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Summer came early this year to Helsinki. We had unusually warm days in May, early June and now there's a heatwave again! Don't want to complain, but we don't have AC's at home and it's impossible to.. well, move or do anything without breaking a sweat. I haven't been wearing a ton of makeup, but piling on sunscreen and sweating my face off has made my skin feel a bit grubby and congested. Masks and scrubs to the rescue!

After posting a recent scrub + mask routine on Insta Stories, my friend Kia asked my thoughts; I got inspired to share them with everyone with additional exfoliating products. You see, I've never been a heavy peel/scrub type of a person, but I've used chemical exfoliants (BHA, AHA) in my daily routine for years. After some searching and testing I've found hits from each category: masks, scrubs and my favorite toner. If you're not familiar with exfoliating, just drop me a message in the comment box and I'll do a more thorough post on the subject.

Why to exfoliate?

Daily exfoliating is a key for smooth and even skin tone in long-term. Exfoliating is basically removing the top layer of dead skin cells from epidermis (top layer of skin), which also happens naturally through cell turnover. Our skin generates new cells from dermis and replaces the old cells on the top, but as we age this cell turnover slows down. Too many dead skin cells can make the appearance of the skin look uneven, dry, clogged or lackluster. By exfoliating we can gently reveal younger and "fresh" cells and improve our skin tone and texture. Treatment products such as essences and serums also penetrate better freshly exfoliated skin.

Everyone can exfoliate (face and body) despite your age and skin type, but for daily use and sensitive skin types I recommend gentle products that help to improve the appearance of the skin over time. Some people tolerate more abrasive products than others (such as BHA), but you can build up tolerance for exfoliating acids over time. Personally I'm a huge fan of gentle exfoliating as a part of my daily skincare routine. I find it has helped me to diminish the appearance of my acne scaring, clogged pores (blackheads) and overall tone. I have dry skin so I try to exfoliate my body at least 2-3 per week to avoid "lizard skin" on my legs. After exfoliating make sure to moisturize and use SPF as the skin may be sensitized!

Favorite Mild Daily Exfoliator: January Labs

I've talked about my love towards January's Daily Brightening Tonic* in this post and I'm currently on my second bottle. The main exfoliating ingredient in this toner is lactic acid, which is a very gentle exfoliating acid with humectant properties. Lactic acid has a slightly larger molecular size, so it won't penetrate too deep causing irritation, but still loosens up the bonds between dead skin cells, revealing more plump and fresh skin underneath. The January Labs Daily Brightening Tonic also has soothing aloe, moisturizing glycerin and sodium PCA with oat kernel extract that condition the skin. In other words, I'd say this toner is very nicely balanced as it exfoliates while treats the skin as well. 150ml / ~29.05€

Step two: A Gentle Scrub

After discovering peeling gels I didn't reach for scrubs for a couple of years, but now I've introduced them back to my weekly routine. Scrubs are exfoliators with particles such as seeds, sugar or beads that rub off dead skin cells. Harsher particles are excellent for thicker body skin, but for the face I recommend looking for a gentle scrub and absolutely no plastic beads! My recent favorites are from eco/eco friendly brands called Yon-Ka and Bybi Beauty. When I'm feeling particularly grimy, sweaty or have worn tons of makeup I want to make extra sure my face is properly double cleansed and exfoliated before adding any treatments or serums.

Yon-Ka is a Parisian spa brand. While massaging their Guarana Scrub* on your skin the texture gets frothy, almost like a milky cleanser, leaving the skin properly clean and refreshed. The exfoliating particles are guarana and organic brown rice, which are a bit large and strong for my taste, so I like to save this scrub for pamper nights and special occasions. I apply it on damp skin with circular movements, avoiding the eye area or excess rubbing when I remove the scrub. If your skin is perhaps oily and resilient, I think you'd enjoy this one. 50ml / ~50€ (check your local Yon-Ka spa for the price)

Bybi's Prime Time Natural Cleansing Scrub* has both abrasive and non-abrasive particles made of jojoba beads, but overall I think the particles are more gentle and smaller compared to Yon-Ka. I take a pea size amount and mix it with little water for a milky texture scrub. The product has hydrating vegetable glycerin, sweet almond oil and shea butter (just to name a few) so the skin won't feel tight or dry after exfoliating. I'd pick this one if your skin is more sensitive or you prefer to scrub multiple times a week. Bybi Prime Time has less exfoliating particles compared to Yon-Ka (so you might use it more), but the price is quite reasonable. 60ml / 33,90€ (Finnish price, less expensive overseas)

Step three: An Exfoliating Masks for 'Special' Occasions

I like to rotate scrubs and exfoliating masks in my weekly routine - combining them on the same day could cause irritation and perhaps over-exfoliating. One of my favorite sheet masks of late is by My Scheming's Mandelic Acid Brightening mask. Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) with twice as large molecular size compared to glycolic, making mandelic acid more tolerable for those with sensitive skin. Therefore I dare to reach for this mask regularly and not worry about over-exfoliating or irritation. According to Beauty Pedia mandelic acid is light-sensitive, but you won't have this problem if you use it in a sheet mask form. My Scheming sheet mask adheres nicely to the skin, leaving my complexion even and well-hydrated! I still need to compare this mask to Naruko's version properly, I have a feeling it might as good if not better.. 1 mask / 1-2€

And last but certainly not least.. the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask*. I've talked a lot about AHA products in this post, but the Resurfacing Mask is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) mask from willow-bark extract. The mask is aloe based and packed with Lactobacillus and other ferment extracts. It feels like a cool, pale peach jelly on the skin. Although I love Tata Harper I didn't expect a miracle or a facial in a jar and I think I got both.. not only my skin is significantly brighter after every use but also feels 'firmer' or 'tighter' without being dry. Sensitive skins might experience some tingling while using this mask, so I recommend a patch test or a sample first. I can't wait to get my hands on the full size! If you want an instant glow in a jar, this might be my first recommendation. 30ml / 65€

What exfoliating products have you been loving lately?

* Products marked with an asterisk (*) have been kindly gifted for consideration.
My thoughts are honest and my own.

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Whamisa has taken Finland by a storm! Not only K-beauty is still a new-ish thing in here, but also people who love eco beauty are excited to discover a brand that combines Korean beauty with ecological, fermented ingredients. I've spoken about hanbang aka Korean fermented skincare in a previous post, make sure to check it out! Today I'm reviewing Whamisa's Organic Flowers Toner (essence), you can find more Whamisa reviews linked below the post.

Whamisa Organic Flowers Toner Deep Rich

120ml / ~4 fl. oz for €42 / ~$49.14

Whamisa's Organic Flowers Toner Deep Rich* is a bouncy, serum or thick essense-like toner that is enriched with argan oil, botanical extracts and galactomyces. Whamisa's signature is fermenting all ingredients for maximum efficacy. Recommended for normal and dry skin types. 97.40% of the ingredients (yes, very specific) are organic. Available in Finland in many dept. stores, organic skincare shops and Natural Goods Company online store

 

Packaging

I really like the boxes of Whamisa products. Very simple and easy to recycle. They all have added braille, which I think is very considerate of them. The information is both in English and in hangul. Organic Flowers Toner (Deep Rich) is housed in a frosted glass bottle, pretty heavy duty and quality one I'd say. If you're planing to travel with the toner I'd recommend decanting it. The only minor issue is the cap, which is a bit difficult to close - especially one handed if you have product on your other hand. Not the easiest one to twist, but otherwise everything is fine with the packaging.

So what is fermentated skincare? 

I've written a whole article about hanbang aka fermented skincare in another post, please click here for more reference. Fermentation is not a new procedure by any means; so keep your head cool while shopping. In Korea, fermentation is an important part of the traditional cuisine, herbal medicine, and of course - skincare. Many brands claim that fermented ingredients are better-absorbed by the skin, which is true as skin absorbs smaller molecule size better - which is beneficial as long as the ingredients are still active. How will you know that? I doubt you will. Some brands also claim that the ingredients are also more bio-active after fermentation, meaning increase in nutrients, minerals and active ingredients. According to some studies I've seen, this should be true at least with red ginseng and soy beans.

