Part 1: Why Japanese?

(from Kanebo Coffret d’Or via YouTube)

Many years ago, I read an article on Japanese base makeup, which mentioned that the technologies in Japan involved in producing base makeup were about a decade ahead of those of most western brands. While it is not easy to prove this (and whether it is still true today), I do feel that Japanese base makeup items are constantly out-doing their western counterparts.

It seems that we can draw inferences from the cultural side of things. I have often heard that, if one can only choose to wear one makeup item for the day, a western consumer is likely to choose a mascara (or an eyeliner). On the other hand, a Japanese consumer would go for a foundation. (It can be a sweeping generalization, but I do find some truth in it.)

From the articles written by Kaoru Saito, a Japanese beauty expert, it seems that Japanese people perceive having shine and open pores in public as something impolite. Having a fresh and impeccable complexion, free from shine and open pores, seems to be part of the social etiquette. (Maybe this is why there are a lot more products (mainly primers) that tackle these two issues in Japanese beauty brands.)

In this case, it is the consumers’ needs that drive product research and innovation, and the result is products that work better.

I have oily skin and almost always use a powder foundation, and I think I probably want quite a lot from it. I want it to have a fair amount of coverage but to still look natural. I want it to cancel out mild redness, conceal pores, control sebum and last throughout the day. The powder should have a smooth texture, and the finish should be predominantly matte.

Generally, I find that Japanese foundations cancel out mild redness and conceal pores considerably more effectively than western ones. Also, the foundations I have tried that have a good sebum-control efficacy are all from Japanese lines. So, based on personal experience, I’d say that Japanese base makeup products generally perform a lot better.

(I have less experience with liquid/cream foundations. If you have any observation on how Japanese products fare with western ones, please do let me know your thoughts.)

In the next few days, I will talk briefly about the rhythm of product releases in Japanese base makeup, how to choose the right shade, some Japanese beauty brands that are particularly known for base makeup, and some of my personal favorites and recommendations. Do come back!

(The ad on top of this post is the TV ad for Coffret D’Or’s latest powder foundation, Lasting Power Pact UV. It was officially out on March 1st and is something I am interested in trying.)


Continue reading the series:

Part 2: When are they coming out?

Part 3: Which one is my shade?

Part 4: Which brand shall I look into?

Part 5: My Favorites (& Yours)


Related posts:

Western vs. Japanese…Who’s Winning?

All About Japanese Cosmetics

“Japanese Brand Profile” Series