My Winter Morning Skincare Routine

I was watching some Youtubers sharing their skincare routines and thought it’d be fun to share my current go-to routine. Part of the fun is looking back my older routines and what products I’ve been reaching for. My routines are always a mix of “must-haves” and products I’m testing for a review - some of them will end up on the blog again and again while some might be left forgotten.. I recommend using the search and tag tools if you’re looking for a particular product review. Gifted products are marked with an asterisk (*). Also, say hi to Cara, my ~15-week-old maine coon kitten. <3

Winter AM Skincare Routine | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Current skincare goals / Concerns

My skin did pretty good before November, but as the month changed I swear to you my skin turned a) dry as a parchment paper b) my under eyes darker than darkness. Winters in Helsinki are partly freezing cold, windy and partly just annoyingly rainy, while there’s central heating indoors. Right now my biggest concerns are dehydration and evening out my complexion. I had a grand zit after the holidays and it left noticeable redness behind. Lightening my old acne scaring is always an on-going process, but sometimes I pay less attention on it. My final concerns are some blackheads on my nose (which this routine doesn’t target as much, I do opt for stronger acids from time to time).

Winter AM Skincare Routine | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog
Winter AM Skincare Routine | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

My AM Routine

My “beauty sin” is to wash my face in the shower. Fortunately I dislike long and hot showers, so I’m out of there pretty quickly before my skin turns into a worse raisin than it already is. In the shower I have a couple of cleanser options, but lately I’ve been liking the Glope Hope Cosmetics Cleansing Gel* (33.1€ / 150ml). It feels mild and gentle, perfect for AM routine. The INCI list is short and simple: packed with cornflower water, aloe and hydrating glycerine. In the evenings I tend to reach for more heavy duty cleansers.

Next is the one and only - Januarylabs Daily Brightening Tonic (29.7€ / 150ml) (review here). I think I was sent one back when this launched, then I purchased another, then another.. I can’t begin to imagine my life without it. Because of the packaging I feel the easiest application method is to pour some on a cotton pad and gently swipe face and neck. This multi-purpose toner both retains moisture and gently resurfaces the skin with lactic acid. I can highly recommend this to everyone!

After the Tonic I apply an essence. I had a small break with essences, only to notice how much I miss it. My friend Marinka was kind enough to shop for me during her travels and top 1. in my wish list was the Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence (69.53€ / 150ml). I had seen some positive reviews on Fresh and not gonna lie, the kombucha trend did encourage me to pick this one up. The essence is just as I like it - light but thicker than plain water, hydrates, plumps and treats. I have noticed my skin is glowing after I started using this, but I won’t make any claims just yet.

After prepping my skin it’s time for serums. This is a bit tricky category as serums take a while to make a difference in the skin - especially if it’s lightening pigmentation. Globe Hope Cosmetics Lumi Strong* (54.90€ / 30ml) is packed with blueberry extract and arbutin from bilberry extract, which is a melanin inhibitor. If you’re HC about eco skincare and want to lighten pigmentation, Lumi Strong is worth looking into, but I unfortunately haven’t seen any change in my pigmentation issues during the good 4 weeks I’ve been using it. Clinique’s Hydrating Jelly* (61.50€ / 125ml) is also a slight disappointment for me. As much as I like hydrating serums and ampoules, I haven’t found one that would beat Kypris Antioxidant Dew or Esse Serum (reviews here) in that deep hydration my thirsty skin craves. If Clinique launches its Vitamin C and Retinol Boosters in Finland (which you can mix in the jelly) in Finland I’m willing to try again.

Eye cream is something I don’t use 100% of the time. Lately I’ve tried various eco beauty roll-ons, but this Tata Harper Restorative Eye Cream*.. it’s a winner. Needless to say, as it’s very expensive (~100€ / 15ml). Is it worth it? Is any eye cream (or skincare product)? If yes.. then Tata’s close. This eye cream is rich, moisturizing, but doesn’t give me any puffiness around the eye area or milia. Finally I feel my dark circles have improved and I hope the good INCI list can strengthen my eye area as it promises.

Another luxurious eco skincare treat in my routine is the Henua Organics Recharging Moisturizer* (129€ / 30ml), but it is a treat.. Not only Henua Organics is made in Finland, packed in the most exquisite bottles with birch wood caps, 85% organic farming and eco cert, but also this cream is packed with birch sap, pine park extract, sea buckthorn oil - just to name a few. It leaves my skin feeling so soft and supple, packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. I want to write a whole dedicated article about Henua Organics, keep your eyes peeled!

