Two weeks after my Korean island adventure, I’m finally getting back on a schedule. Honestly, how I survived a whirlwind 55 hours of travel in four days yet can’t seem to kick the return jet lag is baffling. Or exotic. Yes, I’m going with exotic. The reason for the season was the green tea growing season. Jeju Island, off the coast of South Korea, is one of the world’s top three green tea producers—and I’m not talking about the stuff in your Starbuck’s. Every April for just 15 days, the first young leaves are harvested for use in tea like you’ve never tasted and skincare like you’ve probably never experienced.I visitedAMOREPACIFIC’S green tea fields to pick and taste a few delicate shoots for myself. Who knew green tea grew like a hedge? So precious and fleeting, the delicate baby shoots are literally worth their weight in gold. They’re also extremely rich in antioxidants and growth factors. Which is why AMOREPACIFIC—THE Korean skincare brand since 1954—grows them, harvests them and painstakingly extracts their stem cells for its Time Response line.
Green tea stem cells, green tea EGCG, and green tea saponin are combined into a powerful, patented compound, proven in studies I heard all about (while sipping on green tea) to renew aging skin cells for age-reversing results. I normally would balk at $450 a jar, but after seeing what goes into the cultivation, care and extraction process of these plants, it actually makes perfect sense. My skin also feels firmer and looks smoother since starting the regimen—like I’ve given myself a daily mini-facial. In addition to the aforementioned Skin Renewal Creme, I love the Eye Renewal Creme ($260) for its richness and illuminators that belied my 14-hour flight. If you’ve ever seen pristine Korean skin that you have some idea of how diligent these women are about skincare. I got another glimpse when AMOREPACIFIC sent one of the country’s top estheticians to my room for THE most exacting yet relaxing facial. The precision and acupressure massage were out of this world.
Other highlights of the two-day ritual included yoga and mediation, something I’ve been trying to do at least a few times a week—it does wonder for your skin, in addition to my monkey mind!
I’m still obsessing about this black bathroom (brushed gold fixtures!), spotted at Ossuloc Tea Museum, near the farm. Also worth noting: Most toilet seats in Korea are HEATED. I will spare you a photo of this. And in the villa where I stayed, classical music came on every time I walked into the bathroom. To encourage relaxation??
After jet setting around the country for the last few years with her Air Force husband, our Natural Beauty expert Hannah has settled down in Sacramento and realizing her big dream of becoming an esthetician. We can’t wait to live vicariously while she geeks out over microdermabrasion and perfects her pore extractions. Now, in addition to her popular DIY beauty ideas, Hannah will be taking your skincare questions in her new column, Ask an Esti. Whether you’re battling blemishes or befuddled by that fancy serum, no question is off limits for our resident expert. Leave them below in the comments section, or email Hannah anytime at email@example.com. –Bets
The leaves are turning, the air is chilling and I am FREAKING OUT. Fall’s arrival means a) I have to go jeans shopping; and b) winter is around the corner. To cope, I’m kicking off a Fall Beauty Essentials series. For the next two weeks we’ll be featuring our favorite products and must-have treatments for the season ahead.
First up: Get a facial. Your skin has been through the ringer all summer—sunscreen, sweat, self-tanner—and deserves a fresh start. When I need a serious facial I make a beeline for Kristin Robinson at Bespoke in Edina. She’s a sweet thing but don’t let her fool you: The girl is fanatical about clean pores. After a steam, light peel and mask with Sanitas Skincare (another fall favorite!) she gets down to business with the extractions and doesn’t stop until every last one is clean.
After two weeks back in Minneapolis I’ve finally caught up on my beauty treatment to-do list. Let me tell you: Three months is way to long to go without a massage. Ha. But first stop was balancing facial and Sonja Eileen Aesthetics. Balancing was exactly what I needed after the shock of moving from misty Seattle to dry Minneapolis. She has that perfect touch with skin: soothing, intuitive and highly effective. Selfishly, I can’t get enough of the reflexology she offers with every facial! Sonja just opened her peaceful studio in the same charming South Minneapolis neighborhood as Turtle Bread. It’s the perfect spot for a spring day of shopping, strolling, and spa-ing with a friend.
Down that street at The Beauty Room, my Mi Shaun gave me a color gloss with a touch of Balayage. She finished with Bumble + Bumble’s new five-minute Color Minded treatment that promises to keep color pristine for up to 40 shampoos (ask for it!). Next, I got my minkies filled at Jett Makeup & Eyelash Bar, where the sweet and talented Natalie Soulek just joined the team. After rave reviews from our Beauty Thrifter, Meghan, I booked a heavenly 75-minute massage with Miki at Spot Spa in Uptown. Holy cow. I never saw her coming. Miki applies a combination of Shiatsu, rehabilitative massage, Thai yoga massage for some of the most therapeutic, releasing, out-of-body treatments I’ve ever experienced.
Final destination: The Metropolitan for a long overdue and MUCH needed painless laser hair removal. I’m halfway through bikini and lower legs and have long forgotten that I ever shaved or waxed. I know I say it every time, but laser hair removal is the only way to go and The Met is the only place to get it (here’s a refresher). All packages are 40% OFF through April! Summer’s just around the corner . . .
I am LOVING all of the comments and questions from last week’s beauty gadget blog! Will do my best to tackle them in a timely fashion, starting with the question I get asked on almost a daily basis (I kid not): What do you think of the Clarisonic?
For those of you who’ve been living in the dark ages with your little old washcloth, this cult cleansing device from the makers of the Sonicare toothbrush boasts a soft, rotating brush that purports to remove six times more dirt and makeup than manual cleansing. I’ve been using the Clarisonic off and on for several years, and while I COULD live without it (there, I said it.), I definitely believe in its benefits:
The Clarisonic does a bang up job at keeping pores free and clear—that’s huge if you’re oily and/or prone to breakouts. It’s also fabulous during the hot, sticky summer, which is when I use mine most.
On the flip side, the Clarisonic buffs away dead skin cells and dry patches, which is essential for absorbing serums and moisturizers properly. If your skin ever feels bumpy or looks dull, chances are you aren’t exfoliating enough.
That said, if you’re sensitive, the Clarisonic is ideal as a gentle yet effective alternative to gritty or chemical exfoliants. Kind of like that washcloth.
An oft-overlooked bonus of the Clarisonic: the lymphatic drainage massage provides. I use it in the morning to de-puff and increase circulation for a natural, healthy glow.
Finally, the Clarisonic feels like a mini facial every time, which is what I love most about it.
So there you have it. If any of the above has you swooning, then the Clarisonic is definitely worth considering. The recent launch of the Clarisonic Mia ($149), a smaller, portable, more affordable version of the original, makes it even more tempting.
If you already own a Clarisonic, please weigh in below!
Born and raised in Minnesota by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, beauty writer and lifestyle editor Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years buying Mood lipstick and whipping up DIY face masks before founding Beauty Bets in 2009.