'Skincare is a Time for Self-Care and Nurturing': How Bibimbap is Developing a Wellness Community for Equestrians

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hen you think about how much we expose our skin to the elements as riders, finding a solid skin care routine is pretty much a necessity. And in case you hadn’t heard, healthy skin is in. So when we say to you that you should consider Korean skincare, what comes to mind?

Isn’t it just an expensive trend?

Don’t I need to follow a 10-step routine to see any kind of results?

Even with K-beauty’s immense international popularity, there are still many who believe the common misconceptions surrounding its approach, myself included [now, in the past tense].

Shortly after NF 2.0 was launched in June of this year, I connected with Bibimbap’s (now Oh + August) Lynn Mueller over social media. Many great conversations later, it became clear that this fresh-faced entrepreneur was about to bring something much needed to the equestrian space.

The lucky few who spend their time at the barn and still have great skin may only require a good cleanser and moisturizer, but the rest of us need a little more help. What Bibimbap brings to the table is a variety of products that prevent and heal, targeting everything from dryness, acne, irritation, and sensitivity that can be used consistently together or on their own, depending on your skin type and personal skin problems. So the world of K-beauty skincare is literally your oyster.

As one of several brands in the December NF.edit box that’s made for equestrians by an equestrian, let’s just say that Lynn gets it. She wants everyone, not just riders, to live their best life and have your skin support you in reaching your goals without holding you back.

Get to know the rider and badass babe behind your December box Bibimbap Lip Treatment who’s putting experience, purpose, and passion into the skincare line that’s helping equestrians everywhere achieve healthier skin.

NoelleFloyd.com: Let’s start at the beginning. How did horses come into your life?

Lynn Mueller: Horses actually came into my life through my parents. I was about eight years old, and my parents wanted me to start taking weekly riding lessons at our local barn in order to be more well-rounded and be able to steer if we went on a trail ride during vacation. I was hooked and ended up quitting both soccer and figure skating to keep doing the horses. Taking a lesson once a week wasn’t enough, so I became a working student on the weekends when I turned 10 and worked off my lessons. The horse bug most definitely didn’t go away!

NF: What about your own skincare journey influenced an interest in starting your own line?

LM: I formerly had grade three acne (there are four grades of acne, 0-4, with zero being completely clear and four being completely covered in acne) through most of middle school, high school, and college. It was debilitating for my confidence and I would try to cover everything up with loads of makeup, which of course clogged my pores and made everything worse.  

I was on prescriptions but nothing really was working. My skin truly didn’t start clearing up until I moved to Korea and began using Korean skincare products. I understand how frustrating it can be to have super sensitive skin, acne, and concerns about fine lines or other issues. By creating my own skincare line, I hope to help others unveil their own amazing skin and also the confidence that comes with it.

"Self-care doesn’t necessarily mean products and buying expensive juices, as social media might steer us into thinking. It means valuing yourself and checking in with yourself to make sure you’re taking the time to really be mindful of you."

NF: What is unique about the skincare needs of equestrians that Bibimbap (now Oh + August) is able to speak to? How is Korean beauty going to change the game for riders?

LM: Equestrians encounter many kinds of environmental conditions that are either damaging to skin, sensitizing or both – and often multiple conditions within only an hour or two at the barn.

Korean beauty emphasizes taking a bit of time for yourself each day to take care of both your skin and your individual self – whether you do an all-out 10-step routine or just take five minutes and focus on your own needs while cleaning and applying moisturizer. Often times, we take care of our horses (or dogs… or cats… or family… you name it), and then we forget to take care of ourselves. However, if we aren’t functioning at our best, how can we help others, let alone ourselves to get through the day? In addition, Korean beauty combines both natural ingredients (think ingredients from plants or fruit to impart nutrients) with clinical ingredients (such as Vitamin C for hyperpigmentation). This combination helps impart the most effective results quickly – vital for the needs of equestrians as we encounter so many factors daily that impact our skin’s health.  

Hungry minds and open hearts can't lose. Find out what else is inside the second NF.edit.

A big piece that I learned while living in Seoul is that skincare is typically viewed by Koreans as a time for self-care and for nurturing oneself, rather than quickly throwing some soap on your face and running out the door.  With that in mind, I wanted to create products that feel good to use – a nice foam in the cleanser, for example, or a moisturizer with a great, airy texture. I wanted to create products that customers would genuinely enjoy using.

Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

NF: Where did the name Bibimbap come from?

LM: Bibimbap is actually a Korean dish consisting of rice, vegetables, and loads of other healthy ingredients that are all mixed together. “Bibimbap” Skincare is a play on this - the line consists of a variety of both natural and clinical ingredients mixed together, with its own Korean-inspired roots.

NF: What’s been the best comment made or story shared about your brand in this first year that’s stuck with you?

LM: One of my first customers sent me a message on Instagram after a couple of months trying the Bibimbap products, and she was thrilled to report that after many years, she had the courage to go outside without foundation for the first time. This truly spoke to me as I used to cake on layers of foundation to hide my skin (including scarring). Since then, it’s been inspiring to see more messages come through from others who have been able to ditch the foundation or switch to a lighter, tinted BB cream with the great changes that they’ve had in their skin.

NF: Seeing the reception of your products in not only the equestrian space but mainstream beauty markets as well, how do you envision your brand in five years?

LM: I envision the brand being available more widely on an international level – the brand is based in the USA, but quite of a few of my customers are located internationally. I also envision the brand taking on not just skincare, but also turning into a sort of wellness community. I’m currently striving to turn the brand’s Instagram into a community where others can view posts, ask questions, and support each other on topics such as stress, supplements, and more. I want the community and the brand to be identified as something supportive and encouraging for all.

"Skincare is typically viewed by Koreans as a time for self-care and for nurturing oneself, rather than quickly throwing some soap on your face and running out the door."

NF: What’s the one product you wouldn’t be able to leave the house without?

LM: The Bibimbap Lip Treatment! Our lips don’t have any oil glands or other “built-in” way to keep themselves from drying out other than making sure you drink enough water, which I definitely don’t. I always keep a lip treatment on me for touch-ups if I start feeling dry. Aside from skincare or lip products, I also never leave the house without a notebook and pen. Sometimes, I think of something really interesting that I want to post on Instagram or open up a conversation about, and it can be quicker to jot that idea down instead of storing it somewhere in my phone.

NF: What does self-care mean to you?

LM: Taking a little time for yourself each day to be mindful of your own self and your needs – and there is no one “right” way that everyone must follow.

Everyone has their own way of taking care of themselves that works for them. Some people might love taking a long, warm bath at the end of a rough day at work, while others may only have five minutes to sit alone and meditate. Self-care doesn’t necessarily mean products and buying expensive juices, as social media might steer us into thinking. It means valuing yourself and checking in with yourself to make sure you’re taking the time to really be mindful of you.

NF: Besides self-care, what do you wish people practiced more?

LM: More consideration for others who may be fighting their own battles. I have clinical anxiety myself and can come across as anti-social or stuck-up in some situations because I can get overwhelmed from lots of people all gathered in one space. When really I’m afraid I’m going to say the wrong thing, so I’m quiet. Maybe the person next to you at work isn’t really snappy, but she’s dealing with an issue at home. Or maybe the neighbor is angry all the time because he’s frustrated dealing with seemingly no luck at a therapy session. I wish people (myself included) were less quick to assume judgments about others in that light.

Success starts with self-care. Start your self-care journey today.

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Feature photo and additional photography by Danica Taylor.