Life in Seoul Part III

The last month has absolutely flown by. Steve and I visited Jeonju, a lovely place about 3 hours by bus outside of Seoul. It is renowned for its hanok village where you can walk around in hanbok (traditional dress), try lots of yummy Korean food and get lost in alleyways filled with traditional houses. Most importantly it is the home of bibimbap so naturally, that was first on our hit list.

One of the highlights was visiting Yetchon Makgeolli – a traditional Makgeolli restaurant serving up authentic food. Makgeolli is a Korean fermented alcoholic rice drink and, as I would later find out, a drink that gives you horrific hangovers. Entering the restaurant was quite intimidating as it was full of men merrily drinking away. Little English was spoken; you simply order a teapot full of makgeolli and are served several dishes, none of which you have a say in. Our dishes were Kimchi Pancake, Pigs Trotters (jokbal), chicken soup, and marinated tofu. It was all delicious apart from the pigs trotters!

The tea pot full of makgeolli appeared to be never-ending and by the time we finished it, we were well on our way to Tipsy-ville. A group of ahjussis (older men) who had just returned from a cycling trip sat at the table next to us. They ordered a different set menu to us so we kept looking over at all the seafood dishes they were bringing out. Noticing us looking over, they dared Steve to give it a go. Clearly we were their form of entertainment for that evening; for the next hour it was a game of ‘HA! Let’s see what else the foreigner will eat!’ Little did they know that Steve pretty much gives anything a go, dislikes little and had already eaten his fair share of sannakji (live octopus) on our previous trip to Korea. Every time he ate something, they applauded and topped our copper cups up with more makgeolli. When they got up to leave, we said goodbye to our new friends and moments after they were gone, the waitress came over with a dish signalling that this was bought for us by the group of men. We were so touched!

That is, until we tried it. The dish is called Gejang and it is raw, fermented crab that is cracked open and its contents spread over seasoned rice. With all the confidence that only a kettle full of makgeolli can give you, we dug in. Well folks, it tastes as disgusting as it sounds. It is considered a delicacy here and we felt bad that they had paid for it and we barely touched it. Steve and I were wondering whether the group of ahjussis were secretly watching us from a window howling with laughter; chuffed with themselves that they finally found something  we just couldn’t stomach. Nonetheless, it was such a fun evening hanging out with these men who were old enough to be our grandfathers; a true Korean experience.

We returned to Seoul the following day and had one evening to recuperate before my best friends arrived from London. The day they arrived felt like Christmas morning and I couldn’t wait to show them around. Even better, they came loaded with luxurious goodies like Yorkshire Tea and deodorant. We had so much fun drinking (too much soju) and shopping (too many K beauty products) that the week totally flew by.

One day we spent by the Han river drinking soju in the sun which started off as an innocent little picnic. But soon two bottles of Soju turned in to four. And four bottles turned in to eight. And then we thought it would be fun to go for margaritas. It went downhill from there. Downhill all the way to noraebang (Korean karaoke).

Oh yeah and this happened…

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It was such a fun week having them over; I missed them loads as soon as they left. We managed to do a lot in the week they were here and did a LOT of K beauty shopping. I was really touched that they flew all this way for the week and hope they enjoyed it as much as we did!

I’ve also been volunteering at my orphanage which has been both upsetting  in parts and rewarding at the same time. I am a volunteer in the baby room which homes about 40 babies aged 3 weeks to 4 months old. In each cot, there is a sign that says the name, gender, weight and date of arrival of the baby. I feed the babies, hold them, change their nappies etc. Basically my role there is to provide them with comfort and love so that they can experience this early on in their lives. I know I shouldn’t have my favourites but there is one little girl that I’ve completely fallen in love with. I make sure I spend quality time with her each time I go in and she is just the sweetest, most smiley little girl ever. She is nearing 4 months old so will be placed in foster care soon and that thought breaks my heart. If I could bring her back with me to the UK I would in a heartbeat but unfortunately Korea has made it awfully difficult to adopt from overseas. That being said, it has not stopped me from asking! I am not permitted to take any photos in the orphanage out of respect and privacy of the babies but they are extremely well looked after and are mostly all in good health. It is tiring volunteering there (sheesh man, babies are hard work – props to all my friends that are mothers) but it feels so rewarding. I just try and hold as many babies as I can each time I go, praying that each one finds a happy home as I did.

