Review: pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil

Review pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil

So here’s another cult product that gets my seal of approval, the pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil. After having run out of my Japanese komenuka rice bran oil, I went for this because I had heard great things about rosehip oil in general and this one in particular. For €22, the price was right, too!

Continue reading “Review: pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil”

The best Macarons in and from Berlin

If you think the best Macarons in the world can only be found in Paris, think again! I’ve tried the likes of Ladurée, Pierre Hermé, and others. But my personal favorites come from a super tiny little patisserie in and from Berlin, Lautz Patisserie.

Continue reading “The best Macarons in and from Berlin”

Trending now: Asymmetric detail mini skirts

detail-mini-skirts

Black lace detail mini skirt // Military style lace detail mini skirt // Pleated chiffon detail mini skirt

The 5 things I most rely on at the moment for easy style

It’s definitely more difficult now with the baby to stay stylish and dress well. It definitely feels more like an effort.

My style at the moment certainly isn’t top of the game, but considering the circumstances it’d feel silly anyway. So I’d say that in between breastfeeding, changing diapers, carrying baby, desperately making up for lost sleep and somehow managing our household, I look decent. But more importantly, I feel good!

Continue reading “The 5 things I most rely on at the moment for easy style”

I, too, wonder whether I have mom hair

I’ve to admit that lately I’ve become afraid of looking old and uncool. I recently cut my hair really short too and am worried that now I look so clearly like a mom – because ‘mom hair‘.

Continue reading “I, too, wonder whether I have mom hair”

How to live in your PJs – all day long

Pshh, don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I go out in my nightgown.

Continue reading “How to live in your PJs – all day long”

How to cure extremely dry skin

I used to have severely dry skin, but especially parched, cracked, hurting hands. To make things worse, their condition was often exacerbated by frequent hand washing and then particularly strained further during the winter months. Fortunately, I finally found a wonderful solution to my extremely dry skin woes last year. And it’s really a solution, not just yet another product that’s somewhat better than other products. It is so effective I don’t even need any kinds of lotions, creams or moisturizers any longer at all!

Continue reading “How to cure extremely dry skin”

My new year resolutions in 2017

2017 came so abruptly, I barely got a minute to breathe, let alone post anything on the blog any more. But this I want to put down in some form of writing: my new year resolutions!

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Emergency brake: Stop the shopping!

When I’m shopping, I try to find things that make me rave “Ohh my God, love it!!” and my heart beat a bit faster. But lately I might have settled for “Oh, this is nice! I like it” a couple times too often.

Which sounds enthusiastic enough. But nice? Like it? For the ideal wardrobe, no less than perfect is enough!

So this post is a reminder of how it’s done correctly, from me to me.

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Review: Su:m37 Secret Programming Essence

summer beauty

Sceptics argue that additional skin care steps such as essences are just an industry scam intended to loosen the purse strings of willing, and above all gullible, consumers. But I absolutely don’t think so. Essences, in my experience, make the difference between good skin and good skin that’s also radiant and youthful.

Continue reading “Review: Su:m37 Secret Programming Essence”

My DIY brow stencil and other brow tips

So fun fact: Yesterday I freestyle DIYed my own make-shift brow stencil. And I’m pretty proud of it, because now I can recreate my ideal brow shape faster and also get it right every time.

DIY brow stencil

There’s a couple more helpful things I learned about plucking, shaping and filling in my brows over time. So here is a short list!

Continue reading “My DIY brow stencil and other brow tips”

Summer 2016 favorites: Anastasia Beverly Hills brow products

Anastasia Beverly Hills brow products

Among the things I wish I had known when I was younger, it’s how much of a difference well groomed brows make. The reality, however, is that the first time I plucked them I was a ripe seventeen. By eighteen I already managed to hideously overpluck them. Fortunately I quickly grew out of that phase (get it?). But the first time I actually thought of filling them in I was 26!

And I wasn’t good at it either. Heck, I haven’t consistently mastered filling in my brows until today! All the while, I’ve accumulated a couple of different brow products over time: Brow pencils, notably the slanted and retractable Etude House Drawing Eye Brow pencil (love it for its convenience) and the Benefit Instant Brow Pencil (too soft and waxy, so I always burnt through these within weeks). Then brow powder, such as the Essence Eyebrow Stylist Set (really not bad!), and gel, like the Bobbi Brown Natural Brow Shaper & Hair Touch Up or the MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Waterproof Brow Set. But this year Douglas (= kind of the less cool German equivalent to Sephora) began stocking Anastasia Beverly Hills, and I had to try it!

Continue reading “Summer 2016 favorites: Anastasia Beverly Hills brow products”

Review: Banila Co. Clean It Zero Classic Cleansing Balm

Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm-3
I love cleansing balms for their convenience and efficacy. But this one won’t make it into my standard routine. Here’s why.

Continue reading “Review: Banila Co. Clean It Zero Classic Cleansing Balm”

Review: Paula’s Choice vs. COSRX BHA

BHA exfoliant

Finally! It took me more than a whopping whole year, but two weeks ago or so I finally used up Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant. Not that I wanted to end it with the gel ASAP. In fact, I’ve come to rely on it so much I did not dare to ditch it before it was empty. But I was eager to finally try the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, too. Now that I have, let’s compare the two products Continue reading “Review: Paula’s Choice vs. COSRX BHA”

7 tips on how to read an ingredients list

100% natural? Scientifically proven? Ignore what’s written on the front of a product, in magazines or on websites, unless you want to unnecessarily spend a lot of money on catchy phrases and bold statements alone.

read an ingredients list
How to read an ingredients list

What makes a moisturizer a moisturizer and what ingredients really help with anti-aging? You will never find out just by reading the front of a product. So may I direct your attention to the ingredients lists in the back instead?

Although ingredients lists are not always 100% conclusive or accurate, the ingredients of a skin care product still give you a better idea of its performance, and enable you to more effectively compare different brands both low and high end. This will save you a whole lot of money in the long run, and helps you to make more informed, and possibly better decisions.