More on fermented skincare:

My post on hanbang skincare here
Labmuffin article
Klog article

Ingredients
*Aloe Maculata Leaf Extract, Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, *Glycerin, *Chrysanthemum Morifolium Flower Extract, *Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, *Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, *Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, ***Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, ***Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract, ***Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Lithospermum Erythrorhizon Root Extract, *Helichrysum Arenarium Flower Extract, Xanthan Gum, *Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Extract,*Lactobacillus/Chrysanthemum Sinense Flower Ferment Filtrate, *Lactobacillus/ Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Ferment Filtrate, *Lactobacillus/ Taraxacum Officinale (Dandelion) Rhizome/Root Ferment Filtrate, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil, **Fragrance, d-Limonene, Linalol  (*Certified Organically Grown **Natural Origin ***Natural Preservative / Bergamot Oil Bergaptene Free)

Galactomyces is a nutrient-dense fungi and a by-product of fermented sake (soy). The very famous and expensive SK-II Facial Treatment Essence uses Pitera in their essence, which is branded by-product of sake fermentation. Personally I love anything fermented and of course I was interested in trying this in skincare, although I could find only little independent articles or studies about the subjects. Galactomyces is said to help with acne, sebum excretion and look of pores, let's say "overall" look of the skin.

I like it how the toner is not water based but aloe, has high amounts of hydrating glycerin, soothing oat kernel extract and moisturizing avocado oil. Oat kernel extract is a wonderful anti-inflammatory and soothing plant extract. There is no traces of oiliness when you pat the toner on your skin, just instant concoction of hydration and moisture. The rest of the ingredients are mainly root extracts and xanthan gum (thickener), but there is also lactobacillus ferment filtrates to boost the effects of the floral extracts. One of the plant root extracts featured at the top of the ingredients list is licorice, which helps to diminish dark spots and pigmentation. 

At the bottom of the ingredients there are some fragrance ingredients, which I assume is to counteract the fermented smell (which I find quite pleasing, but some of you might not). Please patch test if you're afraid of a reaction. Although this product works well for me (I'm not very reactive), it's a good thing to test when if you're introducing a completely different type of a skincare item (eco, fermented) to your routine.

Using Whamisa Organic Flowers Toner Deep Rich Toner

I really like applying an exfoliating toner first with a cotton pad (such as January Labs Daily Brightening Tonic reviewed here) to add some sort of acid into my routine. Exfoliating toners are often light waters while Whamisa is "heavier" or even "stickier" in texture - if you've used the Hadalabo Gokyjun Premium Lotion there's similar viscosity (although I can't stand the Hadalabo Premium for some reason). Despite the toner's texture - it doesn't feel heavy on my skin, but absorbs beautifully with an instant plumping effect. There isn't any sort of uncomfortable sticky trace on my skin.

Sometimes when I'm in a pinch or a hurry, I simply apply this toner, moisturizer and my sunscreen. Of course I love serums and oils but this combination alone is enough to hydrate my skin for the day. If you're very oily though you might prefer the lighter versions of this toner. I haven't suffered from any skin issues recently, so I'm unsure if this toner alone can treat dullness, dark spots or irritation, but it does keep my skin balanced, even and happy.

Overall thoughts

I've found a new favorite essence/toner that doesn't break the bank! I did have high hopes for Whamisa and I certainly wasn't let down. I'm so happy this product is easy to access in Finland and I can often utilize coupons and discounts as it's sold by various retailers. I'm very excited to try more from the line. My only complaint would be the cap, as it's a bit difficult to close (I've also been testing the Whamisa cream and managed to break the cap..), but it's a small issue. Will definitely purchase once I run out. 

More Whamisa reviews:

Light Summer Moisturizers post
I Love Sheet Masks! (Whamisa Organic Fruits Hydrogel Sheet mask review)

Thank you for reading this review! I know I took an unannounced break from blogging and some social media channels after Midsummer to focus on my personal life. The Finnish Summer is sweet but short, we've been especially blessed with good weather this year. I just felt I needed some time to spend offline and gather my thoughts. Meanwhile I have tested a bunch of interesting new products and I will be reporting back soon! Thank you for understanding! xx Laura

*This product was kindly offered for consideration by Natural Goods Company. 
My thoughts are honest and my own.

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Say the word 'sunshine' and it immediately sparks a joy in my dark Finnish heart, starting the Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In medley play in my head (Hair was one of the first musicals I saw as a kid). Today I want to share you some light texture moisturizers I've been enjoying especially during the warmer months. You could use them all year around when layered properly with other skincare, but you probably knew that! I see many have already posted on this same topic, but more choice the merrier?

Whamisa Organic Flowers Nourishing Cream*

50ml/1.69 fl.oz. for 39€/~$35

Whamisa's Organic Flowers Nourishing Cream comes in a gorgeous cardboard packaging, but the tube itself is pretty simple and humble so I didn't expect too much..? They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I'm a graphic designer so I do, haha. Anyway, this cream took my by surprise as it's very lightweight but gives beautiful moisturization. I love the texture, it's strangely almost "whipped" when it comes out of the tube. I find patting this on my skin such a pleasure as it leaves my skin plump but not heavy or greasy - although out of Whamisa's creams I think this is the one aimed towards to more normal-to-dry skin types.

The cream is aloe-based with easily absorbing mango, cocoa, avocado and shea butters that leave your skin feeling soft, nourished and bouncy. Judging by the name I expected a strong floral fragrance, but the scent is very mild and almost undetectable. Whamisa is famous for their fermented skincare ingredients that are high in antioxidants and nutrients. I've read that fermented ingredients could possibly also absorb better into the skin. To read more about Korean hanbang skincare, check out my post here. My only bummer is that the cap in my tube doesn't close very securely, but keeps twisting and turning. There's no product leakage, but I'd feel safer to travel with it if the cap closed tight.

Ingredients:

*Aloe Maculata Leaf Extract, *Beeswax, *Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, *Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, *Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Butter, *Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, *Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, **Cetearyl Olivate, **Sorbitan Olivate, **Cetearyl Alcohol, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Caulerpa Lentillifera Extract, ***Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, ***Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, ***Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, **Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, *Lactobacillus/Maculata Aloe Leaf/Molasses Ferment Filtrate, D-limonene, *Lactobacillus/Chrysanthemum Sinense Flower Ferment Filtrate, *Lactobacillus/Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Ferment Filtrate, *Lactobacillus/Taraxacum Officinale (Dandelion) Rhizome/Root Ferment Filtrate, Pollen, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Geranium Maculatum Oil, Royal Jelly, Fusanus Spicatus Wood Oil, Linalol

*Certified Organically Grown **Natural Origin ***Natural Preservative / Bergamot Oil Bergaptene Free
Kora Organics Hydrating Moisturizer*

50ml/1.69 fl.oz. for 55€ / $48

Kora Organics is a new-ish brand founded by Miranda Kerr. This tube of moisturizer is equipped with a pump, which makes me very happy as it's sanitary as well prevents air contact. The product comes out as a thin lotion, which is surprisingly hydrating and moisturizing for my dry skin. I admit this Summer I've amped up the light essences and used less oils and heavy creams, as I've felt my skin needs less moisturization. In Winter I think this lotion is on the lighter side and would need me to incorporate a facial oil into my routine. You need a couple of pumps to spread this all over your face and neck. If you're more normal-to-oil I think this would serve well alone all year around. I've loved this moisturizer especially during day time under my makeup as it sinks in quickly, doesn't feel greasy or pill under makeup!

The ingredients list is very nice, I always appreciate it when my creams are high with humectants and based in aloe vera leaf juice instead of water. After your usual humectants this Kora Organics Hydrating Moisturizer is packed with macadamia, avocado, olive and sunflower seed oils. Despite having a high content of oils, especially oleic acids, this cream doesn't feel greasy to me. Macadamia is high in oleic acid (Omega 9), which is great for chapped, dry skin, well-absorbed and also has some anti-inflammatory properties. This cream is also packed with other oils from flowers and wood, which amps up the antioxidant content. 

