Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Review: Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner

I didn't realise I hadn't wrote this review for Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner. I bought it as a possible dupe for Clinique's Clarifying Lotion (either Type 1 or 2) so here is my opinion of it!
mizon bha toner
Mizon product information 
Brand: Mizon
Name: AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner
Price: Starting from $21.50 from Koreadepart

This toner differs slightly from Clinique's Clarifying Lotion because it contains both alpha hydroxy acid as well as beta hydroxy acid. It contains glycolic acid (AHA), salicylic acid (BHA), papaya fruit extract (AHA), castor oil, arnica flower extract, sagebush extract, yarrow extract and gentiana extract. In an effort to know more about skincare ingredients, I researched the benefits of each item mentioned!

Glycolic acid: Chemical exfoliation, reduces pigmentation and blemishes
Salicylic acid: Chemical exfoliation, reduces pigmentation and blemishes
Castor oil: Emollient, anti-inflammatory, reduces acne, scarring, blemishes and pigmentation due to fatty acids encouraging healthy tissue growth.
Arnica flower extract: Possibly antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, acne reduction.
Yarrow: Astringent, anti-inflammatory.
Gentiana: Anti-inflammatory

I couldn't find any benefits to sagebush in cosmetics for reference.

The toner removes dead skin flakes and encourages newer, fresher skin to surface. Pigmentation and scarring can be improved with continual use of a BHA and/or AHA product. BHA also cleanses inside the pores whereas AHA cannot, so it prevents acne and general spots from appearing.
Mizon packaging information
I swear to God I took photos of this item, along with the AHA 8% Peeling Serum and I can find the serum photos, but not the toner photos?! So I'm afraid we'll have to make do with stock photos for now.

mizon bha toner
The bottle is plastic and frosted, with metallic silver and non-metallic teal writing. The cap is metallic silver and the bottle has a nice weight to it, but is suitable for travel because there's no chance of it breaking.

The bottle has a small hole to dispense the toner. I always find with this kind of opening that it's hard to get the toner out at first, then after you use about a third of the product, it suddenly comes out much easier?
Mizon application information
I was interested in seeing the benefits of this product - since it also contains AHA as well as BHA, could I replace my AHA serum with this product? A two in one product certainly seems handy. I put this toner on a cotton pad and sweep it over my face, making sure I get in the corners and underside of my nose, near my hairline and jaw. Some people recommend cotton balls rather than pads, saying it's less harsh but I have had no adverse effects using a cotton pad, and feel they're more effect and easier to use than a cotton ball. I apply this product twice a day in both my morning and nightly skincare routine.

To be honest, I felt like this toner is weaker than Clinique's Clarifying Lotion, although it still exfoliated my skin. It smells way nicer than Clinique though but after continued use (using up the entire bottle is 'continued use', right?!) I couldn't see any major improvement to my skin. I understand at a certain point it just maintains any positive benefits and skin feel but I felt this is a slight step backwards to my skin personally than using Clinique's Clarifying Lotion.

Another interesting point to note is that looking at the price per ml, it only works out slightly cheaper than Clinique's Clarifying Lotion anyway, and is harder to get because you have to order it online and wait for it to arrive. If I thought this toner could replace and did a better job of my current BHA and AHA products, the price would be worth it for me (dupes are really supposed to be cheaper or easier to get than original products).
Mizon mythoughts
I didn't find that this toner was an improvement on my current skincare regime, and I couldn't replace my AHA serum with this toner. It's not even really cheaper than Clinique's Clarifying Lotion and does a slightly poorer job of chemical exfoliation for me personally. Pair this with the fact you have to order online and wait for delivery and you have a recipe for meh-ness, as in I don't hate it or don't love it. The next BHA toner I tried after this was It's Skin Clear Skin Peeling Toner so watch this space to see if that fares any better for my quest for a cheaper dupe of Clinique's Clarifying Lotion. I give Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner 2 stars out of 5.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Review: Clinique All About Eyes Eye Cream

Sometimes I get the urge to buy beauty stuff when I either have stuff already on the way (instant gratification, am I right?), don't need anything or know that I have plenty of stuff I haven't used yet. Sometimes the feeling gets subsided by writing a review because I'm doing research on the products similar to when I want to buy a new product, and I'm generally talking about beauty. Today is one of those days. I currently have an MUA and Vichy order arriving at some point but I just got given money for Easter so I'm like "Ooh, money I wasn't planning that I could spend on make-up... *slaps own hand* NO! Save it for later!"