So here is how you can read an ingredients list.

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Should you worry about Sulfates in your hair care?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS) get a bad rep all over. So the common gospel these days usually goes: Avoid sulfates! Opt for sulfate-free shampoos and hair care products! They are milder and will not dry out your hair.

But is that really?

Continue reading “Should you worry about Sulfates in your hair care?”

5 multi-tasking beauty products to get you through the summer

Summer equals heat! sun! sweating! – oh, what a time to be outside!

Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of summer. I hate heat, sun and sweating… So to ease some of the more uncomfortable aspects of summer, you’ll find me constantly devising new summer survival tricks.

Examples?

Continue reading “5 multi-tasking beauty products to get you through the summer”

Managing your expectations: What topical skin care can really do

“Brighten, boost collagen, and minimize fine lines and wrinkles!!”

“Corrects dullness, plumps the look of lines, and exfoliates the skin!”

“In as little as four weeks, you’ll see firmer skin, reduced appearance of wrinkles, a more even skintone, and less visible pores!1!”

Ever wondered how your creams, cleansers, masks and other potions are actually intending to pull all of these things off?

Because, contrary to the majority of marketing copy and grand sounding product claims, the truth is that there’s only so much topical skin care applications can really do.

Actives and antioxidants

Even truly splendid, actually active ingredients, such as AHA, BHA or Retinoids, aren’t all-powerful, but take time to yield results. And I’m not saying that plant extracts and oils that beauty companies often like to advertise with don’t have a place in skin care either. But with most ingredients that are supposed to do something, anything, there are caveats the regular consumer isn’t usually aware of.

For example, AHA and BHA formulations both need a specific range of pH-level to actually work at all. Or when it comes to Retinoids, such as Retinol, what you have to look for is the right derivatives for the product to do anything at all. As for plant extracts, you’ll want a lot of them. Just a bit turmeric here, a bit Green tea there, will hardly do very much at all. Even if they did, however, the most they can do is pre-emptive.

The case for silicones and mineral oil

Immediately plumper, younger looking, softer skin, on the other hand? That’s probably silicones. Less visible wrinkles, glow, evened out complexion? Again, that’s probably silicones and, who knows, maybe some pearly shimmer.

Don’t get me wrong, though! Occlusive ingredients such as silicones or mineral oil and the like do have actual benefits for the skin. They seal in moisture into the deeper layers of the skin and protect it from transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which is an essential feature in effective moisturizers and can in fact temporarily plump up the skin. But unless we’re talking plant oils also rich in fatty acids and antioxidants which work well as occlusives too, the effects are more or less purely cosmetic.

How to shrink your pores

One more thing I cannot stress enough: you can not shrink your pores.

You also can’t open or close them at your command – not with hot steam or cold water or astringents or whatever. I cringe whenever I read or hear people parroting this urban legend. Pores don’t have muscles or similar built-in mechanisms enabling them to do any of that. Once your pores are stretched out, I’m sorry to say, but that’s how they’ll stay. Claims to the contrary refer to temporary effects or optical tricks at the most.

But my point was…

I could go on and on really. However, what I’m actually here to share with you today is not my rants about typical misconceptions about what skin care can really do, but this post from Korean beauty blogger Fifty Shades of Snail:

Smart Skincare Shopping: Managing Skincare Product Expectations

It will put many skin care product claims into much needed perspective, and answer questions like:

What to look for in a cleanser? What’s in your moisturizer? Are masks really worth your time and money?

A recommended read in any case! Please take a look.

Your sunscreen doesn’t protect you

Safe to say it’s slowly summer now! Time to whip out your sunscreen and you’re good to go.

Or are you?

consumer reports sunscreen 2016
Among mineral sunscreens, only 26% met their SPF claims.

US American non-profit organization Consumer Reports has recently published their findings on sunscreens. After testing more than 60 different sun protection products from sprays, lotions to creams and sticks, only about 43% turned out to actually offer the levels of SPF protection as claimed on the labels!

Sunscreens predominantly based on mineral sunscreens furthermore fared considerably worse than those using chemical filters. For the individual sunscreen ratings, click here.

Unfortunately, that’s not even half the story

Continue reading “Your sunscreen doesn’t protect you”

Quick notes on hair care

After successfully accomplishing my mission from last year, which was clear up my skin, I have recently decided on a new beauty goal I want to achieve: glossy, silky smooth hair.

I’d been so successful with my skin by really digging into the science of it that now I am convinced I can easily do the same with my hair and again get the exact results I want.

So for a starter, here a few quick notes on hair and hair care I wanted to jot down really quickly. Warning: This post will be random and riddled with links. It’s basically my ideas and bookmarks deposit on the topic. I’ll think about tying up loose ends later.

Continue reading “Quick notes on hair care”

This is what an irritant-free skin care routine could look like

non-irritant skin care routine

As a kind of follow-up to my last post “What you finally need to understand about your skin,” I thought it’d be helpful to share my own personal skin care routine and recommendations.

Continue reading “This is what an irritant-free skin care routine could look like”

What you finally need to understand about your skin!

Korean beauty, scinic aqua all in one ampoule,

Continuing my current obsession with Lush, I recently started to frequent the /r/LushCosmetics subreddit on reddit. However, I was mildly shocked to find that countless users sought solutions for their skin care issues in Lush face products.

Now, as much as I adore Lush, I would absolutely not recommend switching to an all-Lush routine for the face: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, essential oils, abrasive scrubs, tons of perfume… what might work on the body and hair will inevitably leave persistent damage on the generally more sensitive and delicate skin of our face.

Unfortunately, brand loyalty or strong inclinations to “natural” beauty often leave followers deaf to arguments based on scientific research. Instead, users reinforce each others’ beliefs through anecdotal evidence and stories.