Finally the must have I keep on preaching about: SPF!! This Mádara Plant Stem Cell Antioxidant Sunscreen SPF30 (~15.2€ / 100ml) was one of my Best SPF for Summer 2018. Don’t let the package fool you, some sites might even list this sunscreen on the ‘body’ section, but I use it for my face, neck, décolleté, hands, you name it.. This sunscreen is on the heavier, a bit greasier side texture-wise and does leave a bit of white cast, which does disappear when you massage it in. I was sent one tube to test, went through it and purchased a new one. In the Spring and Summer I might go back to my beloved Innisfree sunscreen, but Mádara is easy to purchase here in Helsinki, inexpensive and my dry skin simply loves it. Rain or shine, Winter or Summer - always remember the SPF!

Winter AM Skincare Routine | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Did you spot any favorites in my routine or something you’d love to read more about? Leave questions, comments and your routine favorites in the comments below!

*Products marked with an asterisk(*) were kindly gifted me for consideration, with no obligation to write about them. My thoughts and opinions are my honest and my own.

Best Winter Lip Products: Lumene, Weleda and Kocostar

Many moons ago I told you about my love for these two lip balms: de Mamiel and Nuxe - they are still among my very favorites, but when lips get chapped the “need” for more lip balm intensifies. I believe some of you might relate to my need of having a lip balm in every bag (I rotate between a handbag and a backpack), perhaps a couple on the desk.. You know. Today I’m sharing you some newer lip treatments I’ve given a good test run. These items were press samples from different companies, I hope you’ll find something new and interesting!

Best Lip Products for Winter | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

First - I’m Not Addicted, I just Need A Lip Balm

I’m usually okay when it comes to lip balms: sensible, I don’t need to reapply every 2 minutes. This was the case until last November: my lips got super chapped and under eyes darker than darkness – the situation was severe! I think it’s partly the cold and partly the heating which dries out my already dry/dehydrated skin. Especially at my climbing gym the air can be so dry my lips are crying for moisture.

Here’s the bad part: I bite my lips. I can’t stand the feel of rough skin so I’m battling between picking/biting and applying more lip balm to ease the pain.. Today’s trio made some difference to the roughness, unlike countless chapsticks before.

Best Lip Products for Winter | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Lumene Artic Hydra Care Rich Lip Cream*

7,90€ / 10ml

This new-ish release from Lumene took me by surprise! Arctic Hydra Care Rich Lip Balm looks like a pretty common lip balm tube, but the texture feels new and unique. If a cream could be described as watery or quenching, I would use those words. It’s very hydrating, sinks into the skin fairly quickly and doesn’t leave a film on the top. My lips keep begging for more so I sometimes sandwich Weleda Skin Food on the top. This lip balm is fragrance free, vegan and consists mostly of hydrating glycerin and moisturizing shea butter.

Weleda Skin Food*

15,95€ / 75ml

Speaking of Skin Food, this greasier cream is a cult classic from the eco brand Weleda. They call it an all purpose cream for dry and rough skin: face, elbows, knuckles, lips and so on. I mainly use it for lips as I feel it’s too heavy and herbal for all over the face, but this small tube comes in handy when my knuckles feel parched. The feel of this cream quite oily, which comes in hand when you want to protect your lips against cold weather or harsh wind. Famous makeup artists, such as Katie Jane Hughes, also suggest using this cream as a natural highlighter!

Kocostar Lip Mask*

29,90€ / 20 patches

This is the odd one of the bunch. At first I thought these lip masks are a gimmick, but just like eye patches, lip masks can feel very soothing and hydrating. I don’t notice any additional plumping effect from using this mask, but when my lips have been severely dry these do seem to make a difference on the hydration levels. After wearing the mask for ~5 minutes I top the essence with a heavy balm to seal it all in. The ingredients include hydrating glycerin, peppermint leaf water and green tea leaf extract. These masks stay nicely on my lips without slipping or sliding off, which is a major plus. Don’t let the try-on picture scare you! PS: the mask does sit on well, the fold you see is because of my lip piercing.

Best Lip Products for Winter | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog
Best Lip Products for Winter | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

I think Lumene beats my Clarins classic lip balm and Weleda I like a lot for its multi-purpose use. The Kocostar masks are nice, but a bit of a novelty item which I wouldn’t necessarily purchase again. What’s your go-to lip balm right now? Right now I’m testing more lip balms from eco beauty brands, more to come later!

*These items were kindly gifted for review. My thoughts are honest & my own.

Luxury In a Bottle - Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser Review

If you know green beauty, you gotta know Tata Harper. She’s a pioneer in luxury skincare whose aim is combining efficacy with eco products. Last Summer I had a pleasure to meet her at Naturelle’s Master Class and I gotta say that she glows from the inside out - and I’m not only talking about her skin! Her personality and philosophy is so radiant it was contagious. Today I’m taking a closer look at her famous Regenerating Cleanser**, I hope you enjoy the review!

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Tata Harper and Regenerating Cleanser

Like many green beauty founders her brand has a personal backstory: her stepfather got diagnosed with cancer and Tata started paying attention to product ingredients. She couldn’t find something effective, safe and 100% natural that was a pleasure to use, so she decided to make it herself. All Tata Harper Skincare is made in Vermont, but her passion for beauty comes from her Colombian background.

