Like most love affairs begin, it all began suddenly.
I boarded my long flight from Pakistan to Busan, South Korea in 2013 for a work trip.
When I landed in South Korea it was not just the complex history and resilient people that attracted me but above all it was the Korean skincare.
Earlier during my travels whenever I used to meet people sharing their experiences of Korean beauty products and as a person struggling with severe acne and allergic to salicylic acid, a treatment for most acne, I used to hear how Korean beauty products and Korean skincare routine changed their lives.
Living in South Korea for a month made me realize how deeply intertwined Korean culture and skincare are – and why. In the upcoming blog posts I would like to share more with you, dear readers.
I made it a point that after my busy work week in Busan was over I would go to a traditional Korean spa, called jjimjilbang 찜질방, to discover more. So finally, the time came and I managed to go for a “Skincation”, (vacation for my skin) to Seoul. :) I could finally throw all my troubles out of the door and take a break.Being greeted with the smiles in a time when the facemasks were not hiding them was welcoming. After a nice Korean bibimbap 비빔밥, the scrumptious Korean rice dish and exploring the frenetic capital, I set on to find a jjimjilbang to unwind. Interestingly there were many and I went to the one that suited my budget.
Upon arrival an interesting thing I noticed at the jjimjilbang was that there were women of all sizes and ages. I remember talking to a woman there who shared with me that growing up she would go to the jjimjilbang with her mom, sisters and grandma and how it was a part of her culture not just for health and relaxation but a bonding experience.
Having this jjimjilbang experience in Seoul was surely rejuvenating and one thing worth sharing was my scrubbing experience. Seshin, the body scrub, is a popular treatment and coming out after the rinse one can enjoy a baby-smooth skin.
While talking to the ajumma 아줌마 (aunt) at the jjimjilbang, I discovered that the reason Korean men and women are extremely knowledgeable about skincare is because it is ingrained at a young age. Sunscreen protection, moisturizing, and exfoliation are the skincare habits that Koreans adopt into their lifestyle as part of basic hygiene. Also, Korean culture has an inclination towards beauty since they value making a great first expression.
After my first Korean skincare encounter in the capital, Seoul, a cosmopolitan city forging a new identity at every corner, I decided to end my day at a traditional teahouse.
On my way back to the hotel in my taxi while listening to Gangnam Style, I could not but think of the 14th-century city wall peeking over the tallest skyscraper. The coming together of the ancient and the new in harmony was mesmerizing and not to forget the phenomenon of Korean pop music, which traveled far beyond South Korea.Korea is not just the hotbed of skincare innovation but it has also built the smartest homes. During my days in a beautiful island in South Korea, Jeju 제주도, I discovered more. In the days to come I would love to share what I found in Jeju and how stumbling upon the Korean skincare (kbeauty) routine changed my life for the best.