Plastic Surgery Adverts in Seoul Metro Stations

Feeling fat and ugly in Korea?

I debated whether or not to write this blog but after South Korean plus-size model Vivian Kim recently spoke up and challenged the Korean beauty ideal I feel more women need to follow her example. ‘Defying Korean beauty norm’ in the Straits Times tells her story and I highly recommend a read.

I have immensely enjoyed my first 2 months here in Seoul but there has been one unexpected consequence of living here that I wasn’t prepared for. I fully prepared myself for the looks I would get when I explained I didn’t speak Korean. I knew I may get a few looks for being with a ‘white’ guy. I knew that looking around a sea of Asian faces may conjure up some feelings about my adoption. I had mentally prepared myself for all these things. But I wasn’t prepared for the hit to my self confidence that happens when you live in a country obsessed with achieving perfection.

It was one of the more recent, and more ugly discoveries of my motherland’s culture. I guess it isn’t until you live in a country that you can scratch beneath the surface and uncover things that perhaps you were blind to before. I know I am a healthy weight, I am not fat, but I am by no means a stick insect. I enjoy doing my weights at the gym, have always played sport and love a cheeseburger. I know my arms could be a little slimmer, my stomach a little flatter but I’m ok with that. There are certain sacrifices I am not willing to make (carbs being the main one). But here, in a society where the ideal weight is under 50kg and the ideal ‘beauty’ is being wafer thin, it does get you thinking.

It gets you thinking when you see all the plastic surgery advertisements on the subway, everyday. It gets you thinking when on the toilet cubicle doors there are posters saying ‘from fat face to beautiful face’. The worst one I read about in ‘Defying Korean beauty norm’ was ‘how long are you going to roll around like that?’ Yep, and we were outraged in the UK by the ‘are you bikini ready’ advertisement! I have watched a program about plastic surgery where they called the girl ‘witch face’ instead of her actual name. They showed how she went from ‘ugly’ to ‘beautiful’ by having her whole face re-shaped; praising the plastic surgeon on his work. She looked completely different when she emerged on stage and was greeted to a rapturous applause. But underneath, her eyes still looked sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against plastic surgery. If it helps you address something you are self conscious about or makes you happy then I think plastic surgery is a positive thing. So long as you do it for yourself. Where I am less of a fan of it is when it feels pressured; when society encourages it and when it is expected of you. And that is what I personally believe is the case here. Statistics say that about 1 in 3 women in Seoul have gone under the knife, mostly for double eye lid surgery. For many jobs, it is necessary to include a photograph attached to your CV; sometimes even measurements. I’ve been flat out asked if I have considered getting my nose done (I didn’t think anything was particularly wrong with my nose) or why I haven’t had double eyelid surgery. People aren’t being rude, that’s just the culture here – they are actually saying it in order to give you advice. A friend of mine was told that she would be more beautiful if she had a slimmer jawline (for the record, she’s stunning). I am always the person that gets stopped on the street for diet pills, juice diets etc. Walking down the street, I will get plastic surgery flyers shoved in my face. Because I must want to change the way I look, right? It’s understandable that with all these statistics, all these advertisements in your face everyday – it gets you thinking ‘what don’t I like about myself?’ And we shouldn’t be made to think like that. I know in the West, we blame the media a lot, those magazines and actresses in Hollywood for the low self esteem of young girls but trust me, it is way harder for the young girls growing up here.

The K-pop industry doesn’t help either. Now, I’m not being racist as in ‘they all look the same’ but they do all actually look the same. Because here in Korea there is only one beauty ideal and all girls strive for it. In the West, we have beautiful blondes, brunettes, redheads. Some have oval face shapes, some heart-shaped; some are voluptuous and some are skinny – but there is a range. Here, there is only one beauty ideal – big round eyes, not almond. Pale white skin, not tanned. Skinny, with no definition. Slim face with a v-line jaw. Ok they may have different hair colours. But they have all had the same eye surgery, all had the same jawline surgery, and all are the same size. And so impressionable teenage girls look at these famous idols, then look at themselves and think, ‘what can I change to look like that?’

