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Seoul Searching | Exploring Insadong.

Dubbed as 'the heart and soul of Seoul', Insadong is one of the most note-worthy neighborhoods in the city and a must-go destination for anyone visiting South Korea. I regret not visiting this place earlier, considering that we have been to Korea twice in the past. Better late than never, as they say, and we finally had the chance to explore this quaint and charming neighborhood during our month-long stay in Korea last winter - our third visit to the country that I call my second home.
I heart Insadong, and you will easily fall in love with it, too!
Conveniently located between the Five Grand Palaces of Korea, Insadong Street stretches over 700 meters between the Anguk-dong Rotary and Jongno 2-ga. The latter is located near the Jongno 3-ga Station, so we chose to go to Insadong via this subway station (Line 5). Another option is via the Anguk Station, but I chose to stay away from this line (Line 3) after my horrendous experience with the transfer on our way home from Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggyung Palace last spring.
Tapgol Park.
As we made our way to Insadong from the Jongno 3-ga Station, we passed by Tapgol Park, the first modern park established in Seoul. Also known as 'Pagoda Park', this tourist attraction is home to an abundance of national treasures, including the Palgakjeong, an octagonal pavilion built in 1902.
The Palgakjeong.
More of Tapgol Park and Insadong after the jump!


Spotlight | Tony Moly ❤ Pokemon Pikachu Kids & Mom Toner.

South Korea may have been a little late when it comes to Pokemon Go (the game made its debut in the country only last January, six months after its worldwide launch), but not with Pokemon merchandise. Pikachu and friends are extremely popular in South Korea, and you'll find all sorts of merchandise - toys, plushies, apparel, jewelry, stationery, to name a few - in almost every shopping district, traditional markets included.

Case in point, the Tony Moly x Pokemon collaboration collection which created quite a stir among makeup junkies and Pokemon fans around the world. (Me included!) And so last winter, I made it a point to buy a few items from the limited edition collection, for myself and for my siblings who are huge Pokemon fans as well.
Tony Moly x Pokemon products, on display in one of the stores in Myeongdong.
Luckily, Tony Moly had a huge sale event while I was there. I was able to buy pasalubong for the entire family without making my wallet weep, haha! As for myself, I got one of those Jigglypuff Peach Pacts, some sheet masks, a makeup pouch, and this Pikachu Kids & Mom Toner.
Pikachu Kids & Mom Toner.
Originally priced at 13000 won (around Php 600 or $11) this toner went on sale for just 9900 won (around Php 450 or $9) each. The discounted price was actually one of the reasons why I bought this product on a whim - aside from the fact that the packaging is just too cute to resist.
Mostly Hangul text at the back of the box.
A moisturizing toner that refreshes the skin and smoothens skin texture, the Pikachu Kids & Mom Toner is gently-formulated and guaranteed safe for sensitive skin. The brand claims that this product can even be used by children, thus the name 'kids and mom toner', though I really wouldn't let my eight-year-old son or my five-year-old niece use this, or any other cosmetics for that matter.
Product description in English, printed on the side panel.
A soothing complex of plant extracts, this toner's major components include lavender flower water, cornflower water, and Western pear extract - all three ingredients known for their antioxidant properties and healing benefits on the skin.
EWG Verified!
This product also boasts of an EWG verification, meaning it has passed the strictest health and transparency standard of the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Products with the EWG Verified mark are guaranteed free from harmful chemicals and are produced with the best manufacturing practices. How awesome is that?
Yep, it's a licensed product!
Personally, I love how this product works well on my sensitive skin. It does not sting, and it never broke me out.
Here's the bottle.
And the back of the bottle.
It has a thin, watery consistency which is light on the the skin and leaves it feeling cool and hydrated - exactly what my skin needs during these hot summer months.
Dispenses just the right amount of product.
It also has a mild, citrusy scent, the kind that perks you up on lazy Monday mornings. No worries if citrusy scents are not up your alley. The scent fades as soon as you bathe your skin with the toner.
Thin, watery consistency.
Best of all, I love how this toner smoothens my skin and makes it look healthy and supple. I've been using this product for a little over a month now, and it does a good job at keeping my skin moisturized and healthy without the redness or break-outs.

Would I repurchase? If this product has not been discontinued by the time I return to Seoul, I would! :)


Spotlight | Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam.

Shopping for makeup and cosmetics in Korea has always been a delightful experience. Aside from the well-known fact that shopping districts in Korea are lined with various brands of cosmetics stores, their sales staff are also very cordial and helpful towards customers, especially foreigners. The best part? They give away free samples with every purchase, and are extremely generous with it!

This was how I first got my hands on the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam. I received like five or six sachets when I went hoarding at the Innisfree store in Myeongdong last spring, fell in love with the product from the first time I used it, and decided to buy a full-sized tube when I chanced upon a huge sale at the Innisfree store in Hongdae.
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam.
Originally priced at 8000 won, I got this 150 mL tube for half the price. Quite a steal, huh? :)
English and Hangul text at the back of the tube.
Product description (click to enlarge).
A pore-cleansing foam made with scoria from the volcanic island of Jeju, this product absorbs sebum and washes away impurities while leaving the skin soft and smooth.
Green Complex and 5-Free System.
It's also enriched with the Jeju green complex which consists of camellia sinensis, camellia japonica, cactus, and mandarin to keep your skin nourished and healthy.
Natural benefit safety seal.
And it's free from harmful ingredients such as parabens, mineral oil, synthetic colorants, ingredients from animals, and imidazolidinyl urea, a formaldehyde-releasing preservative. As such, this product bears the 5-Free System logo, which you can find on the side of the tube.
Flip-top cap.
The tube is made of soft plastic - easy to squeeze, with rounded, non-poking corners.
The tube opening, still sealed.
As for the product itself, it's a white-colored cleanser with a fairly thick consistency. A pea-sized amount of the cleanser yields a rich lather, so I reckon it will take months before I can empty out this 150 mL tube. Also, it has a mild scent that's neither floral nor citrus-y, but pleasant nonetheless.
Just a little goes a long way.
Sudsy! :)
As I have mentioned earlier, this cleansing foam is made with volcanic scoria, a dark-colored igneous rock with round bubble-like cavities. Formed from lava as it cools after a volcanic eruption, these rocks are fairly rare and free from impurities.
Tiny orange particles made from volcanic scoria.
You can see this volcanic scoria in the form of tiny orange particles which dissolve easily as you build a lather. These tiny clusters don't come in abundance, and they don't have that 'exfoliating feel', unlike the particles contained in face scrubs and exfoliating creams. Hence, this cleansing foam is alright for daily use. I actually use this twice daily, and I love how my skin feels soft, smooth, and squeaky clean after each use.

Now that we're entering the hot summer months, my skin tends to generate a lot more oil than the usual (I have sensitive skin, for the record) and I love how this cleansing foam helps in unclogging pores and keeping excess oil at bay. Definitely one of the best cleansers I have ever tried!

What I love:
- Affordable price.
- Thorough cleansing.
- Very economical; a pea-sized amount generates a thick lather.
- Safe for sensitive skin.
- Reduces excess sebum, unclogs pores.
- Made with natural ingredients.
- Does not contain harmful chemicals.
- Cruelty-free.

What you might not like:
- The brand is not available in the Philippines, but can be bought from online stores like Seoul Shopper.


The Genius That is Online Shopping.

Not too long ago, most people were wary about using the Internet for making purchases. Today, shopping online with places like Peak Boutique is the norm as more people are appreciating the benefits of shopping online.

Understanding why online fashion is becoming more attractive is fairly easy. Considering that many people spend a considerable amount of time at work, running to a crowded mall might not be their first desirable place to be. So to accommodate shoppers, fashion stores are putting up show all over the web.

Here are more things to consider as you feel secure enough to use your credit card online to buy that favorite outfit or latest fashion trend.
Photo credit: Wall Street Journal.
Online Boutiques Never Close
After a long hard day at work, you might decide to go shopping at midnight. However, all the stores are closed. What can you do? Wait until the weekend and join all the other shoppers looking for parking spaces on the mall parking lot? Perhaps. Or, you can boot up your computer and go shopping at one of your favorite online stores.

That is the genius of shopping online. You can conveniently buy what you want or need at any time of the day or night. Of course, your order might not be processed until the next day when workers are awake. Still, there is a good chance that your items will arrive within a few days.

Faster Research before Buying
Offline, you might have to go to several stores within one or several malls before you find the perfect shade of red. On the Internet, however, you can research different shops with just a few clicks. You can also read reviews about the store and/or items that you are considering before you spend any money.

You save time, money and the disappointment of driving all over the city in hopes of finding what you want.

Some Shops Have Better Deals
More often than not, you can find better bargains online than walking into a shop. Online stores usually have a great deal of competition to win over customers. As a result, you get better deals online.

Indeed, online shopping growth has even sparked high end fashion brands to vie for customers. They too offer discounts and sales regularly to build and sustain a fan base of customers who enjoy the convenience of shopping online.

This hassle-free way of buying without leaving your house will continue its evolution.


Seoul Searching | Lotte World Mall.

On the day that Yue and I were supposed to do a walking tour of Insadong, it rained like crazy as soon as we boarded the Green Bus that would transport us to the nearest subway station. Right at that moment, I decided to make a raincheck (quite literally) and head for Lotte World Mall instead.

Yue was more than glad with the change of plan. "Are we going to the amusement park again?" he asked. "No, since Daddy is not with us today. But we'll look for something fun to do when we get there", I said.

Truth be told, the two reasons why I decided to go to Lotte World Mall is because it's just a 12-minute subway ride from Ttukseom AND there is no risk of getting wet in the rain as the mall is connected to Jamsil Station.
Welcome to Lotte World Mall!
We arrived at Lotte World Mall in no time, and I was surprised to see a throng of shoppers despite the weather being very erratic that day. Holiday rush I guess, since Christmas was just three days away.

More of the 'Landmark of Korea' after the jump!


Sneak Peek | The Face Shop x Dreamworks Trolls Collection.

Hello, blog! I missed you! :)

I've been extremely busy with Yue's schoolwork and final exams that I hardly had the time to update this blog, let alone sit down in front of my laptop. But now that his exams are almost over (just two more subjects on Monday!), I reckon I will have more time to spare for this blog and finally get all those pending articles over and done with. Still not done documenting my winter Seoul Searching trip, and it's almost spring!!!

Speaking of spring, I'm looking forward to the new releases from my favorite cosmetic brands. I've seen a few teasers on Facebook and other social media pages, and from the looks of it, it's gonna be another exciting season in the world of collaboration collections!

First on the list is the collab between The Face Shop and Dreamworks Trolls!
The Face Shop x Dreamworks Trolls collection.
These music-loving, candy-colored cuties take center stage again as The Face Shop launches a makeup, skincare, and haircare line featuring the movie trolls!

Hug time! View the entire collection after the jump!