lifestyle

4 Japanese beauty fads Westerners just don’t understand

37 Comments
By Cara Clegg

Beauty standards and trends differ from culture to culture, so something that’s fashionable and pretty to one woman can be bizarre, sometimes even ugly, to another half the world away. This is especially true in the case of Japanese beauty fads, which often leave Westerners thinking, “Why on earth are you doing that to yourself?!" while Japanese fashion magazines insist that it’s the path to ultimate "kawaii-ness."

Narrow eyes, small noses, straight black hair – so many of the aesthetics common to Japanese women are considered gorgeous by many Western girls (and boys!). But what many Japanese girls obsess over as being beautiful is often quite different. Humans have a tendency to want what they don’t have, and in the same way that many Westerners find Japanese girls beautiful and ‘exotic’, many Japanese women idolize Western looks and are prepared to use a variety of beauty tricks to attain their ideal. There are also plenty of trends that are Japan-specific and developed internally rather than from looking outwards, and these two kinds of aesthetics mingle to create the general Japanese beauty zeitgeist, which is supported by a beauty industry worth 1.4 trillion yen in 2011.

The following are four fads that are currently making cosmetics companies in Japan extremely happy.

  1. Skin whitening

Take a look at the beauty products on sale in any Japanese drug store, and you’ll find many potions and lotions that claim to whiten the skin.

While in times past in the U.S. and Europe a suntan was seen as undesirable as it was a sign of having been outside working in the fields while the upper classes remained pale by keeping indoors, nowadays the opposite is true for many people. A year-round tan is a sign that someone can afford to spend their time at the beach or jetting off to sunny holiday destinations, and most people are eager to gain the healthy glow that most celebrities sport, regardless of the warnings doctors and skincare experts give about overexposure to UV rays.

On the other hand, white skin has remained a mainstream aesthetic ideal in Japan, despite the trend for dark skin started in the 1990s by "ganguro" girls, and that is still popular among the "gal" fashion subculture today.

2. Snaggleteeth

Especially in the U.S., straight, uniform (and sometimes frighteningly white) teeth are a must. People spend a lot of money on straightening their teeth out, and the idea that someone would pay to have previously straight teeth misaligned seems completely bizarre. However, a considerable number of women in Japan are doing just that.

The "yaeba" or snaggle tooth look is thought to be cute, and cosmetic dentistry practices are offering temporary and permanent solutions to achieve that crooked smile. While in the West you might be teased for looking like a vampire, in Japan your fangs would gain you instant "kawaii" credibility.

3. Double eyelids

Many Westerners find Asian almond-shaped eyes beautiful. However, some Japanese women will go out of their way to try and create a double eyelid, using tape and prongs to force their skin into the desired shape in a process that looks quite painful, but that I’ve been assured isn’t.

4. Eye bag makeup

Many Japanese women are concerned about having a "flat face," and I’ve been complimented by Japanese people for the fact that my face is very "three-dimensional." (I thought we were all 3D, but perhaps some people think they are actually anime characters in real life?)

While eye bags are something that many of us work hard to eliminate or disguise as they are thought to make us look tired and old, some Japanese girls use contouring and highlighting makeup to emphasize the area under their eyes and make it look "puffy." As someone who slaps on the concealer every morning to avoid looking like a panda, this is the trend that I can understand the least.

Source: Naver Matome

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Seven Japanese drugstore beauty products loved by women abroad -- More Japanese Women Getting Fake Crooked Teeth? Industry Insider Speaks -- 5 ways for foreign girls to attract Japanese guys

© RocketNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


37 Comments
Login to comment

Record my vote as a resounding "No" on all four -- especially #'s 1 and 2. Which is why my fiance is a Filipina with mocha-colored skin and a dazzling smile.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

Too many of these articles make it sound like all Japanese women are furiously trying to change race when really I rarely see more than a few Western-inspired fashion choices as evidence of this. Never heard of the tooth thing, and I suspect (aka. hope) that's a serious minority group driving that alarmingly bizarre craze.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Not only Japanese, lots of Asian girls also like to have white skin.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

The only one of these that are uniquely Japanese is the tooth one. And that one is only for otaku fetishists.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Skin whitening?

As opposed to Western women suntanning themselves into skin cancer? Not to mention tanning salons and tanning pills.

Personally I'm fortunate to find women of almost any race attractive. In the case of Japanese women,

I like both long and short hair, pure black or dyed.

I like round (mangetsu) faces and not round faces.

