Koreans are known for their fair, healthy skin. Unlike their western neighbors (us!) fair skin is always “in” and therefore they stay out of the sun and go to extreme lengths to keep their skin healthy. Eastern countries are also known for their alternative, often bizarre beauty rituals. From vaginal steam baths (yep!) to slug serums, Koreans are leading the way in alternative beauty practices. As a huge Korean culture fan (and alternative beauty buff) I’m here to give you the lowdown on Korean beauty secrets.
Even though I’d love to keep these secrets to myself to preserve the underground nature and affordability of Korean beauty in America, what this culture knows about self-preservation is way too good to contain! In Part I of Korean Beauty Secrets we’re going to discuss Korean spas also known as “Jjimjilbangs.” This is my favorite way to detoxify and destress the body and mind.
Jjimjilbang’s have multiple levels where guests literally spend entire days enjoying its services and amenities. And just as in Korea, here in the US, many families and friends do spend entire days or evenings there. A great description of a Jjimjilbang can be found on Wikipedia:
“a large, gender-segregated public bathhouse in Korea, furnished with hot tubs, showers, Korean traditional kiln saunas and massage tables. Jjimjil is derived from the words meaning heated bath. However, in other areas of the building or on other floors there are unisex areas, usually with a snack bar, ondol-heated floor for lounging and sleeping, wide-screen TVs, exercise rooms, ice rooms, heated salt rooms, PC bang, noraebang, and sleeping quarters with either bunk beds or sleeping mats. Many of the sleeping rooms can have themes or elements to them. Usually Jjimjilbangs will have various rooms with different temperatures to suit guests’ preferred relaxing temperatures. The walls are decorated with different woods, minerals, crystals, stones, and metals. This is to make the ambient mood and smell more natural. Often the elements used have traditional Korean medicinal purposes in the various rooms.”
There are two main parts to the spa, the main area and the bath/pool area. The main area/central/co-ed often has multiple saunas, restaurants, computers, game tables, tv rooms and full service salons. The bath area (one for females, one for males) has showers, a steam room and herbal pools with different temperatures and therapeutic benefits. Many Korean spas are open 24 hours, so people can sleep over after a night out and enjoy the spa services before going home refreshed.
Aside from the amazing facilities and services offered at the spa (scrubs, massages, Mugwort steam room a.k.a a vaginal steam bath), the reason I got hooked is because after a few hours of saunas, eating, sleeping, showering and bathing your mind and skin feels and looks the best it ever will without products, moisturizers or make-up. And when you walk out, you feel like you’re walking on clouds. The detoxification seeps into every pore of your being literally releasing toxins and clarifying your mind to a new refreshed, best version of yourself.
Things to note:
* Upon entering the spa you are given a bath towel, face towel and 100% cotton outfit consisting of a t-shirt and shorts. You are given a locker to place your goods in and all shoes are checked in upon entrance.
* The pool and shower area are same sex only. That being said, it is acceptable and customary to be nude in this section of the spa.
Luckily, many large urban areas have Korean culture so getting the Jjimjilbang experience is easier than you think. Here are a couple to check out if you’re in New York:Aura Wellness Spa, 49 W 33rd St New York, NY 10001. Phone number (212) 695-9559
Spa Fitness, 131-10 11th Ave College Point, NY 11356. Phone number (718) 939-6300
Korean Spas are by far my best kept beauty secret, but if you’re unable to make it to one, the next best thing would be their fabulous beauty products! Tune in next week for Korean Beauty Secrets Part II where we’ll touch on all the amazing, innovative Korean beauty products you didn’t even know existed!