Friday, 4 May 2012

My Favourite Things

So I am packing to move (again, renting in Hong Kong sucks!) and this is giving me a perfect opportunity to have a sort out. First on the agenda are my beauty products. As I was clearing out my cosmetics case I was struck by how much stuff I have that I never use, whoops, but also but the products which I use at least daily if not more... I decided to share my Top Ten 'can't live without' products with you...

From top, left to right:

1. Benefit Boi-ing Concealer
Claims to be 'industrial strength' and it lives up to the claim. I use this everyday under the eyes for dark circles and it is also pretty good at dabbing on red spots to conceal them. I tried to switch to Touche Eclat due to other reviews, but keep returning to Boiing... Plus everyone that I have introduced to this product is now an avid user... Definitely worth a try!

By itself or over colour, I find this to be a reliable classic.

I don't really have anything to compare these too - I'm still on my first pair, now several years old and going strong. They curl my lashes easily, I don't need them to do anything else!

4. Black Eyeliner Pencil
My initiation into the world of eyeliner has been fairly recent, so I am just finishing my first pencil. I am currently using Bourjois 'Clubbing Waterproof Eyeliner' in ultra black. I brought this product because it was cheap and I wanted to try it out before investing in a more expensive version. I am now hooked on the discreet smudge I can create which adds definition to my eyes. After a month I decided to upgrade and brought the Dior eyeliner pencil. To be honest, the Dior pencil is not as good, so I think I need further advice and research before my next purchase. It is definitely a firm staple in my makeup bag.

Any advice would be very welcome!

5. Nars 'Paris' Eyeshadow Duo
I used to find dark eyeshadow worrisome; does it make my eyes smoulder or do I look like I have had a rather violent altercation? After lots of trial and error I have settled on this Nars duo as my 'go to' night out make up. The powder has a really smooth finish and blends easily which I think that it makes the application much easier than other brands.

6. Clinque High Impact Curling Mascara
I don't leave the house without mascara on! This is my everyday staple. It is not so much 'high impact' as it is reliable. It doesn't clump, and it does let lashes hold their curl. Also, it washes off with water - so much better for your skin!

7. Nars 'Orgasm' Multiple Stick
A light delicate pink with a slight shimmer. This can be used on lips, cheeks, eyelids. Perfect for travelling or popping in your handbag for day to night transitions on the go...

Cure all! I put this on dry skin, chapped skin, cuts, spots, bites, sunburn... I have it at home, in my bag, in my desk at work. Maybe it's an addiction? Well, I recommend it...

9. Chanel Rouge Coco 'Boy' Lipstick
The only lipstick I regularly wear, it looks natural on me and I like how it moisturises the skin. Plus carrying around a 'Chanel' is always good!

10. Laura Mercier Smokey Neutrals Trio
I think neutral eyes are a classic and at the moment I am using this palette. Laura Mercier shadows don't crease and are easy to blend. Packaging seems a little cheap, but I think the product is up to scratch!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Spring 2012: Nude Nails

Seen at NY Fashion week :
DKNY, Alexander Wang, Versace, Derek Lam, Giorgio Armani, Christopher Kane, The Row, Rochas et al...

I embraced this trend in Summer 2009, when it was last in full swing. There does seem to be some bloggers who really don't like this trend - think 'fake plastic Barbie' nails, however I wholeheartedly disagree! Nude nails look chic and they match any outfit.
Here are four polishes already in my stash (clockwise from top left):
1. Jessica: Naked as a Jaybird.
2. OPI: Coney Island Cotton Candy.
3. OPI: Tickle My Francey
4. OPI: Barefoot in Barcelona

 These polishes would suit a wide variety of skins - everyone's nude is, after all, very different.

And here are a few more nude polishes I am currently lusting after...

As you can see from my photos, it can be hard to match your skin to a polish. It depends on the undertone of your skin, the light you are in and how much tan you have - what looks right in April might not match in July. Here are a few pointers:

Fair skin: Tends to have red undertones, this means pale creamy beige polishes work best e.g. Essie 'Intimate'.
Medium skin: Olive skin can look sallow if they polish has yellow undertones so pick a pinky nude e.g. Jessica 'Temptress of the Sea'.
Dark Skin: Looks good if you play up the red undertones - pick a warm deep colours such as Essies 'Over the Knee'.

