Why Minimalism, KonMari and 'Capsule' Trends Need To Stop + Tips For Smart Consuming

From the beginning of this year I’ve been bumping into capsule wardrobes, project pans, minimalism challenges and no-buy promises more than ever. I thought I’d share some thoughts on this topic as I feel quite strongly about it - mainly what annoys me about this trend. Please share your thoughts in the comments if you feel similarly - or against!

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Reasons Minimalism Is So Popular Right Now?

I’d like to believe it’s because of the environment. Global warming is real, we simply cannot keep on consuming and wasting this much if we want to have a future on this little rock. But in media, I think minimalism is mostly just very trendy: Marie Kondo and her tidying rules were all the craze a couple of years ago, but now minimalism is also constantly spoken and pushed by bloggers and Youtubers. Where as shopping hauls were super popular video concept, now people post declutters and purges.

Why Am I Against “Capsule“ Collections and Declutters?

There’s a reason why I feel sceptic, sometimes even against the whole capsule concept and declutters. If these terms are unfamiliar to you, a capsule makeup collection (or wardrobe etc.) is a way to curate your stash, for example separating and storing seasonal items, discarding unused ones. Perhaps you limit yourself to a certain number of products and only shopping for a need. Decluttering one’s makeup stash (or wardrobe, cupboard, etc.) is getting rid of and donating unused items, also discarding things that have gone bad. That doesn’t sound so bad, just organizing?

The problem is the common mind-set to first discard and then create new “needs” to (re)purchase. We rarely just let go of unused items and show more love to our old favorites. Nope, there comes the need of replacing “missing items” as seasons, trends and hypes change. I see a similar trend with declutters - one shouldn’t just mindlessly discard old or unused items, but make a point why there’s so much excess in the first place! With all the new available room, one should refrain from shopping and filling it with new.

I started wondering if minimalism is just a trend for wealthy people, making you appear as a better person because because it’s trendy VS. being a mindful consumer. The things aren’t “weighing you down” but your problem with overconsumption. One popular Finnish blogger spoke how she has the goal of letting go 1000 things (excluding beauty items) - if I did the same, I’d be living in an empty flat.

My Tips for Mindful (Minimal) Consuming

I’m all about enjoying what I have, my problem is the endless decluttering, discarding and giving – that can lead to more consumption. In Finland we have a saying “The poor can’t afford to buy cheap” (“Köyhällä ei ole varaa ostaa halpaa”), which is what I stand by: only shopping for a need, saving and investing on quality items that don’t nee replacing right away. This method is also environmentally conscious as you’ll be buying less and only long-lasting items. A good quality item can often be repaired, fixed or modified.

  • When decluttering, remember to recycle accordingly!

  • Do self-searching why do you shop: is it for a need, because of boredom, sadness, etc. feelings you “deserve” something new

  • Stop referring to your items (bags, makeup, clothes, whatever) as a “collection”. They are items meant to be used, not just collected. Unless, you’re a collector of course.

  • Being a minimalist doesn’t mean asceticism, but enjoying and using what you already have.

  • Rotate your items to get the most out of them, store when not needed.

  • A no buy 6-12 months is a great way to inspect yourself as a consumer and make the most out of what you already have.

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Other Similar Trends To Follow

If you want to take a part in the “minimalist” game, I recommend two other trends: the anti-haul and no buy. An anti-haul is a concept created by drag artist Kimberly Clark where you use hyperbole to share why you are not shopping (new) makeup/product releases. We all have seen gazillion neutral palettes and red lipsticks, not that there was anything wrong with either of them, but this sort of humorous critical thinking raises awareness if we need all the new stuff.

The second trend is a no buy for X period of time, which I did myself in the Fall of 2017 by not shopping for new beauty items for a 1/2 year. I also have an article on How To Reduce Beauty Shopping. A no buy challenge encourages you to enjoy what you already have, question you actually need all what you want. I recommend checking Lisa Eldridge’s lovely #buynothing everyday makeup video where she focuses on techniques with what you may already have VS creating the need to purchase new.

Final thoughts

Don’t get me wrong, I think moderate minimalism is a great thing. Especially in the beauty world, who isn’t tired of brands pushing out new but similar products, new collections from left and right or accidentally purchasing dupes on what you already have. I’m all about enjoying my stash, repurposing and rotating items (do you want an article on that?) and letting go what I don’t use, but I try to do it mindfully. What are your thoughts? Are you a person who likes to declutter things or have you planned a no-buy?

Lookfantastic Advent Calendar 2018 Review & Sneak Peek

Let me tell you a funny story. Near where I live there’s an office space that says Santa Claus: there’s a bearded fellow in a red shirt who does his paperwork while sipping Coke Zero. He has a red car that says “Santa Claus has come to town” and even a digital counter in the window, counting down days until Christmas. It’s both confusing and amusing.

Look Fantastic Advent Calendar 2018 Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

The Holiday season doesn’t usually excite me too much, but I do like gift giving. When Lookfantastic.fi kindly approached me if I wanted to check out their Beauty Advent Calendar 2018 of course I said yes! I did a poll on Instagram asking if you wanted to know all of the secret contents and the votes were close divided. So in this review I mention some brands and a couple of random products, but if you hate spoilers then scroll with caution!

