South Korea may still be Asia's beauty and skincare powerhouse, but J-beauty has been tried and tested to be its worthy contender. After all, despite their many similarities, Japanese and Korean makeup and skincare practices vary in certain ways that make each unique and worth the separate attention. J-beauty products are also starting to become one of the main reasons why avid travellers want to visit the country. This is due to the superb, holy grail-quality of their products, all while being accessible through drugstores. But did you know that there are cool, underrated Japanese makeup and skincare brands worth spending your yen on? Ahead, the ones that should be on your radar.
Japanese drugstores are filled with cheap but noteworthy finds and Chifure is definitely one to not miss. Despite most of their selections going under less than JPY1,000 each, they've often been listed as dupes for brands like NARS, Shu Uemura, and more. They also have a skincare line that covers moisturisers, toners, essences — you name it — in great quantities but affordable prices. If you think that's where it ends, they also have durable and stylish nail products and accessories to really complete your beauty routine. Lastly, despite their accessible pricepoint, aesthetics are not compromised at all given their sleek and high-end-looking packages.
Another drugstore favourite, Cezanne is also a brand worth grabbing on your next Japan trip. Known for mixing minimalist packaging with an array of cute and kira kira (shiny) colour selections, these picks don't skimp on pigmentation and longevity. Most of their pans and palettes are also Instagram-worthy and of travel-friendly, earning points for both visuals and convenience.
Our next pick is a brand under Shiseido's more affordable beauty ranges, making it a great alternative if you're already a fan of its mother brand. Most known for their eyeshadow quads, high-pigment lippies, and award-winning liquid-to-powder lightweight foundations this brand will give you new holy grails without burning a hole in your pocket. P.S. If you're a J-drama fan, you'd be delighted to know that Japanese actress Komatsu Nana (from Kids On The Slope and Samurai Marathon) is one of their brand ambassadors.
UZU by Flowfushi
UZU by Flowfushi's Mote Liners are worth adding to your cart. Known for precision and ease-of-use, each liner is created with hand-blended and custom-made Yamato Takumi™ tips. These are similar fibres used in traditional brushes made for Japanese calligraphy. But that's not all. Mascaras, as well as other makeup products offered by the brand, all have precision, quality, and the user's creativity in mind. Not only do they come in various colours (we're talking pink, orange, and purples for your eyeliners and mascaras), but they also resemble sleek and high-end art supplies.
You're definitely going to miss out if you let Bifesta slip on your next shopping escapade. Offering a selection of makeup removal cleansers, as well as skin lotions, Bifesta's products are head-to-head in quality with leading brands while being even more affordable. Their peeling gels are the winners in our books for being gentle yet effective in taking care of dead and dull-looking skin.
On the topic of beauty HGs, should you start using carbonated cleansers?