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Seoul: Shopping in Myeong Dong

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Cosmetic addicts and fashionistas rejoice, this post is for you. That is what Myeong Dong is all about. Well, there are also a lot of street food and dozens of coffee shops here as well, but it is mainly about Korean cosmetics and clothes.

I am not a very girly girl. Growing up I rode skateboards, body boarded, roller skated and was always hanging out with the boys. But everybody ages and now in my 30s I decided it was time to invest in some beauty products. And what a better place to do that than in South Korea, right?

Here are some tips to make the most of your shopping extravaganza:

  • If you have a favorite brand, shop till you drop in the same store. You will receive free samples and extra discounts. If you are traveling with friends, it may be worth to combine your purchases to get the extra perks.
  • Don’t get sucked in by the girls outside the stores handing out “free” face masks. These cost about U$0.50 and they are not really free. It requires you to enter the store and deal with the sales people inside.
  • In the makeup department, Asian beauty trends are very different than in Western countries. Unfortunately if you have a skin color other than white, you will not be able to find different shades of concealers, foundations or powders. In Japan and South Korea, they really love their porcelain skin. That doesn’t mean the sales people won’t try to sell you those cosmetics anyway, but don’t feel pressured to buy. Simply decline it and move on.
  • Make sure to read the ingredients. In one store, I saw face masks that were made out slugs (yep, you read that right) and a face cream that contained “bird nest.” I don’t know if something got lost in translation or if in fact some of the ingredients came from birds. To be safe, stick with what you can understand.
  • Stock up on face masks in Myeong Dong. They are so cheap and amazingly refreshing. They also make a great souvenir gift for friends and family back home.
  • I went a little overboard on my shopping trips to Myeong Dong and ended up hauling a couple bags of cosmetics for 2 weeks in China all the way home. In hindsight I should have just mailed it home. At the time however, I thought it would be safer if I carried it all with me. If you are ever in the same situation, use the South Korean post office. They are amazing! You can take your items to them unpacked and they pack it for you and ship it. There is no extra fee for the packing and they really go overboard with the bubble wrap to make sure nothing breaks. The package I mailed home, which contained ceramics, was intact and arrived promptly. It was also really affordable, U$25 for a medium size box, about the same price you would pay in the US for domestic shipping.

Have you used Korean Cosmetics? What is your impression of them?


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