Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

100 years of Japanese beauty in one minute

Friday, January 15th, 2016

The production company Cut has made a name for itself by creating videos that look back at the history of beauty in various countries, including China, Ethiopia, Brazil and Germany. The videos show the different hairstyles, fashion and makeup that each decade was known for, with one model trying on all of the looks.

Now Cut has focused its lens on Japan by showing the dramatic changes Japanese women have gone through in the past century —  ranging from the classic white makeup and big hair from 1910 to modern day kawaii style — all in 103 seconds

To show how accurate their looks are, Cut posted their throwback inspirations on Pinterest and explained them in a behind-the-scenes video.



At the end of the Meiji Period, nihongami (traditional bundled hairstyle) was still popular but was mixed with the pompadour look that many women were wearing at the time in Europe. In terms of makeup, ochoboguchi (small lip) style was preferred as women only painted inside their natural lip line.



Magazines started dictating fashion in the ’20s as wavy, permed hair became the standard look. Many women chose a mimikakushi (hidden ear) haircut with a stylish clip.



In the 1930s, Japanese women embraced the international “modern girl” look, including bob haircuts and fitted hats. The hair became so synonymous with the “modern girl” lifestyle that the cut is referred to as moga (a portmanteau of modan gaaru, or modern girl).



During WWII, Japanese citizens were expected to rebuke Western influences and go back to traditional Japanese ways, including fashion. Many women wore conservative jugo hair tied back into a bun.



In postwar Japan, people looked to Hollywood and entertainment for inspiration, including many American actresses. One of the looks of the day is named the Machiko maki, named after the main character from the radio drama “Kimi no Na Ha.” Think of it as the Rachel of the 1950s.



The ’60s was all about big eyes and big accessories. Cut was inspired by Chiyo Okumura, a famous pop singer at the time whose look influenced many.



Sayoko Yamaguchi was one of the biggest stars, not just in Japan, but in the world during the 1970s. The supermodel was found in many magazines where she showed off her unique style and iconic bangs.



During the economic boom of the 1980s, many girls wanted to look as cute and innocent as Seiko Matsuda, a hugely popular singer and one of Japan’s ultimate idols. Seiko-chan’s feathered hair was so ingrained into mainstream culture that it even has its own Wikipedia page.



Longer, curly hair became more popular as women in the 1990s were less interested in looking simple and cute.


On the other end of the ’90s spectrum, ganguro style swept through the streets of Tokyo. Ignoring all past trends and social standards, ganguro embraced tan skin, defining makeup, and outrageous nails and accessories. If you want to witness the look for yourself, you can visit the Ganguro Cafe in Shibuya.



During the recession, women tamed things down and chose a more girl-next-door approach. Cut chose a look worn by popular model Yuri Ebihara. Again, her wavy hair became so popular that people went to salons asking for the Ebi-chan maki.


While some women started dressing more simply, other women decided to go with an over-the-top agejo appearance. Agejo refers to the women who dressed like the models in Koakuma Ageha magazine, which at one point was selling 300,00 copies a month. The style brings together big hair and pale makeup that borders the line between fashionable and sultry.



Current women are dressing even more effortlessly than before. Iyashikei (therapeutic) style is trending with girls who want to come off as loving and motherly by wearing yurufuwa perms and more natural makeup.


While mainstream women are going back to basics, decora girls are picking up the slack — along with anything else they can find. The Harajuku subculture likes to put on as many colorful clips, rings and stickers as their face can handle to balance out the drab days at school and in the office.

You can see more videos from Cut on their YouTube page.

Bra-maker’s Cinderella Taxis aim to deliver the perfect fit

Thursday, June 4th, 2015


If you’re sick of waiting for your pumpkin to turn into a carriage, hail a Cinderella Taxi to get a little extra bibbidi-bobbidi-boo in your life.


Find your perfect look in the Cinderella Taxi.

Coming to Tokyo in June and Osaka in July, this special taxi offers riders bra fittings and makeover services to spread the magic of lingerie-maker Wacoal and its Cinderella campaign.

Just as Cinderella’s glass slippers are perfectly fitted for her feet, Wacoal wants to offer women the chance to get a bra perfectly tailored to their bodies using a 3-D scanner. Before-and-after images are then generated to show customers the change in their silhouette.

As you make your way to your destination, your own Fairy Godmother (i.e., a professional hair and makeup artist) will help you find your new look.

The royal treatment lasts approximately two hours, but the Wacoal beauty consultants’ advice will last long after the clock strikes midnight.

The secret allure of the surgical mask

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Who is that masked woman? (Satoko Kawasaki photo)

Last month in Nagano, despite sweltering temperatures, a number of high school students were spotted attending school wearing surgical masks. This wasn’t hayfever season, nor were there any colds going around, so why were these teenagers covering their mouths and noses up? They were simply following a national trend for date masuku,  surgical masks that are just for show. (That’s read “dah-te,” nothing to do with dating.)

A journalist for Shinano Mainichi Shimbun asked students why they were wearing masks and got some surprising answers. One girl commented, “I’m shy about being seen without my makeup on.” Worryingly, another boy said, “I feel safe with it on.” Another 16-year-old female high school student explained that, “The mask hides the acne around my mouth.”

While this looks — on the face of it — like a problem created by low self-esteem, one that teenagers might grow out of, Japanese Wikipedia states that research done by Asahi Shimbun back in 2011 showed that adults are reaching for the date mask, too. Many began by using surgical masks for health reasons and then continued because they found that they enjoyed wearing a mask.

