Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Banila Co It Radiant Brightening Essence Review or: Her Royal Highness among the Brightening Essences.

Hey There!

How have you all been doing lately? Since the summer vacation time in Germany started, all hell broke loose at my workplace (which is at the main station of the German capital). We are currently understaffed, overworked, half of us is at vacation and the other half is sick. Guess which half I am. Today it's my day off luckily and I spend it with big mugs of tea and free oreo cookies from work. (there was a promo where people gave away free oreos and they gifted our store an amount that will probably last us a lifetime, a whole fridge is full with them!! Not that I am complaining.)

Putting work aside, I've been teasing you guys about a certain product that I fell in love with right away and today is the finally the day to spill all those detailed skincare beans! I am speaking of course of the absolutely graceful looking Banila Co It Radiant Brightening Essence.

Yes, the 10 White Flower Complex is already an incentive to buy this thing but honestly? I'd lie if I didn't say that the packaging had me on its side the first time I lay eyes on this beauty. Luckily, the peeps over at ibuybeauti were so nice to grant me some store credit so I could pick some items that were interesting me for quite a while and here we are! Not only does it look insanely pretty among my skincare stash but it also makes me feel like a queen whenever I reach for it (and that is a lot.)

From Banila Co:

Whitening functional essence for tidying up skin's tone, providing moisture and brightening effect. Fermented ingredients used for intensive moisturizing, decent melanin care to whiten up the skin. The whitening line for clean and bright skin enhances skin transparency with clean water, making sleek and soft skin texture.

*10 White Flower Complex: 10 different natural flower ingredients for brightening
*LipoLight Photograhic:  Capsulized particles fill in wrinkles, pores and blemishes

Capacity: 50ml

First Things First.

I reached out to the seller that I got this from (ibuybeauti) prior to this review because the essence came in a different packaging than displayed on their website. In fact, what I received seems to be the perfect marriage of the It Radiant Brightening Essence inside the gorgeous packaging of the It Radiant Brightening Oil (I even checked multiple times if I really received the essence instead of the oil):

Now, I absolutely don't mind the gorgeous packaging at all. I am just not sure if this is a new design? Did Banila Co change their essence packaging to this from the oil? You can see that the container is similar to the oil but not the same; it is a lot taller and it also holds 20ml more product than the oil. Sadly, I didn't receive any answer from ibuybeauti in the past three days so I chose to post the review nonetheless and update this post when I hear back from them. Since I wasn't exactly sure which product I received I translated the Korean ingredients that came with the product and upon further research yes, it is indeed the essence and not the oil. However, it does seem as if they reformulated the product? Because the ingredients printed on my packaging was slightly different from what I found on the Hwahae app; Dimethicones for example were not on the original ingredients list. Very confusing stuff. I just thought it is very much relevant as it could lead to major confusion if any of you chose to buy this and receive different packaging than I did so I'd very much like a definite answer. Will keep you posted as soon as I hear back.

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat, DimethiconesButylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Dipropylene Glycol, Iris Versicolor Extract, Ipomoea Purpurea Extract, Lilium Candidum Flower Water, Convallaria Majalis Bulb/Root Extract, Magnolia Liliflora Flower Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Flower Extract, Lilium Candidum Bulb Extract, Leontopodium Alpinum Flower/Leaf Extract, Nelumbium Speciosum Flower Extract, Rose Extract, Jasminum Officinale Flower/Leaf Extract, Freesia Refracta Extract, Narcissus Pseudo-Narcissus (Daffodil) Flower Extract, Lactobacillus Ferment, Lactocococcus Ferment, Milk Protein, Sacchariomyces Ferment Filtrate, Chrysanthemum Morifolium Flower Extract, Prunus Mume Flower Extract, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Methyl Gluceth-20, Betaine, Arginine, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Parfum.
Possible irritants marked in red.      Flower extracts marked in lilac.

Despite alcohol being very high on the ingredient list I am very pleased to see that this product does contain a good amount of flower and root extracts as they advertised. If you are sensitive to either alcohol, silicones or castor oil, I would advise to look elsewhere for a brightening essence. I personally fare well with these ingredients so I don't mind them too much - I would have preferred the (old?) formula without the silicones though. They do make the skin feel nice but despite that effect, I don't really need them in my skincare, but that would be the only thing I'd have to pick on.


