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Blog / December 3, 2017

NEW BENTON Dear My Best Friend Bar Soap Review

Hello there!

 

How have you been doing?

After moving to Korea I certainly entered my cometic freak heaven. Yet, I haven’t done as many reviews as I would have liked so I need to make up for it.

Starting now.

“This products has been kindly offered to me for review purposes by Benton Cosmetics. All of the opinions presented here are 100% my own (like I could ever lie) and I would never recommend something I believe is not worth it. Thank you.”

Benton Story Continues

If you have ever browsed through my older posts and videos (like you definitely should) you may have seen my reviews of the multiple product one of my favorite skincare companies, Benton Cosmetics, launched this year. I have kept most of them in my routine and I am still loving them. So I was naturally excited that there is another new product launching.

And it’s a soap bar. (do you read my mind and launch exactly what I need Benton?) 

But first, I need to remind you a bit about a Benton as a company. (more is also here) They derived their name from the story of Benjamin Button. (aka my favorite) If you have seen the epic movie you could have witnessed Brad Pitt aging backwards while his lover needs to age as normal human. So Benton is here to save us all, people who don’t want to age like normal humans. According to them we should age “gracefully” and with grace, using natural and healthy ingredients.

And yey, they are PETA certified cruelty-free.

Soap As Your Best Friend

Soap bars are somehow reminiscing of old times, right? But they are amazing. I have been afraid of using bar soaps for my body and – oh god no – for my face. I have so dry and sensitive skin bar soaps were my nightmare. And I was converted.

The bar soap I am about to present to you is also the most special one I have seen so far. It literally is supposed to be for anything and anyone. It is designed for all skin types and both your face and body.

Here is the ingredient highlight:

Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed
Oil, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Water (Aqua), Sodium Hydroxide, Ocimum Basilicum
(Basil) Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Powder, Calamine, Persea Gratissima (Avocado)
Oil, Moringa Oleifera Leaf Extract, Papain, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Honey, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Extract, Propolis
Extract, Kaolin, Centella Asiatica Extract, Laminaria Japonica Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Oil

This bar is created all natural, cold pressed mixing and settling all of it’s ingredients to keep them in their best state and deliver even more moisture. In addition to the main 8 vegetable oils like olive or coconut oil, what are the most prominent of them?

Cacao Seed Powder (Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Powder) is my personal favorite. I love chocolate ingredients in my cosmetics and this thing is packed with antioxidants and minerals, helping with those dead skin cells and oil production. Similar effect has it’s Oat Kernel Flour, which also benefits the dry skin with promoting moisture. One ingredient that stood out the most to me was Calamine, which is an ingredient to treat chicken pox! It is supposed to calm the skin and thus great for my sensitive skin friends.

So far a nice list, isn’t it?

How It Changed Me

It kind of did. I am lucky enough not to be suffering from very visible acne but I do have my skin concerns. (despite all people around me vehemently denying them) I have always been super super pale with extremely dry and sensitive skin. That kind of combo that gives you easy wrinkles and constant tightness and dry patches. I have learned how to combat to my best extent these issues but one, and the most visible, prevails. Redness. I often refer to myself as being the red tomato. You will never see me wearing a blush because I have natural red lights instead of cheeks. However, I also hate wearing foundation.

What makes my redness worse then anything is cleansing. Getting all that stubborn concealer from around my eyes requires triple-cleansing, and even the most gentle products leave my puffy and super red. In the past years I have also developed huge red circles around my lash line and being a college freshman means I have constant dark circles. All of this was always brought to light my any cleansers. Until this one.

I have had high hopes for this bar and it did not disappoint. The only disappointment might be the lack of BREAKING before and after in these pictures but can you see how much red has disappeared from my face. The first picture is taken after cleansing with my regular cleansers (water, oil, foam), the second is after first use of the soap bar instead of my foam cleanser. The last picture shows the difference after two weeks. Can you notice the clearer skin? Those old red spots have vanished, even in the second picture there is almost no pimple next to my hairline and overall my skin doesn’t look angry anymore.

After previous cleansing routine – redness, spots and red eye circles…

After 2 days of using – much less redness and pimple is almost gone!

After 2 weeks of using the soap – no more redness and much less visible red eye circles!
The verdict?

The soap is so gentle it

doesn’t irritate my face or my body (more before/after pictures of my arms – that difference) and after using it for two weeks I have definitely fallen in love. The only downside is that despite having a handy foaming net, it does not create as many bubbles as I would like.

+ gentle

+ relieves redness

+ doesn’t dry out skin

+ cleans well

+ great for even sensitive, dry skin

– soaps are generally harder to store, can get easily contaminated

– does not foam up much

 

What do you think?

Would you give it a try?

 

I will see you next week, this time with a video. (sorry about the lack of one this week!)

 

Love,

 

Sara

 

 

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Blog, My Korean Diaries, Videos / November 25, 2017

Where To Go In Songdo – Triple Street Mall Tour (video)

Welcome back!

 

What have you been up to lately?

 

I am still and constantly drowning in studies but I think most of students are. Especially as it gets closer to finals…

This is not what I want to talk about today.