Regenerating Cleanser is Tata Harper’s daily exfoliating treatment cleanser for dull and congested skin. It provides a gentle physical and chemical exfoliation with the combination of apricot microspheres and BHA from willow bark. 100% of total ingredients are from natural origin, 82% from organic farming. See certifications here. 125ml pump bottle retails for €82 / $82. Available at Sokos, Stockmann and Naturelle (in Finland).

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Ingredients

Hordeum Vulgare Leaf Juice*, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Olivate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Propanediol, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Seed Powder, Sorbitan Olivate, Aqua/Water/Eau, Lactobacillus Ferment, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate, Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Arnica Montana (Arnica) Extract*, Borago Officinalis (Borage) Leaf Extract*, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract*, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Extract*, Spiraea Ulmaria (Meadowsweet) Extract*, Coco-Glucoside, Cetearyl Glucoside, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil*, Kaolin (White Clay), Sclerotium Gum, Cetyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Sodium Phytate, CI77491 (Red Iron Oxide), Aroma**, Alcohol, Citral, Limonene, Linalool *Ingredients from Organic farming ** Clinical grade essential oils blend

This cleanser is in a in a barley base with emulsifying agents based from olive oil. After moisturizing sunflower seed oil, the apricot seed powder is high in the ingredients list, making this creamy cleanser generous with mechanical ‘scrubby bits’. The apricot seed powder is very fine, more like fine sand than very gritty. Personally I can use this cleanser on a regular basis, but you might want to sample it first if you’re sensitive or very prone to redness.

What I really enjoy in this formula are the amount of fermented ingredients (Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc from pomegranate and radish root) and BHA delivered from Willow Bark Extract. Willow bark naturally contains salicylic acid, which helps the skin shed dead cells and clear pores while stimulating new cell growth. Salicylic acid is one of my favorite exfoliants, to get the full benefit I would leave this cleanser on a couple minutes as suggested on Tata’s website. Notice that this combination of manual and chemical exfoliation will make the skin more sensitive to sun and I always recommend using a sunscreen.

After Willow Bark Extract the formula is packed with many botanical leaf extracts such as arnica, borage, calendula and alfafa. There is also a small amount of white clay that helps to pull out impurities. Overall this ingredient list looks very safe and well-balanced to my eyes. There is a small amount of essential oils if you’re very sensitive. To battle acne I might use a BHA toner instead and not aggravate the skin with too much scrubbing.

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog
Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Using the Regenerating Cleanser

Tata’s cleansers are among the most beautiful and luxurious I’ve ever tested. I love it how their website provides information on different cleanser types and what are suitable for specific skin concerns. For dull and congested skin she recommends using this cleanser in a combination with her strong enzymatic mask, the Resurfacing Mask. If you’re curious, you can read more tips on this article. At the Master Class I tried topping the Regenerating Cleanser with the Resurfacing Mask for 5 minutes for deeper exfoliation, but for this review I’ve used the cleanser on its own.

In my opinion, the Regenerating Cleanser is best suitable for mornings when you feel extra gunky, sweaty, oily or as a second step after thoroughly removing makeup. You get the whole exfoliating effect by massaging the cleanser on dry skin by using circular motions and buffing. Most times I’ve applied the cleanser on damp skin for gentler results; I use strong acid toners regularly so I don’t want to over-exfoliate my skin too abrasively, but if you suffer from a lot of congestion or build-up you might want to apply the cleanser on dry skin time to time. If there isn’t many acid containing products in your routine already, one way to get all the benefit from the willow bark extract is to leave the cleanser on the skin for a 5 minute mini-mask.

The texture of the Regenerating Cleanser is creamy with sand-like particles called ‘apricot microspheres’. I used to be afraid of manual scrubs because I didn’t want to get micro cuts on my face, but since they are called spheres I assume it’s safe. To be honest, I’ve grown to like a little scrubbing from time to time. The Regenerating Cleanser feels especially satisfying on the days when I’ve worn sunscreen and makeup for hours and my face feels extra grimy.

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Final Thoughts

What I love about this Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser is its simple efficacy. Of course I take the luxurious user experience into account when I’m using a cleanser this $$$, but nothing beats how clean, fresh and radiant my skin feels after each use. There’s no greenwashing, gimmicks, unrealistic magical promises or fancy feeling fragrances. Yes, the price is very high for a cleanser, but you get what you pay for: certified organic ingredients, a perfected formula in a generous 125ml heavy glass pump bottle. If you’re on a budget I highly recommend picking up an acid toner and a good serum first, but if you want to treat yourself I think the Regenerating Cleanser is lovely.

In the end I think it’s your choice what’s worth it for you and if you want to splurge on a cleanser or skincare in general. Will I be buying a new bottle after finishing the sample? Yes. I’ll be saving up and keeping my eyes open for sales! xx

**This bottle was kindly gifted for consideration.
My thoughts are honest and my own.