Therefore, I present to you this review of Clinique's All About Eyes Eye Cream to keep temptation at bay. *starts secretly checking out my Pinterest beauty wishlist inbetween typing*

product information 
Brand: Clinique
Name: All About Eyes Eye Cream
Price: £26.50 for 15ml
Where to buy: Clinique counters worldwide, Clinique online, Boots, Debenhams

Clinique's All About Eyes eye cream is a lightweight gel-cream suitable for all skin types, although they do make a 'All About Eyes Rich' version for drier skin. This eye cream promises to reduce puffiness, cool, soothe and reduce dark circles. I received this product in a Bonus Time gift and was most looking forward to the dark circle reducing benefits.
packaging information
Because I got mine in a Bonus Time gift, I didn't get the full 15ml and the packaging was slightly different. Here's the deluxe sample packaging I received:

And here's the full sized packaging you'd get if you bought the product: 

All About Eyes

The deluxe sample packaging has a green plastic lid, whilst the full sized packaging has a metallic silver lid that kind of feels like it's metal plated. The jar is plastic and has a quality weight to it. The packaging is okay, it's very no-frills and mature looking. I am not a fan of the green lid as I think it makes the brand look stuck in the 80s/90s but I understand it's probably cheaper to make for the deluxe sample packaging.

application information

The product is described as a light gel-cream hybrid and I can definitely agree with this. It's oil free and has a slight fleshy pink tinge to it. It absorbs easily and smoothly with no greasy residue or finish and has no scent as all Clinique products are fragrance free. You only need a small amount for each under-eye area.

allabouteyes swatch
allabouteyes applied

Like I mentioned above, my main concern was with dark circles so I was looking forward to trying this product. I'd heard quite a few good things with it and it seems like a popular seller but I was pretty disappointed to be honest. I used the whole deluxe sample over the course of a couple of weeks and saw no improvement in my dark circles. It hydrated my under-eye area, and I have no puffiness to calm so it was a very sub-par product to me. Anything can hydrate your skin or lock in moisture so I could've applied Vaseline under there for all this eye cream did for me.
allabouteyes my thoughts
Clinique All About Eyes eye cream did nothing for my dark circles, but kept my under-eye area hydrated. I have no puffiness or wrinkles to comment on, so for me this product is not worth the money. I give it 2 out of 5 stars.

Friday, 25 March 2016

My Japan Trip 2015/2016: Day 3 - New Year's Day, Osechi Ryori, Laforet Sales and Ginza

My Japan Trip Day #3

So, today was New Year's Day in Japan, 1st January 2016! I forgot to mention that in the afternoon yesterday (see my previous post), two other girls arrived at Hiromi's apartment. They were from Singapore and were staying for about 5 days, going to Mount Fuji and Tokyo Disneyland amongst other things.

Japanese strawberry biscuit
The day before, Hiromi gave me a biscuit that I saved for later. I ate it the next morning, it was strawberry flavoured and pretty tasty!

In Japan, they have a traditional breakfast eaten on New Year's Day called 'osechi ryori', which literally means New Year's Day cooking. There are lots of little dishes of food,  all of them signifying something for the new year. I was super grateful to be able to experience a traditional Japanese New Year's breakfast and day! There were many things I didn't know about or had never tried so I decided to eat first and ask questions later haha!

Japanese New Year breakfast, osechi ryori
Us all at the table before eating, including the two Singaporean girls.

Japanese New Year breakfast, osechi ryori
Osechi ryori! I was interested to find out what everything was, so with a little extra Googling when I got back home, I was able to find the names of most items. If you can identify anything I haven't, that would be amazingly helpful!

