Wednesday, 29 December 2010

the Balm Cosmetics (& CHRISTMAS IN HONG KONG)

Darlings, I'm baaack - it's been far too long since my last post and I've really missed blogging! I've been reading all of your blogs but haven't had the time to blog myself or comment regularly.

I hope that you all had the merriest of Christmases filled with mince pies, port, carolling, brandy butter and all the other lovely things that come with the festive season. I arrived on Christmas eve and therefore spent most of it in a jet-lagged stupour, waking at midnight to eat a huge Christmas dinner... midnight munchies! I also had a truly good nosh fest at a Christmas day buffet hosted by the Marina club in Hong Kong. What does everyone have planned for new years eve? I will be at a cabaret themed club night, daintily slurping and guzzling my way through the open bar & unlimited canapes that will be on offer.

Diet, me?



My previous post gives away the main event of the last few months - my trip to Luxembourg! It was absolutely wonderful and I say this as a complete bright-lights-big-city sort of gal. Despite it being a tiny, land-locked Grand Duchy, I found that it surprised me with its quaint beauty and strong international vibe, mainly due to the mix of people who work in Luxembourg City, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (which was where I was based). It is common for people to commute in from neighbouring countries (Germany, Belgium) and it is only a short train ride away from a huge range of exciting places that are perfect for a weekend trip (Paris, anyone?).

It's the building buried in the valley greenery on the bottom right corner of the photo!

I ended up staying at the Luxembourg City Youth Hostel for most of the time due to the short nature of my stay. I haven't stayed in many youth hostels, but this far exceeded my expectations (contrary to the horror stories told by friends and family) as it was almost like a hotel with dorm rooms! I ate delicious and reasonably priced meals in the hotel restaurant EVERY DAY and was never disappointed, which is more than you could say even for most hotel food (almost always mediocre and overpriced).

The nightlife was limited in choice but always buzzing at the weekends, despite the size of the city and the nature of its residents - I have fond memories of Scott's Pub (an British themed bar with a difference... everyone working there was actually British! Including the resident jazz guitarist) and The Tube (pictured! This was loosely themed on the London Underground but the theme wasn't explored much further than a faded wall mural of the tube map)

If you happen to be road-tripping around that area of Europe or are planning a Eurotrip, I recommend that you take out a day or two (for that is all Luxembourg City really needs for a full tour) to explore this glorious little city. I haven't mentioned the great transport system, the charming eateries in the town centre, the breathtaking valleys on which the city is built on and the fascinating insight you can get of Luxembourg's fascinating history whilst admiring the beautiful stone structures dotted throughout the old town and exploring its mysterious underground cave system.



I am currently in Hong Kong for the next few months and am excited to be blogging from here. I am by no means a tourist as I am originally from HK and lived and went to school here for many years but I've been away for so long that everything has changed (shops seem to change every few months!) and I will enjoy sharing my opinions on everything from food to fashion as I re-discover Hong Kong for myself.


I decided to have some fun with my make up today and use a few new products from theBalm Cosmetics that I recently bought from SaSa (our drugstore equivalent here in asia) to create a bronzy, shimmery look.


- Maybelline Dream Satin foundation in Nude -

- Bobbi Brown blush in Desert Rose and Pale Pink (swirled together with a stippling brush) -
- theBalm cosmetics Mary-Lou Manizer AKA "the Luminizer" along cheekbones -

- theBalm cosmetics Mary-Lou Manizer all over the lid up to the brow -
- theBalm cosmetics Shady Lady eyeshadow in All About Alex (swatch below) blended along the lashline and smudged upwards -
- L'oreal Contour Khol in Dark Chocolate to tightline -
- 17 Eyebrow Shaper in Natural Brown on the brows -
- Clinique High Impact Mascara in 01 Black -

- Estee Lauder Pure Color Crystal Lipstick in 301 Crystal Baby -

Mugshot for detail

i.D. magazine inspired


I was really excited to find this brand in Hong Kong as its not readily available in the UK and even in London I think it is exclusively stocked at Harvey Nichols. My attention was first brought to this brand by the lovely Ruth from A Model Recommends who reviewed the Luminizer in one of her videos.

Mary-Lou Manizer AKA the Luminizer

A gorgeous shimmery champagne gold highlight and eyeshadow with buttery textured powder. This is really easy to work with and may look scary when you swipe it but blends out nicely. It is a bit glittery so not the most subtle of highlighters but a tiny bit goes a long way and the sheen it imparts is really pretty.

Shady Lady eyeshadow in All About Alex

A gilded khaki with a pewter undertone. Glimmering goodness. The texture of all the eyeshadows are similar to the Luminizer and the pay-off and buildability are fairly good too, probably even better with UDPP or TFSI as a base (I don't have either - shame on me. I'm holding out for the UDPP in its new squeeze tube packaging!)

The other two Shady Lady shadows in:

Curvy Cami

A glittery mid-toned purple that leans slightly towards cranberry when swatched. Similar to Trax from MAC but I prefer this as the texture is much easier to work with - MAC shadows can sometimes be dry and hard to get good colour pay-off from.

Luscious Lani

A light glimmery pale pink, slightly frosty - the camera has picked up champagne for some reason but its definitely pink, almost how Benefit's High Beam looks in the bottle. Looks great with Curvy Cami :)

* Other close ups *

Estee Lauder Crystal Baby

You've probably heard of this from the Pixiwoo sisters and Tanya Burr of Pixi2woo who love using this for a natural full pink lip. Smells scrummy too.

Clinique High Impact Mascara

My current favourite. The story behind this purchase was that I recently discovered my ANCIENT old tube, which was only a tester but had not dried out at all after years and years! I was so impressed considering that I have owned mascaras that dry out after a month or two or, worse still, are dry and flaky to begin with! Obviously I wasn't about to use a mascara that was about 5 years old so I popped out and bought another sample for myself.

HK sells samples of everything - perfume (cute little 5ml bottles), skincare, make up. A bit of a rip-off considering they are samples which should be provided for free BUT:

a) I'd rather pay £2 for a generous 4g sample-size tube of mascara (which is what I did) rather than have to wheedle and beg a snobby sales assistant to hand one over.

b) I doubt that, even if I did beg and plead, I would be able to get a mascara sample unless it was posted to my doorstep by PR for review as make up counter SA's make it seem like sample pots of foundation are a hugest deal already.

Hope that was useful :)

I'm planning to delve into the world of BB (Blemish Balm) creams which seem to be the new hot thing in Asia. Have you heard anything about them or used them yourself? I must admit that I first heard about them in Ingrid's youtube videos!