Hi, I'm Laura! Laurantaina Beauty Blog is about high end make up, skincare and Japanese brushes. After moving back from Japan in 2014 I struggled a lot with my skin and I wanted an outlet to share my experiences, as well as my love for Japanese and other amazing beauty products.
While I know that many of my readers are HC beauty junkies, in Finland K-beauty is kind of new and cool thing: we have some access to drug store Korean skincare or things that can be purchased from ebay, but not much else. Today I chat my personal relationship to Korean skincare, introduce hanbang (as a reference for future reviews) and best of all - interview my Seoul-based Instagram friend Lisa @Beautybemused who knows a ton about K-beauty!
My personal experience with K-beauty
I've been fascinated by Korean skincare for years, ever since I discovered Reddit's Asian Beauty subreddit and K-beauty blogs some years ago. Seriously, these blogs and subreddit taught me so much about skincare - ingredients, pH and recommendations. The final kick was my visit to Seoul in February 2014 where I couldn't get enough about the endless sea of skincare and beauty shops. So much for the sights, I had to see all the bottles and potions; I remember spending most of my "free" time studying the Laneige shop and re-visiting the busy 3CE counter, haha.
I salute myself for not giving into 1,000 steps, thousand new products (OK, a few...) and cute gimmicky packaging, but instead started to pay more attention in my skincare ingredients, proper application and take masking as a regular part of my routine. Applying multiple layers of toner, essence and serum really has helped with my dry skin - as well "whitening" products to fade my acne scaring. I find that Korean (or Japanese) beauty routine is more about the lifestyle and can be done without Asian products - just like Lisa says below.
The more I learned about Korean (and Japanese) skincare, the more intrigued I became with fermented ingredients. First of all, I love to eat everything and anything fermented: kimchi, sauerkraut and natto. I firmly believe in the health benefits of these food, so I started thinking what if these could be applied in skincare. After trying some essences with fermented ingredients I soon found hanbang, which I'm going to talk about next.
WHAT IS HANBANG and Fermented Skincare?
Hanbang (한방) stands for Korean traditional medicine, which includes an extensive use of herbal remedies to treat illnesses and maintain overall health and wellbeing. You may have heard about aromatherapy or Chinese traditional medicine, but Korean has it's own traditions, native herbs and a heavy emphasis on fermentation. Some popular hanbang brands include Sulwhasoo, History of Whoo, Illi, Missha (some lines), Whamisa and Sooryehan.
While the oral consumption of these herbs (such as ginseng) are better known, there have been little studies on how these traditional herbs affect the skin applied topically, but so far the results seem promising. Hanbang ingredients and combinations vary, but one important factor seems to be their biologically active compounds as well as fermentation. SK-II is a very famous brand in Japan and it's cult essence has yeast from fermenting sake. Again, while there are not many scientific studies about how fermented products work topically, I've read it's possible that fermented ingredients are higher in antioxidants than their non-fermented counterparts and better-absorbed by skin thanks to their enzymes and how they break compounds into smaller molecules.
Most of the hanbang brands promise their ingredients have antioxidant and anti-ageing benefits, while merging them with modern-day science to make the concoction as efficacious as possible. To learn more how hanbang is actually used in Korea, I had a quick chat with Lisa and asked her a couple of questions.
photo: Beauty Bemused
Interview with Beauty Bemused
Laura: For the people who are new to your page, please tell me something about yourself in a couple of words!
Laura: Your house is on fire, but don't worry, your loved ones are safe! But you only have time to save 3 beauty and 1 other item from the fire! What would you grab?
1. Face cleanser, if I had to choose just one, I would choose a gentle gel-foam cleanser. 2. Emulsion, since that’s a product between serum and cream, if I can’t have toner+essence+serum+cream, and can only have one, definitely emulsion! 3. UV product, cuz I need to prevent aging at all times. 4. When it comes to non-beauty item, of course my CELL PHONE!
Laura: Let's talk about hanbang. What are your memories about Korean medicine when growing up? Did you ever go to a family doctor [hanisa?] or see your family members practising herbal medicine for good health?
Lisa: My mom had me drinking hanbang health drinks since I was 5 years old! I’ve been to Haniwon clinics many times growing up and my mom sometimes brewed her own Hanbang remedies.
Laura: Have you tried other traditional medicine methods, such as acupuncture?
Lisa: I’ve had acupuncture for migraines for over a year and also for stomach pains and shoulder aches. I also heard of acupuncture treatment for healthier skin but haven’t tried that yet!
Laura: I think Korea is famous for its doctors, high hospital standards, cosmetic surgery etc. Is traditional medicine as common as "bread or butter", or does it come and go out of style? How do people perceive it right now?
Lisa: Hanbang medicine is still very much alive and well received in Korea. Of course it’s overall more popular with the older generation for treating general ailments, but a lot of younger generation still seek out Hanbang medicine as alternative to western medicine. It’s become popular in the past several years among general population as alternative treatment for diet and beauty purposes.
Laura: What are the biggest skin concerns people want to treat with hanbang ingredients?
Lisa: Anti-aging has always been popular, but lately I see a lot of Hanbang formulas for sensitive and acne prone skin.
Laura: When shopping for beauty and skincare, do you specifically look for hanbang or fermented ingredients in products?
Lisa: I don’t particularly seek out Hanbang ingredients in beauty products but somehow naturally get attracted to products with Hanbang formulations. However, I do actively search out products with fermented ingredients.
Laura: Do you have a favorite brands or products what kind of impact have they had on you?
Lisa: I adore the brand Atoclassic which stems out from historically famous Korean traditional Hanbang doctor Wooboo. They specialize in safe and effective Hanbang formulations for sensitive skin, and I always turn to their line of products when my skin feels aggravated or irritated.
Laura: I know the Western and Asian skincare themes tend to not go in synch. I'm curious to hear if there are any skincare "secrets", theme or advice that are in or popular right now in Korea?
Lisa: Nowadays, Western and Asian skincare themes seem to go hand in hand: Korean beauty R&D companies actively seek out Western formulations to tweak and improve using Korean standards, and Western brands are busy soaking in ideas and practices that’s popular in Korea. I’m sure you’ve heard the question “can you practice k-beauty without using Korean products?” My answer is YES! K-beauty is no longer just about Korean products but a type of “beauty lifestyle” in my opinion.
Laura: Your skin always looks amazing - what's your best personal secret or advice?