Remember my vegan bakery taste test in Smoothie King? (go check it out if you have not done so yet!)

Well, that took place in the newest addition to the fun places in Songdo.

And I wanted to show it all to you.

Where to shop in Songdo?

I have to confess, I am certainly a shopaholic. At the same time, I kinda hate going to shopping malls. Too many people, noisy annoying music, flashy lights, overall one crazy mess. And I am not even mentioning all the things to throw out your money for. But sometimes you have to go and it can even be a nice day out.

In Korea, it is no different. The stressful part of the experience is even highlighted (more people, more lights, more things) but at the same time, it has so MUCH to offer. Especially looking at the great food courts.

Before Triple Street Mall opened in Spring 2017 there was apparently not that much to do around the Yonsei Campus in Songdo. The nearest mall required you to take a subway to main Incheon and in my opinion, is not even that great. Naturally everyone was excited for this new huge complex, given its also only about a 10 minute walk from our dorms.

Did it fulfill all the expectations?

I think most of them.

Triple Street Labyrinth

The new mall was well worth the hype. It is build as a huge snake-like row of shops with one way outside along it all. It has 3 floors altogether – one underground, the biggest ground/first floor and then the first floor. That one is filled mostly with restaurants and the big cinema complex – Megabox.

The buildings are like a kind of a block, the starting point is the biggest one and virtually the only ground level part where you can enter individual shops from the inside. Here I started of my tour with the korean “Sephora” aka. Olive Young. In my opinion it is like a mix of your most fancy drugstore with some higher end makeup. No other shop (well at least for beauty) is as spread in Korea as Olive Young. In fact, Triple Street has one on each end. I explored the first entrance one, a bit smaller but still filled with everything from skincare to “health” snacks. Prices are usually very reasonable too and they put so many deals out it is hard to resist.

It is not the end of makeup and all beauty. The whole mall provides space to many brands and shops like Etude House, Aritaum, The Body Shop or Celltrion. You can get your haircut here (although it will be costly and I do not trust anyone with my non-asian hair).

Clothes and all the food…

Besides the beautifying market there is so so much clothes to choose from. Since it is Songo, expect some higher priced stores. You have the sports classics like Adidas,  Peak Performance and more or the Europe beloved H&M or Zara. Be aware though that these are so so pricey here! Like Zara is a luxury nowadays. Miss 2$ shirts from the H&M sales rack…

But what I find the most excessive part of Triple Street is all the food part. Most of the underground floor is covered with all kind of restaurants. You can find burgers, japanese food restaurants, Mexican tacos or even Indian meals. Once again though all is much pricier than what you can normally find in Korea (25$ for small pizza?) but I suppose it is much closer to the “original” versions. Well, you can always try my favorite relatively cheap kimbap shop that still feels much more gourmet than you would expect it. The first and second floor have also an abundance of food. The first floor is mostly covered in cafes (expensive Starbucks) and cake shops and the second once again hosts more fancy dining places.

It wouldn’t be Korea without having an arcade on the second floor right next to the Megabox. My personally favorite attraction is also the underground Daiso. You can literally find anything there for almost no money and often even in a decent quality.

So what did you think?

Unless you go and explore yourself you will never see how big of a maze Triple Street is. What is important is to know that there ARE places to go even in Songdo so no more ghost cities please.

 

Love,

 

Sara

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Blog / November 19, 2017

Green Tea & Enzyme Powder Wash by Wishtrend

Hello!

I know it’s not my traditional time to post but I have some exciting review for you.

I have proven many times already that I am definitely way too obsessed with skincare and I am in my personal heaven after moving to South Korea.

But what will I be reviewing today?

I have gotten a great opportunity from one of the biggest shops and now also a brand of Korean SKincare to test out their newest product, which is just about to launch.

Let’s get to it!

Green Tea Power

I love love green tea. I admit I drink it almost every day and anything matcha flavored is a must buy for me. (need to fly to Japan asap) Green tea is certainly a health boosting ingredient and we all should consume it more often. But one thing you might not know about green tea is that it’s benefits expand to your skincare as well.

I have tried multiple cosmetic products which contained green tea and most of them worked just right for my sensitive and dry skin. Green tea (in good quality) contains a high amount of antioxidants that greatly benefit our body overall. Recently it started appearing more and more in the world of cosmetics as it is said to help heal blemishes and scars on your skin, leaving you with a brighter and smoother complexion. Another of it’s many benefits is that it helps treat acne and naturally tones your skin. Especially for people with rosacea (me included) it helps to reduce the redness and inflammation.

Sounds amazing right?

Green Tea & Enzyme Wash

I wanted to talk a bit about the power of green tea as what I will be introducing to you today is the new Green Tea & Enzyme Powder Wash by Wishtrend. It is described as a “pH balancing, gently exfoliating cleansing powder”. It contains many nice ingredients, the star is as mentioned before green tea but also papain enzymes (papaya components) and baking soda.

Here is the full ingredients list:

Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Powder(2%), Lysine HCL, Proline, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Acetyl Methionine, Theanine, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Sorbitol, Papain, Betaine, Cellulose Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate

Papain and baking soda? Those two ingredients might sound weird but they are what takes care of the gentle exfoliation. I have talked about papain before here.

