A century’s worth of Japanese beauty trends, from silver screen chic to puffy-eyed catharsis

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

As Japan’s premiere cosmetics manufacturer, Shiseido keeps its finger on the pulse of the Japanese fashion scene. But while the company has thrived by staying constantly contemporary, it was actually founded all the way back in 1872.

In its nearly 150 years of operation, Shiseido has had a front-row seat as makeup trends come and go in Japan, and the company recently took a moment to look back on many of them. Setsuko Suzuki, Shiseido’s senior hair and makeup artist, pegs the 1920s as when Western-style cosmetics achieved widespread use in Japan.

At first, the most popular looks blended Western and traditional Japanese aesthetics. This meant fine eyebrows with a pronounced downward drop and heavy eyeshadow at the bottom corners of the eye to produce a droopy, sleepy look, as well as lipstick applied to create a small, puckered mouth.

▼ 1920s


In the 1930s, more overseas beauty concepts started to be incorporated, with greater eyebrow curves and bolder lipstick, which were in vogue with screen actresses at the time.

▼ 1930s


Suzuki next checks in with makeup trends following World War II, with determined, squared eyebrows becoming popular as Japan buckled down to rebuild the country in the 1950s.

▼ 1950s


Things became much more colorful in the 1960s, when Japanese women began to break with tradition and showed an increasing fondness for shades other than the indigenous Japanese cosmetic standards of white, black, and red. Pale lipstick took off along with eye makeup simulating double-folded eyelids and false eyelashes as Japanese women longed to emulate the look of Western fashion models, as opposed to actresses. Suntanned skin also became popular for the first time in Japan’s history, after centuries of being considered a mark of an unpleasant, labor-intensive lifestyle.

▼ 1960s


The social unrest of the 1970s, including the Vietnam War, environmental crises, and economic malaise was reflected in dark eye shadow and sharply thin eyebrows.

▼ Early 1970s


In the late 1970s, Japan began to reevaluate its indigenous beauty, partially reversing decades spent chasing Western fashion.

▼ Late 1970s


This confidence carried over into the Bubble Economy of the early 1980s, when the trend of thinning eyebrows was finally curbed.

▼ Early 1980s


As the economic high times continued to roll, even career-oriented women began craving a more feminine look, and while eye makeup became more natural in coloring, lipsticks became brighter.

▼ Late 1980s-early 1990s


The late 1990s saw an unprecedented fragmentation of Japanese fashion, with the population splintering off into groups such as flashy gyaru, elegant white-collar professionals, or mixtures of hip-hop and Japanese street style. One overarchingly popular trend, though, was brown-dyed hair.

▼ Late 1990s-early 2000s


Starting from the mid-2000s, an increasing number of women started turning to non-cosmetic beauty enhancers, such as hair extensions, eyelash perms, and contact lenses meant to make the pupils appear larger.

▼ Late 2000s


However, Shiseido says that the March 11 earthquake and tsunami of 2011 caused many women to ask themselves what is truly important in life, which resulted in a shift away from a heavily made up look and towards a relaxed, comforting appearance. In particular, baggy eyes (called namidabukuro, or “tear bags” in Japanese) and blushed (yuagari nobose, or “dizzy from a hot bath”) cheeks became popular, creating a comforting, cathartic aura.

▼ Post-2011 earthquake and tsunami


And finally, the most recent makeup trends borrow heavily from the 1980s, especially in a preference for bright red lipstick.

▼ Today


Just more proof that nothing ever permanently goes out of style.

Source: Shiseido

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Seven Japanese drugstore beauty products loved by women abroad

-- Kailijumei’s line of color-changing, flower lipsticks are all the rage now across the world

-- Japanese cosmetics company’s eight-model video has one big secret【Video】

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Once again, Gunguro didnt get invited to the party.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I came to Japan in 1990 and the classic look for women then was long hair but with a fringe wrapped in a single curler and manically hairsprayed to sit on above the forehead. It was an era-defining look.

I like Japanese cinema, and you can see the 20s to 60s looks in films of those periods. The 1960s one looks straight out of Branded to Kill. Seijun Suzuki RIP.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Post 2011 definitely best.

no gyaru look? love tanned japanese girls...

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I came to Japan in 1990 and the classic look for women then was long hair but with a fringe wrapped in a single curler and manically hairsprayed to sit on above the forehead. yeah I use to call them the fringe diving boards, they seemed to defy gravity, oh and the platform stilt shoes, 5ft 2in girls could become 6inches taller

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All very aesthetically pleasing, of course. For the sake of parity; how about a follow up about male beauty trends over the decades?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I loved the look of the average girl with long natural black hair in the early 80's, I have never been a fan of fashion, or makeup on women, I like to wake up to the same girl I went to sleep with! I found a girl who thought the same way, and I married her! Seems some girls today are returning to that look, much less Chapatsu, and dressing more sensible. The last 25 years or so have been strange to say the least, but to each their own I guess.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Despite each next trend talking about individualism and breaking new trends, people still just imitate what they see in the media and what's for sale at the shops.

As a guy when looking at this article, with a few exceptions where it is obvious, I probably couldn't tell the differences in makeup culture if the models weren't also wearing the fashion of the period. I think this kind of comparison would probably be much more interesting if it was the same model wearing the same outfit and only changing the makeup.

0 ( +2 / -2 )


Models? Isn't it the same lady in each shot?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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