Lisa: Double cleansing every night and don’t use too many different actives and don’t over exfoliate! And at least twice a month I go to bed with nothing but just some Avene Thermal Water sprayed on face after washing up. But I would be sure to have my filtered water diffuser on. Sometimes you just have to eat healthy and let your body work it’s magic on your skin while you sleep.
Thank you SO MUCH Lisa! Please check out her Instagram and other websites linked above, her images are beyond amazing. I especially love her beauty routine shots – excellent way to stalk what's really good, haha!
Have you heard or tried any hanbang skincare? Are you an avid fan of K-beauty?
Today I have a more casual style post for you, the blogger classic: what's in my bag. I'm switching things up a little and not showing my travel or makeup bag, but the hair and body care I carry with me to swimming hall or climbing gym. Well, mainly to swimming hall as I live close to my climbing gym and can shower at home. I've been contemplating should I similar style posts more, like my brush or skincare cabinets at home. Let me know if you're interested!
My packing philosophy
While I'm a skincare addict, I hate carrying my minimum amount of skincare because it gets heavy very quickly. If I'm taking anything else than a sunscreen for my face, I need a toner, essence, oil, cream etc. So, what I do is I save doing my skincare routine as soon as I get home. If my journey takes longer than 15 min, I'm grabbing a snack or meeting someone right after training, I slather on some oil and a moisturizer with SPF.
When it comes to travelling there are two issues living in Finland: we don't have Muji and its all decanting goodness and mini sizes are rarely sold!! Blasphemy! I think I've seen a Sephora-style line of Doom with minis only once in my life. I dislike carrying full-size products or sample sachets as the former are heavy and the latter just annoying to choose when you want to run out of the door. Decanting is my favorite way of travelling with products, but to save myself from the trouble I prefer doing my skincare routine at home.
Contents of my Bag
This is honestly my swimming bag from the other day: nothing less, nothing more. I knew I was going home soon after so you might notice the absence of skincare products (and even SPF! but I the Sun had already set). Here are the products:
OUAI Toiletry Bag
I got this bag with an OUAI haircare set about 1,5 years and ago and never expected to like a GWP this much. It has a nice minimal look, small logo, decent size and seemingly waterproof lining inside. It's also sturdy as I've used it a ton, tossed around and the zippers and seams are still looking good. Unfortunately I don't think they sell this separately? I adore cute toiletry bags and makeup pouches, but I tend to save the fine ones for other occasions. I don't mind if this one gets wet.
I would love to use some aluminum-free hippie deodorant, but I haven't find one that works and doesn't stain for the life of me.. I think I've tried almost ten: sticks, roll-ons, crystals, mens', you name it. I hate feeling wet and none of these keeps me dry enough during the day. So I'm using a "bad" deodorant for sensitive skin instead. I selected this simply because it's cheap and my bf uses the same.
Rituals Hammam Black Soap
As much as I love Rituals, I dislike strong the eucalyptus scent and I'm wanting to use up this soap as quickly as possible. The soap separates in the tube and I feel the black color gets everywhere in the shower, which is counterproductive. The good thing is it doesn't foam nor dry my skin. Will purchase a different scent in the future.
Wella Luxe Hair Oil
A random hair oil I've been using since I ran out of OUAI. It's a pretty standard oil, fortunately very mildly scented and keeps my hair shiny instead of looking greasy. This time I didn't have a conditioner with me and didn't feel like my hair was left overly dry. But like Ms. Kondo would say, "if it doesn't spark joy in me".. won't repurchase.
Max and Me Flight to The Sun body oil
Such an amazing, pampering and nourishing body oil that sinks in quickly and won't leave my skin feeling greasy. I can dress up fairly quickly after applying this oil and my skin doesn't feel as itchy and flakey as it did right after showering. The scent is very mild but kind of addictive - in a good way.
SU:M37 Rose Cleansing Stick
A korean cult classic and for a reason - this mildly lathering cleanser is easy to use and transport as it's in a stick form; hard like a traditional piece of soap. The pH is nicely low despite the cleanser foaming a little, which has made it a favorite among many beauty junkies. SU:M37 products are on the pricier side, but this stick cleanser lasts for ever and ever. And it's very good, I like the very mild rose scent and how it doesn't strip my skin. I can always be sure this product doesn't explode in my toiletry bag and it.
Illi Total Aging Care Cleansing OIl (MUJI decant)
This cleansing oil is amazing.. until I read the ingredients, which include mineral oil and coconut derivates. I had blindly bought it after my friends rave recommendation and loved it with passion as it takes off every trace of makeup without leaving a film or drying the skin. Boosted with Korean hanbang herbal goodness. I'm doing a full review digging into the ingredients, if they're so bad after all? Full review coming next week!
LUSH Fairly Traded Honey shampoo
I might be the only person on the planet who doesn't like Lush. One, I don't have a bath tub which makes me green with envy. Two, their store smells - in Japan I could guess there was a Lush store nearby as the scent lingered on the other side of the street. I admire the concept and branding, but I'm generally not interested. This shampoo doesn't smell too good to me, but damn it leaves my hair soft and shiny. I have a travel size at my boyfriend's place as shampoos last me ages. It's very good, go get a sample if your hair is coarse and dry!
This is all I carry, stuffed in a small shopping canvas bag. I dislike carrying large gym bags with me, although I should consider a swimming bag for my towels, sandals and other equipment. After bouldering I can throw on a sweats jacket and shower at home, which is my preferred method. What kind of toiletry bag do you carry to your gym/exercise place? Or do you workout at home? Let me know!
One of my favorite (and most anticipated) skincare launches last year was the toner from January Labs. The founder of the brand, January Olds, is such an inspirational and beautiful person, I'm grateful I've had the chance to chat with her a couple of times. Her skincare products are some of my staples, I can't live without her Revitalizing Day Cream (review here). There are no unnecessary bells and whistles in this line, just high performance, well-designed and clean skincare.
January Labs Daily Brightening Tonic
The Daily Brightening Tonic is gentle resurfacing and hydrating toner, comes in clear 150ml (~5 fluid oz) plastic bottle, retailing for £26/€29.30/$35.7. The toner is intended for daily use after cleansing and pre-moisturizing. In EU I shop for January Labs on Cult Beauty (non-affiliate link, as always!).
