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9.17.2018

Seoul Searching | The Great Gangnam Adventure.

Located in the south of Han River is the area known as the 'Beverly Hills of Seoul' - Gangnam.
It's a notoriously ritzy district, with neighborhoods full of luxury houses, high-end real estate, and the homes of many Korean celebrities and other crazy rich Asians (Koreans, to be more specific). This affluent and upscale part of Seoul is also home to some of the biggest entertainment companies, which is one of the main reasons why we frequent this place whenever we're in town.

On our most recent trip to Seoul, I took a chance at finding Namoo Actors, the talent agency of my ultimate favorite Korean actor, Lee Joon Gi. Finding the Namoo Actors building was quite tricky. There were very few directions that I could find on the internet, and the only popular landmark within its vicinity was Dosan Park. Nonetheless, Yue and I tried to search for the place on two separate occasions, and as we went along, we discovered some really interesting things (more like buildings) in Gangnam.
Gangnam-gu Office Station, Exit 4.
On our first attempt to get to the Namoo Actors building, we took the subway to Gangnam-gu Office, which is just two subway stops away from where we live. According to this map that I found on the internet, Namoo Actors is within the vicinity of Yeongdong High School, and you can walk your way towards it via Exit 4.
Namoo Actors vicinity map.
What I thought would be a simple ten-minute walk felt like an eternity, and Yue and I somehow got lost along the way. We ended up in front of the Tree J Company headquarters instead. It's the talent agency owned and established by Hallyu star Jang Geun Suk.
Tree J Company headquarters.
The office isn't open to the public, but the cafe on the first floor of the building is. Jang Geun Suk also owns Cafe Pleno, and if you're lucky, you might chance upon him while enjoying your coffee.
Cafe Pleno.
We walked for a bit more, took a left turn at one of the alleyways, and chanced upon yet another talent agency - though not the one that we were looking for.
Vine Entertainment.
I'm not familiar with Vine Entertainment, but I did look it up on the internet and found out that it currently manages three artists. The company is also on the look-out for fresh talents, and are open for auditions to aspiring singers.
Gallivanting in Gangnam, haha!
Tired from all the seemingly pointless walking, Yue and I decided to find the nearest bus stop and take the bus to Yeongdong High School. We managed to get a ride on the 4412 Bus, but by some stroke of bad luck (again, lol), we missed our stop because the LED display board inside the bus wasn't working and the recorded announcement for each stop did not have an English translation.

Yue was on the verge of crying, thinking that we were lost - well, technically we were. But as the bus slowly approached the entrance of COEX Mall - a place that even Yue was familiar with - I assured him that we weren't lost and we'll go to the mall instead. 

At COEX Mall, we finally got to marvel at the massive collection of books at the Starfield Library. This huge athenaeum spans over 2800 square meters, has a seating capacity of around 200, and has over 50,000 books stacked in its shelves. 
Starfield Library at COEX Mall.
The library is open to the public, and anyone can take a book and read to their heart's content. The books, however, can't be brought home, and majority of them are written in Korean.
"Mommy, how do we get the books at the top shelf?"
After flipping through some books and magazines, Yue and I headed for SMTown, one of the places that we never fail to visit whenever we're at COEX Mall. We took this chance to check out SMTown Museum, a cultural space dedicated to the artists of SM Entertainment and all things K-Pop.
SMTown Museum!
Admission fee is 18000 won per individual (around Php 865 or $18), but you can get a discount if your purchase your tickets online or book them through Trazy.
At the SMTown Museum Ticket Counter.
Through this museum, guests can learn more about the history of KPop and get a closer look at the successful careers of SMTown artists such as TVXQ, Super Junior, Girls' Generation, SHINee, and EXO. You'll get to see their albums on display, as well as their music video costumes and other promotional materials. If you're into K-Pop, or if your favorite group belongs to SM Entertainment, then this museum is definitely worth the visit.
All things Mamacita - costumes, promotional posters, etc.
Super Junior, the complete discography.
Yue enjoyed the experience as much as I did, but there's one other thing that he enjoyed even more at COEX - the virtual test drive at Hyundai Motor Studio.
Test driving at the Hyundai Motorstudio.
Unlike the traditional showroom, the Hyundai Motor Studio at COEX showcases their cars and models by allowing guests to interact with them virtually. With state-of-the-art technology, guests can explore cars of different models, colors, and specifications in a blink, just with the use of their fingertips. Even the showroom walls are lined with video cubes to illustrate the cars' exteriors, interiors, and operations on a 1:1 scale. The best part? You can test drive the car of your choice without even leaving the establishment!

