LINES WITH HIGH-TECH INGREDIENTS:

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GAYLIA KRISTENSEN

Selling point: The beauty products are anchored in tried-and-tested methods from the pharmaceutical industry.

The collection of 10 skincare formulas are made with naturally derived ingredients and deploy molecular polypeptide and protein technologies which are used in medicine.

"These formulas are powerful because they can trigger actions within the skin cells. Think of them as medicine for your skin," claims the brand's founder, Ms Gaylia Kristensen, who was in town last November to launch the brand at Fairmont Singapore's Willow Stream spa.

Gaylia Kristensen facial and body massage services (from $198 for a 60-minute facial) are also available at the spa.

Ms Kristensen, who is 62 and based in Melbourne, has spent more than 25 years in the beauty industry. She spotted a gap in the market for gentle but high-performance cosmetics. She found doctor brands too harsh for intolerant skin; while premium skincare products felt rich and good, but had no tangible results. So, in 2010, she founded her own made-in-Australia range.

One of the most potent ingredients in her eponymous line is the acetyl octapeptide-3. Made with eight kinds of amino acids from plants, it promises to give skin a botox-like effect. It works by preventing the release of neurotransmitters, which cause facial muscle contractions and, over time, expression lines and wrinkles.

Touted as a painless and side-effect-free alternative to Botox injections, acetyl octapeptide-3 is used in the Eye Lift Intensive Eye Serum ($198), Utopia The Ultimate Anti-Ageing Serum ($268) and the White Magic Anti-Ageing Brightening Serum ($298).

Another interesting ingredient is tripeptide-1. In a test conducted by the University of Milan in Italy, this ingredient was found to help prevent free radical damage and, in turn, loss of skin elasticity and wrinkles.

Tripeptide-1 is added to the Dream Anti-Ageing Cream ($238), as well as the Deluxe Firming Cream ($268).

For best results, use the products in the morning and at night as the effects last for about 12 hours.

The formulas are free of petrochemicals, mineral oil, parabens and detergent.

Look out for:

Passion The Ultimate Treatment Oil (photo 1) $138

Made with a blend of essential oils to treat dry skin, it can be used on the face and body. Its delicious floral scent was concocted to bring to mind the Australian tropics.

White Magic Anti-Ageing Brightening Serum (photo 2) $298

A skin-brightening serum which also promises to lift the skin and smoothen lines.

Dream Anti-Ageing Cream (photo 3) $238

Suitable for women in their 20s to 40s, this lightweight cream contains seven types of cutting-edge peptides to prevent premature skin-ageing.

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JUNE JACOBS SPA COLLECTION

Selling point: A line of products made with active and natural ingredients which are also rich in antioxidants, for spas and home spa experiences.

It claims to be one of the first in the industry to use hydrosol technology to distill active ingredients into an unadulterated form for better absorption without irritation.

While it will be launched in Sephora stores only in the middle of the year, it is currently stocked at Faith Beauty salon in International Building in Orchard Road.

The namesake brand was founded by Ms June Jacobs in New Jersey, United States.

Ms Jacobs is also partly responsible for the Peter Thomas Roth line of skincare, which she started with American entrepreneur Peter Roth in 1993.

With more than three decades of experience in the beauty industry, all her products are formulated in her own laboratories by her research and development teams.

Ms Jacobs takes inspiration from her family's home-beauty remedies. While growing up, she saw how women in her family often steeped leftover tea leaves in their face creams.

Today, all June Jacobs products contain an antioxidant blend of white, red and green teas, as well as pomegranate, goji berries and grape seeds.

Now sold in more than 10 markets worldwide - the June Jacobs Spa Collection is also stocked at Hyatt hotel spas internationally - there are more than 50 products in the line, including haircare, as well as bath and bodycare.

All the formulas are made without parabens, preservatives, sulfates and petrochemicals.

Look out for:

Papaya Purifying Enzyme Masque (photo 1) $115

For gentle exfoliation with papaya enzymes and mango enzymes for brighter, clearer skin. Borage seed oil helps to regenerate, while aloe vera extract and almond oil soothe and moisturise.

Mandarin Moisture Masque (photo 2) $97

A gel mask blended with mandarin orange oil, ginkgo biloba oil, grapefruit seed oil and aloe vera extract to lift the mood and quench dry skin.

Brightening Serum (photo 3) $177

A cocktail which lightens skin naturally with lemon peel, bearberry root, mulberry root, liquorice root and mitracarpus scaber plant extract.

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HEAVEN SKINCARE BY DEBORAH MITCHELL

Selling point: The star product is the Bee Venom Mask (from $89 for 15ml), which contains Abeetoxin, a skin-plumping substance derived from bee venom. It is marketed as an alternative to Botox injections to smoothen fine lines and boost collagen growth.

