Konnichiwa! Alas I am no longer in Japan, wandering amidst the beautiful sakura (cherry blossoms) and soaking up the culture, history, and food (ohhh yes, the food). But seeing as "konnichiwa" is one of about three words I learned on my trip, I figured it would serve as the best introduction to this post.
How do I describe Japan? Simply put, it is an amazing and gorgeous country, and my trip couldn't have been better. (And I lost my iPhone on Day 1, so that's saying a lot.) And while I could go on for days about all the ancient shrines we visited and the delicious sushi and tempura we ate, this post isn't about any of that. Instead, since this is a fashion and beauty blog, this post is about all the unbelievable Japanese makeup and skincare products I bought!
If you aren't a beauty aficionado like me, you may not know that the majority of makeup and beauty trends - especially when it comes to skincare - originate in the East before they make their way to us Western-dwelling folk. That's right - BB creams, CC creams, cushion and liquid foundations, hyaluronic acid face lotions, and the endless supply of beauty serums I can't get enough of - all come from the Asian beauty market first. And when you buy them in Asia, they cost much less than what's charged if you buy them, say, at Selfridges. So you can imagine my delight when I finally got the chance to shop to my heart's content in Tokyo's Shibuya and Harajuku districts - some of the best places for Asian fashion and make-up.
Since I ended up with way too many products to describe in great detail without boring you to tears, I've prepared a synopsis below of each product, and included a link to where you can buy it online (for those that are available). This post feels a bit self-indulgent really, but I hope you'll find a few here and there that will be worth a try and maybe you'll even come to love them as much as I do! And if there are any major beauty buys that I missed while in Japan, please let me know in the comments so I can scour the Internet immediately.
- DHC Liquid Eyeliner EX - Perfect Pro Makeup: My go-to liquid eyeliner for years has always been by Lorac, until now. This one by DHC is just as fluid and gives just as beautifully precise a line as the Lorac one, but at half the cost (when in Japan that is, though it is still less expensive if bought in the States or UK as well). Further, it has a really secure cap so there is no chance of it drying out.
- RMK Dual Lash W Color Mascara: Admittedly this was a bit of a splurge, but who doesn't need color mascara for spring?! I've tried many colored mascaras before, but was convinced by this one because of its dual-purpose: a dark, charcoal grey on one side is perfect for every-day wear, while the bright mustard yellow on the other end is just plain fun. I actually tried this look out for Easter Sunday Roast, coating the tops of my lashes with the charcoal and using the yellow on just my bottom lashes. It's quite a cool effect - take a look at the photos below and let me know what you think! This product also comes in a variety of colorways.
- DHC Super Long Mascara EX: The link to this product is actually DHC's standard mascara, I'm not sure why but I couldn't find this exact one available online. It is very similar to the standard product however and different from Western mascaras in that the formulation of the mascara creates little individual tubes around each lash, ensuring very long and well separated lashes that don't ever clump. Usually one can achieve this with waterproof mascara, but the best part about DHC's is that while it won't budge all day - it isn't waterproof and comes off very easily with facial cleanser and water. No more tugging and rubbing at your eyes!
- SUGAO Air Fit CC Cream: This product is brand new to me. I'd never heard of the brand SUGAO before, and while this is my first product of theirs to try I can guarantee it won't be my last. This CC (color-correcting) cream has an SPF of 23 and comes in two shades, but the most impressive thing about it is the texture. It's a little bit like those Maybelline cream concealers, except even lighter. I'm not kidding - it feels like absolutely nothing on your skin. But it looks amazing! It gives a very sheer coverage, so if you are used to wearing a heavier foundation then make sure to conceal properly. Otherwise this CC cream is a dream for day to day use - especially in the upcoming hot summer months. If there was one product out of all of my collection I urge you to try, it's this one!
- ShiSeido Sheer and Perfect Foundation: Shiseido is a popular Japanese brand and most of their products can be found fairly easily in Western department stores. I don't know why but I hadn't ever given their makeup a try even though I live for the skincare samples Sephora hands out like candy. But since they do such an incredible job with skincare, it makes sense that their foundations would be excellent too. This one definitely gives more coverage than the CC cream by SUGAO, but is still very lightweight on the spectrum of liquid foundations and can be layered quite easily to build up if need be. The finish is glowy but not dewy - it is very natural and would suit dry and normal skin complexions. I would not recommend it for oily skins, unless you are prepared to use a powder afterwards (and likely carry a powder around with you for touch ups).