Ingredients:

Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Macadamia Ternifolia (Macadamia Nut) Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Morinda Citrifolia Fruit Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Juniperus Virginiana Oil, Guaiacum Officinale Wood Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Fusanus Spicatas Wood Oil, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Benzyl Alcohol, Punica Granatum Sterols, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Xanthan Gum, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Seed Oil,  Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Tocopherol, Beta-Sitosterol, Squalene, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Alpha Bisabolol, Quartz, Potassium Hydroxide, Dehydroacetic Acid, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Water, Farnesol**, Citronellol **, Geraniol**. 
**From essential oils.
January Labs Moisture Balancing Lotion*

60ml / 2 fl.oz for 23.9€ / $28

January Labs makes 'simple' yet powerful skincare. Their Moisture Balancing Lotion was my first introduction to the brand a couple of years ago, as I was looking for an inexpensive yet well formulated moisturizer. And I got it. After trying most from the line the Revitalizing Day Cream ended surpassing this lotion for me, but the Moisture Balancing Lotion still remains as a staple in my boyfriend's skincare cabinet. It's not awfully expensive, helps chapped or irritated skin, balances and above all (for him) - absorbs quickly.

Squalane is one of my favorite ingredients, being a stable emollient that moisturizes efficiently. The second ingredient is aloe vera, then avocado oil, glycerin (a humectant), Vitamin E, then plant-based oils and butters. There's a bit of shea butter and coconut oil in the formula in the case you're sensitive to those ingredients. Otherwise I find this cream pretty suitable for any sensitive skin as it doesn't have any essential oils or fragrance for example. 

Ingredients:

Squalane, Aloe Vera, Avocado Oil, Glycerin, Vitamin E, Jojoba Seed Oil, Sesame Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Glyceryl Stearate, Sunflower Seed Oil, Goji Fruit Extract, Organic Cucumber Extract, Organic Chamomile Extract, Organic Argan Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Isopropyl Palmitate, Coconut oil, starflower Seed Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Linseed Seed Oil, Cranberry Oil, Olive Oil, Lime Oil, Rose oil, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Water
January Labs Revitalizing Day Cream*

50ml/1.69 fl.oz. for 58€ / $68

Finally perhaps my favorite cream of all time. Revitalizing Day Cream is actually a more "runny" type of a cream, almost like a light lotion while the others mentioned in this post have been very light or almost whipped type of creams. One pump of the Revitalizing Day Cream spreads easily, lightly and on a large surface. I love the feel of this cream as it's like giving a big drink to my skin. If I'm lacking hydration or moisture in my routine after applying toner, essence and serum I sure know to pick up this cream. The packaging is genius as it's an air-tight pump and doesn't leave any product inside the packaging!

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is a coconut oil and glycerin derivative, an excellent emollient and prevents moisture loss from the skin, making it look plump and youthful. Again, if you're super sensitive to coconut or its derivatives then perhaps get your hands on a sample first. (Personally I used to be very prone to breaking out and I've never had a problem with this cream). Beta-Glucan is one of the stars of this cream, a polysaccharide sugar derived from oats or yeast. It's considered an excellent ingredient to sooth the skin, calm redness and other sensitives. The rest of the ingredients include niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and many plant extracts including green tea. I've gone through several bottles of this moisturizer and will repurchase forever. Full review here.

Ingredients:

Water (Aqua), Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Beantree Oil, Beta-Glucan, Verbena Officinalis Extract, Hydrolyzed Soybean Fiber, Propanediol, Niacinamide, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Stearyl Alcohol, C14-22 Alcohols, Tocopheryl Acetate, Allantoin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry) Extract, Silybum Marianum (Milk Thistle) Extract, Pinus Pinaster Bark (Maritime Pine) Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Extract, Glycerin, Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry) Fruit Extract, Euterpe Oleacea Fruit Extract, Lycium Barbarum (Goji) Extract, Aristotelia Chilensisui Fruit Extract, Aronia Arbutifolia/Aronia Melanocarpa (Chokeberry) Fruit Extract, Garcinia Mangostana Fruit Extract, Punica Granatum Fruit Extract, Morinda Citrifolia Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.

And there you go, my favorite moisturizer picks for this Summer! If you're wondering why the €/$ price difference in Whamisa and Kora is so high compared to January Labs: I searched for the Finnish and US retail prices (and Finland is super expensive..) while January Labs is sold on Cult Beauty (UK) and their prices are similar to the US pricing. Summer or Winter, your go-to moisturizer for this season? Let me know!

* These products are PR samples kindly offered for consideration. Both January Labs products I've also purchased myself. All of my thoughts are unbiased and my own.

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We encounter enormous amount of stress in everyday modern life: Work, studies, health, wealth, family, relationships, scheduling, holidays.. The list goes on and on. Sometimes even pleasant events can cause our mind and heart to race, not to forget the unpleasant ones. In today's post I'll share how to ease stress by taking some (well-needed) me-time while pampering your mind and skin. As we all behave differently, cherry pick whatever works for you.

My relationship with self-care

When I was first introduced to the idea of 'self-care' I was hesitant. Do I deserve this? Why would I want to give myself something good when I don't deserve it – at least not before I've ticked all the boxes in my endless to-do list. In my early twenties I hated to be present with myself. As I've grown older I've learned that I'm not a machine, I can't endlessly perform without taking care of myself first. Also, I've learned the hard way the fact that eating, sleeping or good things in general are not about 'deserving'. You don't deserve those things, you need them to function.

Honestly, I'm not very good when it comes to dealing with stress. Being an artist I constantly want to push myself further, improve myself, be more creative and efficient. Sadly, inspiration isn't something you can force yourself to have, which gives me enormous anxiety and stress from time to time. There's always nagging voices in my head: accomplish more, do it better, be more creative. If something you love becomes a distressing task it's time to step back, take a breather and focus on something else until you can try again later. Easier said than done. As looking after yourself is not a one-time deal, I now include a little bit of self-care to everyday or when possible.

Why self-care is important

I bet you've heard this one before: when boarding an airplane, the in-flight security information tells to put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then help the others? Yep. Taking care of yourself is not about being a selfish bitch, but an essential in order to help others, and - survive. Remind yourself about this example if/when you're having doubts if you "deserve" taking care of yourself, you're a workaholic or if you have the habit of always putting others before yourself (I'm looking at you, parents). Secondly, accept the idea that self-care has nothing to do with being vain or selfish, but to achieve balance and being content your skin, your life.

What is self-care?

From my perspective, self-care are tiny habits you can include in everyday to soothe the amount of stress and help you be in you be balanced: mentally, emotionally and physically. These habits can fit into a short amount of time, with little or no cost - but sometimes a good pamper evening or a bit of splurge on yourself is good too. Here are my tips for mental and emotional well-being:

- Make your self-care routine a ritual, a conscious moment.

- Give yourself a tiny compliment. Preferably in a front of a mirror. If complimenting yourself feels difficult, try to say something accepting. Let's say you dislike your legs and they bother you, think to yourself: these legs are good enough, they can carry and walk me around. Avoid negative phrasing such as "I don't hate my legs" because our brains tend to ignore the word "don't".

- Have a method to stop your mind racing (especially with negative thoughts). For some people it's breathing and meditating, there are bracelets and apps to help if you prefer some kind of guidance (I like Headspace app, but I'm not sure if meditating is for me). To others it might be singing while blasting your favorite feel-good, kickass music and dancing like nobody's watching. Walking, stretching or other physical activity is great as well because it can momentarily give physical space to things you're dealing with. I also like writing a journal to get the thoughts out of my system.

- A physical activity or a hobby that you don't despise. Trust me on this. If you like all kinds of activities, you're in luck because exercise is a great help for mental well-being! Even if you hate sports, there can be something you find mildly durable. Try a new activity, exercise with a friend or make yourself to go a class. If you can't stand running, don't talk yourself down and force yourself to go - try something else! I was always the nerdy type who only exercised to burn calories, but it all changed when I found bouldering. Even after a quick session I feel awesome!