It’s a free world, though, and I will not condemn anyone for their beliefs, and I don’t plan to convert anyone. Science doesn’t know it all either. But browsing through the forums has shown me that the majority of people still understands very little about skin and how it works. While I don’t claim to be a studied expert on this either, I do find it important to explain the basics again once and for all. Because most of our skin’s issue really boil down to just one simple thing.

Contents of this post:

Continue reading “What you finally need to understand about your skin!”

Guaranteed clearer skin with BHA

exfoliation, BHA,

If there’s one thing I’d recommend to keep your skin clear, it’s using BHA. Sure, clear skin is always down to a couple of different things together. But let’s say, if you want to start with something, start with BHA.

Contents of this post:

Continue reading “Guaranteed clearer skin with BHA”

All Lush product reviews masterpost

Reviews of all Lush products I’ve used, in alphabetical order. This post will be continually updated with new products and any additions to old reviews. Samples included.

Face: I have normal skin with few outbreaks, but a few flaky areas. My ideal skin care routine is centered around mild, non-comedogenic, irritant-free products!

Body: dry to very dry throughout the year, but extremely dry during winter. Without the right care, my hands are extremely dry and sensitive all year ’round, though, and my heels tend to crack.

Contents

Angels on Bare Skin face and body cleanser

BIG shampoo

Buffy body butter

Charity Pot hand and body lotion

Dragon’s Egg bath bomb

Elbow Grease body moisturizing bar

Figs and Leaves solid soap

Floating Island bath melt

Fun solid shampoo, bubble, soap and play dough bars

Intergalactic bath bomb

Love Lettuce fresh face mask (sample!)

Ocean Salt Self-preserving face and body scrub

Parsley Porridge solid soap

The Olive Branch shower gel

The Rough With The Smooth solid scrub

Rub Rub Rub shower scrub (sample!)

Silky Underwear dusting powder

Sultana of Soap solid soap

Sunrise solid soap

Twilight bath bomb

Continue reading “All Lush product reviews masterpost”

How Lush kept me going when the going got tough

To think that it all started with a supposedly simple question: “What do you do when you are stressed or down and need a pick me up?”

Continue reading “How Lush kept me going when the going got tough”

Upgrade your shower routine with my favorite products from Lush

Water just makes my already very dry skin even drier so I keep full-on showers to a minimum and don’t take baths. Of course, I wash, especially my hands, which therefore are so dry they occasionally crack, burn and hurt.

Sure I could moisturize. Only, it’s little fun! Especially with my hands things get tedious and unpractical fast.

But lately, I’ve been upgrading my shower routine. I was initially looking for something to make things more fun and feel-good, but also practical in a 2- or 3-in-1 kind of way. I found it at Lush.

Continue reading “Upgrade your shower routine with my favorite products from Lush”

15 things you can throw away today!

A helpful list of things you can throw away today to get you right into the decluttering spirit!

Continue reading “15 things you can throw away today!”

Decluttering and organizing my wardrobe with the KonMari method

KonMari method,

A self-proclaimed wardrobe decluttering enthusiast tries the world-famous KonMari method. What lessons will she learn?

Marie Kondo‘s advice on clutter resonates with me: Practice gratitude towards everything in your life, including things. But if something fails to make you happy or constricts you, learn to let it go.

And yet, I never followed her instructions myself simply because I have always been a totally relentless declutterer anyway. I don’t hold onto stuff, I am not sentimental or nostalgic about clothes, and I cannot stand clutter to begin with.

But this week, I thought I’d give the KonMari method a try. Here’s how it worked out for me.

Continue reading “Decluttering and organizing my wardrobe with the KonMari method”

The full guide to shopping smarter

Harajuku Cat Alley

The mindless shopping days are over. But how do you shop smarter? Try these tips.

Continue reading “The full guide to shopping smarter”

Review: The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter

cleansing balm

One of the keys to clear skin is double-cleansing, and the key to double-cleansing are products that are gentle but really work. Here is one such product recommended for almost all skin types.

Continue reading “Review: The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter”

The 5 most stylish K-pop MVs in 2015

Inspiration in form of colorful K-pop MVs. Here are five of my favorites.

Continue reading “The 5 most stylish K-pop MVs in 2015”

So what’s the deal with cotton pads?!

cotton pads

Life is all about the small things. Cotton pads, for example. Learn below what a difference the right cotton pads can do for your skin care routine.

Continue reading “So what’s the deal with cotton pads?!”

Shopping in Seoul: My favorite shops and labels

seoul shopping

Shopping in Seoul is always fun and affordable. But I like it the most at the following destinations, check them out below.

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Clear skin in five steps

clear skin,

This year, I made clear skin my goal. I was tired of breaking out all the time. I thought to myself that with thirty, surely there must be an end to it at some point! So I set out to finally find it.

Fast forward to now, my skin’s the best it’s ever been since before puberty! I almost can’t believe it myself. It’s remarkably clear and almost never breaks out any more. The last few zits I had were in sync with critical points of my menstrual cycle. But even those were quickly subdued within days. In short, I finally have my skin all under control, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more happy with it than I am now.

Here’s my skin care routine.

Continue reading “Clear skin in five steps”

Review: Scinic Aqua All in One Ampoule

korean beauty, scinic aqua all in one ampoule,

I love Korean skin care products for their focus on effectiveness paired with plenty of antioxidative plant extracts. Anywhere else in the world, ingredients such as Green tea extract or Vitamin E in a product would be highlighted as main selling point. But in South Korea antioxidants and skin care power ingredients such as these are the standard.

Just take the Scinic Aqua All in One Ampoule I got in Seoul.

Continue reading “Review: Scinic Aqua All in One Ampoule”

Hair inspiration: Maison Margiela Pre-Fall 2016

maison margiela, hair styles,

A great way to make disheveled and careless look intentional and Rock’n’Roll.