A writer under the name of Tama Tsupi, a self-confessed former date mask addict, wrote about the issue for Gadget News earlier this year. “Tsupi” began using a surgical mask to protect herself against hay fever and infection, but gradually came to find that she got a pleasant feeling from wearing a mask. Stressed at work, she found it useful for those times when she couldn’t be bothered to do her make up properly, or when she had trouble relating to others.

Though she’s now kicked the habit, she has stuck up for mask wearers by stating that covering up part of the face can have the effect of highlighting a person’s beauty. In the piece, she evangelizes about the unexpected cosmetic effect she experienced when wearing a mask. She points out that it’s common practice in Japan for people to upload shots of themselves to social networking sites that hide part of their face. These shots are both flattering to one’s vanity and protect one’s private image in the public domain. She writes: “Don’t you think this technique could be put to good use not only in a photograph, but in reality?”

The origin of the term date masuku (伊達マスク)is apparently connected to the Sendai’s famous daimyo Date Masamune. Problem is we’ve yet to figure out how the family name of this fierce, one-eyed warrior has come  to mean “vainglorious,” as seen in the similar terms date megane (prescription-less glasses) or date otoko, which essentially means dandy.  This YouTube video even suggests a connection with the true surname of the masked hero of Tiger Mask. So there you go. Think of it as being somewhere between vanity and anonymity.

The Korean beauty secrets are out

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Beauty products containing snake venom, distributed by Dodo Japan, on display at Cosme Tokyo 2012 (Mio Yamada photo)

In the West, Japanese cosmetics have developed quite a devout following, so it might come as a surprise that in Japan, women are actually becoming more interested in South Korean beauty products and treatments.

At Japan’s first-ever Cosme Tokyo fair, South Korean companies made a strong showing, taking the top slot among the non-Japanese exhibitors. In addition to shiny eyeliners, sparkling eye shadows, bright blushers and other makeup items, they presented crowd-drawing snail-slime moisturizers and synthetic snake-venom face packs.

Like K-Pop and Korean TV dramas, the popularity of Korean cosmetics has been undeniable for the past few years. And as South Korea has become a popular tourist destination, Korean cosmetic companies have begun to realize that Japanese tourists were perhaps some of their best customers. While it’s not all going to Japan, one thing is certain: Korea’s cosmetic exports climbed $600 million in 2010, up from $80 million in 2001.

Exotic ingredients aside, there’s not a lot to distinguish many of the Korean goods from Japanese cosmetics.  So what is it that gets consumer attention? While we can’t discount the lure of bright colors and cute motifs on the packaging, the most attractive draw is most likely the use of natural ingredients or the focus on natural derivatives for products. They’re also often far cheaper than their Japanese counterparts.

Skin Food, which opened its first store in Harajuku in 2009, for example, bases all its products on food extracts, using fruit, vegetable, grains and snail (well, yes, snails can be viewed as food). Missha, which is famous for its Missha BB “blemish balm” cream, uses snail and mixes it with natural plant extracts, as does Etude House, a popular line of products aimed at a younger generation — both brands opened their first stores in Shinjuku in March this year.

“Made in Korea” has become a selling point, and not only have prominent Korean brands opened up shop in Tokyo, but more Korean cosmetics in general have started appearing on the shelves of the city’s major drug stores (see DoDo Japan’s line of makeup).  A couple of new Korean-goods-specific stores have also opened in the city. In March, Chongane & Skin Garden in Shin-Okubo opened its doors to offer Korean foods, accessories and cosmetics, while  Skin holic, which opened last month, stocks a wide range of Korean cosmetics, including some of those already mentioned here.

Beauty treatments get busy with the fizzy

Friday, June 15th, 2012

From carbonated face washes to machines that blow bubbles, quite a few fizzy products are making a splash in the Japanese cosmetics market this summer. Far from dismissing these as gimmicks, 54 percent of women interviewed said that they had tried a carbonated beauty product. Trend Souken published a report that indicated Japanese women are ready to embrace beauty products injected with carbonic acid in a big way, with 87 percent of the 501 women questioned responding that they were interested in becoming bubblier beauties.

By far and away the most popular sparkling product so far, according to News Searchina, is Chocola BB Sparkling, a sparkling nutrition drink that contains niacin, iron and vitamins B1, B6 and C. In the eight  months since it was launched last May, it has sold 10 million bottles in Japan. That’s an impressive figure, especially considering that absolutely no claims are made as to the efficaciousness of its carbonated bubbles for increasing a lady’s beauty.

But spurious claims aplenty have been made about the effectiveness of bubbles when applied to the exterior of the skin. The marketing blurb for Dr. AI Acnes Labo Gel Pack, for example, claims that carbonic acid is the active ingredient in a compound that helps reduce redness and repair damaged skin for acne sufferers. The tiny bubbles in Kanebo’s Blanchir Superior: White Foam Totalizer skin lightening wash are supposed to promote good circulation for smooth, fresh skin.

The real money spinner might be gadgets that produce bubbles. Mitsubishi Rayon Cleansui Company’s Sparkling Bath is a bath that produces carbonated water. Options include the Sodabath, Carbonated Bath, and, alas, the Sparkring Bath. The website stops short of making any pseudo-scientific claims by simply stating that in Germany, sparkling spa baths have long been thought to be good for the body. If you can’t stretch to buying a bath, then how about the Plosion from MTG, a dinky little bottle that sprays out a mist of beauty lotion fizzing with bubbles, a snip, ahem, at ¥47,500. If you’re really short on cash you could even try bunging some face cream into an old Soda Stream to enjoy a cut-price bubbly beauty treatment.


Recent Posts