Stay tuned for part two of The Great Gangnam Adventure!
Were we able to find the building that we were looking for? Did we get lost again?
Find out on the next blog post! :)

9.16.2018

5 Reasons Why You Always Feel Sick.

Sometimes when you’re feeling sick, it means your body is fighting a virus or infection. At these times, you should of course consult with your medical doctor. However, there are instances when you may be surprised to find there is nothing wrong with you from a clinical standpoint!

A lingering feeing of sickness without any relevant medical causes could simply mean that you’re spreading yourself too thin – by making poor lifestyle choices coupled with having too much on your proverbial plate. Here are some typical issues that might be building to corrode your well-being. If you’re guilty of several of these sins, aim to make adjustments in your routine and your experience will quickly change.
Screencap from the 2015 KDrama Hyde, Jekyll, and Me.
Chronic Stress and Anxiety
We live in increasingly fast-paced societies that put us through all kinds of stress-inducing situations on a regular basis. Many of us are forced into a persistent state of anxiety that keeps us on our edge and as productive as possible. While chronic stress and anxiety are just a part of or modern lives, truth is our bodies and minds just aren’t meant to deal with it naturally! If you have been feeling off and you keep holding hands with stress and anxiety from dawn till dusk… there could be a connection, there.
Story of my life, lol.
Lack of Sleep
Sleep deprivation is another unfortunate but needed staple in the modern lifestyle. Do you often spend your day rushing around crazily trying to get things done and make ends meet? Then you will sooner or later find yourself in a position where the unrest sets in so chronically that you have trouble sleeping even when you have the time available. If you consistently fail to get your 7-8 hours of sleep and you feel tired all day long, it could be that lack of sleep is holding you back and making things even harder for you.
Wait 'til you see this guy transform.
Yang Se Jong in Thirty but Seventeen. :)
Poor Hygiene
There’s a clear correlation between your hygiene levels and your health, and it’s stronger than you imagine. While skipping a shower won’t instantly get you in danger, you must keep in mind that a poor hygiene will make your entire body a suitable breeding ground for all kind of bacteria, viruses, and even parasites. This means that carrying around excessive grime it will open the doors to all kinds of problems from a simple skin infection to all kinds of life-threatening diseases. And it’s not just about your personal hygiene... it's the entirety of your environment that can potentially pose a health risk! That’s why you may want to consider getting a local mold inspection, as well as taking measured to ensure your home remains as hygienic as possible.

Poor Diet and Dehydration
Many people who feel sick on a regular basis without any justifiable medical cause are simply just failing to get proper nutrition and hydration. You must think of food and water as the fuel your body uses to more around! By failing to get the needed amounts of fuel in the right proportions, you will be setting yourself up for health problems that may sometimes take years to manifest. Start paying more attention to these aspects, and you may find your health levels quickly improve.
But coffee is life!
Alcohol, Caffeine, Drugs, or Medications
There are many substances we consume casually which have immediate and negative healthy repercussions, which often go by unnoticed in favor of their attractive effects. This includes obvious recreational substances of abuse like alcohol and illicit drugs, as well as less obvious food related items such as coffee. Even the medications you have been prescribed by your doctor to improve some aspects of your health could be degrading other departments!


9.14.2018

Spotlight | Holika Holika x Peko Collection.

After months of sitting in my dresser drawer, I've finally opened these two items from the Holika Holika x Peko Collection - the Hard Cover Glow Cushion and the Water Drop Tint Bomb. Bought these at one of the Holika Holika stores in Myeongdong during my last trip to Seoul, but it took me awhile to open them because I wanted to use up all of my 'previously opened' cushions before moving on to another one.
My mini haul from Holika Holika. :)
Hard Cover Glow Cushion, 20000 won,
Water Drop Tint Bomb, 8500 won.
And now that I've pretty hit the pan with most of my cushions, it's time to unbox and finally use my Holika Holika x Peko Hard Cover Glow Cushion - yay! The cushion is housed in a super cute milk carton. It's a shame that I have to 'desecrate' it just so I can get the products inside. 
English text on one side of the carton. The other side has text written in Hangul.
Contents include the red cushion case with a picture of Peko, a cushion puff also designed with Peko's picture, and the cushion itself. The last two items are sealed inside the red plastic packaging, as seen on the photo below.
Unboxing my Holika Holika x Peko Hard Cover Glow Cushion.
(Tint balm bought separately.)
Here's a closer look at the cushion puff. 
Peko Air Cushion Puff.
This one is the 'beige type', which soaks up a good amount of product and gives the cushion a nice satin finish.
Peko Air Cushion Puff.
Now here's the cushion itself. It's embossed with tiny floral prints, which I find pretty cute, and has a subtle, soapy scent which I find quite nice.
The cushion, still sealed.
Holika Holika describes this product as 'a cushion with brightening benefits and a dewy moisturizing finish'. Made with aloe leaf water and enriched with double moist serum, 'this cushion leaves the skin moisturized and glowing'. And with the help of Holika Holika's Full Barrier technology, the skin 'gets SPF50 protection from fine dust and free radical damage, and ensures that the skin's barrier stays intact.'
The cushion, with tiny flower prints.
The Holika Holika x Peko Hard Cover Glow Cushion comes in four different shades. I got number 03 Honey, which was the shade nearest to my skin tone. (I usually go for shade number 23 with other cushion brands.)

Shade #03 Honey.
I like how the cushion is super soaked from the get-go. You get a good amount of product with just a light tap on the cushion. I also like its light and sheer formula, though I find it a bit sticky if worn without a primer. It's a good thing that I decided to use this cushion now that the temperature has gradually become cooler and less humid. 
Bare face.
With the Holika Holika x Peko Hard Cover Glow Cushion.
This cushion also has good, buildable coverage - a solid medium at the most - enough to even out my skin tone and cover the fine lines on my face. It gives my skin a nice, dewy finish, which is what I usually look for in a cushion. Wear time is quite good, too. It stays on for five to six hours before it starts to crease on the corners of my eyes and the sides of my nose.

Moving on to the Water Drop Tint Bomb, Holika Holika describes this product as 'a lip tint which adheres to lips lightly to create moisturizing luster without stickiness. Creates juicy lips with vivid color.'
Holika Holika x Peko Water Drop Tint Bomb.
It comes in an adorable tube packaging, also with a photo of Peko-chan.
And here's the other side of the tube.
There are five different shades in the Holika Holika x Peko Water Drop Tint Bomb line, and I chose number 04, a muted shade of cherry red. Later on, I discovered that its shade name is actually 'Cherry Coke'.
04 Cherry Coke.
This Water Drop Tint Bomb is one of, if not the quirkiest lip products I have ever tried. Aside from the product's teardrop shape (which is actually great since it helps in applying the product more precisely on the lips), this tint bomb has a tingling, cooling sensation and feels wet upon application. It glides on smoothly on the lips, feels soft and light at first swipe, then dries down to a velvety, matte finish.
Teardrop shaped Tint Bomb.
Surprisingly, this product is highly-pigmented and has a transfer-proof formula. Color stays on the lips for at least five hours with a bit of eating, and no, it doesn't leave stains on your coffee cup or eating utensils.
Swatched, indoor lighting.
However, this Tint Bomb is not as moisturizing as I expected them to be, and it tends to emphasize the lines on my lips the longer I wear it. I still love this product nonetheless; I just make sure that my lips have been exfoliated prior to application.
Swatched, under natural light.
Overall, I'm glad I was lured by the adorable packaging of this collaboration collection (because you know I'm a sucker for such things), and was able to discover some really good products from Holika Holika in the process. Prior to this, the only Holika Holika product I owned was the Aloe Soothing Gel, which my Mum and my siblings absolutely love. Now, I'm keeping tabs on the brand's new product releases and I'm actually looking forward to their next collaboration collection. I hope they'll be just as eye-catching as the Peko collection!
Products used:
FACE: Innisfree Cushion Primer,
Nature Republic Botanical Stick Concealer,
Holika Holika x Peko Hard Cover Glow Cushion.
EYES: Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil in Brown,
Clio Kill Black Waterproof Brush Liner,
Nature Republic Pure Shine Mascara.
CHEEKS: Sleek Makeup Blush in Mirrored Pink.
LIPS: Holika Holika Water Drop Tint Bomb in 04 Cherry Coke.

9.09.2018

Sneak Peek | Tony Moly x Samyang Collection.

I may have been on point with my prediction from a few months back that the K-beauty industry would be banking on collaborations with food brands. There's the Peko Collection from Holika Holika (which I am currently testing as I write and will be doing a review of real soon), and the Coca-Cola Collection from The Face Shop which started the trend this year.

And just when I thought I have seen it all, here comes Tony Moly with a collection that's bound to be hot, hot, hot! That's because they're collaborating with Samyang, makers of the buldak bokkeum-myeon (aka Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen) which gave rise to the world-famous Fire Noodle Challenge.
Tony Moly x Samyang Collection.
The star of this collection would have to be the Hot Edition Hot Coverdak Cushion, which comes in a quirky cup noodle packaging.
Hot Edition Hot Coverdak Cushion, 12000 won.
The packet that comes with the cushion is actually the refill. Once the original cushion runs out, simply squeeze out the contents of the packet, the way you'd squeeze out the buldak spicy sauce.
Squeeze out the 'sauce'!
There's also the Hot Edition Noodle Blusher, which comes in two shades - Bad Red, a bright red blush that screams for attention, and Carborator, a soft, shimmery shade of pink that you can also use as a highlighter.
Hot Edition Noodle Blusher, 7000 won.
This collection also includes the Hot Edition Lip Care Stick, a colorless lip balm to moisturize your lips and keep them from chapping.
Hot Edition Lip Care Stick, 6000 won.
To give your lips a pop of color, there's the Hot Edition Lip Sauce Tint which comes in two shades - Chicken Red and Cheese Chicken. Not sure if these lip tints have the same scent as the real thing; if that's the case, then this collection would be taking quirkiness to the next level, lol.
Hot Edition Lip Sauce Tint, 8000 won.
Finally, there's the Hot Lucky Box, which comes in an even bigger cup noodle packaging. Like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates (you'll never know what you're gonna get), the Hot Lucky Box contains five or six items selected at random.
Hot Lucky Box, 25000 won.
If you're really lucky, you might get the box that contains the Perfect Eyes Mood Eye Palette which originally sells for 22000 won.
What's inside the Hot Lucky Box?
The Tony Moly x Samyang Collection was officially launched last Friday, September 7, and is now available at all Tony Moly stores across South Korea.


8.30.2018

My First 'Official' Althea Haul!

K-Beauty shopping website Althea was launched at the time when I was already going back and forth to Korea and enjoying the perks of my multiple entry Korean visa. I would shop for Korean cosmetics at actual stores in Myeongdong, Hongdae, or Sinsadong, buying stocks enough to last until my next trip.

I didn't fully appreciate Althea - or any other K-Beauty shopping website for that matter - until I became part of their Beauty Ambassador Community, fondly known as Althea Angels. As an Althea Angel, I got to rediscover my love for online shopping and the convenience of buying everything that I need with just my credit card and a click of a button. Even more so, I was also impressed by Althea's wide range of products, competitive pricing (they're cheaper than most shopping websites), fast delivery (my package arrived six days after I placed my order) and impeccable customer service.

Now one of the perks of being an Althea Angel is getting reward points on certain occasions. We received reward points as part of our Welcome Gift, which I then used to pay for my order. Althea members also receive reward points with their first purchase, and can earn more points through promotional activities at Althea's social media sites.

That being said, here's a sneak peek of my first 'official' haul from Althea. :)
My first 'official' Althea haul!
Skin & Lab Dr. Vita Clinic White Vita-C Essence.
"An essence that uses a more stabilized form of Vitamin C, along with green tea seed oil, spider silk protein and sea buckthorn extract to promote hydration, strengthen skin and provide soothing benefits. Regular use of the essence fades blemishes and dark spots, resulting in a refined, more flawless complexion."
Skin & Lab Dr. Vita Clinic White Vita-C Essence, Php 730.
I've recently begun incorporating Vitamin C in my skincare routine, and I thought this essence was a great way to start. All the great feedback that I have read about this product convinced me to give it a try, and I'm thrilled to see what this essence can do for my skin!

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Color Clay Mask.
"A sebum-controlling color clay mask with different colors and functions. Contains Jeju volcanic cluster to cleanse pores; combats different skin concerns; easily incorporated by multi-masking."
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Color Clay Mask (Brightening), Php 350.
One of the first few skincare products that got me into this K-Beauty bandwagon was Innisfree's Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask.  Since then, clay masks have become part and parcel of my skincare routine, and after emptying another jar of the Pore Clay Mask, I thought of switching to the colored version this time around. My penchant for vitamin C-infused products made me choose the Yellow variant. It's formulated with Vitamin C to brighten the skin and make it more radiant.

Nature Republic Argan Essential Deep Care Hair Pack.
"This hair pack contains Argan Oil which provides excellent features such as moisturizing, repairing, nourishing, and gives the outer texture a silky feel. It targets dry and damaged hair that has gone through multiple perms, hair coloring, harsh dryers, and constant exposure to the sun. Effective for split end and brittle hair."
Nature Republic Argan Essential Deep Care Hair Pack, Php 300.
Now this is one of my favorite hair care products of all time. This hair pack helped my then-blonde tresses survive the harsh Korean winter, and prevented it from becoming dry, dull, and brittle. I've been using this product on a weekly basis since I discovered it in 2015, making sure I always have a tub or two (sometimes three) at home. 

Prreti Be Moist Moisturizing Stick.
"Pocket-sized glide-on stick made with plant-based oils to protect and nourish the skin, specifically the area around the eyes. 
Prreti Be Moist Moisturizing Stick, Php 190.
A relatively new product on the Althea website, the Prreti Be Moist Moisturizing Stick promises 'nutrition, vitality, and elasticity' for dry and dull skin. You know I'm obsessed with anything that can make my dark and often tired-looking under-eyes less prominent, so I added this product to cart. For Php 190, I thought this was worth trying. I just hope this product works!  

Unpa Bubi Bubi Lip Scrub.
"Flaky lips no more thanks to this innovative lip scrub from Korean brand, Unpa.
Natural lip scrub made with natural AHAs, papaya extract and grapefruit extracts to scrub away dead skin cells and leave lips so soft. Once applied, gel bubbles up into an exfoliator and dissolves away dry skin."
Bubi Bubi Lip, Php 470.
This bubble-forming lip scrub piqued my curiosity after I saw a demo video of it on one of Althea's social media sites a few months back. Althea had some sort of promotional offer last week, and this lip scrub was among the products that you can receive for free (the other two were a set of sheet masks and a hair bleaching set) with any purchase that you make on the Althea website. Me so lucky!

Real Fresh Skin Detoxer Set.
"Althea's Real Fresh Skin Detoxer is a 10-second, 2-in-1 cleanser pack that showcases real, fresh ingredients and incorporates them into a system that allows a deep, clarifying cleanse while boosting the skin with nutrients and goodness. This product leaves the skin feeling fresh and looking smooth for a healthy, happy complexion!"
Althea Real Fresh Skin Detoxer Set, Php 990 (introductory price).
With my recommendation and tons of positive reviews on the Althea website, my friend decided to give these cleanser packs a try. This set is hers actually, and I hope she enjoys both products as much as I do. You can read my review of the Real Fresh Skin Detoxer Set here.

I'll be doing a review of the other products soon! Stay tuned! :)