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International Beauty Report: Bathhouse Love Affair

Korean women have some of the most beautiful skin I’ve seen along my travels to 40 of the world’s countries. Sure this Asian nation is known for off-the-wall products and intensive beauty rituals, but I can’t help wondering if the simple sauna has something to do with all the soft and glowing skin I’ve seen here.

‘Jimjilbang’ means ‘bathhouse’ in Korean, and for more than a thousand years they have been gathering places where steaming saunas, invigorating pools and waterfalls create a blissful world of water. After taking a dip, you can relax in one of the traditional charcoal heated saunas, or get your new age groove on in the jewel rooms where walls of jade and amethyst are said to emit healing rays.

Since living in this beauty-obsessed nation, I’ve discovered there’s nothing like languishing in a Korean bathhouse for hours on end, soaking in the hot pools, steaming to a pulp in the scented saunas and when my fingers start to prune, being scrubbed to a fine sheen by the industrious old women known as ‘ajjumas’ (Korean for ‘Grandmother’).

The most luxurious of these bathing paradises that I know of is found in the suburbs of Seoul. Dragon Hill Spa had me oohing and aahing around every corner, as I discovered the outdoor pool, rooftop restaurant, and giant pyramid shaped saunas proclaiming “training of the mind” and filled with surprisingly passable hieroglyphics. Hot rooms filled with burning coals and cold rooms containing full sized snowmen offered respite from the bustle of Seoul, while cascading fountains and waterfalls wash away the stress of everyday life. Overwhelmed by work? Head to the jimjilbang. Feeling under the weather after a raucous night out? Jimjilbang. Stubbed your toe? You guessed it. 

I’ll use any reason as an excuse to soak away the afternoon, and who knows? If I soak long enough maybe my skin will start looking as supple and glistening as my bodacious Korean sisters. 

Want to try in out but can’t afford to jet over to Seoul? San Francisco’s Imperial Sauna is the closest you’ll get to a Korean style bathhouse in the Bay Area.


Graphic Shirtdress: Now and Later


I've always found February and March to be difficult months to shop. The stores are full of spring apparel and it's still freezing outside. (If you live in a part of the world that experiences four actual seasons.) My remedy for this is layering. To satisfy my need for shopping, I find something that layers well for cooler months but still works once the temperatures climb. In this case a colorful yet graphic shirtdress would be perfect with leggings and a comfy sweater now while being equally at home with sandals and a straw bag come summer. 


Beauty Blast: A Trick to Luscious Locks

Some people have bad hair days. I've been having a bad hair year. With wavy/curly hair, it's always unpredictable, but my hair had been dry, fine, frizzy and limp for all of 2014. I didn't what to do about it, so I tried all sorts of products and nothing really worked. Most things weighed it down, so I realized I needed to stick to one thing, my go-to curly hair gel: Arc Angel by Deva Curl. But even using that alone wasn't quite cutting it. Something was missing. And now I've realized what it was: a deep conditioner. 

In the early part of 2015 I had a chance to test out Hair Repair, an $11 hair conditioning mask by Urb Apothecary, a Santa Cruz-based line. "I slowly infuse coconut oil with sage, horsetail, rosemary, and bay laurel, endowing the oil with the herbs' beneficial properties. Cocoa and mango butter make this a hair conditioning power house," explains the owner, Leyna, on the company's Etsy store. 

Here's how I use it: on the nights that I'm going to wash my hair, I use about two thumbsize scoops of this conditioner, rub it in my hands, then spread it through my hair and put my hair up in a clip for an hour or so. After washing and conditioning my hair using Deva Curl products, I then scunch my Arc Angel into my hair and let it air dry. This extra conditioning step has been transformative to my hair and my curls are finally having a good day. I think all they needed was some TLC and some Hair Repair

Urb Apothecary is sold online, at Stripe in Santa Cruz and at Little Paper Planes Shop in San Francisco. 