Left box, left to right:
Steamed or boiled kabocha (pumpkin) or sweet potato, I'm not quite sure.
Kuromame (black beans) cooked in sweet syrup with edible gold leaf. It symbolizes hard working and healthy living for the next year.
I'm not quite sure on this one, I think it was maybe some form of artichoke?
Harusame salad.
Ikura (salmon roe/eggs). Red is an auspicious colour and the eggs symbolise fertility.
Edamame salad.
Candied walnuts.
Kuri kinton, a paste made from sweet chestnuts and sweet potatoes. 'Kin' means 'gold' and that kanji character is used in 'kuri kinton' so it symbolises a prosperous business or luck with money that year.
Namasu, a salad of carrot and daikon radish. Red and white are colours of celebration in Japan and symbolises happiness and celebration.

Centre box, left to right:
Some form of sushi, I'm not sure.
I think it was some form of chicken with vegetables in the middle.
Again, I can't remember!
Tataki goubo, pounded burdock root with sesame seeds. Burdock is a long, deep root so it symbolises stability, and splitting it (tataki) symbolises splitting good fortune.
Sweet potatoes and ebi (shrimp). The curved shape of shrimp looks like the curved back of the elderly, symbolising longevity and a wish for a long life.
Tazukuri, dried sardines cooking in a sweet soy sauce. 'Tazukuri' means 'making a rice field' and signifies hope for an abundant harvest in the new year.
Sweet potatoes cut into a shape, I can't remember much else.
Torihamu, a type of chicken ham.
Datemaki, a rolled egg and fish cake that slightly resembles rolled scrolls, so symbolises a wish for success whilst studying.
Konbu maki, thick seaweed usually tied in a bundle. Like datemaki, it symbolises a wish for successful studying.

Right box, left to right:
I'm not sure of what the entire first row is, unfortunately! I just remember the item on the right was very slippery and rounded/oval shaped.
Soramame, boiled broad beans.
Kazunoko, salted herring roe marinated in dashi. One lump of roe is many tiny eggs pressed together and so it symbolises many children and a prosperous family.
Kouhaku maki, an egg maki roll tied up with fish cake.
Braised tako (octopus).
I'm not sure what the last item is.

Underneath the osechi ryori is a bowl of matcha green tea, and ozoni, a type of soup with a piece of mochi (sticky rice cake) in it. There are many variations of ozoni, this one had tofu and daikon radish in it.

Japanese New Year breakfast, osechi ryori and ozoni soup
Ozoni soup

Japanese New Year breakfast, sake
This was sake that we drank afterwards. You lift the sake cup and drink three times. I think it's a form of the custom 'o-toso', where you drink to flush away the previous year's ailments and maladies. Tradition uses spiced sake with medicinal herbs but this was just regular sake. Spiced sake is still used in some Kansai and west regions of Japan though.

Japanese apples
Sliced apple for afterwards! Hiromi was a very gracious host all throughout my stay and we had apple after many meals. Japanese apples are huge, have a fluffier texture than English apples and a lovely sweet taste.

After we ate breakfast, I then met up with my friend Amelie and her friend Katie. We happened to be in Japan at the same time so we decided to meet for New Year sales at Laforet in Harajuku!

We took purikura whilst our hair and make-up was still fresh, so to speak~ It was my first purikura of my trip, and my first time using a Japanese purikura machine!
Japanese purikura photo stickers
Amelie recommended a certain machine and it was really fun! I loved that they did outfit shots too! We had lots of fun decorating the photos but it soon became apparent I was very slow haha~

We went down a side street on Takeshita Dori and found CONOMi, a popular school uniform shop for fashionable schoolgirls.
CONOMi Harajuku

To the left and above of CONOMi was a ridiculously cute store selling ridiculously cute random things including Hoppe-chan (or was the store called Hoppe-chan? I have no idea...). They had baskets and baskets full of cute stationary bits, doll house parts and stuff, none of which I bought because, y'know, Goth over here. I took some photos for enjoyment though haha!

