I got back from Hong Kong last week. We had a great time in that great city. I could go on and on about the trip but for the sake of time, I’m going to focus only on my beauty impressions and purchases.
Before visiting Hong Kong, I did some online research, trying to find stores I’d like to visit that carried skincare. To my surprise, there wasn’t too much available for English speakers, especially Americans. After visiting, I totally get why. Every other store in Hong Kong is a skincare store. I’m not exaggerating. Skincare is huge business there. There are stand alone skincare and beauty stores like Chanel or Estee Lauder. There are “Ulta” type stores like Sasa and Colourmix that carry everything from a variety of brands. There are drugstores that carry stuff that aren’t in US drugstores. There are plenty of Korean shops (except Missha closed down right before I got there). There are luxury department stores like Lane Crawford that carry a lot of the brands you find in the U.S. (like Tom Ford, SK-II). You can stand on a street and look down in any direction and see 5 skincare stores and skin/beauty related spas. So, that’s why there are few online guides! You go there, you venture outside and you’re going to find beauty stores. I mean, you go the highest point of Hong Kong and there is a Tony Moly. You can’t avoid skincare stores if you tried! Just ask my husband, I mean, he tried and he couldn’t avoid standing around in them while I examined each and every one of them.
I did notice that people, even men, really care about skincare. Men were in these stores buying K-Pop boy band branded sheet masks. Young girls were leaving school in their uniforms to go and buy sunscreen. Women applied cushion compacts on the MTR. Cosmetics were everywhere and the focus is more on skincare and complexion than color products. Now saying that, color products are popular. Women do wear makeup but it’s not like the US where women spend a lot more on lipstick than they do facial cleanser. I also love that people carry parasols and wear visors. I admit I felt rather at home in a place that dislikes the sun as much as I do.
A quick comment on fragrance. We’re always told via marketing and industry stuff how perfume is less popular in Asia. I think it’s popular but it’s a different market. Lighter stuff seems to be popular but I *do* smell people in public wearing perfume. People are wearing perfume. Stores are scented with an Elizabeth Arden Green Tea-ish type scents. I smelled a light jasmine in public spaces. Scent is appreciated it’s just not like the big stuff like chypres and celeb scents aren’t popular. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle is popular everywhere…for sure. I smell that wherever I go. But, overall I smelled a lot of a white musk (think The Body Shop White Musk), sheer incense (like the CdG Incense series) and rose (like Jo Malone London Red Roses and Diptyque Eau Rose). I imagine that brands like Fresh, Annick Goutal, Jo Malone London and Diptyque are doing very well in Hong Kong (and after talking to some industry folks, I found out that they are). And Hermessences and Chanel Les Exclusifs are popular too. So what I’m trying to say is that I saw and smelled a lot of perfume; it’s just different. And in my opinion, if I lived in that warm, humid and densely populated city, I’d be wearing lighter scents from the Hermèssence line too! And, geez, this sounds snobby, but I’d so rather smell CdG Avignon on someone than the fruity-sweet celeb scents that I choke on here at the bus stop.
OK, now moving on to my purchases. For the most part, I grabbed whatever. There was nothing on “my list”. My pictures are crappy as I took them when I got back to our dimly lit hotel. Due to traveling, I had to throw out the boxes/packaging of most to make them fit in my luggage so I didn’t retake pics once I got home.
On the first day I hit up a lot of the Korean skincare and makeup stores like Innisfree, Etude house, Tony Moly, Too Cool for School and SkinFood. There are also some smaller local stores that carry a variety of Asian brands. Here’s my haul:
Innisfree Perfumed Body Cleanser in Daphne Blossom
Innisfree Perfume Body Cream in Daphne Blossom
Innisfree Soybean Energy Special Kit – A GWP.
Innisfree Jeje Fig Hand Cream
Innisfree Eco Flower Tint in Rose
Innisfree Sheet Masks
Innisfree No-Sebum Mineral Pact – I was not equipped for the humidity in HK. I picked this up to get me through the day. Really nice product.
Too Cool for School Cat Streets Hand Cream in Lilac – Adorable packaging, smells great.
Too Cool for School Art Class Pigment in a bright orange – I love the orange monochrome face look.
Elizavecca Green Piggy Collagen Jelly Pack
Koelf Bulgarian Rose Gel Eye Patch – It’s the eye patch of elves. That’s what the box says.
Yuan Toothpaste in Hinoki – I hate American toothpaste.
Mas Solid Perfume – Super cool Taiwanese brand that makes super cool stuff. This smells like white musk which I smelled on so many women in Hong Kong.