Water, Aloe, Lactic Acid, Lemon Peel Extract, Orange Fruit Extract, Apple Fruit Extract, Witch Hazel, Organic sugar, Black Tea Leaf Extract, Oat Kernel Extract, Sodium PCA, Organic Chamomile Extract, Glycerin, Clary Extract
I love toners and essences, but with most of them the first ingredient you pay for is either water or aloe juice. I'm glad the price of Daily Brightening Tonic is reasonable, since water/aloe based toners never should break the bank. Also, don't you enjoy the short INCI list? To me there are no ingredients that raise particular concerns, even acne prone skin types can enjoy this toner in my opinion. In the case if you're particularly sensitive to fruit/citrus extracts, patch test first. Naturally, I always advice using sunscreen during the day but especially when using skincare with exfoliating ingredients.
The 3rd ingredient, lactic acid, is one of the most popular alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) in skincare, which are chemical exfoliants and not to be confused with abrasive scrubs. Lactic acid gently exfoliates the uppermost layer of the skin by loosening up the bonds of dead skin cells, revealing more refined and smooth skin. Using an AHA exfoliant is excellent if you suffer from dullness, texture or sun damage. Lactic acid is also gentler compared to glycolic acid because of its larger molecular size. In smaller concentrations of topical lactic acid ~2% and up work well as a natural humectant, pulling moisture from the air and hold it in the skin. Larger amounts of 5%-10% with pH 3~4 are considered ideal for skincare products meant to exfoliate.
The rest of the ingredients are a blend of calming aloe, moisturizing glycerin and sodium PCA with skin-conditioning plant extracts as oat kernel and black tea leaf extract. I don't know the amount of lactic acid or organic sugar in the Daily Brightening Tonic, but I would imagine it's sufficient as the product is advertised being a gentle resurfacing toner. I imagine this toner would suit for a variety of skin types, even sensitive due to its soothing properties.
Using the Daily Brightening Tonic
I pour a small coin-size amount of the tonic on a thin cotton pad and swipe on my face and neck in the mornings. If I'm not using any actives I repeat the same routine in the evenings before layering with my essence, serum, oil etc. I would prefer to pour the liquid straight on my palm and dab on my face like I do with essences, but the opening is fairly large and I end up pouring way too much. This is the only major con I can think of. Otherwise the packaging is simple, chic and does its job.
I don't find any tingling while using the Daily Brightening Tonic, but personally I don't believe that tingling equals working. If you have skin like leather and want to use more hard core chemical chemical exfoliants I'd recommend checking out Bravura, Biologique Recherche or Paula's Choice. They're potentially more quickly effective, but also harsher in nature. Personally I like using more gentle daily toner, so I'm not over exfoliating and can continue using my evening Retinol or a retinol alternative when needed.
The Daily Brightening Tonic improves the appearance of skin over time with instantly alleviating any feeling of tightness you may experience after cleansing. I feel my complexion has been bright and balanced since I started using the Daily Brightening Tonic. The tonic alone isn't hydrating enough for my super dry skin, but oilier types might omit other hydrating toners/essences.
The January Labs Daily Brightening Tonic is an excellent daily toner I very much enjoy, it's something I look for each morning. It keeps my skin looking good and healthy without irritation or flakiness and I feel I can use my other actives (such as retinol) in the evening. If I need quick results to address some bumpy/texturized skin I'll take out the "big guns" aka Biologique Recherche's P50, but it's far more abrasive than January Labs. If you're looking for a gentle humectant with a glow boost, the Daily Brightening Tonic is worth testing out.
*The test product was paid with my own money, but I've received some PR samples from the brand. My thoughts are honest & my own!
Ugh. Don't you just get overwhelmed with the amount of eyeshadow palettes on the market? I think it was the Urban Decay Naked palettes that started the craze a few years ago, at least I can't recall anything as iconic before them. Now new palettes are launching left and right every single day, it's almost impossible to keep up with the new launches. For me as a blogger this is both exciting and annoying as the bulk of new releases are limited editions: there's always something new to write about, but once they are gone, I can't really recommend them.
Today I'm sharing some eyeshadow palettes (bigger than quads) I've sold or gifted away and why didn't they work for me. If you see your favorite palette here, don't mind about me - I'm happy it works for you!
Purged PalettesNaked 2
My very first real "makeup palette". Oh how I loved my Naked 2, it was like a gateway-drug to other palettes; namely Naked 3. This palette was getting old and I couldn't get on with the glitter textures, so it was time to let it go. I could've kept it for sentimental reasons, but to keep my collection small (HAH!) and neat, I decided against.
This palette was love at first sight with its rosy tones and while I liked some of the shades the glitter textures just didn't work out for me. Besides, I was getting tired of Urban Decay as a brand once their novelty factory died. I gifted this to a better home!
Too Faced Chocolate Bar
Again, love at first sight. This palette had pretty good textures and pigmentation, but I just didn't find myself reaching for it. I had found the attraction of luxury palettes (Burberry, Tom Ford, Viseard) and there was no going back to middle-market chocolate smelling shadows.
NARS Dual Intensity eyeshadows
To be honest, I had forgotten I ever owned this palette. While I like adding intensity to my shadows by wetting the brush, I don't think I ever fell in love with the shade selection. I'm one of those people who need a matte crease color no matter what. None of the palette colors seemed too special for me and at the time I didn't understand appreciate the look of blue or black eyeshadow/liner. Never reached for it, so in a better home it went.
Images credit: manufacturers
Natasha Denona Eyeshadow Palette 5 palette 02
I kind of regret letting go of this Natasha Denona palette. I keep wondering could I have done more with it, a different technique or used a different brush? I got this in a Beautylish Lucky Bag and the color selection was right up my alley. Quality-wise it was good, but I quickly decided I wouldn't use this palette too much. Once I was in the purge mode I only kept palettes that bought me instant happiness and satisfaction. If something didn't "click", it was out - and Natasha got a new home.
Viseart Theory Palette in 01 Cashmere
Now here comes the oddball! First of all, I LOVE Viseart! My gorgeous Parisian friend introduced the brand to me a couple of years ago and I fell madly in love with the colors and quality of the products. I need to do a separate rave post for my Viseart collection. So, why did I let go of 01 Cashmere palette (review here)? It's compact, the mattes are top quality, pigmented and blendable with okay shimmers. Somehow I found the middle shimmer shade a bit stiffer and not really a complementary color on my lids. While I loved Cashmere's mattes and shimmery highlighter shade, Cashmere didn't excite me enough as I already had similar colors in my larger palettes. When I'm doing my makeup at home I would grab my 1 Neutral Mattes instead and combine it with 5 Sultry Muse or 6 Paris Nudes for a pop of shimmer. I decided to sell Cashmere but keep and depot the warmer Theory palette in 02 Minx, which I find more complimentary for my eye color.
