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!!!!??!

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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.

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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: 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: Brand New Skin Facial at Beauticove

Date: 24 August 2011

Deal: 89% off Negative Energy Cleansing Facial (New in Singapore!) or Pore and Scar Reducing Facial or Tummy/Thigh Slimming at $22 (worth up to $200) FREE Eye Treatment for Facials (Clarke Quay)

How it went:

It actually was quite good! It didn’t start off well because I had a bit of a problem booking the appointment. I called 3 times before I managed to get someone on the phone but after that, I had SMS confirmation and reminders so that was good. My post title says a different thing from the actual deal because I went there with really bad skin that day. It was a terrible weekend before and I had a breakout. My surface skin was dehydrated but underneath it was oily and I had 4 huge zits like a constellation on my face!

Beauticove  at Riverside Point.

Beauticove at Riverside Point.

The treatment room and the terry towel tube I changed into

The treatment room and the terry towel tube I changed into

The other end of the room

The other end of the room

A Eurasian lady named Carole (who appears to be the boss) attended to me. She looked at my face and explained the various offers in this coupon. None of which matched the treatment I urgently needed so she decided to customise a session that was closer to their “Brand New Skin Facial” (usual price $130) but threw in the eye treatment from the coupon as well. The room was nice and spacious. They had about 3 treatment rooms side by side and it all opened up to become one big room for training. There was a projector overhead in my room and Carole reassured me it wasn’t a spy camera. Carole was very motherly, firm but gentle. I fell asleep almost immediately. There was no extraction (YAY! No pain!) and she said it wasn’t something they did at her beauty parlour anyway. She did 2 mild acid peels, followed by the masks and I swear my skin felt almost back to normal after the facial!

The overhead projector in the room

The overhead projector in the room

Beauticove uses Alpha-H products from Australia. I ended up buying the Liquid Gold for $60+. It has been doing wonders and I swear it works! I wasn’t being pushed to buy products or packages and I felt reassured that I could walk out without feeling any pressure. I’d be honest and say that I was skeptical about the Liquid Gold. It was a plain cheap packaging and I was bleagh about it. But after using it for almost a week, I’d buy it again once I’m done with this bottle! If you can get over the smell (like drinking sherry), then you should try it too! My pores are more refined, my t-zone less oily. Though I was told not to use it for an extended period because my skin is quite thin.

Alpha-H Liquid Gold with Glycolic Acid

Alpha-H Liquid Gold with Glycolic Acid

So was it worth $200? Not really. I’d maybe pay between $80-$90. Would I go back again? Yes! I might even consider taking the 6-session package for the “Brand New Skin Facial” as I was offered a 30% discount. Clarke Quay MRT station is on the Northeast Line and less than 30mins ride on the train for me to get back home! I definitely am thinking about the offer. Also a boon is that Riverside Point is a strange place because it’s so quiet! I like it!


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Couponing: 3 Sessions Hair Rejuvenating Therapy by TK Trichokare

Date: 18, 22 & 28 August 2011

Deal: $49 instead of $537, 91% off 3 Sessions Hair Rejuvenating Therapy at 4 locations by TK Trichokare

How it went:

Let me just put it out there that I actually go to Svenson’s for oily scalp treatment as my hair has been thinning for some time. I have fine hair to begin with and I’ve never had a thick head of hair ever. My oily scalp makes things worse because the grease apparently clogs your hair follicles and you get a bald patch. I’m very satisfied with Svenson’s at this point in time but I am still shopping around for a good deal on similar treatments so I tried out this TK Trichokare.

Frilly filigree patterns on the wall

Frilly filigree patterns on the wall at the reception

Frilly wall patterns and individual stations.

Frilly wall patterns and individual stations divided by frosted glass panels

Quiet & dim common hair wash area

Quiet & dim common hair wash area

I went to the Wheelock Place branch on 3 different days over 2 weeks. It’s nice and quiet. The decor was fake classical European-esque (compared to the more Scandinavian style Svenson’s). There were these frilly gothic type patterns and gold frames. And on the 3 different times I went, it wasn’t crowded plus a ton of magazines for reading which I loved. After I was greeted at the reception, I was led into a small office for a “discussion” with their consultant Sharon (I think). She was probably Malaysian and spoke with an accent. I found it a little difficult to follow her train of thoughts and her language skills were a bit of a problem too. She didn’t seem too comfortable speaking in English and her grammar was all over the place. But I get the general drift. She felt that my hair was thinning and I wasn’t getting enough from my Svenson’s treatments. Also I should upgrade to this other thing and top up about $100 (even before I did the 3 sessions). Everything here was expensive but nothing exceptionally outstanding. It was good but it wasn’t worth $200 to wash my head.