- RiPi False Lashes Set: I haven't had a chance to use these babies yet, as I usually only wear false lashes for more formal events. However I bought these mainly because they were such a good deal - 5 sets for less than $10! Usually one set from Eyelure at Boots is $6 - outrageous when you think about it, really. I'll have more to say about this product once I've used them - but from what I can tell they look and feel like very natural lashes - not too thick or long, and a good overall shape.
- Excel Brow Pencil: This brow pencil is actually a three-in-one deal, which I love for its convenience and portability. On one end is a retractable brow pencil, and just below that is a little screw-cap that untwists to reveal a tiny applicator and brow powder! On the other end of the stick is a brush, which is great for grooming those pesky hairs in place. I've tried this pencil out a few times already and love the natural finish it gives me - it is not nearly as dark as the powder I usually use and I think it's a nice change for summer not to have harsh or such well-defined brows.
- RMK Dual Crayon and Powder Eyes: Another dual-product from RMK, this stick is a combo gel eye pencil and powder set in a gorgeous silver-pewter-grey color. They come in a variety of amazing shades so I hope to add more to my collection soon! The nice thing about this product is again, it is very versatile and portable. You could use just the eyeliner end to line your eyes after using a matte grey as a base, or you could color in your whole lid with the liner and then use the powder applicator on the other side of the wand to blend everything in.
- BabyPink Lip Tint*: This lip tint does just what the tube says. Its doe-foot applicator swipes on the color in a dye-like texture, creating the effect of having just eaten some very flavorful berries. It definitely tints your lips for the night, too - and works way harder, faster, and stronger than the Benetint products by Benefit, which I find you need to constantly reapply. Just make sure to apply a lip balm or clear gloss over the top, as the tint can be a bit drying on the lips. *I can't find this product online anywhere! Let me know in the comments if you've found a place to buy online.
- DHC Moisture Care Lipstick in Sweat Pea: I normally don't wear lipsticks because I think they're too drying / stain my lips weird / I can't ever get the product to go on straight, but this one by DHC is different. It's almost like a balm, it's so moisturizing, and leaves a really nice finish so it looks more like a gloss than a lipstick. I also really love the color, a browny-pink shade that would suit lots of skin-tones.
Before I go on to the skincare products, here are a few shots of me wearing most of the products described above. Note the yellow mascara!
Now, for skincare. Don't worry, there are only four products! Two by Shiseido and two by DHC.
- DHC Bio Cellulose Mask & Eye Bright Serum: Both of these products are amazing. I am a huge fan of the SKII facial masks but they are SO expensive, so when I read that DHC makes a similar one for more than half the price I thought it was too good to pass up! A rejuvenating mask made with coconut milk, this product is amazing for prepping the skin after a late night out, or after a long day of travel (like say, after flying back to London from Japan). The Eye Bright serum is also an equally good product, and I apply it morning and night with my face lotion to help reduce puffiness and dark circles under my eyes.
- Shiseido Ultimate Power Infusing Concentrate: This product has a serum-like texture, and is meant to restore both balance and moisture to the skin. Its ultimate goal is to create "resilient" skin by providing protection against external damaging aggressors like dry weather conditions, in order to create a more even and lively skin-tone. I've only been using it for three days so far so we will see how well it upholds these promises of beautiful skin, but I will say that the texture is beautiful and light and wears very well under makeup.
- Shiseido Benefiance W-Resist24 Night Emulsion: Benefiance is Shiseido's anti-aging skincare line. I know maybe it sounds a little crazy considering I'm 27 and all, but my philosophy on skincare is that you can never start too early to prevent signs of aging, so here I am using this lovely night cream. It is moisturizing for sure but definitely not in the heavy, over-fragranced Oil-of-Olay way - more in the smooth, you-will-wake-up-looking-gorgeous way. Which I obviously prefer.
I hope you liked reading about my collection of newfound Japanese beauty and skincare products as much as I enjoyed writing about them! If you'd like to see a tutorial on how to use any of these products, please let me know in the comments below. And if you raced through this post to see if I'd feature any other highlights from my trip, lucky you! Below is a gallery for you to enjoy, just click through to see each one. :) (all photo cred goes to Michael Guido).