LookFantastic Advent Calendar 2018

The Lookfantastic.fi Advent Calendar 2018 features 25 beauty items (mainly minis or deluxe samples) from skincare to haircare, cosmetics, tools and tanning. Each item is individually wrapped as a small gift, designed to bring you or your family/friends joy every day in December until Christmas. The calendar costs £79 / €109, with contents “worth over £300 / €325”. Lookfantastic often has discount codes so check out the front page of the site before ordering!

Look Fantastic Advent Calendar 2018 Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Packaging and Delivery

The Advent Calendar was very neatly in a fitted cardboard box, no extra padding. For me the delivery took about 2 weeks: I received a text message I could fetch the box from my local Post Nord pickup point. The actual size of the Advent Calendar surprised me: it’s huuuge. I don’t think the size comparison above with my hand does justice for this beautiful box. The box has a nice magnetic closure, feels sturdy and the look is very chic: Lookfantastic logos only in the front and top.

You pull out one of the mini boxes with gold foil numbering to see what’s inside. The items themselves are individually wrapped in beautiful red silk paper, which is great especially if you “happen to” sneak a peek what’s coming next.. I love this kind of attention to detail without excess packaging: silk paper wrapping is easy to recycle. If you decide to purchase this Calendar to yourself it could easily be reused next year by filling it with sweets for example.

Contents

OK this section has a couple of small spoilers. Be warned.

Look Fantastic Advent Calendar 2018 Review | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

As I said above, most of the products are travel sizes or minis. The sizes vary, but they’re about 4ml to 15ml and valued around £10 / €12 according to the press release. There’s a couple of full size items, which raise the value of the box, but one of them seems very over-prized to me (never heard of the brand and exclusive item to Lookfantastic) . Therefore I don’t think the real value of the Advent Calendar should be advertised over £300/€300. I decided to completely disregard this expensive item and the counted value using the press info and it was still over £250/€250 – not bad at all.

Some of the brands that caught my eye include:
Emma Hardie, Caudalie, First Aid Beauty, Illamasqua, Rituals and Omorovicza.

Final Thoughts

I devoured the whole Calendar in one evening, but as a gift for someone who enjoys beauty this is a very nice one. Displaying the beautiful Calendar, opening the doors and unwrapping alone is so much fun. There’s a good variation of products from skincare to hair to makeup, so if someone isn’t very into makeup alone I think this mix of “a bit of everything” still makes this a good gift. In my opinion The Lookfantastic Advent Calendar 2018 is a good value, but for me it’s not as high as advertised. Some of these items I could imagine as gifts with purchase, but this is a personal preference as I’m not too crazy about sample sizes. I’m going to switch out a couple of products I need to try (you know, for science) and gift this forward for a family member to enjoy.

Have you bought any Beauty Advent Calendars? Can you resist opening all doors at once?

**This item was kindly gifted for consideration. All thoughts are my honest & my own.

Thoughts on Hanbang, Fermented Skincare and An Interview with Lisa of Beauty Bemused

While I know that many of my readers are HC beauty junkies, in Finland K-beauty is kind of new and cool thing: we have some access to drug store Korean skincare or things that can be purchased from ebay, but not much else. Today I chat my personal relationship to Korean skincare, introduce hanbang (as a reference for future reviews) and best of all - interview my Seoul-based Instagram friend Lisa @Beautybemused who knows a ton about K-beauty!

Korean hanbang skincare

My personal experience with K-beauty

I've been fascinated by Korean skincare for years, ever since I discovered Reddit's Asian Beauty subreddit and K-beauty blogs some years ago. Seriously, these blogs and subreddit taught me so much about skincare - ingredients, pH and recommendations. The final kick was my visit to Seoul in February 2014 where I couldn't get enough about the endless sea of skincare and beauty shops. So much for the sights, I had to see all the bottles and potions; I remember spending most of my "free" time studying the Laneige shop and re-visiting the busy 3CE counter, haha.

I salute myself for not giving into 1,000 steps, thousand new products (OK, a few...) and cute gimmicky packaging, but instead started to pay more attention in my skincare ingredients, proper application and take masking as a regular part of my routine. Applying multiple layers of toner, essence and serum really has helped with my dry skin - as well "whitening" products to fade my acne scaring. I find that Korean (or Japanese) beauty routine is more about the lifestyle and can be done without Asian products - just like Lisa says below. 

The more I learned about Korean (and Japanese) skincare, the more intrigued I became with fermented ingredients. First of all, I love to eat everything and anything fermented: kimchi, sauerkraut and natto. I firmly believe in the health benefits of these food, so I started thinking what if these could be applied in skincare. After trying some essences with fermented ingredients I soon found hanbang, which I'm going to talk about next.

Korean hanbang skincare
Korean Hanbang sheet masks

WHAT IS HANBANG and Fermented Skincare? 