The One I Kept: Laura Mercier Eye Art Artist's Palette
For me, this is a complete palette with a beautiful range of lights and darks, mattes and shimmers. If you're into plums - this is a palette for you. While I don't reach for it too often, every time I take it out I remember why I liked it in the first place. This palette gets way too little love online - it's basic, but very good quality. I think it was supposed to be a limited edition a couple years back, but I've still seen it sold online.
Conclusion..? I won't be buying big eyeshadow palettes any more. For some reason I get bored of them after a while and there's always a couple of shades won't work for me. They're big, clunky and often not worth the hype for me. I much prefer quads, singles, my depot palettes and Viseart pro palettes that are made for mixing and matching. I've decided to only pick up makeup I'm interested in my personal life and see if they're worth blogging about. While I do dream about a big Natasha Denona palette to give her one more chance, I don't see myself investing right now.
What do you think about my palette purge? Have you done anything similar? I'm also curious to hear what is your favorite big eyeshadow palette right now? xx
Just warning you: this post may look like a mile long, so get a cup of coffee or tea and get comfy. I love to babble about products, but today I'm trying to keep things brief. There is a quite a good selection of skincare, somewhat dominated by clean/eco brands. PR samples have a * next to them. If you have further questions about any product, don't hesitate to reach me in the comments section! Enjoy!
Nuori Vital Face Cream*
I'm a fan of Nuori's concept and products, not to forget their beautiful graphic design. This cream was very nice, but perhaps a bit too light for the driest skin types during Winter. I wish they had a heavier version of this as my skin sometimes was left a bit tight. I will probably purchase this again some point during the warmer months.
January Labs Revitalizing Day Cream
My favorite facial cream of all time. Very liquid-y, but hydrating, nourishing and great packaging; you'll get every single drop out of this pump bottle. I have been gifted this, repurchased myself multiple times, lost a track how many I've used up. While I liked Nuori's cream, January Labs is hard to beat.
Innisfree Eco Safety Sunscreen 50+ PA+++
Another holy grail favorite of mine, but Innisfree recently reformulated this sunscreen. It used to disappear effortlessly into my skin with no major white cast, I've used this for years and over 10 tubes. The reformulation I'm using atm is heavier, a bit tinted, but not tinted enough to cancel the white cast if you won't blend it in very carefully. Will keep using it for now, but might switch to Goodal.
Goodal Mild Protect Natural Filter Essence Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++
Another excellent sunscreen, but this is a light lotion that literally sinks into your skin with no white cast. A little scented, but doesn't irritate my skin. My partner dislikes putting creams on his face, but I've converted him using Goodal. Great for people who hate applying sunscreen, but recently I had hard time finding the essence version.
Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum
I liked this product, but I wish I had loved it more. It was a good hyaluronic acid serum, definitely recommending for normal to oilier skin types, but if your skin is super thirsty like mine you go through this in an instant. Lovely, but I just wish it packed a little more punch. Good price, will consider repurchasing.
Estée Lauder Micro Essence
My favorite essence to date, has beaten the cult FTE by SK-II in my book. My second or third bottle, will pick up a new one as soon as possible (unfortunately not sold in my country). It doesn't do magic, but the texture is perfect for me and the hydration it gives feels long-lasting.
Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm
One of my favorite cleansing balms and I've used and loved many. To be honest, I'm not into all the Hungarian thermal water related marketing talk Omorovicza is famous for. In this balm the Hungarian Moor Mud is the 5th ingredient and I wonder how much the minerals have benefit for your skin as you rinse this off right away. However, this balm feels luxurious and pleasant to use, I really loved to massage and remove it with a hot cloth. Will repurchase at some point, I already have a mini size at hand.
Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm
While Clinique's balm isn't as oil and luxurious as the Omorovicza, this balm is a great and easy-to-access workhorse. If you are drawn to the brand, I'm sure you'd enjoy it. This is the type of balm I like to use for 1st cleanse as it removes makeup in an instant and can be rinsed off with water. Good one to check out.
Pestle & Mortar Erase Cleansing Balm
My favorite recent cleansing balm. This balm is a bit more "gritty" and sometimes you can see some of the oil separating a bit, which I personally liked. It wonderfully melts between your fingers, taking off all makeup - even my persistent Japanese waterproof mascara. Great for both 1st and 2nd cleanse, never left my skin feeling tight afterwards. A generous tub, good ingredients (if you're not sensitive to some of the fragrance such as geraniol) and the price isn't bad. Will repurchase!
Rituals Yogi Delight Shower Oil
Rituals makes my favorite shower products, difficult to get in Finland, but worth of picking up during trips. Their shower oil is my favorite for washing and shaving, leaves my skin smooth vs dry and itchy. I know L'occitane has popular shower oil, but the prices scare me. The scent of Yogi Delight was OK, might pick up a different 'flavour' next time.
Avene Thermal Water Spray
It's a water spray. Water. Will not repurchase.
Josh Rosebrook Active Infusion Serum
I think I will mourn running out of this oil forever. Or, until I get through a couple of other oils and I can allow myself to repurchase this. Despite loving skincare, I rarely actively crave for a specific product. But this oil serum I literally miss and crave, even when I don't have any I wish I did. It gave an instant glow to my skin and I enjoyed it tremendously, plus the scent stole my heart. Read full review here.
Max and Me I Am The Light *
Here's one of 1st world beauty problems: which Max and Me facial oil do I prefer? I Am The Light or Enchanted (review here)? Well, um, I refuse to decide and use both. Not very helpful, I know, sorry. If you're pondering between the two: let your heart decide, they're both lovely. This small bottle was a PR gift from the lovely Max and Me team, but I already have a full-size I Am the Light in my cabinet. I'm completely smitten with this brand, I can't bear the thought of being without their oils any more.
Max and Me Purity and Grace
Oddly, Purity and Grace is the Max and Me product I'm not crazy in love with. And by crazy in love I mean I enjoyed it a lot, but I'm not ready to tie the knot and get buried with it. While the oil is nourishing, calming, pampering and perfect for relaxing and mini-facials with a massage, there's something woody about the scent that doesn't spark the same way their other oils do. Don't get me wrong, this is just a personal preference. If you are drawn to more earthy scents, this oil is pure luxe. I will probably repurchase at some point, but right now I'm testing something else.
