“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
An effective, minimalistic diy facemask with scientific backup that takes only one(!) ingredient next to water: Oatmeal (aka Avena Sativa). Preferably finely milled to colloidal oatmeal. Who knew that grandmother’s old house remedy turns out to be so much more effective than most pricey beauty products. I must admit I was a little surprised. There are a lot of things in oatmeal which make it a great face mask. Starch, lipids, proteins, and beta-glucan (a polysaccharide) serve both to keep water inside and on top of your skin. Oatmeal has also been shown to normalize the pH of your skin and protect it a little bit from harmful UV rays (read more here). The best about it? It is very, very low irritating and allergenic sensitizing (see here).
Additionally you can find research implying it is a great remedy for atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and drug-induced rash (e.g. 1, 2, 3) mostly because of one attractive component of oats: chemicals called avenanthramides (see picture above for one of them, Avenanthramide B). These only make up 0.03 per cent of dry oatmeal by weight, but are powerful antioxidants, and have strong anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. Aventhramides seem to act as a soothing agent to relieve itch and irritation (read here and here). I think that is a lot of efficiency for a 20ct-worth face mask compared to the average face care product. Oatmeal is a healthy snack, too! It helps you to curb your appetite and leaves you satiated for a while(see here). Well, I am pretty sure tomorrow i am going to eat my morning porridge with much more enthusiasm. Best, Ea Birkkam.
“It is impossible to create beloved objects because it is dependent on individual, personal experiences. But I love the idea that maybe at a certain point our bags and accessories become somebody’s beloved object.” Philipp Bree
Minimalism, longevity, quality. Philipp Bree, the son of famous german minimalist bag brand Bree, makes one of my most desired bags. His inspiration is the love towards ‘beloved objects’ like the one bag his father gave him when young and the possibility to bequeath and survive more than one generation. The requirements for a bag to last that long are the quintessence of his brand pb0110. Considering the longevity of the bags a price starting from 500 Euros is adequate and most of the designs are so simple and minimalistic that you probably find yourself wearing everyday.
In an Interview with sleek-mag he said following about the brand’s choice of materials: “We use only vegetable tanned leather from Belgium, pure brass fittings and 100 per cent linen both from Tuscany, Italy. In that case we do not look right or left and just work with these essential materials.” I am fascinated by the brand’s positive tunnel vision regarding the materials they use and see both a manifestation of minimalism and tradition in it. Best, Ea Birkkam.
“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark” Stephen Hawking
Last time a friend of mine told me about his new beautysecret: BIOEFFECT EGF Serum. When i looked it up online it immediately got my attention both with its super minimalistic product design and the immaculate ingredients. Their main ingredient (one of the only 9!) is EGF or epidermal growth factor which acts as a cell-activator and literally accelerates the cell turnover rate which is important for skin density and a young-looking skin (read more). What excites me is the paper i found that indicates EGF does a great job deminishing acne (read here). To extract the substance BIOEFFECT developed a smart derivation from icelandic barley in a collaboration with Sif Cosmetics, daughter of ORF Genetics. I found an abstract from japanese research (see here) that mentioned there is evidence for effectiveness of EGF applied on skin in combination with a vacuum/laser device (Isolaz).
By the way: If you think you have only one option keep looking. There is a big boom for EGF face care and you find a great amount of new startups (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) using all kinds of cytokines (small proteins released by cells to affect the behavior of other cells). Of course there needs to be done more research about EGF before we start to glorify it as the new holy chalice of everlasting youth and imagining a 6045 dalton polypeptide possibly penetrating the skin seems out of the question. If you still feel excited about EGF i tagged your best bets on the right bar since i compared the ingredients, price and packaging of all the EGF serums i found. Best, Ea Birkkam.
“Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.” Linda Breen Pierce
Minimalism and a limited budget. It sounds like a challenge since cheap clothes oftentimes look both tacky and poorly processed. I think you can easily minimalize your wardrobe to a few quality shirts from COS (approx. 25 dollars each) and 2-3 compatible trousers/jeans (i suggest COS or Acne sale, both often reduces the 70-100 dollars jeans to half the price). Thinking about all the students and teenager who want to save a few bucks and only have their pocket money: Here is a small selection of full outfits and minimalist accessory that i find remarkably elegant and sophisticated. Best, Ea Birkkam
“The conscious mind may be compared to a fountain playing in the sun and falling back into the great subterranean pool of subconscious from which it rises.” Sigmund Freud
While they researched on regenerative energy sources made of microalgae, San Francisco based biochem startup Solazyme came across an ingredient that, according to them, might have significant anti-aging properties: Alguronic Acid. A broad mix of polysaccharides produced by microalgae. The structure of the molecule is a little more complex than the one of Hyaluronic Acid, which found its way in our cosmetics a few years ago but it has a similar hydrating feeling. According to Algenist officials, alguronic acid was better than the other compounds in inhibiting the formation of melanin, a pigment that creates age spots (and a tan, beach bronze girls beware); increasing the production of elastase (contributes to skin firmness and elasticity); diminishing the production of elastase (enzyme that breaks down elastin) and decreasing inflammation in skin tissues exposed to UV rays.
Algenist’s tests were conducted in vitro, which means using human tissue made in lab, and all in all it may sound very promising but hence the fact there is no independent research on beneficial effects of Alguronic Acid skin critics (see here and here) and me are not very intrigued on spending up to $65 for their eye renewal balm to $135 for their anti-aging moisturizer, but reviews of The Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum were quite promising (see here), probably because it contains the highest concentration of the active microalgae ingredient and niacinamide out of any of the Algenist products (niacinamide has been clinically proven to treat hyperpigmentation, soften skin and to eliminate mild cases of acne). For scientific reviews of the other products you should check out Paula’s Choice list, which is gives a short overview of the products’ ingredients. Big props for the minimalist product design, Ea Birkkam.
“Must we either drift aimlessly through lack of reflection or sink in pessimism as the result of reflection? No. We must indeed attempt the limitless ocean, but we may set our sails and steer a determined course.” Albert Schweitzer
A deep love for the ocean and mysterious island fog jungles. Indonesia seems just like the perfect place to live for hobby photographer and professional cameraman Hengki Koentjoro as it is the biggest archipelago nation on earth with more than 13,000 islands. With splendid underwater shots like this and this, soft seascapes and one of the most stunning jungle photographies i had a very hard time picking only 6 samples of his work. In a 2012 Interview with ND magazine he mentioned following about his choice of shooting monochromatic: “The ability to play around with tones and create an atmospheric photograph is the reason to choose monochrome. It is more pliable therefore more freedom in expressing your idea. With the Zone System by Ansel Adam, you are in practice of seeing thing around you in monochrome or learning to see in black and white. This will help a lot in choosing your proper subject matter and forecasting how it’ll look letter on postproduction.”(read the whole thing here) Best, Ea Birkkam.
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.” Edgar Allan Poe
Relaxation is so important in life. Oftentimes people are confronted with stressful situations like frustration, sad feelings or overwork and knowing your own limits, weakness and ways to invigorate can be crucial to your mental health. My personal preference is a long walk in fresh air and to resort to cozy surroundings (e.g. my bed) and pamper myself with various treasures like french tea or a bath with exotic oils. Oh, and there is a world of beautiful books that just wait to be read.
Fully faineant, Ea Birkkam.
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” Leonardo da Vinci
Randomly looking for new promising foundations i came across the brand Astalift, which has one ingredient i recognized from my university lectures about color chemistry in nature: Astaxanthine. It is a member of the carotenoid family, a dark red pigment and the main carotenoid found in algae (see picture above) and aquatic animals such as krills (read more here). If you ever wondered why your shellfish turn pink in hot water or where the salmon meat color comes from, it is all ascribable to Astaxanthine. So what is it allegedly doing in our foundation?