Continue reading “Hair inspiration: Maison Margiela Pre-Fall 2016”

Review: Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Foam Cleanser

Japanese beauty, Hada Labo foam cleanser,

As hinted at before here, I have a new favorite foam cleanser, the Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Foam Cleanser. Before our trip to Seoul/Tokyo, I had been very happy with my tried and trusted SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser. But from the very first moment, I was swayed by the newcomer. Let’s look into the reasons why.

Continue reading “Review: Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Foam Cleanser”

My Japanese beauty purchases from Tokyo

Japanese beauty,

Shopping in Japan can feel a little overwhelming at times. There is so much of everything, sometimes I don’t know where to start. So knowing this, of course I came equipped with a short, but well researched wish list.

Japan is paradise especially for those who love make up, want quality, innovative products and ingenious beauty tools. But since I do not wear make up any more, I focussed mostly on the best Japanese skin care available. Simple, non-irritating, alcohol-free formulations are important to me, and for make up, I prefer it easy and fuss-free.

These are the Japanese beauty products I purchased in Tokyo.

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Seoul food diary: Korean for insiders

Seoul is a fast-paced city. When we still lived there we once went on vacation for just a week, and when we returned more than three restaurants in our immediate vicinity had been exchanged for another. So imagine coming back after three years! We were certain many of our old hangouts would be gone. But they were not!

So for ten days, we were busy re-visiting back-in-the-day-favorites and discovering new places. And we managed to eat not a single thing twice, except samgyeobsal and galbi.

Here’s our entire Seoul food diary.

Continue reading “Seoul food diary: Korean for insiders”

Trending now: Frills, frills, frills

I like to think my style is edgy and cool. Not sexy, not elegant, and definitely not girly, cute or… frilly. Then again I also like to think of myself as full of surprises.

Continue reading “Trending now: Frills, frills, frills”

Skin care for the oily, acne-prone

oily acne prone solution

Without exception all my cleansers are from Japan, my various essences, serums and ampoules from South Korea, and my make up from the USA. So no, I am not a terribly huge fan of German beauty. Nor does the market so far seem in any way inclined to change this. Because would you rather make do with basic and utterly boring formulations, or go the so-called “natural” path loaded with alcohol and fragrance? Ideally, you should content yourself with neither. So looking for greener pastures overseas it is!

One product hailing directly from our pragmatic, no frills Germany, however, does have a firm place in my skin care routine and will maybe forever: the Sebamed Clear Face Care Gel, or Sebamed  Unreine Haut Pflege Gel in German.

Continue reading “Skin care for the oily, acne-prone”

Chinese restaurants in Berlin: my favorites

Chinese restaurants in Berlin

Kantstraße in Charlottenburg is often said to be the “Chinatown” in Berlin. But really it’s just a street with unusually many Chinese restaurants. Here is where you will find the ever popular Good Friends, Aroma, Lon-Men’s Noodle House, and Selig. They are what people here like to call “authentic”. In my opinion, however, “authentic” does not always equal “best.”

Some of my personal favorites are not usually described “authentic” or “traditional.” But what counts is that they excite the taste buds. Without further ado, my five favorite Chinese restaurants in Berlin so far and more!

Continue reading “Chinese restaurants in Berlin: my favorites”

Trending now: frayed jeans hems

frayed hem jeans

I am not much of a DIYer. This, however, I know how to do: cut things with scissors. You could say I am very scissors happy, ha, ha!

DIYs are not my thing. Mix raw eggs with avocados and put that on my head? No thanks. I already consider myself crafty just lazily swinging scissors at my clothes.

I have so far reworked (and ruined) many of M’s T-shirts by cutting off the sleeves, and I also often use scissors on my own clothes. Mainly to shorten things. Like jersey dresses, knit sweaters, cotton tops and jeans… Afterwards I never bother with sewing the edges, though. Because I actually like it frazzled, disheveled, messy. And besides, I would not know how anyway. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ So I was elated to see this particular trend spread lately: frayed cut off denim hems.

frayed hem jeans
Frayed hem denim: pictures via tumblr.

Cut off denim is not new. On the contrary. Who has not owned a pair of cut off denim shorts at one point in their life? But the asymmetry, the unevenness is something fresh. And I absolutely love it.

I was shocked lately when a friend of mine said she does not like asymmetry. Shocked, I tell you! She was already the second person to tell me so. Until then I had always assumed everybody is on board with it just as much as I am. Which is to say very! A third friend finally confirmed that I am pretty much alone in this. What’s more, she called asymmetry a “trend.” OMG. I live in asymmetry! Guess I am so removed from German fashion reality, I do not even notice any more. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ x 2.

Anyhoo.

I have these mom denims (= high waist, loose carrot cut) I am not really wearing. Got them for like €14. And I think I will give them the scissor treatment soon. I just cannot decide in what manner. For the time being, I let above collage inspire me and think about it. What do you make of this trend?

Less is more: what’s so great about a small wardrobe

Only five years ago, my wardrobe filled our entire guestroom from floor to ceiling. Now, it fits into a small corner of our bedroom. I have never been happier about it.

Continue reading “Less is more: what’s so great about a small wardrobe”

A day in De Oude Pijp: breakfast, lunch and dinner in Amsterdam

2015-09 Amsterdam

Amsterdam possesses a charm quite like no other city, with those beautiful quaint houses, so much green, and those canals pervading the entire centre. But during our stay there just a few weeks ago we liked it in De Oude Pijp best of all.

Just south of the central canal rings and right next to the Museumsplein, the residential area is known for its high density of bars, cafés, restaurants and the odd coffee shop. M and I ended up spending half our time there, feasting and drinking and enjoying every last bit of it. Here are a few of my favorite spots.

Continue reading “A day in De Oude Pijp: breakfast, lunch and dinner in Amsterdam”

Summer must have: MAC Fix+ spray

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If you’re into full on make up with foundation, setting powder, and a setting spray on top, then you’re likely familiar with the MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ finishing spray. If you’re not, MAC lets you know that Fix+ is “a lightweight water mist that gently soothes and refreshes skin and finishes makeup.”

Due to its place within the Prep + Prime range and the “finishes makeup” part of its description, MAC Fix+ is commonly believed to “lock in” make up and prolong its wear. But as pointed out in a blog post on Magi-mania.de recently, it’s not actually a setting product at all.

Continue reading “Summer must have: MAC Fix+ spray”

The 90ies inspired oddball style of Hyuk Oh

It’s no secret that I find a lot of my fashion inspiration in Korean pop culture and lately, I’ve been fascinated by this new band Hyukoh in particular. It’s not only that their music is good, but they’re also doing this thing where you can’t quite tell if it’s on purpose or not. But let’s start at the beginning.

Hyukoh is a band from South Korea that plays mellow indie pop rock with a hint of soul, and has basically skyrocketed to fame lately thanks to their goofy guest appearance on a show called Infinite Challenge

Continue reading “The 90ies inspired oddball style of Hyuk Oh”

How to explore a city – even if it’s your own

view from plane

Yo, yo, yo, what’s up! Your travel expert and trip advisor V. speaking.

It’s 2015, the era of low-cost airlines and cheap flight tickets, which means you probably have a couple of city trips in the pipeline, and if you do not, you are working on it.

I started doing regular city trips way back when I was a student in 2005, always jetting off to near and faraway destinations. However, then and now, I’ve always been of the opinion that exploring another city by way of guided sightseeing tours through old buildings and monuments, such as the Colosseum in Rome, Schloss Neu-Schwanstein around Munich or up the Statue of Liberty in New York, wasn’t quite what I wanted out of a trip to another country. History is nice and all, but I’d rather explore what the life there is like now.

How do I do that?

Continue reading “How to explore a city – even if it’s your own”

How to summer: Revisiting proper sun protection!

sunscreen recommendations 2015,

It has become really hot here in Berlin, and there’s no denying any more: it’s summer!

Before you run off into the sun to get ice cream, or chill at the beach, let’s talk proper sun protection real quick, though.

Continue reading “How to summer: Revisiting proper sun protection!”

Layering skin care: Who needs essences anyway?!

Korean skin care products

Most people seem to get by well with cleanser, moisturizer, and not much besides for facial skin care, so it’s a valid question. Why get into the notorious 10-step Korean skin care routine at all? But if for nothing else, the addition of toner, essence, serum, ampoule or face masks is all about consistencies.

East vs. West: the difference

In the West, you can choose between cream, lotion and gel formulas for moisturizing. But each comes with its own caveats. Creams are for normal to dry, lotions for normal and gel for oily skin types, and generally speaking provide the level of hydration that is commonly believed to suffice for each respective skin type.

So for oily skin, for instance, that’s usually fairly little. Most products for oily skin types will focus more on cutting down shine, or anti-sebum properties.

But: What if you have oily, yet also dehydrated skin, and want to fight signs of aging? Or your skin is dry and acne-prone at the same time? The majority of Western skin care products make it look as if all those problems were mutually exclusive, while in reality they are not. So how to moisturize effectively when richer formulas more easily clog pores? How to fight acne on dry or aging skin when the main function of anti-acne products is drying?

It’s all about consistencies

And here, the addition of toner, or an essence, etc., can make a lot of sense. They allow you to add a slew of beneficial active ingredients to your routine that are difficult to get from just cleansing and one cream or lotion. In the case of the Missha essence, for example, there’s something for extra hydration and anti-aging while being packed into an ultra light consistency.

As someone whose skin is prone to clogging, light consistencies are vital to me. I want and need nourishment without the richness, and exactly that is what essences and serums deliver. At the same time, toners keep my pores clear from product residues and build up – more things that could cause clogging – while still offering light nourishment in addition. So with the Western range of skin care products I would be able to target either my oily skin concerns, or anti-aging – but not both simultaneously. Whereas by combining several lightweight products at once, anything is possible!

Let’s take a look at various skin care concerns and the top skin care products to layer and address them. Choose from the following to complete your own multi-step Korean skin care routine.

Recommendations for oily skin types

Oily skin needs hydration too! But in contrast to dry skin, it mainly lacks in water, not oil. So look for skin care products with humectants. They are hydrophilic, which means that they ♥ water, and their function is to attract and bind it in the skin. Examples of effective and beneficial humectants are glycerin, Hyaluronic acid, Urea, Sodium PCA and seaweed or algae. [Source.]

Susanne Kaufmann Hyaluron Serum feuchtigkeitsspendend impresses due to its ingredients list: water, sodium hyaluronate, citric acid – that’s it. This is great for anyone who is looking for something toned down yet effective.

Mario Badescu Seaweed Cleansing Lotion is a another contender for very short ingredients list – which is almost always pretty good. With soothing aloe vera, and algae extract as humectant, this is a great toner for all skin types really. What makes this helpful against oily skin is the witch hazel extract in it, a natural astringent.

If you have any interest in Asian skin care products at all, you will have certainly come across the HADA LABO Goku-jyun Clear Lotion with Hyaluronic acid at some point. The cult product is specified as a lotion, and can stand well on its own. But with the consistency of a toner and a pretty short ingredients list too it’s also perfect for layering.

Recommendations for dry skin types

As Moi Sanom at 35th of May ably summed up here, dry skin lacks moistly oil, and does not take kindly to water because it only strips more moisture. You therefore want something that not only attracts and binds water, but ideally also traps it there. So besides humectants, the top skin care products for dry skin also include emollients and occlusives, such as plant oils, (coconut, jojobo oil or shea butter, for example,) lanolin, mineral oil, silicones, etc. Also, since I often find that a single moisturizing product does not suffice for really dry skin types, a serum + cream combo should work better.

Although the Innisfree Canola Honey Serum might not be suitable for sensitive skin types because of its alcohol content, it’s a Korean bestseller and has, for example, been voted #1 essence at The Glowpick 2014 Beauty Awards (Korean!) last year. It leaves the skin well hydrated and works even under foundations – all for a very reasonable price.

Another such bestseller is the Laneige Water Bank Essence_EX, voted third best moisture essence by consumers on SURE in 2014 (Korean!), as it offers long lasting hydration to the skin and can be used even when it’s irritated.

I’m generally skeptical about make up brands making skin care products. But the Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Supplement is so full of really great ingredients, such as Vitamin E, C, green tea extract, and humectants as well as emollients. Heck, there’s even some Hyaluronic acid in there somewhere. And it doesn’t seem very heavy.

Combination

Combination skin is not easy to generalize. For example, I am dehydrated oily combination. That means my T-zone, especially my nose, is really oily, whereas the rest of my skin is a little oily, but feels tight and dry if not tended to properly. Others, in contrast, could be normal or dry combination.

The best way to go about combination is to ensure proper hydration on all areas via essences/serums suited for oily skin types – see “oily” above ↑ – and apply a richer product only where needed – see “dry” above ↑.

(When it comes to cleansing, I recommend gentle cleansers only, no matter the skin type.)

Acne-prone and/or irritated

In my experience, acne outbreaks are often caused by irritations, and if they’re not, the only thing I find helps is treating them from the inside out.

[Read about the correlation between dairy and acne here.]

But topically, I’d treat acne-prone skin as irritated and provide it with soothing hydration, while also relying on spot treatments. And, on the whole, you will want to stay clear from

since these are all common skin irritants that can possibly aggravate your skin conditions.

To soothe, look for facial skin care containing chamomile, panthenol, allantoin and/or aloe vera instead.

Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Sheet Mask has just recently been voted #1 sheet mask per Glowpick reviews in April this year, and from the ingredients list alone proves to be a must-try. Apart from Hyaluronic acid, it features panthenol as well as licorice root extract, an efficient anti-inflammatory that is known to relieve swelling and redness. [Source.]

In order to fight already existing acne, and shorten the lifespan of each zit, BHA will work wonders while gently fading old acne marks and scars, and rejuvenating the skin at the same time. Try layering the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant before proceeding with a hydrating serum (refer to recommendations for oily skin types ↑) and a moisturizer suitable for your skin type.

As a spot treatment, I can personally recommend the Ciracle Red Spot Cream, as it speeds up the healing process of pimples without drying out the skin (a huge problem with most spot treatments, in my opinion) and supposedly works to fade acne marks as well. Use after the BHA gel on blemished areas over night.

Aging, sun-damaged, lackluster, scarred

Honestly, most anti-aging products don’t do much except provide the skin with much needed moisture – which is good in itself. But if you really want to reverse signs of aging, then you will need to target sun-damage, such as wrinkles, brown spots, irritations and inflammations, as well as a lackluster complexion. Incidentally, anything that helps with the concerns above will also improve scarring, boost healthy collagen production, and aid the brightening of your skin.

(Now, don’t be afraid. Skin brightening usually refers to fading acne marks and other hyper-pigmentations, thus evening out the skin tone, not making the skin whiter overall.)

I’ve already written about the benefits of alpha hydroxy acids in depth, and again will recommend Alpha-H Liquid Gold as it will “effectively diminish wrinkles, pigmentation and sun damage.” But for an even more potent alternative, the Papa Recipe White Flower Clear Up 8% AHA Gel is a great mix of 8% AHA and soothing ingredients.

Another amazing active ingredient that brightens and firms the skin, fades acne marks, boosts collagen production, reduces inflammation and irritations, and aids wound healing all at the same time is Vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid in INCI lists. I love the Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum, but the formula has recently been improved and now the new version Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum contains 1.5 % more Vitamin C and less other ingredients, so I will recommend you that.

Although the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II‘s claims are haughty, I’ll add this to the list of best anti aging skin care products because it’s been around and hyped for ages – it was voted #1 anti-aging essence by the same SURE readers as above in 2014 and even Paula Begouin approves – and I think that does say something.

To further address any of the concerns above, it should also be worth looking into

Some words on layering skin care

The consistency of your skin care products is important also in order to determine their order. Generally, disregard the instructions on your products and just go from thinnest to thickest consistency after cleansing. This way, you’ll be on the safe side most of the time.

So let’s say, you have a watery essence, it will come before your more viscous ampoule, while an oil-based serum should come after a light moisturizing emulsion – get it? The logic behind this is that lighter formulas need to absorb into the skin, whereas richer formulas form a protective barrier supposed to seal in moisture, which will make it difficult for consequent products to sink in. So ideally, these richer formulas need to come in last.

Now that you know how to best layer different skin care, here are the only exceptions to the rule.

In case of Vitamin C, AHA and BHA, you’ll want to use them before anything else – so ideally right after cleansing, or after toning. If used all together, layer first Vitamin C, then BHA, and AHA last.

[You can also read more about it here.]

Still not sure if the 10-step Korean skin care routine or rather layering skin care products is for you? Then try this easy trick first, and get into it. At the least, layer sunscreen after moisturizer during the day. To get it all off again, double-cleansing works wonderfully.

Miss a product that should be in this list? Tried any of the above? Comment below ↓

Summer scents: Inscentives for summer – and beyond

Kiehl's Nashi Blossom, Pink Grapefruit, Eau de Toilette

Fragrances are magical, because it’s like they leave invisible imprints on our brains. One day you sniff a certain scent again and boom! Suddenly you recall vague, long-forgotten memories from the depths of your unconsciousness – it’s crazy!

So signature scents are a thing. People can and will remember you by how you smell, but you can actually take influence on that.

Continue reading “Summer scents: Inscentives for summer – and beyond”

Korean style contouring

contouring in Korea

Chiseled features have become the standard template for contouring in the West, and if it works on you, that’s nice. But for anyone with a flat, round face like mine that whole thing will not fly. And this has nothing to do with a lack of contouring skills!

I once got my make up done professionally and she did that thing where you draw a dark shadow underneath the cheekbones. I know people on whom this works, but on me, this just made my face look not only wider, but weird and older too.

[At my own wedding party of all times! Click here to see a picture.]

Fortunately, there are other, better suited ways to put your natural features in the limelight.

Continue reading “Korean style contouring”

Review: Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence

Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence

Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence

It’s no secret that the Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence was initially marketed as a SK-II Facial Treatment Essence dupe. But Missha’s own version has so much going on for itself, I don’t think it needs to hide behind the original. In fact, here is why I think that the Missha essence is the far better deal in comparison.

Continue reading “Review: Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence”

Wearing: small to medium sized earrings

gold earrings
Earrings by ASOS.

Inspired by the K-Drama Birth of a Beauty, I’m attempting to pull off small to medium sized earrings lately.

Continue reading “Wearing: small to medium sized earrings”

Use double-cleansing to maintain clear pores and skin

oil foam double cleansing

If you struggle with clogged pores and repeated breakouts, one problem could be product build-up on your skin. Especially sunscreen or creamy foundations have a tendency to leave an invisible layer of oil-soluble residue on top of it leading to clogging, zits, and a lackluster complexion. The solution: double-cleansing!

Continue reading “Use double-cleansing to maintain clear pores and skin”

Acne-triggers in dairy

diet and acne

M currently has a bad skin episode.

Judging from its looks, we unanimously agree that the causes must be hormonal. Since he’s also had a few hectic weeks at work, we pin it down to stress.

Stress and hormones – his is exactly the kind of situation I have been trying to avoid for the last few years myself.

In 2012, my skin was out of control for a year.

In 2012, my skin had acted up in a similar way, though worse and more long-lasting. Until that point, it had never been super clear, but never that bad either. It was prone to one or two spots at a time, but it was never anything like it was during that period: covered in big, angry, red spots everywhere, but at the same time so dry it eventually started flaking. In summary, it was out of control for a year. And all this because of severe stress, while later also outliving the original reason itself.

A lot of seemingly clever life advice tells you to reduce stress, but how exactly do you reduce stress? And what if you do not feel stressed any more, but your body still acts like you were?

Since I did not know, I tried all kinds of topical skin care treatments from calming, cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing my skin at home to Microdermabrasion and professional fruit acid peels from a aesthetician. I was not as proficient about skin care at the time as I think I am now, so I did most of it in a chaotic, unsystematic frenzy. In any case, nothing helped, and I grew increasingly desperate.

(And increasingly interested in skin care. My obsession with clear skin is a direct result of that time.)

The saving tip eventually came from a then co-worker of mine. His advice was as simple as it was effective, although why exactly it worked is still a mystery to me as it is to scientists. The point is, however, it does work. For him, her as well as for me:

Cut dairy.

Cut cow milk out of your diet completely. Why? Because it’s full of bovine growth hormones.

Bovine growth hormones result in increased sebum production.

“Milk is, after all, specifically designed to make things grow” and happens to contain hormones and factors that co-stimulate oil glands, which in turn results in increased sebum production. [Source.]

Apparently, my co-worker had suffered from acne himself until he quit consuming cow milk. Judging from his skin then, it’s obviously helped. Since I had nothing more to lose at that point, I soon did the same. I quit cow milk completely, drank soy instead of cow milk, consumed no butter, no cream, no ice cream, no cheese – a bleak life.

(And unfortunately not one I adhere to 100 %. I still eat butter and ice cream occasionally. I’m weak…)

But sure enough, my skin finally, finally started to turn back to normal after that! The acne outbreaks became less and less until they stopped. Which was weird, because milk had never given me much trouble before that time, and the initial reason of my outbreaks had been something entirely else. Yet, there was no doubt. What once seemed without cure soon was under my control again as soon as I had quit cow milk. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. I avoid cow milk at all costs ever since.

To cut cow milk was thus the very first advice I gave M this week when we discussed his recent outbreaks.

To cut cow milk will also be the very first advice I give you, if your spots are big, red, and hurt, if the root of them seem to sit deep, if even squeezing them brings out nothing, (which of course you should not be doing in the first place, but whom am I kidding, I often find myself squeezing myself,) if your outbreaks come repeatedly and angrily, and if nothing, really nothing else helps. Cut cow milk.

Cut cow milk and drink organic green tea.

Cut cow milk and drink organic green tea.

I often despair of ever knowing what exactly affects my skin how. But at least of these I am certain: Cow milk triggers acne, green tea clears it thanks to its detoxifying and antioxidant properties. Everything else is purely speculative, but in conclusion, diet does make a difference.

As I have learnt the hard way throughout the years is that some acne cannot be battled by topical means, and that kind of acne is the most terrible of all. That kind of acne can have its causes in many things, but dairy is dead certain one of these things. So cut milk! Cut it completely, and never look back. If nothing else helped, I think this will. At least it’s worth a try!

Have you ever noticed changes in your skin due to your diet? Have you ever changed what you eat based on those experiences? Feel free to share more potential acne triggers down in the comments.

Review and swatches: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30/PA+++

NARS Tinted Moisturizer

The reason I obsess over skin care as much as I do is that I don’t like to rely on make up. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fun of it, and don’t mind using it when I’m in the mood. But to need it, the way I needed it when my skin was so bad I didn’t feel confident without foundation on, is a different matter.

Luckily, I’m at a point where I feel comfortable in my own bare skin again. Although there’s no denying that it could always do a little better still.

It follows that I always have a few base products lying around for days where I want to look that little better. The NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30/PA+++ in Finland is among them.

Continue reading “Review and swatches: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30/PA+++”

Clearer, glowing skin with Liquid Gold

DSC03558

Dull, lackluster complexion? The reason could be a layer of dead skin cells, residue and other debris on top of your skin’s surface right now. A bit gross, right? That’s why exfoliation is so important. Sloughs off dead skin cells, old dust and dirt as well as sebum, oils and product build-up. This leaves the skin not only glowing again, but clearer and younger looking.

While there are a lot of different ways to exfoliate your skin, today let’s talk my personal star product, Liquid Gold by Alpha-H!

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Shop smarter and fix your spending

minimalist style fashion

What’s the ideal wardrobe?

For me, the ideal wardrobe is filled with only things I love, but also contains nothing superfluous or unnecessary. It’s entirely practical and fits my lifestyle, which means whatever setting, occasion or weather I encounter on a regular day, I can find exactly what I need in it.

To build the ideal wardrobe, I already noted that efficient decluttering is the very first step in the right direction, but shopping smarter is a vital part as well.

How to avoid unnecessary purchases? How to know in advance if a purchase is worth it? Apart from following your gut feeling when it comes to differentiating between just OK and things you really love, these questions may most easily be solved by thinking economically.

Continue reading “Shop smarter and fix your spending”

The importance of regular exfoliation

exfoliation guide

To exfoliate or not exfoliate? That is not even a question in need of consideration. The answer is crystal clear: Yes, please! And if possible, at least twice a week.

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Style lessons from Mauricio Nardi, menswear stylist

Mauricio Nardi

I was meaning to create a moodboard in preparation for spring. I might not have to any more, though, because I’m feeling the styling by Mauricio Nardi so much, it may just be enough to keep me inspired for months!

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Declutter your wardrobe – efficiently

Declutter wardrobe

Before there was lookbook.nu, there was a community site called My Style Diary, and all you did there was upload your daily outfits as what we would now consider shockingly low-quality pictures. One of my favorite members was a girl from Australia who wore nothing but absolutely beautiful Alice McCall, Lover the Label and other lust-worthy things seemingly every day. Fittingly, her profile motto read, “Fill your wardrobe with only things you love, and you can wear things you love every day.”

“Fill your wardrobe with only things you love, and you can wear things you love every day.”

Continue reading “Declutter your wardrobe – efficiently”

Are these the perfect sunscreens for the face?

face sunscreen biore,

OK, so you don’t necessarily need mineral water spray or slather your face with $200 yeast! Just never forget one thing, please, and that’s proper sun protection. Rain or shine, sun protection is the mother of all preventive measures against basically all signs of premature aging in our skin, particularly wrinkles and age spots. But also, it shields our skin from harmful UV rays and thus lowers the risk of skin cancer. So, younger, better looking skin and a disease-free prolonged life?

You had me at ‘better looking’.

Continue reading “Are these the perfect sunscreens for the face?”

Review: SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

I talked about the Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence in a past post, and promised I would do a review on it soon. Before I do so, however, I thought I share this with you first: an indirect review of the original, the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence!

Continue reading “Review: SK-II Facial Treatment Essence”

Easy, simple moisture boost!!!

Avène Thermal Spring Water Spray

When evian was the first to sell mineral water as fancy Mineral Water Spray, it seemed like one of the most uppity and unnecessary ideas ever. Water? In a spray bottle? For 3 € per 50 ml!? With the usual skepticism of a German towards anything newish I righteously scoffed at what I perceived as a scam.

Turns out, it’s actually a great thing to have.

Continue reading “Easy, simple moisture boost!!!”

The best Asian skin care product purchases from Taipei

Asian skin care products

I love traveling to Asia. It always gives me a good excuse to shop my heart out. But despite my excitement about the opportunity to shop for Asian skin care all I wanted, I am a reasonable shopper. So although at first I was tempted to put whatever struck my fancy on my to-buy-list, I was determined to stick to only the reportedly best Asian skin care products I could find. So after hours and hours of browsing through blogs, review and rating sites, such as Glowpick from South Korea and Cosme.net from Japan, I eventually edited my list down to smaller number of products and brands of absolute cult status among the beauty interested. In hindsight I must say my research paid off nicely.

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Sporty without the sport: conspicuous consumption and sweatpants

When I started working from home, I decided size XL men’s Ts and sweatpants were now my thing, and that I would make the slob style popular more widely. But as it so happened, the current ‘Athleisure’ trend already did the job for me: my pajama style is now officially acceptable to go groceries, dinner dates, or even nights out at the club in. Thank you ‘Athleisure’!

Continue reading “Sporty without the sport: conspicuous consumption and sweatpants”

Korean Beauty Bible

Not long ago, I determined to find the South Korean secret to clear skin. So luminous, so flawless – there is something they’re doing right.

For one, I guess it’s the fact that skin care in South Korea is not just something to be over and done with quickly. Rather, clear flawless skin can well be considered a status symbol, and its maintenance therefore is an essential part of daily self care. The success of Korean skin care eventually spawned an entire industry with dermatologists, estheticians and cosmeticians around every corner, and beauty products of such high standard that even those in the lowest price brackets outperform most of what’s on offer anywhere else. So clearly, if anyone wants to learn about achieving clear, blemish-free skin, then South Korea is it!

I started digging around for Korean skin care resources to dive deeper into the matter. Get it BeautyBeauty+ or Beauty Talk, for example, are great for tips, tricks and infos on new Asian skin care products. But for a primer, they are already a little advanced. (They’re in Korean, for one.)

Here’s where After School’s Beauty Bible comes in the most helpful, a TV shoes originally broadcast on KBS, but now also available on the KBS World Youtube-Channel complete with English subs!

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Beauty to go: two weeks’ worth of skin, body and hair care

travel skin care

I start this blog right off by leaving. For two weeks in Vietnam and Taiwan.

I take off well-prepared with a multitude of travel-sized bottles and containers that hold all the ingredients to my multi-step skin care routine and hair care regimen. Thermal spring water spray? Check. Glycolic acid peeling ? Check. Micellar cleanser, cleansing balm, deep cleansing foam and cleansing brush? Check.

Seems much?

Check.

Continue reading “Beauty to go: two weeks’ worth of skin, body and hair care”