Aurelia Night Repair Oil
I wrote a positive review of this oil earlier, Aurelia was my "gateway drug" to beautiful, luxurious eco facial oils. You do get a lot of oil for the (hefty) price, which is nice, but I've started to prefer smaller bottles with eco oils. I grew tired of the scent of the Aurelia Night Repair Oil, but if you love lavender you might love this. I personally don't care for lavender so I ended up using this is a body oil. Full updated review here.
Heroine Make Waterproof Volume & Curl Mascara
As much as I love Heroine Make mascaras, I think I won't purchase the waterproof one. I did like how waterproof it was and I got it easily off with my cleansing oil, but the cone shaped wan wasn't for my liking and I poked my lids with the mascara all the time. Will keep repurchasing the film-type version of Volume and Curl. Otherwise, a very nice mascara (although it doesn't give a ton of volume, despite what the name suggests).
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Gel Touch Foundation
I have a love-and-hate relationship with this foundation. The color match, wear-time, finish and everything was perfect. The light beige compact is super elegant and I loved every aspect of using this foundie - except it lasted me for only a couple of months, which I does not enrage me as much as they don't sell refills here where I live. And it's over €70/$~86 usd. Too much for too little product. I've heard they do sell refills at least in Singapore, I wonder if somewhere else as well? If I'd ever come across a refill I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
Essie Good To Go
My favorite top coat! I wear mostly Essie polishes and this one dries quick and extends the wear of my nail polish. What else you need? Lasted pretty long before starting to turn goopy. Already repurchased.
Too Faced Shadow Insurance
This product used to be my Holy Grail of eye primers as the NARS one was more expensive and hard to get, but I've "grown out" or simply got tired of Too Faced and their branding. I haven't used this one in a long while, so I'm purging it.
Phew! Next time I'll try to do my empties earlier. After typing this post I just finished couple ofter products, but they will be seen next time. What's the latest product you finished? Do you agree/disagree with my list here?
Spring is coming towards us in Finland and I cannot be more excited! Usually Spring is my least favorite season because it means busy and stressful times at school or work, unstable weather and dog poop coming out from the melting piles of snow. But this year I'm having the best time enjoying the increasing daylight and sunshine! I feel like I haven't seen the Sun for months! (Well, tbh I haven't - Winter days in Finland are seriously dark and it's our longest season). In today's post I'm keeping showing you a couple selected skincare of products from my recent Winter-to-Spring heavy rotation.
When it comes to skincare, my skin is dry but behaves pretty normal with my comprehensive daily skincare routine. I think my complexion did very well until January, then the weather turned even harsher (-20°C or -4F and colder in Helsinki) and my face started looking parched, easily flakey and even older because of the moisture loss. So what I did was adding more hydrating masks, humectants and occlusive balms - such as the Sweet Serenity Beauty Balm I reviewed recently.
Now moving to Spring my biggest problem is drought aka my face and body. I shower in the mornings and afterwards I feel like an itchy, flakey lizard and it gets worse during the day if I won't slather myself with my Max and Me body oil afterwards. I'm contemplating should I get a body cream for the evenings as well.. because more is more? But let's take a look what I've been using lately.
Kypris Moonlight Catalyst
I'm an avid fan of Kypris' Antioxidant Dew, which is a milky serum for light hydration and nutrients. I bought their famous nighttime serum, Moonlight Catalyst, without much considering: I had the idea it would be all plant-based alternative to retinol, which it isn't. This product has a pumpkin-derived enzymatic exfoliants and willow bark extract, which are gentle plant-based exfoliants, but I emphasis the word gentle.
While the ingredients are good I find the results too mild for my liking, I also needed to use the product fairly a lot? I hoped it would help with some minor (but annoying) textural issues I had, but after several weeks using the Moonlight Catalyst I reached for Biologique Recherche P50 lotion and voilà, the issues were solved in less than 2 weeks. If your skin is very sensitive or you are a newbie to chemical exfoliants, retinols, etc. you might enjoy this product - if you have the money to spend. I wanted love it more, but if I simply don't notice any effect there are better products that give a bang for my buck. I will use this up when I don't do retinol/exfoliator, but repurchase the Antioxidant Dew instead. No question. 47ml/1.58 fl oz. for €82.94/$102.17
Ah Clarins. Somehow this brand has retained a positive image in my mind, although I haven't had much for the products I've tried. The famous lip balm in a blue tube? I don't feel it sinks in or moisturizes my lips at all. I used the HydraQuench mask in the past as a sleeping pack without noticing much result afterwards. It wasn't horrible, just forgettable and I stopped reaching for it. The same happened with the famous Origins' Overnight Mask, which I grew to dislike.
Clarins has fragrance and solvents pretty high up on the INCI, which is not my thing, but - there is a but - this worked wonderfully on the backs of my hands! I usually don't buy hand creams, in fact I'm proud calluses on my palms and try to preserve them (if you climb, you know what I'm talking about haha). I wash my hands a lot and during the Winter the the backs of my hands just get very parched, but the Clarins immediately soothes them without leaving a greasy feel. Wouldn't repurchase the mask for this purpose, but always use up face products you didn't like for your body! Maybe Clarins makes a good hand cream? 75ml/ 2.53 fl oz. discontinued/recently reformulated? (Mine is a mini 15ml)
Let's get to the good stuff, shall we? Josh Rosebrook brought out the Advanced Hydration Mask and Vital Cream Balm last year and clicked them immediately in my cart. I kind of haven't decided which product I enjoy more, thus, I rotate them or layer together. Josh's ingredients are always top quality, organic or wildcrafted (you can see below) and best of all - they perform. His Active Infusion serum (review here) made to my Best of Skincare 2017 and I couldn't speak highly enough of his other products as well.
This texture mask is almost like a grainy balm that melts by the heat of your hands. The aroma of Josh's essential oils are exquisite, non-offensive, calming and soothing. The mask is packed with beautiful oils but won't leave a greasy film on the skin - at least my skin likes to drink it up and I can go to bed without worrying about my pillowcase. I wake up my skin moisturized, calm and plump. Love! 45ml/1.52 fl oz. for 72.85€/$89.74
While the Josh Rosebrook mask was plant butter based, January Lab's is more gel-like consistency. The moment I saw the ingredients list of this mask I jumped up and down as I love squalane, avocado oil, hyaluronic acid and lactic acid. This mask has moisturizers and emollients in easy-to-use tube. You can leave the mask on for 10 minutes or do as I do - slather it on and go to bed. Even though I use it quite heavy handed, I find my skin drinks this up. Sometimes I've used this alone and been content with the result, but for my dry skin I find this product performing best layered with other humectants.
