Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: Missha Oven Pop Blush (& what's the deal with these "baked" cosmetics anyway?)

On another recent splurge at Missha I was stopped dead in my circuit around the cosmetic island by the delectable line of Oven Pop Blushers that were winking and making eyes at me from the display. Even though I could have swept the whole lot into my basket with frightening ease I managed to suppress my compulsion and selected just 1 blush from the 4 colour range. The colour I chose was No. 3 Light Pink, although why they decided this colour is related to the Pink family is beyond me because to my eye the colour is more alligned to the Apricot clan.

Pictures are below and, once again, many sorries for the shoddy quality of my pictures (I have had a Lomography Diana Camera perched ripely at the top of my WishList for the longest of times).

So as I said the colour is a very beautiful dusky shade of apricot and if you look closely you can see miniscule flecks of gold within the blush powder which gives a very subtle highlighting effect when you swatch. The packaging is very pretty, it's set within a circular pearlescent case, although I'm not loving the screw top lid. It's impractical and a time waster, stick with the flip top lid in future guys!

Overall though I am very impressed by this blush and I am kinda keen to pick up 1 or 2, ok all of the remaining colours in the line so I can try em out!

Rating: 5/5

It occured to me before writing this review that I actually have no clue what the difference or benefit, if any, there is in the swathes of "baked" or "oven" blushes, bronzers, shadows and powders that have infiltrated our makeup counters of late. As far as the eye can tell the only perceivable difference is that baked cosmetic goods have a domed surface while regular powdered makeups lie flat and pressed in the pan and I'm guessing the makeup is somehow "baked" at some point during it's production. Apart from that I have no idea.

So, I ask, what's the deal with these baked cosmetics anyway? I decided to do a little research....

Interesting fact #1~ Yes, the makeup is literally baked in an oven
In Italy, no less, and on top of teracaotta discs. Like a Pizza!

Interesting fact #2~ The baking process improves the quality of the makeup
So it's not just a gimmick. The process of slow baking reduces the talc content, making for a more pliable, lightweight powder. Not only that, the baking process intenisifies the pigment and leaves you with a more rich, easily buildable colour.

Interesting fact #3~ The domed surface allows for a better distribution of colour
Apparantly sweeping a brush over a flat surface leads to too much product being picked up and thus a heavy colour application on the face. The domed shape allows for a more even amount of powder to be collected onto the brush and therefore a smoother application of powder to the skin surface.

Interesting fact #4~ Baked powders won't crumble
Ever opened your MAC bronzer compact only to find the contents have exploded during some inexplicable knock to the case and half of it falls squarely into your lap? Well no more, another perk of the baking process is that the powder binds more firmly together. No crumbly, powdery mess. Yes!

My rescue plan for after-party skin

So we just finished celebrating the Chuseok holiday here in South Korea (kind of like the Korean version of Thanksgiving). This meant a week off from work and, for me and my pals, a week of very hard partying in Seoul. Do you know what 7 days of tequilla shots, no sleep, caffeine fixes, pizzas, cigarettes and no proper cleansing routine leaves you with? The complexion of Wednesday Adams and a chin zit the size of Mount Snowdon. On top of that feeling sluggish, bloated and generally lethargic and fed up. Why is it that all of life's guilty little pleasures leave such a long legacy on your mind and body afterwards? Harrumph :(

On the bus home I hatched my masterplan for reviving my inner Audrey Hepburn (ha ha, I wish- but still it's always good to have a strong goal). I have been needing just such an excuse as this to try out some of the Laneige product line which Bubzbeauty has promoted so eloquently in he
r Youtube videos. They are a little pricier than regular Korean beauty brands but having read many favourable reviews of their products online I went shopping in the faith that the higher cost would reflect the quality of the products. Before heading to my local Aritaum store (which stocks the Laneige line) I stopped briefly at Homeplus to stock up on fruit and veggies, FORCING myself to pass by the cheese aisle in the process, because no matter how many dream creams we apply on the outside the real detox has to start from within.

Afterwards, with help from the sales lady at Aritaum I stocked up on the following items from the Laneige shelves:

Multi Cleanser (22,000Won), Strawberry Yoghurt Pack (20,000W) & Water Sleeping Pack (25,000W)

I was also given 2 x 50ml 'service' bottles of the Laneige Power Essential Skin, which is a toner, and the Balancing Emulsion, a moisturiser, which I am delighted with.

(Sorry for the baaad quality pics, my camera is terrible and I'm saving for a new one!)

I couldn't wait to try out the Multi Cleanser so as soon as I was under the shower spray I scraped my hair back and went to work on my face with a coin sized amount. First, I should say I'm pretty obsessed with cleansers right now. I wear full make up every day so when the night time comes I want to make sure every last scrap of the moisturiser, face make up and powder which has been layered on my face all day is off before going to sleep. I have pores that tend to clog easily so this is important for me to prevent blackheads. I have recently got into the habit of double cleansing in order to ensure complete removal of dirt but I can honestly say with this product I didn't feel the second wash was absolutely necessary, my skin was literally squeaking it was so clean after the second wash. This is no surprise when you read the leaflet and it describes the product as "a new 4-in-1 cleanser removes makeup, removes sunscreen, exfoliates and cleanses at once. Removes base makeup, such as sun cream, BB cream, and foundation, as well as colour makeup". I may just have found my Holy Grail of facial cleansers right here. The formula is lightly fragranced and contains loads of tiny little microbeads which are so fine they feel like very finely milled grains sloughing away into your pores while you cleanse. Not in an abrasive way, the effect is mild enough that you do not feel you are stripping or damaging your skin at all. Despite this I probably won't use this every day even though the leaflet says you can, I'm too wary of stripping the skin of natural oils with every day exfoliation. However I will definately be reaching for this product at least 3-4 times a week and I will confidently say this product is worth every penny spent on it.

Rating: 5/5

After giving my pores the rinse cycle with the wonderous multi cleanser I reached straight for the Strawberry Yoghurt Pack. I was really looking forward to trying this out as I believe it is one of Laneige's best sellers. When I unscrewed the lid the pot was sealed with a hygenic foil which I like to see. Inside the pot the product was exactly as descibed- the smell and consistency of a smooth strawberry yoghurt, complete with little red strawberry seeds. It was a job to stop myself from grabbing a banana, dipping it in and eating it as I usually do with my breakfast yoghurt every morning! The smell is very appealing, just like a fresh strawberry yoghurt or smoothie and I even like the way the lid design has a little whip in it just like the inside is really full of creamy yoghurt. The product itself is very light and wet and easy to apply. It felt pleasing while it was on my skin and I felt like my skin was absorbing the mask while I left it on. I kept it on for about 30 minutes while I watched the first episode of the new series of Dexter (obsessed) while I supplemented my detox with a Power Tea (green tea bag, wedge of lemon and hot water). When I rinsed the product off from my face my skin felt revived and fresh as is the usual feeling after just washing off a mask. However, after around 10 minutes I could feel my skin begining to tighten as it became dried out. After reading up more about this product on makeupalley I discovered the mask should only be worn after applying a refiner to the skin so I will have to try this method next time I use the pack to see if this minimises the drying out effect it had on my skin after removal. I hope so as I was a little dissapointed with this after-effect having been so pleased with the product up until that point.

Rating: 3/5

I finished my skin spa sesh with the
Water Sleeping Pack but I want to use this at least a week befor reviewing it so there will be more on this one later. Come on Audrey, I know you're in there!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Skin Food Make Up Review: Apple Can Multi Blusher

Skin Food is fast becoming my number 1 'go to' beauty
in Korea. I just love it and have seldom been let down by the products I have purchased from their range. The selling point of Skin Food is that they use natural food ingredients in their hair, skincare and cosmetic products and fitting to this most of the packaging will be decorated with pictures of the fruit or vegetable ingredient in that particular product along with a distinct perfume of the ingredient. So far so 'The Body Shop'. However, while The Body Shop do also feature fruit and vegetables heavily in their ingredients and product marketing I feel that Skin Food really takes the concept and runs with it. Beer Hop hair wash anyone? Or how about Yam face emulsion? Haha, really the sky's the limit with the range of food ingredients they use and I do feel like I am getting the full benefit of wholesome, natural, earthy goodness when I use anything from their range on my skin.

Even though I am hardcore about the skin and body care from Skin Food I have held off from trying out any of the cosmetics until a recent trip to Seoul where I visited a much larger Skin Food store than the one I have in my hometown of Gangneung. The cosmetic line held in my local store is pretty small and I don't know why but I've never really stopped to test out the stuff before- I think I'm always
so blinded by the dozens of lotions and potions for my face and body! However, I read a review on Musings of a Muse (one of my faves) on the Salmon Dark Circle Concealer Cream which was favourable so when I spotted it in the large Seoul branch of Skin Food I popped it in my basket along with the Apple Can Multi Blusher which instantly caught my eye when I saw it and I will review this product here.....

Apple Can Multi Blusher- shade #4

What the tin says: A multi-color blusher that performs as both cheek blush and blush highlighter, enabling easy application to contour your cheekbones and bring out your eyes.

What made me instantly pick up this item was the combination of colours in the tin. I am so in love with the current trend for peach and coral tones right now so the blend of pink through dark coral to soft peach in the tin appealed to me instantly and they show up a gorgeous light pink/coral shade against my fair skin. I am so pleased with this mix of colours! This particular shade is #4, there are 3 other colour trios in the range which are darker and lighter variations of this one. The tin is a very cute dusty peach colour with an apple design printed on the label. Inside the tin is very deep with the blush pan lying very flat at the bottom. The rest of the tin was filled up with a big white fluffy puff applicator which, as true with most 'comes with' cosmetic applicators, was completely useless as an applicator and went straight in the bin. I use a MAC 109 brush for all my blushers and I don't think I'll be replacing that with a big white poofie ball anytime soon! Inside the lid of the tin is a very decent mirror, big and clear enough to use for cheek applications and while you hold the tin close enough to your face to apply your blush you can breathe in the most delicately delicious appley smell. Seriously, the scent on this blush is just heavenly, just like sweet fresh apples. If it were bottled into a scent I would buy it and wear it and I love that my blusher brush now smells like apples!

Overall rating for this product: 5/5

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another Skin Food haul ...

I just spent the weekend in Seoul with the bf and a few friends and so I, of course, couldn't leave for home without picking up a few goodies for my face ^.^
The love motel which we stay at in Sinchon is conveniently situated right next door to a frankly huge Skin Food establishment. It's huge in comparison to my local store in the town that I live in anyway which is limited in both size and stock and the staff at my local one just love to pounce on me the minute I walk through the door and linger while I'm trying to read labels, test, smell and generally appreciate the gorgeous delights lining the shelves. This is a pet peeve of mine; it's a very personal pleasure I take in perusing cosmetics and I do NOT require 'helpful' company while I do it! The moment I'm aware I'm being trailed and having someone explaining the product that I can figure out quite easily myself how the hell it works my only desire is to put said product back down and walk away. It's bad for business I tell ya!

Anyhoo, rant over, I'm sure they only do it too because they get so excited over a foreigner in their store sometimes. But in the Sinchon store I was left blissfully to my own devices and was able to pick up some much saught after items that are not on the shelves in my store back home.

Skin Food haul items:

  • Apple Can Multi Blush- shade #4
  • Goat Milk & Lavender Body Oil
  • Bronzing Oil
  • Shea Butter Hair Mask
  • Salmon Dark Circle Concealer Cream

& as you can see in the second picture I as usual got a whole bunch of delicious testers to try out too!!

I did have the Pomegranate Scalp Hair Pack tester too which I was really excited to try out but unfortunatley I had to donate it to my boyfriend who was woefully bemoaning from the hotel shower about the lax quality of the shampoo provided. His hair did smell delicious the rest of the day though ^o^

List of freebies:

  • Facial water Vita-C Cream
  • Red Bean BB Cream
  • Apple Vinegar Fresh Foam
  • Ancient Rice Emulsion
  • Omija whitening cream
  • Black raspberry Eye Cream

I am going to start putting up reviews on some of these items pretty soon. I think I will start with the cosmetic items in this haul; I have already started using the Apple Can Blush and Salmon Dark Circle Cream and am so far extremely impressed with the results acheived from using these. Also, I can't WAIT to try out the bronzing/tanning oil. I almost squealed aloud with delight when I found this one as I have been searching out a tanning cream/oil ever since I got to Korea a YEAR ago and for a whole year cursed myself for not bring a supply of St. Tropez with me as the Korean summer has been pretty pants for actual sun this year. This= pasty white legs which look most unflattering against the pretty skirts and dresses I have been wanting to wear in the warm weather. I really hope this bronzing oil does a good trick. I'll do a write up on it after my first dabble.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My thoughts on a year done....

I am about 3 weeks away from finishing my first year here in South Korea and recently signed another contract to stay on a second year as an English teacher at my school. So many things about this country have appealed to me in this first year; my job, finding my boyfriend, new friends, Korean food, Korean fashion, how safe the county is, how beautiful the country is, just SO many things have made this year wonderful!

But one other detail about this county has been a constant source of delight and surprise and has managed to nudge me over the borderline from being 'mild cosmetic enthusiast' to 'full blown beauty junkie'- the Korean cosmetic brands and beauty stores. I am 100% in ♥ with the asian brand beauty products available here. For a start the packaging is super cute, I realise this isn't a major selling point for everyone but I am a major packaging whore, if you are one who adores the cute, design-heavy packaging on the likes of brands such as BeneFit then you will LOVE the packaging on some of the beauty products here. I have heard that the Japanese word for cute, 'kawaii', is how you would describe this style of design- think pastels, cute characters and drawings, flowers, hearts... girly!!

The main high-street beauty stores in South Korea are Skin Food, The Face Shop, Etude House, Missha and Tony Moly and I have included some pictures of the Skin Food facade and Etude House interior for you to get a look and feel of the stores- Etude House in particular has such a lovely boudoir/girl's powder room feel that sucks you in straight away. The sheer range of products that all these stores offer is something else; they range cosmetics, hair care, body care, skin care, and it's the skin care ranges in particular that have surprised, intruiged and delighted me here. All kinds of never seen or heard of before treatments, lotions, potions, packs and powders. Korean women take their skin care regime extremely seriously. I have read since being here that the average korean women will use 15 different products on her face in the morning. Yep, 15, and you know what i'm not all that surprised with the plethora of different facial goodies they have stacked on their shelves proclaiming to minimise this, smooth that and nourish the other. I have to admit I have been completely suckered in to all this an most paydays you can see me trawling the cosmetic stores for new treats for my bathroom shelves.

Probably the most exciting thing about my new passion is that the price tags are minimum. Unbelievably, cosmetics here are extremely reasonably priced and this is considering that Korea is not a cheap country. Food and clothes are on par cost-wise with the things I buy back home in the UK, however beauty products here are dirt cheap AND they don't sacrifice on quality because of this either. I find the quality of the products I buy rival any Western brand you can name which cost twice the price. This is, of course, delightful for me and only fuels my urge to splurge even more *sigh*

I have included 2 photographs of my most recent hauls from Skin Food and Etude House. It may look as if I bought out the entire store but in reality I bought only 3 items from Skin Food and 2 items plus some blackead strips from Etude House. Everything else that you see is all freebies that you recieve when you purchase. Oh yeah, in Korea they LOVE doling out the free samples- even if you spend a dollar on a nail file they will throw in some free cotton pads or something in your bag. See? Another reason why am blissfully, hopelessly hooked...

Skin Food Haul

  • Salmon brightening eye cream

  • Avocado rich cream

  • Egg white pack

  • Skin Food mug (freebie)

  • Ancient Rice First serum (16 fee samples)
  • Agave cactus prime gel (6 free samples)

Etude House Haul

  • Happy Teatime Milk Tea Cleansing Foam

  • Blackhead Gommage Massage Peel

  • Chin and Nose peel packs

  • Shower puff (freebie)

  • Baking Powder cleansing foam (freebie)

  • BB Magic Balm (freebie)