And how should one use powder wash? I have noticed that more of these washes have started emerging and I have previously already tried one myself. It is essentially a powder you mix in with a bit of water and then rub it agains your skin as a second step in your cleansing routine. This Wishtrend wash is meant for all skin types but as this cleansing method is stronger (the exfoliation) then your regular foam I would not recommend it for daily use if you have dry and/or sensitive skin. I enjoy incorporating it into my routine two to three times a week.

The Pros & Cons

I was for sure very excited to try this product. After I opened it I instantly liked the green (pastel) packaging and the convenient bottle of 70g of powder, the packaging is nice and simple.

After cleaning my face with oil cleanser I put a tiny amount (or tried to) into my palm and added a bit of water. What immediately hit me was the green tea smell. It is in no way unpleasant (I actually enjoyed it a lot) but I know for some people it is a bit of an issue. the powder itself is almost completely white with regular fine particles.

As a cleansing wash it is supposed to foam up a bit, nothing like your foam cleanser but I have to say this did not foam at all while I rubbed it in my hand, only a little bit later when rubbing on my face. Compared to the other enzyme washes it was a bit less foamy and the particles melted down more quickly. However, that was a benefit for my sensitive skin as I did not wish to rub it too much. I would not be afraid of irritation at all with this product.

I washed my face and my skin certainly felt fresher and very clean, but not in an uncomfortable way as with some other physical exfoliators. Completing my regular routine, my face was a bit more thirsty but I could not notice any kind of redness or increased sensitivity. One plus I have to give this wash is that the one red pimple that bothered me for few days was certainly much less prominent the next day. My skin also didn’t show any kind of negative reaction to this wash even after continuous use.

So the verdict?

Pros:

  • gentle
  • no irritation
  • effective cleanse
  • good even for dry skin
  • I love the smell

Cons:

  • doesn’t foam up much
  • too much smell for sensitive people
  • mild exfoliation (can be a plus as well)

As compared to other enzyme washes I have tried I think I like this one the best. Although it is supposed to be especially for oilier skin types I think it benefits great to the people on the drier side. I appreciate the special and natural ingredients and I am in love with the smell. However, if I need a proper wash or exfoliation I would reach for other products and I will keep this one as a great weekly addition to my routine when I just need a gentler product.

Would you try it?

Then go check out this link and you can get your hands on it too!

 

See you later,

 

Love,

 

Sara

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Blog, My Korean Diaries, Videos / November 11, 2017

Vegan Desserts In Korean Smoothie King (video)

Hello!

How are you?

I have been so busy lately I had almost no time to make proper videos and articles.

Wait, no the blame goes to my hand. I actually have plans on what to film and try but somehow I can’t do it one handed… hopefully I will only stay like this for little while longer.

Anyway, this week I wanted to show you something I have been wanting to try for a while now.

Should we start?

Smoothies In Korea

I remember back in the days I still used to live only between horses and school I rarely had enough time to sit down and get some meal during the day. (not a good way to live at all) I was also too exhausted (and lazy) to pack more meals for the lunch time. The only thing that saved me was a newly opened healthy deli, salad and smoothie shop right at the bus station I used to wait everyday. I then ended up mostly drinking my lunches on the go. The thing is, even in Prague were smoothies pretty pricey. Especially once you get used to making them at home. In Korea, it’s even worse.

I am just glad that they are here. Indeed not as much as in Europe but Korean people also like their dose of “liquid health”. Well, they are often not as healthy as it may seem but that is another point to talk about. One of the chains I have met the most here is Smoothie King. Relatively old company founded in US has spread all across the world, even to Korea. It seems to be one of the most go to options for smoothies back in the US as well as here. And we have one in Songdo’s Triple Street Mall.

But knowing the prices, why would I go there?

For vegan dessert.

Vegan bakery in a fast food chain?

Yes, it is true. During one of my mindless walks through the Triple Street Mall my eye has caught a big VEGAN sign. In Korea this word is so rare to hear and seems like the last thing you can expect to be on a regular poster. It obviously got my full attention and I learned that Smoothie King has this “event” during which they sell two (full two options!! 😉 vegan desserts – a muffin and a crumble. I was suspicious but I had to try.

And here is how this adventure went.

It was not the worst.

Taste Test

I had NO expectations at all having eaten way too many “vegan” takes on regular food presented by regular food chains. I ordered both the Carrot Walnut Muffin and the Blueberry Crumble, plus me and my roomie both threw in a smoothie to wash it down.

Since the shop was empty we got our food pretty soon. Visually there was nothing super pleasing about the food and I could see the dryness from miles away. Starting with the crumble my initial thought was – dry as a dessert. Both of the foods had surprisingly similar flavor – a big bunch of fall themed spices (cinnamon, cloves,…) and in my opinion it was the classic “we have to make it packed with artificial flavor since it’s vegan”.

