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2018 Beauty Favourites


It’s that time of the year again… Looking back at what has happened, what we’ve done, how we can be better and then hoping for a happy and healthy new year. I always have these mixed feelings, sadness and excitement, remorse and hope…
But today I’m thinking about the fun part and doing a recap of the beauty bits that have impressed me the most throughout 2018. I have to admit, it’s probably the shortest list of annual favourites I’ve ever had. I don’t think I’ve fallen out of love with skincare and makeup, actually I’d like to believe that I’m much more conscious about what  I purchase and use nowadays.
I’ve divided the bits into three categories:

Skincare Products
I’ve mentioned quite a few times that cleansing is my favourite part of my skincare routine. Although I don’t usually  wear that much makeup, the feeling of taking it all off  and being left with clean skin, ready for the next steps, is just so satisfying.
I couldn’t choose between my two favourite cleansers for the year, so I’m including both of them here. I like a good simple cleanser in the best possible meaning of the word. It’s important for me to have soap- and fragrance-free cleansers, so that they don’t further dry out my skin (I use prescription retinoid that can be a bit drying sometimes) and don’t irritate it. I found my dream cleansers in the form of Dr. Sam’s Flawless Cleanser and CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser.
I’ve been following Dr. Sam’s advice for a long time and I know I can always trust her because  I always see good results when I follow her tips. Her cleanser is everything you would want  a cleanser to be. It comes in a pump bottle that is really simple and easy to use, the product itself has a jelly texture, feels great on the skin and it’s even soothing. It removes impurities, makeup and sunscreen, doesn’t clog pores and doesn’t leave a residue. I like that it’s a non-foaming cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin and even sensitive and blemish-prone skins can use it. The formula is really elegant and gentle, yet effective and I need to repurchase another bottle of Dr. Sam’s Flawless Cleanser.
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser isn’t that good at taking off mascara and sunscreen but I use both of the mentioned  products after using a dedicated makeup remover because I like to actually cleanse my skin with them and not use them to take my makeup off. Just like Dr. Sam’s Cleanser, CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser is gentle  but cleanses thoroughly  while having an absolutely different texture. It feels like a lotion rather than a gel and is packed with ceramides to help the natural barrier function of the skin. It’s also fragrance- and soap-free and it’s really easy to wash it off. It’s great as a morning cleanse or a second cleanse in the evening.
Two mild cleansers that are actually really powerful at removing impurities.

Niacinamide is a fantastic ingredient that not only has anti-blemish and anti-pigmentation benefits but it also helps boosting skin’s natural ceramide supply. So, it’s great for acne-prone skin and it’s even hydrating which makes it perfect for the colder months. I, personally, use products with niacinamide throughout the whole year, it’s one of my favourite ingredients and I just can’t be without it.  My skin is combination with shiny T-zone and visible pores. I also struggle with hyperpigmentation issues after blemishes heal, so I’ve been using The Ordinary  Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% for the past 10 months. It reduces the appearance of spots,  balances the sebum production and brightens the skin. The texture of the serum is a bit gloopy but spreads easily and leaves a slightly sticky residue. I always follow with another product, so this isn’t a concern for me, it doesn’t interfere with the rest of my routine. I’ve been definitely getting less spots (it also soothes active ones) since I started using it and my hyperpigmentation seems to be fading much quicker than usual.  Niacinamide helps my skin a lot, I’ve tried it in moisturisers, cleansers, serums and this one is a great budget option.

And while we’re on the  breakouts topic, I must mention the second ingredient that’s been  helping me a lot when an unexpected guest appears. Here’s the time when I should mention that  the most severe case of clogged pores for me happened about a year and a half ago. In case you don’t know, I was using a new for me sunscreen and had bad reaction that resulted in really badly clogged pores on a very unusual area (under my jaw but over my neck), it was really bad, people kept asking me if I’d burned myself, it looked like a terrible and huge rash. Otherwise, I’d get an occasional breakout, it’s quite often but it’s not too serious, luckily. However, I still want to get rid of blemishes and  sulfur has been a great little helper. My favourite product containing sulfur has to be the Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Mask. It’s also an amazing spot treatment, I’m in love with this face mask because it keeps my face clear and smooth. I use it twice a week even if I don’t have blemishes because it also prevents from getting new ones. It doesn’t dry out my skin but I always apply moistursing products after washing the mask off. Peter Thomas Roth face masks are really popular at the moment but I don’t see many people talking about this one which is a shame, as it’s a very very good one.

