3 Best Hydrating Serums to Date

When November came, I swear my lips turned parched, under eyes darker than darkness and skin rough and dry - all in a blink of an eye. I’ve been layering my skin with hydrating serums/ampoules, Max and Me facial oil (review here) and January Labs face cream (review here). But hydration is key! Today I’ll be chatting about three different hydrating serums from 3 different price points. There’s a mix of eco and K-beauty, so I’m sure there’s something for everyone!

 3 Best Hydrating Serums | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog
 3 Best Hydrating Serums | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Esse Serum R6*

15ml for 47€

This Esse serum came to me “out of the blue”; I’ve read favorable reviews of this line, but don’t remember specific products mentioned. I fell quickly in love and hard. I love that this bottle has a pump and not a pipette. I take about two pumps and the serum spreads on the skin evenly, absorbing quickly and diminishing any feeling of tightness. While the price is cheaper than Kypris - the bottle is significantly smaller: only 15ml! I got through this serum pretty quickly, but I can’t wait to purchase a new one when there’s a sale.

This almost water-free formula (water is the 4th to last ingredient) is based in rooibos leaf extract and rose water, followed by inulin (humectant) and glycerin. After a couple of binding agents the formula is packed with sodium hyaluronate, several fruit and plant extracts. I think the color must be from rooibos leaf and the light sweet scent from vanilla extract. There’s a little bit of exfoliating salicylic acid in this formula, but it’s not very high up in the INCI list, so I think it’s safe to use even if you have other exfoliating products in your routine. If you’re very sensitive, there’s fragrant limonene and linalool in the formula, so I’d ask a sample first.

Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos) Leaf Extract*, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Water, Inulin, Glycerin, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Xanthan Gum, Tragacanth Gum, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract*, Sodium Hyaluronate, Kigelia Africana Fruit Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Vanilla Planifolia Extract, Cyclopia Genistoides (Honeybush) Leaf Extract*, Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Flower Oil*, Salicylic Acid, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Levulinic Acid, Sodium Levulinate, Water (Aqua), Tocopherol, Limonene***, Linalool***
*ingredients from organic farming **made from organic ingredients ***component of natural essential oils, 99% of the total ingredients are from natural origin. 48% of the total ingredients are from Organic Farming

 3 Best Hydrating Serums | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

47ml for £69 / €77

Kypris’ serum is an old favorite mine: quench and glow text in the bottle is quite accurate for this serum. When my skin is seriously ‘thirsty’ and dry, this serum is like giving it a big drink. The texture is light and milky, non-sticky and absorbs to the skin instantly. There is a very slight scent, but to my understanding it is from the plant extracts and not fragrance. The price is quite steep, but you get a very generous amount of the serum.

One thing I’m not too keen about is that this serum is water based - I’d far prefer aloe vera base or something else than plain water. The second ingredient is moisturizing glycerin, but again very inexpensive ingredient. However the next ingredients are moisturizing oils (sunflower and camellia), amino acid and moisturizing sugar, followed by a variety of plant extracts such as reed, comfrey leaf, nettle, damascus rose and so forth. I’d prefer the sodium hyaluronate and ferulic acid to be higher in the ingredient list, but still the results are very nice.

Water/Aqua, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Xylitylglucoside, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Algae, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Phospholipids, Phragmites Communis (Reed) Extract, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Leaf Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Poria Cocos Extract, Xylitol, Anhydroxylitol, Waltheria Indica Leaf Extract, Panthenol, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Calophyllum Inophylum (Tamanu) Seed Oil, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Superoxide Dismutase, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Mannitol, Dextrin, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Levulinate, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Gluconate, Xanthan Gum 

 3 Best Hydrating Serums | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Leegeehaam Grow Hyal B5 Ampoule*

30ml for €32.9

Leegeehaam is Korean cosmetics brand that is famous for it’s propolis ampoule. I’ve given both the Propolis and Hyal B5 ampoules a go and I do prefer the hydrating Hyal B5 one. Compared to Esse and Kypris this serum is much more gloopy, almost sticky feeling. I think it’s a good addition to a routine if you enjoy using many steps, but I’d recommend this serum more to normal to oily skin types. For my very thirsty, dry and dehydrated skin Leegeehaam alone isn’t hydrating enough.

