Photo: Alissa Yagi/Instagram 

The past few years has indubitably been the heyday of K-beauty – think dewy glowy skin, elaborate skincare routines and tinted lips. While lofty complexion goals like the quest for unblemished “glass skin” (read more about this K-beauty trend here) won’t be going away anytime soon, a new wave from Asia is set to shake up the beauty industry – and that’s Japanese beauty or J-beauty.

Even though J-beauty brands have dominated the beauty scene for decades for their reliable and trusted formulations, for a while K-beauty kept rising to the forefront of trends and pushing J-beauty to the background. Well, that’s about to change as J-beauty is set to make its well-deserved comeback. With cult-Japanese makeup brands like Sofina and Jill-Stuart landing on our shores, creating that quintessential J-beauty sweet and gentle look has never been easier. Read on to find out how you can get the J-beauty look without breaking the bank.



J-beauty places emphasis on simplicity and the “less is more” outlook, favouring the use of fewer products with super-effective formulas for an effortless routine. There are no elaborate ten-step nightly routines here and face, and face masks are a weekly luxury and not a daily necessity. The Japanese believe in nourishing their skin, placing emphasis on sun protection, thorough but gentle cleansing and hydrating the skin with a lotion. Lotion is applied to the skin after cleansing in the mornings and evenings and is used for softening and hydrating the skin. These lotions are usually formulated with water-pushing humectants like ceramides, hyaluronic acid and aloe vera.

Try: Kose Sekkisui Brightening Lotion ($12.90, available from selected 7-Eleven stores) – This drugstore standout is formulated with a blend of Japanese herbs and coix seed extracts that are prized for its moisturising and brightening properties. To make the most of the product, soak two cotton pads with the lotion and place it on your cheeks or on your forehead before tapping the remaining lotion into your skin. 




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Base makeup is important to tie the whole look together. You want to pair your makeup look with a flawless canvas. Unlike Korean girls, Japanese girls prefer a matte finish and would use sparkly highlighters to accentuate features like their nose bridge, cupid’s bow and highest points of the cheeks. A little goes a long way – try dotting some foundation on areas where you need more coverage then blend it outwards with a clean sponge. For that natural makeup look, you can also use tinted sunscreens instead of foundation to even out your skin tone and subtly hide your imperfections.

Try: Anessa Perfect BB Base Beauty Booster SPF50+/PA++++ ($30.90, available from Watsons) – This sunscreen has an airy texture that helps to absorb sweat and oil so you can look fresh for the entire day. You can wear this alone or layer it under your foundation if you need more coverage. 


Big, round eyes

Eyeliner is kept minimal and light in Japanese makeup. Instead of using a dark eyeliner, apply a neutral hue shimmery eye shadow to the eyelids to draw attention to the eyes without looking too heavy for an otherwise soft look. To achieve that wide-awake gaze, curl your lashes with a coat of mascara.

Try: Jill Stuart Jelly Eye Colour in 05 Dark Glint ($30, available from Lazada) – The formula is infused with lavender oil and avocado oil, so the shadow glides on easily and doesn’t accentuate dry patches or fine lines. 


Rosy flushed cheeks


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In Japan, blush is often applied in the area under the eyes instead of on the cheekbones or the apples of the cheeks to create a more sweet and innocent flush.

Try: Eleanor Miracle Key Glowing Blusher ($55, available from Sasa) – Because of its shimmery finish, you can skip highlighter with this pinkish blusher. The glitter isn’t chunky and it goes on sheer at first, so it’s super easily to build up to a natural-looking or bold flush.


Pinkish pout


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With K-beauty, there’s the gradient lip trend where the lip colour is concentrated in the centre of the lips before it fades into a nude shade or a naturally bare look as you move outwards.

For J-beauty on the other hand, the lipstick is usually applied to the entire lip, but a diffused lip line is retained for a softer flirtier look (see below for a tutorial to achieve the look). Softer colours like sheer reds, rosy pinks and taupes are often seen in Japanese makeup.

Try: Cezanne Lasting Gloss Lip PK2 Pink ($12.90, available from Watsons) – You can blend it out for a sheer wash of pigment, or build it up for a brighter pop of colour. It also leaves a slight tint even after wiping off which is great for anyone who wants their lip colour to last all day without any touch-ups.