Beauty Treasure from S. Korea

On my recent trip to Seoul I explored the “mystery” of Korean beauty: flawless skin, porcelain complexion and an impeccable, radiant appearance, who wouldn’t want to know how they do it?

Since the invention of the BB cream that took east and west by the storm, it seems S. Korea is investing a lot in the beauty industry and sets the trends in skincare. Today there exist numerous Korean brands that have gained the attention and trust of an international clientele as well as many sought-after Korean beauty products that seem to deliver their promises.

After hovering around many shops and stalls I decided to concentrate on two brands this time and try some of their well known products. Tony Moly is a very popular and affordable brand (check your local Sephora as they might be carrying their products) whereas Sulwhasoo is an upscale company, more on the expensive side.

As for the latest beauty trends, these involve the use of ginseng, snail ferment secretion, gold and recently there has been a shift on products containing hyaluronic acid. Koreans are obsessed with face masks usually made of a face-shaped cotton sheet infused with different emulsions for different needs. So far I have tried Tony Moly’s Goat Milk Extract mask and although it scared the hell out of my daughter seeing me wearing it, I enjoyed its benefits. Yet I’m waiting for the right moment (and with my daughter asleep) to try on the Snail Mask and the Red Ginseng mask that claim to provide Skin Repair and Shine respectively. The Mask Sheets are a very affordable option as they are sold per piece so you can try the product before you buy the whole line.

One thing I really liked about Tony Moly is their sense of humor and cuteness on some of their packaging for products (probably) addressed to younger ages. So next time people roll their eyes seeing you taking a banana out of your expensive purse, you can face them straightforward: “it’s my hand cream, you silly!” Oh, and it smells like a real banana! Same for the apple hand-cream or the peachy lip balm, what you see is what you smell and what you get. As for the Bamboo Fresh Water Soothing Mist, in a bottle actually resembling a bamboo stick,  I think I’m gonna stick to it. Up until now I was using my own mix of orange blossom water and Body Shop’s E Vitamin mist to either freshen up my face during the hot days of summer or on top of make-up to make it stay for longer. But I found this bamboo water equally -if not more- satisfying.

With my buys the ladies at Tony Moly gave me many samples to try as well as the Nutra Energy Toner with organ oil, in regular size (80 ml) which cleanses perfectly my skin and prepares it for the next steps in my skincare routine. As I always check the ingredients of the products I intend to buy, I was happy to see that none of them contain parabens (unless they are renamed in some way but I don’t think so).

And now the real treasure out of my lot: Gold 24 Snail Sleeping Pack. Pure gold, fermented and snail ferment secretion as well as panax ginseng callus extract are combined in one powerful formula with multiple benefits: wrinkle improvement, whitening, pore tightening, skin texture improvement, moisture and nourishment supply. I only have one word: AMAZING. The formula is a gold-yellowish gel (a little sticky in the beginning of application but it is absorbed quickly) that works as a mask, only you don’t have to wash it off. Instead you sleep with it and you just wash your face the next morning and look at your mirror: Your skin looks fresh, plumped and radiant! It’s the only product I have used so far with actual results from the first application! Just try it and you won’t regret it.

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I literally struck gold with this one! 

Another Korean beauty “must have” is the cushion. The cushion is make-up, powder, bb cream, cc cream, sun protector, all of them and none of the above, it’s a separate category itself. It is actually a tinted emulsion which sits under a sponge. When pressed with the provided puff, the sponge delivers the product which can then be applied on the face by patting gently with the puff. The result is flawless, smooth, porcelain-like complexion in only one go.

Looking for the best cushion I read very good reviews on the Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion. I didn’t need much more to be convinced to try it as since the first day I arrived in Seoul I was told again and again about this cosmetic company’s high quality products. The Perfecting Cushion comes in different shades and has SPF50. It might seem expensive (60,000 S. Korean Won, aprox. 50 USD) but it’s not considering the fact that it comes with an extra cushion which can replace the first one once it has dried out. In any case, for the miracle it offers on my skin it’s worth every penny!

The saleslady at the Sulwhasoo was also very generous to give me a full miniature set of their famous Ginseng beauty line and I can’t wait to try them!

It’s your turn now.. What is your opinion on the Korean beauty products? Have you tried any and if yes which ones would you recommend?

A treat A day with Moleskine

Yeah!
My new year’s diaries, just arrived in the mail and I simply can’t wait writing on them.

