Saturn Return-ing 30 in Korea

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Saturn Return

This week, I prepare to bid farewell to my roaries twenties and celebrate entry into the dirty thirty club.  This year in particular (29) has been pretty magnificent, but it hasn’t been without heartache and disappointment.  People keep bringing up this idea of Saturn Return .  “The longer, more elaborate version: This is the astrological period of our life when the planet Saturn completes its orbit around the Sun, coinciding with the time of our birth. It happens every 29.5 years, so if you have skated by in your late 20s, this period could get you in your late 50s.”  Is this where the No Doubt album name originated?  Gwen Stefani was 30 or 31 when it was released.  I was obsessed with these tracks.  I was 13 when Return of Saturn was released, but the lyrics seem more relevant now than ever!

I don’t hold steadfast and true to astrology, but one can find poetry and life lessons in just about anything.  The idea that I should learn something from the craziness of my twenties is certainly not lost on me.  While I’ve been a teacher in Korea, life in Seoul in Busan has thrown me some curveballs.  I’d like to share what teaching and living in Korea has taught me in an elementary kind of way.  Here are a few Dr. Seuss memes to, pardon the pun, bring it all full circle.

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I’ve Learned to Love My Body

Being naked isn’t a crime.  Ajummas (the old gals) at jimjilbangs (bath houses/ spas) strut around, full bush and fupas out with pride.  They don’t give a rat’s ass about my curvy stomach and hips or my prickly legs.  I’ve worked hard to drop the weight I gained after joining the workforce and quitting my varsity days.  Now I’m in the maintenance stage which means I really have to dedicate quite a bit of time and energy to not balloon again.  I have to nourish my body even if that means being a hunter for protein and veggies at my own grocery store.  Now that I’m mere days away from 30, I know I’m never going to be perfect.  Getting a luxurious facial or massage is allowed and should damn well be in the budget.  If I want to get botox or lip injections then that’s my own personal choice.  Through fitness, nutrition, a Korean skin care regime, and time to treat myself I aim to strike a balance.  I strive to be a better me than yesterday.

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What the Fuck is this Shit?

Sometimes you’re just not going to have a damn clue what’s on your plate, written on a kid’s test, or walking down a runway.  Just learn to roll with it.  There’s no point in getting up in arms over something you don’t understand.  Culturally – take some time to do some research if you’re even feigning an interest.  If you’re living in or even just visiting another country, their customs will likely be foreign to you.  Try to figure ’em out.  If it’s just some other expat prick leaving you scratching your head – dealbreaker.  Move the fuck along.

 

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Tough Memories

Is dating shitty guys all part of Saturn Return?  Looking back on Taipei and Tokyo suuuuuucks.  I remember the amazing moments we shared and the distances we traveled together.  I try to see the silver lining in it all, but it’s not easy especially when I’m pinpointing the exact moments in Tokyo when he was texting his…less than reputable woman.  The best I can do is reflect on the good times and, instead of looking for negatives, think of learning opportunities for the future.  I got to feel the bliss of romance in Taiwan and Japan.  That’s pretty rad.

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Ghosting

A decent person will respond when txted, messaged, or called.  Don’t give out your phone number if you have no intention of ever seeing the person again.  If you’ve had interactions you don’t want to continue, find a nice way to tell the person.  It’s one thing to have a friendship or dating situation fizzle out, but hiding behind technology is so cowardly.

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No Fucks Left

Guys, I’m 30.  I’m exhausted.  This isn’t my first rodeo.  If you’re a flakey friend or a douchey date I’m over it.  I have zero fucks (red, blue or otherwise) left to give.  Sorry if that offends you, but I’m just outta chances to hand out.

  • If he’s not giving me what I need, I should just move on.
  • I’m not going to change him.  If he wants to become a better version of himself he will.  If I can help…great!
  • Change yourself for yourself.  Never change for him.

 

 

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On the Subject of Impact

Sometimes it’s hard to be a lifestyle blogger with a major focus on dating.  The impact of constantly trying to put myself out there has definitely taken a toll.  Of course I believe in love and want to find the right companion…for me.  The whole idea that I have to work on myself by myself is a little ridiculous, in my opinion.  My gal pals keep telling me to stay single and work on myself.  I think that’s a load of hooey.  I’m definitely a more organized and productive person when in a relationship.  I’m a busy person and I really have to carve out time to spend it with the people I like.  “Love yourself first” is an over-used phrase.  I love myself just fine, thank-you very much.  Why is it that the last three men who have tossed those three little words my way suddenly run in the opposite direction when I finally return their affection and say them back?  I say “I love you” to my friends constantly.  There are plenty of poetic ways to speak and show your affection.  By the time I return home I’ll have no partner and no job.  Will I have prospects?  Who knows…but it’s terrifying to look into the unknown.  Hopefully “terrifying” will be spun as “exhilirating” sometime soon.