Thursday, 23 July 2015

Summer Essentials II: Battle of the Sunscreens Part I

Heed my words: Even in gloomy Germany, summer is coming and with it the constant sunscreen struggle. (Although, as many of you know, the struggle is real for the most of us at any time of the year.) Just today I went to my local drugstore to have a look at the sunscreen options (maybe something changed from he last time I lived in Germany..?) but nope. the choices were all still absolutely terrible: No real sunscreen suitable for the face, high amounts of alcohol and a white, thick and chalky texture. Ugh. It can't be that hard, can it? In the quest of finding THE ONE, I tested 3 popular Asian sunscreens and 2 not so popular ones. Wanna know which one has sunscreen majesty potential? Make sure to read on!


Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence (probably the most popular Asian sunscreen out there..?), Missha All-Around Safe Block Essence Sun, Hada Labo UV Creamy Gel and COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream. (Not in picture: The Face Shop No Sebum Moisture Sun - I used that one when I was living in Korea and somehow forgot to write a review about it. Screw that, I actually wrote a review about it but completely forgot I had written that one #beautybloggerproblems see the full review here!)

A little The More You Know about Sunscreen

Around 80% of visible aging signs like wrinkles, age spots, pigmentation and so on are caused by UV damage, aka the happy little sunny ball that shines on us everyday. The most effective anti-aging treatment/precaution is to use sunscreen as a daily necessity. (Not to speak of preventing skin cancer!) This includes wearing sunscreen year round even though it is not summer (or even sunny!). If you check the UV index of where you live, you might be surprised how high the UV index can be even though it is a glooming rainy day outside.

Using sunscreen is vital, but using the correct amount is even more important. If one considers how sunscreen is tested (2.0mg/cm² of sunscreen applied to a device used to measure the efficacy of sunscreen) and equates this to an average sized face, you will end up with ¼ teaspoon of sunscreen necessary for your face to get the labelled SPF protection.

In order to be protected not only against sunburn but also against tanning, photoaging and skin cancer, you need a sunscreen that has both UV filters against UVA and UVB rays. Those are usually labelled as broad spectrum (Breitbandfilter or -spektrum in German.) If you are unsure whether you get the right protection, the safest way is to check the UV filters. Look for the following ingredients:
For UVA protection, look for Zinc Oxide, Avobenzone, Tinosorb S, Tinosorb M, Mexoryl SX, Mexoryl XL, Helioplex, Uvasorb HEB, Uvinul A plus, Bisdisulizole Disodium, and Meradimate.

For UVB protection, look for Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Tinosorb S, Tinosorb M, Helioplex, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Homosalate, Uvinul T 150, Ensulizole, Dioxybenzone, Trolamine Salicylate, Uvasorb HEB, Parsol SLX, and Amiloxate. (This is not a complete list of both UVA & UVB protecting ingredients, but a good starting point.)

Since I cannot possibly cover everything important in this one post, please refer to vanityrex' amazing introduction Everything You Should Know About Sunscreen Part I and Part II for thorough guideline on this topic.

What I look for in a sunscreen ideally:

+ A mixture of chemical and physical UV filters (read on as to why this is important)
+ Easy to spread texture
+ SPF50+ and PA+++(+)
+ Doesn't cost more than 15$ a tube
+ Doesn't ball up or behaves weird under make-up

Also, since I get lots of emails with questions about sunscreens with very utopical demands, let's face some realistic facts: A sunscreen that has a matte finish will contain alcohol, as it is exactly that makes it matte and fast-absorbing. A sunscreen with only physical filters will leave a white cast, as only Zinc and Titanium Dioxide are available as physical filters and both of them are white and quite thick in texture. The closest you get to waterproof sunscreens are the physical-only ones. Also, no sunscreen is truly waterproof, you will always need to reapply after you come out of the water. So, if you want to have a fast-absorbing, matte sunscreen you will need to have at least some chemical filter in it - vice versa, if you need something as waterproof as it gets, the white cast leaving physical filters are your best bet. Unfortunately to my knowledge, we can't have everything in one.


