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What Are Japanese Cosmetics?

By T. Carrier
Updated Feb 22, 2024
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Cosmetics are products meant to improve appearance. They commonly consist of traditional facial make-up and skin-care products. If the products are made in Japan or are specifically targeted to Japanese individuals, then they are known as Japanese cosmetics.

In general, Japanese cosmetics do not greatly differ from other regional cosmetics. While some cosmetic types are more prominent than in other regions, the same basic stock of items are offered in Japan as in other places. This includes items such as eye shadows, blushes, lipsticks, foundations, lotions, and powders.

The eyes are highly valued in Japanese aesthetics, so eye makeup is especially emphasized. Many Asian cosmetics styles prefer black eyeliner to call attention to this area. In order to create a striking and contrasting look, white eyeshadow is often used in conjunction with the dark eyeliner; this technique is associated with what is called the gyaru look. Another popular style — called the ulzzang cosmetic style — places priority on neutrally colored eye shadows in combination with both black and white eyeliner and white eyeshadow. The more daring ganguro style, on the other hand, merges dark foundations with bright colors.

Another prominent form of Japanese cosmetics is face powder. Face powders made of white lead have a particularly long and valued place in Japanese culture, such as in Geisha styles. More contemporary facial powders mix and merge several different colors, however.

The Japanese affinity for skin whitening is a cornerstone of white face powder and other Japanese cosmetics components. Whitening does not necessarily equate with lightening the skin tone. Rather, the term references brightening the skin and making it appear more vibrant. Bleaching is an often-used term for such products.

Skin care is valued in Japanese culture as well, so many Japanese cosmetics products — particularly creams — claim to have anti-aging, moisturizing, and other skin treatment properties. Specific ingredients like hyaluronic acid help alleviate skin problems like fine lines and dark eye circles. Oil control is another priority in Japanese cosmetics, especially for younger individuals. Since skin smoothness is highly valued, facial concealers or foundations that cover up any imperfections are also prominent. In addition, softening lotion is a light liquid that has a further positive effect on the skin.

If a non-Japanese citizen wishes to purchase cosmetics from Japan, online retailers are usually the best option. Several companies specialize in the export of Japanese cosmetics. Most reputable sites will have a professional design, areas for user reviews, and plentiful information, including contact information. In many cases, a language and currency converter tool may be needed for non-natives.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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