I like a little thin, a little plump, and everything in-between

Bikinis to kimono, both look feminine and elegant and suit you.

I like most eyes and noses, but agarime and washibana make my day.

Thank you for existing.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Not only Japanese, lots of Asian girls also like to have white skin.

I understand a woman wanting to protect her skin, but if think there are too many women that are way too white looking, they look pale, skin looks thin, velcrose veins and too pasty. They look like a living corpse. But that is just my opinion. I like women with a little more color.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Yaeba! My God that's ugly. I once saw a college girl with a natural yaeba but she kept it on purpose to look pretty, I guess. But seriously it was disturbing. The permanent tooth was desperately coming out on top of the one was supposed to fall long time ago. Her gum around the tooth was all red almost looked bloody and she was trying to show how kawaii that was.... not!

Double eye lid. A friend of mine spent the equivalent thousands of dollars for a double eye lid surgery. Then she asked me "how do I look? Prettier, right?" She still looked the same to me.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The problem with the skin whitening is the extent many women go to so they can preserve it. What is the point of white skin if you are going to cover it with long gloves and wear ridiculous hats or darth vader masks? Do shufus just like to show their skin while in the house cooking and cleaning?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

@bass4funk

skin looks thin, velcrose veins and too pasty. They look like a living corpse. But that is just my opinion. I like women with a little more color.

A new invention ? "Velcrose veins" ? Wouldn't they make the blood "stick" rather than flow ???

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Snaggleteeth more like Shark teeth, multilayered mayhem. why is it that a uniform face is a sign of attractive but crooked teeth are not? its just a Japanese way of being polite and not insulting children/people with bad teeth. you see very few Japanese models with crooked teeth. japanese parents need to stop being stingy and get there childrens teeth fixed if there is a problem. theyll thank you for it when there older.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Skin whitening

Take a look at the beauty products on sale in any Japanese drug store, and you’ll find many potions and lotions that claim to whiten the skin.

I imagine there would be fewer ladies using this stuff after all the problems with Kanebo.?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@fighting viking

A new invention ? "Velcrose veins" ? Wouldn't they make the blood "stick" rather than flow ???

I meant to type "Varicose" sorry. Hey, typos happen. But you got the point. ;-)

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@bass4funk

Yep ! I know ! (sorry ! I just couldn't resist it !)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'd also add the amount of money Japanese women spend on beauty products, personal grooming etc (nails every three weeks, for example). Has to be the highest in the world, no?!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I thought it was going to be not stereotypical Japanese girls trying to be white people thing again. It made me think of things like old women dying their hair purple kind of thing westerners do not understand article.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not one thing new about snaggleteeth. Been in high fashion here for at least forty years.

Look up Mako Ishino and Momoe Yamaguchi from the early seventies for example.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The only thing that I find curious is tattooing eyebrows. My ex had it done, and I've seen a number of other Japanese women who have done the same.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

My wife's got one double-eyelid and one single. That ought to look weird, but she looks okay to me....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Desiring white skin is common among many Asian women of all kinds. If they're not using skin whitening soaps or creams, they ingest pills. Some use umbrellas on a sunny day.

The snaggleteeth doesn't cease to baffle me. Orthodontics and braces must be a hard sell in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The problem with the skin whitening is the extent many women go to so they can preserve it. What is the point of white skin if you are going to cover it with long gloves and wear ridiculous hats or darth vader masks? Do shufus just like to show their skin while in the house cooking and cleaning?

I thought the same as you about 'shufus' when I was at the beach and I saw a women, covered head to toe with arm covers, hat, etc. struggling to play with her young child while holding a parasol. I think it is great to protect your skin, but there apparently isn't a high rate of skin cancer in Japan...so if no one really sees your skin anyway, might as well take a risk once in a while and say, for example, enjoy the beach with your kid?

Snaggletooth- I just don't get it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'd also add the amount of money Japanese women spend on beauty products, personal grooming etc (nails every three weeks, for example). Has to be the highest in the world, no?!<

South Korea is the highest I think seen as a lot of women get double eye lid surgeries too and they literally baby their skin when they were young...the US comes close to them. Even China is becoming like this. I respect Filipina women are lot especially who many don't go to these stupid lengths to look good.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Many a puzzled young Japanese woman has asked me why foreign men always go for the "busu" types (that is, women who actually look Japanese) and I always reply, "that's because Japanese women are beautiful the way they are, and they should stop messing with their hair, noses, skin and eyes." Western men love the almond eyes, button noses, olive complexions, and pitch black hair. Oh, and they don't really think much of the stick insect look. Eat a sandwich, sisters!