Apparently, the toxins from the bee venom give skin the effect of a sting, so blood rushes to the affected area to heal and stimulate it. Abeetoxin also promises to calm skin, as well as fade scars and provide relief from sunburn.

The brand's founder and facialist, Ms Deborah Mitchell, who is based in Britain, counts royalty (Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge) and A-list celebrities (Victoria Beckham, Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow) as regulars.

Her clients are reportedly fans of her signature Bee Venom Facial and bee venom skincare.

Abeetoxin is supposedly so potent that Ms Mitchell has launched the Gold Label Bee Venom Mask, which costs $1,250 for 50ml and contains an "intense dose" of bee venom to tighten and firm skin.

On her blog, Ms Mitchell claims that no one has had an adverse reaction to the bee venom formula, even those with a bee allergy.

Besides the bee venom products, the 29-year-old brand also offers face oils, eye creams, tinted moisturisers, body creams and shampoo made from organic ingredients.

A selected range of the Heaven Skincare line is now stocked at Qbeautywellness.com.

Look out for:

Bee Venom Mask (photo 1) $89 for 15ml

An anti-ageing concoction of Abeetoxin, shea butter, manuka honey, rose oil and lavender oil to soothe, moisturise, treat and protect skin.

Age Defiance Moisturiser (photo 2) $159 for 50ml

A favourite of American actress Michelle Pfeiffer, this lightweight moisturiser contains vitamins B and C to protect skin. Tea tree oil is added to help reduce scar formation, calm rosacea (a chronic skin condition) and balance the skin's sebum levels.

Vanilla Pod Hand & Nail Cream (photo 3) $129 for 200ml

A rich and moisturising cream for the cuticles and feet.


LINES BASED ON AGE-OLD TRADITIONS:

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SPA CEYLON

Selling point: An extensive line of skincare, haircare and bodycare made from natural ingredients. The products are based on Ayurveda, an ancient form of holistic medicine.

"Traditional Ayurveda blends are sticky and oily with a strong odour. They are good for you, but are not polished," says Mr Shalin Balasuriya, 35, the brand's co-founder, who is based in Sri Lanka. He was in town last month to debut the six-year-old brand at Wisma Atria.

To make Ayurvedic lotions and potions more palatable to urbanites, Spa Ceylon worked with Sri Lankan practitioners of Ayurveda and chemists for the brand's product formulation.

"They are lighter and smell better while keeping the goodness of Ayurveda intact," says

Mr Balasuriya, whose family owns an established Sri Lankan mass-market brand called Janet Ayurveda, which also taps on the traditional medicine.

According to Ayurveda, each individual possesses a pattern of energy, or doshas.

The three doshas - Vatha, Pitha and Kapha - are present in varying degrees in each person, with one or two of them more prominent.

To put it simply, Vatha-dominant types have normal to dry skin, Pitha-dominant types have normal to sensitive skin, and Kapha-dominant types have normal to oily skin.

Spa Ceylon's shower gels, body scrubs, hair oils, body oils, massage balms, body butters and lotions are customised for each of the three different doshas. Free of parabens and alcohol, there are also categories which suit every skin type.

Prices of the brand's offerings start from $6.90 for a bar of soap with an attached loofah to $55.90 for a jar of body scrub.

Teas, candles, herbal compresses and home fragrances are also available at Spa Ceylon.

Eighty per cent of the herbs and plants used in the formulas are from Sri Lanka.

The brand supports a variety of causes. Ten per cent of the sales from the Save The Majestic Ceylon Elephant range goes towards elephant conservation in Sri Lanka, while 10 per cent of the profits from the Peace line benefits community projects which rehabilitate people and places ravaged by war.

Look out for:

Green Mint Reviva Foot Soak (photo 1) $20.50

Give tired feet a treat with bath salts, peppermint, lemongrass, black turmeric and the nirgundi herb to cleanse, refresh and soften.

Sleep Therapy Body & Pillow Mist (photo 2) $26.50

Part of a set designed to help you prepare for bed, spritz this cocktail of patchouli, ylang ylang, lavender, aloe vera and witch hazel on your pillow and body to calm your senses.

Peace Bath & Shower Gel (photo 3) $22.50

A mild cleanser blended with lemongrass, lavender, peppermint, aloe vera, virgin coconut oil and olive oil.

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BLACK CHICKEN REMEDIES

Selling point: Australian skincare made with natural ingredients and traditional formulas, and scented with aromatherapy.

Ms Chey Birch launched the brand in 1989 in Bondi because she was concerned about applying harmful chemicals and synthetic fragrances on her skin.

The brand's name refers to a mythical ancient crone known for her healing powers.

True to its name, Black Chicken Remedies products use ingredients which have long been known for their benefits.

