A Journey to Seoul’s Best Beauty Stores

Originally posted on Medium on April 26, 2018.

The story: When brick and mortar challenge online retail.

For 2 weeks last fall I backpacked solo in South Korea. After exploring the stunning country side and temples, I decided to spend some time perusing the innovative beauty landscape in Seoul to become a K-Beauty “expert”.

We tend to think of the death of bricks and mortar retail stores with the recent explosion in online shopping. But during my travel I realized how important consumer experience still is and how Korean beauty brands have created exceptional atmospheres in their stores with nice coffee spots, spas, rooftops, selfie booths, free skin testing and open laboratories.

Here are my top 4 beauty stores:

1- For the food and fun: Skinfood

 Skinfood flagship, 37, Apgujeong-ro 12-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Skinfood flagship, 37, Apgujeong-ro 12-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Skinfood was launched back in 1957! They were the first cosmetic brand to root itself in food and believe in nutrient-rich beauty for healthy, beautiful skin. For example, some of their key ingredients are black sugar, honey and eggs.

Their 4-floor flagship store in the Gangnam district is really stunning with a green rooftop full of plants and comfy chairs where you can relax. They have a coffee spot where you can sit down, eat and have your nails done at the same time. I tried it and the food is good though more international than Korean.

I highly recommend visiting this store to discover all the products you can develop from food, and to take a break at their cafe, photo studio or rooftop.

2- For the luxury and Korea’s traditions: Sulwhasoo

 Sulwhasoo Flagship, SPA and museum: 18 Dosan-daero 45-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Sulwhasoo Flagship, SPA and museum: 18 Dosan-daero 45-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

I hadn’t heard of this brand before I found their store. What an experience! The place is beautiful and so tastefully decorated. Back in 1966, Sulwhasoo was inspired by Korean herbal medicine, which is steeped in a long tradition of Eastern holistic philosophy that searches for deeper answers. Based on a desire to find harmony and balance, their treatments view the body as a whole. There is a museum on the first floor where you can learn all about the history behind the brand.

They have 2 luxurious spas offering traditional treatments, one specializing in anti-aging and the other one more contemporary. I had a facial treatment in the contemporary one and I was not disappointed. It is a whole ritual performed in a beautiful room. At the end of the treatment you have access to the powder room to freshen up, try their skincare and make-up products.

They also have a rooftop that is very contemporary and worth a look.

3- For a “Back to the Future” experience: Dr.Jart+

 Dr Jart Flagship: 46 Dosan-daero 11-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Dr Jart Flagship: 46 Dosan-daero 11-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

If you want to experience a visit to a pharmacy managed by a crazy scientist, you’re in the right place! Dr. Jart was developed by 2 doctors in 2004, Dr. Jung and Chin Wook Lee. They believe in the true spirit of science for creating skincare products.

Their brand new flagship store in Gangnam can be viewed just like a museum of modern art. Most spaces are set up like a contemporary installation where creativity matters more than their products. 

Even if you are not into K-Beauty this place is really worth a visit!

4- For the consciousness award: Innisfree

 Innisfree, 193 Hoegi-ro, Hwigyeong 1(il)-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul

Innisfree, 193 Hoegi-ro, Hwigyeong 1(il)-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul

A big round of applause for Innisfree who are highlighting sustainability first in their Dongdaemun store (not the Flagship one). In this beautiful traditional Korean house, they display their recycling process to visitors. Inside the store they showcase their green products and special edition skincare products which use less plastic. Innisfree offer a large range of innovative beauty solutions powered by natural ingredients responsibly sourced from Korea’s pristine Jeju Island.

I believe all companies should follow their example. Fortunately, today we are witnessing a major change in the cosmetic industry with a focus on sustainability. As most beauty products today contain mostly water inside and plastic outside, it is time to be more creative and offer solid alternatives to build a greener future for our planet.

Written by Elsa Jungman, Ph.D.

I Traveled to Korea and Here Are the Most Surprising Beauty Products I Discovered…

Originally published on Medium on January 1, 2018.

Last fall I backpacked solo for 2 weeks in South Korea. After exploring the stunning country side and temples I decided to spend some time perusing the beauty innovation landscape in Seoul to become a K-Beauty “expert”. Here's what I discovered:
 

Unexpected ingredients


Bee Venom

It is used for improving skin appearance. Bee venom and its major component, melittin, have been used in Asia as an anti-inflammatory medicine for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases.

 Bee Venom Emulsion from Nature Republic

Bee Venom Emulsion from Nature Republic

Bird’s Nest

Edible bird’s nest are made of solidified saliva of Asian swiftlets. I heard about bird’s nest soup being a delicacy in Chinese cuisine for its function to improve health specifically for the skin. Several studies have found that it may enhance cell proliferation and differentiation. I was not too surprised to find it as a beauty product!

 My Beauty Diary® Bird’s Nest Mask

My Beauty Diary® Bird’s Nest Mask

Snail

It’s no big news that snail is now a big thing in skincare. Snail secretion has been used for centuries to treat various skin conditions and the mechanism of action is being investigated. It was also shown to help to reduce wrinkles on photo damaged skin.

I think what surprised me the most is that the jewelry brand Agatha I used to shop at in Paris as a teenager has become a skincare line in Korea!

 AGATHA Fonctionnel Escargot Mask

AGATHA Fonctionnel Escargot Mask

Eggs

These products contains apparently an enzyme like albumin isolated from the egg that could help fighting pores… However I could not find more information about it besides that egg will form a thin tight film on your skin surface.

 Too Cool For School Egg-ssential fluid and Egg-zyme Whipped Foam

Too Cool For School Egg-ssential fluid and Egg-zyme Whipped Foam

 SKINFOOD, Egg White Pack, Peel-Off Pack and Cool Meringue Pack

SKINFOOD, Egg White Pack, Peel-Off Pack and Cool Meringue Pack

Dragon blood

Yes you heard me, Dragon blood mask and it was not even Halloween! Well actually it is from a Peruvian tree named Dragon Blood that has a bright red resin.

 Too cool for school, Fresh Gore Sleeping Pack

Too cool for school, Fresh Gore Sleeping Pack

 Too cool for school, Fresh Gore Sleeping Pack

Too cool for school, Fresh Gore Sleeping Pack

Surprising product designs


Hair wipes

I had no idea this existed. It is made to refresh the hair. I tried to use it as a dry shampoo but it did not really work for me… I should learn how to use it properly!

 Nature Republic Mint Solution Hair Fresh Dry Tissue

Nature Republic Mint Solution Hair Fresh Dry Tissue

 Nature Republic Mint Solution Hair Fresh Dry Tissue

Nature Republic Mint Solution Hair Fresh Dry Tissue

Sauna Mask

A mask instead of a sauna session for the skin! The concept definitely seems interesting as regular sauna use has a protective effect on skin physiology and hydration capacity.

 Make p:rem Wrapping me Sauna Mask

Make p:rem Wrapping me Sauna Mask

 Make p:rem Wrapping Me Sauna Mask

Make p:rem Wrapping Me Sauna Mask

Blackhead silicon remover

I am a big fan of devices which help to maintain a proper skin health as they require no ingredients for application and just a gentle mechanical action. Also these finger tips are super cute!

 Innisfree Blackhead Goodbye Finger Tip Silicon

Innisfree Blackhead Goodbye Finger Tip Silicon

Blackhead swab and patch removers

They also sell many peeling swab kits. Frankly, anti-acne and blackhead goods are a really big market in Korea according to the number of products they sell in this category.

13.JPG
14.JPG

Anti-aging smile line mask

We are all familiar with under eye patches and facial masks but now you can even target your smile area. :)

 MISSHA Speedy Solution Smile Zone Patch

MISSHA Speedy Solution Smile Zone Patch

 MISSHA Speedy Solution Smile Zone Patch

MISSHA Speedy Solution Smile Zone Patch

Rubber Mask

This type of mask is suppose to stimulate the delivery of actives into the skin with a cooling effect. It is even sold by Dr. Jart+ in a smoothie container for the preparation!

 Dr. JART, Flagship Store, Seoul

Dr. JART, Flagship Store, Seoul

 Dr. Jart + Dermask Shaking Rubber Hydro Shot

Dr. Jart + Dermask Shaking Rubber Hydro Shot

Less plastic!

I was glad that Innisfree took the initiative to promote sustainable solutions with this SPF cream. “Less plastic it’s fantastic!”

 Innisfree Daily UV protection cream

Innisfree Daily UV protection cream

As a strong advocate for minimalist and sustainable skincare routine, it was difficult for me to consider trying most of these innovations; but I enjoyed them very much on display and in beautiful stores ;) Very curious to see what 2018 will bring!

Written by Elsa Jungman, Ph.D.

How Yoga Sparks Your Inner Beauty

Originally published on Medium on December 20, 2017.

Inner-beauty
 

For all the yogis out there, I think we all have met at least one: that teacher or student that shines with radiant beauty from within. It’s easy to wonder, what is their secret?

Learning to live radiantly
What makes yoga such an interesting practice is that it works on many different levels in the body. To an outside observer witnessing a Hatha or Vinyasa practice, it’s easy to see that the practice could help to tone, strengthen and stretch the physical body. In addition, physical activity helps to increase blood flow to all areas of the body, supplying important nutrients to the skin.

What science shows
At the same time, there are even subtler benefits to the practice. Yoga helps to regulate our nervous system, shifting the balance from our sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight response) to our parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest response). The latter is calming and restorative for our bodies, with a slower breath and heart rate, reduction in blood pressure while increasing blood flow to our vital organs. This is often referred to as the relaxation response.

Recent research show that yoga could help slow the harmful effects of stress and inflammation in the body. In an exploratory study, researchers have found that 12 weeks of yoga, meditation and breathing practice (pranayama) slowed cellular aging. The participants had lower levels of inflammation and significantly decreased levels of cortisol (steroid hormone secreted during stress) after the program. They even found higher levels of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein promoting growth and maintenance of the cells, suggesting that yoga potentially has protective effects on the brain.

Self-study and connection
In my experience as a yoga student and teacher, I notice an energetic shift from the beginning to the end of a practice. As a teacher, I love seeing the calm expression on my students’ faces as they come out of Savasana (the final resting pose). As a student, I do feel different at the end of my practice. However subtle the changes are, I tend to feel more grounded, connected, and present. The practice of yoga teaches us about our own thought patterns, habits, and perceptions. Reminding us that we are not our thoughts or habits. Instead, the practice of “sitting with the self” through meditation for example, guides us back to who we really are.

Be YOU
Remember, there’s no quick fix and there’s no one size fits all. That being said, regular students of yoga, meditation and pranayama will receive the immense benefits of this practice. Whether it’s through stress reduction, a healthy body, or by creating a sense of purpose and connection. Radiate from the inside and out, be you.

Coco Chanel put it so well: “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.“ She was the queen of style but understood that true beauty has to do with something more than simply what you wear. It’s a process of learning who you are and living radiantly from that place, day to day.

Written by Karin Karlsson, Certified Yoga Teacher

Want to learn more about skincare? Join the community: Atelier Namaste offers a unique opportunity for self-care and relaxation through yoga and DIY beauty rituals, while also offering education about skin health and skincare products. You can sign up here for news and announcements for upcoming workshops. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook @lateliernamaste for daily yoga and beauty inspiration.

quotes-beauty-coco-chanel.jpg

What You Should Know About Cleaning Your Skin

Originally published on Medium on December 1, 2017.

Soap-clean-skin

I often get asked how to clean your skin without damaging it. My golden rule is “don’t clean your skin too much”. Through my experience as a skin scientist and when I had the opportunity to work on the skin microbiome, I came to realize that we’ve been taught to clean our face and bodies too often and with products that are too harsh.

The skin surface is composed of a very dense barrier of dead cells and lipids that protect our organism from external aggression, just like a wall made of brick and mortar to protect your home.

Scientists discovered that our skin is covered with living organisms such as bacteria and fungi called the microbiome. Just like in our gut, these bacteria are essential for our skin health. To preserve the skin microbiome it is important to choose products that do not disrupt this equilibrium and respect the protective barrier.

Out of curiosity of this subject, I quizzed some of my friends and family about their routines. I was surprised to learn that many among them are actually using no soap in there showering routine, just water. This does make total sense because if you don’t suffer from body odor or intensive perspiration you don’t need your skin to be over clean. Since the flora lives on our skin, it plays a crucial role in keeping your skin healthy.

If you need a soap, choose one that is not antimicrobial. Many cosmetic products, even natural and organic ones, can contain agents that kill microorganisms or stop their growth. Try to avoid for example highly fragranced products, alcohol and preservatives. Also even if natural, preservatives kill microorganisms once on your skin. As they are essential to preserve the products contaminations, look for brands with sterile systems so you can have a soap with water but with no preservatives and still be safe when using your product. It may sound surprising to some people, but be careful with essential oils and fragrances. They can be irritative for your skin and they are known for having an antimicrobial action. Oil and balm cleansers are also a great options especially for your face but make sure they contain mostly oils and not water!

I usually recommend soaps for very sensitive or atopic skin without irritative surfactant like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. When you choose your soap carefully, it will be gentle on your skin and won’t affect the skin flora too much. And remember, only put soap on the body parts that really need that extra clean.

As French we were then right in the first place to avoid bathing too often, I can now thank my grandma for forbidding me to take showers longer than 5 minutes ;)

Louis_bathtub.jpg

Written by Elsa Jungman, Ph.D.

Want to learn more about skincare? Join the movement: Atelier Namaste offers a unique opportunity for self-care and relaxation through yoga and DIY beauty rituals, while also offering education about skin health and skincare products. You can sign up here for news and announcements for upcoming workshops. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook @lateliernamaste for daily yoga and beauty inspiration.

Learn to Slow down Through Yoga and Beauty Rituals

Originally published on Medium on October 28, 2017.

 In a culture where we are connected all the time, it’s important to slow down and create moments of self-care and mindfulness.

In a culture where we are connected all the time, it’s important to slow down and create moments of self-care and mindfulness.

The story

Elsa Jungman, a French scientist, started getting seriously into yoga after a stressful 2015 when she moved from France to California and changed her career path. Through yoga, she learned for the first time how to slow down, particularly by using breath practices and specific yoga postures to release stress and physical tension. After completing a six-week boot camp at Yoga Mayu, she felt more energized than before and capable to handle stressful situations with increased calm and patience.

Through her yoga practice, Elsa met Karin Karlsson, a San Francisco yoga instructor. Karin, a Swedish native, moved to San Francisco in 2016 to pursue her dream of teaching yoga. Their friendship quickly developed as they realized that they both had a passion for skin health and natural skincare products.

The creation of Atelier Namasté

 
 Karin (left) and Elsa (right), Co-Founders of Atelier Namasté.

Karin (left) and Elsa (right), Co-Founders of Atelier Namasté.

 
Their friendship quickly developed as they realized that they both had a passion for skin health and natural skincare products.

Indeed, Elsa is a skincare expert, she holds a Ph.D. in skin research and has been working for world cosmetic leaders and local Bay Area startups. Her recent experience working for indie brands and startups transformed her vision of beauty. She became an advocate of slow beauty and sustainable products. Her understanding of skin health also shifted when she learned about the skin microbiome and how it is crucial that products we apply on our skin should respect this protective barrier.

Karin discovered yoga back in 2008 when recovering from an ankle injury. In 2014, she decided to pursue her 200-hour Yoga Teacher training at Yoga Garden SF. She is now offering public and private classes in San Francisco. Karin is passionate about helping her students connect to their own emotional, mental and physical strength, while always emphasizing the importance of cultivating loving-kindness towards themselves and others.

Karin’s own journey with her skin started as a teenager when she began to experience acne and other skin issues. Despite her commitment to a holistic lifestyle: vegetarian diet, daily yoga practice, and organic skincare products, she struggled with her skin well into her twenties. When meeting Elsa, Karin realized that she had been using too many products and needed to cut down on the number of products she was using. By simplifying her routine Karin’s skin has dramatically improved. That being said, many people need reliable sources of information regarding how to carefully choose a product and how to take good care of their skin.

It’s not a coincidence that Elsa and Karin are based in San Francisco, a global metropolis for new technology. While new technologies have improved life for many Americans, nearly half of American adults say they can’t imagine a life without their smartphone anymore. At the same time, several studies show that the consequence of regular technology use includes negative impacts on both our physical and mental health. In a recent publication by the APA, 65% of Americans recognize that periodically unplugging or taking a “digital detox” is important for their mental health.

At the same time, yoga is steadily increasing in popularity in the west. Yoga Journal lists 38 benefits of a regular yoga practice, with emphasis on asana (postures), meditation and breath practice. This includes greater flexibility, strength and an improved posture. There are also more subtle benefits of the practice, such as a lowered cortisol (the stress hormone), increased focus, calming of the nervous system and a quieting of the mind.

Yoga and skincare both relate to our mental and physical health. They offer a unique opportunity to slow down, and to create moments of self-care and mindfulness. This shared vision of wellness led to the creation of Atelier Namasté.

An unprecedented concept

 All products used during workshops are natural and sourced locally either in the USA or Europe.

All products used during workshops are natural and sourced locally either in the USA or Europe.

The main objective of Atelier Namasté is to organize private and public workshops focused on yoga practice and beauty rituals.

The workshops are divided according to these two components. Karin will lead a Vinyasa yoga class focusing specifically on yoga postures traditionally used to increase blood flow, release stress and tension and improve skin glow.

In the second component, participants will have the option to blend and apply their own personalized facial mask. All products used during workshops are natural, cosmetic grades and sourced locally either in the USA or Europe. There will also be some time for discussion, where Elsa will address participants’ questions regarding our skin health, product ingredients and skincare routines.

Following the beauty rituals and discussion, the workshop will close with a guided meditation for a full relaxation.

Join the movement

Atelier Namaste offers students a unique opportunity for self-care and relaxation through yoga and DIY beauty rituals, while also offering education about skin health and skincare products. If you like our concept make sure to like it below. You can sign up here for news and announcements for upcoming workshops. Also, make sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook @lateliernamaste for daily yoga and beauty inspiration.

Welcome to Atelier Namasté

COMING SOON!

Our modern typewriters (read laptops) are running warm. We are currently writing a blog post on how we first connected (Elsa and Karin) and how we got the idea to start Atelier Namasté.