 Hoppe-chan HarajukuHoppe-chan Harajuku

We went through Takeshita Dori to try and find Fernopaa, a store Amelie wanted to visit. I hadn't heard of it but I tried to find it on my phone but it took us down a street that Fernopaa clearly wasn't on, so we gave up. I wanted to see if Closet Child had any New Year sales but I wasn't sure if it was open. The atmosphere of New Year's sales is really great - some people have expressed that it's annoying but I enjoy it! Many stores on Takeshite Dori had shop staff outside, shouting out their sales and fukubukuro (lucky pack) offers, announcing time sales and generally trying to attract you into their store. They sometimes had plastic microphones and would bang on them before spewing their sales pitch again, repeating and repeating all day! Some cute shop girls were doing that but one of their voices started getting hoarse and they were laughing about it. #justfukubukurothings

We then went to Laforet to check out the sales and to see if there were any fukubukuro left. I didn't take any photos unfortunately because you're not really supposed to, and it was very busy. A lot of stores did have lucky packs left; from what I can remember, Ghost of Harlem, BTSSB, Metamorphose, Innocent World, Swimmer, Putumayo and Axes Femme still had lucky packs when we arrived a few hours after opening. Again, there were lots of shop staff shouting out offers and holding up fukubukuro, banging and generally a festive "we're all here for bitchin' sales" vibe was around.

Whilst browsing I saw a nice black blouse in Axes Femme for about £10 but I really wanted to try it on before buying, so I decided I'd come back at another time since I didn't want to make Amelie and Katie wait. Amelie bought a Axes Femme fukubukuro.

I wore the shoes I bought from No Fall the day before but they were scraping the back of my heels so I really wanted to buy some new shoes ASAP. I found a nice and cheap pair in Swimmer and changed into those, and Amelie and Katie bought Swimmer fukubukuro. The fukubukuro came in cute yellow bags and were really heavy! I think they were around £10-£15 at the current exchange rate.

Swimmer Harajuku boots
The shoes aren't what I'd normally pick but they were cheap enough and turned out to be quite comfy (more on that in future posts).

I had a browse around Putumayo because they had a stained glass print that caught my eye. They did it in a JSK or skirt but I am always funny about buying skirts unless they're much cheaper than the JSK, and I was unsure about the full shirring on the bodice of the JSK.

Putumayo stained glass OP

After debating coming back for the JSK or skirt, I saw a cute skirt and matching jacket that I bought there and then. Somehow when photographing the items separately I didn't photograph the jacket (probably because I took it to an event to wear shortly after returning from Japan) so have my badly lit, 'on the day' haul photo of the set!

Putumayo jacket and skirt set
They're really nice for a casual coord and they're very easy and comfy to wear.

I got a free calendar at Putumayo which is currently being displayed in my room!
Putmayo calendarPutmayo calendar
It's a lovely free gift I was surprised to get.

We had a bit more of a browse but that was it for my Laforet New Year sales, at least that day anyway! I love shopping with friends but I really want to try everything on before I buy so I decided to come back at a later date. Anything I had my eye on that wasn't there later would be considered 'not meant to be'.

Afterwards we went to Listen Flavor and I bought a super cute beret!

Listen Flavor occult beret
Sooooo cute~

They also had lucky packs but I decided not to get one since there was only one or two things I liked in the store. I realised before I even got to Japan that it was unlikely I'd buy any lucky packs. I'm far too picky and specific in my personal tastes. Katie and Amelie bought Listen Flavor lucky packs and when they opened them, they were mostly t-shirts and sweaters, none of which I wear.

Harajuku New Year fukubukuro lucky packs
By this point we were getting pretty laden with bags! Katie and Amelie bought Ghost of Harlem lucky packs in Laforet. Amelie opened hers and from what I can remember, it had a hoodie, sweater, t-shirts and a pair of leggings. Again, I wear none of those so it'd have been a big fail if I'd have bought one. I only like certain tops and most of the dresses in Ghost of Harlem.

During the day we needed to find somewhere to eat and went to the Pom Pom Purin Cafe in Harajuku but it was queuing out of the door and we were quite hungry. Thankfully Ojisan no Panda Cafe is literally right opposite Pom Pom Purin and had no line so we went there instead! I feel sorry for Ojipan, why don't people like his cafe haha?

Ojisan no Panda cafe - Omura inu pancakes
I knew I wouldn't be able to eat much so I got Omura-inu (omelette dog) pancakes. They were super yummy though so no regrets! The pancakes were warm, soft and fluffy, the omura-inu cream was sweet and the pancakes, fruit and cream all went together nicely. They even had an Ojipan biscuit which was nice too!