- Introduce ritualistic me-time to your day and give it an extra 15 minutes. It can be doing your skincare routine, watching your favorite show in the evening, playing a video game while commuting or cooking from scratch. Whatever you like, just give it some extra time you can enjoy it with all of your senses. For me it's my morning routine: I wake extra early so I can shower, have coffee and breakfast, do my skincare and makeup in peace while watching Youtube videos or whatever. I also love being creative. If I don't have time to blog, photograph or paint I use the 15 minutes to write my journal, plan my to-do lists or read my notes. It's only 15 minutes, most people can squeeze that into their schedule (by looking less at your phone, for example).

Pamper routine for self-care morning or evening

Now if this routine feels and sounds like a cliché to you then don't do it. Or tweak it, make it your own - this time it's all about you! If you love music, turn it on. My inner introvert enjoys silence before and after a long day, so personally I do my skincare without it. I save audiobooks and podcasts when I need to focus on creative work. I lit a candle, preferably a slightly scented one (and no, it doesn't need to be Diptyque to be enjoyable). I put my hair up with a comfortable hair band.

Second, I pour myself a drink of choice. I can miraculously drink coffee in the evenings without ruining my sleep rhythm, but sometimes tea, matcha latte or even a glass of wine will do. I'm one of those annoying people who put on a sheet mask and drink prosecco with a straw - I would do it in a bubble bath if I had one! Haha. Enjoy whatever you choose, but be mindful when you prepare yourself the tea (relax) and use your finest cup or glass. Invest in the moment, quit all "Well, it's if just me so I don't need X" sort of thinking. You do.

Thirdly, cleansing. Think you're not only cleansing your skin, but all the stress, chores, etc. from the day. Give yourself a moment, massage the cleanser into your skin with slow motions. After 1st cleanse I recommend using a luscious balm, such as the de Mamiel cleansing balm, which pampers both your senses and your skin. Whatever you choose to use, remove it gently with a warm damp cloth. Taking the time to remove something with a hot cloth makes the moment extra special in my opinion. You can also pop into a hot shower or take a bath if that's what you prefer. While you cleanse, try remaining serene, let all your stress just go.

Finally I choose a face mask. Sometimes I do one or two depending on what my skin feels like - try to listen yourself: is my skin feeling rough? Dry? Dehydrated? Oily? Spotty? All of them above? Then your answer to the problem is partial masking, but if you're unsure which to choose then go for hydration. Even oily skins benefit from hydration, so giving your skin (and yourself) a big drink is always needed. I use a wash-off mask after removing my makeup and finish of with a hydrating sheet mask (here is what I've tested recently). I massage all excess essence on my chest, arms, whatever. I sip my drink, read, watch Youtube, type something on my laptop while masking. 

To finish the routine I apply my skincare, do a mini facial massage with my facial oil and apply a balm on the top.

Suggestions

To avoid making this post two-miles-long I give you more pamper suggestions:

- Bubble bath or a warm shower with bubbles
- Proper exfoliating and moisturizing body routine afterwards (try mixing body oil and body lotion!)
- Burning candles, incense or enjoying a room spray
- Silencing all the social media and enjoying a book or a movie
- Calling to a good friend and chatting
- Facial massage with facial oil or cleansing oil
- Gua sha massage or jade roller
- Stretching or yoga routine (there's plenty of instructions on Youtube)
- Wash-off mask or a sheet mask (or both!)
- Doing your nails
- Rubbing ointments or balms to the 'neglected' body areas: knees, cuticles etc.
- Apply a hair mask or conditioner and keep it for a while
- Enjoy sauna, regular or infra-red

What are your thoughts on this post/subject? What's your perfect me-time moment?

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Here comes a confession: I don't have pretty, modelesque feet or hands. As much as I love beauty and taking care of my skin, nails and hair, I've never had a pedicure or a manicure. But these imperfections don't bother me as I take care of my hands and feet in another way - and that's what I'm going to talk about today. If you're hysterical about soft hands and feet, look away now!

How Hands and Feet Are Treated in Finland

Fist of all, in Finland we spend most of the year wearing (rain) boots and not sandals, so pedicures aren't a standard in here. Professionally done they're also on the expensive side. Last time I saw an ad for a full pedicure it was €79 which is around ~$93. NINETY THREE DOLLARS. Some people do get nail extensions if their nails are fragile or show their hands a lot at work, but it's more common to see natural or self-painted nails. However, Finnish people are addicted to hand creams and moisturizers. Everyone and I mean everrrryone has a hand cream in their purse, desk, whatever. Yes, this is to make your hand look nice but also protect from cold and windburns.

My Relationship To Hand Care

I first tried bouldering about 1 1/2 years ago and got immediately hooked. At the same time I kissed goodbye to hand creams and started embracing my calluses. You see, the harder my hands are the longer I can climb and hang without feeling any pain, my grip feels also firmer. To me soft hands mean vulnerable hands and baby-soft skin may get flappers (skin tearing off) more easily, which needs a band-aid and taping. My hands are more comfortable with magnesium powder than manicures.

I do like to paint my nails from time to time as I like the extra touch they add to outfits - just like jewellery, but color! I like Essie polishes and Take the Day Off top coat as they last almost a week on me, but usually I need to remove the polish after climbing sessions. I don't really mind as I like switching the color. I need to keep my nail length at minimum so I won't scrape the wall and hurt myself. Imagine your nails scratching a chalkboard - not very comfortable. I've grown to like my nails short, I understand if some people have very fragile nails and choose to get extensions, but it isn't for me. I always file my hand nails to the same direction and take vitamins regularly (Biotin is magic for hair and nails!) to keep them from flaking or tearing.

And Feet Care (or Not-Care)

My feet are naturally odd shape and they naturally get a lot of calluses: especially the tips of my toes, the sides of my pinky toe, heel, etc. One of my earliest memories as a child is my Mom treating my calluses: that's how I learned the difference between left and right. A few years ago I started to see a foot therapist: to my readers living near Helsinki-Espoo area, I can recommend Foot Vision in Leppävaara.. Far from the pretty foot baths, massages and manicures. She uses a machine to sand my calluses and removes the rest with a surgical blade. I visit her 1-2 per year so because calluses on my feet can hurt walking sometimes.

My foot therapist has advised me to moisturize my feet every night (I'm lazy) and keep longer toe nails, but because of my hobby I really can't have my nails long. Climbing shoes are tiny and I recently went down a whole size to get a better grip on the wall. I do need to take the shoes off from time to time as my toes start to ache, but performance-wise it's worth it!!

How do you care for your hands and feet?
How much does a pedicure cost in your city?

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Time for the annual sunscreen reminder post (originally here!) We Finns tend to loose our shiz when the Sun finally comes after long, dark winter months: everyone's sipping drinks at terraces, sunbathing in parks and swimming in icy cold lakes. We often tend to overlook the importance of sunscreen as most of the year is cold, dark and miserable. But the fact is, if you want to protect your skin - a sunscreen is a must! Today I'm listing some of the sunscreens I've been testing lately and sharing my thoughts.

How I rate sunscreenS

Not all sunscreens are created equally, that's why I've created a system to measure both protective qualities as well as the enjoyability aka cosmetic elegance of a sunscreen. The truth is, if you don't like applying your SPF you probably won't reach for it and get the needed sun protection. Today I'll talk how easily sunscreen applies, SPF and PA factors, white cast and UV filters (chemical or a physical). Unfortunately I didn't have the change to test them in flash photography, but if that's your concern then I'd go for chemical sunscreens (or sunscreen at all, if it's a very special photoshoot). Personally I'm a big advocate of physical sunscreens as I consider them safer for me and the environment, but I've listed some excellent alternatives in the case physical sunscreens make you to break out or so. I'll be listing the INCI but not analyse it very deeply - if you wish to have a separate and more in-depth product review let me know!

Innisfree Perfect UV Protection Cream SPF50 PA+++

UV Filters: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide
White cast: 3/5
Price: $16 / ~€13.7 for 50ml

I've raved about my favorite Innisfree Eco Safety SPF50 PA+++ in multiple empties posts, online forums and so forth. It's definitely my most reached sunscreen for the past +5 years or so. I've literally gone through +20 tubes of this stuff. Somewhat recently Innisfree revamped and renamed this sunscreen line and now there are alternatives for both oily and dry skin. Personally I use the "Tripple Care", which is also water resistant, but doesn't feel tacky, heavy or difficult to cleanse off. Previously the cream was all white, now it has a slight nude tint and blends into the skin easily. The texture is somewhat thick, but I the finish is non-greasy in my opinion. Excellent for dry to normal skin types, if you're oilier (or hate sunscreen) you might enjoy a thinner texture.