While Kypris and Esse are eco beauty brands, Leegeehaam has some synthetic ingredients - this is not necessarily a bad thing, but a preference. Panthenol aka B5 is high in the ingredient list as promised, after a couple of other skincare ingredients that I love: niacinamide and sodium hyaluronate. Niacinamide is also known as Vitamin B3, which is also very versatile and beneficial skincare ingredient against uneven skin tone, dullness and wrinkles. I also love that this formula has some Korean herbal ingredients, such as Panax Ginseng Berry Extract!

Water, Glycerin, Methylpropanediol, 1,2-Hexanedio, Niacinamide, Dioscorea Japonica Root Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Piper Methysticum Leaf/Root/Stem Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Panax Ginseng Berry Extract, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Michelia Alba Leaf Oil, Elettaria Cardamomum Seed Oil, Michelia Alba Flower Oil, Tagetes Minuta Flower Oil, Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Octyldodeceth-16, Polyquaternium-51, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Glycosyl Trehalose, Glyceryl Glucoside, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Raffinose, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Adenosine, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Tromethamine, Lecithin, Beta-Glucan, Butylene Glycol, Acetyl Glucosamine, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Ascorbyl Propyl Hyaluronate, Ascorbic Acid, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol 

Which one should I buy?

Very dry, dehydrated skin: Esse or Kypris
Normal to oily skins: Leegeeham
Luxury eco skincare lover: Esse or Kypris
Layering addict (K-beauty style): Leegeeham
Hydration on a budget: Leegeeham

You might have noticed, I don’t have much bad to say about any of these serums. I like to match them according to my skin needs on a particular day, but I understand that a ‘regular’ consumer might not want to purchase (over) three hydrating serums. As much as I like many ingredients in the Leegeehaam INCI list, I wish the texture was a bit runnier and lighter, so it would absorb faster. Perhaps that’s why it’s my least favorite, but I would still recommend it. The Esse serum is my recent addiction, but the price is quite high for repurchasing it on regular price. Most likely I will be repurchasing my 3rd bottle of the Kypris serum.

What’s your favorite hydrating serum? Let me know!

*Products marked with asterisk were kindly gifted for consideration.
All thoughts are my honest and my own.

Light but Lovely - Globe Hope Cosmetics Valo Eye Cream by Mia Höytö (Review)

As someone who browses Finnish eco boutiques I knew Mia Höytö Cosmetics and Globe Hope clothing and accessories by their name, but not much else. Mia Höytö's style was always top-notch, high end and luxurious eco beauty, which I particularly like. I was in the false understanding that her line was getting discontinued, so I felt hesitant to try more products - c'mon who wants to fall in love just to get their heart broken? But on the contrary - it became a part of Globe Hope as Globe Hope Cosmetics. Today I’m talking about her Valo Eye Cream** but more reviews will come!

 Globe Hope Cosmetics Valo Eye Cream Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Background of Globe Hope Cosmetics

Globe Hope Cosmetics is an organic brand, made in Helsinki, Finland. The products are same as the original Mia Höytö line, but beautifully rebranded as a part of the Globe Hope family. Globe Hope is a sustainable Finnish accessory brand from Nummela city. They use recycled or surplus materials to create beautiful and durable bags and pouches. The cosmetics line was founded from Mia’s interested for organic food that grew into a passion for natural skincare. As many cosmetic brand creators, she found it difficult to find products that worked for her, so she took up the challenge to create her own line. The production is in Finland to guarantee excellent quality and ingredient purity.

 Globe Hope Cosmetics Valo Eye Cream Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog
 Globe Hope Cosmetics Valo Eye Cream Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

About Valo Eye Cream

‘Valo’ means ‘light’ in Finnish, which is a fitting name for an eye cream. The cream promises to be a light but hydrating and eliminate signs of puffiness. Other suggested uses are facial massaging or using Valo as a mask by pumping extra cream and applying on the skin. Fragrance free and certified by ECOCERT Greenlife. Valo comes in 15 ml opaque pump bottle and retails for €38.10 / ~$44.15.