I’m not currently using Vichy  Minéral 89 but it deserves a mention because I spent many months loving it and I’ll go back to it once the rest of my Hyaluronic Acid products are over. Some call it a moisturiser, others say it’s a serum but the brand describes it as a booster which you use after your toner and before the serum.   The important thing for me is to always use a face cream after applying the booster. The lightweight gel comes in a beautiful glass bottle that feels very luxurious. The product  itself feels cooling and soothing on the skin and absorbs fast. Essentialy, Vichy   Minéral 89  is the brand’s mineralising water rich in mineral elements with added Hyaluronic Acid. My skin feels much softer and plumper when I use this booster, I love the cooling feeling and how it doesn’t leave a sticky residue. What’s important  to know is to always seal it with a heavier moisturiser on top, otherwise Hyaluronic Acid can draw  the moisture out of your skin.

If I have to pick only one favourite beauty item of the year, it would probably be the  following one. When I got introduced to  Lanolips 101 Ointment Multi-Balm in Peach, I began using it only as a lip mask at night although I knew it was a multi-purpose moisturiser. Later I found out how good it works on extremely dry and painful patches when nothing else could provide even a mild relief and hydration, on papercuts and on any flaky area on the face or body. My preference to use it at night is  simply because it’s a thick, waxy balm that pretty much can’t be washed off. The one that I have is enriched with Peach Kernel Oil and Vitamin E and comes with a pointy applicator but I always use my finger to get the amount needed just because it’s too thick to be spread with the tip. This is a fantastic skin healer, nothing else saves my painful dry skin when I’m sick, I apply it on every flaky patch on my face and it’s healed overnight. I’m in love with the retro packaging, as well and I really need to try more of their products. If you don’t have a lanolin-related allergy, you should give it a try, especially in the winter months.

Makeup Products
I haven’t been using that much makeup in the past 12 months or I’ve been relying on old favourites but there are a few items that really made a difference for me and I’d like to share them with you.

I wasn’t sure if I should include  Heliocare Color Gelcream SPF 50  in  Light in the skincare or makeup category as it’s tinted but what’s more important is that it’s a brilliant product. Foundation is rarely a part of my makeup menu nowadays but healthy and even complexion are still things I’m trying to achieve most of the days. I’ve always been struggling to find sunscreens that suit my skin type but a tinted sunscreen was something I didn’t even dare to dream of discovering. After a few absolutely terrible experiences, I’d given up on the idea. When I got the Heliocare Color Gelcream SPF 50,  I didn’t expect it to be  a  good colour match and I thought it might be a bit too thick for my combination skin. Luckily, I was wrong and I wish I had gotten more tubes from it. First of all, the texture is so lightweight that I would never think it’s SPF 50! Second of all, it doesn’t feel greasy but keeps the skin hydrated. It has a slightly dewy finish but it isn’t too shiny and there’s a delicate melon scent that’s not overpowering. It’s easy to apply and provides good coverage that gives a healthy look. Heliocare‘s range consists of sunscreens that combine high technology mineral and non-mineral filters with photobiological protectants, featuring Fernblock which is a natural fern extract. Fern has adapted and evolved to protect itself from the harmful UVA and UVB radiation. The extract provides anti-oxidant effects and UV protection. The formula is also enriched with Panthenol and Vitamin E to moisturise and soothe the skin.
Unfortunately, it comes in just two shades, Light and Brown.
For me, this is a very elegant tinted sunscreen, I haven’t found anything like it, it doesn’t break me out and doesn’t make me look too shiny.

I’ve said a  few times that I’m not really an eyeshadow girl, I’m not talented in mixing and blending 6 shades and it doesn’t really suit me. But a sophisticated wash of colour makes me look a bit more awake and put together.  There are two products I’ve been reaching for almost every day and I’m still doing it because I love them.  Surratt‘s Smoky Eye Baton in the shade Etincelle is  a double-sided pencil with a creamy liner on one side and an eyeshadow on the other. The brand describes the shade as copper but on me it is more of a smoky bronze and makes the eyes look quite sultry. I love the pencil side, it’s creamy, easy to use and smudge and you get a gorgeous eye look in just a minute, that’s the side I’m using on a daily basis. The eyeshadow side has a tapered sponge and the shade is quite pigmented and really pretty. Sometimes I’d apply it only on my top lid or I’d use it to smudge the pencil even more. I don’t use the shadow side that often, as it’s sadly, not the most long-wearing one and creases even if I wear a primer but the colours are absolutely gorgeoous and perfect for every day or for a night out, it’s really versatile.