Ingredients:

WATER, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, ZINC OXIDE (CI 77947), DIPROPYLENE GLYCOL, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, PEG-10 DIMETHICONE, DICAPRYLYL CARBONATE, TITANIUM DIOXIDE (CI 77891), ISODECYL NEOPENTANOATE, NIACINAMIDE, DISTEARDIMONIUM HECTORITE, CAMELLIA SINENSIS LEAF EXTRACT, MICA (CI 77019), DIMETHICONE, MAGNESIUM SULFATE, METHYL METHACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER, METHICONE, PHENOXYETHANOL, ALUMINUM HYDROXIDE, GLYCERYL CAPRYLATE, FRAGRANCE, DIMETHICONE/VINYL DIMETHICONE CROSSPOLYMER, STEARIC ACID, POLYGLYCERYL-6 POLYRICINOLEATE, TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, CAPRYLYL GLYCOL, ADENOSINE, IRON OXIDES (CI 77492), TRIETHOXYCAPRYLYLSILANE, BIOSACCHARIDE GUM-1, IRON OXIDES (CI 77491), IRON OXIDES (CI 77499), HELIANTHUS ANNUUS (SUNFLOWER) SEED OIL, CAMELLIA JAPONICA LEAF EXTRACT, ORCHID EXTRACT, CITRUS UNSHIU PEEL EXTRACT, OPUNTIA COCCINELLIFERA FRUIT EXTRACT, SACCHAROMYCES FERMENT LYSATE FILTRATE
ACO Sun Dace Fluid Mattifying SPF50+ *

UV Filters: Ethylhexyl salicylate, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol, 
White cast: 2/5
Price: ~$23.35 / €20 for 40ml

ACO Sun Dace Fluid Mattifying SPF50+ has both UVA and UVB protection, but the PA is not always listed in European products separately. ACO's facial sunscreens are very cosmetically elegant, perhaps slightly thicker than Japanese sunscreens, but still spread and blend very beautifully. The white cast is minimal as the lotion absorbs into the skin quickly, leaving it smooth and moisturized feel despite its thin texture. As much as I like ACO's SPF50 I wouldn't recommend it to oilier skins as the name is misleading in my opinion - this sunscreen is dewy, borderline shiny and not mattifying at all. The sheen isn't too greasy but if you're prone to sweat or producing oil during the day I'd try the ACO SPF30.

Ingredients:

Aqua, dibutyl adipate, ethylhexyl salicylate, dicaprylyl carbonate, bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, PEG-30 dipolyhydroxystearate, ethylhexyl triazone, nylon-12, nylon 6/12, ethylhexyl benzoate, glycerin, propanediol, methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol (nano), diglycerin, methyl methacrylate crosspolymer, glyceryl behenate, polyglyceryl-3 diisostearate, zinc PCA, phenoxyethanol, cetyl dimethicone, magnesium sulfate, dimethicone, tocopheryl acetate, paraffinum liquidum, decyl glucoside, polyglycerin-3, disodium EDTA, silica, propylene glycol, xanthan gum, sodium hydroxide, tocopherol
ACO Sun Face Cream SPF30 *

UV Filters: Ethylhexyl salicylate, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate
White cast: 2/5
Price: ~$19.58 / €17 for 40ml

Oddly, this SPF by ACO is slightly thicker in texture than its SPF50 version, but absorbs much nicer into the skin. The lotion spreads easily, leaving the skin smooth to touch, slightly moisturized and not shiny at all. I like it how ACO sunscreens don't feel sticky, tacky or heavy, but as I tend to sweat during the Summer months I prefer more natural/matte sunscreens. This sunscreen isn't advertised as matte, but I'd say it is more matte compared to the SPF50 version. I almost always use SPF50 on my face, but texture-wise I do prefer the ACO Sun Face Cream SPF30. I think I'll run through this tube pretty quickly, but I like having a handbag size SPF to carry with me for re-applying!

Ingredients:

Aqua, octocrylene, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, ethylhexyl salicylate, niacinamide, bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxypheryl triazine, dimethicone, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, propanediol, glycerin, cetearyl alcohol, diglycerin, tapioca starch, biosaccharide gum-4, potassium cetyl phosphate, isopropyl myristate, tocopheryl acetate, ethylhexyl triazone, Helianthus annuus hybrid oil, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/ VP copolymer, alpha-glucan oligosaccharide, polyglycerin-3, xanthan gum, ascorbyl glucoside, sodium hyaluronate, polymethylsilsesquioxane, algin, citric acid, ubiquirone, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate
Madara SUN 30 Plant Stem Cell Antioxidant Sunscreen SPF 30 *

UV Filters: Zinc Oxide
White cast: 2,5-3/5
Price: ~$22.2 / 19€ for 100ml/ 3.38 fl.oz.

I've had mixed feelings about Mádara as some of their products work for me while others don't. They have specific sunscreens for the face (slightly tinted or CC cream -like if I'm not wrong), but I spread this lotion generously on my face without major white cast. It has a lighter texture than the Innisfree and sinks into the skin quickly without being tacky, but leaves a slight slip. There is a veeery faint citrus scent, which doesn't bother me - I prefer this over the regular "sunscreen smell". I'm only concerned why this sunscreen doesn't include Titanium Dioxide - perhaps that's why it's only SPF30? I need to investigate further, but so far I'm very happy and impressed I've found a light eco friendly sunscreen in a large tube that I can spread all over my face, neck, décolleté and arms too. So far the slippy texture hasn't bothered me, but you might notice it when applying foundation.

Ingredients:

Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Zinc Oxide, Isoamyl Laurate, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Glycerin, Sorbitan Olivate, Beeswax, Lecithin, Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Silica, Dracocephalum Ruyschiana (Dragonhead) Cell Culture Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Cellulose, Sodium Chloride,
Sorbitan Caprylate, Aroma, Palmitic acid, Stearic Acid, Propanediol, Benzoic Acid, Aqua, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Sodium phytate, Tocopherol, Potassium Hydroxide, Citral, Citronellol, Linalool, Geraniol, Limonene
Alga Maris Laboratoires de Biarritz 50 UVA UVB CrÈme solaire *

UV Filters: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide
White cast: 4/5
Price: ~$26.7 / €22.9 for 50ml

Alga Maris was a brand I hadn't heard off, but I got a chance to try their SPF50. This is also more "eco" brand, with a physical sunscreen, which I like. If you're very sensitive to coconut derived ingredients this might not be for you, but personally I've loved to use it on my face. The white cast is prominent, but disappears when gently massaged into the skin. The texture is very light lotion, doesn't leave a sticky layer, but feels a bit shiny and slippery. Less so than ACO SPF50, so I think oilier skin types might still enjoy this one. Alga Maris feels very water-resistant and lasts long on the skin. I like to apply this when I know I'll be out and about a lot. The only minus point is the high price tag, but otherwise I'm loving it.

