5 Japanese Brands You Should Try

Published in: Makeup

Today Rowena of the delicious Cosmetic Candy Blog takes us Far East with five of her favorite Japanese makeup primers.

5 Japanese Brands You Should Try


The moment I made the transition from makeup enthusiast to junkie was the moment I discovered affordable Japanese cosmetics.

I was already in love with Hello Kitty and friendly with Kerokerokeroppi, so buying Japanese makeup seemed like a natural thing to do.

And now, a few years in, I can say that around 75% of my cosmetics collection is of Japanese origin or of brands sold primarily in Japan.

For me personally, I love the scope, the variety, the efficiency and the sheer sparkly goodness of Japanese cosmetics. I can br-br-br-break it down like this:

The packaging

Japanese packaging for Maquillage, for example, can be cute or elegant or just gadget heaven. Some brands will keep their basic packaging permanent like many Western brands do, but others will play around with the cases and lipstick tubes every couple seasons or so, keeping a fresh look and concept (Kate and Lavshuca do this often).

And I am genuinely impressed when companies think of new ways for us to apply our lipgloss other than plain sponge applicators!


You know what they say about Japanese engineering and attention to detail, right? It’s the same for the makeup. Only when I started playing with Shu Uemura did I finally find a mascara that didn’t run (and it wouldn’t come off without a fight either — “doh!”); only when I tried Shiseido Hydro Powder cream eyeshadows did I find a base that didn’t budge; and only when kitty punched me with her paw (we don’t talk about that day anymore):


I love the variety of textures available from Japanese makeup brands, especially the lipsticks and cream/liquid-based eyeshadows.

I’ve reviewed a number of cream colors on my blog here and here. These aren’t just the same old creamy textures we’ve seen so many times before. Some are water based, or light creams, thick creams, mousses, firm jellies, soft jellies…Phew!


Although some Japanese brands are ridiculously, eye wateringly expensive, my favourite ones are mid-priced to affordable (equivalent to drugstore brands). Even the brands that are sold in drugstores are extremely high quality, and in my opinion match many of the high-end Western brands in terms of pigmentation and finish.

Finally… the finish!

I find the many of the Japanese brands go for quite a shimmery, but natural look overall. This doesn’t mean that the products aren’t pigmented, but that many of them do suit being worn in quite a natural-glow-I-didn’t-even-try-hard way.

Japanese lipsticks are the best when it comes to creating a water based glossy finish, full of iridescent sparkles and glow and are never drying.

So without further ado, here are 5 brands which I think are lovely and you should try!

Jill Stuart


Jill Stuart may be better known for her fashion line, but her makeup and skincare range (exclusive to Japan) is just as good. The range stands out because its drop-dead gorgeous princessy silver packaging wins me over all the time.

Unfortunately, it’s fairly pricey at around $65 for a powder foundation and $45 for an eyeshadow quad (prices can vary a little).

Must try items: Jelly Eye color, the quads, fruit lip balm and lip lusters.



Kate is a drugstore-level brand made by Kanebo. It’s a funky, punky but pretty look, and the packaging is black and fairly basic, although they always find nice ways to present the shadow pans in the palettes. They have plenty of eyeshadow palettes, normally with 5 colours in each to play with, as well as a set of Gel eyeshadows I think are fab because they really last.

Must try items: Glam Trick Eyes palettes, Gel Eyeshadows, Gel Mascara.



MAQUillag is a medium-end makeup brand made by Shiseido, aimed at a slightly older market than Kate. MAQUillage for me oozes class and quality, and I’m very rarely disappointed by a product they make. You can buy separate pans of cream and powder eyeshadows too to put together your own palette extravaganza!

Must try items: All the lip sticks and glosses (yep, all of them!), the eye creator palette (contains 2 cream shadows and 3 powders), and I personally love the Climax Moisture Foundation Compact.



RMK is the brainchild of Japanese makeup artist Rumiko. With an emphasis on smooth bases, the primer and foundation products were the first items I tried and fell in love with. RMK is undergoing a makeover, and prices will be rising along with it soon (it is already quite expensive!). It’ll be interesting to see how it works out and if the quality of the new range matches the price they’re asking.