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Most People Are Cunts

This, ladies and gentlemen, is truer than true.  While there are some great, salt of the Earth human beings out there, most people are only looking out for #1.  I’ve seen countless men and women be treated like absolute shit because they’re just an option and not a priority.  So much time is wasted because people are shitty to people.  We like to hurt one-another.  Plus, let’s talk bloggers.  I’ve encountered some amazing, supportive women in Korea.  Most people think that expat/ travel/ beauty/ foodie bloggers are all in competition.  That’s not true at all.  If you look through any of my posts here or on The Toronto Seoulcialite you’ll find I try to take any opportunity to link to the supporters in the community.  That said, there are some real assholes around.  I don’t know how I’ve been unable to identify the patterns.  I want to give everyone a fair chance, but it’s exhausting when people want a piece of you for a free hotel stay or meal.  Boys and girls, there’s no such thing as a free meal.  If I’m working in contra with a brand there’s a multi-faceted marketing plan to go along with a post.  You don’t just get to share 1 sly pic on instagram and live a life of luxury.  There’s plenty of work to share around.  Stop being cunts and just support one-another, dammit.

 

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The Internet

Can people on the internet just stop and realise that bloggers are people too?  The number of degrading comments and threats I’ve received for discussing fluffed up dating scenarios is insane.  You can’t take anything some angry troll with a firewall security blanket says seriously.  This one is still something with which I struggle, as these people know exactly who I am (and often where to find me), but they’re safely behind fake profiles with stolen profile pictures (or none at all).  I love to get helpful suggestions from readers.  They’re few and far between, so if you’ve got something then please go ahead and e-mail me or leave it in the comments.  Recently a faceless Korean instagrammer told me to start YouTube as my lengthy posts aren’t always the easiest to understand.  That was a great suggestion!  Telling me to go back to Canada because I’m clearly someone who couldn’t get a job back home?  Not so helpful.  Ps. I was the Director of Sales and Marketing for a group of companies back in Toronto.  I took a major pay cut to come to Korea and don’t regret it for a second.

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Stand Out

In the Apgujeong area of Seoul, Korea, there are so many versions of the same face it’s scary.  I don’t want to look like anyone else.  I want to feel authentic.  I don’t, however, need to have my natural hair colour or bags under my eyes to feel authentic.  If someone is telling me I look tired and should ‘take a rest’, maybe I am tired and should slow down.  Having blonde hair in Korea constantly means I stand out.  Will I keep it back in Canada?  Who knows!  I definitely feel more like myself as a blonde (having gone back to the dark side earlier this year).  I enjoy the liberties Koreans take with style.  Some of the conventions are a little weird (the shortest skirts, most conservative tops, and most heinous shoes).  I hope I can feel free enough to stand out with my own personal style when I go back to Toronto.

 

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Those Who Matter Don’t Mind

I don’t think in 30 years I’ve had a birthday as amazing as this one.  The most important people showed up and completely showered me with love (and food – the true way to my heart and Seoul).  Having all of those people in one room was overwhelming, hysterical, and incredibly fun.  I’m amazed and humbled that I can be the brassy, unapologetically honest, wild, and sensitive person I am with the people I have met in Korea.  We’re never gunna survive unless we get a little crazy, but I know mine can be a lot to handle.  Thank you for showing me all kinds of crazy love.  My Saturn Return feels like a positive renaissance.  Here’s to the next 30.  Peace out, Saturn.

Whoo Spa dominates the VVIP service (K-Pop/ K-Drama Stars) space in Korea as they use the latest technology and have an exclusive, tucked away location...