Etude House Baby Pudding Pact – Have a feeling that name won’t do so well in the English market…
Etude House Sheet Masks
And some Georges Barbier journals. No clue why those are in the pic. Whatever.
I didn’t buy any SkinFood, which is one of my favorites mainly because I buy that in the US and have everything that I want from them.
I hit up a Tony Moly on the second day since I realized I didn’t buy anything yet:
Tony Moly Bubble Donkey Milk Foam Cleanser
Tony Moly Peach Hand Cream x 3 – This are now discontinued, so the SA told me. 2014 was the last year for PEACHES!
Tony Moly Sheet Masks – So many sheet masks, like 30. I can’t let Fan Bingbing use more than me.
Tony Moly Changing Magic Sheet Mask – It was a GWP.
And while I’m thinking about it. Everyone has been so generous with samples. I spend more than I’d like to admit at department stores and Sephora in the US and they NEVER give me a sample unless I ask. And frankly, I don’t feel like asking. Samples are powerful little things. I’ve bought so many products based on falling in love with the sample.
Mannings is a drugstore like CVS or something. Here’s my drugstore haul:
Colgate Charcoal Slim Toothbrushes – I use charcoal-infused toothbrushes so I mainly picked these up because they are new and not easy to find in the U.S.
Neutrogena Fine Fairness Sheet Masks
Biore Makeup Remover Gel – Asia gets all of the best Biore products.
Shiseido Perfect Whip Foam Cleanser
L’Oreal White Perfect Day Cream
Nivea Extra Whitening Deodorant – Everywhere gets better Nivea than the U.S.
Maybelline Baby Lips in Berry Crush – Are these in the U.S.? I don’t know. I just really needed a lip balm at the moment.
Sasa is like an Ulta and it’s the best thing in the world. There’s one on like every block in Hong Kong. They carry skincare, hair products, makeup and fragrance. Some Sasas are better than others. Some Sasas are bigger than others.
Omi Brotherhood Mentum Shea Stick in Rose
Omi Brotherhood Mentum Shea Stick in Sakura – How could I resist floral lip balms? The answer: I didn’t.
Maybelline Jelly Glow in 02 – This is Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush but made in Japan, smaller and well, cuter.
Cosmetex Airy & Easy Creamy Cheek Puff in Pure Pink – A dolly cream blush made in Japan. Apply it like a “stamp”.
3CE Cream Blusher in Baby Orange
3CE Lip Pigment in Bright Orange – 3CE is one of my favorite Korean cosmetics companies (can be found at Style Nanda). I love a good monochrome face look.
Okey & Dokey Lip Treatment in Pink Macaroon – I only bought this because of the cute flying pig.
Lavshuca Flower Syrup Lip Gloss in Red – I feel hard for the Japanese jelly lips.
Banila Tea Party Foam Cleanser in Rose Jasmine
And some sort of eye mask with roses.
I bought a lot of foaming cleansers and I have no clue as to why other than my skin was confused by being “oily” in humidity as if it were some subconscious thing.
I was bored at the airport and ended up shopping at the duty free shops:
Shanghai Tang Spring Jasmine EDP – Gorgeous packaging.
Shanghai Tang Gold Lily EDP – Apparently this is their best seller. It’s like licorice lilies.
Hermès Bar Soaps in Eau de Narcisse Bleu – Fancy Soaps 4 Life is my motto.
Well, that was some of the damage that I did. I also bought some other stuff like goth boy clothes, bags that say stuff like “DON’T LOOK AT ME” and design books. And yes, I’m going to put myself on a cosmetic no-buy until spring because, well, I don’t need to explain why. As you can see, I was on a makeup marathon.
Hong Kong is awesome. I already miss it. Coming back to Seattle, I feel like I live in a tiny village where people and transit are inefficient. And people are skin-neglecting barbarians 🙂 I’m happy to be back to the frugs and tacos but I do miss the energy of that city. I left with a ton of beauty products and a lot of inspiration that I’m going to use throughout the year.
*All pics are mine.
20 thoughts on “My Hong Kong Haul 2015”
What an awesome haul!!! Unlike you I don’t do well in the cooler weather and was having trouble getting myself going this morning but reading your post gave me a vicarious thrill and just the boost I needed to get going.
PS Did you get that Muse candle and did you like it? And do you have any hints on how to keep candles from getting all sooty inside? I keep my wicks really short but that doesn’t always help.
I’m so over winter and it’s not close to be over 🙁
I haven’t ordered it (yet), worried it wouldn’t come before this trip and didn’t want it outside, unaccounted for.
I read a great article on this and now I can’t find it! For me, my biggest issue is with drafts and I don’t notice until the candle is burning unevenly. And then there is the trimming and centering of the wick. Blowing out candles apparently causes soot instead of using that snuffing tool (argh, blanked on the word!) I’m going to see if I can find that article.
