It’s a truth universally acknowledged by several Internet bloggers that Eastern and Western beauty ideals are incredibly different, for the most part. And nowhere is this more evident than beauty stores/drugstores, where you can literally find everything from double eyelid tape (yes, really) to cream that makes your nipples pinker (again – yes, really). I decided to pick up a load of stuff from several drugstores around Shinjuku because a) I’m a complete beauty products hoarder, and b) if faced with the decision to buy coloured contact lenses, face peeling gel and sheet masks containing horse placenta, why on earth wouldn’t I? See some picks and mini reviews below!
Canmake cream blush and marshmallow finish powder
Canmake is a Japanese beauty brand with an apparent focus on fresh faced, youthful appearance (like much of Japanese beauty – I saw no smokey eyes or tanner being advertised whatsoever, so obviously I stuck out like a sore thumb 💁🏻). The Cream Cheek blush is well known in Asian beauty circles for its incredible pigmentation and colour range – it’s said that Queen Jenna Lyons herself asks her assistant to bring her back plenty of these when she goes to Japan! – and at 580 yen a pop, it won’t break the bank. The cream dries down to a powder finish once applied, and is fairly buildable and versatile, being used for lips too. Very excited to try this more! I also picked up this adorable pressed powder compact – I think it’s fairly bog standard as a powder, but the compact was just too cute!
Canmake cream blush – £7.21, Amazon
Canmake marshmallow finish powder – £12.40, Amazon
Shiseido Hand Cream
I won’t lie, I was drawn to this because of the cute packaging, and because it was dirt cheap Shiseido (500 yen!)… but turns out it’s actually pretty good! Absorbent, non greasy, and fragrance free. I ended up buying three tubs. And it looks GREAT on my desk at work #officelyfe
Shiseido Hand Cream – £8.50, Amazon
Mainichi Sheet Mask Multipack
The Japanese are borderline obsessed with sheet masks (well, skincare in general, but you get me) – and were selling sheet mask multipacks for around £6 for 30 (!). I bought two packs – one with the aforementioned horse placenta (which is actually brilliant, put your judgey faces away), and this one which contains a variety of different types of face mask, none of which I fully understand. Anyway, cheap sheet masks, yay!
Purupuru sheet masks – £12.38, Amazon
Lishan sheet masks – £31.17, Amazon
Cure Natural Aqua (Peeling) Gel
Peeling gels are hot property in Japan, where it’s de rigeur to have baby soft, bright skin (not red raw a la a chemical peel). I had seen this reviewed on several websites prior to going (yeah, I did my research) but was relatively sceptical when I saw that it was mostly water-based and contained no exfoliant properties whatsoever. What? What is this madness?! But, as it turns out, this is witchcraft and sorcery and is actually INCREDIBLE at peeling and removing dead skin. Who knew? See below for an action shot that I stole off Google because the last thing y’all need to see is a load of my dead skin:
There are other types of peeling gel on the market, but this is the bestseller, and for good reason…
Cure Natural Aqua Gel – £21.54, Amazon
Shu Uemera Eyelash Curlers
These eyelash curlers are Holy Grail Beauty Tools for their ability to curl even the most stubbornly straight lash… and best part was that they were only around 400 yen! Unfortunately, the markup is slightly larger in the west… but still worth grabbing a pair if you’re hankerin’ for those Bambi lashes.
Shu Uemera Eyelash Curlers – £16.99, Amazon
Lycee Eye Drops (Strength 2)
Another thing the Japanese love – dewy, sparkling eyeballs. These eye drops are famous in Japan and beyond for both their refreshing quality but equally the “JESUS CHRIST WHAT THE HELL IS THIS” reaction when first using. Because these bad boys sting. A lot. It’s almost like pouring pure undiluted, oddly pink alcohol into your eyes for the first 30 seconds. However, a lot of people have reported getting used to this, uh, sensation – and actually starting to become reliant on them to a degree. I do quite like the refreshing feeling after wanting to rip my own eyeballs out, so maybe it’s one to carry on with until my eyes lose the last bit of feeling they’ve got and they just become useless balls rolling around in my skull.
The strength part of these refers to the strength of the eye pain you’ll experience. Or something. I don’t know, but these ones are apparently in the middle – good luck if you end up buying Strength 3, that’s all I’ll say.
Lycee Eye Drops – £9.95, Amazon
Isehan Heroine Mascaras
These mascaras are Holy Grail in Japan – as you can see by those little stickers above. In such a saturated beauty market, to have something so well loved must be a good sign, so obviously I picked up two at around 600 yen each. That packaging is ridiculously cute too!
The mascara tubes themselves describe their mascara properties as “make long and curl” and “make volume and curl”, depending on what your lashes require. I have very long, curled, dense lashes, so don’t really require much of either thankfully, but the 00s teenager in me loves a spider lash so I’m looking forward to trying these. Time will tell if they’ll replace my new obsession of Essence Lash Princess (seriously, £3 and one of the best mascaras I’ve ever used), but the reviews are certainly up there!
Isehan Heroine Mascara – £12.10, Amazon
Unicharm Facial Masks
The rumours are true – surgical/facial masks are worn EVERYWHERE in Tokyo. I couldn’t move for the blighters. And I don’t fully understand the phenomenon (I mean, surely they don’t work as illness containers?), but I couldn’t resist picking up a packet, because why not? These ones cost around 250 yen for 7 masks, and apparently are good for defining your face due to the form of the mask. I also saw scented ones, and ones to block out the subway smell… nice. I highly doubt I’ll EVER use these, so, uh, if anyone wants a packet, let me know?
Any other recommendations for Japanese beauty products (or any other hidden gems out there)? Let me know!