Eastasy: Whoo Spa & O Hui Skincare

Whoo Spa dominates the VVIP service (K-Pop/ K-Drama Stars) space in Korea as they use the latest technology and have an exclusive, tucked away location...My experience at Whoo Spa O Hui Sinsa Seoul via Eastacy ICE therapy, refresh care, aromatherapy, massage, and facial

I was recently invited to Whoo Spa in ritzy Sinsa right across the street from Garosugil by a company called Eastasy.  They partner with brands and experiences across Asia and offer massive discounts.  After a whirlwind weekend in Taipei, I was definitely due for a massage.  The experience I had at Whoo Spa was very thorough, as is my breakdown!  Leave any questions in the comments and I’ll get back to you shortly…

My "after" picture from my experience at Whoo Spa with Eastasy
Fresh-faced with just a little mascara and lip balm the day after my Refresh Care experience at Whoo Spa in Sinsa (Seoul, Korea) via Eastasy.

Whoo Spa Atmosphere

Whoo Spa (formerly O Hui Spa) in Sinsa dominates the VVIP spa service space in Korea.  They are very popular because they use the most up to date technology to stay current for their clients.  They have a variety of K-Pop Stars and famous American and Korean actors (Kim Tae-Hee and Shin Min-A use O Hui) who visit due to the great service and tucked away location.  They also sell a vast array of high-quality, exceptional skincare products made from South Korean natural medicinal herbs, from luxurious brands such as O HUI, Whoo, and SU:M 37Clients get 25% off products the same day as their service.  Make sure to check out Eastasy for a wicked deal on packages!

The Whoo Spa Treatments

I opted for the Aroma Resfresh Care package (100 minutes).  This package includes a basic facial accompanied by an aromatherapy body massage.  The facial was anything but basic!  It started with a soft, peeling cleansing.  Then, was followed by an exfoliating, deep cleansing, bubbling facial.  I got a face slimming massage, too, which included a decolletage massage.

Upgraded

I was upgraded to the ICE care, which is good for brightening and moisturizing.  This is very similar to a Vitamin C procedure I’ve had previously.  They also offer hot care (for anti-aging), pore tightening, and aqua peeling (generally for patients with acne).  Once my ICE treatment was over, a facial ampoule and an essence was applied, then secured with a molding facial mask pack.  After that, there was revitalizing care before I went on my way.  My back and shoulders were massaged using products from the Gongjinhyang line.  It containes ingredients such as ginseng and cordyceps (a popular fungus used in ancient Chinese medicine).  Throughout the majority of the facial, they places electronic leg and foot boots on and I was treated to a full body experience for the entire two hours.

Personal Preferences

Usually I’m pretty tense when I go for a massage.  I work out quite a bit and lift heavy weights (and all kinds of children daily!).  When I was in Thailand I found that when I asked for medium pressure it just wasn’t enough to get the knots out.  On my questionnaire I still put medium, but the pressure was a lot stronger than I expected.  My masseuse was not shy at all, and whenever she neared my lower back or decolletage I could tell there was certainly no modesty in this treatment.  I would have preferred not to be on a plastic sheet, but I totally understand their hygenic needs.

Whoo Spa dominates the VVIP service (K-Pop/ K-Drama Stars) space in Korea as they use the latest technology and have an exclusive, tucked away location...

Whoo Spa Seoul Massage

There were several areas of my body that could have used very strong pressure: my calves, ankles, and lower back.  I felt like she kind of skimmed those areas focusing primarily on the upper back, middle back, shoulders, and traps.  They needed a lot of attention, but I was much more sensitive in those areas.  I also got a hand massage.  I didn’t realise that I needed one, but it was heaven!

Whoo Spa Seoul Aromatherapy

The aromatherapy aspect of the treatment is not what I expected, and I was glad.  Usually the scents are fairly strong and irritate my allergies.  The earthy, yet still sweet smells were pretty mild.  I got whiffs of honey, lemon, and oaky notes.  If you’ve read my Vineworks Korea article you’ll notice my nose isn’t always spot on, but these pleasant fragrances were neither sickly sweet, nor heavy on the Chinese medicine.  I would likely use them at home, too.

My masseuse used plenty of warm towels (bordering on hot) at the beginning and end of the treatment.  I always want to roll around in warm laundry fresh out of the dryer (I miss dryers living in Korea!) so they felt amazing.  They were also the perfect way to get any remaining oils off before changing and heading home.

 

Whoo (后) SPA (후(后)스파)

Whoo Spa Seoul Facial

My facial was longer than I expected because of the facial massage and surprise upgrade (thank you!).  In terms of the steps, they were pretty similar to what I’ve experienced in the past.  My bubbling, cleansing facial was very effective, however it wasn’t as itchy as I normally find they can be.  I normally have to stay very still or risk 15 minutes of agony wanting to scratch my face.  This was fine.  The ICE facial was a lot colder than I expected.  They placed a cream on my face.  They then pressed a flat, cold, metal plate in circular motions across my whole face.  At some points I questioned the necessity of the low temperature.  They told me this particular one was good for moisture.  They recommended it to me as apparently my skin is quite dry and sensitive.