The second eyeshadow stick that I like to use for a more defined eye look comes from Laura Mercier and it’s the Caviar Stick in Amethyst. The shade is something between a soft mauve and warm taupe and has kind of a bronze metallic finish, it’s simply stunning and I feel like it would look great on everyone. The formula is creamy and glides on easily, blends like a dream and it’s extremely long-lasting. Usually, I  always have to use a primer because everything creases on my lids but this one doesn’t, it was such a big surprise, it  looks perfect all the time. The colour is very pigmented but flattering and not screaming, it just makes the eyes pop. I use this as an eyeshadow or as a liner, I like smudging it over my bottom lash line, it’s also fantastic for a smokey eye.

A blush that doesn’t get enough attention is definitely  Lumene Nordic Chic Natural Glow Blush in the shade Tulip Blossoms. At first, it looks really bright in the pan but on the face, it just gives the most natural healthy and radiant pop of colour that you barely notice. It simply looks like you have it naturally and it’s incredibly easy to apply and blend it over the apples of the cheeks. It’s a powder blush but the texture is silky soft and it makes it feel almost like a cream blush. I’m in love with it, brilliant colour and texture. For such a natural-looking blush, it’s really long-lasting and at the end of the day, it still looks pretty. I’m happy to see more people talking about this Nordic brand but they still have lovely products that are incredibly underrated.

I don’t know if  you can include a product you’ve been using for just 3 weeks in an annual favourites post but I had to mention the Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb in Fu$$y because it has probably the best lip gloss formula out there. If you normally don’t like lip glosses, you might actually love this one. It gives a slight pink tint that looks really pretty, goes on smoothly without being sticky or gloopy and feels very comfortable on the lips while leaving them nourished, thanks to the Shea Butter added to the formula. So happy that my curiosity prevailed when I saw this gloss and I decided to get it, it’s a fantastic lip product.

Fragrance
I wanted to mention a couple of fragrances that absolutely rock my world but I was a bit unsure about the first one. I mean, I was a bit unsure if I should mention it because I really want to keep it just for myself.
Everyone talks about Santal 33 from Le Labo but the star for me is Thé Noir 29. I don’t think I can describe with words how beautiful this perfume is. It’s addictive, it’s deep but fresh, it’s leafy and dry. We all know that fragrances feel different on different skin, on me, Thé Noir 29 is like a cup of black tea with fig and bay leaves present, it’s a bit smokey and woody, rich and bitter. It’s not difficult for me to fall in love with this fragrance, considering how much I adore fig scents but the fig here is different. It’s dry and dark, rather than juicy and fruity. I can feel  Thé Noir 29 even at the end of the day, after I take a shower, it’s still there in my hair even after it’s washed, on my pillow, at night and the morning after, it’s beautiful…

My second scent favourite is actually more  winter-appropriate, as well. Jo Malone  English Oak & Redcurrant Cologne presents contrast between fruity and woody notes which makes it divine. It feels warmer and earthy, then the heart notes of rose make it really feminine and elegant but the rose isn’t that detectable. It’s also more woody than fruity. For me, it is a very cosy autumn/winter scent, it’s like dew over the autumn leaves at dawn, like damp branches of our big walnut tree at home… I heard many people say it’s too heavy for them but for me, it’s just perfect… on its own or paired with other Jo Malone colognes but I prefer to wear it on its own and feel the whole composition.

Well, that’s it from me this year. A bit of everything. Let’s hope that 2019 will be a good one, a happy and healthy one. Have fun and be safe!

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April Favourites


We’ve finally had spring temperatures in Norway! It’s amazing to see how even seagulls look much happier now.
April has been quite tough, to be honest and it may sound superficial but shutting the bathroom door in the evening and doing my skincare routine, instantly transfers me to a calmer place. Of course, I can’t forget about the troubles that me and my loved ones are facing but this ritual somehow makes me feel a bit better.

