Beauty Hints From the Orient

When I first came to Korea Christian University, they weren’t quite ready for me.  My house wasn’t ready, so they put my daughter and I in the girl’s dorm with the students until our house was ready.  Most girl university students everywhere are working hard at being pretty. The girls in the KCU dorm were not any different.  There was a commons room where all the girls went to play games and watch TV together.  I joined them.  When they were watching TV, they brought their beauty treatments.  I learned a couple of good things from that that I have used, and I will share them with you.

sliced cucumber on white table
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The cucumbers were not just on her eyes. She put them all over her face.



woman posing for photo shoot
Photo by Đàm Tướng Quân on Pexels.com.The girls in the dorm had lots of beauty secrets.

To begin with, there was a girl from China who came in with big red pimples all over her face. She was pretty, but she had a problem.  Before she left the room, she had shrunk all those pimples and taken all the red out of her face, and I felt like it was amazing!  She brought a cucumber and a knife with her.  While she was watching TV, she cut the cucumber up in very thin slices and placed them on the red places on her face, not just on her eyes like we see people do on TV in America, but all over her face.  They were thin and moist, and she stuck them to her face and just left them there as she watched TV.  At the end, it was amazing!  She pulled those cucumber slices off her face, and all the bumps were shrunken, and she had an even color on her face, no redness.  After that, my daughter and I began keeping cucumbers in the fridge, and whenever either of us got a red bump on our faces, we did the same thing because it works!

woman wearing white dress sitting on wooden floor
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The girls sat in the floor and did beauty treatments as we watched TV and played games.

Another thing I saw the girls in the dorm do that works was something they were doing to their hair.  Have you ever looked at Orientals and thought, “They have such smooth, straight, shinny hair!”  I have naturally curly hair, and often my hair has just downright driven me crazy with frizz!  Curly hair runs in my family.  I learned from these girls in the dorm that the smooth, straight, shinny hair they have didn’t just happen.  I used to wonder how people on TV always had such smooth, straight, shinny hair too, and I learned from these girls how they kept their hair that way.  They were in that TV room putting straighteners on each other’s hair.  When they were done, there was no frizz. Their hair was shinning, smooth, straight, and looked very neat.  As a professor, I always worked hard at making my hair look neat, but it was always hard, but I had learned a good trick.

toddler with red adidas sweat shirt
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My son has hair like this kid’s hair.

man in white zip up jacket leaning on white painted wall
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Make this guy white with red hair and big brown eyes, and my son looked that good after they were done with him at the hair shop.

My son had extremely curly hair, even curlier than mine.  He had a red Afro.  When I told him about it, he wanted to go to a hair shop and get his hair straightened.  When we took him, the people at the hair shop said his hair was too short, so he was going to have to let his hair grow a bit before they could put a straightener on it.  He let it grow a bit, and then went and had his hair straightened.  When he walked out of the hair shop, the transformation was wonderful.  He said it was strange because his hair was always too curly to come down the way it was coming down on the sides of his face like everyone else’s hair, but he really liked it, and so did everyone else.  He was a handsome young man, and he had become even more handsome!

portrait of young woman with umbrella
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At certain seasons of the year, there is lots and lots of rain in both Japan and Korea.

woman in orange zip up jacket
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My hair can easily look like this when it rains, but her hair doesn’t look professional, and as a professor, I wanted professional looking hair.

smiling woman holding red lantern
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Of course, this isn’t me, but this picture shows how straight and smooth my hair got after I went to the hair shop and let them put a straightener on it, and for months on end, I didn’t have to do anything to it except wash it and put conditioner on it to keep it looking like that.  My life was very busy, and it helped a lot!


When it rained, my hair went crazy!  The frizz was driving me crazy!  It was hard to keep my hair decent long enough to get to class to teach looking decent.  My son began saying, “Get your hair straightened too.”  At first, since I had never done anything like that, I hesitated, but with so much water in the air, my hair really was driving me crazy!  I gave in and went to the hair shop and let them straighten my hair.  When the lady was done, I couldn’t believe how gorgeous my hair was!  There was no frizz!  My hair looked so neat!  When I washed it, I didn’t have to do anything. I just washed it, put conditioner on it, and let it dry naturally, and it dried straight and smooth. I was ready to go to class without any work. I couldn’t believe it!  My professor friend was always talking about how pretty my hair was after that.  When I saw my mother, she was thrilled and thought my hair really looked good!  It was really nice to have more time to spend doing the things that needed done and not have to spend so much time trying to smooth my hair out everyday.  It made a big difference for me.

woman with brown hair with black top with gray background
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My son’s girlfriend’s hair was a bit shorter than this, but it came out like this, and she was thrilled!

When my son went to the States to go to college, he got a girlfriend, and the next time he came back to visit, he brought his girlfriend from America with him.  He took her to the Korean hair shop and got her hair straightened too.  She was thrilled with her hair!  We found a real trick that Orientals do to their hair.

portrait of young man
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Minus the beard, many young Korean guys want hair like his, curly and red.

There are people here who like perms too, even guys.  If you see a Korean guy with curly hair, he has gone to the hair shop and had a perm put in it.  The girls put straighteners on their hair. The older ladies put perms.  Many of the young people put interesting colors on their hair. They really like orange hair, and many of their celebrities try to make their hair blond.  As Koreans get older, even the men, keep their hair black.  When I read about ancient Korea, they have always put hair coloring on their hair even before the invention of modern hair dying techniques.  If you meet a Korean professor, it doesn’t matter if they are male or female. It doesn’t matter if they are 55 or 30, their hair will be black because they consider it taking care of themselves.

If I don’t have a perm in my hair to straighten it out, I keep this from E-Mart to take care of the frizz.  There are many different kinds. I didn’t even realize it was there before, and it is sold in many places.

Besides these, there were other beauty hints I have learned that were not in the dorm.  Once, I had not had my hair straightened, and it was raining again.  My hair was frizzing again. I had fixed it before going to class, but I was on break in the bathroom combing my hair disgustedly.  One of my girl students came in and realized what was happening.  She said, “What you need is essence.”  I asked her to explain because to me “essence” meant something that smelled good, but that isn’t what it is.  In the beauty shop, I remembered them using a little bottle that had some nice smelling oil in it on my hair after they blew it dry, and it took the fuzziness out of my hair after they blew it dry.  I thought it was just a beauty product that only beauticians had, but it isn’t.  She told me you could find essence at E-Mart and stores like that, and I bought some and began using it when it rained. I took the frizzy out of my hair when it rained.  If I feel like the ends of my hair look broken and dry, I just put essence on them, and it makes a big difference

I never used to use things like this, but the lady at the hair shop taught me how to make my eyebrows look nice and neat with this.

Lately, the lady at the local hair shop has taught me something else.  I have always plucked my eyebrows to keep them from looking bushy, but there are bald spots in my eyebrows and there were places where the hair in my eyebrows is a bit longer than in other places.  Once when the beautician was fixing my hair, she asked if she could do my eyebrows, and I let her.  She trimmed my eyebrows and used a makeup pencil and filled in the bald spots.  My eyebrows looked so neat after that!  My eyebrows don’t need trimmed anymore, and I use a makeup pencil to fill in the places that don’t have hair, and  my eyebrows don’t look made up either because I haven’t plucked all my eyebrows out and tried to redraw them. These Koreans just keep coming up with good ideas for me, and I am listening.  Beauty is very important here.

photography of a woman holding white flowers
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She is wearing false eye lashes. I am part American Indian and have trouble with lack of eye lashes, and the false eye lashes really helped me, but I just don’t know how to use them on my own, and I like my makeup to look more natural.  It looks like someone has evened out her eyebrows for her too.


One thing they did to me that I didn’t continue was at my daughter’s wedding.  My daughter’s mother in law wanted to make sure my daughter and I both looked good for the wedding.  Before the wedding, she sent a professional makeup artist and a beautician to our house to prepare us for the wedding. They put my hair up in a bun and made little braids and tucked them into the bun.  The make up artist put false eye lashes on me. I had never worn them before!  She took my glasses away from me and told me to put them in my purse and not to wear them.  People thought I looked great, but I couldn’t see!  I was wearing a hanbok (a traditional Korean dress) my daughter’s mother in law had specially made for me at the wedding because she wanted a traditional Korean wedding.  With my hair done the way it was done, the hanbok, and the false eye lashes, many people said initially they didn’t recognize me and thought I was a Korean. They liked the way I looked, and maybe I looked good, but I can’t dress like that all the time. I really don’t like my hair up that much, and I don’t know how to put false eye lashes on myself.  The hanbok is pretty, but I hardly wear it because it is not practical and is uncomfortable.  It looks comfortable because it has a huge skirt and a high waist, but the top part is not tailored like an American dress, and it just fits strange.  They have lots of good ideas here about beauty, but some are not practical.


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