In contrast to my Western sunscreen options, these are all incredibly easy to wear, even under make-up. However, even between these there are fine differences; Hada Labo UV Creamy Gel is by far the most watery/fluid texture, it almost ran down my arm multiple times before I was able to make this shot. Second in terms of watery texture is the Bioré UV Essence which is just a tad thicker than Hada Labo. Both, Missha and COSRX are more on the thicker side but still spread very well on the skin. The Face Shop No Sebum Moisture Sun falls somewhere between Bioré and Missha and had the consistency of a light moisturizer but was a bit easier to spread than Missha in the pink tube - see swatch here.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Summer Essentials: Innisfree Anti-Darkening Fixer

Hey There!

Are you in the midst of summer craziness yet? Here in Berlin, we have the weirdest summer to date. One day it is scalding almost-40°C-hot, the next day we have thunderstorms and taifun-like rain. The temperature climbs and falls from day to day and it is slowly but steadily getting to me. For the hot days however, I have made myself a survival kit that I carry everywhere and one little item that has been a constant companion of mine is the Innisfree Anti-Darkening Fixer.

After I discovered my (to this day) favorite foundation, the Luna Water Essence Founpact, I was faced with a challenge I had not considered before: I needed something to prevent the very moisturizing, yet not blessed with the greatest staying abilities, make-up goodness to slide off my face, especially as the temperature rose. Since I couldn't find much online about this (rather new, I think?) product, I decided to request it at Jolse (the ultimate bae) for review purposes to let you know how it worked for me.

Claims: "A high molecule networking polymer creates a thin fix film on the face for a clear face without darkening. Long lasting film formula enables your makeup last long. Juju green tea extract gives your face moisture immediately."

Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Squalane, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Silica, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate, Polysilicone-11, Glyceryl Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Trimethylsiloxysilicate,  Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Stearic Acid, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate, Palmitic Acid, HDI, Fragrance, Cammelia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Ethylhexylglycerin, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Orchid Extract, Camellia Japonica Leaf Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Mineral Salts, Opuntia Coccinellifera  (Prickly Pear) Fruit Extract, Propanediol, Glycerin, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Extract.

I was a little bit disappointed by the lack of real moisturizing agents, but then I am not sure if hydrating ingredients would probably counteract the "fixing" ability of the spray? Anyways, this spray consists mainly of Glycerin and Water which are actually the main ingredients of many fixing sprays such as the quite expensive MAC Fix Plus. Another main ingredient are silicones which are famous for acting as a "sealed" barrier, but can be problematic for some. I personally would prefer a shorter ingredient list with less potential irritants as the actual formula probably wouldn't suffer too much if you took most of them out. Also, the green tea extract (Camellia Japonica Leaf) seems to be only a miniscule amount but that was honestly expected as this isn't a treatment so it doesn't bother me too much.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

The Hidden Gems Of Asian Beauty: Into The Unknown.

As diverse and colorful as most Asian Beauty products are, I sometimes feel that I've seen it all. If you've delved deep enough into Asian beauty and skincare waters there probably aren't many things that still surprise you a bit - I'm here to change that! I made it my personal mission to find some products for you that aren't among the safe and usual shores and probably light that fiery excitement again that we all felt when we first started this beauty adventure. (I might be a little bit over-dramatic here. That's just my character.) Although I am still utterly in love with brands such as Hada Labo or COSRX which have been to amazing service of my skin, I sometimes want to be a bit more adventurous and jump right into the unknown.

However, there are plenty of glittering fish in the beauty sea! I browsed all the online shops that I know of and searched for the most unusual/exciting products from Japan, China and Korea for you to enjoy! If you know of any lesser known/underrated Asian brands or skincare products please let me know!

Note: I haven't used any of these products (yet) except for Ettusais, Country & Stream and Mama Butter. "Hidden Gems" in this context refers to products that I found exciting because of their ingredients, purpose or packaging.

Products from left to right; top to bottom.

Foundation with different layers that gets blended upon touch of the skin with the sponge-tip applicator - the chrome-like packaging would look great in my bathroom...

Whitening face masks that look like a cute set of macarons. Need more reasons? :D