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 (Cult Beauty* 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 (Cult Beauty* ~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, available at House of Organic (FI)*) 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.

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) and Cult Beauty* (worldwide).

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.

End of Year Beauty Favourites 2018

Eek I can’t believe I’m typing this - it’s time for my yearly roundup of favourite products. Everyone and their dog has probably typed how they can’t believe it’s already 2019, but my mind is still orientated it’s September or October. Past two to three months has just flashed by.

I’m trying to list you only new products I’ve discovered (or/and reviewed) in 2018. Not all of these items are brand new, but they are new to me. My initial list was massive, so I’m trying to list only crème de la crème, best of the best, non-negotiable items. This doesn’t mean I’m not standing by my other recommendations, they’re still good, but the items in this post deserve the extra attention. Enjoy!

Best of Beauty 2018 | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog / Laurantaina
Best of Beauty 2018 | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog / Laurantaina

Brushes

Sonia G (aka Sweet Makeup Temptations) smashed 2018 with Beautylish. Her brushes are so gorgeous, designed and manufactured with absolute finesse. I skipped the first set, but decided to pick up some individuals and later her PRO Eye Set, which was even more to my liking than her first eye brushes I purchased! It solved one design issue I had with a smaller eye brush (review here). In 2019 I’m dying to pick up more face brushes from her.

I also loved Hakuhodo’s G511 “salt and pepper” brush, which became my most used contour brush in 2018. It’s much cheaper than Surratt’s contour brush, which is also lovely, but I think for most people I’d recommend the more affordable Hakuhodo. This brush is also less dense, and gives nicely diffused edges for cheek and neck contour.

Best of Beauty 2018 | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog / Laurantaina
Best of Beauty 2018 | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog / Laurantaina

Perfume

This Fall I wrote about my obsession with Atelier Cologne and Mimosa Indigo* (review), which instantly became my signature scent. It’s unique, light and elegant and perfectly balanced with floral and leathery tones. Atelier Cologne also has such attention to detail in their packaging and service, so I’d recommend them for anyone looking for a luxe gift.

..Then came Black Friday and I made some perfume investments and purchased a couple of perfumes from Tom Ford, including his Tobacco Vanille, which will get a post of its own. I love how Tom Ford’s perfumes last very well on me, I can even smell them on my clothes. I think one of the best (free) gestures of affection is borrowing your scarf with your scent and perfume on it.. Hehee, perfect during cold Finnish Winters.

Best of Beauty 2018 | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog / Laurantaina

Skincare

Gosh, it was a great year for skincare in 2018. I discovered and loved so many, especially wash-off masks, but they were mainly old favorites (Mahalo, Max and Me). My best new discoveries are exfoliation related, both acid, powder-to-paste and cleansers with beads (non-plastic of course!).

I especially fell in love with de Mamiel’s Cleanse and Exfoliate that works great both as a quick brightening mask and an exfoliant. I also tried the iconic Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 in mini size and purchased a full size bottle once I ran out. I can agree it’s worth all the hype and every penny, but certainly not for sensitive skin.

Then there is Tata Harper. I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting her this Summer in Naturelle’s event and her product made such a lasting impression me: luxury and efficacy meet eco beauty. Her Regenerating Cleanser* (also available on Cult Beauty*) quickly became favorite to me, you’ll notice its refreshing effect right away. The bottle in my hand looks almost full, but I’ve gone through a couple of minis. 

Best of Beauty 2018 | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog / Laurantaina

I also tried a bunch of good hydrating serums and ampoules this year, but the one that was above others is Esse’s R6 Serum*. Not only Esse products are packed with probiotics, but also this serum plumps and hydrates in instant - contesting my old fav Kypris Antioxidant Dew (review).

Another hydrating product I’ve been reaching are the Kicks sheet masks*. Although I’ve seen Korean sheet masks with better ingredients list and cheaper price tag, Kicks’ bio-cellulose sheet masks are pretty easy for us Nordic/Scandi people to access. I’ve never really liked jelly or gel masks before, but the Kicks ones stick to the skin without slipping and sliding. They’re thin, thin, comfortable, cooling and packed with moisture. They also come with a generous amount of serum and I use the excess for my arms and décolleté.

Last but not least - Ben and Anna deodorants (review)*. To this day, I’ve used up almost 4 tubes of them in various scents. I love it the packaging is recycleable, scents are not overpowering, but above all - these deodorants keep me odour free and feeling dry! Naturally baking soda and shea butter based, formulated without any aluminum. The only con is I go through these pretty quickly.

Hair

I tried and tested some very good hair products this year, but I can’t choose one shampoo or conditioner over the others as I tend to mix and match them according to my hair’s needs. My most “mind blowing” hair experience was meeting Mark Birch and learning about proper scalp health. Since then I’ve been washing my hair and scalp almost daily! Unfortunately I’m not the biggest fan of the tar-like scent of his products, so I do rotate them with others.

The Maria Nila Schist fibre cream* is certainly my most reached for styling product this year, I much prefer it to the OUAI matte pomade. I like how Maria Nila’s matte texture hard-to-detect; as if I had woken up with my hair styled nicely. I use it to add some nice texture, hold and add that piece-y look to my short hair.

Best of Beauty 2018 | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog / Laurantaina
Best of Beauty 2018 | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog / Laurantaina

Makeup

I think this was the easiest category for me to choose from. I’ve tried a good amount of very nice makeup this year, including cream blushes, new shades from firm favorites (Tom Ford and SUQQU), but what raised above everything else were SUQQU’s Glow Touch Eyes (review), creamy liquid eyeshadows. Not as opaque as my other favorite Rouge Bunny Rouge Cream shadows, but still very lovely and perfect for easy eye looks. Just a quick swipe with the applicator and blend with a fluffy brush and you’re done!

Honorable mention goes to Lumene’s Invisible Illumination Instant Luminizer*. It can be doubled as a glowy primer and a highlighter, but personally I prefer the former method. I apply a couple of drops on my cheeks and blend with my fingers before applying a tinted moisturizer. The result is less flashy than RBR liquid highlighter so you can wear it on its own too.

Then I have two mascaras that are outstanding: Lancome’s Monsieur Big (not pictured - review here, available at Kicks.fi*) and MAC’s classic Extended Play Gigablack mascara (available at Kicks.fi* and MAC counters). Monsieur Big gives the perfect doll like fat lashes while MAC’s Extended Play Gigablack mascara has the perfect dryness from the first application, holds a curl and won’t smudge during the day. I rarely purchase high-end mascaras, but these are total repeat items!

Speaking of lashes, I love Tweezerman’s lash curlers*. Who knew this classic tweezer brand made eyelash curlers (or “Hell Machine” as my gf says) as well? I’ve tried both the regular and round eye version and they both create an amazing, long-lasting curl and won’t pinch my eyelids!

Last but not least there’s Bobbi Brown Crushed Lipstick in Ruby (mentioned here). Gorgeous everyday muted red shade that wears like a stain without drying the lips. I’m eyeing more shades from the Crushed range..

Final word

THERE WE HAVE IT! Best of the best 2018! I need to know what’s your favorite product(s) from last year! Please chat with me in the comments. xx

* Products marked with an asterisk (*) were kindly offered for review.
My thoughts are honest and my own.