Japanese vs. USA Cosmetics

Assorted Makeup Scattered on White Table

There are several distinct differences between Japanese cosmetics and American makeup. Popular items from both countries often make their way over to the other guided by beauty gurus and makeup artists who are all about what looks gorgeous. There's no sense in pitting the cosmetic cultures against one another, though. Each country has its own aesthetic, both of which are extremely different but beautiful in their own ways. Whether you’re a  Japanese cosmetics lover or an American makeup fan, both offer unique looks and eye-catching palettes that you can incorporate into your own makeup routine.

The Foundation Equation

In Japan, makeup mavens prefer  BB creams that are bright -- fantasy is the ultimate goal. The perfect coverage is soft pink or marshmallow cream. It illuminates the skin and creates a perfect, poreless finish. Its lightness emphasizes each feature distinctly. The application of primer often comes first. It's smooth but moisturized, creating a faintly tacky texture that helps the BB cream to adhere to the skin.

Primer frequently makes an appearance in American makeup routines, as well, but not always. Foundation is generally matte, and it matches the skin tone as closely as possible. BB creams have become quite popular stateside, but the color palettes conform to American preferences. Here, the aim is natural flawlessness over fantastical perfection.

The Contour Question

For a while, contour had no place in Japanese cosmetics. Now, makeup gurus in Japan use it in the same way Americans do, but with a much lighter touch. The contour complements the foundation, so it's typically lighter in color in terms of application. In America, however, contour is darker than foundation, and it's used to sculpt and define the cheeks, chin, forehead, jawline, and nose.

Fanned out Makeup Brushes

Opinions on Eye Makeup

The overall aesthetic in Japanese cosmetics embraces natural colors. While Japanese foundation trends celebrate celestial pearly tones, eyeshadows veer more toward peaches and pinks. The idea is to recreate the natural flush of the eyelids. Eyelashes, however, should be long, thick, and lush. Depending on preference, that may involve a few coats of mascara or the help of false eyelashes. Eyeliner is barely there if applied at all.

Conversely, eye makeup in the United States varies according to personal preference and style. Eyeshadow is a versatile product in the states, with palettes for every style and color combination. Some people opt out of shadow altogether. Eyeliner usage is just as varied. Black is the hands-down favorite, but neutrals and unexpected shades pop up, too. The mascara trend follows in-step with Japan, though. With American makeup, long and thick is best, and falsies can always help a girl out.

Highlighting Highlight

There are some Japanese cosmetic products that haven't made their way to the United States yet. Silkworm-based cosmetics are among them. In Japan, they create the “eye smiles” preferred in the makeup aesthetic. It results in noticeable shimmery crescents above the eyebrows and below the eyes. However, the highlight that's still sweeping American makeup trends—a shimmery swipe across the cheekbones, nose, forehead, chin, and cupid's bow—is quickly gaining traction in Japan.

Eyebrow Clash

American and Japanese cosmetics include dozens of products devoted to eyebrows, but the products themselves are polar opposites. Japanese makeup gurus prefer natural brows, so while they shape them, they don't tend to draw in their eyebrows. It's more likely for them to use lightening  gels and creams that help the brows to hold their shape while brightening the color. A little light powder can fill in the brows and create a fuller appearance.

In the United States, however, on-fleek brows are everything. Skilled American makeup artists can create full, realistic eyebrows from nothing, employing tints, powders, gels, pencils, and pomades. The arch is everything. It's typically accentuated as much as possible, and brows are thick, full, and ideally with a boxy shape.

Lined up Rows of Multi-Colored Lipstick

Lip Appeal

In Japanese cosmetics, dewy lips with a natural flush are the desire. Gloss is preferred over matte lipstick because a bit of shine helps to capture a youthful vibe. Peachy pinks that mimic natural lip color are the most popular shades.

Once again, American makeup stands in contrast. Matte lipstick, dramatic colors, and overlining one’s lips are the current trends. Black, blue, green, and purple lipsticks are just as common as rose, coral, and red, which is a clear forerunner.

Blush Philosophy

The  blusher products available in Japanese cosmetics lines take a natural approach, as well. Apricots, peachy pinks, and rosy shades on the apples of the cheeks create a lovely blush of color. It's not uncommon to swipe a bit of blush along the chin and forehead, either.

American makeup contains a rainbow of blushes. As makeup artists experiment more, you see shades of purple and blue mixed in with plum, pink, tangerine, and similar bold hues. In addition to applying blusher to the cheeks, people in the United States brush it on the chin, along the nose, and across the forehead, then blend it with their highlighter and contour. Together, they remove the flat effect of the matte foundation.

Natural Looks and Dramatic Effects

The biggest difference between American and Japanese cosmetics is the effect. Japanese makeup fans praise the natural look. Recreating a careless blush is the ultimate goal. You can see an obvious theme with the abundance of peaches and pinks that show up in products and cosmetics lines.

While plenty of American makeup focuses on the natural look, the overall aesthetic in the United States trends toward the dramatic, from winged eyeliner to red lips. It's all about blending to achieve a natural-esque appearance, and preferences run wild. Makeup is intensely individual, used to emphasize the person's unique style and beauty.

Aside from application and technique, there aren't enormous differences between Japanese cosmetics and makeup in the United States. You can see where each makeup culture influences the other, particularly if you pay attention to makeup tutorials and beauty blogs. Are there any American brands that you love? What Japanese makeup have you tried? Looking for a way to get in on the fun? Shop at  Plaza Japan for a wide range of the trendiest Japanese cosmetics out there -- get it, girl!