 

This year it was the Little Prince, for 2016 I chose Peanuts… Isn’t it cute?
But to be honest I’m quite intrigued to get my hands on the Starbucks collection which is available in South Korea! Flying to Seoul next week, hopefully before it’s out of stock…

 

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Photo Credit: moleskine.com
If you are a Moleskine fan like me you can order your supplies online here. Be sure to check everyday until Christmas for they hold special treats on their holiday calendar…
Now, if you would like to see what Moleskine diaries look like and how cool they are, check my video review below.
xxx

 

Olive Touch in Bahrain

We all know the benefits of olive oil to our health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, due to it’s chemical structure known to resemble our body’s natural oils, it is one of the most effective and powerful ingredients used by modern cosmetology. Greek cosmetics firm Olive Touch uses organic olive oil as the base for their complete line of face, body and hair personal care and they are now available in Bahrain. All you have to do is call Lilian at +973 34523151 to be informed of their top quality products or place your order.
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Lilian will also be at the market organized in Janabiya Garden Compound in support of Young Athletes Bahrain, this Saturday 13/6 from 4 pm to 7:30pm so it’s a good opportunity for you to have a look on Olive Touch products.
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Personally I tried their hand and nail cream which is of light texture, doesn’t feel greasy yet it moisturizes and conditions my tired hands instantly, as well as their body butter which is much heavier in texture but it leaves my skin summer perfect sheen and silky soft. In both the products I really loved the smell, a fresh scent. The prices are very affordable too with the hand cream at 5 bd and the body butter at 7 bd. Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 12.49.18 PM
The reviews I have been receiving on their face products though tempt me to try at least their firming face serum and I am thinking of buying it at the market if it will still be in stock…

 

#signaturescent : Jo Malone

It was a british scented afternoon, and a warm embrace for the launch of Jo Malone‘s boutique at Bahrain’s City Center Mall. Debbie Wild, Lifestyle Director, traveled all the way from UK and  introduced us all who attended the special event, to the arts of fragrance combining and gift giving in a unique way.

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The set up at Le Meridien’s Baharat Restaurant resembled a family dinner as per Debbie and we couldn’t agree more. The atmosphere was friendly and pleasantly fragrant :). Tea and pastries were served but we were mainly anticipating to open our gifts that were gracefully placed on our plates.

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Velvet Rose and Oud Cologne.

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Although I like smelling it on others, I’m not a fan of Oud but certainly I didn’t expect that it could be tailored to my liking simply by mixing it up with another scent!
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Debbie impressed everyone with her ability to memorize all the names of the guests. And believe me they were many.
After her short talk Debbie invited us at the perfume bar where she helped us experiment with the fragrance combining concept taking into consideration our personal preferences. And surprise – surprise! My new Velvet-Rose & Oud cologne when combined with my favorite Peony and Velvet Blush, becomes so light, sweet and delicious!
After that I wanted more! and more! A crisp and fresh combination from heaven: Wild Bluebell and Red Roses. The combinations are endless and you can experiment online here, although nothing compares to the real deal so better hit Jo Malone’s boutique at City Center for a profound experience. Trust me, your senses will thank you!

The Apivita Experience

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I have expressed before my love for the Apivita products and have posted about this Greek company’s holistic approach to beauty which remains faithful to Hippocrates’ philosophy. I always come back to Bahrain from Greece with a suitcase full of their products and keep enough stock in my bathroom cupboard so I won’t be left without my favorite facial cream, my shower gel and soaps, my body moisturizer, essential oils but also honey, tea and kid’s amenities.
This time, during my stay in Greece I wanted to fully indulge myself by visiting the 5-storey Apivita Experience store situated in the heart of Athens.  Inspired by beehives and with an olive tree domineering on the ground floor, this beautifully decorated shop has everything you need: A juice bar where you can enjoy healthy juices and teas, a hair salon/barber-shop, a beehive spa (!), a natural pharmacy for custom-made cosmetics and a lecture room where you can learn all you need to know about beauty in various seminars organized by the company.
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Dimitra and me with my new hairstyle
After enjoying a refreshing juice I decided I should give my hair a little treat and I entrusted my tresses to the hands of Dimitra who used  natural hair dyes to enhance my color and gave me a simple, yet sophisticated hair cut. I was really impressed by the results and how soft my hair was after the treatment and I highly recommend you check this shop out when being in Athens.

