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Close Encounter With K-Beauty

The call it Hallyu, which means ‘the Korean Wave’. It’s Korea’s global campaign to share their culture with the world. Did you see BTS on the Grammys? That was Hallyu. Have you tried Korean fried chicken at Shake Shack? That’s Hallyu too.

Even before I left New Jersey, I heard about K-Beauty, another form of Hallyu. Koreans have elevated skincare to an art form. They use a skin care system that involves four or five or eight or ten steps, depending upon whom you ask. I had to give it a try. Some of you, dear readers, have known me for many decades, and I bet you never heard me mention getting a facial. Well, I had one last week and here is my report.

My interest in K-beauty began slowly. One day, while meandering through the nearby neighborhood of Sinchon, I stopped in a cosmetic store and looked at products. With the help of a friendly non-English speaking salesman, I bought a little sample set of four products—facewash, moisturizer, toner and emulsion. (I don’t really know what emulsion is, but I like it.) Friendly salesman threw in a couple of free facial sheet masks made from the oh-so-trendy snail sludge.

My 50++ skin was starting to feel smoother and softer, but my samples sizes quickly ran low. So, I took a walk through Myeondong, a district that is a shopping destination for all of Asia, intending to try something new. In one block I saw literally ten different skincare shops and thousands of products. There was no way I could choose; it was too overwhelming. Check out this slideshow to see them all and you will understand why.

However, my friends, you know me well enough to know that I don’t give up easily. There is no way I would let a little multibillion dollar skincare industry put me out of action. Instead, I made an appointment at Whoo Spa, facialists to K-pop stars and Hyundai heiresses.

The Final Result!

At 11:00 on Saturday morning I arrived for my appointment. I was welcomed into a beautiful and calming space with a flowery scent that had undertones of kimchi. The esthetician apologized that the customer before me arrived a few minutes late and promised me “many complementary services” to make up for it. Five minutes later we were ready to start. What followed was an hour and a half of head-to-toe relaxation. It began with a scalp and face massage and included some kind of thigh high massage boots that made me feel like my legs were inside one of those massage chairs at a nail salon—heavenly. There were peels and masks and scrubs and lotions. I don’t know what is in the products, but I left with fewer wrinkles, a healthy glow, and enough products to put a slight dent in my wallet.

Here’s one last photo to close out this post. In addition to skin care, Korea is a plastic surgery destination. Here’s an example of taking it all too far. Let’s hope there is no plastic surgery hallyu heading towards North America.

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