31 July 2016

Korean Summer Survival Makeup Favorites

Summer in Korea. 

I wake up in the morning to 30°C in my bedroom-office aka coolest part of the house. It will only get worse. Air-conditioning sucks our wallets dry. 

We persevere. My makeup mostly doesn't.  ( ╯°□°)╯ ┻━━┻

After some trial and error over the last few years, I think I've got my makeup routine for 95% humidity levels down.

Most of the days, it begins and ends with sunscreen, lip tint and eyebrows.

Edit 2017.02.09 : This post contains affiliate links (additionally marked with an * asterisk in the blog post), meaning I will make a small commission from anything you buy. View my 'About' page for the full disclaimer and my review policy! All products are purchased by me.

I've got two sunscreens on rotation, one being the the Nature Republic California Aloe Sun Block in SPF50 PA+++. It's one with a glowy finish but slight white cast. I like to use it on its own, since it has any base makeup layered on top melt right off again. The glowy finish does look a bit oily after a while, but for the first two to three hours, my skin looks radiant and evened-out. Perfect for stints in the garden or quick trips outside. Careful though - this sunscreen has a habit of making my eyes tear up if I get too close to that area.

The second one is the Innisfree Eco Safety Perfect Sunblock in SPF50 PA+++. This one is the opposite of the Nature Republic one above, with a matte, slightly drying finish that absorbs into my skin really well. It works well on its own, but also works really well as a makeup base. While it's too drying for me normally, it's perfect for the months of July and August.  It helps keeping moisturizing or glowy foundation formulations in place.

On days when I'm moving about a lot, I powder my eyelids/eyebrow area, my nose and forehead with the Innisfree No-Sebum Mineral Powder (the loose version). This works like a charm for everything, even as a quick-fix dry shampoo and improvised eye shadow base. You probably already heard of this powder from just about every beauty blogger, ever...? It's that good and cheap!
Innisfree No-Sebum Mineral Powder (*) -
 the loose version makes for an even more invisible finish than the pact version! 

For additional staying power (especially if I'll be applying some sort of foundation/cushion) I prime with the Innisfree No-Sebum Mineral Primer. Some previous pore-hiding primers that I've tried were a bit of an over-kill, drying out my skin to a point where the foundation on top looked flakey and overly dry. This one strikes a nice balance of evening out skin texture, keeping oil under control but not making a desert out of everything.

If I don't finish with a cushion (normal days), but want something that looks good all day long without touching up, I reach for this wonderful thing:

The Espoir Nude Fit Liquid Foundation. This one is magical for summers. It doesn't dry out (stay away from the 'Powder' version of this product if you tend to have dry skin, though: That one's way more heavy-duty), has better coverage than cushions but looks really natural all the same, with a satiny finish. It's the perfect foundation for long days outdoors, in the city, hopping from overly air-conditioned places to the humid air outside and back. It stays put. No budging. Hair doesn't stick to it.

I've had this for a year, and I'd use this every day if it weren't a bit too expensive.

Espoir in general has great foundations with a lot more shades available than other Korean brands. This particular one comes in five shades, but their Pro Tailor Foundation, for example, comes in eleven shades total.

I use 'Porcelain', which is lighter than even the #13 option by Innisfree, but with yellow undertones.

For color, I've got two recent favorites I reach for all the time for daily makeup.

The first is my trusted Vivid Rouge Tint by Innisfree (favorite for years and years), in a new 2016 shade #11 called 'Sun-dried Peach'. It's a slightly muted, 'dried out' pink-coral that looks good with just about anything. In summer, when I go away from my usually gray-black-white wardrobe, matching lipstick colors to shirt colors becomes an actual thing, and this one is a safe bet. It brightens up my complexion, looks cute while still being work-appropriate.

My other daily choice is a shade from the Innisfree autumn release of 2015, the Real Fit Lipsticks. I went to swatch their five new shades released for the Spring/Summer season, but fell in love with #6 Latte Cup Coral instead. Similar to my #8 Rosy Latte, this one is a muted version of a coral shade, walking the line between a beige and orange for the perfect hint of color that doesn't overwhelm. It's perfect for a put-together work look, combined with beige or yellow clothing, and for sleek looks that focus on just eyeliner (I've been doing these a lot lately when I'm trying to actually look my age...).

The last new addition to my summer makeup favorites is an eyebrow product by Mamonde. They released a combination of a eyebrow tint and eyebrow mascara on a single wand - using the doe-foot like tip to fill in the brows and then the mascara brush attached below to keep everything in place. I was afraid it would be a hassle to use, but it's a quick, fuss-free if not very precise way of getting my brows done. Looks really natural and is waterproof.

That's it for my summer survival makeup favorites. I'll probably be making a review complete with swatches for the Real Fit Lipstick since the shade is just that gorgeous, but do tell me if you'd like to see some other product in more detail! Thanks for reading!