For instance, raw organic cacao powder is the main ingredient in the deep cleansing Cacao Revelation Mask because according to Ms Birch, it is a traditional skin treatment.

The Cleanse My Face Organic Purifying Cleanser ($84) is made with 13 medicinal and nourishing oils from castor, jojoba, camellia tea, sweet almond, sunflower, sesame seed, macadamia, cedarwood, palma rosa, mandarin, patchouli, geranium and lavender, as an alternative to harsh cleansers.

Black Chicken Remedies is available exclusively at Beaute By Kew, 2 Everton Park, 01-47.

Look out for:

Balm Of Ages All Purpose Remedy (photo 1) $56.70

A multi-purpose balm to immediately soothe irritations, eczema, dry skin and sunburns.

It promises to minimise the appearance of scars, stretch marks and bruises. You can also use it to remove make-up and moisturise cracked heels.

ICU Intensive Care Eye Serum (photo 2) $132.40

A lightweight eye serum with milk thistle, cucumber seed oil, lavender, rose geranium, vitamin E oil, chia seed oil and green coffee seed oil to treat the delicate eye area.

Cacao Revelation Mask (photo 3) $115.60

Contains raw organic cacao (an antioxidant), pink and white kaolin clays (to draw sebum from skin), olive leaf (to stimulate collagen growth) and myrrh gum powder (to reduce inflammation). It smells deliciously chocolatey too.

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KAHINA GIVING BEAUTY

Selling point: All the skincare and bodycare products in the line are made with pure organic argan oil extracted by hand, supposedly using ancient techniques, by the Berber women of Morocco.

Throughout history, Berber women have used oil from argan fruits to protect their skin from harsh desert conditions. The Berbers are an indigenous population of North Africa.

Kahina - named after a Berber queen and prophetess - was founded in 2008 by New York-based Katharine L'Heureux after she travelled to Morocco and discovered the beautifying properties of the oil.

According to the brand, the argan oil in Kahina products is different because it is minimally processed and extracted with sustainable practices. Argan oil is also used as food.

It takes one Berber woman almost eight hours to crack 30kg of argan fruit for one litre of oil.

While the labour is hard, it provides the women with a fair income. Kahina says its products are certified fair-trade, and 25 per cent of the profits are donated to them.

Kahina Giving Beauty also gives to the non-profit organisation Education for All Morocco, which provides girls in rural Moroccan villages opportunities for education.

The brand's products are available at www.charisnaturals.com.

Look out for:

Body Serum (photo 1) $150 for 200ml

A luxurious body oil with a scent reminiscent of the markets of Fez in Morocco to calm frayed nerves. It contains essential oils of rose, orange blossoms, patchouli, ylang ylang, sandalwood, cumin and clove.

The easily absorbed and non-greasy oil serum is a blend of argan, sunflower, olive and coconut oils.

100% Organic Argan Oil (photo 2) $122 for 100ml

Rich in antioxidants, fatty acids and vitamin E, this oil is as natural as anti-ageing treatments get.

Night Cream (photo 3) $145 for 50ml

A potent cream made from argan oil, resveratrol and polyphenols from red wine grapes.

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VITAMAN

Selling point: Australia's first men's grooming range made with an understanding of Aboriginal bush medicine, as well as indigenious Australian plants, fruit and herbs.

The brand was started in 1999 by naturopath and herbalist Glenn Kiddell, and beauty therapist Clare Matthews.

Sold in more than 35 places worldwide, Vitaman offers an extensive range of innovative haircare, skincare, bodycare and shaving formulas which are made with interesting ingredients.

The Hair Food hair treatment is made with seeds of the evergreen desert shrub, quandong, and saw palmetto fruit extract to treat skin irritation and male baldness. It can also be used as a hair conditioner, a hair tonic or blended with a styling product.

There is also the I-Zone Eye & Lip Reviver Gel ($85) - an uncommon product in men's skincare products - which contains Coenzyme Q10 to treat irritated skin and bilberry extract to brighten it.

Available at the men's grooming area, Takashimaya Department Store, Level 3.

Look out for:

Ocean Deodorant Natural Body Spray (photo 1) $45

A moisturising deodorant made with blue cypress, lavender and peppermint oils which have antiseptic and soothing properties. It has a fresh, warm and woody scent.

Face Mud Masque (photo 2) $50

This deep-cleansing product contains 200-million-year-old Australian active clay, which is rich in 35 nourishing minerals. It also contains grapefruit oil, cedarwood oil and sandalwood oil.

Face Scrub (photo 3) $52

This scrub provides gentle exfoliation with crushed nut shells to prevent ingrown hair. It is formulated with aloe vera gel, witch hazel and lemon myrtle oil.

This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on January 9, 2014. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.