few stops on the North-East Line. Turns out, it was a different world altogether… even if it wasn’t very far away. It was quiet and dark when I left the beauty salon. The nearby blocks of flats were yet to be completed and some were just not occupied yet.

Don't wear your good shoes there because you'll have to leave them out in the open

Don’t wear your good shoes there because you’ll have to leave them out in the open

After exiting Punggol MRT, I had no problems locating the shop. It was a small set-up with 3 rooms and nicely renovated. From what the therapists told me, they had been there for about 3 years. It was nice, clean and very decent. Unfortunately, it was right under the MRT tracks and the trains rumbling kept me from relaxing. My therapist was a girl called Jess. She was quite inexperienced in that she was too gentle and afraid to hurt me. Her technique was ok though. I liked getting my face massaged with lotions. I saw a lot of Decleor and Gatineau products but I doubt that was what they used on me. I didn’t like that I was sharing a room with someone else and I had to inch my way in. Also I could hear the other woman talking to her therapist.

It's quite deserted outside. Too dark & quiet at night. In the day, ok.

It’s quite deserted outside. Too dark & quiet at night. In the day, ok.

I’m not sure if the facial was what the deal was supposed to be. There was no hard-selling, that I liked. Jess asked once if I wanted to add an ampoule for my dry skin even though the description on Groupon said this facial was meant to combat dry skin and fine lines. I said no, and she left it as that. She did have problems removing my eye make-up though. I found that there were dark streaks under my eyes when I looked in the mirror before I left.

I was told about a special package they were offering to customers who came with Groupon vouchers. It came up to slightly less than $300 for 4 facials and some extras. Unfortunately, I’m a cheapskate and I can’t afford anything more than $50 for a session. Also, I’ve been told I’ve got good skin (even if they always tsktsk me when I said I had no skin care routine at home). I don’t care if I have some fine lines – I’m 33! This is part of aging, no? I don’t need expensive treatments nor can I afford it yet. But no hard-selling. They said ok once I said, I’ll think about it but not now.

d'LIGHT spa.... not really a spa

d’LIGHT spa…. not really a spa

Was it worth $196? Nope, maybe about $70? But if I lived in Punggol or Sengkang, I’d definitely consider buying a package there. They were really nice to me and it’d be convenient if I lived in that area.


Couponing: Massage & Facial by Fresver Beauty

Date: 27 June 2011

Deal: $28 instead of $233, 88% off 95-Minute Anti-Stress Back Massage + Spa Refreshing Facial + Relaxing Eye Treatment for Men & Women by Fresver Beauty. Walk Away with a Free Elastic Q10 Eye Mask (Worth $58)

How did it go:

Booking an appointment took a few tries. There was a centralised system where you called 1 number instead of the branch you wanted. My calls were ignored for 1 day, then I tried calling another 6-7 times before someone returned my call. My preferred time was 7pm on 27 June 2011, at the Hougang Bus Interchange branch because it is near where I currently live. It was changed a total of 3 times (not by me) before I ended up going for my treatment at 6.30pm. Strange location, not necessarily bad but I’ve never seen shops (save for little snack kiosks) at bus interchanges. Took me a while to locate it because I went there by MRT and I didn’t know it was literally in the bus interchange in front of some bus bays.

It was decent inside the salon but there was definite suburban shoppe vibes. The massage therapist was chatty and it wasn’t really relaxing but she had great technique. Once I found the will to ignore her questions about my tattoos and what I did for work, I managed to relax (only for a while because the massage was only 20mins long). The rooms were a little tiny and the walls were thin. I could hear people laughing and some banging on the partition walls. The facial was not bad but nothing to rave about. I fell asleep because I generally do fall asleep at facials.

I had facial at True Spa, Beyond Beauty and Amore Day Spa prior to this and I was used to that level of comfort, privacy, service and dare I say, luxury. I didn’t particularly think they were luxurious till I went to Fresver. Price-wise, Fresver tried to sell me packages that were in the price-range of what I’d have paid at Amore (without the frills or the convenience) but because I am genuinely shopping for something, I ended up buying 6 sessions at $188 (with GST, it came up to slightly over $200).

At less than $35 per session, I’d say that’s a little under what I’d pay for such services at a small operation like this. To be honest, I was prepared to pay up to $50 per session but I didn’t have $960 (which was the minimum 20 sessions x $48 package) upfront and I think she was desperate to make a sale. There came a point where she offered to pay part of the package for me, only to pay her back in installments. She literally asked me what I could afford and magically pulled out “promotions” from 3 years back just for me… dedication much?

Was the coupon really worth $233. Nope! They didn’t even give me that whatever elastic eyemask (not that I wanted it). I’d say it came up to slightly under $100 at most. They weren’t even using the Dr. Grandel products that she raved about being the sole distributor to. Just generic ones. Also, it’s a bus interchange shop, yo! It was quite small and they were a little bit messy inside (plastic pails along the corridor).


Couponing: Salon packages at Exclusive Hair Studio

Date: 22 June 2011

Deal: $48 for Your Choice of 5 Salon Packages including Highlights, Cut + Blow Dry at Exclusive Hair Salon Worth $126

How did it go:

How about it didn’t go well at all? I chose “Option 2 – Dress your hair in a new shade with a colour treatment and pamper your stressed tresses with a protein treatment to both strengthen and add shine.” and I can safely say it’s not worth $126. In fact, I dare them to charge $100 for what they did to me.

This is a HDB neighbourhood shop located in Tanjong Pagar and it looked like one that had fancier dressing but glossy black panels do not an “Exclusive” salon makes. It was difficult to locate and it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. I wouldn’t go back again for a long time. Unfortunately, I had bought 2 coupons. Damn!

Where are my ear caps? Why is the dye all over the place?

Where are my ear caps? Why is the dye all over the place?

Firstly, the guy attending to me (sorry, not a personal attack but it’s true) was really rough. He was unskilled and I now have stained ears and a reddish forehead. (Hopefully it washes off in the shower .) When the dye was applied to my hair, he did it so haphazardly that my hair was flung into my eyes several times. There was no ear cap and he used a rag (a rough towel with dark stains) to clean the dye off my ears and face. When washing my hair, water ran down the back of my dress, not just my neck. Secondly, the machine he used to heat my head up was so close and hot that I was sweating red dye down my neck and face. Thirdly, no magazines!!! Luckily I had my iPhone. Fourthly, he told me that the treatment that was included in the package was just a run-of-the-mill lotion from a giant bottle and I should consider getting the “Korean” hair treatment. Lastly, he asked if I wanted to buy more $48 vouchers to stockpile. So VoucherWOW, it seems we don’t need you at all you know.

Tissues soaking up the red dye dripping down my face and neck

Tissues soaking up the red dye dripping down my face and neck

$126? I think not. I wouldn’t be surprised if there will be impending suits coming through the small claims tribunal for false advertising. It’s definitely not a discount. I took a photo of their price list and I can’t figure out how this adds up to $126.

Exclusive Hair Salon price list

Exclusive Hair Salon price list