Negotiating the cosmetics and skincare section of the pharmacy in Japan can be a daunting experience. Your mind is full of questions – what is this exactly? Is it any good? Does it have some kind of weird placenta in it? So as you can imagine, not that we are an incredibly vain bunch in the KA group, one of the most popular posts are those about cosmetics and skincare in Japan. Many KA Mums use familiar brands from home, ordered via Strawberry net or picked up on trips home, however Japanese cosmetics and skincare have a reputation for being of high quality; you only have to take a look around you at the usually perfect, but natural make up that Japanese women wear. With summer arriving with a vengeance, here’s a list of cosmetics and skincare that we all swear by to get us through the long, hot and sticky Japanese summer.
Don’t look like this!
CleansersKA mums recommend two reasonably priced pharmacy sold cleansers:
I have always used Cetaphil which is available via Foreign Buyers Club however I’ve recently started to use Body Shop Aloe Calming Facial Cleanser and so far so good. It’s well priced at around 1500 yen. Body Shop is a favourite of many due to their no-testing on animals policy and most lines available abroad are carried here. A few cheap and cheerful recommendations that are sold at the local pharmacy are
MoisturisersFinding the perfect summer moisturiser is a problem here, particularly when it comes to night creams – your usual night cream just slides straight off your face. Sticking with Body Shop, I started using their Aloe Soothing night cream and I’m happy with that. Another favourite is their Vitamin E Nourishing Night Cream. A further recommendation is Body Shop’s Nutrigenics Line – a KA mum describes it as a firming moisturiser and can see the difference after a few months use. An expensive but miracle working night cream, according to one KA mum is Shu Uemura phyto-black lift renewing night cream. Skincerity is another suggestion. Day creams can also go sliding right off. A couple of recommendations are Shiseido 50uv moisturizer and sunscreen and Dr Hauschka day cream available at Urban Research or the Loft.
Shu Uemura phyto black
BB Creams For the unaware, BB Cream is a miracle product that most Asian women (and a bunch of KA mums!) swear by. It’s a concealer, primer, sunscreen and general cover up all in one little tube. I have shocking skin tone but slap on a BB cream, all is forgiven! It stays on most of the day although in the heat, a touch up is needed. Generally, Asian brands are a better quality than American and European brands (as the cream was developed in Korea), making finding a tone to compliment non-Asian skin tones a bit difficult however everyone has their favourite, in a range of prices. Here’s a shortlist:
M Media BB Cream by Kanebo
Kose BB Cream
Etude House brand
Ettusais BB Mineral White (the cream I use.)
Miracle Worker: Missha BB Cream
Foundation Foundations are just that little bit trickier, due to skin colours. Mineral make up is one of the most popular foundations amongst KA Mum’s due to it’s light nature and I found a great Maybelline product, Pure Eraser Mineral Foundation at Colorfield. Bare Essentials is another popular brand. In the liquid foundation area, your local department store (Daimaru, Sogo) stocks many international brands including Clarins and Guerlain – plus there’s always online shopping to stock up on your favourites.
Mascara Panda eyes are never a good look and mascara is such a popular cosmetic here, it stands to reason there are some great mascaras available from your local pharmacies. Some brands to try are
Maybelline (sold at most pharmacies)
Blotting paper – there to clean up the mess!
Other Bits and Pieces One brand that is mentioned over and over again is Shu Uemura. The eyeshadows and creams are raved about by KA Mums. At the other end of the spectrum, Daiso’s Charcoal line of cosmetics has a good reputation, even amongst international beauty enthusiasts, and is a cheap alternative. And don’t forget your blotting paper to mop up the sweat without ruining your handiwork! So now you have all you need to put your best face forward as we head into Summer.
This article was contributed by Stacey Takahashi, a member of the KA International Mothers in Japan and one of our main writers on the KA Japan blog. Stacey, originally from Australia, is married to a Japanese man, raising bicultural and bilingual children in the Kansai area of Japan.
Mum to three very loud boys and wife to a patient Japanese man, I'm Australian and moved to the Kansai area in 2012. Aside from navigating all the craziness of being a mum in another country, I work semi-full time and try to keep my sanity! Of course I clean but I don't cook!