Review: Aveda 'Be Curly Curl Enhancer'

Cost: $21 USD
The Blurb:
"Wheat Protein and organic aloe infused formula expands when hair is wet and contracts when hair is dry to intensify curl or wave.
To use: Smooth generously on damp hair. Dry naturally or blow dry with a diffuser for added volume and curl definition."

First Impressions:
I have actually been using this product for a little while, however I decided to include in my reviews as it can be very useful in the frizz battle.
Widely available in Hong Kong, and globally, Aveda plays upon the natural and organic market that is currently incredibly popular in the beauty world. It is therefore a little surprising to check out the ingredients list...
Out of interest I looked it up on the 'Skin Deep' website and found out that it is rated as a 'moderate' hazard to health! Ingredients can cause irritation to skin, lungs and eyes amongst other concerns. This site bases its' review on the 2005 formula so it may be out of date.
Whilst this is something that I am interested in I will not be giving up my favourite cosmetic products until there is conclusive and widespread proof of ill effects. The main reason that I looked in this instance was due to Aveda's heavy emphasize on the 'natural' which does not ring quite true.

The Test:
As I find with all Aveda products the first thing that you notice is the smell. It is a herbal smell which is slightly sweet. To me it invokes memories of relaxing spa visits and pampering. It is a clean scent that does not overpower, however you do continue to get whiffs through out the day which I find pleasant.
The product is a white cream, it is not sticky. I applied a blob around 4cm by 4cm to my towel dried and combed shoulder length hair. This is a little more that I used to use, however this is what the instructions dictated. I ran the product through my hair using my fingers and then used a hair dryer and diffuser to dry my hair fully. High temperature, low speed. I finished off with hairspray to hold the curl longer.

The Verdict:
This product claims to tame frizz and enhance curl. It definitely does both of these to a certain extent, however in my opinion it is much better at curl enhancement.
Though the packaging instructed 'generous use' I felt as though I had added too much product to my hair, and after drying my hair felt a little dry and stiff. This effect was increased by the use of hairspray, which is necessary to hold the curl and volume in the humidity. After an hour or do outside in medium humidity the frizz was creeping back around my hair line.
Overall I think this product is better for enhancing the curl in shorter length hair, it seems to weigh longer hair down. It is not really a frizz fighting contender...

Friday, 30 March 2012

Fighting the Frizz - Let the Battle Commence...

As the temperature in Hong Kong rises so does the humidity. As a curly haired girl this can be particularly problematic, so short of scraping my hair back for the next six months and doubling L'Oreal's hairspray profits, I need to investigate how to deal with this prickly issue.

When the humidity is high the outer layer of each hair, the hair cuticle, relaxes. This means that water can pass through the normally water resistant layer to the cortex. The cortex soaks up the water and expands, however as the expansion is uneven the hair so varies in width and orientation and it is  this which causes the frizzy look.

Other factors that cause frizziness are over drying (using appliances like dryers, curling tongs  and straighteners) which causes hair to become brittle and break; unfortunately there are also unavoidable heredity factors (thanks Mum!).

There are a plethora of products on offer that promised to fight that frizz and over the next few weeks I am going to review a few of them. I have curly, fine shoulder length hair that is a fairly dark brown...

These are the products I have selected:

This includes: shampoo, conditioner, hair masque and oil treatment.

Let the battle commence!

Monday, 26 March 2012

If I was a rich girl... Spring 2012

This past week the sunshine has come out (I claim full responsibility after my umbrella post) and so the wardrobes around HK have been changing. The coats are back at the back of the closet for the next ten months and I have been devouring the Spring fashion trend sections online and in magazines.

These trends come up time and time again:
1. Prints
2. Pastels
3. Peplum

I am definitely not a dedicated follower of fashion, and when I splurge on items I want them to be classic enough that I can wear them for years. However, without a nod to the current trends a wardrobe can lack that certain 'je ne sais quoi!', so I have endeavoured to find items that fit the trends, and my 'classic' criteria.

Here is my top five wishlist to update my wardrobe:

My Spring 2012 Wishlist

A Wear lace top
$72 -
Peplum! I have no idea if I can pull off this look being a bit 'hippy', but this is such a pretty top I think I'd give it a try.

GAP super skinny jeans
Pastel jeans - not sure if I can pull this off either, I prefer darker colours on the bottom... Maybe I'll be brave... 

