Five Top Japanese Beauty Products to Try in December
The final sprint towards the new year has officially begun, and like many others, I always have the best intentions of buying thoughtful and suitably kawaii Japanese gifts to bring back home to Australia for my sisters and girlfriends. But somehow, it always ends up in a mad grab of sheet masks, green tea Kit Kats and Pocky on the day I’m leaving. Not such a bad gift some may argue, but perhaps not so exciting the third time around. So this year I have searched for some seriously covetable Japanese beauty products to gift to my nearest and dearest , to give them a taste of some of the incredible Japanese beauty brands that are not readily available in their part of the world. I may or may not have also purchased some for myself along the way...
Three is a beautifully created brand of Japanese skincare and cosmetics where the brand philosophy is built on the use of natural ingredients to enhance beauty. It is the perfect brand to buy for those who are interested in using natural and organic beauty products. In stores now, Three has a special edition color story called Under the Magic Moon that includes some seriously beautiful nail polishes and lip gloss shades that are perfect for gifts.
The Three shimmering lip jam (¥3,000) comes in four gorgeous limited-edition shades ranging from soft nudes to strong berry hues. My top shades are Pale Moon, a subtle shimmering slightly peach nude that is perfect to pair with a more dramatic eye, and the perfect sheer berry tint, Sugar Moon. Three lip jams are enriched with an assortment of moisturizing organic and raw ingredients such as cherry extract, jojoba oil, evening primrose oil, rosehip oil, shea butter and beeswax.
Then there are the four gorgeous shade of nail polish (¥1,800): Time to Shine (a medley of gold and bronze glitter), Moon Light Drive (soft apricot), Moonage Daydream (emerald green) and Tokyo Moon (raspberry). All of the solid colors (peach, emerald green and raspberry) work beautifully when paired with the Time to Shine glitter polish for a more complex nail art design, or on their own for a striking solid color effect. My favorites are Moon Light Drive and Tokyo Moon, and I couldn’t help but pair each with Time to Shine for a bit of festive fun. Again, all of the Three nail polishes are packed with natural oils such as avocado oil, jojoba oil and rosehip oil to nourish and protect, and are free of any nasties such as toluene, formalin and phthalate dibutyl.
You can find Three cosmetics at the brand’s flagship store in Aoyama and department stores like Seibu, Isetan (including Isetan Mirror and Salone) and Mitsukoshi.
Koh Gen Do
It is no secret that I love Koh Gen Do, it is absolutely one of my favorite Japanese beauty discoveries whilst living in Tokyo, and the Aqua Foundation is now my must-have foundation. All of Koh Gen Do’s cosmetic products are created keeping in mind their ethos of natural skincare, and they contain natural ingredients that treat and condition the skin. Koh Gen Do is a well-kept secret of many famous movie stars and their makeup artists for many years. Once you try the brand’s products I’m confident you will see why.
For Christmas Koh Gen Do has an amazing limited edition Silky Fit Smokey eye shadow palette that contains a collection of eight beautiful neutral shades that will effortlessly suit everyone, no matter your coloring or age, which makes this palette perfect for gift giving. Koh Gen Do’s eye shadows are densely pigmented, ensuring that the colors are rich when applied to the skin, and can easily be built upon to achieve the effect you desire. So many eye shadows feel dry when applied, and annoyingly highlight fine lines and creases around the eye, but the moisturizing formula of this product actually helps to diffuse their appearance.
This product will be loved by whomever you gift it to, be it your girlfriend or your mother. You can purchase the palette on its own (¥7,560) or you can buy as part of an incredible gift set (¥10,800) available for Christmas that contains a full size foundation. What is great about this is you can choose which Koh Gen Do foundation to include, be it the Aqua foundation (a liquid mineral foundation that is great for dry skin and gives the most incredible natural glow), Moisture Foundation (suitable for all skin types and gives a lighter coverage), or Silky Moist Compact (a powder compact foundation suitable for normal to oily skin). Also included in the gift set are three trial products—Maifanshi Color Base (primer to help set makeup in place for longer, with added moisturizing and SPF protection), Aqua Foundation Illuminator (create extra glow to the skin by mixing with foundation or simply add to highpoint of the face for the latest strobing effect) and a beautiful, natural pink lipgloss.
You can find Koh Gen Do at the brand’s flagship store in Azabu Juban, Tokyo Hands, Loft and Plaza stores.
Addiction is another truly Japanese beauty brand that would be a unique gift for those overseas. It is the creation of Japanese makeup artist Ayako, who worked for many years in New York with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Naomi Campbell, Scarlett Johansson and Anne Hathaway. Since I discovered Addiction, I have been drawn to the amazing colors that the brand delivers in its range (there are 55 nail polish shades in Addiction’s core range!). So it’s no surprise that the holiday gift pack (¥5,400) is focused on nail color, aptly called Nail Addiction. The sleek transparent cosmetic bag is filled with everything you need to fulfil your nail decorating whims this holiday season. Three limited edition shades—the perfect true red, pale pink and metallic silver—are complemented by mini sized top coat and cuticle oil and a cute Addiction emery board. Perfect for holidays, as everything you need has been included in the bag.
Addiction can be found at department stores such as Seibu, Isetan (including Isetan Mirror and Salone), Mitsukoshi and Daimaru.
If you are buying for a true beauty junkie don’t underestimate the appeal of a perfectly sized travel brush kit like this one from RMK. Japanese cosmetic brushes are arguably the best in the world, and any makeup artist will tell you that using the right brushes can make even the most simple makeup more impactful and beautiful. This handbag sized kit (¥2,300) is perfect for flawless touch-ups throughout the day, containing a cheek, eyeshadow and eyeliner brush in a lovely compact navy fabric case. This is a limited-edition RMK item, so make sure you snap it up quickly!
You can find RMK at its flagship in Aoyama, and department stores like Isetan, Seibu and Mitsukoshi.
If you are looking for something a little smaller and at a lower price point, there is a beautiful range of Japanese bath products from the brand Oniesan, that will definitely have receivers swooning over its uniquely Japanese design. I particularly love the bath cubes (¥972) that look like traditional Japanese sweets—almost too pretty to use! The beauty of these bath cubes is not just on the surface; they are also rich with mineral salts that moisturize and soften the skin, and the beautiful essential oil aroma relaxes the mind while you take your therapeutic soak in the tub. There are also more traditional packets of bath salts (¥432) and larger round bath bombs (¥864) in the Oisesan range that you could group together to make a beautiful gift pack.
I have seen Oisesan bath products at Loft and Cosme Kitchen stores.