Ingredients:

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Zinc Oxide, Cocos Nucifera Oil*, Coconut Alkanes, Titanium Dioxide, Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter*, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Hydrogenated Vegetable
Oil, Lauroyl Lysine, Alumina, Stearic Acid, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Gelidium Sesquipedale Extract, Maris Aqua, Potassium Olivoyl PCA, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Sodium Hydroxide
Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream Broad Spectrum SPF30

UV Filters: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide
White cast: 3/5
Price: $50 / €55 for 30ml

Ingredients:

*Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, *Shea Butter, 12% Zinc Oxide (Non Nano, Uncoated, Micronized), *Evening Primrose Oil, *Hemp Seed Oil, *Borage Seed Oil, *Sea Buckthorn Oil, *Olive Oil, *Avocado Oil,*Almond Oil,*Sesame Oil, *Jojoba Oil,*Grape Seed Oil, *Broccoli Oil, ‡Candelilla Wax, *Gum Arabic, *Guar Gum, §Xanthan Gum, *Calendula, *Bilberry, *Chamomile, *Burdock, *Rosemary, *Dandelion, *Rose Hips, *Catnip, *Chickweed, *Neem, *Skullcap, *Ginkgo Leaf, *Linden Flower, *Hawthorn Berry, *Green Tea, *Flax, *Nettle, *Sage, *Marshmallow Root, *Cayenne, *Ginseng, *Peppermint, *Alfalfa, *Vitamin E, Potassium Sorbate, *Benzoin Resin, †Carrot Seed Oil. *CERTIFIED ORGANIC †ORGANIC ‡WILDCRAFTED

I admire Josh Rosebrook and love his skincare line to bits: his cream cleanser, facial oil, balms and hydration mask are some of my HG products. I had heard good things about this SPF and I imagined it would double as an excellent day cream. The white cast is minimal, but if it bothers you there is also a slightly tinted version. The problem is: this is way over my budget for a daily sunscreen. I could pay this much for an excellent serum, but water, shelter and sunscreen are my 3 essentials in life. Secondly, no matter which makeup I use the sunscreen starts to pill on my face. I just can't wear it on my makeup days aka most days.

I bought my bottle from So Natural Beauty and got delivered me 2 small bottles instead of the large one (out of stock at the time). And the pump doesn't work. The shop staff suggested cutting the tube of the pump shorter, but it didn't solve the problem. For this price I want someone to spread the stuff on my face, not battle with a dysfunctional pump. The shop kindly offered to replace the product, but I didn't want to go through the trouble of sending the product back. I'll report back if the other bottle out of the two works better.

Sunscreen Swatches Final Thoughts

I think I've found good contestants for my Innisfree sunscreen. It's still a firm favorite, but I also have fallen in love with the Alga Maris and Madara sunscreens. One of my old favorite sunscreens is a Korean SPF by Goodal, but to my knowledge the same formula is no longer made, so I didn't include it in this post. Although I prefer physical sunscreens I wanted to introduce alternatives as our skins are so different - some break out from physical, some from chemical sunscreens. The spectrum and ingredients play an important factor, but I think finding a sunscreen with enjoyable texture is as extra important. My advice is to sample and test sunscreens to find what suits the best for you and make it a part of your daily routine! 

I've been thinking of doing an updated SPF information post. Would you be interested? Also, let me know what's your favorite facial or body sunscreen at the moment!!

Items marked with an asterisk (*) are kindly gifted for consideration. My thoughts are honest & my own.

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Laura Loukola by Laura Loukola - 1M ago

I have this feeling I rarely finish products, but somehow I've accumulated another pile of empties. Tbh there's another pile in my closet I used up while typing this post. Rambling aside, it's time for the classic review which items I'm glad I'm done with and which are worth of repurchasing!

Mahalo The Petal Mask

At first I wasn't sure if this mask was worth the splurge - you get a lot of product, but the price tag is high. I decided to use this mask more regularly "to get rid of it" and the more I used it the harder I fell in love. Excellent for many skin concerns, hydration, brightness and overall pampering. Beautiful scent, honey-like texture and pink color. I will definitely repurchase! Full review here.

Mahalo The Unveil Cleansing Balm

Beautiful green cleansing balm that looks like a matcha desert and smells like lime tart. This cleansing balm is 100% eco but emulsifies when you add little water, rinses clean without a washcloth. I found the Unveil much too nice to remove makeup, so I still used this for 2nd cleanse. As much as I liked it I am not rushing to repurchase as there are a ton of lovely cleansing balms to try. But if you're ever fancied the Unveil, I'd say give it a go. 

Rouge Bunny Rouge Milk Aquarelle Foundation

One of my favorite foundations! I had this bottle over a year I think so the formula started to turn into more thick consistency and was hard to get from the bottle. Still I decided to scrape most of it before opening up a new bottle. The texture of the new foundation was much more liquid and obviously performed better. Still loving this to the bits, read full review here.

Dior corrector pen

Very fluid concealer in a click-pen style packaging. Excellent for adding brightness to under the eyes and correct the darkness before applying concealer. This pen is now discontinued, but I heard the new one is the same with a bigger applicator.

Lancome Monsieur Big Mascara

Just as good as everyone raves - gives you the va va voom lashes and volume without smudging all over. What I disliked about it was the very thick wand as I tend to easily poke myself on the upper eyelid. I'm intrigued to try the waterproof version if it holds the curl even better. Full review here.

Heroine Make Volume and Curl Mascara (film type)

One of my favorite mascaras ever. Inexpensive, smaller and slightly curved brush. Unlike the name suggests it doesn't build very much volume, but adds some thickness while separating the lashes and holds the curl for hours. If you don't immediately fall in love with this mascara - let it dry for a week or two, then it's perfect!

Rouge Bunny Rouge Brow Expert Gel*

I very much liked the RBR brow gels (brown and un-tinted) I reviewed here, I tried to scrape every last bit of this tinted version. Perfect small brush and it gives natural separation and hold to the brow hairs, without making them feel "crunchy". I'm not rushing to repurchase this as I've felt madly in love with the SUQQU brow mascara (review here) as it has stronger hold.

Pur~lisse Blue Lotus Cleanser*

It was an okay basic milky cleanser for morning or 2nd cleanse, but I got tired of this after a while. I have cleansers I prefer, such as the January Labs Gel Cleanser (review here), so I ended up using up Pur~lisse as a body cleanser and for shaving.

Rituals Shower Foams and Shower Mud

I love Rituals shower and body products, but the Hammam range wasn't my cup of tea. Eucalyptus isn't my favorite fragrance and I found the shower mud way too messy. The Sakura scented gel-to-foam body cleanser was excellent and I'm looking forward to get a bigger size!

OUAI Repair Shampoo and Conditioner

I gave in to the OUAI hype and purchased myself the Repair range shampoo and conditioner. These bottles lasted me for ages, almost a year and a half! That's why I'm so picky of my shampoo/conditioner purchases, they last forever with my short hair style. Despite my constant heat styling these did repair my hair and make it healthy looking over time. Any magical shine and smoothness didn't happen, but I'm open to try more from the range.

Illi Anti-Age Cleansing Oil

One of my favorite cheap and chic cleansing oils! Bang for your buck and removes makeup with no problem. Read full review here. Full review here.

Max and Me Enchanted Facial Oil

One of my biggest first world problems is choosing my favorite Max and Me oil.. I just can't. I enjoyed every drop of Enchanted: how it relaxed my senses, made my skin plum, moisturized and glow. Now I have a backup of the I am The Light oil. If I had advice choosing between the two: pick the one that resonates with you more. Read full review here.

Innisfree Eco Safety SPF50

My one any only Holy Grail sunscreen. I've used about 20 tubes of this during the years. The newest formulation has a slightly more white cast, but nothing that would annoy me. Excellent protection, long lasting and physical SPF. What is not to love? Read more here.

Anything caught your eye? What's the latest product you've used up?

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Aka the longest-foundation-name-ever foundation. This Spring/Early Summer I've been all about beautiful base products, creams and liquids. When THREE announced their new liquid foundation I was excited as it sounded like my cup of tea! Lightweight, natural and serum-like - count me in! I hadn't tried any base products from the brand, so I asked my friend to grab me a bottle when she was visiting Japan.

About THREE Angelic Synthesis Foundation Serum

THREE is a semi-natural Japanese makeup and skincare brand, famous for their cream shadows, beautiful blushes and excellent cleansing oil. They're not completely eco, but favour naturally derived ingredients (this foundation is 83%). Angelic Synthesis Foundation Serum is available in 10 shades (reference images here) and costs ¥6,200 (excluding tax) /~$55,90 for 30ml /~1 fl. oz. of product. The foundation has SPF 38/PA+++. The aim of the foundation is make the skin look lively, moisturized and radiant with serum-like ingredients (advertised as a daytime skincare serum).

Availability

List of THREE shops in Japan - also available in the airport tax free! Global stores in Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea and Singapore (list here). I personally live in EU and don't have an access to THREE shops so I've asked friends to bring back products or used a reliable personal shopper, such as @fudejapan. The lightest shade (100) is at the counter only in Japan (not sold store).