Growing up, I hated the fact I looked Asian because I never fit in. I was teased for my almond eyes and ironically, later on in my teens I was teased for being ‘too thin’ as well. My biggest gripe growing up as an adoptee was not that I was abandoned, but by the fact that I looked Asian, because I didn’t feel Asian and it made me stand out from my family and friends. At 14 years old, I read about double eyelid / eye widening surgery and asked my mum about it. And that broke her heart. Because she wanted me to love the way I look and appreciate my almond eyes. And since then, I have.

Coming to Korea I was comforted by the fact that I would be in a land where, for the first time in my life, I would fit in physically. But I don’t. I do not weigh 50kg; I like my hamburgers and fries too much. I play sport, I run and I cycle so I have big thighs. I have not had my eyes widened or had double eye-lid surgery because I’ve grown to appreciate that my eyes are a different shape. I’ve not had my jawline or cheekbones shaved down because plastic surgery isn’t that common in my home back in the UK and I quite like my cheekbones. I do not have pale skin because I enjoy being out in the sun. I thought I would find solace in looking the same as those around me, but I don’t. Instead it just gets me thinking ‘What would I look like if I had always lived here? Would I have gone under the knife too? What would I have wanted to change?’

And so it comes back down to the nature versus nurture debate. Because I guess even nurture plays a role in the way you physically look; it’s not all down to genes. More importantly, it was nurture that made me accept the way I look, not nature, not here in my motherland. I thought I would find comfort in a place where I should theoretically ‘fit in’. But I don’t find that comfort here, I find it back at home. Because when I compare that confidence my parents instilled in me to love myself, to the pressure society places on young girls here; nurture wins.

KBeauty: The Battle of the Cleansing Sticks

Battle of the Cleansing Sticks

As you may have seen in my previous post about the Korean Double Cleanse method, cleansing sticks are increasingly becoming very popular here. After the success of the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick which people go gaga over, many other brands have taken to their innovation labs and come up with similar products. Cleansing sticks are essentially a face wash in a stick. You simply wet your face, give the stick a few swipes over your skin and lather it up. The rise of Korean cleansing products has meant that in order to differentiate themselves, brands have sought to find new formulations and I personally think this one is a winner. The sticks, for me, are an absolute must when travelling. In this blog I’ll talk about my first impressions with the Neogen Green Tea Cleansing Stick, the Belif True Tincture Cleansing Stick – Chamomile and the infamous Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick.

The Neogen Real Fresh Green Tea Cleansing Stick 

The first cleansing stick that I purchased and tried out was the Neogen Green Tea Cleansing Stick. I love Neogen products, in particular their wine gauze peeling pads and their foam cleansers so I had super high hopes for this one. Their products are usually affordable, clinical and do the job. I purchased mine at Olive Young where it was on sale for 11,000 won ($11) – even better. The Neogen cleansing stick claims to be hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin. It contains a lot of essential oils like olive oil, camellia oil and coconut oil (although the latter can trigger breakouts in some people so be careful). It also contains green tea seed oil and green tea leaves which you can see dispersed throughout the stick, is loaded with 99% of natural ingredients and claims to leave skin feeling clean, clear and hydrated. Sounds wonderful, right?

Wrong. Whilst I did not dislike this cleansing stick completely, it did the job and foamed up nicely, I hated the smell of it. It smells literally like a bar of Dove soap; perhaps stronger. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that smell but I just don’t want it on my face. That is just a personal preference though; I just like my skincare products smelling fresh. After usage, it also left my skin feeling a bit tight making me question how hydrating it really is. Also, after a few uses the green tea specks were hardly in there. That being said, it’s the most affordable one I have tried and works fine as your average face wash; it just wasn’t anything to write home about.

The Belif True Tincture Cleansing Stick – Chamomile 

After the disappointment of the Neogen cleansing stick my quest continued and a few days later I found myself at the Belif counter in Lotte Department Store, Myeongdong. I love Belif products; the packaging and brand identity is right up my street. Similar to Kiehls, it has that ‘apothecary’ feel which makes me believe that everything they sell must be great for my skin. The Belif True Tincture Cleansing Stick was 28,000 won ($28) and is suitable for all skin types. It contains chamomile extracts and natural chamomile flower petals that gentle lather up and cleanse your skin. It claims to provide a solution to dullness, uneven texture, redness and dryness. Like the Neogen Green Tea Cleansing Stick, it also has a neutral/slightly lower pH.

