I heard that snails are good for the skin? I went to a department store and asked but none of the usual cosmetics brands seem to have anything. Any ideas? Snail’s Face, Mid-Levels

The Dictator rules: Wow. Botulism, sea sludge, gold, bird’s nest, apple stem cells, venom. The words “snake oil” come to mind. Sure, snail slime, or mucin, has been a key ingredient in some antiageing cosmetics for years now, but is it a good idea? I’d get my doctor’s nod before trying anything out of the ordinary. Beauty-obsessed South Korea appears to be the leader in escargot elixirs. Missha, for example, has a Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail range (HK$158 to HK$506; various locations, www. missha.com.hk). The literature claims the “snail slime extract” is soothing and hydrating. Dr. Jart+ says snail mucin imbues regenerative properties into its Premium Time Returning Cream and Serum (HK$560 and up; 501 Jaffe Road; Causeway Bay, 2724 8030). There’s a whole snail section at Bonjour (www.bonjourhk.com), including ranges by Yedam Yun Bit (HK$158 to HK$198); Ciracle (mask, cream and essence set; HK$599); and Chamos Acaci (HK$140 to HK$224). The fine print can be as amusing as those strangely worded T-shirts you see around town. Happy Snail Hydrogel Mask, also from Korea, is a “plant-derived mucin extracted from Japanese yam, not animal mucin from snail” (HK$40; www.sasa.com); while Reskin’s Anti-wrinkle Snail Ampule proudly lists a yummy “snail secretion filtrate” (HK$600; Sasa).

 

I saw some gorgeous shoes made from something called raffia. Where can I find a pair? Raffian, Hebe Haven

The Dictator: Head to Africa or South America and find yourself a raffia palm tree. That might actually end up being more efficient since most of the springsummer collections that include the material are sold out. Some details would help, like where exactly you saw the shoes. Robert Clergerie, who made them for his own line seasons ago, also did a collection for Carven, with a fab crocheted raffia oxford in natural beige with a white wedge (HK$5,490; Maria Luisa, Lee Gardens, Causeway Bay, tel: 2907 2028). Stuart Weitzman seems to have had a similar inspiration for his tan lace-ups in open weave twine with a normal heel rather than a wedge (HK$4,100; Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2118 2317) and lovely loafers, too (HK$3,900). For a budget version, see the platform trainers with natural uppers at Union (HK$1,699; various locations, www.unionshop.com.hk). Did you know the iconic Italian Supergas come in raffia now, too? Well, sorry, you can buy the brand in Hong Kong (www.superga.hk), but not in that style. Zara does have a great pair of navy raffia city trainers, though (HK$499; Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2918 1099). Hoping for heels? Dolce & Gabbana has used crocheted raffia for its cute green Mary Jane pumps and pretty, multicoloured sandals (HK$7,300 to HK$8,800; Gateway Arcade, tel: 2956 0833).


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