If balms or oily masks feel too heavy for you or you have combo to oily skin I can highly recommend this mask. You can skip the T-zone for example and only spread it on your drier areas. The convenient tube and almost colorless/white gel makes this product a great mask for travelling, airplanes (no scaring the light attendants!) or any pick-me-up you need quickly. I couldn't find the INCI online (I think this is to-be launched in EU soon) so I typed it here from the back of the tube. 73ml/2.5 fl oz. for €27.6/$34
Soft, non-abrasive facial cloth made with organic linen, algae and eucalyptus fibres. Tender and perfect for sensitive skin! I usually wet my cloth with hot water, but this one is so gentle it'd work well without.
CSS Swedish Formula Foot Cream
This is something my Mom always used ever since I was a kid. I trust her with body care recommendations, as she is an avid swimmer and also washes her hands a ton. When I was in a need of a good foot cream, I just picked up what she uses. This cream is thick, greasy and it's impossible walk after applying, so I keep the tube near my bedside. It's not cosmetically elegant, exciting, not even sure I like the eucalyptus scent, but if your feet are hard (again, climber's problems) this will do the job. Cracks, be gone! I tried it also for the backs of my hands and it stung, so only for the feet! 175ml/5.9 fl oz for €6.45/$7.95
In general, I don't feel like I'm a picky person. There's enough worry in my world already, so I don't want to be fastidious if I can avoid it. But when it comes to my passions - coffee, art or beauty products - I want more. No matter what price point is in question, I want the performance and experience to be memorable and make me look forward to each use or application. Nowadays the beauty market is so saturated witl lukewarm, mediocre or plain "nice" products (that tend to bore me to death), so I feel like I'm allowed to be a bit picky. Today I'm happy to review one of those products that makes you sigh in awe.
Sweet Serenity Beauty Balm
This light yellow balm comes in a 30ml (~ 1.01 fl. oz.) jar and retails for €120/ ~$148.70/ ~£106.45. Available on these sites with International shipping (non-affiliate links): Max and Me (Vienna), So Natural Beauty (Belgium), Naturelle (Finland) and Beauty Heroes (USA). The jar is a sturdy, opaque violet glass (similar to miron glass) with a beautiful fairy illustration. Miron/violet glass absorbs the complete spectrum visible light exception for the violet part and protects the the balm from external influences. Made in Vienna. Also available is Sweet Serenity 'Rescue Balm', which is 1/2 the size.
As you may notice, most of the ingredients are either organic or wild-crafted, the highest quality possible. The first ingredient is shea butter, which is a wonderful moisturizing agent as it's packed with skin-conditioning fatty acids (oleic, stearic and linoleic). Shea butter also very occlusive and prevents loss of water by forming a protective barrier on the skin's surface (but not a greasy film by any means). It's wonderful for soothing tight, irritated, flakey or itchy skin as well as relieving sunburns and windburns. It doesn't liquify in room temperature, but softens in the warmth of your hands.
Like with all ingredients, I've read people breaking out from shea butter. While stearic acid is comedogenic, shea butter alone isn't. In fact, shea's anti-inflammatory and conditions the skin, which can be good for acne sufferers. Personally I have no bad experience with shea, but if you're concerned and haven't used this ingredient before, I'd ask a sample to be on the safe side.
Sweet Serenity Beauty Balm is also packed with several other carrier oils including rose hip oil, tamanu oil, argan oil and exotic murumuru seed butter - to name a few. All of these oils and butters are highest quality and carefully harvested. I'm very excited about the murumuru butter as it's also very protective occlusive ingredient with highly moisturizing oleic acid content. I can't stop loving plant oils and butters as they're also packed with antioxidants and vitamins while the fatty acids are rejuvenating and repairing the skin. I'm very happy about the variety of carrier ingredients in the Sweet Serenity Beauty Balm. As I don't much about energetic properties of essential oils, you can read more on their website.
Using the Sweet Serenity Beauty Balm
I use my cosmetic spatula to take out maybe ~1/2 pea-size amount of the balm and melt it by gently massaging the balm between my fingers. I bring my hands close to my nose and take a deep breaths inhaling the wildflowery scent before applying the molten balm on my face. Sometimes when I'm tired I plainly massage the balm straight on my face as it melts easily without rubbing or tugging.
Balms can be used during daytime but I tend to save them for evenings and apply liberally. You can feel the light occlusive barrier on your skin after application, but nothing that's slipping and sliding (or staining your pillow case). The Sweet Serenity balm absorbs into my skin with no problem; next morning my skin feels nourished and plump. To get my dry skin extra glowing and soft I often layer the Sweet Serenity Beauty Balm with the Luxe Botanics Marula serum or the Max and Me Enchanted oil, but if you're normal to oily the balm may be enough on its own. If you love to layer skincare: hydrating essences, serums and sheet masks go excellently underneath the balm.
The scent is distinguishable, but not sharp or overpowering like many essential oils are. You know how perfumes have top, heart and base notes that compliment each other? I feel there's something similar with the scent of this balm as it unveils its layers slowly, layer by layer and lingers sweetly. I can pick up sandalwood and ylang-ylang notes. I'm not a big fan of lavender, but fortunately the wild mountain lavender isn't as strong or sharp. I much prefer this type of light and soft scent experience VS something strongly fragranced.
I reach for the Sweet Serenity Beauty Balm especially when I need to treat my thirsty skin or when I'm feeling flakey, stressed or needing extra protection after using harsher ingredients in my routine (such as acids or retinol). My skin isn't particularly sensitive or easily irritated, but I believe this balm would suit beautifully for these skin types as well (if you're not particularly sensitive to essential oils).
Max and Me products give me that extra wow-factor so many conventional beauty products lack: the "ahh" feeling of relief, relaxation and pure bliss. I would describe that Max and Me line does not only provide excellent beauty products, but an experience - perfect if you want to invest in your self-care routine. I feel I'm being pampered, nourished and blessed with nature's finest ingredients. I don't want to sound all woo woo, but you can feel the love that's poured into making their handmade products. Max and Me describes its line "highly vibrant" for a season. Love this balm, will repurchase!
Have you tried Max and Me? What's your favorite beauty balm?
A couple of nights ago, I was doing my evening skincare routine I started thinking what what is the core thing of my routine? What has really proven effective over the years? This post is all about it.