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Whoo Spa Aftercare

After my 2 hour treatment whizzed by (I totally fell asleep throughout the molding facial), I was taken to a reception area where tea and a small pastry was waiting for me.  The Whoo Spa manager explained that it was very important to rehydrate the skin within a couple of days.  She presented me with 2 samples of Su:m37 ampoule, and a sheet mask from their “white awards” brightening series.

Directions to Whoo Spa (formerly O Hui Spa)

The Spa itself is tucked away across from Hak-dong Park.  It took me a little while to find, so allow yourself plenty of time if you’re not taking a taxi.  They’re open 10:00am-10:00pm, Monday to Sunday.

From Sinsa Station (Seoul Subway Line 3)

Take Exit 1.  Walk straight and turn right before you reach Yeongdong Tourist Hotel.
Continue walking and look for the spa on your left.

From Hak-dong Station (Seoul Subway Line 7) 

Take Exit 6 Walk straight and turn right on the second street.
Continue swalking straight and you’ll find the spa on your right-hand side.

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Big thanks to Eastasy for inviting me to relax my body and revive my skin at Whoo Spa in Sinsa, Seoul, Korea.  This article is in partnership with Eastasy, but all opinions shared with regards to Whoo Spa are my own.  Explore Asia through Eastasy: click here for all kinds of deals on experiences and accomodations in Korea and beyond!

My VIP Facial: IPL in Seoul

My IPL Facial experience at VIP Plastic Surgery in Seoul, South Korea. That Girl Cartier

If you follow my Korean adventures on The Toronto Seoulcialite, you may remember that at the end of July 2016 I got botox.  I think we played a little fast and loose with my forehead, but getting my crows feet taken care of was kind of life changing.  After getting botox I went traveling to Thailand.  Rather than the 29 I had just turned (August 6th), people were guessing that I was somewhere between 22 and 24.  As I edge closer to a single, nomadic 30, this was good news!

In 2015, just before coming to Korea, I was tying up some loose ends and used a gift certificate for and IPL facial in Toronto.  The procedure was only about $150, and I thought I was going in for a lovely, relaxing time.  This was not the case at all.  For 15-20 minutes I had a cold gel all over my face and what felt like a tattoo gun piercing my skin at frequent intervals.  It was one of the most painful beauty experiences of my life, and it’s one I would gladly repeat at bi-annual intervals.  The results were amazing.  My gray, Canadian winter skin had colour again.  My broken capillaries were no longer visible.  My IPL experience in Toronto was horrendous.  This blogger’s experience was like my reaction when I had IPL in Toronto.  Traumatic!  I mean, it worked, but it was so painful!

Fast forward nearly two years to Seoul, Korea.  I decided to face my fears and try it out again.  This time, my IPL in Seoul was done by an actual surgeon (the same one who did my botox, actually).  My IPL in Seoul started differently than in Toronto.  In Toronto, they actually shaved every tiny hair off my face (except for my eyebrows, of course).  Then they applied the gel.  Here, the team was confused as to why I would want them removed.  That made me a bit nervous (I was on edge because of my Toronto experience already), but we went ahead.

I don’t know why I was so worried!  The procedure was a breeze and didn’t hurt a bit.  Once the gel was on and I was comfy, we popped some goggles on and my surgeon got to work.  a device was used to deliver a spectral range of light to my skin.  It felt and sounded like the bright light from school pictures.  The whole thing only took 15 to 20 minutes.  My photofacial IPL in Seoul was such a difference to my hot, tattoo gun experience back home!

IPL treatments can be used to help restore the skin’s youthful appearance as it can remove age spots, sun damage, and redness from broken capillaries (something I struggled with after about 25).  This process is called photo rejuvenation.  Since there’s no down-time, it’s great for people on the go.  I was shopping in Sinsa for a friends birthday immediately after.  It’s a non-invasive procedure (it’s a facial, right?) and this round was quick and gentle.

My IPL in Seoul at VIP Plastic Surgery was 200,00 KRW, however the average price is about 567,174 KRW.  Connect with English-speaking VIP consultants at vipps@vipps.kr

Have you ever had an IPL in Seoul?  What were your experiences here like vs. anywhere else you’ve tried the IPL?  Let us know in the comments below!

