サクラ Cherry Blossom Festival and Hanami 花見 In Japan

I have not been a fan of hanami parties I must admit. I thought they were really overrated, why just sit under a sakura サクラ tree with some food and drinks, it was not at all exciting for me. But 3 years in Japan and hanami is slowly growing on me!! This year I actually attended 5-6 hanami parties. Well I have given into the believe that Cherry blossom period is so short and better to enjoy every moment before the flowers are gone…so much for a mind change!!
Hanami 花見 literally means ” floor viewing”; with a view of castle or river or a temple in the background makes it even more interesting.
You need to check the cherry blossom forecast before you plan your hanami date. Every area has a different time for the full bloom. Cherry blossom festivals take place all over Japan between March to May. Festival dates are usually determined with reference to cherry blossom forecasts and vary from year to year.The slow-moving cherry blossom front (sakura-zensen) is tracked by the Japan Meteorological Agency and moves from south to north as warmer temperatures trigger trees to begin blooming. Hanami typically begins around mid March and lasts until early May with the first blooms appearing on the islands around Okinawa. The last chance to enjoy blooms is typically in cooler, northern parts of Japan such as Hakkaido.
In popular places you need to reserve a picnic spot long before. You can spread your picnic sheet early in the morning and mark it with your groups name and party’s starting time. But generally we see someone from the group ( generally new employees who are not yet good in there job in case of office parties ) waiting there in the cold, sometimes peeling vegetables for a meal of nabhe ( hot-pot) or setting up their barbecue..while the rest of the gang arrives after their work.
But hanami can be done with other simple stuff like onigiri ( rice cake ) or bento ( lunch boxes )
or just get some snacks from the convenience store. Well my hanami mostly consisted of tea and sandwiches and some chocolates thrown in. I am learning the tricks of the trade although slowly..
Alcohol, mainly beer or sake or umeshu or sakura ( cherry blossom flavoured drinks are the popular drinks. In Japan it is legal to drink in public ( Japanese people can behave well even after a couple of drinks ). Well this is everything you need to know about hanami in Japan; so let’s look at some of my hanami pictures taken at Kema Sakuranomiya Park and Utsubo Park in Osaka..
P.S. Don’t forget to get trash bags. Be sure to clean your spot. If you don’t be ready to get some angry stares.

Sakuranomiya park, Osaka

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Cherry blossom

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Kema Sakuranomiya park, Osaka

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Cheery Blossom Osaka

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Zara Jacket

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GAP sweater

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Marc Jacobs iphone cover

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Cherry Blossom Festival Osaka

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Kema Sakuranomiya Park

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GU Japan

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Sweater – GAP, 30 $ on Sale, 2014;
Skirt – H&M, 26 $, 2011; also worn here
Jacket – Zara, 130 $ ( gift from mom ), 2013, also worn here;
Shoes – H&M, 50 $, 2014; aslo worn here;
Bag – GU, 20 $, 2013; also worn here;
Sunglasses – Marc Jacobs, 130 $, 2013; also worn here;

Hanami

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Cherry Blossom Japan

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Hanami Japan

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cherry blossom tree

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sakura

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sakura

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Cherry Blossom Festival Japan

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sakura tree

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cherry blossom Osaka

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cherry blossom tree

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hanami

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Sakuranomiya Park

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Hanami

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Sakura tree

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hanami

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Outfit of the day

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leather skirt

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Maybelline New York メイベリ ン ニューヨーク Pure Mineral Concealer Review

I bought Maybelline New York メイベリ ン ニューヨーク Pure Mineral Concealer with a free coupon few months back. It is available for 8 $ in Japan. It is available in two shades and I got no.2 which is the darker one. The packaging is like a lip gloss. I like it’s sponge tip applicator. I apply it directly with the applicator then blend it with my fingers. It blends like a dream!!

This Maybelline concealer has medium consistency and it gives a medium coverage. It has a liquidy texture but not runny at all. Also it has a mineral base and it smells like minerals although it is supposed to be fragrance free.  It has 0 % oil and 0 % talc. Some people may not like it as it has macro-minerals, but although I have acne prone skin , it doesn’t  break me out. It doesn’t dry my under eye area.

