10 Japanese Makeup Brands You Need to Know
We've got a mix of drugstore finds and splurge-worthy makeup!
Trying to find the best makeup for you can be super confusing and overwhelming -- especially if you’re going down the seemingly endless beauty aisles in Japan.
To help you shop for the best J-beauty makeup finds for you, here are our fave brands (and our recos for their cult-favorite products that you have to try). The best part? Some of these brands are available in Manila already!
Koh Gen Do
Japanese actress Ai Saotome became concerned about her stressed skin and lack of glow, so she began working on a line of pure and healthy skincare designed to deliver radiant skin on and off screen. It became such a success that the brand branched out and decided to expand into a color cosmetics line.
WHAT TO GET: If you can only get one thing from the brand, make sure it’s their coveted Aqua Foundation. Formulated with their signature Gloss Film Powder, the light-diffusing minerals resist sweat and oiliness while brightening and minimize pores, while resisting sweat and oiliness. The formula is breathable, gives you a youthful glow, and even helps improves the hydration of your skin. Beauty extra: It’s available locally at Beauty Bar -- yay!
Local bloggers and YouTube stars constantly rave about K-Palette’s long-lasting brow pens and liquid liners -- and for good reason. We love that the brand continuous to expand their range of products and that they’re easily available in Manila via outlets like Beauty Bar and Beauty Box Corp.
WHAT TO GET: For the kilay-obsessed, you have to try the K-Palette 1DAY Tattoo Real Lasting Eyebrow Liner 24h (hint: get the one with the powder tip if you have really sparse brows). If you’re looking for the perfect blush, check out their Limited Edition K-Palette Lasting Cheek Tint for a dewy, natural-looking flush.
This brand is known as Japan's No. 1 direct skincare company thanks to its best-selling cleansing oil, but did you know that they have awesome olive oil-based makeup finds also?
WHAT TO GET: The DHC Eyelash Tonic is a colorless lash serum that you can wear alone or under mascara for thicker-looking lashes. But what really gave this product cult status was that users noticed that it also strengthened their eyelashes and made them grow longer. Worth a shot, right?
CanMake is extremely popular drugstore brand in Japan and it seems to be a favorite of editors also since it’s constantly featured in magazines. We love that the products are pretty satisfying in terms of quality, but if we’re going to be honest, the packaging is too adorable to resist!
WHAT TO GET: The Marshmallow Finish Powder has reached cult status for its super delicate and smooth finish. It’s matte, helps minimize the appearance of pores, and it doesn’t look heavy when you use it to set your BB cream or foundation. Purchase it online at canmakeph.com or look for the brand in local department stores like SM or Landmark.
We were super sad when the brand left Manila, but at least it makes shopping trips to Japan even more exciting! From bright eyeshadows to luxe makeup brushes, you’ll definitely want to check out their latest launches at their beauty counters (they’re usually found in huge department stores).
WHAT TO GET: We’re betting you already know that their eyelash curler is a must-have, so we’re going to rave about another one of their best-selling products: the Shu Uemura Lasting Soft Gel Pencil. It has an ultra-fine 1.5mm point (perfect for chinitas!) and glides on without tugging on your precious lids. You’ll love that it’s waterproof, tear-proof, and that you have 5 gorgeous colors to choose from, too!
As one of the top Japanese beauty tycoons in the industry, Shiseido usually comes to mind when you think of luxe beauty. From flawless finish foundations to silky eyeshadow palettes, the brand never fails to impress even the most discerning beauty junkies.
WHAT TO GET: Lipstick addicts will love the award-winning Shiseido ModernMatte Powder Lipstick since it gives you full, long-lasting coverage without drying your pout. Want to amp up your glow? Check out their famed multi-use highlighter called Aura-Dew. It gives you the radiant pop you’re looking for without making your skin feel heavy and it lasts up to 12 hours, too.
Looking for something a little more professional-looking for your office touch-ups? This budget-friendly drugstore line will make you feel chic and sophisticated with its sleek and minimal packaging.
WHAT TO GET: The Kate Tokyo Eyebrow Pencil has a very tiny tip that helps you mimic little strands of hair and finish with a sharp, on-fleek tail. If you have dark circles that you need to cover up, try The Base Zero Kate Stick Concealer. The creamy formula is easy to blend, and you can easily toss it in your bag for on-the-go touch-ups. Shop for it at selected department stores like SM and beautymnl.com.
This Japanese beauty brand is gaining popularity for its holistic approach to beauty. For those with sensitive skin or prefer to use products that are cleaner, you’ll be happy to know that this makeup line uses plant-based ingredients that are free of paraben, artificial fragrances, and coloring.
WHAT TO GET: The THREE 4D-Plus Eye Palette are oil-based shadows that are buildable and contain a nice mix of neutrals with a pop of color. If you’re a mani addict, then you’ll love their nail polish range. It has 21 deliciously unique colors that will help your digits standout and they also flatter Asian undertones super well.
Manga addicts will love this beauty brand for the super cute illustrations you’ll see in the packaging! But the real reason it stands out (and is a huuuge crowd favorite) is because the lasting power of their mascaras really, really work. Bonus: You can shop for it without leaving your house because it’s available at beautymnl.com!
WHAT TO GET: Asian lashes are short, stubborn, and barely hold a curl. If you’re struggling, the Heroine Make Long & Curl Mascara will be your HG lash enhancer. A word of warning: Using this mascara will give you the lashes of your dreams, but the ultra budge-proof formula can be a pain to remove. If you can, we suggest getting the Heroine Make Speedy Mascara Remover because even the best cleansing oils have trouble melting this formula.
Because of the superior quality of their products, this classic Japanese beauty classic continues to grow its loyal following decade after decade. Clients are said to be given the VIP treatment when they visit their counters in Japan and will love how their aestheticians take their time to help you find the best products for you.
WHAT TO GET: Want kissable, jelly-like lips that make you look like a Japanese doll? Try the Lunasol Sheer Aqua Stick Lips which give your pout a translucent, sheer finish that looks super fresh and lustrous. Make sure you drop by their counters in Rustan’s to discover more cult-worthy faves from the brand!
Want to see more Japan-inspired shopping finds? Click here!
Main photo artwork by Marlo Adriatico.