It is primarily a powerful antioxidant. It has the capacity to quench free radicals and reactive species of oxygen and to inhibit lipid peroxidation and there are studies that have shown astaxanthin 500 times stronger than vitamin E and much more potent than other carotenoids such as lutein, lycopene and beta-carotene. Astaxanthin found inside cells protects against oxidative damage by three general mechanisms: Quenching of singlet oxygen (read here why possibly bad for skin) and dissipating the energy as heat, scavenging of radicals to prevent or terminate chain reactions and preservation of membrane structure thereby inhibiting membrane lipid peroxidation. I found an abstract (here) that shows success in preventing UV-induced skin damage using a topical application of a liposomal formulation containing Astaxanthin (which can be a foundation, too). It is only soluble in lipids by the way, so if you want to take your Astaxanthin supplement -you may not need if you regularely eat seafood and algae- be sure to not have some kind of fat-free diet. Anyways it still needs more evidence and research to fully convince me to buy a 50 dollar créme or makeup but it seems like a nice promising basic antioxidant ingredient to me. Best, Ea Birkkam.
“The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing.” Sigmund Freud
A beautiful, healthy tan. A nice dark Victoria Secret-like tan requires no sun at all anymore but a can of spray tan. There are various different ingredients serving as tanning agents but there is one that finds its way on most products’ INCI labels: DHA or Dihydroxyacetone, a simple, non-toxic three-carbon ‘sugar’. So how does it work on the skin? The very basic principles are the same as a cut apple staying a little too long in the air. Amino acids interact with sugars to create brown or golden brown compounds, we call this kind of reaction Maillard reaction. Currently it is defined as the reaction of the amino group of amino acids, peptides, or proteins with the glycosidic hydroxyl group of sugars, forming brown products referred to as melanoidins. And there we have the dark tint on our skin. There is only one common ‘skepticism’ that i hear so often: “But doesn’t it turn your skin orange?” Yes and no, and that is where we have to be a little smart.
Only the monomeric form of DHA undergoes the Maillard reaction that leads to tanning and biproducts like Glyceraldehyde (an orange light oily six-membered H-bonded conformation of DHA) and the other dimeric forms of DHA want to be avoided. So there are a few tricks that can ensure your tan develops its best: Don’t use your product in combination with very alkaline or let’s say ‘soapy’ products, DHA requires a slightly acidy surrounding to develop its best and your skin -not fresh from the shower- is a great base for it, so put at least 4 hours before and 4 hours after your application of the self tanner and a shower and happily use the skins own buffer to achieve the optimal pH of 5-6. Another tip: Don’t carry your self tanner or DHA product in your beach bag that might get hot in the sun and store it in a cool, dark place. DHA is not stable over 40°C, temperature-dependent spectra have indicated that increasing the temerpature favored the formation of glyceraldehyde (see here). One last thing you: never forget your SPF. There are studies that have shown that DHA-treated is especially sensitive for a day after self-tanner application and excessive sun exposure should be avoided and sunscreen should be worn outdoors. An antioxidant cream could also minimize free radical production. Another study though showed a 3% DHA solution overnight provides SPF of at least 3 in the UVB region and SPF of 10 in UVA region on skin treated with a 15% solution of DHA (read more here). But most of self tanners only have 3-5% DHA formulations, so it isn’t a compeating fact to the sun-sensitivity. Save your skin, Ea Birkkam.
“An optimist is a man who orders dozens of oysters, planning to pay them with the pearl he might find.”
Plastic, minimalism and wind movements. I recently came across a quite talented photographer who was growing up in southern Poland and now lives in Hawaii. Rafal Maleszyk already recieved quite an amount of awards for his work (see here) and it is more than justified. I really like the way he focuses on basic things like weather conditions or just simply air. There is a dark ambience in his pictures that seem to signalize the dreary conquest of nature by men.
Here is what he mentioned about his own photography in his blog: “I enjoy creating long exposure ocean-scapes, this is when I am not entirely in the control of what the sensor will record. Plastic interconnects with the motion of the ocean, wind and waves producing unpredictable effect. Wind plays a huge role, as well as reflection of the light in the plastic. In plastic landscape you can really see the air.” (Read more here) Again i have to limit myself to about six samples of his great work, which is a little difficult, i hope you get the idea. Best, Ea Birkkam.
today: garments that move in the wind and sheer beneaths