Giveaway/Eco-Event: The Penny Rose + Whole Foods + Synergy  

Eco-Beauty Contest/Giveaway

Gleaming brightly on the horizon, springtime beckons with the promise of the new and the fresh. It’s the perfect time to sprout a new look and plant the seeds for a more Earth-friendly beauty routine and wardrobe. 

Here in Santa Cruz, there’s an upcoming event that captures this spirit of possibility quite fashionably—“Spring Style Preview: Natural Beauty & Fashion,” a joint effort by the local Whole Foods stores and Synergy Organic Clothing. It takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, March 13 at Synergy’s flagship store in downtown Santa Cruz (1229 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz).

I can count at least five irrefutable reasons for buying a ticket:

1. You’ll get a sneak peek at Synergy’s spring line. The story of Synergy Organic Clothing is a Santa Cruz fashion fairytale. This local clothing company started small—selling their eco-friendly threads at festivals—and has blossomed over the years into a multi-location store with online sales across the world. Their signature designs (especially the simple, solid colors with whimsical applique) are recognizable favorites among women who love to be comfy, eco-friendly and boho chic. Synergy’s new spring 2015 lineup promises more of this and also some exciting new looks, including four items that were designed in collaboration with The Penny Rose.

2. Whole Foods will be showing off new eco-beauty goodies with free mini makeovers. The beauty departments at our local Whole Foods Markets are ripe with amazing natural products. It’s where I go to peruse the latest from my favorite lines; my current obsession is anything from the 100-percent vegan and cruelty free company Pacifica. They’ve got the goods from Pacifica, Mineral Fusion, ZuZu Luxe, and much more, and will be showcasing some of their wares with free mini-makeovers at the event. 

3. A representative from evan healy will be doing skincare demonstrations. 

4. There will be small bites, wine and a photo booth. What else could you want? 

5. The icing on the cake—and what sweet icing it is—is that all proceeds are going to the Walnut Ave Women’s Center, a nonprofit that’s been providing women and children essential support services for more than 80 years.

Tickets are $10 and are available at the door and at both the Santa Cruz and Capitola Whole Foods locations. But if you buy online, you get a free gift. What are you waiting for?

Have we got a prize pack for you! To celebrate this great local event and the new products being rolled out by Whole Foods and Synergy, we are giving one lucky winner a bundle of amazing freebies:

-Two tickets to “Spring Style Preview: Natural Beauty & Fashion”

-A Whole Foods eco-beauty gift bag stuffed with three Pacifica 7 Free Nail Colors, Mineral Fusion SPF 30 Brush-On Sun Defense and Gabriel Lipstick in Currant.

-The Christina top (pictured), a The Penny Rose X Synergy collaboration from Synergy’s Spring 2015 line.

To enter to win leave a comment below or on the giveaway posts on our Facebook or Instagram by Tuesday, March 10. We will announce the winner on the blog and across our social media on Wednesday, March 11. The prize winner will need to pick up their package at the event.


The Penny Rose X Synergy: A Design Collaboration

One year ago we pitched an idea to Synergy, a beloved organic clothing company in our hometown of Santa Cruz, Calif. What if the international brand teamed up with The Penny Rose to create an exclusive capsule of co-designed items? They were game. Synergy, ever supportive of its local community, was a perfect match for our first clothing collaboration. We’ve been longtime friends and fans of the company whose philosophy behind fashion design is one we admire: steadfast eco-consciousness.

After meeting with Synergy’s owner/designer Kate Fisher, over the course of several months together we designed four items that you’ll see rolling out for spring 2015. Included in the group are two tops and two dresses and each has a timeless, distinct, versatile flavor. We hope you’ll enjoy our capsule as much as we did in creating it.

Look for upcoming posts on the blog featuring each of our four collaborative designs as well as a short film about the project in April on The Penny Rose and on Synergy’s blog. And tomorrow on the blog you'll see the first sneak peek of one of our tops in an exciting giveaway between The Penny Rose, Synergy and Whole Foods.