Must try: Cleansing Oil, Recovery Gel, Irresistible Lips C, Gloss Lips, Creamy Foundation or Liquid Foundation.



Lavshuca is one of the reasons why I fell in love with makeup. The dark ruby packaging combined with some amazing formulas and their affordable price makes it a hit. The last few seasons have been a bit duller, but I am hoping they pick up again soon.

Must try items: Lavshuca Eye Colour Select Palettes, Jelly Eyeshadows, and Finish Powder.

Other brands I love include Lunasol, SANA, Kiss, Majolica Majorca, Tiffa, Coffret D’or and the painfully expensive but gorgeous Cle De Peau.


Japanese brands that you can get in the US include Paul & Joe, Shu Uemura, SKII and Shiseido.

My tried and tested places to buy Japanese cosmetics (if you can’t just hop on a plane or bribe a friend who lives in Japan) are eBay, Adambeauty (my favourite!), Sasa, Ichibankao and Facial Shop (there are other websites, too, but the previous 5 are ones I have ordered from repeatedly and offer super reliable service and payment by PayPal, so you are protected if anything goes wrong).

I hope this has been of use to the ladies who have never heard of Japanese makeup or have been wanting to give it a go.

Go forth and be *sparkly!* 🙂

This post was written by Rowena, who sprinkles her beautiful Cosmetic Candy Blog with all things beauty related, moans about bad customer service and chronicles the adventures of her 5 fat kittehs.


Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 35 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Rachel says:

    I really like that teal shadow and that one eyeshadow quad there by Jill Stuart. I also like those 2 shadow palettes by Kate.

  2. Maggie says:

    gaahhh, the packaging is too cute!
    i’m already too tempted by all the makeup blogs i read. Dx

    Maggie´s last blog post..New Title (from Hey moon…) + POTD (5.29.09)

  3. Dao says:

    Japanese makeup packaging is really cute. On top of that, the quality is ridiculously good. I don’t really have many Japanese makeup items but the ones I have, I cherish a lot!

    Dao´s last blog post..Beauty Literotica: Reading under the Influence of Cold Medicine

  4. Helene says:

    Were do you buy the Japanese products?

  5. viki says:

    I am a big fan of the RMK liquid foundation, it’s very light, and provide a natural good coverage. And Jill Stuart blendable cheek colour is one of my favourites too 😀

  6. Louise Gray says:

    Hello Karen,
    I keep giving Karl L. money so I don’t have any to give to the Japanese for their makeup. hahahah. But Karl has come out with new Tokyo inspired colors. I just received an e-mail with pastel blue and pink colors which will do nothing for this paleface here. However I did find a marvelous sight for Indian makeup-Lakme. I love the looks the vivid colors. Here is a link. I hope that you will fall in love as I did:


    Here is an update on my recent purchases. I bought the summer eye quad from Chanel. It is really pretty. They know how to seduce you. I also bought two of the glossimers-Silex and Jupiter. I bought Porto Rotondo lipstick and the new Vitalumiere concealer to conceal my whole face on my bad days. I have been bad with my spending. 🙁 Life is too short and if there is no makeup in heaven, I guess I’ll be going to Hell. hahahah Take it easy and keep up the good work. Louise

  7. Louise Gray says:

    Whoops! that above link does not seem to work. Just Google the Lakme Bridal Sutra Summer Collection 2009 and you should see it. L.