Seychelles strappy sandals
$80 -
Seychelles sandals are ridiculously comfy! I highly highly recommend them! Flats are ideal for the precarious Hong Kong pavements and hills. The colour blocking on the heels is a really nice touch for this Summer.

Chloé leather shoulder bag
£340 -
Not a bag for the kitchen sink, I think the size and shape of this bag would be perfect for dashing around town. In this peach pastel shade makes it an ideal Summer weekend bag.

Alexander mcqueen scarve
$295 -
I have just wanted an item is this print forever - an investment piece? I think so... Want want want! So any excuse!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

I don't care what the weatherman says...

So the weather outside has been frightful, not to put too fine a point on it.

It has been like this in HK forever... well a few months anyway, but Monday this week was the first day I made the cardinal mistake - I left the house without my brolly.

So I got wet; sodden in fact. When I finally got to work I was greeted by an email from 'Gilt', one of my favourite online stores, telling me all about their discounted Missoni umbrellas. I was just about to make a 7 am impulse purchase when I looked more closely - did this $99 USD brolly have everything I needed? When you live in a perpetually soggy climate you begin to become more discerning about your umbrella.

I figure that umbrellas are a lot like diamonds - you need to consider the four Cs...

1. Coverage
Size matters, and bigger is most definitely better. Perhaps is some more polite cities you might want to consider your fellow pedestrians, however in HK the only rule is don't look anyone in the eye. You need to get used to the idea that when it is raining your umbrella is your weapon of choice, and as I am tall I have become very protective of my eyes which seem to be at the spoke level of every other person's brolly in Central. So, quite frankly, I am looking for a huge brolly to keep me dry and beat off the opposition...

2. Carriable
(This this even a real word? Apparently so...)
I have experimented with 'sticks', the non-collapsible brolly, which tend to be sturdier and have better coverage; but if you are out for the day do you want to lug one around if it stops raining? I find it much easier to be able fold away and carry in my bag. You also need to think about the weight, contrary to the opinion of Mr P I have no wish to carry the kitchen sink in my handbag, so I obviously want an umbrella that is as light as possible to minimise shoulder strain. (Everything else in there is totally essential, honest!).

3. Consistent
This really refers to all weather types - it can't just look pretty, it needs stand up to heavy rain and wind, HK regularly has both. So though although I'm not expecting to be wandering around with a brolly up in a typhoon, it needs to be able to 'perform' in some gusty weather. I'm not a fan of the inside-out umbrella wrestle move. I don't want to do it - ever.

4. Chicness
Maybe some people are not that fussed about the look of their umbrella, but I at least like mine to be smart. If you spend ages choosing what to wear for the day why ruin it with tatty old brolly? Plain black is always a chic fail safe, however I like a hint of pattern. I'm a particular fan of black on the outside and a pattern inside - it seems to cocoon you in your own little world...

*5. Cost
(A sneaky fifth C - this one should probably be applicable to diamonds as well!)
Given that umbrella's are often left behind, in umbrella stands outside bars, in the back of taxis; not to mention the sin of 'umbrella theft', the cost of the umbrella should be carefully considered. Now I'm not adverse to spending money on gorgeous products that will last if I cherish them, but surely I can find an umbrella for less than $100 USD? I mean if it costs more it has to have another gimmick - like making me coffee.

So after some research here are my top five contenders, in no particular order...

1. Collapsible Sky Umbrella, Tibor Kalman & Emanuela Frattini Magnusson, $38

Isn't it beautiful? I love the idea of being ensconced in Magritte's blue sky whatever the weather. The umbrella is automatic and collapsible down to a "small" size. It has a 94 cm span. The reviews on MoMA online store are good, though not detailed. Looks pretty but I'm not convinced it would be resistant to blustery days...

2. Collapsible Gustbuster The Metro, $40 

This umbrella makes big claims. The automatic opening Metro model folds down to 41 cm but has a span of 109 cm when open. The 'double canopy' design has apparently been tested in winds of up to 55 mph... 
So slightly longer than some handbags but a potentially reliable purchase. Possibly a little too functional for my taste.

3. Fulton Chelsea City Stripe Black Hook Umbrella, $48

I love the hook handle on this umbrella and the pinstripe pattern makes it a little different from a plain black brolly. Closed this umbrella has a length of 33 cm, and open it has a span of 102 cm. I think it is quite a masculine look, perhaps Mr P might like this one. There is no comment on the durability of the design, but Fulton is a very well established brolly brand.