Hanbang (한방) stands for Korean traditional medicine, which includes an extensive use of herbal remedies to treat illnesses and maintain overall health and wellbeing. You may have heard about aromatherapy or Chinese traditional medicine, but Korean has it's own traditions, native herbs and a heavy emphasis on fermentation. Some popular hanbang brands include Sulwhasoo, History of Whoo, Illi, Missha (some lines), Whamisa and Sooryehan.

While the oral consumption of these herbs (such as ginseng) are better known, there have been little studies on how these traditional herbs affect the skin applied topically, but so far the results seem promising. Hanbang ingredients and combinations vary, but one important factor seems to be their biologically active compounds as well as fermentation. SK-II is a very famous brand in Japan and it's cult essence has yeast from fermenting sake. Again, while there are not many scientific studies about how fermented products work topically, I've read it's possible that fermented ingredients are higher in antioxidants than their non-fermented counterparts and better-absorbed by skin thanks to their enzymes and how they break compounds into smaller molecules. 

Most of the hanbang brands promise their ingredients have antioxidant and anti-ageing benefits, while merging them with modern-day science to make the concoction as efficacious as possible. To learn more how hanbang is actually used in Korea, I had a quick chat with Lisa and asked her a couple of questions.

photo: Beauty Bemused

photo: Beauty Bemused

Interview with Beauty Bemused

Laura: For the people who are new to your page, please tell me something about yourself in a couple of words!

Lisa: I’m an ex-beauty You Tuber, occasional beauty blogger, certified makeup artist, avid Instagramer, and last year Fall, I started my own K-Beauty company called Be Mused Korea

Laura: Your house is on fire, but don't worry, your loved ones are safe! But you only have time to save 3 beauty and 1 other item from the fire! What would you grab?

Lisa:

1. Face cleanser, if I had to choose just one, I would choose a gentle gel-foam cleanser.
2. Emulsion, since that’s a product between serum and cream, if I can’t have toner+essence+serum+cream, and can only have one, definitely emulsion!
3. UV product, cuz I need to prevent aging at all times.
4. When it comes to non-beauty item, of course my CELL PHONE!

Laura: Let's talk about hanbang. What are your memories about Korean medicine when growing up? Did you ever go to a family doctor [hanisa?] or see your family members practising herbal medicine for good health?

Lisa: My mom had me drinking hanbang health drinks since I was 5 years old! I’ve been to Haniwon clinics many times growing up and my mom sometimes brewed her own Hanbang remedies.

Laura: Have you tried other traditional medicine methods, such as acupuncture? 

Lisa: I’ve had acupuncture for migraines for over a year and also for stomach pains and shoulder aches. I also heard of acupuncture treatment for healthier skin but haven’t tried that yet!

Laura: I think Korea is famous for its doctors, high hospital standards, cosmetic surgery etc. Is traditional medicine as common as "bread or butter", or does it come and go out of style? How do people perceive it right now?

Lisa: Hanbang medicine is still very much alive and well received in Korea. Of course it’s overall more popular with the older generation for treating general ailments, but a lot of younger generation still seek out Hanbang medicine as alternative to western medicine. It’s become popular in the past several years among general population as alternative treatment for diet and beauty purposes.

Laura: What are the biggest skin concerns people want to treat with hanbang ingredients?

Lisa: Anti-aging has always been popular, but lately I see a lot of Hanbang formulas for sensitive and acne prone skin.

Laura: When shopping for beauty and skincare, do you specifically look for hanbang or fermented ingredients in products?

Lisa: I don’t particularly seek out Hanbang ingredients in beauty products but somehow naturally get attracted to products with Hanbang formulations. However, I do actively search out products with fermented ingredients.

Laura: Do you have a favorite brands or products what kind of impact have they had on you?

Lisa: I adore the brand Atoclassic which stems out from historically famous Korean traditional Hanbang doctor Wooboo. They specialize in safe and effective Hanbang formulations for sensitive skin, and I always turn to their line of products when my skin feels aggravated or irritated.

Laura: I know the Western and Asian skincare themes tend to not go in synch. I'm curious to hear if there are any skincare "secrets", theme or advice that are in or popular right now in Korea? 

Lisa: Nowadays, Western and Asian skincare themes seem to go hand in hand: Korean beauty R&D companies actively seek out Western formulations to tweak and improve using Korean standards, and Western brands are busy soaking in ideas and practices that’s popular in Korea. I’m sure you’ve heard the question “can you practice k-beauty without using Korean products?” My answer is YES! K-beauty is no longer just about Korean products but a type of “beauty lifestyle” in my opinion.

Laura: Your skin always looks amazing - what's your best personal secret or advice?

Lisa: Double cleansing every night and don’t use too many different actives and don’t over exfoliate! And at least twice a month I go to bed with nothing but  just some Avene Thermal Water sprayed on face after washing up. But I would be sure to have my filtered water diffuser on. Sometimes you just have to eat healthy and let your body work it’s magic on your skin while you sleep.

Thank you SO MUCH Lisa! Please check out her Instagram and other websites linked above, her images are beyond amazing. I especially love her beauty routine shots – excellent way to stalk what's really good, haha! 

Have you heard or tried any hanbang skincare? Are you an avid fan of K-beauty?