Packaging

The Angelic Synthesis Foundation Serum comes in a beautiful square frosted bottle with a dropper cap. I expected the dropper to be smaller, similar to many face oils and serum bottles, but the edge of the foundation dropper is more blunt and rounded - perhaps to let out more product. The dropper doesn't squirt the product out but doses the foundation in controlled drops. Personally like to apply a couple of drops straight on my face instead of applying on my hand first.

No foundation (left) - 1 layer of THREE foundation (right)

Using the THREE Angelic Synthesis foundation Serum

This foundation is an oddball to me. I initially didn't like it, which was a big bummer as the foundation is nowhere near affordable, but I also had high hopes for THREE base products. I can quickly tell if a foundation works for me or not, so if I had tried a sample first I bet I wouldn't have splurged on the full size. Buuut I had partly bought the foundation in order to write a review because I hadn't seen one in English (and there needs to be more Japanese makeup reviews!) So, in order to make most of my purchase and to write this review, I kept using the THREE Angelic Synthesis Foundation Serum and tried to make up my mind..

I've only applied this foundation with brushes as that's my regular go-to method. I'm sorry, but I just cannot make myself to use a wet beauty sponge although I imagine one would work well with this foundation formula. I just love brushes and avoid making exceptions in order to make product(s) work.. For brushes, I recommend going for a buffing brush and only use a stippling or a paddle brush if you're quick and experienced in fast blending.

You see, I have two major issues with this foundation: it clings to dry patches and dries fast. You need to have your skin prepped, blend quickly and in an accurate manner to avoid brush strokes. Despite my dry skin type I rarely have dry patches thanks to my skincare routine - except when I reach for my retinol products. Using a retinol the night before makes THREE's foundation emphasise every pore and dry texture on my nose. Not pretty, the foundation sets fast and there you are: stuck with texture issues. I get the best application when I work my face in parts: applying a couple of drops at the time and only one side of my face. If you don't blend quickly enough you risk looking like dry mess with foundation stripes. I kind of got used to this, but as I switched to other liquid foundation I truly saw how heavy blending you need with THREE.

Those issues aside, if I have no dry patches and I blend the foundation quickly enough the look is seamless, vibrant, natural and very healthy looking. It does look very skin-like with only 1 layer, hiding most of my imperfections. On the THREE English website the foundation is described as if it makes you radiate from inside out and I can somewhat agree. After wearing the foundation for good 20 minutes I look glowing, healthy and quite pretty in my opinion. The longer I wear it the nicer it becomes! I wonder if this is due the oils of my face (which I barely have) or the foundation settling? But I'm fairly sure this is too much dew and "greasy" looking for oilier skin types. If your'e blessed with more normal skin you might really enjoy the finish.

I don't think this foundation is advertised being long-lasting, but it definitely looks nicer as the day goes on and stays in place without being sticky or moving. At the end of the day the foundation doesn't get patchy, but it does gather into my fine lines and separate especially if I have been sweating. I would prefer if foundations just magically wore off, but I guess the settling is due the long-wear formula. For the first 5-8 hours it looks good. If you wish to wear this foundation in events notice there might be a flashback from the SPF. I couldn't find the full English ingredient list, but the site says "Free of UV absorbing ingredients", giving the impression the sunscreens used are 'physical' which often have a flashback.

Swatches

The shade match was perfect for me, near my usual pale-neutral complexion. In MAC shades I would imagine THREE 100 being near NW13/NC15 (my shades). Usually the palest foundations are either too dark, too white or have a reddish undertone - none of which work for me, so I was glad THREE 100 was a match without sampling it first. In Summer I get a tiny bit more color, but I can still get away with this foundation and it looks beautiful and brightening on my face.

Final Thoughts

I don't regret my purchase, but I was certainly hoping for more. THREE Angelic Synthesis Foundation Serum is probably going to be my night-out or event foundation when I need the long-wear while looking natural and radiant. As I've got hang of the application, I do love the look of the foundation after I've finished my makeup and everything is set in place. However, I don't think I would recommend this foundation to majority of people to as it's tricky to use, might cling to dry skin but look too dewy for oily skin types plus it doesn't wear off in a very attractive way. Lovers of Japanese makeup and "more eco" beauty with normal skin types might give it a go, but I highly recommend getting a sample first.

I'm going to have a little Japanese foundation series on the blog, featuring THREE, ADDICTION and SUQQU (notice how every brand is stylized in all caps? hehe), but I think I'm going to publish each review individually and perhaps do a compilation post afterwards. What is your current favorite foundation?

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I'm constantly asked about eco makeup products, so I'm happy to review you the beautiful highlighter** by supermodel Miranda Kerr's brand, Kora organics! Btw: I'm sorry I haven't been posting as constantly lately - I just dealt with almost 3-week-long flu/cold, but now I'm back with a lot of new and fun upcoming posts! Enjoy!

About Kora Organics

Kora Organics is a brand created by Australian model, Victoria's Secret Angel (lingerie giant's model) and self-help author Miranda Kerr. I used to be obsessed with models, fashion magazines and candid photos in my youth, but for the past few years I haven't paid any attention. I don't have a TV to follow Victoria's Secret shows - I highly doubt they even sell the brand in Finland. I still highly admire women who have made a business out of their modelling career as fashion isn't an easy business. Same goes with beauty. It "makes sense" a model would create their own clothing or beauty line, but to my understanding Miranda is also very passionate about sustainability, natural ingredients and organic life. The highlight ingredient of Kora organics is a fruit called noni, which is a "super fruit" that can be taken internally and externally. I learned Miranda has drank the juice of noni fruit since she was a child. 

Rose Quartz Luminizer

Kora Organics Rose Quartz Highlighter is a cream pot highlighter with rose hued luminous glow. Can be used on the high points of the face with  be used with fingers or a small brush. The ingredients are mostly organic and 98.8% of natural origin.  6g/0.21 oz of product for 28.90€/$28 (Stockmann.fi and Sephora.com).

Using the Rose Quartz Luminizer

Don't you hate the expression when someone (especially a beauty blogger) is obsessed with something? Well, I am with this highlighter. It gives the most natural sheen without being too subtle or undetected. The luminizer makes the high points of your face to stand out and glow without looking like you've applied highlighter. Perfect for the "glowing from within", seamless finish.

I'm especially happy that the luminizer is easy to blend with fingers. I very lightly dip my index finger into the cream, do two to three taps on my cheek bone and use my middle finger to blend. If you need some inspiration or tips how to highlight your face, read my highlighter tips post. My mind does a little scream every time I dip my fingers into a cream product, but that's life. I think you could use a concealer brush, a small goat hair or synthetic brush to blend and buff this product, but honestly I think softer cream products are the easiest to apply and blend with fingers. I leave my brushes for harder cream products, such as the THREE Duo Highlighter (review here).

Here's some highlighter applied on my cheekbones and cupid's bow. It blends into my foundation very seamlessly, it was pretty hard to capture on camera - congratulations if you notice anything, but take my word: it looks beautiful in real life!!

Ingredients

Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil*, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Mica (and) CI 77891, Hydrogenated Palm Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Morinda Citrifolia Fruit Extract*, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil*, Tocopherol, Iron Oxides (CI 77491), Quartz

I usually don't dig the ingredients of makeup products, but as this is almost 100% natural and organic ingredients, I thought I would paste them for you. I was hesitant to use a makeup product high in coconut oil on my face, but luckily I've had zero congestion from using this highlight. I've also had no reaction from RMS beauty products, so if they worked for you so might Kora. If you're sensitive to shea butter or coconut oil proceed with caution or ask a sample. I don't own Tata Harper or RMS highlighters, but compared to my RMS Buriti Bronzer the Kora is much more softer in texture and doesn't feel as dry.

Notice: Coconut Oil etc natural butters should be kept under 30°C / 86F to avoid melting. Finland is now having a heatwave and my highlighter is a bit soft in the middle.