Winter Wonderland: Beating Dry Skin in Korea

Miracle 10 Skin Care Yorkville Toronto

From the time I was 8 until I was around 10 years old, I had some strange breakouts that plagued me (and my poor Mother while we were in France!).  I got teased quite a bit because of it.  When kids called me the traditional, silly, childhood names reserved for acne I wasn’t really bothered because they were mislabeling the issue.  They weren’t zits, but nobody really knew what was going on with my face.  At one point it all just cleared up, and since then I’ve always been the kind of person who found pride in being able to wash my makeup off with soap and water and still have pretty flawless skin.

Since coming to Korea, I’ve made much more of an effort to use a proper cleanser to take off my make-up before bed.  Since I’ve started teaching, my crows feet and forehead wrinkles have gotten out of hand.  It’s sudden, too.  I woke up in Osaka, Japan last summer and smiled at my reflection in the mirror while putting on make-up.  To my sheer horror, there were crows feet.  Aging: not a subtle bitch!  That’s actually why I decided to get botox once I moved to Seoul.

When I wrote this article, I hadn’t gotten botox, but you had better believe that my medicine cabinet had more than a few moisturizers.  Even with my twice daily moisturizing routine, the air quality in Korea combined with the dry winter cold (they don’t heat places like they do in Canada!  I’m constantly wearing my winter coat indoors) has left my skin really dry.  I know that a lot of my friends have had their fair share of weird and unexpected changes in how their bodies react to things in Korea, but the most common issue (beyond gut rot) has been related to skin.

My face is the biggest concern because that’s the only place where the dry skin actually feels itchy.  I don’t want to constantly be scratching my face – I’m (finally) trying to be good to my skin!  One of my kindergarten students actually pointed out that I had some red patches along the lower half of my face closer to the jaw-line.  My bronzer or blush actually clumps up in these patches.  It’s not pretty, y’all.

Miracle 10 Spa in Yorkville Toronto

I think it’s important to note that while this is in no way a sponsored post, The Plastic Surgery Clinic and Miracle10 skincare were in a Brand Ambassador-style partnership back in 2014 and 2015.  Miracle 10 skincare had been very good to me when I was in Toronto and had my lifestyle blog up and running, and my Twitter feed was more Toronto-centric.  I had been given the entire starter line of skincare products  ($249.00 on their website) tailored to my particular skin type.  The scents are very, very subtle (which I loved) and my skin felt fresh, clean, and healthy.  After running out of the products I unfortunately just did not have the money to purchase the set, but now that I’m getting older I think it would be a really wise investment (especially with this air quality and pollution in Asia).  Since their products are available with international shipping on miracle10.com, as well as on The Shopping Channel and Amazon.com, I can’t imagine I’ll have a problem getting them shipped to Seoul.  Fast forward to cleaning out my Busan closets and going through my  beauty collection, I found I actually still had quite a bit of one product left: Super C.

Miracle 10 Super C

Super C is designed for Normal/Maturing and Delicate/Dry Skin.  It helps to refine the appearance of fine lines, refines the texture and tone of the skin, and aids with skin brightening and fortifying.  When I see skin brightening in Korea it usually means whitening agents (eek – bleach!), but since this product is from Canada I felt fine going right ahead.  The Miracle10 skincare  website also provides the following information:

Your unique skin type may need a little extra boost to help it look its radiant best. Super C is 100% pure Vitamin C. This powerful anti-oxidant helps to repair the look of sun damage, hyper-pigmentation, and the signs of aging.

Super C
100% pure topical vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) is a highly stable antioxidant powder formulated to dissolve into and instantly supercharge any Miracle10 gel or cream formulation. Powerful antioxidant properties may help to repair and heal damaged skin. Super C assists in collagen production and the repair of sun damage to restore vitality, clarity and refinement to all skin types.

Features

  • Over time, skin becomes accustomed to certain ingredients, so it becomes important to adjust your skin care system.
  • This powerful antioxidant instantly dissolves into and supercharges any Miracle 10 cream or gel.
  • Improves skin texture and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Within 2 days and 3 applications my dry patches are almost entirely gone.  I’m pretty thrilled with the change in how those dry patches reacted, and wanted to pass on this little beauty fix to you!  Have you tried any of the Miracle10 products?  Are there any Korean beauty products that corrected an unexpected problem?  Let me know in the comments!