28 June 2008

I Will Ask a Korean: Soccer and Clear Skin

I recently received a couple of questions that may be of interest to the rest of you. (Yes, you random googler who wants to know what to wear to a Korean wedding).

I would hope that all of you are able to find a more reliable source of information, like a wikipedia or something, but if you have any questions about life in Korea or anything that I've written on this blog, please drop your Q in the comments section of this post. I'm happy to bug Heng or Cyndi and ask for a proper response.

The two questions I will address today regard soccer and skin care, which by the way, are possibly two of the most popular Korean pastimes.

Questions #1 submitted by Luna
"I'd like to see a [Korean soccer] game but I'm not sure how to go about getting a ticket, or even where to find the schedule..."

I'm not clear on how to purchase tickets either. Heng told me that you can purchase tickets online at Ticket Link or Interpark, but you'll probably need proficiency in Hangul and a Korean credit card, neither of which I possess. Heng also told me that you can purchase World Cup Team game tickets at Hana Bank, a sponsor of the Korean national team. You may purchase Korean League football tickets at convenience stores like GS25, Family Mart, or 7-Eleven that have a "현금자동지급기" machine. Select "티켓발권." It appears that you may also purchase basketball tickets from these machines.

Helpful Phrase:

축구 표를 팔아요?
Chuku pyo palayo?
(Do you sell football tickets?)

You may find more information about the Korean Football Association at http://kfa.or.kr/

Questions #2 submitted by Fiona:
"How do Korean ladies keep their skin clear & radiant?! I notice this in a lot of Korean girls I've met, including my own high school classmates, and also with the Korean girls I've encountered on beauty forums and such. They don't seem to have a single blemish or bump! Do they have a special skin care routine or is there something special in their diet? I've noticed in your photos of you & your friends that you guys have nice skin too. It would be great if you can share some info :)"

I too am very curious about the seeming radiant and smooth complexions of Seoul women. You have no idea how may times I've surreptitiously stared at a woman's face while on the train, trying to figure out if it's makeup or if her skin is naturally so beautiful. I still don't have a concrete answer, but I have a few hypotheses.

1) It's all in the genes. It is possible that Korean women are just born with great skin, but one only need to look at a gaggle of Korean teens (or college students) to see that not all Koreans are born with great complexions. It's like looking at a live action Pro-Active commercial. As a teenager, her face is glowing with acne, but once she hits her 20s, her face is blemish free and glowing. After informally observing the clogged pores of multiple young men and older Korean women, I would argue that good skin is not intrinsic to Korean DNA. Also, from personal experience, I know that Korean women are not inherently born with great skin. More on that later...

2) It's all in the diet. This is also another possible factor, but given the fact that most Korean women in their twenties subsist on a diet of coffee, ramyun, samgyupsal, and chili powder, though important, I don't think that the Korean diet is the main factor of good skin. (On the other hand, Koreans eat a lot of garlic. Perhaps that's significant?)

3) Minimize sun exposure. As all the whitening products will attest to, Korean women do not appreciate a tan. In fact, they make a significant effort to maintain their fair complexions. This means lots of sunscreen, large hats, or a cute little sun umbrella. As Heng and Cyndi pointed out, protective measures against the sun are important to healthy skin. In other words, don't forget the sunscreen.

4) Moisturize your face. One reason that I haven't gotten around to using Korean moisturizers and cleansers is it because they involve a 100 step process. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but Korean women do like to use a lot of face products. I can't even attempt to describe what is necessary, but Cyndi and I recently looked at a set of Mung Bean facial products and it consisted of two facial cleansers, toner, "skin", essence, eye cream, and wrinkle cream. I think there were more items, but I can't recall all of them. Similarly, whenever I go in for my scaling, they seem to apply an endless amount of product on to my face. My face always feels soft afterwards, so there must be some value to all that product. Unfortunately, I'm currently too lazy and frugal to spend all that time and money. Perhaps that's why my skin is not up to par with the women of Seoul.

5) It's the magic of B.B. Cream. Blemish Balm cream is known to moisturize, heal, conceal, and protect your skin. I'm not sure about the healing bit, but it's certainly good about concealing blemishes. In fact, if my skin looks pretty clear in photos, it's probably due to the B.B. cream. In addition to their use of B.B. cream, Korean seem to be quite adept at using loads of makeup to produce a seemingly "natural" (bare) face. Cyndi and I are still trying to figure this one out.

6) Maybe it's the scaling? Facial clinics and spas are prevalent throughout Seoul, so it seems to me that Korean women regularly receive some sort of professional treatment. If not, masks and other home spa products seem to be quite popular. I've only had a few scalings done, but each time around, my blemishes seem to disappear faster than normal. WARNING: Your blemishes will be red for the first few days after the scaling (because they prodded out all the nasty junk), but the blemishes will soon fade.

7) It's cosmetic surgery/botox. That's what Cyndi and I always say whenever we see a woman with an enviable amount of beauty, but that's because we're jealous haters. :) I don't think that teen girls are getting Botox injections (or at least, I hope they're not), but I know that many Seoul women are not afraid of getting a little toxic protein injected into their face for the sake of good skin. Again, I'm just conjecturing. I have no evidence, but I would not be surprised if a little cosmetic enhancement is responsible for such lovely faces.

So, back to the question at hand, how do Korean women have such lovely skin? The short answer is I don't know, but if I had to guess, I would say that great attention to skin, with particular emphasis on sun protection and moisturizing, are key. Or, maybe Korean women are indeed just born with properly lovely skin, and problematic skin along with mad cow disease are all part of my American passport.

My skin is by no means clear. As Korean cosmetic ladies are always quick to point out, I have "trouble" skin. My skin has cleared up significantly since my early college days, but I still have regular breakouts. I would at some point like to try out the mega skin routine of Korean women, but for now I just use Dan Kern's Clear Skin Regimen.

If you know the beauty secret of Korean women, please do share!!!!

Special thanks to Heng for all the helpful info.


Luna said...

Thanks Annalog!

Anonymous said...

Try washing with baking soda. I mix half a teaspoon with my facial wash 2-3 times a week. My blemishes fade faster < I do break out occasionally. My skin feels soft and it glows after. Hope it works for you.

Anonymous said...

I'm half Korean and it's all in the genes. But, take note, I maintain a proper skin regimen to make sure my skin is white and glowing.

I use Cetaphil facial wash, clinique sun block, and kate jones night repair cream and placenta cream. I'm proud to say that I have nice skin.