4. Totes Micro AOC Seoul Umbrella, $26

This is the tiniest umbrella, when closed it has a length of just 23 cm. When opened it has a span of 99 cm. I find the pattern elegant and it would be easy to spot in a mess of brollies outside a bar. My concern would be the whether it was robust, such a light umbrella maybe a little flimsy?

5. Shanghai Tang Tiger Umbrella, $54 

Shanghai Tang produces sturdy, automatic opening umbrellas. I can't seem to find the dimensions but from experience I know that it will collapse to a handbag size and open to around 100 cm. It should be fairly wind resistance as it is well made - Shanghai Tang is working hard to dispel the 'made in China' stigma. If only the outside was plain black...

Hmmm so I am off to consider this month's functional purchase - I will update when I am next dancing in the rain!

Monday, 12 March 2012

The Ultimate Comfort Food

I've hate Mondays so Monday evenings always call for some comfort food.
I find that popcorn usually hits the spot, especially with some trashy TV. I found this great fool-proof method on Pinterest…
3 tablespoons canola oil, 1/3 cup popping corn, and a topping of your choice.
  1. Place oil in large pan with 4 kernels of corn, place lid on pan and heat with medium heat  until all 4 kernels pop. Count the pops...
  2. Turn of the heat and add 1/3 cup of popping corn.
  3. Ensure an even spread of kernels across the bottom of the pan and wait 30 seconds (this allows all the kernels to all reach the same temperature).
  4. Turn heat back on (medium/high) and listen to the pops, lids on people!
  5. When the interval between pops is more than a few seconds turn the heat off and move corn to a bowl.
  6. Add a topping of your choice - I’m a massive coarse sea salt fan.
  7. Move bowl to sofa, add trashy TV and relax...

The Big Clean

This weekend I managed to complete a task that I have been successfully putting off for months; I cleared out my wardrobe.

After an hour of online research (procrastination) I finally made a start on the mammoth undertaking. About five hours later I had the (not so) shocking realisation that I probably own way too many striped tops. I also had a well ordered wardrobe, a number of re-discovered items which I had previously overlooked (shoved down the back, ahem), a bag for the charity shop (ah, the warm fuzzies) and a bag to take to the tailors for adjustment.

So here is how I went about it...

First I emptied the closet completely and waged war on those pesky dust bunnies. Then I turned my attention to the clothes.

Wear? - Will I wear it? Have I worn in in the past year? If not then it went into the 'maybe pile'. I was pretty ruthless at this stage. I spent several hours doing this - I tried things on and made outfits to check that I really will wear everything. It helps to have a full length mirror and/or an honest friend to give an opinion.
Arrange? - Everything that I do wear then went into piles on my bed according to garment type.
Recycle? - Then I examined the 'maybe pile'. Can it be recycled? Should I take it to the tailors for mending/adjustments/alterations? This is not just about fittings, I love to have items drastically altered as you get a whole new garment that no-one else has, such as changing a dress into a top or changing the sleeve type or neck line. You could also think about re-dying items that have faded or that you no longer like due to the colour.
Donate? - If I'm not going to get it adjusted it went into the donations bag, either to a charity collection or to a specific friend if I know someone that would like a particular item.
Rejuvenate! - This is a vital stage. You need to sit down and have a coffee break before you abandon all hope of ever finishing. I also found that cake was useful addition to this stage...
Organise - Now to tackle the clothes on the bed. I grouped like items together and placed them  back in the closet. I hang shirts and fold jumpers, trousers and most other tops. I also chose to hang cardigans on large hangers, though this is controversial. Hanging can affect the shape of your knitwear if the garment is heavy.
Beautify - I then organise garments by colour. This is the easiest way for me to locate what I want in a hurry, plus I think it looks good too.
Enjoyment - For this stage I kept opening the doors and drawers to my wardrobe and feeling smug. It helps to show off to someone else too...

So if you are planning a big clean of your own for Spring - good luck!

Sunday, 11 March 2012



I'm Emma and this is my blog.

I've been toying with the idea of starting one for ages, but it seemed to me a little conceited to think that people might want to read what I write.

However since I am a pretty nosy person and I love reading blogs! So in the end I decided to give it a go.

I am originally from the UK now living in Hong Kong. I teach Physics (Eek! I know, I know, everyone hated Physics at school) as my full time job and when I'm not doing that I love to travel, cook, get lost online and buy clothes.

So here goes...