Maybelline Pure Mineral Concealer

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Maybelline Pure Mineral Concealer

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Maybelline Pure Mineral Concealer

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It has yellow under-tones so its perfect for my complexion. It doesn’t cake up even after 2-3 layers. It is ophthalmologist tested and it doesn’t clog pores. I apply it over my eye cream so it blends very smoothly.

If you want a high coverage concealer it may not be suitable for you. It settles into the fine lines and doesn’t stay on for a long time. I have to re-apply it often but it is still better than my Bobbi brown concealer, as it looks natural and isn’t dry. Will definitely buy it again.

Kawaii かわいい Japanese Stationary Haul

Have you ever been been to a Japanese stationary shop?? You can spend a whole day there. Japanese stores are full of amazing and surprising products that can’t be seen anywhere else. You will be overwhelmed with the amount of kawainess there!! There are a lot of innovative stuff out there but I am fascinated with cute sticky note and note pads these days!! I never seen such amazing and adorable stationary anywhere except Japan. Some of the stationary are really cool and really advanced. There are staplers out there with no pins or pens with the eraser that erase with friction heat!! Once you start using Japanese stationary I am sure you can’t go back to your boring stationary; like me!! So here are some of the stuff I have been collecting over past few months..

Sticky notes and small message cards..

Kawaii Japanese Stationary

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Kawaii Japanese Stationary

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Kawaii Japanese Stationary

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Kawaii Japanese Stationary

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Kawaii Japanese Stationary

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Kawaii Japanese Stationary

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Kawaii Japanese Stationary

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Cat shaped sticky notes from Muji..

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How cute is this caterpillar stapler..

Kawaii Japanese Stationary

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This is just like a correction tape, but you can decorate anything made of paper with this. The tape inside can be replaced and there are variety of cute tapes out there!! It’s a simple yet amazing idea: combine the handy shape of a correction pen with cute rolls of little patterns and you get the perfect tool to decorate your favorite books, letters and more.

Japanese correction tapes

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Japanese Washi tape…cuter version of a masking tape..

Japanese Washi masking tape

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Japanese Washi masking tape

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These erasers look like milk and juice tetra packs!!

cute Japanese erasers

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These paper clips are shaped like Japanese dolls!!

Japanese doll paper clips

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Rubber bands that are so not boring!!

Japanese rubber bands

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So now you know the most important thing to do in Japan; buy some kawaii Japanese stationary!!

Japanese Beauty Product Review : Kanebo Media カネボウ メディア Eyebrow Pencil

I have tried a lot of make up in the past, Japanese beauty products too but honestly I had never tried an eyebrow pencil until I bought Kanebo Media Eyebrow Pencil home thinking it to be an eyeliner. You can blame my poor Japanese skills or my poor eye sight..but I couldn’t see eyebrow pencil written on it!! But nonetheless I am hooked on to grooming my eyebrows since then…so much that if you ask me two things that I will do before leaving the house if I am dead for time…first will be apply concealer and second will be fill my brows. A good eyebrow makes so much of a difference!! At least to me!!

It is a nice pencil with twist up applicator. It is very creamy still doesn’t break. As it has a fine tip it is easy to use and doesn’t go out of the eyebrows. It stays all day on me and fills any sparse or un even areas perfectly.

Japanese Beauty Product : Kanebo Media カネボウ メディア Eyebrow Pencil

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Japanese Beauty Product : Kanebo Media カネボウ メディア Eyebrow Pencil

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Japanese Beauty Product : Kanebo Media カネボウ メディア Eyebrow Pencil

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The shade I have is called black ( BK ) but it is not very dark black, more like a greyish black. I like my eyeliner really dark, but for eyebrows I prefer little greyish black otherwise it makes my face look too harsh!!

It is a good buy as a little product goes a long way. And for a decent price of 6 $ it is not bad. And my last word of wisdom; It is better to chooses a brow colour that is a shade lighter than your hair colour!!

Schwarzkoft Professional シュワルツコフ プロフェッショナル Silhouette Pure Formula Invisible Hold Hair Spray Review

Schwarzkoft Professional シュワルツコフ プロフェッショナル Silhouette Pure Formula Invisible Hold Hair Spray claims “Silhouette hair spray is widely known as a hair spray classic with a proven track record of reliability. It’s the Silhouette best seller. Super strong hold without stickiness. Ultimate long-lasting style and support. Micro-fine hairspray that doesn’t overburden.” It is the most popular hairspray among the salon professionals.

It smells great ( like men’s product ) and I think that is the only benefit compared to this.

Schwarzkoft Professional Silhouette Pure Formula Invisible Hold Hair Spray

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Schwarzkoft Professional Silhouette Pure Formula Invisible Hold Hair Spray

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Schwarzkoft Professional Silhouette Pure Formula Invisible Hold Hair Spray

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Schwarzkoft Professional Silhouette Pure Formula Invisible Hold Hair Spray

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Schwarzkoft Professional Silhouette Pure Formula Invisible Hold Hair Spray

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It is heavy on hair. It makes hair crunchy. It gives a shine-less matte finish. It is impossible to re-style…of course you can comb your hair through the hair spray but that breaks the hair spray and leaves yucky white residue. It is an extreme control hair spray and it clumps the hair strands together. It definitely holds the hair throughout the day, extreme control definitely it is!!

If I spray on my roots and tease my hair for some volume, my hair stays like that for maybe 30 minutes then just falls flat ( it is cold in Japan so no chance of blaming it on the humidity ).

It costs 16 $ for 295 ml so obviously it is not a cheap product. It leaves white flakes on hair just in one spray and sometimes it is too much and too embarrassing!! Definitely not buying it again!!

Things to do in Osaka : Afternoon Tea @ Harmonie Embrassee Umeda ホテル アルモニー アンブラッセ 大阪

I am always on a look out for restaurants serving afternoon tea. I love going out for afternoon tea and if it is a buffet..nothing like that!! A great tea selection, finger sandwiches and petit cakes – there is nothing more fancy and lady like. I have already been here and here before so last weekend I tried Harmonie Embrassee in Chayamachi Umeda ホテル アルモニー アンブラッセ 大阪 . They have a buffet from 2 – 4 pm in their restaurant “Rayon”. It is not exactly a buffet as they serve on the table ( they don’t have enough space ) but you can eat as much as you want..so that technically makes it a buffet. They have an open seating too but it is still too cold in Japan to sit out. They have a wine cellar on one wall and large windows on one that offer great views of Osaka!!

They start with serving you five different types of tea for tasting. They have peach, rose, black, milk and the last one I don’t remember. After the tasting you can order whatever tea you prefered. Following that they get cookies, scones and a two tier tray with sandwiches, macaroons and cakes. They also serve you meat cuts on the table itself. I don’t eat fish so that cut down on a lot of my options but they were sweet enough to change my tuna sandwich to a ham one. Food was good but it didn’t match a five star standard like this. Sadly for me I didn’t feel like eating a lot that day and they kept asking if I would like something else. Will definitely visit again with a bigger appetite some day..
It is a great deal for 3675 Yen or 37 $ per person, but only if you have a big appetite..

P.S. Outfit pictures for those who visit my blog only for what I am wearing:)) followed by some food pictures..

Cut-out boots

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Zara dress

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Zara dress

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Leather jacket

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cut-out boots

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Zara dress

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Leather jacket

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cut - out boots

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H&M rings

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monochrome dress

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Dress – Zara, 40 $ on Sale, 2013, also worn here;
Shirt – Bershka, 40 $, 2012, also worn here;
Jacket – GU, 24 $, 2011, also worn here;
Boots – H&M, 50 $, 2014;
Bag – DKNY, gift , 2013, also worn here;
Sunglasses - Natural Beauty Basic, 10 $(on Sale), 2013, also worn here;
Rings – H&M, 15 $ for a pack of 5, 2013;

Afternoon Tea @ Harmonie Embrassee Umeda

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Afternoon Tea @ Harmonie Embrassee Umeda

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Afternoon Tea @ Harmonie Embrassee Umeda

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Afternoon Tea @ Harmonie Embrassee Umeda

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Afternoon Tea @ Harmonie Embrassee Umeda

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Afternoon Tea @ Harmonie Embrassee Umeda

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Afternoon Tea @ Harmonie Embrassee Umeda Osaka

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Afternoon Tea @ Harmonie Embrassee Umeda OSAKA

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How to get rid of blackheads : エチュード ハウス Etude House Black Head Heating Deep Clean Gel Review

I picked up Etude House Black Head Heating Deep Clean Gel randomly from the Etude House エチュード ハウス shop along with other products ( check out my haul here ) as I was wondering for a long time about how to get rid of blackheads. I actually wanted a product to take care of my oily nose and bumpy chin. And for 10 $ it didn’t look like a bad deal.
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Etude House claims that the heating part opens up your pores and oil melts the black heads, it is a scrubbing and cleansing agent, the clay ingredient sticks on it and pulls out the dirt and oil to minimise black heads and the mineral part helps you achieve beautiful skin. It has Ghassoul clay that has been used in Morocco and Egypt to maintain beautiful skin. It attaches to excess oil/dirt in one’s pores and reduces them.

It comes in a cute tube with grey and yellow packaging. But it is very tough to squeeze out the product from the tube which is one of the negatives.
It is a milky gel and smells citrusy like oranges. After applying on the skin it heats up, but only for a few seconds. It has small scrubbing particles that help in scrubbing off dead skin and dirt particles. Srubbing particles are of good size, not too thick or not too thin. After massaging the gel on the target areas..you have to leave it for a minute or two. The gel turns into oil and then you have to scrub for a minute and then wash it off.
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It did an average job for the first time..but I still had a lot of blackheads on my nose. So I used it every alternate day for 2 weeks. I noticed that it had made my nose and chin area 80% clearer and softer. But then when I stopped using, it was back to square one.
It might be a great product for immediate results but in the long run I can’t vouch for it. It just cleans the upper part, doesn’t do the deep cleaning unlike the name suggests deep clean gel. I won’t re- purchase it..it is better to use nose strips or just a normal face scrub!!

Things to do in Japan : Toji Temple, Kyoto 東寺, 京都市

I have never been to so many temples in my entire life than I have visited in Japan in just 3 years. But I need to make full use of my short stint in Japan. Also in this case the main attraction was a flea market held on the first Sunday of every month. Well..I am talking about Toji temple in Kyoto 東寺, 京都市.
When we reached there it was already 3 pm and most of the shops were closing down (they open at 5 am!!) So we looked around the giant pagoda and the temple and took some pictures in the garden which had plum blossoms and some orange trees. And like all Buddhist temples it had a pond with turtles and fishes. Toji Temple is one of Kyoto’s many UNESCO world heritage sites. The pagoda of Toji is five stories high, and is the tallest wooden tower in Japan. We saw everything in about an hour and headed back to Kyoto station to have a late lunch at a Chineese restaurant in Kintetsu Mall and browse around. After zen therapy it was time for some retail therapy!!

Zara Jacket

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Jacket – Zara, 130 $ ( gift from mom ), 2013, also worn here;
Pants – Zara, 30 $ on sale, 2014;
Sweater – South Extension (Delhi), 10 $, 2003;
Shoes – Converse, 24 $, 2008, also worn here;
Clutch – Azul by Moussy, 40 $, 2003, also worn here;
Sunglasses – Mango, 13 $, 2011, also worn here;

Zara Jacket

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Zara Jacket

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How to wear Converse?

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Zara olive pants

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Mango sunglasses

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Azul by Moussy clutch

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Zara olive pants

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Toji temple

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Toji temple

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Zara Jacket

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flea market

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flea market

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Toji temple

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Toji temple

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Toji temple

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Toji temple

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Toji temple

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Toji temple

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Toji temple

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Toji temple

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Toji temple

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Zara Jacket

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Lakme All In 1 Instant Skin Stylist SPF 20 CC Cream ( CCクリーム ) Review

I bought Lakme All in 1 Instant Skin Stylist SPF 20 Complexion Care Cream when I went to India last year in November. For those who don’t know CC creams ( CCクリーム )or complexion care creams are an improved version of BB creams. BB creams don’t work for all skin tones and are not available in many shades. They don’t provide enough coverage…so here enters a cc cream. These creams give a radiant look and they contain collagen to give skin a smooth and plump appearance. They are lighter and less oilier. They brighten dull skin by diffusing pigment particles and have superior skin care benefits like spot treatment, improving skin tone, skin texture etc. They contain botanical ingredients that improve and repair the skin. Lakme CC cream is not exactly a cc cream as it doesn’t have all the ingredients and benefits of a CC cream, but still, it is a good product.

Lakme cc cream

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Lakme cc cream

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It instantly protects, evens skin tone, conceals and freshens. It comes in two shades – Beige and Bronze. Bronze is yellower than Beige. I got the Bronze one in a 30 ml pack for 4 $. The packaging is adorable with a convenient light golden tube with silver cap and pink details whereas the box is totally pink with golden letters. It contains glycerin that moisturises the skin and doesn’t dry it. It contains SPF 20. It has a nice lemongrass scent which disappears after some time.

It is a light formula, has a very smooth velvety texture and gets easily absorbed into the skin. It blends easily with the fingers. It conceals almost 80 % of my marks and spots. Rest I can easily hide with a concealer. I love the natural look I can get with this cc cream. Perfect for office and day time wear. It doesn’t feel heavy on the skin and if you don’t over do it, no one can find out if you are wearing makeup!!

Lakme cc cream

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Lakme cc cream

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Lakme cc cream

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It is so hassle free..I reach for it every morning when I need to leave my house at 7.30 a.m. It is faster to apply it than a foundation. For me it is a refreshing change from wearing foundation ( I need to wear foundation as I have a lot of marks on my face ). It stays on for all day. My T-zone gets oilier after some time but I can take care of it with some pressed powder.
Although its a great product but I have noticed that if I take excess product it sometimes end up looking cakey…so now I take a little product first and then I gradually build up if I need more coverage. Also sometimes it gets stuck in my dry patches, so now I ensure that my face is well moisturised before I apply it. But if your face doesn’t have any dry patches this cream is well hydrating just on its own.
Overall it is an awesome product. Do try it.. I am sure you will love it!!

Watch this video if you want to know what else I got from India!!

Bobbi Brown ボビイ ブラウン Creamy Concealer Kit Review

This ボビイ ブラウン Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit includes both concealer and setting powder. It has 1.4 gms of creamy concealer in Beige and Sheer finish press powder in Pale Yellow about 7 gms. I bought it for 30 $ last year but started using it just a month back.
It claims “conceal and set in one portable kit. Bobbi’s creamy concealer blends easily to instantly cover, lift and brighten dark circles. It also helps to maintain skin’s moisture levels for a smooth, virtually line-less look. Fuss-free pressed powder sets concealer for a long lasting wear.”
It comes in a chic black plastic kit. It has a mirror which is very good. But the powder sometimes makes it a very messy affair. Still I carry it everywhere with me just because it is small and sleek.

Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit

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Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit

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I apply the concealer first with my fingers and then set it with the powder using a brush. It claims to maintain the skin’s moisture level but I doubt as the concealer has a little dry texture. It is very heavy on skin too. Powder is fine and translucent. It has an yellow base to neutralise the dark circles and conceal them.
It covers the dark circles well and stays on for a long time but up close you can definitely tell that I am wearing a concealer. I bought in a lighter shade so it makes my under eye area look brighter.
Creamy concealer is sheer so you need to build up. It cakes up immediately and sets into the lines however hard I try to apply. It is a real challenge to apply it and I am still learning.
It should have come with a brush as it is not a cheap product. Also I think that the powder is useless as I can easily use my pressed powder to set it.

Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit

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Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit

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Although its a high coverage concealer and stays on whole day, I didn’t like it much considering the hefty price. It is on the drier side so not moisturising enough for me. Will not purchase it again!!