Feeling a bit run down? Pamper your spirits up

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Feeling a bit run down? Pamper your spirits up

You may not realize it, but your tired muscles do: The hustle and bustle of summer, and the weeks and weeks of sweating -- sorry, perspiring -- have taken their toll.

Fortunately, there are ways to rejuvenate. Perhaps a new haircut or nail color will do the trick. Or you can soak from head to toe in a green tea bath. The beauty experts at the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition suggest a few places -- and body parts -- to begin your beauty tour, starting with your nails:

When the makeup artist Lee Kyung-min is in her fourth-floor office in southern Seoul, she fields a constant stream of calls and visits from actresses and supermodels. An average day has Ms. Lee juggling three photo shoots with Korean celebrities.

Over her 18 years in the beauty business, Ms. Lee has wanted one thing: a forest, or "foret" in French, in Cheongdam-dong. "I wanted to have a comfortable place where people can rest in a natural setting, without any obnoxious chemical odors," she says of her salon, which opened in late June. Foret is an elegant, spacious boutique where you can be pampered in a room designed for a specific beauty service.

Each floor has exotic, colorful furniture or adornments -- tiles, lamps, tables and throws imported from Morocco. In the first-floor waiting room, which has a pretty patio, you can relax on a massage chair and get a complimentary neck, back or hand rub with chamomile or mint oil. Walking into Foret is a soothing experience -- the air is ever fragrant. The shop is one of three exclusive Aveda salons in the capital that specialize in aromatherapy products. Ms. Lee says Aveda's concept, "well-being," is also what Foret is all about.

All services are done with Aveda products: hair and body care are done on the first two floors; makeup and skin care on the third. Consultations with Ms. Lee about nail, hair, skin, and body care can be arranged. The salon also sells Ms. Lee's own line of cosmetics, Lee Kyung Min Artchool, designed for makeup students.

For the past decade, Ms. Lee has been researching what makes Korean women so "naturally beautiful." What has she found? "Just wait a little," she says. "I've put that secret into the new line of makeup I'm creating right now. You'll be surprised."

A basic haircut costs 30,000 won ($25), a cut and perm 80,000 won. Facial care is 60,000-120,000 won, manicures and pedicures 15,000-40,000 won.


The chairwoman of the emery board

Pink Nail of New York

Specialties: state-of-the-art nail styling

Location: opposite Galleria Department Store in Apgujeong-dong

Hours: 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m on Sundays

Telephone: 02-515-8586,7

Suzie Lee is the owner of the Apgujeong-dong shop Pink Nail of New York, which she founded in 1997, just before Korean women became keen on getting their nails done by pros.

Ms. Lee got into the business after going to the United States to study; she became an expert manicurist, then opened her first shop, Pink Nails, in Brooklyn in 1987. Some of her bicontinental clients visit both shops.

Ms. Lee also runs a local institute that trains students to be manicurists, and she has written texts for nail artists and the nail industry. She now has a salon in Manhattan.

Nail care includes state-of-the-art designs and coloring, and also helps clients solve nasty nail problems. High-tech nail dryers and foot spas are important features of Ms. Lee's Pink Nail shop, which provides beauty tips and new techniques to Korean fashion magazines.

Five pros work at the Pink Nail of New York shop, led by the manager, Kim Jung-yeon, an award-winning nail artist and lecturer at Ms. Lee's school.

A regular manicure costs 15,000 won, a pedicure 30,000 won.


After shopping, treat tired fingers

Lawrence Nails

Specialties: manicures, pedicures, acrylic tips, sculpted nails

Location: Ewha Womans University subway stop

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, Sunday until 9 p.m.

Telephone: 02-364-5563

They remember the little things: warm towels, a special place to put your cellular phone, hand bowls filled with warm water and colorful stones, plenty of Essie colors, and a massage at the end of your session. The location, near the shops that surround the Ewha Women's University subway station, makes Lawrence Nails a pleasant place to go to.

Clients recommend the acrylic tips, pedicures and sculptured nails, which is no surprise considering the staff's proficiency. One of the manicurists was the grand champion of an Asian manicurists competition. The latest colors, she says, are summertime red, pink, and light green.

The owner, Lawrence Lee, is often asked to judge manicure competitions. He and his two older brothers have taught thousands of students at their National Manicuring School in New York City, which they opened in 1993. Mr. Lee brought his expertise to Korea five years ago. Even with the manicure boom in Korea, his location is still one of only a few that can do a full set of acrylic tips in 40 minutes.

A manicure costs 15,000-30,000 won, a pedicure: 30,000 won.


Feeling drained? Breathe deeper

Kim's Oxygen Massage

Specialties: oxygen or oil body massages, pedicures

Location: Itaewon's main boulevard

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

Telephone: 02-795-0646

What do you need when you're stressed or tired? Kim Tae-yeon, who owns this spa in Itaewon, says the answer is pure oxygen: "Increased oxygen intake helps the body function normally by removing the build-up of toxins. A recharged body regains its chemical balance, so you feel renewed."

A body massage at Kim's Oxygen Massage starts with a dose of oxygen, fed through a mask attached to your mouth and nose.

While the cool air refreshes you, and the soothing ambient music relaxes you, the masseuse applies a generous amount of oil and gently performs a massage -- for what seems like an eternity in a dreamy paradise.

Kim's Oxygen Massage offers excellent manicures and pedicures. After soaking, trimming and massaging, those callused, scruffy feet become almost as soft as baby feet. Varnishes are clean-cut and long-lasting.

A 20-minute foot massage costs 15,000 won, a 90-minute full body massage 70,000 won, a manicure about 20,000 won, and a pedicure about 35,000 won.


It's an island of calm in a sea of action


Specialties: massage and waxing

Location: Itaewon

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily for hair or nails, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily for massage

Telephone: 02-790-6696

A minimalist-inspired interior, large windows, comfortable seats and quiet but efficient staff make this location a haven, seemingly far from the noise and whirl of Itaewon. Located right above the Burger King, Nogku opened its doors a year ago. About 90 percent of its clients are foreigners, half of whom are Japanese.

Slippers and robes are provided for clients. One floor houses a hair salon, manicure stations, pedicure room, waxing room, a discreet fitting room, facial room and a sauna. The sauna is free for clients.

The floor above that has massage beds, a sauna and VIP rooms for personalized attention. Patrons can request a male or female masseuse for a variety of massage types, from Swedish to oriental to foot to sports.

"Beauty is in," says owner Lee Bum-su. He opened another, smaller salon behind the Hamilton hotel less than a month ago.

A sports massage costs 60,000 won for an hour. A half-leg waxing is 30,000 won; a bikini waxing is 20,000 won; an underarm waxing is 20,000 won; eyebrows are 10,000 won.


This salon wins the name game

To beauty experts, the name Decleor means top-quality aromatherapy products from France. It wasn't until recently that aromatherapy began to gain popularity here ?before that, it was considered by many as a mysterious, esoteric practice.

Decleor and other cosmetics companies specializing in aromatherapy -- including Darphin, Aveda and the Body Shop -- ave convinced consumers that infusing essential oils is effective, that agents in the oils have calming and enriching properties to benefit the body.

"Several salons claim they use Decleor products when they do facials and body massages, but only ours here in Hannam-dong is an exclusive salon bearing the company's name and logo," says Suzie Chi, the director of the Decleor shop. Decleor's entire line, from essence balm to body slimming gel, is available for treatments or to take home.

The salon also offers waxing, body slimming, sun tanning and make-up sessions. A facial costs between 65,000 and 75,000 won. Discounts are available for members of Amaranth health club.


Here you walk, talk, sweat, smell, think and sleep on salt

"White" comes to mind when you step into the center, a salon on the northern outskirts of Seoul. "Salt" follows. The theme is salt: salt walls, floor and ceiling dominate much of the interior of the first floor. The ambiance is white and airy, even though you need to duck past low doorways to get to the salt sauna.

"My skin feels as smooth as a baby's," says one client after a couple of hours in the sauna. Both the American Women's Club and the Seoul International Women's Association have hosted day trips to the center. Men are also welcome.

Clients can spend the weekend here. The center was initially used for meditation, then for yoga. Weekend excursions to the spa, which can be tailored to fit clients' needs, can include yoga sessions, walks in the nearby mountains, facials and salt therapy. Facials must be booked in advance. Beds of salt can also be booked for a salty overnight experience.

The salt therapy is supposed to cleanse your digestive system and your skin by treating your body from the inside out. The spa uses pure salt, known as bitsogeum, using a technique that the spa created. The center's owner, Park Kyoung-jin, has developed an entire therapy system around bitsogeum and has published a book about his findings.

The basic sauna package begins with a drink of warm salt water. Clients are given white shorts and shirts, plastic head covers, plastic booties, spray bottles and keys to their own lockers. After changing into the shorts, guests sit on warmed salt benches while being sprayed with salt water. Next, they enter the sauna. A woman's recorded voice slowly instructs patrons to rotate front, back and sideways. Perspiration pours from pores, aided by the heat, salt water spray and the salt water tonic. One result, aside from the loss of water weight, is soft skin. The basic session costs 15,000 won. A weekend package costs 100,000 won.


A bevy of balmy baths

Who says bathing day and night went out with the Romans? This bathhouse in Apgujeong-dong regularly features a parade of women who loll in the baths for hours.

For starters, there is a seawater bath, a mineral bath and a mud bath. Then you can choose theme baths such as green tea, milk, ginseng, mugwort, sulfur, herb and germanium.

What good do these baths do? The mud bath has minerals that therapists say can help remove the build-up of toxins in the body; the ginseng bath has components that supposedly help maintain youthful skin and prevent skin cancer; the germanium bath is supposed to help stimulate the circulation and recharge tired bodies.

Saunas follow soaking. The wet sauna features water splashed on hot slabs of black rock; the dry sauna uses salt therapy. The rooms are made of stone and earth, and the fire is fueled with fragrant pinewood. Massages, shiatsu and nail care are done in the rest area. Prices start at 12,000 won.

by Inēs Cho, Joe Yong-hee

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