Philosophical questions in modern Greece

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Apathy, a word used by the Greek Stoic philosophers referred to a condition of tranquility and calmness, achieved by pushing aside any feelings of pleasure or pain.
In modern times the word describes the absence of interest in the surrounding world.
The recent economic crisis not only had an impact on global markets, but also infected human souls… The strict system opposed to European countries distinguished emotions and gave birth to a new type of individual: The one with no interest in political life or social problems.
At the same time, the same individual obeys to the principals of “Ethical hedonism”, in order to achieve personal growth and to attract the greatest amount of pleasure.
Unfortunately, nowadays, this is accomplished most of the times stepping on other people’s feelings .
Human relations, according to Sartre seem to be competitive. “Hell is other people”, because people interact with each other forcing themselves upon the others.
So, what really determines the “ethics” of an individual struggling to survive in a country where people sacrifice themselves for the sake of others?
Why does the experience of being a European Greek hurts so much?
Because philosophy was born in ancient Greece… along with the words “ altruism, hospitality, freedom and democracy”
Bessie Antonaki

Two of my favorite MAC primers

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Primer is used to create a flawless/smooth base for your make up. It is used underneath foundation to hold your make-up last longer and they blot away any excess oil on the skin. 

MAC PREP + PRIME Face Protect SPF 50

The reason I bought this product is, it has the highest SPF that I have found for the face on the market. And it also works as a good make-up base. This is my go to primer for the day and I have been using it every single day for over 2 years now. Few years ago, I had quite a few brown spots caused by the sun and infact I haven’t developed any since I started using this and my skin looks much clearer.

It  may feel a bit greasy at first but I think it soon sinks in, and is definitely worth it. Only use a little bit at once as it does take a lot of rubbing on to the skin, as it comes out very white. Only downfall in my opinion is, it can be quite wasteful. The tube is very hard to squeeze and I’m sure there will be lots of product left inside the tube when I think it’s all gone.

MAC PREP + PRIME SKIN BASE VISAGE

It  is very silky and feels light. I only use a tiny pea sized amount to cover my whole face. You cannot tell that the product is on your skin when it is rubbed in well.  After doing so, I apply my foundation which goes on smoothly and appears extremely flawless. The primer has small light reflecting particles in it which makes your skin look very radiant and healthy. 

 So there you go girls, if you have used or currently using above primers or any other primers, leave us your comments.

Dona Lawlor

Kerastase Elixir Ultime vs Elvive Extraordinary Oil

OILSThe perfect nourishing serum/oil for dry/dull locks, Kerastase Elixir Ultime is a wonderfully lightweight blend of four wonder oils: argan, maize, camellia and pracaxi. The only downside is,  it’s not so lightweight on the wallet. I first bought Kerastase Elixir Ultime on recommendation from a friend two years ago. I use it on my thick long/frizzy/uncontrollable hair and it was amazing, no more dull frizzy hair, but lovely shiny tresses instead.

L’Oreal produces Kerastase products, so if you’re after an alternative cheaper version , try its Elvive Extraordinary Oil, a fusion of six botanical lipids that works in much the same way as the Elixir. I bought Elvive Extraordinary Oil few months ago and loving it. A fantastic serum to help unruly hair, that give the same effect as Kerastase Elixir Ultime. As the price is affordable, I use this on my hair as a mask once a week. I use a generous amount, massage on to my hair and leave it for about 20 minutes before shampooing.

In my opinion you get the same end result from both products; both keep the hair shiny and frizz free all day long, condition and smooth away all the little fly-aways, without weighing down. Though they are oils, they are not greasy and all you need is a tiny amount.  No more hair frizzing in hot/humid weather! You can use on wet or dry hair. Also they smell lovely. Both serums leave my hair soft, untangled with a beautiful sheen. No residue, hair feels light and bouncy.

 Dona Lawlor

MAC Fix +

M6GXPersonally, I absolutely love this product and swears by it, love the fresh and radiant look it gives my skin. It’s very easy to use, bottle has a easy locking mechanism to stop spillage and accidental use.

I was amazed at the dewy finish it gave my face and it made my make-up last for a long time. Definitely adds radiance and refreshes the skin. It’s almost like water but has a lovely smell to it and according to MAC has vitamins and minerals, as well as green tea and chamomile. The key is to get an even distribution, if you spray too much, it will drip off the face. It is important to let the product to dry. Directly after spraying it will feel a bit wet and sticky but after a few seconds this will disappear. I also spray the product on a powder/blusher/foundation brush as it helps to set my makeup really well and last long.

