Category Archives: Beauty

Fotofacial IPL in Korea- 2nd treatment

I had my second treatment last night- two weeks after my first appointment. It was definitely more intense and more uncomfortable. I wouldn’t go as far as to say painful, but the sensation around my nose and eye sockets made me flinch a few times. I was wearing the same eye protection as before but the light seemed to be a lot brighter, and it felt like lots of extremely bright orange flashes, blinding sun flares inside my head!

The dermatologist asked me a few questions before we got started to check on post-procedure healing. Did my face crust over after he last treated me? Did I experience any pain or adverse effects? I had no crusting after the first procedure but he told me to expect crusting this time round because he increased the frequency of the light (no kidding).  Have I noticed any changes to my skin yet?  Other than the initial 2 days of looking mildly sun burnt, the main change I observed was having less spots, and since I only had the treatment 2 weeks ago, that could purely be a lovely hormonal coincidence. OR an indicator that the move away from regular alcohol consumption towards fruit and veg is finally starting to pay off. The big pores are still there. The deep lines on my forehead are still there. I don’t mind them so much because an elastic, expressive face is great when you’re a teacher.

My next appointment is in 4 weeks’ time. I should have  2 more monthly treatments after that,  according to my research, to achieve visible results. After the initial 4, I should be able to switch to bi-yearly top-ups.

This is what my face looks like 1  day after fotofacial IPL #2:



Mole removal in Korea

Health care is very affordable in Korea, so it would be silly not to make use it! EPIK teachers contribute towards a medical fund, making the trip to the doctor, dermatologist or dentist far less painful.

I used to be very bad at wearing sunscreen: during my 8 year scuba diving career I’d use SPF15-20 for the first two days in any new country. The rest of the time I would burn then tan. My face, chest and back were permanently in the sun. I hated sunscreen because using it lead to break outs.  I’ve had a few moles on my neck and chest area ever since I can remember, but one sprouted on my face 5 years ago. That’s around the time I started wearing sunscreen regularly… The possibility of skin cancer always floated at the back of my mind so I decided to face up to the unknown.

I went to my local dermatologist to have my 4 moles removed. I had to present my ARC (Alien Registration Card) to prove that I was paying into a medical fund. The doctor had a look at my moles and surprisingly enough, they were all benign, which meant I had to pay the full treatment price (40,000 won/ US$40) instead of 20,000 won if they were dodgy (malignant).

The procedure was straightforward. An anesthetic cream is applied to the moles and left on for about 20 minutes. The doctor used a laser to burn the moles off. It felt like series of small zaps and I could smell the burning flesh but it was very bearable and over quickly.

I was given clear dressings to protect the wounds and to aid the healing process. I did a little experiment. I did NOT use the dressing on my face and neck but went swimming in the ocean and got sand in and all over my open wounds instead. I DID put dressing on my chest wounds. My chest wounds not only took longer to heal, but they also have more visible scarring although I technically took better care of them. The wounds on my face and neck were pretty much gone within 14 days but my chest wounds took about twice as long. Maybe I have weird skin… I know that next time I’ll probably just expose my wounds to sand, sunlight and seawater again 😉

It’s worth mentioning that getting a mole removed does not mean that the hair follicle is killed off. If you had a sexy, thick black hair sprouting from your mole it’s going to keep on growing  afterwards so don’t throw your tweezers away just yet.

Fotofacial IPL in Korea

We can thank Korean vanity for making the trip to the local dermatologist affordable. I had 4 moles removed last year and it cost 40,000 won (approx. US$40). I recently asked my dermatologist about chemical peels to get rid of my acne scarring and some sun damage that I’ve accumulated over the years. He recommended Fotofacial RF/ IPL treatment. Treatment comprises 3- 5 monthly sessions after which you should have a top up every 6 months. In the UK, Fotofacial RF/ IPL costs GBP256 a pop (US$420). Here in Korea it’s 150,000 won (GBP85 or US$140) per session. I decided to give this a try since IPL also tackles any pesky hair sprouting that accompanies ageing. What’s that all about, by the way?! Why are hormones so cruel?!!

As an aside, I have never had any treatments like this before and I have notoriously sensitive skin that welts really easily. I went for my first session yesterday and this is my feedback:

– They start by spreading an anesthetic cream on your face which takes about 30 minutes to kick in completely. It starts off as a weird hot/ cold feeling and then your face feels stiff, like a mud pack that’s dried.

– After 30 minutes is up, they’ll remove any residual product from your face and tape some cotton wool over your eyes, followed by an eye protector on top.

– The dermatologist will advise you to raise your hand if you feel any pain during treatment. A cooling gel is applied continuously throughout the treatment. You will experience a  a very light zapping sensation accompanied by an orange flash every time the doctor uses the light pulse. There is also a faint burning smell. It didn’t hurt but it was definitely more noticeable when he treated my chin and upper lip. He treated my face twice and it took about 30 minutes from start to finish.

– After the treatment was over, I was taken to lie down in a recovery room where they treated my face with cold compresses for 30 minutes.