2 ( +4 / -3 )

Still better than shaving the eyebrows and then tattoo or draw them back.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Who are these Westerners who don't understand stuff?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@bigfuji

Exactly. I get tired of being told by people who don't know me what I don't understand....

3 ( +5 / -2 )

While the "deep tan" was popular back in the 60's and 70's, looking at what all that sun has done to those people now 50 years later has greatly diminished the tanning fad. Now most tanners just go get it sprayed-on (which I guess makes it even MORE of a cosmetic fad).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My wife wishes she could get a more light tan or some color, she hates that she's so pasty white. She's not a person that is overly obsessed with her skin, she takes care of it in a normal way, but for her, she just can't get a tan, she just burns and looks like a grilled prawn, but she thinks she looks better with a tad bit of color. She thinks that what many of these women are doing is way too much, especially the glove thing. I asked her once when we first met, why she didn't carry a parasol with her and she replied, "carrying something in your hand all day makes her tired", she wants her hands free, she's a bit more in the lazy side. Again, each to his own. But I do think this skin obsession is reaching idiotic proportions, just today, I saw a bunch of High school girls on their way to school riding their bikes wearing these long gloves. It's starting to get a bit out of hand. Most western men accept Japanese women the way they are. But they often feel like they have to look a certain way to feel good or to have others feel good about them. I think this is all about heavy skin care marketing mostly.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Some Asian girls will do almost anything to be just like a western girl. It is unfortunate that the media overloads us with messages about beauty, dieting and how we should look, making us believe that we are always in need of adjustments. Physical beauty is superficial and is not as important as a person's intellectual, emotional and spiritual qualities. A pleasing exterior is not a guide to a person's interior or character and has no relation to goodness or essential quality. Each of us have our own unique look, unique personality, unique size and shape, and or own unique talents. There is no one in the world that is like you and that should make you feel special. Beauty is only skin deep. What's really important is finding a balance in mind, body and spirit. Someone once said that until you are twenty, you have the face you are born with, and after that you have the face you deserve. You wear who you are on your face. What is really important lies within us, our true beauty.

2 ( +3 / -2 )

Good point Bigfujiyama and lucabrasi. I've never heard Westerners talk about this topic let alone not understand it. I've had Japanese mention the double eyelid thing and I thought the white skin thing was in the past. Anyway, who really cares what us Westerners think. If we don't like something about Japanese make-up or fashion that's our petty problem.The Japanese shouldn't worry about it... and I think most don't ... we just like to think they do.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't get the frames without glasses fad. Instead of making people look smarter, it does the opposite.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Beauty standards and trends differ from culture to culture, so something that's fashionable and pretty to one woman can be bizarre, sometimes even ugly, to another half the world away. This is especially true in the case of Japanese beauty fads,

Could not they put it less discriminatory?

Skin whitening

The article miss the reason of the popularity of bihaku (whitening) treatment: Prevention of and recovery from shimi or "cafe au lait spot". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caf%C3%A9_au_lait_spot

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I disagree about the snaggletooth. When I first heard of that, I started asking around and most of my Japanese friends told me that they thought it was stupid and were not interested in that. I see a lot of children with braces designed to straighten their teeth, so this seems like a 'fad' for a select few and shouldn't be classified as something Japanese people aspire to.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I have found it cute to watch Asian girl friends obsess on white skin and the Caucasian girl friends obsess on darkening their skin. Ladies take it from a guy, we are happy when you say Yes to a variety of romance questions. Skin colors are not a factor.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder..."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You can add the absurd large glasses without lenses that have even in fashion with young women in Japan. Silliest thing I have ever seen. I've heard it is to "cover" their cuteness, but it looks rediculous.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

All I can say, to each his own! Every women in the world wants what is beautiful or anything that could make them beautiful 'coz Beauty is Power too. It just happened that Japanese women were a little bit odd..,the Cosplay, Otaku, and more...sometimes it's the opposite attracts! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!! I must admit Japanese women skin is flawless

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is not that they want to have eyebags. They are called tearbags. They use concealers and contouring shadows to create the thin bag under their eyes so they eyes look smiley. Try smiling yourself and there will be a pouch under your eyes. If you draw that pouch on, you will look smiley even if you are not smiling. It has nothing to do with eyebags. In fact, your eyebag is probably dark and gloomy and needs to be concealed. Eyebags and tearbags are two totally different things. And most of all, pandas have nothing to do with any of this. Polish your metaphor.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites