Brand Overview: Gruum

Inspired by Scandinavian ideals, British selfcare brand Gruum aims to create purposeful products without gimmicks and labels. Their products are created cruelty-free and are for everyone.

Even their packaging is simple and it really called out the small minimalist voice deep inside me.

Kori, their vegan exfoliating face wash contains orange, eucalyptus, and witch hazel to balance and soothe the skin. It has a gel consistency which feels gentle, even with the exfoliating bits it has. It cleanses the skin without leaving it feeling tight but I personally prefer a foaming cleanser to be used every day. I have this one in my office desk for emergencies though.

Their face toner Gösta has witch hazel, chamomile, and rosemary to reduce shine, prevent clogged pores, and refresh the skin. This stung at first but it subsides after a few seconds. It refreshes and cleanses the skin of impurities a cleanser couldn’t remove. This is a bit strong for every day so, I like using this when my skin is acting up.

To moisturize, Kåre contains rosemary, sage, and green tea go protect and moisturize the skin. This is a very straightforward vegan moisturizer. Its only aim is to moisturize the skin. I like that it doesn’t promise to do anything else. True to its claim, this feels like how a typical moisturizer would feel. Personally, I prefer a more hydrating moisturizer that will manage my #oilyskin but this would work to those with normal skin types.

They also have a coffee body polish aptly named Skrub, which comes in three variants – original, coconut, and strawberry. This body scrub promises to exfoliate, nourish, and illuminate the skin.

Strawberry is a favorite because I love strawberries and I’ve never had a strawberry-scented scrub before. It does smooth and exfoliates the skin with the coarse scrubs that amazingly feels gentle on the skin. My only gripe about this though is about how much mess it creates in the shower. It leaves my tiles stained so I need a few minutes to clean up after showering.

They also have a Shaving Kit that contains Oska, the razor handle made of zinc alloy, Osku, the blade razor ( I have mine in Max 5, which are 5 thin platinum-coated blades) that uses the brand’s Glydå roll system to smooth the skin and provide a closer cut, and Danne, a vegan shave gel that has aloe vera to soothe, witch hazel for its antibacterial properties, and orange for an uplifting sensation. I use this to shave my legs and the ergonomic design of the razor makes it easy to remove hair in one shave. Combined with the #shavegel, which feels light on the skin, the shaving process feels smooth and relaxing.

Its minimalist packaging comes with straightforward products that will be enjoyed by someone who wants a no-frills skincare product.

The Gruum Kori, Gösta, Kåre, Skrub, Oska, Osku, Danne were provided by @gruum. Available at gruum.com

Cult Favorite: Caolion Pore Blackhead Steam Pack and Pore Original Pack Duo

One of the first brands in South Korea to release products that are made without artificial color, fragrance, and alcohol, K-Beauty brand Caolion aims to unclog and minimize pores while maintaining balance to the skin. Their products are also made without parabens, dyes, and mineral oil.

Their Pore Blackhead Steam Pack and Pore Original Pack Duo promises to detoxify the skin using a Pore Blackhead Steam Pack ($23) that cleanses pores by removing blackheads, whiteheads, dead skin cells, and pore-clogging sebum using charcoal, sparkling water, and natural grain powder. This is easy to apply and with just a small amount of it, you can evenly distribute it on your face. After applying and massaging it for 1-2 minutes, the mask felt warm on my face and left my skin deeply cleanse and soft.

It also the Pore Original Pack ($21) that works to tighten and minimize pores using a natural cooling agent, alaskan glacial water, and menthol. This, on the other hand, feels cool and soothing as it tightens on the skin. It feels very exfoliating. It removes all excess oil, which works for my oily skin. However, this might feel a bit drying for other skin types.

This face mask duo will work to those who are prone to get blackheads and clogged pores as it deeply cleanses the skin. I like using this on days when I feel like my skin needs some deep cleansing.

The Caolion Pore Blackhead Steam Pack and Pore Original Pack Duo was provided by @caolion. Available for $27 at caolion-usa.com

Makeup Review: First Aid Beauty Hello Fab Pores Be Gone Matte Primer with Fig Extract, Hello Fab Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer, and Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer SPF30

First Aid Beauty sent me two primers and you bet your ass I tried the matte one first.

The Hello Fab Pores Be Gone Matte Primer with Fig Extract promises to be an oil-free, matte primer that blurs pores and grips makeup using, you guessed it, fig extract. It also contains nordihydroguaiaretic acid and oleanolic acid to control oil, salicylic acid to improve skin texture, and mineral silica for a soft-focus finish. This amazingly has a creamy texture, almost like a light moisturizer, but it applies thinly and mattifies the skin. It blurs pores subtly as well. I really like using this on warm days because it hydrates the skin and blurs texture at the same time. It’s not as matte or as blurring as my other primers but it’s good enough base for light everyday makeup.

A primer that aims to brighten, hydrate, and smooth the skin, the Hello Fab Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer ($28) uses coconut water, quinoa protein, and a blend of zinc, copper, magnesium, iron, silica. It also contains micro-pearls for a luminous look. Based on the description, it seems heavy but it’s not. It’s creamy, yes, but it feels light on the skin. It has a dewy finish so I like using this when I use an extremely matte foundation for a more natural look. I also reach for this on days when it’s colder because it provides that healthy look to my skin.

They also sent the Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer SPF30 ($28), which works to hydrate and soothe the skin while providing a luminous finish using colloidal oatmeal, hyaluronic acid, vitamin e, micro-pearls. I like how this has SPF but it feels a bit thick for my skin. True to its claim, it gives a luminous finish, which for my oily skin, takes a bit of getting used to. My face won’t feel greasy but it’s really luminous. I go for this on times when I want to look a beacon of light, which has its advantages, especially on days when I am looking dull and sallow.

I like how these products are all light and how much they advocate radiance to the skin, whether you prefer a moisturizing or a matte finish or you want SPF. I feel like there is something for everyone here. I still prefer the Hello Fab Pores Be Gone Matte Primer with Fig Extract over the Hello Fab Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer on a normal day but the Priming Moisturizer has its target audience. The Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer SPF30, on the other hand, are for days you want to protect and perfect your skin but still look like you had a good sleep the night before.

The First Aid Beauty Hello Fab Pores Be Gone Matte Primer with Fig Extract, Hello Fab Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer, and Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer SPF30

These products were provided by @firstaidbeauty. Available at firstaidbeauty.com

Brand Overview: Ogee

Using jojoba oil as a hero ingredient, the vegan skincare products from Ogee promises to restore the natural beauty of the skin from within. My experience with jojoba oil has been a bit of a hit or miss but these certified organic and cruelty-free products housed in luxurious bottles looked too good to ignore.

The Gentle Glow Cleansing Cloths ($19 for 3 pack 10) aims to cleanse, hydrate, and exfoliate the skin with plant-fiber, microporous cloths, drenched in jojoba oil, aloe vera juice, and botanically derived AHAs. I prefer cleansing balms to remove makeup but this comes in handy for times I want to remove my makeup in the middle of the day at work. The cloths are soft and smooth and they leave my skin fresh and cleansed afterward. It feels gentle and moisturizing as well.

Using boswellia tree extract, the Liquid Gold Cleansing Oil ($85) removes makeup with restoring the natural hydration of the skin. This smells like a garden, which of course I like. It’s thicker than most of the cleansing oils I usually prefer but my face always feels cleansed and taut after using this. It was able to easily remove cream products and my eyeliner with a few strokes. Since the consistency is a bit thicker, I put some pressure into mixing this with a bit of water to rinse, though.

Claiming to be an anti-aging serum, the Seeds of Youth Serum ($98) works to hydrate, boost radiance, and firm the skin using edelweiss plant stem cell, hyaluronic acid, and cold-pressed jojoba oil. This feels very light on the skin. It doesn’t leave a tacky finish and sinks into the skin after a few minutes. However, it feels a bit heavier than I’d like so I only use this at night. I used this for more than a month and it did help hydrate the skin. However, the thing that I liked best about this is how radiant my skin looks the morning after. I will be using this again once it gets colder as I feel like this would work best for my oily skin once the temperature drops again.

The Jojoba Glow Face Oil ($64) is designed to moisturize, restore, and smooth the skin using jojoba oil. I like using this on the dry patches of my skin. After a few days, it would soften and smooth those areas so I would say this does what it claims to do.

For the price, these products would work best to those whose skin responds positively to jojoba and those with dry skin. For my oily skin, however, I would like to use these again, especially the Seeds of Youth Serum, come the colder months.

The Ogee Gentle Glow Cleansing Cloths, Liquid Gold Cleansing Oil, Seeds of Youth Serum, and Jojoba Glow Face Oil were provided by @ogee. Available at ogee.com

Skincare Review: Taila Nava Jungol and Prana Oil

Combining spices, blooms, and woods with Ayurvedic practices, Taila Skincare promises effective and #crueltyfree products that also help educate children in partnership with Shanti Bhavan.

Aiming to detoxify, exfoliate, and restore balance to the skin, the Nava Jungol Detoxifying Mask ($68) contains honey, black cumin seed, turmeric, and pomegranate.

The face mask has an earthy scent that’s a bit strong but it doesn’t linger after rinsing. Upon application, there’s a tingling sensation that transforms into a soothing one after a few minutes. It leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth. This would be great for those who are looking for a gentle detoxifying mask.

The Prana Face Oil ($102) claims to minimize fine lines, diminish dark spots, and hydrate and firm the skin with brahmi, amla, rosehip seed oil, and neem.

This face oil has an amazingly light texture, despite the face that it looks heavy in the bottle. It easily sinks into the skin and doesn’t leave it feeling tacky. I still use other products to help diminish dark spots but this mainly helps my skin look smooth and radiant.

I expected to like Nava Jungol but instead adored the Prana Oil as it works well with my oily skin. These products are recommended for those looking for products that are cruelty-free and are made without parabens, artificial colors, synthetic fragrances, and GMOs.

The Taila Nava Jungol and Prana Oil were provided by @tailaskincare. Available at tailaskincare.com