Traditional Japanese makeup or “wafuku” as it is known in Japanese, has been used in Japan for centuries and is still widely practiced today as a way to enhance one’s overall appearance. The history of traditional Japanese makeup dates back to the Edo period, when women of the upper classes used various pigments to alter their complexions and create more elaborate looks. This type of makeup has gone through various changes throughout the years but the main motivation behind it is the same: to create beauty and make the woman look more attractive and desirable.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the various aspects of traditional Japanese makeup, including its history, its purpose, the beauty products used, and the different looks you can create. By the end, you should have a good understanding of the traditional artform and how you can incorporate it into your own personal look.
History of Traditional Japanese Makeup
The use of makeup in Japan has been traced back to the Edo period, a period which ran from 1603 to 1867. During this time period, makeup was primarily used by upper-class women in order to enhance their beauty. In contrast to Western cultures, makeup was not used to draw attention to the eyes, but rather focus on the face as a whole. Makeup was also used to give a woman an air of maturity and formality, which was highly valued in the culture.
At this time, the traditional makeup was composed of a few items, such as jin (face powder) and ucha (rouge). These products were primarily made from crushed minerals, such as lead and coral, as well as from herbs, roots, and other natural sources. They were then mixed together in different proportions to create various shades and colors.
The Geisha Look
The traditional form of Japanese makeup is often referred to as the Geisha look. This look was popularized during the late 19th century and is still used today. The Geisha look is characterized by the use of a white base, contoured cheekbones and bright red lips. This look was originally created by the courtesans of the pleasure quarters in Tokyo and Kyoto.
The traditional Geisha look tends to feature a very pale complexion and a stark contrast between the white face base and the pop of red on the mouth. This look was presumably used to accentuate the woman’s face and give her an ethereal beauty.
Modern Day Japanese Makeup
Modern day Japanese makeup has evolved from the traditional Geisha look to become something completely different and unique. While the white base is still used in most cases, the contoured cheekbones and bright red lips have been replaced by more subtle shades of pink and red. The modern look is often much more minimalistic and natural-looking, with an emphasis on emphasizing one’s features.
Most modern day Japanese makeup is composed of items such as foundation, powder, mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, eyebrow liners, blush, lipsticks, and lip glosses. Their usage is based on the same principles as the traditional Geisha look, but with a more modern interpretation.
Common Beauty Products Used in Japanese Makeup
We’ve already gone over the basics of traditional Japanese makeup, so let’s take a look at the beauty products that are commonly used in modern Japanese makeup.
Foundation: Foundation is used to create an even complexion and can be applied as a cream, liquid, or powder. It is typically used after moisturizer and primer, and may also contain a SPF.
Concealer: Concealer is used to hide imperfections and discoloration. It is usually applied after moisturizer and primer, but before foundation.
Powder: Powder is used to set foundation, concealer, and other makeup products in place. It can either be used as a loose or pressed powder.
Blush: Blush is used to add a natural flush of color to the cheeks and can be applied in cream, liquid, or powder formula.
Highlighter: Highlighter is used to add a subtle shimmer to the cheeks and other areas of the face. It can be used in powder, cream, or liquid formulas.
Eyeshadow: Eyeshadow is used to add color and definition to the eyes. It can be used in powder, cream, or liquid formulas.
Eyeliner: Eyeliner is used to define and enhance the eyes. It can come in liquid, pencil, or gel formulas.
Mascara: Mascara is used to lengthen, thicken, and define the eyelashes. It can come in waterproof, regular, or fiber formulas.
Eyebrow Liner: Eyebrow liner is used to shape and fill in the eyebrows. It typically comes in a pencil formula but can also come in liquid and powder form.
Lipsticks: Lipstick is used to add color to the lips. It typically comes in a moisturizing formula and can be applied in either matte or glossy finishes.
Lip Gloss: Lip gloss is used to add shine and hydration to the lips. It can come in either clear or pigmented formulas.
How to Apply Traditional Japanese Makeup
Applying traditional Japanese makeup can seem like a daunting task, but it is actually quite simple once you understand the steps and have the right products. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to apply traditional Japanese makeup:
Start with a clean and moisturized face, free from dirt and impurities.
Apply primer all over the face to create a smoother, more even surface.
Apply foundation all over the face, using either a brush, sponge, or your fingers.
Apply concealer to hide any imperfections or discoloration.
Set the entire face with a light dusting of powder.
Add a light pink blush to the apples of the cheeks for a natural flush of color.
Add a bit of highlighter to the cheekbones, brow bone, and nose for a subtle glow.
Use eyeshadow to add a bit of definition and color to the eyes.
Line the eyes using either liquid, pencil, or gel eyeliner.
Apply mascara to the top and/or bottom lashes to lengthen and thicken them.
Fill in and shape the eyebrows using either a pencil or gel formula.
Add a pop of color to the lips with a moisturizing lip color.
Finish off the look with a touch of lip gloss for added shine.
Traditional Japanese makeup is a centuries-old artform that has evolved drastically over time and is still widely practiced today. It is composed of both traditional and modern beauty products, and typically features a pale complexion, contoured cheeks, and a pop of color on the lips. The traditional look is typically referred to as the “Geisha look” and is characterized by a stark contrast between the white base and the bright red lips. While the look has remained mostly the same over the years, modern day Japanese makeup is much more natural and emphasizes one’s features rather than creating a uniform complexion.
If you’ve been interested in trying this traditional look for yourself, we hope this article was informative and provided you with a better understanding of the basics of Japanese makeup. Now that you know the products and techniques involved, go forth and create your own take on this traditional artform!