The moment I opened the Belif cleansing stick, the first thing I did was smell it and it.was.wonderful. It was fresh, slightly herbal and citrus/lemon-like. The stick was easy to lather up and the foam felt more creamier and softer than the Neogen Cleansing Stick. After patting my face dry, my skin felt fresh, clean and not tight at all. What more can I say? First impression of this stick was very positive and it now has a place in my daily skincare regime.

The Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick 

It felt wrong to do a cleansing stick review without trying the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick. Almost without knowing, I had subconsciously tried the others first, believing I was saving the best until last. The Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, or the MRCS as the cool kids call it, has cult like status around the K-Beauty lovin’ world. It’s weird but in Korea it’s actually not one of the so-called ‘holy grail’ products; it seems to be way more popular overseas in countries like China and the USA. For a while the MRCS was difficult to find; it was constantly out of stock, forcing people to buy back ups upon back ups of the stuff. It was so elusive that it was not actually displayed in Su:m37 shops here; you had to ask the shop assistant who would whip one out from under the counter. I cannot deny that I fell in to the trap of the buying frenzy that this cleansing stick induces. I purchased one online but as I was too impatient to wait until it was delivered, I purchased another one in the Su:m37 shop in Garusogil when I saw that it was actually out on display for once!  It too, retails for 28,000 won ($28).

True to it’s name, the stick is made from fermented rose and has little bits of it spread throughout the stick. It smells gloriously of roses as well making it feel luxurious to use. It has a completely different feel and packaging to the Belif Cleansing Stick which appears more ‘functional’ and ‘good for your skin’. The MRCS is all about the pampering. Coupled with the knowledge that it is so elusive and coveted, you get an extra hit of giddiness when using it *smug face*.

The MRCS lathers up nicely as well, has a lovely scented, creamy foam and does not leave my skin feeling sucked of moisture. The only tiny gripe I have with it is that the stick is ever-so-slightly convex which makes it a little difficult to manoeuvre around my cheekbone and eye area; a problem I don’t have with the Belif one. But other than that, both are very, very similar.

…and so the winner is….

In the way of formulation, ease of use and quality the Belif Cleansing Stick and the MRCS are hard to separate. Both smell great, both are easy to use, both foam up well and both leave the skin feeling fresh and clean. They both retail for the same price here in Korea and they both contain the same amount of product; this comes as no surprise as both brands are in fact owned by the same company – LG. My favourite is purely based on my own personal preferences – the smell. And so, the winner is…. The Belif True Tincture Cleansing Stick! I was really impressed with this stick after the first time I used it. I think the MRCS has been so bigged up that when I finally got around to trying it, I just felt a teeny bit underwhelmed – I’m such a rebel. I much prefer a fresh scent over a floral one but as I said before, that is purely my own preference. I know there are a lot of rose lovers out there and coupled with the luxurious feel of the MRCS, this will be, (and clearly is) the firm favourite of many a skincare addict. I have no qualms in highly recommending both cleansing sticks, it purely comes down to whatever scent and packaging you prefer. But for me, the Belif True Tincture just about wins it!

Finding Mee Hwa Kim

The search for Mee Hwa Kim which began over 18 months ago has had more twists and turns than a Game of Thrones season finale. After finding out that there was no need for me to go through the Australian Government and that I had been taken on a wild goose chase, and after being denied copies of my adoption files… again…. I was starting to think that this search was simply just not worth it. After several Skype sessions with my parents who encouraged me to keep with it, I decided to drop in again at my adoption agency and was surprised as to what was unearthed.

I dropped by unannounced hoping to catch them off guard. I had heard from other adoptees that if you make an appointment beforehand, that gives them time to prepare; time to remove any papers with identifying information on your birth parents. That being said, when the lady agreed to show me my file, she went to her desk, removed a wad of papers and came back to join me with a file half the size of the one she took out of the filing cabinet. So much for that then.

I was talked through the usual stuff and shown all the papers that I already had. At the end I told her that back in 2014 I was given lots of detail around my birth parents, what they were like, what they were good at in school, the circumstances in which I was relinquished etc. She simply told me that none of this information was in my file and that this was all she had. Well, then someone is telling me porkies.

On the way out, I asked her what the latest was on my birth family search. I was not expecting to hear anything promising back, otherwise they would have contacted me already, right? I had not heard anything since August when I was informed that my birth search application had been forwarded to Korean Adoption Services (KAS); a government affiliated organisation that helps locate birth parents. She looked through some papers that looked like an email chain and said ‘ah yes! We have news  from KAS’. Well that’s bloody brilliant, why didn’t you start off with that then?!