Using Globe Hope Cosmetics Valo Eye Cream

I’m not a big advocate of using specific eye creams unless the eye area has specific concerns - such as puffiness. I usually apply my regular moisturizer near the eye area without suffering from puffy eyes, so I can’t really report back if Valo has helped preventing that. The darkness under my eyes is most likely genetic and gets worse from lack of sleep.. there’s nothing except makeup that can erase that.

I think Valo is a nice, solid eye cream: no fragrance, hygienic pump and elegant package design. The pump gives an adequate amount of product and it nicely gets absorbed when patted around the eyes. Despite containing some organic oils, the feel is not greasy and sits well under makeup. I even used this as a “primer” for my clients when I was doing a makeup gig.

That I like about the cream is the very clean INCI list and a reasonable price if your eyes really suffer from lack of moisture and dehydration.

globe-hope-cosmetics-valo-eye-cream1.jpg

Ingredients

Aqua, Centaurea Cyanus Flower Water*, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Glycerin, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil*, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil*, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil*, Sambucus Nigra Flower Extract*, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter*, Cera Alba*, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil*, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract*, Avena Sativa Kernel Extract*, Tocopherol, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Sodium Benzoate, Lactic Acid, Potassium Sorbate.
*Ingredient from Organic Farming
99% of the total ingredients are from natural origins
23% of the total ingredients are from Organic Farming

After water, this eye cream is packed with black elder flower extract to prevent dark circles and puffiness. I couldn’t find very much scientific info on this, but at least elder flower has skin conditioning properties. Next there are emulsifiers, moisturizing glycerin, sweet almond oil, olive oil and sunflower seed oil. This formula contains shea butter, which I know some people can’t tolerate, but personally I don’t find if comedogenic on me. There’s hydrating aloe and one of my favorite ingredients - oat kernel extract, which is soothing and anti-inflammatory.

I’d like to see more antioxidant rich ingredients in this formula, perhaps more complex plant extracts in the base. Something to make it extra beneficial for mature skins to prevent signs of ageing. Right now I find the eye cream hydrating and moisturizing with many oils and humectants, but not much else.

Overall thoughts

While I enjoy Valo, it doesn’t blow my mind. Well, I don’t think there is an eye cream that would. So far January Labs’ and Exuviance’s eye creams have been excellent, but they’re both significantly more expensive. It simply isn’t possible to cancel my dark circles or totally prevent fine lines, but if I get a chance to give my eye area little TLC, I’m up for it. Globe Hope Cosmetics Valo is for someone who appreciates natural, eco certified ingredients mixed with elegance, but doesn’t want to break the bank. Perhaps most suitable for younger audience; if you don’t have very visible signs of ageing and like wearing makeup, this could be a potential eye cream for you.

Have you tried anything from Globe Hope Cosmetics?

**This product was kindly gifted for consideration.
My thoughts and observations are my honest & own.

Korean Medicinal Skincare in a Jar: ATOCLASSIC Real Tonic Calming Intensive Cream Review

Today it’s all about one of my favorite topics: Korean medicinal skincare aka hanbang. In March I did a post (read here) about hanbang, fermented skincare and an interview with my lovely friend Lisa aka @beautybemused, I hope you check it out first. Lisa is also the creator of Be Mused Korea, a beautifully curated K-beauty shop that ships worldwide(!!). After the interview she asked if I was interested in trying a hanbang line from her shop called ATOCLASSIC - a herbal brand that aims to combine maximum efficacy with safety for all types of skin.. and of course I said yes. Today I’ll introduce you to the Calming Intensive Cream**!

 Atoclassic Real Tonic Calming Intensive Cream Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Atoclassic Real Tonic Calming Intensive Cream

ATOCLASSIC is a Korean ‘hanbang’ aka traditional medicine brand that has dedicated their research for over 3 generations around traditional herbs, roots and leaves. Their product development focuses on maximum efficacy and minimal active ingredient loss, while still being extremely low irritant, sensitive-skin friendly. Their Calming Intensive Cream from the Real Tonic line is meant to be used as the last step in a routine. Comes in a 50 ml / 1.7 fl oz jar with a spatula, retailing $42 / €~36.85 (currently on sale on BeMused Korea).