When I started using face masks in the morning because of the retinoid that is part of my evening skincare routine, it felt quite unusual at the beginning. I’m now used to it and it’s actually really nice to welcome the day with a fresh face. On the weekends, I like doing purifying masks and then to use a sheet mask but on a week day, I’d just go for something like the Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Mask. It’s my favourite spot treatment, I’m in love with this face mask because it keeps my face clear and smooth. I use it twice a week even if I don’t have blemishes because it also prevents from getting new ones. It doesn’t dry out my skin but I always apply moistursing products after washing the mask off. I did a comparison between this mask and the Sunday Riley Saturn which I love, as well and you can have a read here.

While we were in Lisbon in March, looking for Ceramidin Cream, we found the Dr. Jart + Help Me Ceramidin Trial Kit. It contains the cream, the liquid and the gel-cream versions. My boyfriend has really dry and sensitive skin, so we wanted something that would give him moisture without irritating the skin. I started using Ceramidin Liquid as a serum or a moisturiser on its own while my boyfriend used the liquid followed by the cream and we both saw instant results. What surprised me was that he liked the liquid even more than the cream and I couldn’t believe that such a thin and runny texture could moisturise his skin so well. He began using only the liquid without applying the cream afterwards to compare and his skin was still looking soft and there were no dry patches anymore. We’ve now ordered the full size of Ceramidin Liquid and it’s become a staple for both of us. I love using it in the evening 20-30 minutes after applying Differin, it makes such a difference to my skin, it’s soothing and nourishing. It has a slight scent, absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave a sticky residue. It doesn’t break me out which was my main concern and we’re really happy that it works well on both, dry and combination, blemish-prone skin.

I can’t believe I haven’t talked about my favourite lip balm in the past couple of months! I’ve featured it on my Instagram and I absolutely love it. Inkuto is a brand based in Finland but their founder is from Ghana. She helps empower women in her country and promotes the African natural resources that are economically and ecologically sustainable. They have different soaps, oils, body butters and they’re mostly known for the hand-crafted African Black Soap and the Shea Butter products. My favourite is their Shea Butter Lip Balm with Mango Oil, they also have ones with Coconut Oil and Raspberry Oil. It’s a beautiful little balm that melts onto the skin, feels smooth and shiny and if I leave it overnight, I wake up to the softest lips. The lip balm has a lovely light scent and a bit grainy texture which is the feature I love the most, as it gives a slight exfoliation to the lips. It’s wonderful and I’m really happy when I find small brands with great ideas behind them.

I’ve confessed multiple times my love for Rituals body products and although I’m not the biggest fan of floral scents, The Ritual of Sakura must be my favourite range from them. But it’s not your typical floral scent, it’s light and fresh and even a bit fruity but not overpowering or sweet, it’s perfect! I’ve been loving The Ritual of Sakura Shower Oil for the spring days. The pretty bottle has a pump which is really convenient and the oil turns into a milky emulsion in contact with water. It leaves a moisturising feel and makes my skin soft and nourished. I still use body moisturisers afterwards and I don’t think it would make a huge difference if you have very dry skin but it definitely has a hydrating feel to it. I love how the scent lingers in the bathroom for an hour or so, it’s a beautiful fragrance.

And speaking of fragrances, I started reaching for more spring/summer scents already in March because I just couldn’t wait any longer to wear them. One of my favourites is the beautiful Acqua di Parma Blu Meditarraneo Fico di Amalfi. It’s a unisex fragrance and it takes me to sunny Italy whenever I’m wearing it, I adore this scent. It’s not too sweet, it combines slight fruity sweet notes with woody and citrusy ones, it’s fresh and warm at the same time, sunny and juicy. Top notes are of Bergamot, Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon and Mandarin Wood. Heart is composed of my favourite Fig, Pink Pepper and Jasmine and the base is rich in Musk, Cedar and Fig Milk. I have a set of three of these that I often mix together but in the past few weeks, Fico di Amalfi has been perfect on its own. I’d highly recommend checking this scent out if you’re looking for a summer fragrance, it’s fresh and edgy, zesty and clean and it puts you in the mood for a sunny holiday. The only downside for me is that it doesn’t last as much as I would like to but I don’t mind spritzing it a couple more times a day, considering how handbag-friendly the bottle is.

I would love to know what your favourite spring and summer fragrances are and I hope you’ve had a lovely month.

Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask vs Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque

My combination skin has a long love story with clay masks. I use them once or twice a week, I apply them as a spot treatment for half an hour or overnight and after I got severely clogged pores last summer, all the dermatologists I visited had one thing in common, they all suggested me to keep using my beloved clay masks. The type of skin problem I’ve been dealing with is just as unpleasant as all the other skin problems but what makes the experience even more frustrating is the fact that you see redness and feel the bumps but they’re so deep under the skin that you think nothing can reach and heal them. Of course, I’m far from the thought of telling you that masks can do the whole job, I’ve been prescribed Differin which has made a huge difference to my skin but I still need and like to maintain what’s been achieved, so far. Plus, who doesn’t like to pamper themselves with a face mask?

When I started purchasing more products from skincare brands in the US, I noticed that clay masks with added 10% sulfur seemed to be quite popular. The results that people shared sounded almost too good to be true. I’m probably a bit late to the party but it doesn’t look like it’s as popular in Europe as in the US.
I ordered a set from Sunday Riley that contained their Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask, I loved it and decided to purchase the Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque, as well. I’ve been having them for about 3 months and I decided to do a comparison post.
I must say, this is my favourite type of face mask I’ve tried, so far, it helps my skin a lot, it’s not too drying and I get just an occasional breakout since I’ve started using sulfur treatments but nothing too scary.

Sunday Riley Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask comes in a 60 ml tube for the price of $55, I have the 20 ml mini and I’m keeping what’s left of it for travelling and serious disasters, it’s amazing but it’s just really pricey. My other issue is that I have to import it from the US and pay extremely high taxes and shipping fees. The product inside the tube is yellow green and the texture is a bit like a mousse. You can kind of see it in this post and that’s the second time I mentioned the mask.
The first few times I used it only as a spot treatment because many people said it was too drying and gave them chemical burn. I noticed a difference on the following days, my spots were less red and angry and a couple of days later they were almost gone. I experienced only slight stinging sensation at the moment of application but nothing too painful or drying after that. Then I decided to try using it on larger areas of my face but still not on the entire face. I’d just apply a thin layer of the mask on my problematic zones and leave it on for 30 minutes. The mask washes off really easily and my skin doesn’t feel too tight afterwards. Sunday Riley Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask contains 10 % sulfur that fights different forms of acne while preventing future breakouts, 4% niacinamide, zinc PCA, bentonite clay, tea tree oil and manuka oil, brilliant ingredients list. I’ve been almost completely blemish-free since I started using the treatment twice a week, I know everyone is different and it might not work well on all but it works for me and I couldn’t be happier. Now, it doesn’t fight blackheads and doesn’t make my pores appear smaller but I wasn’t even hoping for that. All I wanted was clear skin with no bumps, red spots and clogged pores and I got what I needed.

Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque is stored in a 142 g jar for the price of $47. Luckily, I can find this one in more countries, I got mine from Norway. This ones has a thick and creamy texture, it’s very different from the Sunday Riley one, they both stink but this is sulfur, so it’s normal. I’m actually used to the smell because when the kitties that we adopt have certain type of skin problems, they get prescribed an ointment containing 20% sulfur but you might need some time to stop thinking about the smell.
The Peter Thomas Roth mask contains 10% sulfur, just like Sunday Riley, bentonite clay, kaolin and soothing aloe vera. I use it twice a week on the entire face or overnight as a spot treatment if I need but I rarely do.  It’s suggested to apply a thick and opaque layer but my personal preference is to use just a a light and thin layer of the mask. It works brilliant and it’s a bit less drying than the Sunday Riley one but a lot more difficult to wash off. It’s suggested to leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes but I keep it on for half an hour. My skin doesn’t feel tight or stripped afterwards and as long as I’m applying a moisturiser after washing my face, everything’s fine.

After I started using these masks, I can see that my complexion continues to get better and I hope soon I can forget about the nightmare that began last summer. For me, the Peter Thomas Roth mask would be the one I’d keep repurchasing, it’s more affordable because it contains a lot more product for a similar price. I’m absolutely in love with Sunday Riley Saturn and I might even like a little bit more than the Therapeutic Sulfur Masque but it’s just too expensive for a lot less product.
Sulfur turned out to be a great ingredient for my skin and I’m looking forward to finding new products with it.