And yes it’s coming also in a convenient travel size so I can have it with me all the time!

So girls, get one for your-self and you will not look back.

Dona Lawlor

Red, Red Wine… Apivita will quench your skin’s thirst

Throughout my adult life, I have been spending a lot on face, eye and body creams from expensive brands, even if knowing that the miracle results that they’d promise wouldn’t be all that “miraculous”. Unfortunately there exists this perception that the higher you will be paying for a product and the nicer the packaging is, the more value you will be getting for your money. We all fall for it, and we all know that this is not necessarily true.

Sure, a lot of factors play out when we choose a brand or a product and alluring marketing has a lot to do with our choice. But I insist and always urge my friends and clients before they buy anything to first check the reviews online and try it on them before spending a little fortune on that latest buzz. High-end brands always offer samples which you can get from any beauty shop to have a first hand experience on their latest products.  To ask for one before you buy the whole jar is common sense and wise spending. How many times did the $$$ beauty “serum” ended up collecting dust on the bathroom shelf simply because it’s just not what you wished for?

What would always puzzle me though, both in high-end and supermarket shelf brands, are all these ingredients written in fine lines, and my worry lies with the fact that even if I can (or better try to as they have these long names) read them, I don’t know what their effects are on my skin and overall health (if you want to know what chemicals your product contains visit http://www.cosmetic-ingredients.net/ who’s done an excellent database on many brands). Hazardous chemical substances have been traced in lipsticks and creams and chemicals found in cosmetics have been accused for various conditions.

Anyways, I have the tendency to a more holistic approach in life and same way I am checking every food item I intend to bring home and feed my children, I now choose cosmetics after I have done a little “homework” on their ingredients… Besides you might have heard of the saying “you should never put on your face what you wouldn’t put in your mouth”.

This is how I ended up trying APIVITA a Greek company since 1979 that produces natural and highly effective beauty products. I have been buying their kids’ line and am quite happy, so during my last visit in Greece I did my usual shopping raid at the pharmacy to be supplied with all the products I can’t find in Bahrain and bumped on to their latest face cream: Wine Elixir.

I was curious. I surely love a glass of red wine once in a while for its relaxing properties but put some on my face? That’s interesting. I was given some samples the same day of the SPF15 day cream and went straight home to try it. Very light in texture and smell,  giving a cooling sensation on the face, it was absorbed in seconds. Upon application, my skin literally gulped the wine elixir and felt moisturized without being oily or even shiny.

Needless to say after 4-5 days the samples were running out so I went to the pharmacy and bought the night cream and eye and lips cream of the same line. The night cream although slightly thicker in texture than the day cream gives the same feeling of fresh and nourishment without being oily or heavy on the face. It also contains salicylic acid which does a gentle exfoliation and which we have seen in other high-end brands’ expensive serums. It is absorbed really quickly and you can immediately see the difference in the skin’s elasticity and tone. Skin feels totally moisturized and looks amazing. The claims of this product from the company’s website:

93% natural ingredients
  • Rejuvenates the skin at night while reducing even the deepest wrinkles
  • Red wine helps increase quality collagen and elastin to firm the skin
  • Salicylic acid gently exfoliates the skin and leaves it with a natural glow
  • Beeswax moisturizes and smoothes skin
  • Neroli, patchouli, clary sage and geranium essential oils tone the skin and provide a sense of well-being

Exclusive innovation: APIVITA replaces water in the wine elixir range with a green tea infusion to enhance the antioxidant action of the products

Same with the eye and lips cream: it gives the same cooling sensation making any fatigue signs disappear from my eyes, any fine lines around them less visible, and my lips highly kissable!

I don’t have any serious deep lines to confirm their first claim, but surely my skin feels and looks perfect for the couple of weeks I have been using the cream and I got addicted to my night skin routine I once used to skip, because of them.

But most important: their products are Free of: Parabens, Silicone, Propylene Glycol, Mineral Oil, Ethanolamine and Phthalates.

You may also check their online Beauty Advisor for a personal evaluation.

So, are you having a glass of APIVITA wine elixir with me? Maybe on my next visit I could bring you some! If interested, email me at idol@mail.com

Cheers !