Yes, I still do have imperfections, fine lines, acne scars, dark circles (heck, even my dark circles have dark circles) and I had just attacked the blackheads on my nose before taking this image of me without makeup.. But I'm grateful my skin looks as good as it does. I'm turning 30 this year (yikes!) and I refuse to use the impression "looking good for my age" because that's just silly. I'd say my skin is doing pretty good by my standards or compared how it used to be: very prone to acne, spotty and flakey. Some of this advice might sound obvious, but I wanted this post to serve both as a roundup and a remainder of what I've done to maintain my improved skin!
Look, I'm not giving any life advice to anyone. I just chat about beauty. You can [insert here] all the babble about daily drinking of hot lemon water, green juice, 8 hours of sleep, exercise and whatnot that gives you a great skin. Of course it's important to be healthy and our habits have an impact on our bodies, but I'm not here to tell you how you should live. However the research is evident: smoking damages your skin. The lack of oxygen, breakdown of collagen and elastin dulls, yellows and dries the skin. From my personal experience when I've compared my skin to smokers' around my age the difference is pretty drastic. Some of my smoker friends have developed early wrinkles and sagging skin much younger than I have. There could be bazillion of other reasons too, but I believe that being a non-smoker has only done me good.
2. Roaccutane / Accutane
This medication is abrasive, but I'm very happy and grateful I ended up trying Accutane medication. I used to suffer from mild yet very annoying acne that simply didn't want to go away. I tried every topical treatment there was, but no acid, spot treatment or doctor prescribed gel could helped me. I also tried lifestyle changes like cutting out dairy and gluten, but those pesky spots just kept coming. I was totally hopeless with my skin, which had a great impact on my self-esteem. When I got prescribed Accutane I decided to try it despite knowing its harsh side-effects. Luckily my skin has been clear ever since! I've written several posts about my acne journey if you care to read more. Only take prescription medication under doctor's supervision, ask more at your local health center.
I'm a big sunscreen advocate ever since I learned about the importance of sun protection. Rain or shine, I slather it on. Even if it's cloudy, our Sun isn't taking a nap or being switched off - the rays will still come through. I won't apply a tiny drop on the tip of the nose but a generous amount covering my whole face, neck and décolleté if I'm not wearing a high-neck top. In the Summer time I make a note to reapply my sunscreen and make sure the backs of my hands get some too. Sunscreen is THE most important thing when it comes to prevent untimely signs of wrinkles and sun spots. If you decide to spend a small fortune on a treatment or a serum it may go in vain if you decide to skip sunscreen - especially if the active ingredients (retinols, acids, etc) may cause sun sensitivity. I recommend budget sunscreens (Korean are often cosmetically elegant) and a liberal application!
4. Double cleansing
Going down to the very basics here! I think I first discovered double cleansing years ago (what feels like a lifetime) from Japan: first you remove all makeup, SPF, dirt and grime with an oil-based cleanser and secondly cleanse the skin with a foaming cleanser. What seemed revolutionary back then is an everyday routine for me now and I do it every single evening. Yup, even after those late nights dancing I wash my face before crashing in bed. These products can be whatever suits your taste and skin type, but oils and balms work excellent to remove makeup and other gunk BEFORE you cleanse your skin. I swear this routine will have a positive impact on the clarity of your skin.
5. Layering water-based products with oils
I like to refer to my skincare routine as the "sandwich method" aka layering hydrating skincare products and topping everything with a beauty oil or a balm. I start from light textures and move my way up to heavier emollients. For example: a lightly exfoliating toner that doesn't strip the skin, a hydrating essence, a hyaluronic acid or other hydrating serum, let them sink in and follow with an oil and cream/balm depending time of the day. I feel that "sealing in" humectants with an oil helps to retain the hydration while oil gives the final moisture boost. If you don't like oils, an occlusive cream is a good option.
+1 Extra: Be Kind To Yourself and Take No BS
Even if you're not very into skincare, small and easy changes can have a great impact on the look and feel of your skin. I believe that taking time and allowing superficial care also affects how you feel in your skin. In the end it's not all about the looks, but you being healthy and feeling good enough. If saying a kind word to yourself in a front of a mirror feels overpowering, how about skipping one word of self-blame? Never forget that confidence doesn't come in a jar and self-care doesn't require hocus pocus potions with $$$ price tag. (More about skincare as a form of self-care coming in another post)
What's your best, simple, foolproof skincare advice you've proven effective? (Also, what was the last time you posted a makeup free selfie on the Internet?)
Ahh, Hollow, we reunite again. I had purchased my first Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow from BeautyBay.com a couple years ago, loved it intensely, but last year I don't think I reached for it even once.. Partly because contouring powders such as Surratt Griege and Kevyn Aucoin Contour in Light had taken over, partly because I didn't feel comfortable with using a cream product that was a couple years old. I finally decided to toss it and after my no-buy ended I happily discovered Beauty Bay was having it on sale! 14 euros (~$17 USD) felt like a bargain and in my cart it went. Let's talk if it was worth re-purchasing.
Illamasqua Cream Pigments
Illamasqua is a British makeup company known for their angular packaging. At this moment they have Cream Pigments in 6 shades, I'm personally reviewing just Hollow, which is their cult shade for contouring the face. These pigments are advertised as multi-purpose use: eyes, face and body. The formula is matte and supposedly crease and water-resistant. One Cream Pigment has a generous 8g of product for £18/ €20.30/ $24.70, but I'd look for sales. Made in Germany. The packaging is a see-thorough angular jar with a separate black lid.
Texture and Pigmentation
Unlike many "whipped" cream eyeshadows (such as Tom Ford or Charlotte Tilbury), Illamasqua's pigment in Hollow is quite a dense cream. The texture reminds me of a firm pot concealer more than an eyeshadow or a cream bronzer. If you've tried Laura Mercier's Secret Camouflage or NARS Soft Matte Concealer, I'd say the texture is somewhere in-between. I could imagine you get a better color pay-off by "warming up" the pigment similarly to waxy concealers, but personally I avoid sticking my fingers in the pot for hygiene reasons. You can pick up some product with a spatula, but of course that's a hassle. I would prefer a softer cream, but I guess the firmness improves the longevity and water-resistance.
Hollow is advertised as very pigmented for professional use, but I'd say the pigmentation is light-medium if you use a brush. Perfect for day-to-day natural contouring as the color can be built up and is hard to overdo. The cream isn't exactly dry, but due its density it needs some working to get a proper amount on the brush - I wouldn't mind this except I've got a hair or two from the brush into my cream, which is quite annoying.
