Japanese beauty, or J-beauty as it’s known among makeup and skincare obsessives, has quietly risen in popularity over the past years, especially in the Western world. Beloved for its quality ingredients, unique textures and Instagram-worthy packaging, not to mention its highly curated approach to skincare routines, Japanese beauty – much like Japan itself – is rooted in tradition. But it also benefits from the most forward-thinking science and technology.
When it comes to skincare, Japanese beauty has a ‘prevention’ rather than ‘cure’ attitude, which celebrates SPF (a must, even in the winter months) and gentle, nourishing formulations over harsh, skin-stripping products, which may cause reactions. “If anything, I’d say J-beauty turns away from trends and leans more towards efficacy and simplicity in skincare,” explains Amanne Sharif, communications director at cult Japanese beauty brand DHC. “We all wanted the perfect 10-step regimen, but we’re fatigued. Now, the focus is on nourishing your skin – gently cleansing and layering on hydration and moisture.”
While this may explain why J-beauty is so covetable in the West, Sharif reveals that it’s also thanks to the avalanche of cult beauty products finally becoming widely accessible (and affordable) outside Japan. As a result, the demand for Japanese beauty shows no sign of slowing down, with new trends such as ‘mochi-skin’ (soft, smooth, bouncy skin, just like your favourite mochi dessert, according to Sharif) making waves in the industry.
Nothing cemented my own love for J-beauty more than a recent trip to Japan itself. The makeup, skincare and haircare options were overwhelming, and it was important to know which brands and products to seek out, due to the language barrier and sheer level of choice.
The selection was enough to delight a beauty addict. Everything was so new and exciting. The drugstore culture over there is huge, while stores such as Ainz & Tulpe serve as your Sephora or Cult Beauty alternative, offering affordable options and higher end brands alike.
Unsurprisingly, I showed little restraint, stocking up on everything from cult Japanese cleansers and steam eye masks to super soft cotton pads and featherweight SPF formulas. Luckily, although many of the products I bought are far cheaper and more easily accessible in Japan, they are available to purchase in the UK – if you know how and where to look.
Ahead, find seven of my favourite Japanese buys, which you can easily pick up without having to hop on a 12-hour flight.
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