Japanese Beauty

Regular readers will already know of my love for all things Japanese, and their beauty products are special favourites. Japanese women take their beauty ritual very seriously, so brands there always seem years ahead of the West in terms of innovative beauty technologies, potions and lotions. By way of example, they were using brightening treatments, serums and BB creams for ten years before they arrived here, and there are still entire product categories that are yet to penetrate the Western market (softening lotions, essences, washing powders, moisture foams…). And it shows. Japanese girls have skin so luminous it’s as though they have their own candlelit glow. In short, for a product to perform in the crowded Japanese beauty market, it must be good.

So on my last trip to Tokyo, I performed my usual tradition of heading for the beauty hall of Isetan (my favourite Japanese department store) and collecting as many old favourites and entirely new and novel products as I could carry. (Handily, the Clever Boyfriend has ‘fluent in Japanese’ amongst his many talents, so I wheeled him around to every counter to translate the strange new descriptions for me in exchange for sushi afterwards).

Here are the hero brands that I can’t leave Japan without (though all are now available in most countries):

SKII: The ultimate Japanese cult brand, promising unrivalled brightening and luminosity. Favourite products: Treatment Essence, Cleansing Oil, Cloth Masks.

RMK: I am very enthusiastic about this brand. Great skincare and adorable makeup (theirs is the most perfect pink blush). Favourite products: Cleansers (balm, oil or mousse), Brightening Skintuner, Rose herbal face mist, blush, eyeshadows.

Shu Uemura (pronounced ‘shoe oo-eh-moora’): The Japanese are masters of eyelashes, and Shu Uemura are the best (when something works this well on naturally straight Asian lashes, you know it’s good). Favourite products: Eyelash curler (the best in the world), false lashes, Cleansing Oil, UV Under Base primer mousse.
Suqqu: As with lashes, the Japanese really care about eyebrows. Though Suqqu do a whole range of beauty products, their brow products are the best there is. Favourite products: Felt tip eyebrow pen (a teeny tiny tip to fill in any gaps), eyebrow powder palette, cloth face treatment masks.
Astalift: A relative newcomer, but already a bestseller in Japan for it’s innovative antioxidant properties. Favourite products: Jelly Aquarysta is the hero product, but the whitening cream is also good for lightening sun damage and pigmentation.
Shiseido: The bestselling beauty brand in Japan; great for brightening/whitening treatments and makeup suited to pale skins. Favourite products: White Lucency brightening serum, felt tip eyeliner, SPF.
Pharmacy buys: for fun bargains when in Japan, head to a pharmacy and stock up on individual sachets of bath salts in just about every scent you can imagine (I love the milk and sakura blossom varieties), little packets of nail art crystals to make your manicure twinkly, exfoliating powders, rose chewing gum and Hello Kitty lipgloss.
I’d love to know of any beauty products you love that might not be mainstream where you live!
Love, Miss B xx

36 thoughts on “Japanese Beauty

    • Ooh thank you so much! I hadn’t heard of this but definitely bookmarking it to fuel my Asian beauty obsession!

      B xx

  1. There are these brands called P2 and Essence in Germany and the products are not only very inexpensive they are such good quality, especially the Essence eyeliners which simply just stays on perfectly and the P2 mail varnish which takes a week to show chippage.

  2. This is a great guide to Japanese beauty products. I hardly know anything and wondered why Japanese girls always look so amazing. Their skin is so luminous, you’re right!

    I am going to start trying some of these asap.

    Sarah Betty xx

    • It is the land of the beautiful-skinned-women! Of course it partly comes down to genes, but they are a lot more dedicated to a beauty routine (and are willing to use more products) than most Western women. Let me know how you go!

      B xx

  3. I have been a Japanese beauty fan for a long time now 🙂 Shu Uemura and Shiseido are fabulous and luckily can be found over here. Particular faves for me are Dolly Wink, Jill Stuart (as in the fashion designer but she does an asia only beauty line), Canmake, Candy Doll and Koji for lashes etc.

    • I love that so many fashion brands have beauty products that only seem to be available in the US (I love Anna Sui’s Asia-only products). I haven’t heard of Candy Doll and Dolly Wink, so will definitely check these out. Thanks!

      B xx

  4. hey, great post. I’ve loved japanese products for ages and especially love the shu cleansing oil.

    I’m tempted by the SKII treatment essence though as cate blanchett looks so foxy for her age…do you use it as a toner?

    • Couldn’t agree more (if my skin is half as good as Cate Blanchett’s at her age, I will be happy!). It is a treatment that you use between toning and serum/moisturiser, but if you’re going to use that or a toner, then definitely choose this (it packs a lot more punch than a toner will). Hope that helps?

      B xx

  5. I do the same thing in Sephora everytime I go to the US – filling my basket with Stila, Philosophy serums and creams, and all those irresistible treats around the till. Even though most are available here in the UK (for more), there’s something a little bit thrilling about having a beauty haul from another country…

    • You’re so right! Even though I could buy all of these here at Selfridges and Liberty, there is something so much more special about knowing they’ve all come from a far off land 😉

      B xx

    • You can’t? Oh my gosh, I didn’t realise! Definitely one to buy next time you’re overseas in that case 😉

      B xx

  6. I’m obsessed with all things Japan too, although sadly have not had the chance to visit. I definitely want to try the cleansing oil & this packaging is especially tempting.

    • It is really excellent at getting *all* your makeup off (and though it isn’t cheap, the bottle is huge and lasts around a year, so is good value).

      B xx

  7. I love the Shu Uemura cleansing oil and am obsessed with the same pink “Fresh” one. It smells so good!! And you are completely right about the lashes. I had a pair made of feathers from Shu’s Tokyo Lash Bar which lasted me forever despite how super delicate they were!

  8. They look amazing. Like the lady who made a previous comment, I am of to Tokyo in September too (I have never been before), and your post has made me really excited. Did you find products more expensive than uk prices?

  9. Your posts are so beautiful! I love that you can draw inspiration after actually traveling to Japan. I know I would go goo-goo over all of the Hello Kitty products.

  10. I am a total mascara junkie (on the hunt for the perfect, ultra curling version) and just bought my first tube of Heroine Make, a Japanese brand that you can find in NYC’s Chinatown, if you look hard enough. It basically makes my lashes stand up straight and touch my eyebrows. The only downside is, I think most Asian mascaras are waterproof, and it’s tough to get off at night.

  11. I love this post! I am obsessed with all things beauty, but have never tried any of the Japanese brands. I will surely look for them now! The cleansing oil sounds amazing!

    Danielle xo

  12. I am so glad you’ve made posts about Japan, especially this one! I am obsessed with everything Japanese, I can’t wait until I get the chance to travel there!

  13. I almost forgot about my love for all things Asian especially Japanese products. Thanks for reminding me with this post. I’m going to stalk Sasa.com to see if there’s something they have that i can’t find here in Australia

    xo Stephanie

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  17. I am recently obssesed with japanese Pola products and kanebo, have you tried them? They have worked soo good for my skin glowy mostirides but not feeling greasy.

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