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How Traveling Inspired Me to Start a K-beauty Routine


Hey there! Sara here. For those of you who have been following the blog a bit, you probably know me. Or at least my feet.

My review on the Kocostar Foot Therapy made my feet famous in the most flattering way possible, featuring shedding calluses. And maybe even my hands. My review of the Sally’s Box Friendly Milk Nail Masks is slightly less shocking than my foot mask review. But now you can put a face to the feet, so to speak.


Almost like finger puppets.

By day I’m a full time Soko Glammer and by night I’m a travel enthusiast and wordsmith. Pumpkin farming in rural California, education politics, geo-location technologies, board game development, Shanghai makeup trends, travel in Taiwan, East Bay hip-hop, circus training in Sydney—I’ve enthusiastically covered them all.

If you can’t tell, I have a very eclectic mix of interests—and I’m on the road a LOT. One passion that has remained constant regardless of my locale is beauty.

In freshman year of college, you would have found me with my BFFL Julie in our dorm kitchen where we were cooking up what we thought were some pretty great things. No—no homemade meals for us. Try wash-off face masks and lip balms. The latter we sold on campus. The former, well, we kept that to ourselves. We’d mastered show-stopping quality, but not exactly the most appetizing look, often resembling something that looked like it had been found lurking in the bottom of a swamp.

We scoured magazines (Allure and Marie Claire fueled some of my earliest beauty daydreams) and Soompi to find news about new products and looks to try.

To get said products required some serious commitment. This was before the days of Soko Glam, so we had to hop on a bus courtesy of AC Transit. Sometimes waiting one to arrive felt like waiting for Godot, meaning it never arrived.

On successful outings the bus carried us to 99 Ranch Market, an Asian supermarket that felt like it was out in the middle of no where. Stocking up on groceries was our excuse to pay a visit to a tiny kiosk in front of the main store that had a few sheet masks and several bottles of Etude House products.

That’s where I got my first taste of the Moistfull Super Collgaen Eye Concentrate, which I still love today. We discovered the general excellence of sheet masks, which didn’t result in our sink being clogged by strawberries and oatmeal—the resourceful, but messy, ingredients that we mixed into our home skin care experiments.

We went to China to study and visit friends and family, but a good chunk of time we dedicated to looking for awesome beauty products. Shanghai was where we fell in love with BB cream, a product that had yet to be introduced to the U.S. Can you imagine life without BB cream?! Those were the Dark Ages of beauty! After that, there was no going back to Oompa-Loompa, orange tinted moisturizers or flake-accentuating liquid foundations. These days, I really dig the Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream and Etude House Precious Mineral Cotton Fit BB Cream.

The rest is history. Since then, my cosmetics bag has come to include a host of beauty solutions from my travels around the world. I’ll talk about some of my fav souvenirs and packing tips in more detail down the road, but for now, know that the Korean beauty goods I love are multi-tasking heroes that are compact enough to fit in my carry-on, such as …

  • Skinfood Premium Avocado Rich Essence Oil – Great on my face, lips, cuticles, wherever!
  • Sally’s Box Secret Garden Ampoule Masks Yay! I don’t have to carry a separate bottle for serum. The built-in ampoule saves on space and mess, and the mask replenishes my dehydrated face post-plane.
  • Tony Moly Magic Food Banana Hand Milk – Okay, so this one is more of a one-trick pony — as in it’s really, really great on my hands and I don’t use it anywhere else. But what a magical pony it is. The tube is small enough for a purse or pocket (I’m a pocket kind of gal) and built for easy, hygienic application. Fun fact: It smells like banana-flavored runts.

Curious about beauty travel hacks? Comment below with what you wanna see, and I’ll deliver.



Sara is a lifelong storyteller and currently a full time Soko Glammer. She’s worked with a variety of outlets including the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times bestselling author Lauren Myracle. Dim-sum is her comfort food. Follow her travels on Instagram @thewholehapa.

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