Unfortunately for me, this lady didn’t speak great English but the information I did gain from her was that:

  • KAS had found two people with my birth parents names who they believed were my birth parents
  • KAS didn’t have any identifiable information on them

All the while she kept reiterating that ‘likely this search will reach dead end’ and ‘many people with name Mee Hwa Kim’. But when she casually mentioned that ‘Mee Hwa Kim had been contacted’, I tried to get her to explain more. Our conversation went something like this:

‘So you have found my birth mother and have contacted her then?’

‘No, will be very hard’.

‘Yes, but you just said you contacted her’.

‘No, too many Mee Hwa Kim’.

I wasn’t getting anywhere with this woman. So I just bit my tongue, politely excused myself, thanked her for her time, went to meet Steve and collapsed in floods of tears.

The following day Steve rang up KAS for me and made an appointment. Already they were more willing to help and spoke better English so I had high hopes of getting to the bottom of what the current status of my birth search was. On meeting with KAS it transpired that they had found a record of my birth parents but with no identifiable information. In order to do a location search (i.e. last known address), they need name and security ID number. They then passed this on to the police who, apparently, have more up-to-date records. The police didn’t find anything on my birth father but did find a security ID number for Mee Hwa Kim. They sent her a correspondence which they are not permitted to tell me what it says. I have heard from other adoptees that it is quite vague, something along the lines of ‘a foreigner from overseas is looking for you’. I asked what the next steps were. ‘All you can do now is wait.’

All the while KAS kept managing my expectations by saying that they cannot say for definite this is my birth mother. They just use all the information they know, like age, name etc and make a best educated guess as to whether it could be the right person. I’ve had a few days to take this all in. At first I was sceptical – how certain are they that this is the right person? What other information did they use or know that narrowed it down? Then I grew a little disappointed – the telegraph was sent back in August and nothing had been heard back since. Does she not want to meet me? Or has the telegram fallen upon someone else with the name Mee Hwa Kim? Then I became angry. If I hadn’t asked for an update would my adoption agency have told me? Why wasn’t I notified sooner seeing as though this happened two months ago?

But ultimately, deep down in my heart I believe that Mee Hwa Kim is out there somewhere mulling this telegram over. She won’t have shared this unexpected news with her family. It won’t be an easy decision for her to make; I appreciate that. If she is anything like me, she will be debating the pros and cons for a long time in her head before making a decision. If the verdict she reaches is that it’s too hard to reach out to me then so be it. At least I can be comforted by the fact that I have now done everything in my power to track her down. That is what I came to Korea to do. The rest now, is up to her.

 

The Korean Double Cleanse; innisfree olive real cleansing foam, innisfree olive real cleansing oil

The Korean Double Cleanse

What is the one thing that has helped improve the condition of my skin? Easy. The Korean Double Cleanse. Growing up and learning how to look after my skin, I was always taught to use some sort of cleanser, usually a face wash, twice a day, morning and evening. I think most people do this to some extent. However, it wasn’t until I moved to Korea that I realised – we’ve been doing it wrong!

Now I know the thought of extending your daily skincare regime sounds like a faff and I definitely do have my lazy days where I skip it but double cleansing is the only sure fire way to remove all your make up, suncream, and excess sebum efficiently. I think back to my teens when I would use a face wash and then rub the stubborn leftover eye make up around my eyes furiously with a toner-drenched cotton pad and I cringe inside. Not only would that not clean my skin properly, but left my face feeling irritated and stripped of moisture.

So what is the Korean double cleanse method?

The first step is using an oil based cleanser. These come in either liquid oils, creams or balms and should be placed directly on to dry skin. Here in Korea, cleansing oils have been popular for yonks. The majority of women will double cleanse in the evening, sometimes even in the morning as well. Oil cleansers hit the Western beauty market a while ago with Bobbi Brown and Mac varieties proving to be popular among skincare enthusiasts. But some people were sceptical – mainly those with combination / oily skin. More oil on my already oily skin?! Are you mad?! But the reality is that these cleansers, containing good oils, are highly effective at removing all the bad oils that accumulate on your face throughout the day. Cleansing oils don’t sink in to your pores – they work hard to draw out all the impurities and then, when mixed with water, wash it all away without leaving your skin dry and stripped of essential moisture. Hooray!


