As you may know, I’m leaving soon for a 2 week vacation to Japan! You guys can’t even imagine the excitement of preparing a shopping list for freakin’ Japan! 😀
Before Korean cosmetics took the world by storm, Japanese makeup was the main Asian makeup game in town. I remember pouring over online resources to learn about the various Japanese brands and subsidiaries (Kanebo, Shiseido, Kose and Sana own the lion’s share of brands – Shiseido has so many sub-brands, it’s hard to keep them straight), and placing many orders online for Japanese cosmetics. Now, I finally get to see this stuff firsthand!
I’m not going to list out all the specific items I plan to buy, because I don’t really know yet! But I’ll list out stores, brands and products that I’ll be on the look out for:
Our hotel in Tokyo is in the Shinjuku area which is known for one thing: shopping! So we’ll be right in the heart of all the major Japanese department stores. The other major area for shopping is in Shibuya which we’ll also visit. Here are some stores I will be making a point to stop into:
• Ainz&Tulpe – this is a beauty store similar to Sephora or Ulta. The Shinjuku location is fairly new and apparently quite spectacular.
• @cosmestore – another shop that focuses only on beauty, they have some standalone stores but also shop-in-shops, inside Lumine and Marui department stores.
• Isetan – I heard on IG that this store’s service is top notch! They carry THREE and RMK.
• Odakyu – carries RMK, SK-II, Shu Uemura, Suqqu, Paul & Joe
• Drugstores: Matsumoto KiYoshi, Seijo, HAC – but I’ll mostly be hanging out at these places since I’m not going to go crazy with high-end makeup. I personally think that the quality of Japanese drugstore items are way better than what we get here in the West.
• Daiso – this is the Japanese version of a dollar store (or 100 yen store, ¥100 is approx $1.20 CAD). For a cheap store, they sell well designed, decent quality range of home ware, cosmetics and stationary. I’ve been to 3 Daiso stores so far: Vancouver, San Fran and Hong Kong. Now I get to go to the mother ship!
• Don Quijote – speaking of cheap, I want to check out this self proclaimed “Palace of Extreme Cheapness”. They sell all kinds of whacky stuff and I read that you can get a pack of 7 masks for less than $4 CAD!
• Muji – Even though we do now have Muji in Toronto, it doesn’t carry the full range of products. I’ve visited Muji in Hong Kong and they carry colour cosmetics. There isn’t anything in particular that I’m seeking out but I will likely pick up at least ONE thing! 😉
• Uniqlo – Not makeup but clothing; this is the Japanese version of the Gap! I’ve been to the Uniqlo store in Hong Kong and stocked up on lots of basics. Apparently this brand will be coming to Toronto as well.
• Tokyu Hands – Also not makeup – this is like the Japanese version of a Michaels craft and hobby store! I wonder how much yarn and beads I can cram into my suitcase? 😛
There are so many cosmetics brands in Japan, it’s kind of hard to keep track of them all! I find the overall quality of Japan-made makeup to be really high, so it mainly boils down to packaging and colour selection.
• Visée, InteGrate and Media – I don’t know much about these brands except that they’re subs of Kose, Shiseido and Kanebo respectively, and quite affordable. I will make a point of getting at least one item from each brand – I’ve heard Visée eye shadows are good.
• Lavshuca – is another sub-brand of Kanebo . I own an eyeshadow quad from them which cost me less thatn $10 and I really like the quality.
• KATE – I’ve tried a few things from this brand and the standout item has been their stick concealer. I really like the simple packaging (reminds me of Bobbi Brown) and overall product quality. I want to try a lipstick next.
• Majolica Majorca – drugstore brand owned by Shiseido. They have princess-y packaging and I own eye shadows from the brand already. They also make amazing mascaras. Not sure what I’d want from this brand but I know I will definitely find something. 😉
• CanMake – this is a little bit too cutesy for my liking – most of their products are sparkly. Their blushers with the little puffs are sweet looking and I’ve heard their cream blushers are cult favourites. I’ll see if I’m in the mood for super girly stuff.