  8. jojoba says:

    i have a love and hate relationship with japanese makeup. they are shimmery and glittery which i like. however, they are often too sheer to show up much on me so i hate them for that.

    the one brand that everyone who loves japanese mu will try is Marjolica Marjorca and i did and got big RED rabbit eyes!!!! :(((

    i stick to the big ones like CdP and Shiseido The Makeup…

    jojoba´s last blog post..Review/FOTD: Josie Maran Cosmetics My Favourite Powders

  9. Louise Gray says:

    Sorry to Rowena. I should have said “Hello” to her rather than Karen since she is our MU and B Blog mistress today. Hello, Beautiful, Rowena. Louise

  10. mitzy says:

    Oh, thanks for finally posting Japanese makeup. I’m a big fan as well, but if you are a huge fan of those bold eyeshadows, etc. Japanese makeup is not for you. They don’t do clowny overdone makeup, yes it tends to be more sheer pigmented. They’re more natural, girly and cute which I think suits Asian people, because we don’t have that deep crease eyes. KATE is a great brand to try for first timers (they are pigmented and cheap), also Majolica. I’ve been disappointed with Lavschuca and Integrate in the past. I’m still waiting to get my hands on Lunasol. haha…

  11. chau says:

    good stuff. i’m planning to go to japan in october. will definitely pick up some makeup

  12. Ruth says:

    I wish we got all the great Japanese brands here in Vancouver, Canada. I’ve never been but if I ever did go I’d need 8 a full entourage to bring back my haul !!!!!!!!!!

  13. Shana T says:

    Thanks for this article Rowena! I live in Taiwan and all the brands you mentioned are sold here. I have to say that RMK is very over priced, I’m surprised that they’re going to raise their prices again! I love Lavshuca and Marjolica Marjorca! Their packaging kills me! And here in Taiwan it’s pretty cheap. Shu Uemura, MAQUillage,and Cle De Peau are divine! I didn’t realize that people in the States and Canada like Japanese make up. Hmmm…. now I know what to bring home as gifts when I vist!

  14. Vonvon says:

    Nice and informative post on Japanese makeups!

    Jill Stuart-Haven’t tried any of those cos not available over here but would love to try them some day.

    Kate-seen them around but haven’t tried them.

    Maquillage-bought 1 lipstick and a cream and powder eyeshadow from them last month. Yet to be officiated. 😉

    RMK-liking their lip gloss but think their prices are superhigh to the level of Guerlain and Dior!

    Lavshuca-seen them around, read some good reviews on their products but haven’t tried them!

    On a self-imposed makeup ban now…..no buying of new makeups till winter, may be??? Haha!!! If only I have so strong resolve…..

    Vonvon´s last blog post..An Afternoon With PLATINUM…..La Prairie, Skincare For The Privileged Few

  15. Row says:

    Ooh Hallo Louise! I like being called the B Blog mistress of the day!

    Shana – RMK is expensive for sure but some of their things are worth it – the foundation is wonderful and works much better for me than Chanel or Dior. I guess they’ve decided their in the high end market!!

    Jojoba – its true a lot of Japanese make up is sparkly and glittery even in a palette, you may not get a matte one to play with. I love Cle De Peau & Shiseido but I see them as I my ‘grown up brands’ for when I want something just elegant!

  16. For packaging, I gotta say Majorlica Majorca rocks the kawaii department. I swatched some of the products before, so one word of advice here; when the product’s promises sound too good to be true, then it really means it’s too good to be true. Try google Lash Gorgeous Wings to understand further what I’m talking about. ;P

    As for for RMK, yep it’s really a good brand. But also too pricey~

    HaNNa_HuLLaBaLoo´s last blog post..Make Up Store Max Lashes mascara.

  17. Sakura says:

    Half of my make-up I own now is from Japan. The drug stores there are like mini Sephoras’ where you can try the make-up. I love Maquillage lipsticks, Kanebo blush, Lavshuca gloss liner, and Visee eyeshadow(a lot of pigment)and Kate eyeshadows are ok too. My favorite brand is the Shiseido line for 20-year-olds: Majolica Majorca. I love their honey lipgloss and mascara: “Hope my lashes are full and smooth”. If you go to Japan cruise the drugstores they have everything there! Different drugstores carry different brands. I moved back to US just last June 27! I miss Japan!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sakura,

      I bet you spent a lot of time at the drugstores trying stuff out. I know I would, LOL!

      Will you be going back any time soon?

