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Japanese Makeup

The art of creating a Japanese look can be achieved with several makeup styles that range from minimalist and neutral to wild and eclectic. The Japanese view the face as a canvas, so a clear and smooth complexion forms the base to apply any beauty product. Contrast is the key for these makeup styles, so dark hair works well for many of the lighter-toned styles.

What is the Japanese makeup style?

Every Japanese look focuses on a flawless complexion and wide eyes, but the popular makeup styles differ slightly in the application to highlight certain features. Every Japanese beauty regimen requires the use of black and white eyeliners, either pencil or liquid, and concealer or primer products for smooth facial features. The colors chosen to accentuate these features will be based on the beauty style, from bright pastels to neutral tones.

What are the popular Japanese makeup styles?

The two traditional Japanese beauty styles are Geisha and Kabuki, but modern times have brought about the popular Ulzzang, Gyaru, and Ganguro styles.

  • Geisha: Geisha makeup techniques are minimalist in the sense of a simple white complexion to highlight red lips with eyes defined by red and black eyeliner, eyeshadows, and high eyebrows. Dark hair is meant to heavily contrast the white face to heighten the look. Traditionally, the amount of red used in the eyeliner and eyeshadows lessens with age. The red lip color is used in tandem with a specific lip design regardless of the shape of the mouth.
  • Kabuki: Kabuki is stage acting and uses Kesho makeup, which is made up of Kumadori and Oshiroi. Kumadori consists of bright stripes, patterns, or symbols over a white base. Oshiroi is the base white makeup for the skin, traditionally made from rice powder but now offered in synthetic cosmetics. Styles from cute to fierce can be achieved with the Kabuki style.
  • Ulzzang: Ulzzang refers to a neat and conservative Japanese style of makeup that uses neutral colors to make the eyes look brighter and larger for a cute, natural beauty. Originally a Korean style, it was adapted by the Japanese using a different color palette, so be sure to note the difference when choosing the colors.
  • Gyaru: Gyaru, Japanese slang for “gal,” is a glamorous Japanese look that often incorporates vivid colors, cat-eye techniques, and fake lashes for eye-popping appeal. Under-eye blush is used to brighten and widen the eyes while acting as a concealer for complexion inconsistencies.
  • Ganguro: Ganguro is considered a wild alternative makeup style that incorporates neon and pastel colors on a skin tone several shades darker than the natural color. This wild style also makes use of false lashes or symbols drawn on the skin using cosmetics. Blush can be used to create highlighted backgrounds for these symbols. Using certain colors or cosmetics in different ways and exploring your options defines the wild Ganguro style.
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