Using ATOCLASSIC Calming Intensive Cream

It had been a while since I’ve used a cream that’s in a jar and oddly, I’ve kind of missed it. Although I prefer air-tight containers for all of my skincare, there’s something luxurious about jars. Balms, creams and gels feel just that little bit more luxurious when you take them out with a spoon or a spatula. The rose gold and white colors of the jar packaging also make the cream feel more expensive.

I have a dry skin so I love oils and creams, but don’t like a tacky or greasy residue on the skin (say, like Weleda’s Skin Food). ATOCLASSIC’s cream feels almost whipped in texture as it is very light to touch, but packs a good amount of moisture and hydration to the skin. I feel I can use this both day and night: it sits nicely under SPF and makeup, but can be topped up with an oily balm if you want that extra amount of moisturization. I do feel the cream plumps my skin and I can double it as an eye cream without my eyes getting puffy. The scent is very light and a hint of floral, but pretty unisex to my nose.

 Atoclassic Real Tonic Calming Intensive Cream Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Ingredients

Water, Glycerin, Dipropylene Glycol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Betaine, Butyrospermum, Parkii (Shea) Butter, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Lecithin, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Cetearyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract,Sophora Angustifolia Root Extract, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Angelica Gigas Root Extract, Cnidium Monnieri Fruit Extract, Forsythia Suspensa Fruit Extract, Lithospermum Erythrorhizon Root Extract, Sanguisorba Officinalis Root Extract, Xanthium Strumarium Fruit Extract, Astragalus Membranaceus Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Coptis Chinensis Root Extract, Trehalose, Beeswax ,Tri-C14-15 Alkyl Citrate, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Water, Imperata Cylindrica Root Extract, Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Leaf Extract, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Polyacrylate-13, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, water, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Panthenol, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Ceramide 3

The INCI list of this cream is pretty long, but the bulk of the ingredients are in the middle: root extracts after root extracts. Some more familiar herbal ingredients to me include mistletoe and licorice; they are naturally skin-calming ingredients that can soothe, help with redness, even out complexion and act as anti-inflammatory. Especially licorice is a common ingredient in treating dark spots, pigmentation and dark undereye circles.

The cream is water based with moisturizing glycerin and shea butter. Other oils include macadamia seed oil and grape seed oil that help to seal in moisture. What I researched, the rest of the ingredients are mostly emollients and solvents to probably create the cream texture. I wish I knew more about all the herbal extracts ATOCLASSIC uses, but as far as I know many of them are used in Chinese medicine. I’m going to paste the major herbal ingredients here separately:

Lithospermi Radix, Angelica Gigas Root, Coptis Chinensis Root, Mistletoe, imperata Cylindrica Root, Citrus Unshiu Peel, Elm Bark, Sophora Angustifolia Root, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root, Sanguisorba Officinalis Root, Licorice, Forsythia Suspensa Fruit, Astragalus Membranaceus Root, Xanthium Strumarium Fruit, Cnidium Monnieri Fruit

 Atoclassic Real Tonic Calming Intensive Cream Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Final thoughts

I’m happy there are companies that combine the ancient wisdom with more technology, but I wish there was more articles to read about the herbal ingredients. For example, many Korean sheet masks with unfamiliar (to me) roots, barks and mushrooms have become my favorites, but I know little about the herbs themselves. In the future I wish I can research and share more about ‘hanbang’.

Right now I can only speak from my personal user experience and honestly I’m very much enjoying ATOCLASSIC. The cream is certainly one of my favorites from the line as it pampers and plumps my very dry skin without any residue. I can’t speak about its soothing properties too much as my skin isn’t very sensitive. From experience I know some Korean medicinal lines with a lot of fermented ingredients can be too active and irritating if I’ve done a lot of exfoliation, but I’ve had no such problem with ATOCLASSIC. So if you’re sensitive and interested in K-beauty, maybe check out this brand?

Have you tried K-beauty? How about hanbang brands? xx

**This product was kindly gifted for consideration. All thoughts are honest and my own.