If you are someone like me who has gone through enough beauty brands and product reviews, you would have by now inferred two important things about Japanese beauty products: 1. they are potently awesome, and 2. they are unapologetically expensive. Which ups their covetousness factor, obviously. Now not all gold-tagged things from the Land of the Rising Sun perform as outstandingly as promised. Also–an important corollary–I have by no means tried all the Holy Grail Japanese finds, but I have tried enough to make a short list.
Herewith are a handful of Japanese beauty products worth skipping a Green Tea frappe or two for. I sincerely believe that flawless Japanese skin is not only due to amazing genes or something in their water. Perfectionist makeup science helps a lot too.
1. Shiseido Sheer Matifying Powder Foundation. I first tried Shiseido because it was a sponsor of J-drama Hana Yori Dango. Yes, corporate marketers, TV sponsorships work. It was love at first touch with their Dual Balancing Liquid Foundation and Supplist Powder Foundation. Both offered smooth, creaseless, medium buildable coverage. The fact that I used both just goes to show how needy my skin was before (and also what a makeup amateur I was). Now with the Supplist obsolete and my skin cooperating with just BB cream to prep, I stick with my Sheer Matifying powder. With the right brush (see #2) and fine setting powder, it blends well with my BB cream of choice and stays put. No breakouts, no rashes. Eight to nine hours in an air-conditioned office and I only need blotting paper and touch up or two for my oil slick of a face. The damage? $30, but it lasts forever. Oh, and the compact is sold separately for about $20 (there, there).
2. Shiseido Perfect Foundation Brush. The geniuses at Shiseido know how easily you can mess up that compact of gold without the right tools. Their Perfect Foundation Brush glides makeup over your skin in a way no silly sponge can, covering all nooks and crannies, and it’s much more hygienic. Fun discovery is it’s also great in smoothing out under eye concealer. This multitasking bad boy will also set you back $30. A cheaper replacement? Korea’s The Face Shop Face It Circle face brush does virtually the same job for a small fraction of the price, if you don’t mind the less fine strands and a tiny bit more clumping.
3. Shu Uemura and Majolica Majolica eyelash curler. My lashes are long, thin and stick-straight. Just like me. The first part of the challenge is finding an eyelash curler that curls and not corners. After playing unknowing victim to various cheaper brands because I did not understand why you would spend $20 on something you can get for free with your mascara, a friend was kind enough to gift me with the Shu Uemura eyelash curler. After one 8-second push of this magic wand against my skinny lashes, I know the difference. I get the coveted gentle C-curl without the casualty of cut lashes. Word to the wise: check the box it comes in and keep the replacement rubber instead of unwittingly throwing it away like I did. And for those still looking for a steal, the Majolica Majolica (a Shiseido drugstore brand; everything below Php1,000!) eyelash curler delivers almost just as well for a fraction the price, and in a pretty plum color too.
4. Fairy Drops volumizing mascara. The second half of the lash story is of course the mascara. Now I thought I was a fan of the false lash effect until my lashes became permanently stiff from all the volumizing fiber. Plus have you ever blinked very hard with hard lashes? The miniscule itching is quite a unique feeling. It was still with love for the heavy lashes though when I met Fairy Drops on a trip to Macau. For one, how can you say no to that loud pink packaging. For another, the wand looks like a stick of dango. Picture below for reference.
Fun stuff. Apart from the aesthetics, the spiral wand delivers easy application and volumized yet still very soft lashes. A couple of swipes of makeup remover should clean it up, aided with a gentle splash of tepid water. Japan’s number mascara is reasonably priced at about $13.
5. K Palette Zero Kuma Cover Control Concealer. It must be a law in Japan to make everything cute. That is the only reason I can think of why K Palette Zero Kuma Cover Control Concealer would have a bear as a mascot, because I don’t think bears care so much about how they look. K Palette’s under eye concealer comes in three different shades promising three different things. But the low down is getting the shade the counters the darkness under your eyes best. Mine is a mild gray color, like a 5 o’clock shadow but under the eyes. The Type 02 color matches best. Squirt half a pea size at the back of your hand, tap with your ring finger and dab dab dab. Application is smooth and it blends like butter. On bad sleepless nights, I just need my Kuma, eyeliner and mascara to look awake.
In the Philippines, Shiseido, The Face Shop, Majolica Majorca and Shu Uemura products are widely available in major department stores. Fairy Drops and K Palette products are exclusively carried by Beauty Bar. Everything is cheaper in Hong Kong, Macau or online though.
Photo credits to their owners.