I was told off! Ok, maybe that is a bit too harsh, but apparently my posts are super lengthy, and you know what? I agree! The last thing I want to do is to kill my audience as opposed to entertain them.
So ladies and gents, good news! From now on I am trying a new approach based on the above feedback! I will be aiming for more digestible snippets as opposed to trying to compete with the writings of Marcel Proust in length.
Would be interested to hear your feedback on it, but for now let’s continue with Seoul, shall we?
I thought that in this post I would burst the bubble of Korean cosmetics and guide you through the underground malls of Seoul, or at least the ones I came across. Don’t shy away from them, they are serious sourcing locations for music geeks, craft and food lovers… Read along to find out more!
When it comes to South Korea, the one thing you will read everywhere is about their cosmetics; the greatness of it, the variety of it and not to mention the abundance of it. And it is true! At least the last one, but I am sure many swear for the others too. Personally, I was mostly amazed by the number of cosmetic shops located on tiny streets or in fact on any streets. At one point I think I counted seven adjacent cosmetics shops. It seems like a never-ending opportunity for them with girls standing outside and trying to get you in the shop by handing out free promotional stuff. But how much you can actually buy, or should you buy?
Well, let’s look at the positives of this cosmetics heaven;
Price: Competition creates lower prices, and it is definitely the case in Seoul. You can stock up on reasonably priced creams, foundation and face masks. Oh the face masks…. I think one could write a full book on them, the variety is just crazy, you can find some with avocado, aloe vera, coconut, clay, enriching minerals…. You get the picture…really, with everything.
Location: Think about it this way… if you can’t find it in the first shop, you will in the second, third, fourth… or the ninth and you still only walked 500 metres. Win-win situation.
Promotion: You should really watch out for the promotions in the shops as you can get some good value for money. Like the buy one get one free (my personal favourite!) or get a free gift with the purchase offers.
Now the downside…
I mean do you really need any of these items? It is a frank conversation that you need to have with yourself as it is soooooo easy to get weak and you will end up buying things that you will never ever use. Trust me, I know! It happened to me before, but to add to my tragic, I was seriously jet lagged after a 16 hours flight to Los Angeles, and I thought it would be a good idea to go shopping. I went into this mall where they had all these stalls with free samples and 24k gold face mask and much worse. They lure you into a conversation on how pretty you are, how nice your hair is and from that it is downside if you show any weakness. And I must have, as I ended up buying loads, that you have rightfully guessed, never ever used. The funny thing is that these products all seem to work when they try it on you, and as soon as you get home and try them; you no longer see the miracle difference about your wrinkles or the softness of your skin. I wonder how they do it…
So ladies, one piece of advice, be strong and fierce and have a budget that you will be happy to pour down the drain. Otherwise you will end up like me, and would not even admit it to your own sister how much you actually spent on creams!
Now, in Seoul I managed to stay strong and reasonable… well, at least I think… Let me share with you the goodies I left with… and I was very happy with them, no regrets whatsoever! (unlike after my Los Angeles trip!!)
Bioderma… I mean can you beat this? I needed some make up remover anyway and knew that it was one of the best brands. Watsons (one of the cosmetic shops where they actually don’t try to lure you into anything) had an offer on where the 500ml bottle came with a 250ml sibling. Price is 38USD. I am currently using the blue bottle that is for dehydrated sensitive skin. I love the smell and my skin afterwards, though yes, with my mascara it struggles a bit, but after the second wipe, it is OK.
Snail cream… well, my sister and mum are always going on about them, that they are supposed to be great, so I wanted to surprise them with these. They also had a great variety, so you will most certainly find something that will suit your needs and budget. 10USD and above.
Now, my old time favourite is the mineral mist! I mean give me something else that in 34C degrees will cool your red face down and will refresh you in public without you making a clown out of yourself. You can’t! It is so refreshing, I normally spray on my face, hair, neck and cleavage and no, it will not smudge your make up. Best used after popping it in the fridge for a while. They had offers on various brands, but I opted for the travel-sized Vichy buy one get one free pack; 16USD for the double pack. The bigger size was actually even more economical; the only problem with that is carrying around such a huge bottle!
If your make up, deodorant, mineral face spray needs retouching whilst you are on the go in Seoul do not be ashamed to pop into one of the stores and refresh yourself. It is normal, don’t be shy, everyone does it, well, at least the locals, and no, they don’t even get a look ( ok, maybe I looked at them a bit surprised, but the first time only, after that I was like, hah, give me a bit of that as well to try!)
So I managed not to go overboard this time on cosmetics and only bought the things I know I would use. Although I am going to share with you my old time favourite product, the one, which I cannot live without, and as you can see I have a substantial amount of it stocked up in my bathroom. Luckily, they sell this originally Australian beauty in Hong Kong… as before, I had to beg people to bring some for me whenever they travelled to Australia.
I prefer the travel size option and I always carry one in my bag. When I use it as a lip balm, fine, no reaction from people, the fun part begins when I start using it on mosquito bites or burns so basically on the rest of my body. Then I normally get the look, followed by the question of ‘what the hell is that?!’ Well, it is my miracle cream, that I pretty much use for everything. From, as you have guessed my lips to dry skin on my feet to all face moisturisers in the evenings, but it is also good for boils, burns, chafing, cuts, cracked skin, gravel rash, splinters, open wounds, insect bites and nappy rash. I just love this cream, great for so many things and it is all-natural (fermented papaya). My love for Luca’s Papaw ointment is forever!
What else is worth getting in Seoul… Well, I am sure many things, but the ones I came across were these
I stumbled across this underground shopping mall near my hotel and even though I am not a collector I was still amazed by the sheer volume of vinyls that I came across. The price from 5 USD also seemed reasonable. So if you are a real music geek or at least you know one, don’t forget to drop by this place.
Where to go: Head to the Hoehyun Shopping Centre in Myeongdong, just opposite of the Shinsegae Food Market
From beads to ribbons to wood and much more! This underground shopping mall is a heaven for the crafts and hobby lovers. In many of the tiny shops they also do workshops. Happy crafting…
Where to go: Head to Namdaemunno Underground Shopping Centre
And for the serious food lovers
This underground arcade will bring tears in your eyes if you love your cakes, pastries, meat and basically all the good stuff that you can eat. Plus it may provide you with a great alternative to the local cuisine. We all have days when we want some comfort food or something that we are familiar with, and seriously who could say no to some nice jamón?
Where to go: Head Shinsegae Food Market in Myeongdong, Business hours; Department store 10:30-20:00, Restaurant 11:00-21:30, Duty Free 09:30-21:00
I hope you enjoyed Seoul Travels Part 2, yes, as you may have guessed; there will be a Part 3. So visit back soon! Love_intentionally blonde