I loved the hair wash. I also love $10 hair washes and head massages, who am I kidding? Then there was this squirting of some tonic after my hair wash. After which, a red light was shone on my head for a bit. Then my hair was blown dry and styled. That’s all.

So was it worth $537? Nope! Was it worth $49? Maybe… a little too much money for a hair wash, blow dry and application of tonic. But it was in a fancy building in the middle of Orchard Road. They had nice magazines for me to read and I did thoroughly enjoy my ME-time! If a similar coupon comes by, I wouldn’t hesitate to snap it up! I do like the ambience but the location was a bit out of the way if I wanted to go there frequently. The Svenson’s branch I visit is 10 minutes away from my house, so yup! Oh but I did end up spending about $39 for a bottle of TK Trichokare “Black Shine” hair serum. Very easy to use – one pump, rub it through your wet hair, and that’s it! It’s supposed to make your hair soft and shiny!


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Couponing: Creative Coloring + Pre-Chemical Protection for Scalp at V HAY-TIQUE SALON

Date: 6 August 2011

Deal: 68% OFF, $48 for Perm / Straightening / Coloring + Scalp Treatment / Wash & Cut + Premium Treatment for ALL Hair Lengths @ NEX Mall (Serangoon MRT)

How it went:

It didn’t go well. I waited a week before blogging about this, thinking that I should give it some time to settle in. Booking an appointment was easy enough, but I still can’t pronounce the name of this salon. I love Nex mall as it’s only about 10 minutes from where I live (1 train stop away) and there are so many shops there. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to this salon again. There are more than 10 hair-dressing salons in this mall alone. This one is in my bad books.

This guy showed me some pictures from magazines but my hair doesn't look anything close

This guy showed me some pictures from magazines but my hair doesn’t look anything close

After paying $48 for this coupon, I still had to top up $50 for a “two-tone” treatment. Mind you, I have very short hair and didn’t they say it’s “Creative Coloring”? What’s so creative if it’s just colouring in 1 shade? I can do it out of a $15 bottle from the pharmacy! It’s been more than a week and it’s just flat red. There are no two-tones and even my colleagues say I’ve been conned. According to the description, this option usually costs $120. So my hair dye job is worth $170?! It doesn’t look that special to me. I had a great hair cut from CHARME and it wasn’t enhanced by this dye job. The hair stylist oversold it when he asked me to pay the extra $50 for two-tone colouring that’d bring out the layers.

There was tea and a choice of magazines.

There was tea and a choice of magazines.

The upside is that they did a better job than EXCLUSIVE HAIR SALON and didn’t injure me or stain my face. They also provided magazines and tea. So I was kinda entertained while I had to sit in the chair for almost an hour. Also, it was very near where I live.

Was it worth $120? Nope! And I paid $98 in total for a stupid dye job that wasn’t anything. It would’ve been worth buying the coupon for $48 – even at this price, they’d have made some profit already. Don’t go to this hair salon unless you really have to. If you’re at Nex, there are many others that are similar and maybe cheaper! Shop for one that is more affordable. Nothing special here.


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Couponing: Choice of Nail Treatment at Allure Nail Lounge

Date: 9 August 2011

Deal: $28 for Choice of Nail Treatment at Allure Nail Lounge (Worth up to $88)

How it went:

Other than the fact that I waited close to 45 minutes for the therapist to turn up, it was ok actually. My appointment was for 11am on a public holiday, so I took it slow and leisurely. I had my iPhone with me and it was a nice environment so I didn’t fuss. On another day though, having to wait for more than 20 minutes even after booking an appointment in advance, I’d flip!

