25 September 2014

LIFE IN JOENSUU: A FIRST IMPRESSION OF FINLAND

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I can't believe October is right around the corner already. The end of September means I've been in Finland for a whole month. Time flies! Because I want to share this experience with any of you who are interested and because it'll be fun for me to read this again in a few months, I've decided to (try and) write monthly updates about my stay in Joensuu.

So what have I been up to? The first two weeks were mainly about arranging things for the flat - getting stuff for the kitchen and bedroom, yes I even had to buy curtains! - and I had to make sure all the paperwork was done and organized. But besides having to take care of everything 'official', I've had plenty of time for activities. There are lots of student organizations in Joensuu, so there's always something to do here and it's a fun way of meeting new people. It's actually treated me well to be out so often since I got here. I also booked my trip to Lapland in December! Exciting!

I've been liking the new environment a lot. Even though Joensuu is technically a city, it's never crowded with people. The architecture and arrangement of the streets and area in Joensuu remind me of American towns (let's just ignore the fact that I haven't been to the US) - wide streets, small blocks with a few buildings or a park, and generally just a lot of open space. Oh, and a lot of nature. The atmosphere is so peaceful in Joensuu. It's something you get used to quickly.

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A few thoughts I gathered during my first month here:
s My first impression of the Finnish language is that it is made out of a lot of grammar combined into long words. Finns sure like to use long compounds.
s So far I've learnt that 'kiitos' means 'thanks' and people greet each other by saying 'hei hei' or 'moi' (which is an informal way of saying hello).
s Finns sure love their sports. On Sundays you'll see tons of people hiking, jogging, riding the bike, etc. I get it, though, they're making the most out of the great weather before it gets too cold! The ice hockey season has also kicked off in Finland last week. We went to see the local team's first game (pictured above).
s The stereotype is that Finns are shy and introvert. However, I have been feeling so welcome here. Finns are helpful and super friendly. Even in public transport passengers will say thanks to the bus driver most of the time. In Belgium that's rare. (Us Belgians are grumpy, so it seems).
s I have seen more squirrels here in the past 4 weeks than I have seen after 21 years of living in Belgium. True story.
s Also, as I'm writing this it is snowing. Wait, what!? Snow in September? On one hand I am excited because SNOW, but on the other hand I dread the extremely cold temperatures that are to be expected in a few weeks or months. Good thing I brought some extra pairs of socks, eh.

What's been your favourite thing in September?

18 September 2014

LONDON HAUL: BEAUTY & MISC

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Is a month too late for a haul post? No? Okay, let's dive into it then. On my short trip to London in August I did some shopping (surprise surprise)! Because I was/am so excited about my latest purchases, it only seemed obvious that I would show them to you.

Let's kick off with the non-beauty buys. I got the book #GIRLBOSS by Nasty Gal CEO Sophia Amoruso - after checking in 4 Waterstones, I kid you not. Now that's determination. This book is a mix of Sophia telling us how she started up the business, what she's learned from being a true #GIRLBOSS and there's some kick-ass life lessons in there too. Hidden in the back of the picture are two DVDs: Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Emperor's New Groove. Both from HMV, because who could ever resist buying DVDs that only cost £3 (!!) and are hard to find in Belgium. (Not pictured is a skinny jeans and basic grey tee from Primark. Gotta love Primark and their low prices!)

On to the beauty bits! I had a long list of things I wanted to take home, and I'd like to say I succeeded in finding most of them! At Liberty I bought one of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders. This one's in 'Diffused'. I've wanted to try them for a while, mostly because they set foundation and give the complexion a more smooth and even look. 'Diffused' is slightly yellow-toned, so it hides redness too. For the eyes I have two new products: MAC's Paint Pot in 'Painterly' and a Laura Mercier Metallic Creme Eye Colour in the shade 'Alloy', which is a cute grey taupe colour with hints of lilac. My favourite product from the bunch, however, is the All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray by Urban Decay. Sets makeup, makes it waterproof and boy, does it last. But more on that in an upcoming blog post! I only bought one skincare product this time. Every time I put the Clear Improvement mask by Origins on my face, I can't help but laugh at the sight of it. (Or is that just me?) It is a charcoal & clay based mask that deep-cleanses pores. The grey stuff does look funny on. Other than that, it's totally 'at-home spa moment' worthy. Finally, my last purchase: the Tangle Teezer! This and #GIRLBOSS were on top of my wishlist. My hair is very dry and brittle, and especially when after washing it is unmanageable. I was hoping the Tangle Teezer would make a difference - luckily it does help!