Afterwards Amelie and Katie and I decided to part ways. As we walked through Takeshita Dori, I noticed Closet Child was open and I intended to check out the salesssss~ Amelie and Katie had to be up early the next day so I decided to go to Ginza for a wander around. I thought some of the big department stores would be open.

Ginza Year of the Monkey shop display
One of the first sights that greeted me after getting out of Ginza station, a shop display for the year of the monkey this year!

Ginza Wako
Ginza Wako, a very memorable department store with a large clock made by Seiko. It was closed...

Ginza at New Year

I didn't think I would see many Christmas decorations since New Year is way more important in Japan; Christmas decorations get taken down pretty much the day after Christmas but I was pleased to see pretty Christmas trees lining streets in Ginza!

Matsuya Ginza
Matsuya Ginza, a huuuuuge department store in Ginza...again, seeing a pattern here?

Louis Vuitton Ginza
Louise Vuitton Ginza, such an impressive storefront!

Bulgari Ginza
Bulgari store front, again, impressive!

Tiffany & Co Ginza
Tiffany & Co Ginza

New Year decorations at Matsuya Ginza
New Years decorations at Matsuya Ginza

Ginza at dusk

Ginza at dusk

Ginza at dusk

Ginza Hakuhinkan Toy Park
Hakuhinkan Toy Park...closed...

When people say Ginza is swanky, they are not joking around! There were so so many fancy brand name stores, with attendants to open the door for customers, and I saw a lady come out with a purchase, walked to the door by a very well dressed shop attendant wearing gloves and there was lots of thanking and bowing. Part of me wants to go into a store like that and buy something for that amazing service but I also know the reason it seems attractive is it makes you feel luxurious and almost arrogant, which is bad.

In Japan there are vending machines and convenience stores everywhere...except Ginza! Seriously, I just wanted a cheap drink to carry around and had to go down a lot of side streets to find a convenience store. Just goes to show what an image Ginza has. They should make super swanky vending machines just for Ginza that sells super expensive mineral water from Mount Fuji and gourmet green tea.

Flowers in Ginza
Pretty flowerbed on the side street of the convenience store.

Lemon tea and matcha ice cream at Ginza conbini
I got a lemon tea and matcha ice cream at the convenience store! I really wanted to try 'authentic' matcha ice cream. It was a little bitter and I didn't really like it at first, but it was okay! At least I tried it!

Ginza at night
By the time I had my lemon tea and matcha ice cream, the sun had gone down and I got to see Ginza at night.

I got the metro home, stopped at Omotesando and walked back to Harajuku.

Louis Vuitton Omotesando
Louise Vuitton Omotesando

Omotesando at night
Omotesando street

Kiddyland Harajuku Omotesando
Kiddyland with Funassyi decorations!

Laforet Harajuku at night
LaForet at night, I love the little monster New Year's greeting!

After walking up to Meiji Dori, I remembered Closet Child was open and went back in to see if they had any sales! I was there almost every day for two weeks, then disappeared like a frilly Lolita ninja who'd just dropped mega dolla on a metric shit-ton of clothes. I wonder if they still think about me... *sarcastic*

H.Frill jacket H.Frill jacket
H.Frill jacket. The embroidery is just so so cute on the back, I think this is one of my favourite pieces I bought in Japan!

Ozz Oneste dress
Ozz Oneste dress - I'd only seen Ozz Oneste online beforehand and hadn't seen much at that, but I absolutely fell in love with them in Japan and bought so much of their stuff in Closet Child. That brand speaks to me on a spiritual level.

H.Blood Bolero
H.Blood bolero

Black Peace Now bolero
Black Peace Now bolero

Atelier Boz blouse
Atelier Boz blouse

After I got home, we had some sort of spaghetti with daikon radish and maybe shredded fish cake for dinner, it was pretty tasty. I hope you enjoyed this post! On Day 4 I had a proper browse in Omotesando, checked out Shibuya 109 for the sales (spoiler: it was insane) and went to Shinjuku! I might make a couple of other posts inbetween Japan posts but stay tuned! I'll try to get posts out more frequently from now on! I attended Birmingham MCM between posts and had to prepare beforehand, then wind down afterwards!