Allure Nail Lounge shares a unit with a foot reflexology place

Allure Nail Lounge shares a unit with a foot reflexology place

Serangoon Gardens in a nice place and I’d like to live there if I could afford it. I think most people need a car as it is not very accessible. You’ll need to take a winding feeder bus service to get to the Bus Interchange or MRT station (I think). If I lived here, I wouldn’t mind buying a package at Allure Nail Lounge. The problem was I didn’t and while it’s not very far from where I live, it was a little inconvenient to get to if you didn’t drive. I took a bus to Serangoon Central (about 10 minutes) then took a feeder bus to Serangoon Gardens. When I got there, I was kinda confused. It said Allure Nail Lounge on the top but it had that foot reflexology diagram. When I got to the entrance, I saw a big burly middle-aged (50s?) man carrying a bucket like he was going to clean or wash something. I peeped in and saw bottles of nail polish and decided to brave it. Turns out they were one unit. No barriers or anything. Just one big open space.

Big open concept. Very quiet on a public holiday morning.

Big open concept. Very quiet on a public holiday morning.

My manicurist didn’t turn up till almost 11.45pm and I was worried she’d take a long time to complete both my hands and feet. I sure didn’t want to spend the entire day there! Luckily she was quick and neat! Before 60 minutes were up, I had my Classic Mani/Pedi done! And because they used a quick-dry topcoat, I didn’t have to sit there very long to wait for my nails to dry.

OPI Hot & Spicy

OPI Hot & Spicy

OPI Orge the Top Blue

OPI Orge the Top Blue

Was it worth $88? Maybe. I usually pay about $65 for a Classic Mani/Pedi. But definitely a good deal at $28, barring the long wait. I think she did a good job and it was a nice, comfortable, spacious environment (because no foot reflexology customers were there yet maybe). She tried recommending me some treatments and when I said no, she didn’t push. So that was good too.


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Couponing: 1 Session of ProUltrasound + 2 Sessions of PowerLite Slimming Treatments @ Expressions

Date: 8 August 2011

Deal: 95% off Bundle Deal – 1 Session of ProUltrasound + 2 Sessions of PowerLite Slimming Treatments @ Expressions. Only $49 instead of $1000

How it went:

When I called the Compass Point outlet, I got cancelled twice before I managed to get to an appointment. The first time was when they called to tell me 3 days before the scheduled appointment that they didn’t have enough therapists and someone took leave on the day I was supposed to go. I tried rescheduling but it didn’t work till after 2 weeks later. This time, about a day before my appointment, I was told they were doing some renovations and repairs. That the machine that I was supposed to be using wasn’t available yet. They tried booking an appointment for me at the Orchard branch but they were full. So about a month went past before I actually went to Compass Point to do these 3 sessions of whatever slimming.

Super small 1st room where I was just told to lie on the bed in my underwear

Super small 1st room where I was just told to lie on the bed in my underwear

It’s a con. The deal sounds like they were doing a lot on me for $49. Here’s what – I spent about 20 minutes at their very small reception listening to the very tired and uninterested receptionist/consultant talk about the various packages they had (she wasn’t trying hard to sell them to me) before I went into the back areas where the treatment rooms were. I was just left in a room and told to wait. So I waited. When she came back she was surprised and I looked back at her surprised. She then told me to change out of my clothes and lie on the bed in my underwear. And I did. Then the 1 and only therapist I saw (there were no other people besides the 2 of them) came in and proceeded to put some gel on my belly. There was a machine involved and then a 20-minute massage. Well it was kinda like someone using the flat part of a bowl making circles on your belly, except this bowl was attached to the machine and it was warm. So that was soothing and I almost fell asleep.

The strange machine with the warm paddle (extreme top left) used to massage my belly

The strange machine with the warm paddle (extreme top left) used to massage my belly

Then I was abruptly told to put on a robe and carry my things to another room – shoes, bags and all. This was a larger room and it had some strange equipment. I was told to lie on the bed. It looked like someone had just been in it frankly. There were also some used clothes hanging on the wall. It was all quite messy too. There was like a tanning bed panel (red light tubes) directly radiating heat at my belly and thighs. She turned off the lights and left me there for about 20 minutes. After that, the session was over. Which was the ProUltrasound and which were the 2 PowerLite Slimming treatments? What the hell just happened?

Doesn't it look like someone just slept in the bed & used the room?

Doesn’t it look like someone just slept in the bed & used the room?

Was it worth $1000? Yah right! What a con! NO WAY! It wasn’t even worth $49! No wonder Expressions International is a company about to collapse. I read that the founders have been plagued by financial troubles and it looks like even their employees are not interested in their job. Tsk! Slimming centres are all con jobs! For those people desperate and naive enough to fork out thousands of dollars (or even $1000) to do this… I’m so sorry, why don’t you just join me on the treadmill at the gym?