Aha, the mysterious drafts – I bet that is part of it. And now I want a candle snuffer (if that is what they are called) because I also don’t like the heavy smoke that keeps coming after I blow them out. I always thought of them as old-fashion items but I could really use one now!
Mysterious drafts, I can’t escape them!
A snuffer, yes, that’s it! I want one. Apparently they do help.
Sounds like an awesome trip!
Semi-unrelated question – not sure if this was covered previously on your blog – what r your sources for Asian skin care products in Seattle area?
I haven’t dedicated a post to it, but it’s a good idea. Now that I’m thinking about this I should…
Uwajimaya carries a lot of good Japanese staples. Daiso gets some decent cheapie house brands, many made in Japan.
For Korean stuff, find an H Mart and you’ll find skincare either attached to the store in the area. So from South Tacoma Way to Lynwood, you’ll find a lot of great Korean brands from drugstore to higher end. I really should make a list of these independent shops, some of these are very well hidden 🙂
Thank you for the vicarious thrill! The closest I got to Hong Kong was on a transfer to Malaysia, and it was just the airport a long time ago, and I’ll never forget landing there. It felt like if you were to land a plane in Central Park.
I’ve heard that the landings used to be surreal! The airport has moved now but I went through the area of where the old airport used to be and couldn’t believe that a plane would actually fly through that.
I live in Singapore half the year, and it took me awhile to realize that my beloved heavy hitter perfumes just don’t work in hot, humid Asia. I remember one incident where I cleared a room with an over application of Clinique Aromatics. The heat seems to amplify everything times 10. Plus there is the underlying cultural thing of wanting to blend in. Standing out is not encouraged!
Thanks for sharing. That’s really interesting.
I think about my perfume collection and if I moved to a place like that. And I don’t think any of them would work outside of my living quarters. I imagine they are too heavy for heat and humidity. Even when I have went back visiting family in Nashville, I’d take a few perfume samples of stuff that I wear and be shocked by how “loud” all that humidity would make something that I was really used to wearing. I think if I lived in that all of the time, I’d start to want lighter stuff (well, if I was outdoors a lot).
Wowza you got the ultimate haul!!! Gah I feel like shopping now, so many cute things… flying pigs, peaches, jelly everything, what!!
Sounds like you had a great time. How difficult or not was it to get around without knowing Cantonese? When I traveled through Japan, we were fine not knowing more than basic Japanese phrases but for some reason Hong Kong seems more difficult to ‘wing it’. Am I wrong?
Thanks also for reporting on the perfume-scape. When I was there, I hadn’t been bit by the perfume bug yet, so I didn’t notice or look for it. I’m really curious about it now because I tend to gravitate towards lighter scents and the packaging of Asian products is just so gorgeous that I want to find a perfume gem the next time I go.
FLYING PIGS. JELLY. What else could I possibly want?
I found it incredibly easy. Like effortless. Mass transit is ah-mazing. And transit signs are in English as well. Even in off-the-beaten-path places, most people would speak English without me even opening my mouth. I take it that they didn’t want to hear me butcher Cantonese 😉 As far as language, we had absolutely no issues. It was easier traveling and getting around in Hong Kong than it is in most of the US where there are no signs, no transit, etc. Highly recommended.
It is interesting. A lot of the Japanese brands are into aromatherapy and naturals. Di Ser which I talked about in the post linked below, is awesome. My tastes have shifted since I got into perfume; I’m much more into the lighter/sheer/abstract stuff now.
Welcome back (guess I’m a little late in saying that, but what the heck). Your haul is amazing and I love the cute names … Tony Moly Bubble Donkey Milk Foam Cleanser, and Okey & Dokey Lip Treatment. 🙂 Sounds like it was an amazing trip all-around. Did your husband buy anything? And did you have any great meals, street food?
I still don’t feel like I’m back, lol.
I couldn’t resist buying this stuff.
HK is a dangerous place for our paycheck because it has so much of what we like. Amazing design and stuff. He left with records, nice design books, sneakers and cool clothes. We also picked up some very nice minority textiles. Now that I think about it, this is the only time we encountered any Non-English but we got by OK thanks to awesome translation apps and some knowledge of geography/ethnic names. More info here – http://www.marlamallett.com/miao.htm
Thanks for sharing the link of the textiles. Lovely. Not that you got these textiles to wear, but I can actually imagine you wearing a dress similar to the one in the photo at the bottom of the 1st page (wearing it not exactly as those women are, with the headdresses, etc., but adopting it into your wardrobe for a cool, street-look).
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