#PretaPostcards: Makeup Artist Fiona Stiles' South Korea Snapshots

fiona stiles IG - S 2015

fiona stiles IG - S 2015

The celebrity artist, who's worked with Elizabeth Banks and Jennifer Garner, documents her whirlwind trip to hunt down the country's best beauty products.

As a true product junkie, the thrill of the chase is a big lure for me. There is never a time when I am not keeping my eyes peeled for a new an interesting product, whether it’s in the drugstore, a department store, airport, convenience store or anywhere in between and I especially love to look in other countries. When my dear friend and exceptionally talented makeup artist, Troy Surratt (also the artist behind Surratt), said he might be going to South Korea for a beauty trade show, and asked if I would maybe like to tag along, I said 'yes' before he even finished the sentence.  

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The trade show was just the impetus for us going. The real reason was to hunt for new products that haven’t made it stateside yet and to look for new innovation in the beauty world — two things that make my heart race with excitement. We had 48 hours to see as much as humanly possible, and we surprisingly managed to cover a lot of ground. Would I like to go back? You bet!  I already regret not buying more products for me, my makeup kit, and my curated beauty site Reed Clarke.

It’s go time! I took this at LAX to send to my husband and 3-year-old daughter before I left. The time difference was so extreme that it was very challenging to Facetime.

Good morning Seoul! And good morning jet lag… I just roll with it if I wake up early. There’s always work to do, so e-mails were answered before hitting the streets.

Thankfully for us, most of the beauty brands have their own stand-alone shops, and they are all located in one part of town, in Myeong-dong. Apparently one million people pass through this neighborhood each day. It was busy and crowded and I totally loved it. Literally every shop on this street is a makeup store and you just hop from one to another. I could have spent two days on this block alone.

I was actually surprised by the bright lip color selection. The last time I was in Tokyo the focus on lips was very soft and sweet. Lots of pale pinks, corals and pale oranges. In South Korea, it was all about bright fuchsias and electric pinks and super saturated reds.  Most of the girls and women on the streets either had no lipstick on or a blinding stain of hot pink. So interesting to see one trend so wildly pervasive in a city.  

One of my favorite expressions is "try me." This is a selection of uber-electric lip stains ranging from bougainvillea fuchsia to electric orange.

A shot of a small assortment of the goodies I picked up. When I wake up early I get cracking on doing stills of my beauty haul. The light in my room was so beautiful; the early morning sun cast such lovely long shadows that looked especially nice reflecting through the lucite. Taking nice pictures makes waking up before dawn less painful.

A shot of Troy and I testing colors and textures. I found it interesting to see what colors and products we're both drawn to. Troy gravitated towards the lilac and orange blushes, while I couldn’t get enough of the red/burgundy eyeliners that they had there. This store, Espoir, reminded me a bit of the old Shu Uemura store. It felt very different than the other stores and felt more geared towards a makeup artist or someone who is a bit more serious about their makeup. And yes, those are Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf cups. CBT and Starbucks were everywhere.

When I travel, I travel as light as possible. Because I carry so much around on a daily basis (50 lbs. of makeup and 20 lbs. of brushes, lashes, etc.) I want to keep my luggage and bits and bobs to a minimum. I carry a backpack (this one is from Herschel) to collect all of my purchases in so that my shoulders aren’t overloaded and worn out by a purse that weighs a million pounds.

Time for a sweet snack! The food hall at Shinsegae was spectacular. The baked goods looked as cute as they did delicious. We ended up getting some sort of frozen ice cream that was unreal. Before they hand it to you they put it in a glass freezer on the counter for a few minutes, which magically makes it so that it doesn’t drip. At all. It was a miracle of modern science.

Sniffing some delicious hair scents with totally adorable illustrations on them at Missha.

As a seasoned makeup artist, I never go makeup shopping without bringing my own baby wipes. They give you teeny 1" squares of cotton with some remover to take off the swatches, but that is just too small for me! I’m a big messy American! This was my last baby wipe at the last store we visited, so I knew it was time to go home…