Later though as we kept reaching the warm center (they warm it all up for you) my taste buds were more and more satisfied. I found some whole juicy (defrosted) blueberries and I genuinely enjoyed the crumble top part (there is no way you can ruin it). The muffin was the less preferred by me (my roommate like it more). Similar spices, even drier (and crumblier) with no carrot in sight. I have to compliment at least the adequate amount of walnuts and we did find a carrot string or two at the end.

Smoothies were not perfect either. Ordering Peach Slice I wanted a blend of peach and strawberry but somehow the strawberry flavor never reached my cup. The same with the Coconut Surprise – here it was just banana and no coconut.

Verdict?

Overall, I may be a lot critical but here in Korea, I am just glad for what is here. I appreciate that they are trying although vegans are scarce here. Honestly,  were it not so pricey (Crumble – 4000 won, Muffin – 3 100 won, small smoothie 3900 won) I would go again. Smoothies are still a good dose of tasty fruit and sometimes I get sad and want a cake and can’t go to Seoul all the time.

 

Would you try any of it?

 

Have a nice day.

 

Love,

Sara

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Blog, My Korean Diaries / November 4, 2017

A Day In Songdo Central Park, Incheon (video)

Welcome back!

 

How are you doing?

Before I even start I have to apologize.

I have shot this video shortly after my arrival and it certainly is not perfect. I will eventually do a part 2 (maybe at night?) but since I am still injured, this is all I have for now.

But I promise it’s not that bad!

Instead I will finally tell you more about Songdo, where I currently live.

What to do in Songdo?

I have often heard Songdo being called a “ghost city”. Well, it is definitely not true but on that topic I will elaborate some other day. Located on a new “created” island as a futuristic part of the second biggest city in Korea, Incheon, it certainly has a lot to offer. It may have been built within the last decade virtually from scratch, but coming here you may not even notice.

While it is definitely not as busy, full and vibrant as for example the center of Incheon it still has a lot to offer. One of it’s main prides, which attracts people coming even from Seoul, is the main Central Park. Located near the seashore amongst the tall new and modern skyscrapers, there is a relatively huge park that is a beautiful break from all those busy streets.

It is also almost at all times packed with people doing whatever they like. Families with their kids, ahjummas doing their “active walk”  or young couples on their dates (there is a lot of them..). Covering almost 10% of all Songdo are it can accommodate to all.

Oh and PSY filmed parts of his Gangnam Style video here.

Sounds even better?

I decided to visit the Central Park early in October, on one particularly sunny Saturday. Probably too sunny. It is very easy to get to the heart of this park, all you need to do is travel to the Central Park station, second last station on the blue Incheon line. Or you can also walk there from Yonsei campus, it takes only about 30 min.

Arts And Boats

There is the thing about Central Park, it not only has a canal of fresh seawater renewing itself every 24 hours and other natural beauties, it is filled with art sculptures and activities. The minute you exit the subway you can visit the Tri-Bowl, a truly futuristic metallic architectural wonder, three weird round buildings in water. Sounds great!

Walking around the Central park you get to enjoy various sights, cafes, sculptures and just overall the architecture of the park itself. You can relax and forget for a minute you are indeed in the center of an International Business District. Being quite large it takes a while to walk the whole way around which mainly mimics the canal direction. You get several points where you can cross via a big or small bridge to shorten the way. At one side you get to see a Central Park Hotel, which is designed entirely like an old Korean palace! Looks so awesome!

There are also many of my favorite workout playgrounds (just for the elder..) as the typical playgrounds for children. You can sit down at a cafe and enjoy the day or (what I personally NEED to try) rent a boat or tiny canoe and go have fun floating around the canal. This is even more magical at night.

At the very end (or beginning) of the canal is located the biggest cafe, restaurant as well as the rental shop. (not sure if I understood it correctly but scenes from the drama Goblin were shot there 😉 For my taste the food and drinks looked a bit too overpriced but people seemed pleased so I am not discouraging from resting there a bit.

I also loved all the cute dogs. And even the cute doggy couples.

The End?

I had a great fun, got a sunburn and sweated a lot.

The outtake on this is that Songdo Central Park truly is magical and worth traveling to even from Seoul, just not at 1pm on a super hot and sunny day.

 

Would you go?

 

I hope so.

 

See you next week.

 

Love,

 

Sara

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Blog, Videos / October 28, 2017

ELIZAVECCA 24k Gold Mask & EGF Elastic Retinol Cream Review (video)

Welcome back!

 

You missed my beauty reviews?

I did end up writing a LOT about food recently, I admit but now I am back with a double! dose of Korean beauty review.

What is up this week?

I got a great opportunity to finally try one of the brands I have been hearing so much about so let’s get straight into it!

“These products have been kindly offered to me for review purposes by an independent provider. All of the opinions presented here and in the video are 100% my own (like I could ever lie) and I would never recommend something I believe is not worth it. Thank you.”

Milky Piggy Storm

The brand I was dying to try out is none other than Elizavecca. You might have heard of the sensational Bubbling Clay Mask people on the internet seem to be obsessed with or the Hell Pore Cleansing Peel off mask. What I previously did not know was that not only has Elizavecca been on the beauty market for more than 20 years but they were also the first ones to bring BB Cream to the world! It has grown incredibly popular all over the world and I will be writing about two of their products; the Kangsi 24K Gold Pack and the EFG Elastic Retinol Cream.