What is your favourite recent purchase?

12 September 2014

PHILOSOPHY'S PURITY MADE SIMPLE


Rewind to March when I went on a shopping trip to Eindhoven (I feel like I've reached a whole new level of procrastination with this review). While Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser was and is still my number one cleanser, I felt like my skin needed something more effective on days that I was wearing a lot of makeup. When I stumbled upon this large bottle of Purity Made Simple, a multi-purpose facial cleanser by Philosophy, I decided to give it a go.

Purity Made Simple is a 3-in-1 cleanser for face and eyes: it removes makeup, cleanses and hydrates skin in one formula. It should be suitable for sensitive skin, however keep in mind that the product is pretty heavily fragrancedThe scent is sweet, sort of citrusy. I've read mixed reviews by people who got bad breakouts after using this cleanser, but also bloggers praising it as their favourite makeup remover. Personally I haven't noticed any irritation after 5 months of using it. The formula is runny, and at the same time sticky too. I'm so glad for the flip-cap because it allows you to dispense just as much product as neededI always use a micellar water & remove my eye makeup first, so I'm guessing there's about 50% of my makeup left by the time I use the Purity cleanser. I'll massage the product all over my face and add a tiny bit of water about a minute in. Then I remove the residue with a soaked face cloth. As the brand promises, Purity cleanses my skin thoroughly. It is mild and my skin never feels tight afterwards. I still use a toner - force of habit - because it feels refreshing, and a moisturizer afterwards. Like I said, I do use another makeup remover for my eye makeup, but that's because my eyes are very sensitive so I avoid using too many different products on them.

To sum up, for me the Purity Made Simple cleanser is a product I enjoy using. It removes all makeup and doesn't irritate my skin. However, I do still use other moisturizing products because my skin needs extra hydrating, especially with the different climate here in Finland. One thing to consider before buying this is that it contains a lot of perfume, so if your skin reacts to those ingredients, it might be a good idea for you to try the sample version first. For those interested, the Purity Made Simple cleanser also comes in a very large bottle of 240 ml, which I have here, for about 20 euros. That may seem like a lot of money but this amount will last you a long time because you'll need little product with every use.

4 September 2014

MAC PRO LONGWEAR CONCEALER

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I am one of those people who's been blessed with dark undereye circles from a young age. Sometimes they get a bit out of control and they turn all shades of purple and blue. No big deal - although it's nice to know which products can help make them less obvious (this picture never fails to make me laugh). The Pro Longwear concealer by MAC Cosmetics does a pretty good job at hiding those dark circles.

The bottle of Pro Longwear concealer you see above is in the shade NW15. Normally I'd have to go for products with yellow undertones to match my skin tone, but to get rid of the blue/purpleish pigment around my eyes, a concealer with pink undertones is a better option. This is heavy duty, full-coverage stuff. On top of foundation it cancels out pretty much all blue/purpleness and worn on its own it's awesome too. At the moment NW15 is a bit too light for me, however I like that it brightens the undereye area. I apply a tiny amount in a reverse-triangle shape and then I pat the product into my skin using a Zoeva Concealer Buffer brush or my fingers. Thanks to the runny consistency, you'll only need to apply a very thin layer and build up where needed. It's important to do this carefully, because like with other base products, it will be noticeable if you've put too much on. It takes a few minutes for the concealer to set, which should be long enough to blend.


Whereas the product is easy to work with, I did struggle with the packaging for a while. The small bottle looks sleek and nice, but the pump it comes with is nothing but trouble. It dispenses enough to use on several people rather than one; obviously that's too much, which means a lot of the product goes to waste. After months of having the Pro Longwear concealer, I still hope for the MAC gods to be in my favour each time I'm about to use it. For a long time I stored the leftover product in a sample jar and used it up the next day, but the consistency just wasn't the same. Don't get me wrong, this is one of the better concealers I've tried for the undereye area, but that pump makes me sad. From what I've heard, everyone hates the pump. So please, MAC, hear our prayers and do something about the packaging!