  18. Redhead says:

    Wow, the Japanese seem to be into cream eyeshadows, what with two brands making Jelly Shadows and one Gel shadow..

  19. Katz says:

    I am from Manila…I love Japanese make up very much!!! It suits the Asian weather and my Chinese-Spanish-Filipino combination skin. I use Shiseido make up…particularly their face powder and lipsticks….and skincare too. Shue Umura is also my favorite when it comes to foundations, false eyelashes and make-up brushes. On my several travels to Japan…I bought some drugstore style make up and got hooked on some of them. I love the Sweet Sweet blush…it comes in a pot with a mini powder puff….its lasts a long time on your face. One good eyeliner is called temporary tatoo…(not so sure of the name now)….I bought 2 pcs. a year ago…and I looove it so much!!!! I have several other make-up discories that I love sooo much….but I can’t read the Japanese label…too bad!!! But I’ll definitely replenish when I go visit Japan again next time!!!! Yey I’m excited!!!!

  20. Gizelle says:

    THANKS for the information. I’m going to Tokyo next month, and am looking for Japanese beauty products to buy and try. SO excited, and can’t wait!

  21. zai says:

    how bout la-pensee?well i have RMK lip gloss and la-pansee lipgloss too. =) theyre both good

  22. zai says:

    i think i have 8 shades of rmk gloss and its really fantastic!and 3 gloss of lapensee

  23. Le says:

    I just try Maquillage powder. It makes me crazy about how my skin becomes more smoothy & brighten. This brand has not been launched in Vietnam yet. So I’m quite worry when finishing this box. Looking for trusty website to buy Japanese cosmetic online now. Could you please suggest any website?

  24. Anna says:

    Thanks so much for the post! I’m sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to Narita and realized I forgot my whole make up bag this morning! Now I think it was a blessing in disguise and I’ll stock up when I’m there 🙂

  25. LF says:

    liked the post, stumbled on it while looking for south korean brands.. my question is, do asian brands (japanese, in this context) have colours for dark skin people?

  26. Stephanie says:

    Does anyone have an opinion on Canmake? One of the Japanese YouTubers I watch uses Canmake products often, and they always looks so pretty, but some of the items have pretty high prices… Are they worth it?

    –Curious Makeup Junkie

  27. Nadine says:

    I wasn’t a fan of cosmetics before. I couldn’t understand the girly girls in the office getting all dolled up. Then I went to Tokyo for a holiday & it changed my life. I discovered a Ryuseido(?) drugstore & ended up staying for an hour or maybe more, trying on BB creams & educating myself with Japanese cosmetic brands. That’s how it all started.

  28. Dollie says:

    I’m currently hooked onto Korean beauty products and would love to try out Japanese ones as well. The only Japanese beauty products that I have used are from Shiseido and it’s sub brand Za.
    Dollie recently posted … All About Sunscreens

    • Lily says:

      Me too! I like japanese beauty but somehow Korean products always have the best active ingredients when it comes to serums, essences and acids. I do live Hadalabo though, like everyone else. 🙂

  29. Such a great insight into japanese cosmetic. I have to admit, I haven’t heard of any of these brands before, but I would love to give them a swirl. The packaging really is too cute and even if that shouldn’t be a major selling point, I am afraid it is.
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Favorite Face of … April

  30. Erin says:

    I’d like to try more Asian cosmetics and skincare. I’ve only ever tried Shiseido, Shu, and Blinc. I’m working on getting more Korean skin care now!
    Erin recently posted … Vanedo Beauty Friends Sheet Mask Aloe

  31. cristina says:

    I love Japanese makeup! I find that the best way to perfect the look is to start with Japanese skin care, too. I use Yu-Be Skin Care’s Moisturizing Skin Cream. Has the same balance of strength and gentleness as you’d find in makeup brands, and works together to give your skin a smooth, flawless finish.

  32. elizabeth says:

    I love Canmake. It’s a very cheap makeup brand but super high quality.
    Also Diamond beauty is super high pigment.(diamond lashes are super duper nice!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge