For the last year, I’ve been battling it out on the property – learning about horses, taking care of horses, getting two puppies, learning how to fix fences without getting electrocuted, dealing with mud, snow and the occasional earthquake. The lifestyle is what I wanted: less population, a beautiful rural setting, tranquility. And in a country I consider to be the most beautiful on Earth. Yep, Aussie readers, afraid so. This country’s scenery is breathtaking. I could have done without some of the whackos I’ve had to deal with but that’s life I guess.

But now that we’ve started to settle in, I’ve been getting out and about more. I brought a lot of stuff with me from Oz – makeup and skincare – because I was worried about the lack of variety here. Try as I might, I’m always going to be a beauty addict. I might as well give up the ghost on changing myself. The horses, cows, chickens, goat and sheep are fully used to me appearing before them in makeup.

As I’ve been running out of skincare items, I’ve been replacing them with NZ skincare. I’ve told you about Oasis Beauty and The Honey Collection, with the latter being a really great basic skincare line.

But I’m yet to find an NZ brand that caters for anti-aging like the Asian skincare lines do. The Japanese and Koreans are supreme masters at skincare targeted for whitening, brightening, illuminating and anti-aging. You name the problem, they have something for it. I think they’re better at skincare than the French, quelle horreur!

You can get Shiseido here but some of the legendary Korean and Japanese brands I’ve read about aren’t available. But…..the other day, I was in Riccarton to do some shopping. Riccarton has a lot of Korean shops and the big one is the Kosco Asian supermarket. Outside, I saw a small sign that said Amore and underneath: Laneige, Iope and Sulwhasoo. For anyone who knows Asian skincare brands, this is exciting stuff. Naturally, I went in! Who would of thought that a supermarket would have a little boutique skincare shop inside.

An older Korean lady was behind the counter and we began a long conversation about the three brands. Her English wasn’t great but we managed to chat about the ingredients the high-quality brand, Sulwhasoo, uses (with the unpronounceable ingredients jaeumdan and jaeumboweedan, being key). Sulwhasoo is touted as a Korean herbal medicinal cosmetic brand and is huge in Korea.

Actually, if you’ve ever noticed Korean women’s skin, it’s flawless. The lady at the counter I reckon was in her 60s and I had a hard time finding wrinkles. Sulwhasoo is not a frugal brand though. She showed me one moisturiser that would set you back about NZ$400. Crikey! (as we’d say in Oz).

But as luck would have it, the shop was offering a special. If you spent over $100.00 on Sulwhasoo, you received a free basic skincare trial pack in a gorgeous peach-coloured bag. I decided to buy the Hydroaid Cream (NZ$130.00) because it’s a herbal hydrating, fast absorbing cream you can use day and night (I’m inherently lazy and can’t be bothered with separate day and night creams). Ingredients are Morus Alba, Lonicerae Flos and Schizophyllum (say what?). It’s supposed to lock in the moisture and deeply hydrate the skin, which I could do with as the colder, winter weather is sucking the elasticity out of my skin! The older I get, the more obsessed I’m becoming about skincare. I won’t ever do Botox or plastic surgery but I aim to look as good as I can in my dotage.

In the trial pack, I received the Balancing Water; Balancing Emulsion; First Care Serum; Overnight Vitalizing Treatment; Eye Serum. The First Care Serum is one of those legendary products like Clarins’ Beauty Flash Balm. The lovely Korean lady tossed in some samples of the cleansing oil and mask. I must say that all the stuff smells divine. Herbal but not that hippie-herbal smell. Time will tell whether this brand is as good as I’ve read – I will of course post an update when I’ve run out of everything.

Whilst I’m in Auckland later this month, I plan to visit Missha in Queen Street. Missha is another hugely popular Korean brand that is pretty famous for its BB cream. What? You don’t know what BB cream is all about? It’s THE latest thing in Asian cosmetics and is Blemish Balm cream. BB cream actually originated in Germany and was used on patients who had laser treatment. It’s supposed to be a multi-tasking, skin healing product that works as a tinted moisturizer; concealer and sunscreen. It also has anti-wrinkle and skin-lightening benefits.

So I’m pretty keen to check out the BB creams Missha has on offer. I’m not sure if Missha is owned by a larger parent company like Sulwhasoo for instance. Shiseido own Za and Moisture Mist in NZ, so I figure if you buy something from the more frugal brand, you’re buying the higher-end parent brand.

Pretty peach coloured bag.

Close-up of the gold and silver applique. I’ll definitely be keeping this bag!

Sulwhasoo basic skincare line trial kit.

Sulwhasoo Hydroaid cream – hopefully it will work miracles! Loving the Oriental look of the jar.

UPDATE: After two weeks of using Sulwhasoo, I can tell you it’s every bit as good as they say. The First Care serum is a standout product, along with the Balancing Emulsion. The latter is a beautifully textured, lightweight moisturiser that can be used day or night. I don’t quite get why you have to use so many products with Sulwhasoo though – I think the First Care Serum, followed by the Balancing Water and Balancing Emulsion is an easy, three-step process that gives great results. The Hydroaid cream has a gel-like texture and delivers great moisturising results.

All the products have an invigorating but light scent. Not herbal, more like green tea – making the products wonderful to use. I might be switching to this brand.

FURTHER UPDATE: October 2011 – still using Sulwhasoo but I only use the First Care serum, followed by the Balancing Water and Balancing Emulsion. These three pretty much do the job and I’m pretty satisfied with this skincare range.