Makeup artist Monika Blunder on her inaugural visit to South Korea’s cosmetics mecca.

Korean skincare brands, like Tony Moly, populate Seoul’s shopping districts, photograph by Ashley Woo

I’ve travelled the globe for my job, but my first trip to South Korea — the most influential place in the world for the beauty industry — was just a year and half ago, in September 2014.

I was really excited to find out I’d be going; my husband is Korean, so the country is very special to me. Not to mention its role in setting makeup trends and developing the latest technology.

I couldn’t wait to go shopping at Missha, The Face Shop, and the super famous Tony Moly — stores in Seoul’s Myeong-dong district my friends told me I had to visit.

An outpost of The Face Shop, one of Blunder’s must-visit boutiques in Myeong-dong, photograph by Janice Lim

I stocked up on false eyelashes in a hundred different shapes and sizes, sheet masks, and long-lasting Tony Moly lip stains — a huge trend there at the time.

Local women would apply them just to the middle of their lips so it looked like they had been sucking on a lollipop.

I also bought cushion foundations, which were unheard of back in the states. It was only months after I returned when Lancôme debuted a line of cushion foundations and Anastasia Beverly Hills released a product just like the Tony Moly lip stains.

I’ve since returned twice, but that first trip was so important — a dream come true.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Hairstylist Jenny Cho heads to Tokyo with Ashlee Simpson, groomer Jessica Ortiz takes The Thick Questionnaire.


Blunder stocked up on sheet masks, like these, while in Seoul, photograph by Chriselle Lim