If all else fails, at least there's ice cream!


25 July 2016

My Cushion by Innisfree - Old vs New Comparison & 2017 New Releases

INNISFREE MY CUSHION - NEW CASES AND FORMULATIONSA cushion haul this time. Lots of rambling, but a coherent line-up of everything in the My Cushion line by Innisfree at the end of the post. This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will make a small commission from anything you buy. View my 'About' page for the full disclaimer and my review policy! All products are purchased by me.

I actually had an ugly interaction with seafood a couple of weeks ago (they sneak those shells into soups and stuff all over the place and I'm allergic) and wow, did I not want to take pictures of my face. Especially the mouth area, which kind of sucks when all I normally do is review lip products.

But I wanted to weigh in on the whole re-release craze of cushions that happened here in Korea over the last few months. A lot of the big players (Iope, Laneige, Innisfree...) have switched their old cushion designs for new ones, resulting in pretty packaging, sleeker forms, new (and better?) formulations AND re-fills that don't fit anywhere anymore.

I don't plan on replacing my Iope one, because the price tag there is a bit too hefty and I still own an old refill for the old case, but went ahead with the Innisfree 'My Cushion' cases.

Their cushion formulations aren't the very best out there (Iope, Hera & Co win) but they out-perform cushion foundations in the same price range and the slight yellow undertones of their lightest shade has always been perfect for me. Their cushions are 'daily makeup' favorites of mine.

When Innisfree released their crazy amount of 100 different cushion cases for the 'My Cushion' line, I was disappointed since a lot of the patterns were repetitive.
But there's some beauties among the 100, and they did upgrade the case design itself, too. I decided to go with a simple sky blue one, because mint and blue colors make me happy.

Already they have some limited editions added to the initial 100, so beware of even more future possibilities to empty out your wallet!

The original cases were already on the slim side, a lot less bulky than other cushions (Mamonde, Iope, Missha (small circumference, lots of height), Laneige) and perfect for storing in small bags and pouches, but the new ones are even tinier. They feel a lot more luxurious, too, thanks to the metallic accents and streamlined design.

The reason these babies are so slim? They have literally a hole in their case.

Nothing there.

Once the refill is inserted, you can actually still see the refill's casing, which has the nice effect of being able to read which formulation and shade you've inserted. If you're frequently switching between refills and get confused like me, you'll thank the K-Beauty gods. The expiration date is visible as well.

 The refills themselves are slightly different from their old counterparts, too, so they won't fit in the old Innisfree cases. Innisfree cushion parts were never really interchangeable with other brand's, either.

I went with the Ampoule Moisture Cushion, an old favorite of mine. While it's definitely not meant for summer, I really wanted to compare the new formulation to the old one. Their Long Wear Cushion is a bit too drying for my skin, and I have a nearly empty sponge of the Waterglow Cushion still in use.

While summers are very, very humid here in Korea, work days mostly mean sitting in air-conditioned rooms and my bedroom has an actual air de-humidifier, so I appreciate a splash of moisture-preserving foundation anyway.

Innisfree did change their color selection. Instead of the old system of having a shade #13, #21 and #23, they now differentiate between 'cool' and 'neutral', too. The available colors are C13, C21, N21 and N23. That scared me a bit - I love their warm but super light #13! Why make it cool-toned and possibly ghostly?

Luckily for me, they didn't go all-out on the pink undertones. I'd say this is more on the neutral side, cool-toned mostly just in comparison with their old shade selection. The yellow #13 fit me perfectly even in summer, but this one is a bit too white to go with a bit of summer tan. I'll keep it for winter usage and stick with my old Water Glow one for the moment.

The formulation itself is a bit heavier than their old Ampoule cushion, which was delightfully light while being very moisturizing. This feels a bit more creamy and sticky, and has slightly better coverage. But that slightly heavier feeling might also be a result of the new Air Magic Puffs, which tend to apply the foundation a bit thicker!

- VERY low coverage
- lightweight but moisturizing

- Low coverage
- Even more moisturizing
- Sticky feeling

UPDATE, November 2016: It's now definitely winter and cold here on Jeju, and I've been using this one constantly. Despite my initial reservations about the heavier consistency and the cool tone, it works really well on my dry, pale winter skin.
I use a very thin layer on top of a moisturizing sun screen, which leaves me with a glowy finish and protects my skin from the dry winter air. It holds up surprisingly well even during long work days - doesn't sink into fine lines or into pores, and stays moisturizing. The 'glow' disappears after a couple of hours, when you'll have to reapply if you want that look. It also builds really well, so re-application is easy and looks just as good as first application.
Doesn't cover up blemishes, so you'll need a concealer beneath or on top of it, though!

It's a question of preference, really. Some people may have hated the nearly not-there-coverage of the old formulation, but I really liked that for daily makeup, and occasional smudging wasn't even visible. The heavier texture of the new one will work out better in winter - whenever I go outside into the heat wearing this (without primer and/or powder) it does slide around horribly after a few hours, so be careful.

