Beauty Insider | Japanese Beauty Watch

We spent the past week researching for the Global Watch: Japan report. Tokyo-based MAC Sr. Makeup Artist Mariko Tagayashi was kind of enough to answer some of our questions about Japanese women’s attitudes and trends towards beauty today.

1. What do Japanese women consider beautiful? How do they approach beauty?
Japanese women like to highlight their skin and add dimensions. This can be done through sculpting and shaping which also adds a sheery texture to the skin.

2. How has the idea of beauty changed over the past few years?
The “Inner Beauty” plays a more important role in the modern day Japanese society. The same idea applies to makeup as well. Five years ago, black eye shadows and dark colors around eyes were very popular, but now people tend to prefer natural colors and a brightening effect. “Natural” and “Shine” are the keywords for the Japanese beauty.

In Japan, M·A·C’s Mineralize franchise is very popular because it gives a translucent texture to women’s skin.

3. Skin is very important there. What are some key elements of Japanese skincare that are different from Western skincare?
Japanese women love to have radiating skincare texture. Therefore, a lot of skincare products have multiple steps. Lightning products are also very popular. At M·A·C , we have recently improved our formula in our M•A•C Lightful SPF 30/PA++ Moisturizer and it now has five functional benefits in one product. This is to address the special needs of the Japanese women.

4. How do women use makeup? What are some current makeup trends?
Women focus primarily on lip makeup: lipstick, lip gloss, lip liner etc. Colors such as red, orange and pink are very popular in Japan.

5. A lot of the girls like to wear blush right under their eyes, why?
Wearing blush under your eye makes the eyes pop and stand out, while covering any dark circles. It is also known to portray a kind impression to others.

6. What do Japanese women expect when they buy beauty products?
Radiant skin with a subtle shimmering effect.

Some additional interesting facts:
- the “gyaru” (girl/gal) looks, made famous by Gwen Stefani and Nicki Minaj, began as a youth rebellion in the 70s. It celebrated artifical beauty via wigs, dyed blonde hair, fake eyelashes, excessive makeup and extreme nails. Subsets included ganguro (severely dark tans), hime gyaru (princess girl) and Gothic Lolita. But that’s slowly changing with the tough economic times. That carefree attitude is replaced with the desire for stability/marriage. Today’s gyaru styles are more “natural” and “good girl,” like that of actress Aoi Yu.

- Japan has the oldest population in the world. This makes it unlike any other consumer landscape. Brands face the challenge of marketing to an older consumer without alienating younger consumers.

- Mode-gyaru is a new style adopted by girls and older women who like the high fashion look. It takes inspiration from the 60s with its sleek lines, bold patterns and lashes overload. Ex-Vivi magazine models Ena Matsumoto and Momoko Ogihara are the faces of this movement.

- Striking geometric and graphic lines are a striking alternative to the sweet, “kawaii” nail art

- Department stores only use about 15% of their retail space for perfume (in Europe its 50%). They display already-sprayed test strips because Japanese dislike topnotes.

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