• Dolly Wink – this brand is known for their liners. I’ve tried the liquid liner and wasn’t too impressed (it was watery and wasn’t that long wearing) so I might pass on this.
• MAQuillAGE – my old HG lash curler was from MAQuillAGE – it’s another Shiseido sub-brand – but I’ve not tried anything else from them so I’m curious to see what else they offer, maybe a lipstick (based on reviews, I am thinking their Dramatic Melting Rouge is similar to the Shiseido Perfect Rouge lipstick).
• Coffret D’or – I don’t know why but I kind of equate this brand with old lady (like Elizabeth Arden). A lot of their packaging has bling on it.
• Esprique, Ettusais, and Lunasol – I don’t know much about these brands either except that they have pretty packaging and are generally well reviewed online. Lunasol reminds me of Clarins and Ettusais is a bit Clinique-esque. I seem to overlook mid-range Japanese brands for some reason.
• Shu Uemura and Paul & Joe – I used to be really obsessed with Shu Uemura but since it’s so readily available here, I likely won’t seek it out. Unless there’s some Japan-exclusive items. Same with P&J.
• Jill Stuart – I don’t really understand why this American brand is so popular in Japan but virtually has no presence in North America (kind of similar to Anna Sui in this regard). Her packaging is whimsical but they come with a hefty price tag. I’m not really drawn to the aesthetics of the line but I will take a gander if I come across it.
• Addiction – there’s an eyeshadow that has been on my wish list for years, called Flash Back (#69). I just owe it to myself to finally buy this already.
• SUQQU – ah, the ultimate in luxury as made popular by Lisa Eldridge. An eye shadow quad costs ¥8,800 which at current conversion rate, is $105 CAD. To put that into perspective, a Tom Ford quad costs $80 USD, which is roughly $100 CAD. The famous cheek brush is ¥16,200 (~$190 CAD 😮 )
• THREE – it’s slightly cheaper than Suqqu (a quad is ~$70 CAD) – I likely won’t buy anything from this brand, I just want to look around at their counter.
• RMK – reminds me of Shu Uemura but more expensive. A lipstick is ~$50
I mostly listed colour makeup brands – there are also tons of brands that focus on skincare like Allie, Sekkisei, Sofina, SK-II, Anessa, Albion, DHC, Haba, Rohto, Fancl…! Ahhh… head explode. 😮 But, I’m thinking that I likely won’t buy much skincare since they’re heavier to haul back and I can order those online instead.
To me, there are 4 key beauty items that I feel the Japanese do better than anyone else:
1) Brushes – ah the land of beautiful hand-made brushes… Hakuhodo, Chikuhodo, Koyudo, Suqqu… try and stop me from buying a makeup brush in Japan, I dare you! 😛 (and this might get spendy… a Suqqu brush is not entirely out of the question! I do all my Japanese brush research on this blog.)
2) Facial sunscreens – the idea of a long wearing, non-greasy, non-pasty facial sunscreen originated in Japan. I’m considering: Allie Extra UV Gel Mineral Moist NEO SPF 50+, Anessa Perfect UV Aqua Booster, Biore UV Perfect Bright Milk or Shigaisen Yohou UV cream 4+
3) Pen liquid liners – they’ve got the market cornered with waterproof, budge-proof liquid liners. I’ve tried quite a few Japanese liquid liners and it’s gotten to the point that I will only wear liners made in Japan. I’m interested in trying the InteGrate Cat Look Liquid Liner which is available in dark brown!
4) Mascaras – these are hardcore curling and non-budging mascaras that cater to the bone-straight, length-challenged Asian lashes. I’m considering Heroine Make by Kiss Me Volume & Curl, Long & Curl, or CanMake Gokubuto Mascara. Check out this comprehensive guide!
I’m 100% picking up a brush, a sunscreen, a liquid liner and a mascara! 😀
By no means is this an exhaustive list – those of you who have visited Japan before or are knowledgeable about Japanese cosmetics – do you have any recommendations for me?