My favourite cleansing oils are the DHC Cleansing Oil, Troiareuke Acsen Oil Cut Cleanser and The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil. The Troiareuke Acsen Oil Cut Cleanser is actually more like a gel, it doesn’t contain any oil but works just as effectively; it’s very gentle and great for sensitive or acne prone skin.

Banila Co Clean it Zero and Heimish All Clean Balm
More recently cleansing balms have become very popular after the huge success of Banila Co Clean it Zero. Although this launched a few years back, it is still considered the holy grail balm among the K beauty community. Cleansing balms melt in your palms to become oils and when mixed with water create a milky emulsion that removes all impurities away from your skin. Like cleansing oils, they should go on to your face dry – a sensation that most people find strange but trust me, it is so satisfying seeing all your eye make up wash off so easily! My favourite oil cleansing balms are the original Banila Co Clean It Zero and the Heimish All Clean Balm. The Heimish All Clean balm has a more neutral scent compared to the Banila Co one and has a more natural ingredient list. Both are highly effective.

The second cleanse

So if cleansing oils are so amazing at getting rid of make up and the like, then why do we need to go in again for a second cleanse? Whilst the cleansing oils effectively remove excess sebum, make up and suncream, a foaming cleanser will help remove any water-based substances like bacteria, perspiration or dead skin cells leaving your face feeling super clean! For this second step you will want to choose a good foaming cleanser that lathers up well and does not leaving your skin feeling tight or stripped of moisture. My personal favourites are the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam, Heimish White Clay Foam and Benton Honest Cleansing Foam.

My personal favourites are the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam, Heimish White Clay Foam and Benton Honest Cleansing Foam.

Foaming cleansers now come in a wide variety here in Korea. Tools such as a foaming net, sponge or ‘whip maker’ can turn any old face wash in to a luxurious lather. Cleansing sticks are also becoming increasingly popular. I am currently  loving the Belif Chamomile Cleansing Stick. I simply swipe it a few times on my wet face and lather up making it the ideal face wash to take travelling.

The double cleanse method may seem high maintenance but honestly it has helped my skin improve so much, reducing redness, evening out my skin tone and causing fewer breakouts. In typical Korean fashion, the double cleanse method keeps evolving. Brands are now coming out with formulas that go from oil to foam making the double step cleanse quicker and only requiring one product. Conversely, I am now a covert of the triple cleanse. Yeah, you heard me. I will use an eye make up remover or a face wipe to gently remove stubborn make up before going in for my double cleanse. Or, following my double cleanse will use a cleansing water like Son & Park Beauty Water to remove any excess residue. Two months in this country and I am sooo Korean.

Joan Kim and Edward Avila

An afternoon with Troiareuke

Last week I was invited to attend an event hosted by Korean skincare brand Troiareuke. I had heard about Troiareuke before, in particular their popular ‘Acsen Oil Cut Cleanser’, however I had never tried any of their products. The event was in collaboration with popular K beauty bloggers Joan and Edward Avila so as you can imagine, I was pretty excited!

The Event

The event was held at the Skypark Hotel Kingstown in Dongdaemun, which is situated above the Hyundai Outlets. On the 14th floor, there is a Troiareuke shop where you can purchase their products; this is where the event was held. I believe they also have a store in Myeongdong as well. On arrival, we registered, picked up our information packs, sat down and ate yummy food and drank yummy drinks. I was just staring at the product displays desperate to get my hands on them and try them out!

Andy, who works for Troiareuke was our MC for the day and was so accommodating and funny. We started the event with a talk from a skincare professional who shared her skincare tips for Autumn. Her skin was so luminous and glowing that I figured I ought to listen carefully and take some mental notes!

Troiareuke GPS Mask

She talked about the four changes your skin experiences during the fall: dry skin, dead skin cells, pigmentation and elasticity. To combat this she suggested using sheet masks, in particular the GPS mask from Troiareuke wich we all received a sample of. The GPS mask is a cellulose mask that restores skin and hones in on the areas of the face that require moisture and nutrition. What I like about the mask is that it comes with an Oxygen cleanser sample and their popular Cell Energy cream as well as the sheet mask. Essentially it’s a professional facial all in one pack and I cannot wait to try it. She also said that the masks are good to use on long haul flights when your skin can dry up so that’s what I’m saving mine for!

