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