Both gold and retinol have become incredibly popular skincare ingredient and besides the fact that people just want to slap gold on their face it has a profound reason. Besides looking pretty around your neck, gold has some good anti-aging benefits. It is said to target the specific skin cells in the skin and thus promote not only elasticity and wrinkle repair, but help even out overall complexion, reduce inflammation and leave your skin brighter and smoother.

When it comes to retinol it is the new main anti-aging star. It is essentially a form of vitamin A with a tiny structure that allows it to sink into the skin deeply and rejuvenate it from within. It has the ability to improve the elasticity, smoothen wrinkles and even increase moisture. The only downside is that is highly reactive when hit by UV rays so make sure you use your retinol enriched product ONLY AT NIGHT.

Enough said, let’s look at the products.

EFG Elastic (literally) Cream

Immediately after I received my package I decided to test out this cream. As it is my first first hand experience with retinol I was quite unsure what to expect. The packaging is signature bright and colorful but still functional. First plus I have to give this cream is that it comes with a spatula conveniently attached to the second lid (which took us a long time to open).

The ingredients list goes:

Swiftlet Nest Extract, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Beeswax, Cetyl Alcohol, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Polysorbate 60, Dipropylene Glycol, Retinol, rh-Oligopeptide-1, Sodium Polyacrylate,Allantoin, PEG-100 Stearate, Adenosine, Carbomer, Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Polysorbate 20, Triethanolamine, Alcohol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ceteth-3, BrassicaCampestris (Rapeseed) Sterols, Tocopheryl Acetate, Cetyl Phosphate, Cholesterol, PEG-5 Rapeseed Sterol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Phenoxyethanol, Water, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Ceteth-5,Disodium EDTA, Glyceryl Stearate, Fragrance. 

The actual amount of retinol seems to be pretty ok for this price.

Upon finally getting into the jar, I was startled by how sticky the cream was. It is so thick! I feared it would be difficult to spread but not at all. A tiny amount was sufficient to cover my whole face and all the stickiness was gone. What I liked even more was that it sunk into my skin very easily but didn’t feel dry afterwards. I could almost feel it tightening my face but never so much it would be uncomfortable.

The smell is there, a bit too chemical for my liking but still pretty tolerable. Unless you are very sensitive to the cosmetic scent, you should have no problem for it.

Even after continuous use I had no irritation or breakouts, my sensitive dry skin seemed to handle this cream well. And the benefits?

It certainly kept my face well moisturized, my skin was glowing even after the long nights of studying and despite going into the windy weather I still felt comfortable. When it comes to the wrinkles, I luckily did not have that many to start of but I have notices a teeny tiny improvement in my mouth smile lines and certainly no more of them appeared. This feature is however best tested over a longer period of time but to see even a small result like this makes me approve of this cream more.

24K Gold For Ultimate Youth

As I described above the main feature of this wash off mask is the anti aging gold. However, on top of that it also contains 7 types of berries to deliver a dose of hydration and control your pores at the same time. So mask for all skin types? Definitely! I tested it on my dry and sensitive skin while my roommate tried it on her normal to combination skin and both of us were so happy!

The texture of the mask is a bit thicker but spreads fairly easily, once you put sufficient layer (just so you don’t see your skin) it is so gold and shiny, resting on your face. It starts to quickly turn white as it dries, depending on the layer you should leave it on from 15 to 25 min. I did not notice any irritation or unpleasant feeling whilst wearing it or later after I washed it of. Actually, I felt radiant as a jewel.

This has to be one of my favorite wash of masks I have tried. It left our faces so moist (sorry…) plum and actually brightened them as well! I usually refrain from mentioning any benefits right after the first use but here it was clearly visible. My skin felt calmer, super hydrated and I shined without any significant redness the whole next morning. For the price I couldn’t ask for more.

For smell sensitive people I have to admit you might have trouble with the mask but to me the scent was nice and not too strong. Actually even easier smell to handle then the EFG cream and I think this has also less anger of irritating the skin.

Final Verdict?

Given the prices and the ingredients list of both products I felt like they certainly exceeded my expectations. When it comes to the Retinol EFG cream I think it is a great introduction to retinol products for almost anyone, especially for those with normal to combination skin. Sensitive skin and dry skin can benefit too, it might just not be enough for winter or if you don’t combine your other products well with it. You need to take special care when handling retinol. For the mask, I recommend this to anyone! It is my new obsession and I would certainly repurchase this once I finish this pack. It makes me shine and happy, plus who wouldn’t like gold on their face?

 

What do you think?

You can purchase both of these products – the mask here

and the cream here. (do it trust me 😉

 

Have a lovely weekend.

 

Love,

 

Sara

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Blog, Travel Diaries, Videos / October 21, 2017

4th Vegan Festival In Seoul (video)

Happy Sunday!

 

How are you there?

I know my fellow university students are just reaching their critical points of desperation as the Mid-term exam week continues…

Good luck everyone!

And if you are not currently having to deal with the proximity of failing an exam enjoy your near Halloween!