Trying Troiareuke

Following the talk, she gave a demonstration of the V-line treatment on one of the attendees. The first step was to select a colour best suited to the girls skin – blue, green, yellow or red. This would dictate the line of products that would be used for the facial. As the girl had acne skin, the colour blue was chosen which contains Catechin extract and is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial (I’ll talk more about the other colours later). Using a mixture of Troiareuke products, including their Acsen Oil Cut Cleanser, Skin Complex Formula and Acne Blue Ampoule the girls skin appeared less red, her face more lifted and glowing. She also used a porcelain tool (in blue as well) to massage the girls face and neck. Facial massages are huge in Korea and is believed to help drain the lymph nodes therefore getting rid of toxins in the body.

Troiareuke Demo

We had a Q&A session with Eddie and Joan and there was also a lot of giveaways. Joan and Eddie were so hilarious and really great at answering questions honestly and giving advice. I asked Eddie if he could choose only one Pony Effect product what would he choose – he said the cushion so I will have to purchase this! I was also amazed that the staff at Troiareuke gave out about 20 of their full size bestselling products, as well as 10,000 won gift vouchers! Unfortunately I think I was about the only person in the room that didn’t receive any products! 😫 A lot of the girls received the H+ Healing Cushion which is one of their bestsellers, as well as ampoules and essences. But I did receive a 5,000 won gift voucher which I was determined to use.

Joan Kim and Edward Avila

Following the Q&A we had a chance to get our photos taken with Joan and Eddie and also try out the products. Seeing as I didn’t receive any free products (*sob sob*), I had a brief consultation with one of the Troiareuke staff about my skin and what would be the best products to try. She kindly explained the different colours and chose green for me. Yellow is used for brightening and purifying the skin and is good for any discolouration and hyper pigmentation. The red is anti-ageing and helps give skin a boost of elasticity and reduces wrinkles. The green is anti-trouble and is used to help calm the skin, reduce any redness and help soothe.

Troiareuke Colour Therapy

To help choose your colour, we had to close our eyes and upon opening pick the colour that first stood out for us. The colours are also used to help identity your current emotional state. Blue, the acne line, can be a sign of stress. Red, the anti-ageing line, a sign of tiredness. She recommended green as my skin was in a fairly decent condition, no acne, few lines but apparently I needed some ‘calm’. Almost like a psychic she somehow knew that I hadn’t had much sleep recently and that I have something emotional on my mind (my birth family search). Sold! I purchased the Skin Complex Formula Toner, the Green Ampoule and the big size of the Ascen Oil Cut Cleanser. Products I still want to try from their range include the Cell Energy Cream, Acsen TOC Toner and Hydro Essence.

Troiareuke Thoughts

My first impressions were that this brand means business – they take skincare seriously. Their products use natural ingredients and are based on scientific research. Their motto is skincare first – even their popular BB cushion is technically a skincare cushion as opposed to makeup. There was no gimmicky ingredients, just a slick, clinical, gentle, high performing range of products. They consider themselves a ‘customised prescription skincare brand’ providing individuals with tailored products based on their skincare needs. None of their products are stripping which a lot of Western products are. Whenever I try a toner that wreaks of alcohol I cringe – all that does is strip the skins natural moisture, irritating your skin even more! Another concept that resonated with me is their motto of ‘today’s skin’. The skincare professional who gave the talk said that our skin changes on a daily basis, some days we are outside and exposed to the sun, others our skin may be dry due to air con, heaters etc. Basically, a lot of external factors affect our skin on a daily basis. It is all about knowing your skin, identifying any daily nuances and treating it accordingly using a range of products. Some days I may need to use a UV protectant, some days I may need to use an ampoule, some days a pore mask. If you’re in tune with your skin and tailor your regime accordingly then the condition of your skin will improve. Amen!

I’ve only been using the Troiareuke products I bought for a few days now but have already noticed a big difference in my skin. It feels more moisturised, smoother and clearer. I won’t lie, the products are expensive, however, when comparing them to Western brands like Kiehls and Elemis, I think they are far superior. I will write a full review of the Acsen Oil Cut Cleaner, Green Ampoule and Skin Complex Toner soon. I definitely can’t wait to try more products from this brand!

Joan Kim and Edward Avila

This is not sponsored. All opinions are my own.