Swatches

The color of Rose Quartz Luminizer is icy pale pink. In these pictures it looks almost lilac, but don't worry - this isn't an "unicorn highlighter" but has just a strong white undertone. I have nothing like it, but I swatched two of my pinky highlighters and the paler side of TF's Paradise lust and THREE Shimmering Glow Duo 01 (review here).

Overall thoughts

This highlighter is a clear winner for me! I hope Kora Organics brings out more complexion products - if so, I'll be first in the line! (Please, Miranda, bring out a BB cream! Right now I'm testing Kora's skincare items, I hope to report back soon, but so far... I'm impressed. What's your favorite eco makeup item? Do you love cream products for the Summer?

**Kindly PR gifted for consideration. Images and thoughts are my honest and my own!

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Today I'm so excited to share with you the one and only - Sonia G brushes! I've gotten some questions are these brushes worth the splurge, but I gave it a few weeks to properly try, test and play with these brushes for the review. I wanted to make sure I've washed them several times and tried with different makeup before giving you my final verdict, they're valuable after all. I've followed Sonia's blog for years and her Brush Temple has been a tremendous help when first purchasing Japanese 'fude' or brushes. I'm so glad she got her own line!!

Sonia G Brushes Introduction

Sonia aka the mastermind behind Sweet Makeup Temptations blog is a Japanese fude/brush connoisseur with a collection of +2000 brushes! She's not only a brush collector but truly passionate about the craft. Her devotion, love and passion for brushes and Japanese craftmanship can be read from her immaculate, fun and informational brush reviews and articles. Sonia has travelled many times to Japan and Kumano, where Japanese hand-crafted brushes are made. She is also a friend of Wayne Goss, a well-known Makeup Artist and Youtuber, whose brushes are also sold exclusively on Beautylish. In her Switzerland home Sonia has a room called the "Brush Boudoir" devoted to store and display her beautifully crafted brush collection.

Sonia's brushes are exclusive to Beautylish, hand-made in Japan. Her Fundamental Brush Set retails for $362/~€302,60 (8 brushes), also sold individually from January 2018. Right now her collection consists of 16 individual brushes retailing between $28/€23.4 and $75/€62.7 per brush.

Sonia G Brush Handles

Now to me - these handles are pure art except for the typography which isn't hundred percent my cup of tea (but I'm picky when it comes to typefaces). The wood is sustainably harvested maplee wood and coated with four layers of pigment and lacquer for a rich color and glossy finish. I love different color handles and the gradient just gives another level of luxury to the brushes. I'm very glad that Beautylish states the wood and lacquer technique, as these are a huge part of the Japanese craftsmanship that's put in Kumano Fude brushes. As the ends of the handles are rounded, I've experienced no dents or chipping of the coating (unlike with Hakuhodo S-series).

I personally like medium length handles. So far the handle length has been okay, but sometimes I find the ferules a bit chunky. For the Base One I would've preferred a shorter handle for more precision and control, but I'll talk more about it later. These handles look modern and chic, I only wish the typeface and logo (bottom of the handles) was different.. Some of you might like it though, can't please everyone!

Thoughts on the collection

The set and collection are definitely interesting. I feel Sonia created brushes that she wanted, needed or didn't already have for her purpose. I can imagine her playing with makeup and wondering "Why don't I have the perfect brush for my Natasha Denona glitters..." haha. Of course this is just my imagination! But her original set didn't make a complete brush collection in my opinion if you're a working makeup artist or just a brush enthusiast. I think Sonia's brushes are well-catered to people who are missing something or looking for a brush to special product or use. In my opinion you should research your existing stash both in makeup and brushes: is there a makeup product you've been dying to use but didn't have the right tool? Are you always reaching for a brush you don't have? I think Sonia's unique collection has you covered. There's such creativity and knowledge behind the design combined with beautiful Japanese craftsmanship.

My picks: Builder One, Worker One, Sculpt Three and Base One

I wanted to test Sonia's brushes without breaking my bank account, so I asked her some recommendations on Instagram. I have no experience with fan brushes so I probably wouldn't have picked up Sculpt Three without her suggestion. I immediately knew I wanted Base One; Sonia has always talked about how sensitive her skin is and previously duo-fibre stippling brushes have been too much for my dry skin. I had high hopes Base One would be soft and gentle (spoiler alert: it is)! Builder One looked very unique type of brush, firm and very narrow, but perhaps "finger-like" to pack on glitters where as Worker One seemed like a good alternative for Hakuhodo J5523.

Builder One

- Dyed saikoho goat
- Recommended use: powders

This brush is an interesting one and very unique. I can imagine Sonia created this brush to pack Natasha Denona shimmers and metalics as she's a big fan of ND. If you needed something with absolute control when you pack on your glitters or want to sharply smudge your khol liner, lower lash line etc. then this is a brush for you. To this day I've liked pencil brushes, but Builder One gives its user more control and definition. The bristles pick up any kind of shadow.

Needless to say, I still haven't got 100% hang of this brush as I make errors when I try to pack the side of the brush with shadow. I try to explain to my best: the ferule is fat compared to the hairs and I keep denting the eyeshadow pan with the edge of the ferule, which annoys me to bits. But I like to think that's me being clumsy, not exactly the brush's fault.

Worker One

- Dyed saikoho goat
- Recommended use: powders

Worker one is designed to be used as an eyeshadow blending brush and it's excellent for distributing color on the lid with one swipe. It can also be used for contouring and defining the eye, thanks to it's shape that's both flat yet fluffy and oval. I like to use circular motions for buffing the color or back-and-forth "windscreen wipe" motion to evenly blend. The shape is a bit large for working in the outer 'V' area, but you could do it in a pinch. This is like Hakuhodo J5523 (MAC 217) on steroids. With my hooded eyes I think J5523 is a bit better for blending the crease or even a more tapered brush, but if you have more space than I do - there's a brush for you.

Sculpt Three

- Dyed saikoho goat
- Recommended use: powders

Originally I wasn't very interested in fan brushes as I have little experience with them - I only have some sculpting fan brushes, but not the 'traditional' kind. This brush turned out to be a surprise favorite! First, it's super soft and second, it picks up a good amount of product but lays it down with precision and control. If you have smaller features you could try this for dusting finishing powder - maybe even contour, but personally I like this with powder highlighters and even buffing (yes!) the product into the skin to make the finish the most natural. I emphasis that this brush gives you a nice amount of control and picks up the product well, doesn't feel "flimsy" at all like some fan brushes may be.

Base One

- Hakutotsuho goat & PBT
- Recommended use: liquids and creams

I used to love the look of duo-fibre brushes but grew to dislike them as my skin was so dry and flakey. Now I'm in a pretty good condition with my skin so I decided to give this brush a go - also because I love foundation (and contouring) brushes the most. The Beautylish site describes this fude as dense but airy, which is kind of true as the base has good density, but the length of the PBT hairs is just right for buffing foundation. I feel these hairs are soft enough for dry skin, but not ultra-soft like a kitten's paw - not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to a foundation brush. I love to use this brush for buffing foundation near my nose and chin area, it fits well into crevices of the nose for example and doesn't leave a streaky finish!

But, I feel this brush works the best with more creamy foundations as with liquids the brush might absorb the product and doesn't move the foundation as seamlessly. If you only wear tinted moisturizers and serum foundations, you might give this brush a pass. My foundation favorite for this brush has been from Chantecaille, but I imagine the SUQQU Extra Rich Cream Foundation (review here) or similar would perfect combo. I wish this brush was a bit less heavy and thick, but that's a personal preference: I like more slim handles opposite to big ones - unless they are very short. I think the thickness also makes the brush less easy to control.

Final Thoughts on Sonia G Brushes

I've had no problems with washing the brushes, shedding, whatsoever. The handles are pure luxury, I love the weight and feel of them. My only problem has been with ferules (Builder One) and thickness (Base One), but these are personal preferences. These brushes are exquisite and I expected nothing less from Sonia. I probably wouldn't be purchasing all of the brushes, but I will certainly save up and invest in a few more. If you've ever had the moment "I wish my brush did this X" or "I wish there was a tool for that Y" then take a look at this collection and cherry-pick for your needs! You might find a new treasure.

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