I myself, being as handy as I am, have prevented myself from enjoying almost anything these days since I kid of broke my arm…

and the right one.

But that is not important to this post.

What is important is, that I managed to visit the 4th Vegan Festival In Seoul!

Vegans In Korea

First of all, I would like to applaud all the vegans living long term in Korea! Great job everyone!

Why?

It is really hard. But not impossible.

As you may have read in my Street Food post I mentioned that I had to revise my “vegan standards” and that is sadly true. Being vegan, even vegetarian, in Korea is truly a challenge so I live now by the rule of doing my best. Also there doesn’t seem to be that many of us.

Or are there?

Before attending the festival I have met only a few people who actively avoid certain animal products and those would be generally my fellow international students. The concept of vegetarianism and veganism is not very well known around Korea so I was surprised by the amount of people I met today.

And not just people attending the event. I was taken aback (happily) by how many vegan restaurants and little shops have emerged in Seoul over the last decade. And most of them are really popular! You may have seen my trip to Plant (go watch it now if you have not) and that is just the top of this new amazing list of vegan places I need to visit.

I was happy to find ethical cosmetics, fashion and even my favorite vegan leather brand Matt&Natt.

Let’s get to the food though shall we?

Vegan Food Baby

With my amazing friend, who helped me in this handicapped situation a lot today, we decided to arrive just in time for the beginning. Despite multiple stalls just getting ready to open we knew we made the right decision.

Later, it was impossible to avoid any long line.

We walked around everything to mark are go-to spots and I immediately had to buy something. Finding the Huggers stall, a new INCREDIBLY LOOKING vegan restaurant emerging in Itaweon, they certainly had a lot to offer. I could’t resist and bought a S’Mores Cake (sounds epic right?) which made my breakfast extremely delicious. It was so good!My friend opted for their burger which was also definitely worth the wait! I now plan on visiting the actual restaurant soon so I will show you much more.

After we explored more we opted for lunch (just about 30 min later… :D) and I decided to try Sweet Potato Veggie Wrap and it was truly delicious. Whole-wheat tortilla, mashed sweet potatoes, raw veggies and my favorite pickled cabbage. I am obsessed with this purple stuff <3

Just after finishing that I had to get a second lunch of course and I was amazed by the RAW Kelp Noodles with Cashew Cream from a packed raw food stall. That has to be my favorite food of the day! So tasty and cream and perfect for actually hot and sunny day!

And my friend? She waited her line to get a Vegan Hot Dog! I have to admit it looked (and tasted) crazy good but I personally am not the biggest fan of fake “meat”…. sorry hot dog.

Like I was not full enough I had to end “lunch” this with Black Sesame Cheesecake. Raw cheesecakes being my nemesis, I wondered if it will be the same. It was not, but it was tasty. Made out of tofu and cashew mix and actually baked it had much firmer and drier texture than your regular raw cake. Not that it was bad, especially as I love black sesame desserts. It was just new.

This Is Not The End

People would think I can’t stuff my belly more but I was unable to stop with all the food around me. I honestly tried to target the stall with no permanent shop to visit later so I had to avoid very popular Jack’s Bean Falafel (I will go there soon..) or Korean Loving Hut. Instead I returned to the wrap stall (that pickled cabbage <3) and bought their Brown Rice Kimbab. I love kimbab and can get it without a bigger problem but this one looked so good! And it wasn’t even expensive. I know I said I eat a lot but I decided to only try a piece and then took it home for the next day. Just kidding I ate it that evening.. oops.

Instead of the Kimbab we bought ourselves weirdly (poop-like) looking Oat Milk Soft Serve. Since I am quite spoiled when it comes to vegan ice cream (thank you Prague..) I was hesitant whether or not it will be good. And it was!
I was so surprised how light, creamy and smooth the soft serve was! And with oat milk? Wow!

If you can ever taste it you won’t regret even as a non-vegan.

After taking last few pictures, we happily (and stuffed) left the Seoul Innovation Park and walked towards the subway to enter sleepy food coma. It was hard.

I can’t tell you how happy I was stocking up on some delicious goods – the best almond butter is now sitting on my shelf – and spending some quality time surrounded by all the stuff I love and sometimes miss.

Even in Korea, even if it’s more challenging, there is no reason for anyone to be the sad vegan. Things are changing and it is all getting more accessible than ever before.

 

So what do you think?

Would you attend the next festival?

I am already writing it down into my diary.

 

Love,

 

Sara

 

P.S. I truly apologize for the bad quality and lack of footage for my video but I am now in the critical week of healing my hand and I was unable to properly hold a camera nor film everything I wanted. I promise my videos will get better very soon. Thank you <3

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Blog, Videos / October 14, 2017

Vegan Plant Restaurant In Itaewon

Welcome back!

 

Did you have a great October week?

 

For me it was full of stress and craziness. returning back to the everyday class life after our Chuseok break but I am now used to it. Plus I am just about to leave to attend 4nd VEGAN FESTIVAL in Seoul! How amazing is that? (but that will be our topic probably next week)

Let’s look what I have for you today.