Working with Hollow
For cream contour I like to use my small Koyudo foundation brush, which I find perfect for contouring the non-existing hollows of my cheeks and defining the jaw-line. Shaquda's angular 812 foundation brush would be my second choice. A dense makeup sponge could also be a good alternative for picking up the product, but I always reach for my Japanese brushes.
I find the cream too firm for using your fingers for blending without dragging your skin. "For science" I did try a finger application to see if the warmth of my hands would help with the stiffness issues, but sadly blending with a brush didn't get any easier.
I'm not too scared the cream pigment will dry out when I have the jar open, but to ensure freshness I would prefer a clicking or magnetic closure. Having only a simple lid for a cream product seems a bit dated for me. I was never a fan of Illamasqua's angular jars as I don't find them very visually elegant, plus it's hard to get to the angular corners of the jar.
I start shading my cheekbones near my ear, working my way down. The pigment blends easily to my skin and I haven't noticed my foundation moving underneath. I've also used Hollow after slightly dusting my face with a finishing powder without any problem: no pigment sticking to the powder or going patchy. If you have breakouts on your cheek area, pinpoint concealing and working with a cream pigment could be troublesome - in this case I would opt for a powder contour. I do have to pick up the product a couple of times to build up the intensity, but I prefer working with subtle layers instead of blending out too intense contour.
Hollow is a cool taupe leaning ashy grey. For comparison I've swatched some of my most used liquid and powder contour products. You can see how much greener the Kevyn Aucoin is? Also a well-loved cult product, but if this shade didn't work for your skin tone, there are other alternatives. Rouge Bunny Rouge's is significantly redder (but a pleasure to use - review here), the Surratt would be the most neutral in my opinion.
Final Thoughts on Hollow
Illamasqua's Hollow should be talked about more often as it's a wonderful ashy contour shade for fair to light skin tones. Unfortunately I don't think the color transfers on very olive or medium to deep skin tones. I wish Illamasqua had similar pigments for other skin tones, but the rest of the pigments are more colorful (I'm not sure if Hollow was originally intended for contouring). Thanks to Hollow's dry and firm texture, I imagine it suits well for a variety of skin types and would last long even on oily skins or in a humid climate. If you're acneic I would double cleanse especially carefully after using the pigment, making sure you remove all traces of makeup (and mineral oil).
But in the end.. I'm not head over heels when it comest to Hollow. It wasn't as good as I remembered. Maybe I got a drier one or my taste in contour products has changed, but I found the the stiff texture is somewhat annoying to work with. If you have the time, it does look pretty, but you need to put in some effort. What's your favorite contouring product?
When shopping for beauty products, you know the excitement of seeing something beautiful, new and shiny? Well, I got exactly the opposite feeling when I saw the name of Lancome's new mascara, the Monsieur Big. I get the similar sense of second-hand embarrassment when I see Too Faced's Better Than Sex, Urban Decay's Perversion or the "sex-proof" Troublemaker mascara. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a puritan, but why would I want to associate my mascara with sex? It's not an adult toy, it's something you rub in your eyelashes.
Anyway, after watching hours and hours of Allana Davison's YouTube channel and how she raves about Monsieur Big while looking like a bombshell .. I finally gave in and picked up this mascara on sale. Let's see if it's worth the hype!
Lancome Monsieur Big
This mascara is described as volumizing and obviously giving you "big" lashes while being long-lasting (24h long wear and looking good the morning after). Available in black. Retails for $25/29€, I got mine on sale for 14€. L'oreal (Lancome's parent company) is famous for its good quality mascaras from all price ranges. I think the name of Monsieur Big is inspired by the character from romantic comedy-drama Sex and The City, but changed a bit for copyright reasons.
Packaging and brush
The tube is simple, sleek and dare I say it.. "big". I'm used to see Lancome having very simple yet luxurious, sophisticated mascara tubes, but Monsieur Big gives me a vibe it's aimed at more younger customers (who probably haven't seen Sex and The City??). The logo is in pink, but fortunately not too bright. I like how the packaging has a small but satisfying closing click when you roll the wand back into the tube. It also gives me comfort that the mascara probably won't dry out prematurely.
The brush is also on the thicker side with densely packed bristles. I'd say the brush looks fairly generic, which is not a bad thing as long as it performs. I feel many modern wand designs have gone unnecessarily crazy, I don't need a robot hand to comb my lashes! Despite the large size of Monsieur Big's wand and brush it applies on my shortest lashes, inner and outer corners without a problem. My biggest 1st World problem is when a mascara wand hits my upper lid (especially with cone shaped wands), but I've rarely done that with Monsieur Big.
I never use falsies, but I still want my lashes to be va-va-voom. I want length, volume, lots of more volume and some definition. In other words: I want it all. Monsieur Big does live up to the hype and give very big, full, fluttery and voluminous lashes. The ends of the lashes are also fat vs elongated, but I like little "spider legs" here and there. I prefer to comb the product in the lengths and tips of my lashes instead of wiggling between the roots to give my lashes lots of volume and drama.
If a mascara smudges during the day we're breaking up instantly. I can take some setbacks like endless layering, hard-to-remove formulas, even some flaking from a tubing mascara, but smudging is an instant turn-off. I do not wear contact lenses, but I take naps and in the cold weather I might shed a tear, which are true tests for a mascara. Monsieur Big is not waterproof, but I'd say it's mildly water-resistant as it hasn't bled all over my when I've teared up a little. I expected panda eyes with such a big lashes and wet formula, but I've only needed to touch up my lower lash line a tiny bit. The 24-hour and "day after" lasting power are false claims though, the mascara flakes a bit if I take a nap. If you want truly a water-resistant or waterproof mascara go for Japanese drugstore ones. Monsieur Big removes easily with a regular cleansing oil.
I have okay, mediocre lashes. Without giving them a good curl they look like nothing at all. In the 1st image I've curled my lashes with the Surratt eyelash curlers (review here) and in the 2nd I've applied what I call one coat of Monsieur Big mascara to my lashes. Normally I would apply a second layer to build more drama, maybe comb my lashes a bit to make them more separated, but I skipped these steps for the demo. I'm quite liking it!
Guess what.. I would repurchase this mascara in a blink. Not for the outrageous price in Finland 29€ (~$36)! Mascara should be replaced every 3 months and I've never tried a mascara that was worthy of spending 20€. But I'd pick up Monsieur Big in tax free or on sale. I'd purchase a backup. It's a very nice mascara if you're satisfied with the length of your natural lashes but want to add more drama and volume.
What's your current favorite mascara? Do you ever get tired of silly marketing or product names?