– I was advised that my face might form a crust within a week and the doctor gave me Tremix Revitalizing Antioxidant Complex cream to aid healing post-procedure. I was a bit perturbed by the word ‘crust’ but so far my skin just looks a bit sunburnt.

– My next session will be in 3 weeks’ time. I look forward to seeing the results. I’m hoping that my tendency for extreme blushing will be reduced and I’d like to see some sun damage disappear (I don’t have huge expectations on that front to be honest!). Finally, I would LOVE for my pores to be smaller. For me, having acne, doing sport and being a general sweaty betty has meant having some very noticeable pores on my face. Smoking and drinking alcohol are also known factors in causing bad skin (incl. pore size).

In the meantime, I will also be eating more raw fruit and veggies and drinking more water- the easiest, cheapest skin care solution on the planet 😉

Check out my blog roll to find inspiration on healthy, scrummy food and drinks! (seriously, vegetarians and raw juice people just seem to glow- they look freakishly healthy)


Boozy skin

Welcome to the land of mirrors and vanity! Before I moved to Korea, the only mirror I used on a daily basis was the one hanging in the bathroom. In the Land of the Morning Calm, you can’t turn a corner without looking at your reflection. School girls (and boys) are constantly distracted by their reflections in hand held mirrors during class time (oh how I love confiscating those!). The disease of vanity is mildly contagious so I started thinking “Hey, I wonder what I look like?”. I’m not obsessed, just aware. Please kill me before I put looks before character 😉

Everyone knows that Asians tend to age much better than any other race. Everyone also knows that plastic surgery is super popular in Korea. Invasive procedures notwithstanding, I can say that I have learnt one or two things about skin care in this country.

Lots of girls complain that they develop skin and hair problems when they come here, blaming stress and water quality for lifeless hair and break outs. There is probably something to be said about water quality in Pohang. The water DOES contain lots of chlorine and more heavy metals than we’re used to back home, which tends to leave the skin feeling dry after showers (it also kills off plants and gold fish). You can buy bottled water but it’s more environmentally friendly to buy a water filter (you can buy a shower filter too). I’ve been drinking tap water for a year now and I haven’t been diagnosed with cancer yet so “the experiment” continues.

I just scoff at anyone who blames “stress” here for skin problems… we live the life of Riley. There is no stress. Or if there is, far less stress than you’d have back in your home country. Fact.

I think girls overlook the main reason WHY they have skin and hair problems here. Why do Korean women have great skin and glossy hair and we look like old, dried out hags? Let’s look at the main culprits, shall we?

1. BOOZE!! Korea is like “spring break forever bitches”.  Maybe it’s part of the memory loss aspect of booze that you forget how alcohol dehydrates your skin (and hair). If you want to know how your 247 party people lifestyle is ruining your future face, look here, here and here.

The video games, scuba diving and EFL industry have one thing in common. Can you guess what that is? I have been in boozy environments since my early twenties and only recently took stock of what effect this has had on my life (no doubt I ‘ve had some great times, if only I could remember them all!).

I have significantly cut my alcohol consumption in the last month or so and upped my water intake and my skin has seen a vast improvement ! I have less zits, less red flushing and my wrinkles look less pronounced! Less really is more, if the “less” is booze. I am really happy that my eyes finally opened to the truth.

2. Lack of sleep. Closely linked to boozing is lack of sleep. Pulling an all-nighter is pretty standard here. Alcohol is well known for disrupting sleep- I think we all know that.  BUT check this out : “poor quality sleepers showed increased signs of intrinsic skin aging including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and slackening of skin and reduced elasticity.”   

3. Fruit and veggies. When you’re spending your not-so-hard earnt millions of won on beer, wine and mini breaks all the time, it doesn’t leave much money for decent groceries. Us waygookins love complaining about how expensive fruit and veggies are here, but there’s more to the story 😉 We tend to buy ramen noodles and other cheap, processed foods and use the money we saved on the important things like going out, getting drunk and taxis home. Korean fruit and veg ARE more expensive but I really respect the fact that they sell only what’s in season. We’ve become so spoiled in the West, expecting fruit and veg from all over the world to be available at cut price. This is not only bad for the environment but also carries a human price (the farmer on the production end struggling to make ends meet).

Recently, I have made a concerted effort to add more fruit and veg into my diet and I can see the difference in my skin. I have done a lot of reading on veganism, vegetarianism and raw food diets and while I’ll never give up animal products completely, I have taken massive inspiration from the blogs I’ve read and YouTube videos I’ve watched. Have a look at my blog roll for more. There is no denying that these people touting fruit and veg are healthy and glowing. They’re not just a bunch of tree hugging hippies. They’re onto something.

I know you’re thinking “Oh my god, I’m not giving up my social life!!!” and you don’t have to. But I think we can all benefit from cutting back A LOT! We need to stop blaming the environment we live in and take responsibility for the choices that we make for our bodies. If you want to look and feel better, you can. But you need to MAKE IT HAPPEN. No one else can do this for you.

The end result will be a younger, fresher looking you. It might also save you from hooking up with guys you’d steer well clear of otherwise. To me, that sounds like a win-win situation 🙂

With love from Korea x