Read all about the best Japanese makeup brands and Japanese makeup products you need to try and discover foundations, eye shadows, eyeliners, mascara and lipsticks from Japan’s top brands like KATE, Excel, Cezanne, Opera, Shu Uemura, Ur Glam, Dejavu and more!
Japanese Makeup Brands and Japanese Makeup Products You Need To Try
Because of my complexion, my foundation choices are very limited when it comes to Japanese makeup brands. With that said, KATE is my go to for nearly everything, especially since it is the only domestic brand that carries a foundation in my color.
KATE and I go way back. I have literally been using KATE liquid and powder foundation since I first came to Japan in the summer of 2004!
Once upon a time they used letters A-G as color codes, now they use numbers 00-06. For what it’s worth, my KATE foundation shade is 05.
The formula of their liquid foundation has improved tremendously over the years:
This is a liquid foundation with an oil-absorbent powdery finish that provides nearly full coverage.
KATE The Base Zero Real Cover Liquid Foundation
Because of masks, I rarely use powder foundation. But when I do I use KATE Skin Cover Filter Foundation. It is SPF 16 PA ++++ and provides full coverage and is formulated with hyaluronic acid to hydrate, plump and protect the skin.
The only downside to this powder foundation is that you’ll have to buy the compact separately, as is usually the case when buying Japanese powder foundations.
This is the brand’s signature eyebrow powder compact. The mirrored compact comes with 3 blendable shades that can be used to highlight and define the brow and nose.
I love a good neutral palette with honey browns and KATE 3D Produce Eyes delivers! It gives depth and nuance and can easily go day to night. (Though I personally have nowhere to be at night!) Currently, I’m using BR-1 Spicy Special.
Excel eyebrow pencils are one of my favorites, but they always seem to run out so darn fast! What I like about this eyebrow pencil is that it consists of three parts: pencil, blending powder sponge, and spoolie. I prefer this when traveling because I always seem to drop my KATE eyebrow powder compact whenever I’m on the go!
Another makeup product for the eyes that I like from Excel are its pigmented eye shadow singles. Since I nearly always stick to nude palettes these single eye shadows are a great way for me to add a pop of color to my makeup routine without investing in a palette that I would otherwise rarely use.
Last year I tried its Illumi Couture Shadows collection. It’s 6 creamy pearlescent eye shadows that give just the right amount of color without going overboard.
For more information on Excel, see my review of their 2021 Autumn Makeup Collection.
Dejavu is a makeup brand that specialises in makeup products for the eyes, mainly eyeliners and mascara.
Its Fiberwig Ultra Long mascara is a true cult classic in the Asian beauty community. The water-based, long-lasting formula lengthens as it wraps around each individual lash. It has replaced my holy grail item, Kiss Me Heroine Long & Curl Mascara.
I’m also a fan of Dejavu ultra thin cream eyeliners, which gives the precision of a gel with the ease of a pencil. Plus it doesn’t break as easily as traditional pencil eyeliners, nor do I need to sharpen it.
Finally, I also like its Lasting Fine liquid eyeliners. It’s smudge proof, but at the same time, there’s a bit of “buffer time” before the product sets it. So, you can remove it quickly and reapply your eyeliner.
Even though masks are a part of our “new normal,” I absolutely love experimenting with color and wearing bold lipstick shades. Here are a few of my favorite Japanese lipsticks and lip glosses:
This J-beauty staple is a nourishing blend of virgin olive oil, aloe extract, and Vitamin E. DHC Lip Cream is also medicated to soothe and heal dry, cracked, and chapped lips. I like to use it as a lipstick primer and night repair treatment. The honey version is also a good one if you can find it!
I love how Nivea is essentially a Japanese brand. However, the world is really missing out on its made in Japan lineup, like Nivea Rich Care & Color Lips. These glossy lip balms are available in 8 sheer tones and are highly moisturizing, thanks to its original blend of jojoba oil, avocado oil, and macadamia nut oil. Plus they’re also SPF 20 PA++, meaning they’ll give your lips protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays!
I like to think of Cezanne as the sophisticated version of Canmke. The price points are similar but the packaging is more suitable for a woman in her late 30s (like me!). Most of Cezanne’s packaging is so simple that you’d almost you overlook it in the drugstore. But, Cezanne Lasting Lip Color N lipstick tubes are absolutely beautiful. I love how the gold lettering contrasts with the creamy white finish and embossed flower detailing! Cezanne Lasting Lip Color N is available in 12 shades, and there are several pearlescent and matte finishes.
I can’t say enough about these super smooth and sheer lip tints! Available in 13 shades, Opera Lip Tint N glides on effortlessly, does not feather and keeps lips moist — perfect if you like to wear lipstick under your mask! The antique gold tubing is very elegant and reminiscent of vintage lipstick tubes.
You can’t go wrong with having a classic red lipstick in your makeup bag — It’s bright, bold, and perfectly accentuates one of our sensual features! So, if you love to make a statement with your lipstick choices, spoil yourself and get at least one tube of Rouge Unlimited! These are highly pigmented, velvety smooth matte colors formulated with tsubaki (camellia) oil to keep lips moist.
Cream blushers like Canmake Cream Cheek are a wonderful way to give your skin a youthful glow without going overboard. Unlike powder blushes, you can pat and blend cream blushers into your skin using just your fingertips. Plus, you won’t have to worry about powder getting all over your clothes! Cream blushers also give the skin a healthy dewy finish.
If you prefer a conventional powder blush, then you will like Cezanne Natural Cheek. It’s nearly half the price of Canmake Cream Cheek and come in 15 flattering shades to compliment nearly any complexion. Like Cezanne Lasting Lip Color N lipstick tubes, these blushers have an embossed flower detailing that make a wonderful addition to your makeup bag!
The Auratic Blushes are one of Excel’s most popular items, and I must say that they remind me of the hit NARS Orgasm blush. Each of the 5 shades of Auratic Blush mimics the skin’s natural flush by combining rosy colors topped off with a subtle sheer highlight. Unlike blush compacts that come with those itty bitty brushes, the Excel brush picks up and evenly applies pigment in one swoop, adding dimension in the process.
For everything else, I always go straight to UR GLAM, the makeup brand from Daiso Japan.
UR GLAM also carries makeup brushes and other makeup tools. Most products are 100 yen but others, like their makeup brushes are 200 yen, while some makeup products are 200-300 yen.
As for my favorite UR GLAM items, I like their mascara, eye liners, and eyebrow pencils. I tend to pick up a few backups whenever I go to Daiso.
Japanese Makeup Brands and Japanese Makeup Products You Need To Try
My list of Japanese makeup brands and Japanese makeup brands you need to try is largely dominated by KATE! Shopping for makeup in Japan can be tricky due to several factors. The most obvious one is finding foundation in your skin tone!
Other things to take into account are the language barrier. However, this may not be an issue for “obvious” items like foundation, eye shadow, mascara, etc.
Finding the right liquid foundation/CC foundation/ BB cream/concealers etc may be tricky without some familiarity with the Japanese language.
You’ll find Western and Japanese brands at drugstores across Japan. In my experience so far, I think there’s a decent ratio of brands (30-40 western : 70-60 Japanese).
If you’re new to Japan and Japanese makeup brands, start by testing the waters with western brands that you can easily find reviews in English. Study the packaging for language clues and you’ll have the foundation to switch to Japanese brands.
When it comes to Western brands, you’re likely to encounter Maybelline, Revlon, and Rimmel in nearly every drug store. At department stores you’ll find MAC, Clinique, Bobbi Brown, etc.
For a detailed look at shopping for makeup in Japan, please read this post: Where To Buy Makeup In Japan