I'm so sorry for how ugly the old one (left) is. No excuse. 

The 'My Cushion' products include different kind of puffs, as well. There's a new version of the classic Air Magic Puff, now dubbed the one for a 'glowy' finish. They're now slightly smaller and thicker, which isn't the best thing to be honest. While the old ones left my foundation without any annoying border/stroke lines, I have to be careful with the new one. It works best if I only use the center of the puff. It's also harder to get the puff to absorb the foundation evenly. The finish is gorgeous as ever with the Air Magic Puffs, so it's mostly a question of getting used to the slightly stiffer texture and avoid soaking up too much product.

The other Air Magic Puff Innisfree came out with is a brown one with a denser texture that's supposed to enhance the adherence and coverage of the foundation. The finish turns out more matte, too.

There's also a stamp-like sponge for maximum coverage, but that one doesn't fit into the case.

I really like the concept for these puffs - instead of switching out foundations, switching just the puffs can already make a difference. Since these retail for about 2000 Won, that's a lot cheaper than buying two different formulations. I used both for swatching in store and will hopefully get my hands on the brown one soon - I'd like to see how these work out when used at the same time (as in, brown one for the T-Zone and blue one for cheeks).

As of now, I went with the limited edition ones that were free with a cushion case purchase. How cute are these patterns?

I have to admit, I kinda just caved and bought the cushion a few weeks ago because of these little puffs. They make me happy.

Color-coordinating everything here.

So, to recap:

The My Cushion system by Innisfree focuses on individual preferences, making every step adjustable.

- 100 different cushion cases (plus 3 limited edition ones as of now), each 8000 Won. Update: They came out with additional cushions for autumn, then for Christmas, and now for spring 2017 as well as three Jeju Island themed cushion cases for summer. IT NEVER STOPS.

- 4 different cushion 'refills' in 4 different shades: C13, C21, N21, N23,

  ~ Water Fit Cushion  ~ Ampoule Moisture Cushion  ~ Long Wear Cover Cushion  ~ Long Wear Waterproof Cushion (update: seems to be discontinued!)

Plus a new addition of a sunscreen-only cushion refill, with SPF 50.
Each 12000 Won for 14g of product

- 2 different Air Magic Puffs, one for coverage and a satiny finish, one for a glowy finish
(With some limited edition patterned ones)
Each retailing for 2000 Won in Korea.

- Tools like a cushion foundation brush and high-coverage sponge.

Before we get darker foundation shades, I guess they'll bring out the cushion blushes and highlighters for this line.


By now, additional cushion cases and refills have been released. Here's a list of the new refill formulations you can find as of now:

~ Ampoule Cover Cushion:

A higher coverage version of the Ampoule Moisture Cushion. I've swatched this one in store late in winter and found it a bit too heavy for my skin, which tends to break out under thick foundations, but the coverage is indeed better and it seems to adhere to the skin better than the Moisture version. Very dewy!

~ Perfect UV Protection Cushion

This is a sunscreen in cushion form. While I don't own this, I really want to give it a try this summer, since my friend here on Jeju Island swears by it! Especially since it seems to layer well - so while this isn't intended as the only sunscreen you use, it's a way to freshen up every few hours. Really useful when on the road or out in nature!

~ No Sebum Correcting Cushion

This comes in three different colors, which can all be found here:

Peach: To add liveliness to dull skin.
Cream Purple: To lighten and brighten.
Vanilla Green: To tone down redness.

These are related to the No Sebum Mineral Powder in that they contain mineral powder (from Jeju's volcano stones - the same used in my all-time favorite Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask) to keep your skin smooth and even. No dewy effect for this one, but not a totally matte effect, either, it can be used as a base makeup or stand on its own. The No Sebum effect makes these ideal for summer!

~ Reset Cushion

Called the 'afternoon' cushion, this formulation is supposed to be ideal for freshening up makeup, applying on top of other formulations and correcting faded or smudged makeup. So this would be a great way to combine the practical cushion format for on the go with a 'normal' foundation in the morning. This blends really well and feels very light. If I wasn't eyeing the sunscreen cushion for summer, I'd want to get this instead. It just came out this month.

~ Skinny Cover Fit Cushion

Another new release in May 2017, this is a lighter variation and mix of the cover-heavy and matte cushion formulations. It's supposed to be lightweight, not pile or accentuate dry patches, while giving good coverage without any sticky feeling.
This might be a good alternative for anyone looking for a lighter, less dry version of the Long Wear Cushion, especially for summer in humid regions.

Interested in more impressions from Korea, beauty reviews and monthly favorites?
Visit me on my new blog for lots of updates!

If you're still bored with the a-bit-more-than-hundred different cases, I did print stickers. ;)