And trust me it’s amazing. Well, unless you are reading/watching this hungry…

Itaewon = Vegan Heaven

Seoul has many different parts and some of you may know one of them, Itaewon. Itaewon is well known as the international district as it is packed with foreigners. Being close to the US Army base, Itaewon is filled with such a variety of non-Koreans and with them came their cuisines and shops. You can find Mexican, Indian, Turkish, even African food – all in Itaewon. With that being said, it is also a paradise for vegans. Majority of vegan (and “hipster”) restaurants can be found in Itaewon. So is the so called “king” (or queen?) of all vegan food in Korea – The Plant.

Plantbased Plant

Originating as a bakery/cafe, The Plant quickly became local favorite. You do not have to be vegan to fall in love with this place. In fact, my friend who came with me is neither. Later Plant expanded their business and opened a bigger Plant Restaurant, just few blocks from the original bakery. And that is where we headed.

Located just few steps away from Itaewon Subway Station, Exit 4, it is hard to miss this place. Go to 2nd floor and you will enter this amazing and cozy restaurant. BUT be aware that it fills up very quickly. We came just in between lunch and dinner and the place still got super full by the time we were finished.

Salads, Wraps And So Much Cake

Looking at their menu I wished I could have tried everything, especially since they tend to change it from season to season. We finally decided to share the TEMPEH RAINBOW WRAP and HUMMUS & ROASTED SQUASH SALAD. The food didn’t take long to be made but look so so good!

And tasted even better. I personally preferred the salad, mainly because of that tender squash, homemade smooth smoky hummus and especially that garlicky alioli!! The best dressing I know. Not to forget about the wrap – it was also incredibly tasty. Fresh crunchy veggies with so delicate tempeh in soft wrap covered in sauce I can’t name but for sure can eat forever. Loved the fresh chips and the bread as well.

Then came the cakes. Originally we ordered only the PEANUT BUTTER & CHOCOLATE slice but after it made my friend nearly cry with happiness, I knew one slice will not be enough. So I came with the GINGER PUMPKIN SLICE. To describe both cakes – HEAVEN! I am the biggest fan of peanut butter & chocolate combo but this time (sorry) I preferred the pumpkin. It felt more appropriate for fall and that balance of sweet and tangy was on spot. To be said both were one of the best vegan cakes I have ever tried. Delicate but rich, none too heavy. Should I even continue?

All together, one of the best food adventures I have ever been on. However, note that it will be more expensive than your regular Korean food. I was ok paying for health and deliciousness, to defend I think it was worth every single penny. Also the portions were quite tremendous so I think you are paying actually good amount.

 

Would you like to try it?

Where will we go next?

 

Let’s wait and see.

 

Love,

 

 

Sara

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Blog, Videos / October 8, 2017

Celebrating Chuseok In Korea

Hello everyone!

And happy weekend! Did you all have a nice week?

I bet that most of my fellow students and all working people in Korea were quite excited to have a week of. What was the occasion?

South Korea just finished celebrating one of their biggest National Holidays called Chuseok.

Let me tell you all about it.

Korean Thanksgiving

I have heard many times Chuseok being regarded as the “Korean Thanksgiving”. Although it is a nice way to make it more understandable for foreigners, it is actually a bit different.  Family members from near and far come together to share food and to give thanks to their ancestors. Many Koreans visit their hometowns in and travel around meeting all their relatives.

This year, Chuseok Day falls on October 4. As the day before and the day after are also part of the holiday, this year’s full holiday period will take place for ten days at the longest, from September 30 to October 9, including the weekends, National Foundation Day on October 3, and Hangeul Day on October 9. It is really nice to have so much free time, but my college has become a ghost town. For us, the foreigners, it is more about figuring out what to do when everyone leaves and stores shut down. Doesn’t sound like fun anymore right?

Well, we could be studying but…

Let’s Go Sightseeing

Since my arrival to Korea I didn’t, unfortunately, have yet enough time to properly explore this country. Unless you count food. I have seen a lot of it. I always make plans to see certain touristy spots but just now I finally did it. With a couple friends we decided to take the proper tour of traditional Seoul places to immerse ourselves into history.

And we were not the only ones.

Our first stop was the biggest and arguably the most beautiful palace in Seoul. Part of the five main Seoul Palaces, Gyeongbokgung (경복궁) is a popular Chuseok destination. We quickly found out how true this was trying to squeeze through the insane amount of tourist and families alike. Many people also showed up wearing the beautiful traditional Joseon dress Hanbok. I need to say I respected them for surviving it in the heat. 

After touring the palace we moved into the Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골한옥마을) and it was a great idea. Located only couple stations away from the palace and in the heart of Seoul, the village is a beautiful place to go. More like a huge park with a number of preserved old buildings I fell in love with the scenery and the green. All filled with nice clean paths, waterfalls and multiple places to go and explore the history. Exclusively during Chuseok you could have tried some traditional games or like me, go punch some rice cake (see the video.. 🙂

There were definitely many more historical sites to visit, but we had our share for the day.

Pancakes For Dinner

Each holiday is also linked to some kind of traditional food. Chuseok is more than complex with it’s family gathering food but one simple is the main. It is Jeon (). Described as the Korean pancake Jeon comes in many varieties and tastes. The common way to prepare this dish is to mince some meat, seafood or vegetables, coat them in batter and egg (or some can be without it YAY) and fry it. Not the healthiest but certainly a tasty dish not to be missed. You could even find a flower sweet jeon.

This evening we headed to our favorite neighborhood Hongdae and sat down in a cozy popular Jeon pub. Unfortunately all of their jeon included egg but I got to enjoy the BEST Dubu-kimchi (두부김치) I have ever tried. A perfect combination of warm stir fried kimchi with seasoned tofu made this Chuseok even better.

I almost forgot the drinks. Jeon is best paired with Korean traditional liquor Makgeolli (막걸리). Type of rice wine, it is very light and sweet, often even flavored with corn or chestnut (as we had). I personally really like Makgeolli but everyone should not be fooled by it’s almost alcohol free taste – it can kill you.

Enjoying this amazing dinner and chatting with friends I managed to celebrate this Chuseok in all it’s glory even being a foreigner. No matter what, you can always find a way to enjoy your time right.

 

What would you like to do on Chuseok?

 

See you next week.

 

Love,

Sara

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Blog, My Korean Diaries, Videos / October 1, 2017

Yonsei vs. Korea University, YonKo 2017 by an international student

Hello!

How have you been doing?

Last week I attended the amazing Yonsei vs. Korea University games and I couldn’t help but film and write about it. It was so much fun!

I can’t wait till next year’s games take place again.

But first let me introduce to you one of the main things I experienced.

The rivalry.

YonKo or KoYon?

 

Everyone seems to be well aware of the battle between Yonsei and Korea University as old as the schools themselves. Although for most foreign students it is a kind of a mystery. Both being prestigious institutions with great students on their side (Yonsei is still better, obviously), the battle is intense and never-ending, culminating each year with the September YonKo games. As an international freshman, I could never truly appreciate the clash between the two universities, described to me often as the Oxbridge fight, nor did I have the chance to watch the YonKo Games myself. I was quite interested in witnessing the competition for the first time and was happy to get a chance to meet the actual Korea University students to see how great or not they are. I was also a bit scared.

Songs over Sports

I would like to firstly give a round of applause to every student who attended the Games. Arriving at the big Jamsil stadium for the Friday Baseball game, I was taken aback by the sea of blue t-shirts, caps, temporary tattoos and even hair. How could I have thought I would be the only one sacrificing my hair color for my school? On both sides, I saw excited students from all over the world representing their university color. I would be lying if I said I was not happy seeing so many international students singing the Yonsei anthem and noticing less foreigners on the Korea side. Particularly entertaining to me was the lack of attention paid to the actual players (sorry guys) as everyone was too emerged in singing with the incredible Akaraka group. I would have never imagined anyone to have such stamina in the heat.

Language Barrier

I should now probably explain why I was a bit scared. After finishing the sports part of the YonKo Games, students of both universities united and went celebrating together like they do every year. However, it was the first time I attended and I lack both in Korean and in social skills. I knew my fellow UIC students were more than comfortable with English, but how would the Korea University students react to my bad “anyonghaseo”? And how would their attitude be since Yonsei managed to demolish their team?

I needn’t have worried.

The Aftermath

The evening commenced with the “Train Event” and after the subsequent barbeque we sat down with our sister department from Korea University. Despite my friends and I being obvious foreigners and not very proficient in the Korean language none of the students refrained from our table and went to their limits to try and engage us in the conversation. Speaking literally with our hands and legs, we shared our experience and laughed together at the Korea University tragedy. Throughout the entire night, I met many of our rivals and almost none had trouble speaking to us in a way we could understand. We all tried our best, had a lot of fun together, and I still consider it the best Korean learning experience so far. I would be lying if I said I did not come across few individuals, who were more reserved and left us fairly early, but the majority of the Korea University students didn’t mind our language barrier and they for sure didn’t mind us being from Yonsei.


Friends Over Rivals

So where was the rivalry?

It was in the occasional funny remarks, sarcastic comments aimed at no one in particular and at the continuous friendly competition in the little games. I have noticed during the train event when the slightly upsetting songs mocking Korea University students were singing no one seemed to be too distressed by it and some even joined to admit this year’s defeat. It is not like we were not called “chickens” couple times (not that it makes it in any way a good practice).

Overall, despite the occasional offensive comments, I have never experienced a more open and generous bonding event between what are supposed to be deadly rivals. Even though there were older students, the sports players themselves and even freshman who – like me – were unable to fully join the conversations in the event, I can say I will remember this night as one big and funny celebration, where no one had to feel left out. Not only have we won, but also ate a lot, got drunk and met new friends – all of that with little to no conflicts or stress and even the language or background diversity couldn’t prevent that. Indeed, we are all becoming more and more global, and this could be seen even in the “traditional” battle of Yonsei vs. Korea.

 

 

What do you think?

 

Would you like to see it yourself?

I hope you liked this post and I will see you next week!

 

Love,

 

Sara

P.S. you can never imagine how good your language skills are until you start drinking.

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