Beauty standards can differ significantly from one culture to the next, and some of those standards can be pretty extreme, at least to those of us in the United States! As an example, tattoos on the chins and lips of New Zealand Maori women are considered beautiful, as is a heart-shaped face in South Korea and ear-stretching in South America and Africa. Some women in Thailand, Japan, and China have taken to avoiding the sun completely, even using skin-whitening products to achieve the pale skin tones most often seen in Western women.
Even geographically close countries have different beauty standards
Cultures have different standards, from food to the way we do business, and, of course, in what we consider to be “beautiful.” No country is like another, even those that are geographically close to each other. As an example, Japan and South Korea are neighbors, with only a few hundred kilometers between their closest points. While the countries have intertwined histories and do have certain cultural similarities, there are huge differences between Japanese beauty standards and Korean beauty standards.
What are the common modern Japanese beauty standards?
Modern Japanese beauty standards tend toward light, flawless skin, a slim, petite figure, slender legs, and a quiet personality—although those “standards” change over time and may be largely ignored by future generations. Fair skin has long been associated with beauty in Japan in accordance with an old saying which says, “a fair complexion hides seven flaws.”
Simple, natural beauty is a hallmark of modern Japanese beauty standards. Of course, just as with the “natural” look of the U.S., it is often a natural look that takes some hard work to achieve! Long, curly eyelashes are considered a plus in Japan, either achieved with an eyelash curler and fake lashes, or a trip to the cosmetologist for eyelash perming to achieve longer lashes.
How is Japanese makeup used to achieve modern Japanese beauty standards?
In contrast to western beauty standards, the modern Japanese sense of beauty favors a “kawaii” or cute girly aesthetic, and Japanese cosmetics play a huge role in creating this look. When it comes to eye makeup, big round “puppy eyes” or doll-like eyes are considered ideal, and they are easily achieved with droopy eyeliner and soft eye glitter. Pouty feminine lips tend to be lip gloss heavy and stay away from dark and bright shades of lipstick, except in editorial high fashion. Contour is also unusually unpopular with the younger generation. While both American and Korean makeup emphasizes sculpting high cheekbones with upward-sweeping blush, bronzer, and highlighter placements, Japanese makeup usually involves a light dab of blush on the apples of the cheek, almost directly underneath the eye for a youthful look.
A key difference between Japanese and American makeup is the frequent use of false eyelashes (tsukematsuge) and colored contacts (kara-kon). Although falsies and colored contacts are certainly popular in the U.S., mainly people turn to them for special occasions, while in Japan they are often considered beauty staples. Japanese city dwellers especially love to enhance their eye shape, but since plastic surgery and other invasive procedures are generally discouraged, eye-defining colored contacts, as well as doll-like false eyelashes, are used routinely, with many people applying them every day to keep their eyes pacchiri (wide open). Famous Japanese singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu even sang a song entirely about the magical power of tsukematsuge to inspire confidence in people who wear them, so you can imagine how treasured false eyelashes are in Japanese makeup routines! (More on how to get a kawaii makeup look here).
Japanese beauty overlaps skincare, cosmetics, and healthcare
While the beauty industry in the U.S. has a definite separation between cosmetics and skincare, the Japanese beauty industry tends to have an overlap between skincare, cosmetics, and healthcare. As an example, the Japanese believe preventing blemishes through natural methods is much better than removing or concealing blemishes after they arrive. Japanese women have traditionally used certain foods to keep their skin clear, including exfoliating with crushed up, antioxidant-rich adzuki beans, or using rice water to cleanse the skin. And not only do Japanese women regularly drink green tea for the antioxidant benefits, some cool the tea and apply it topically as a toner. This natural alternative can give you clear, glowing skin, while reducing the size of your pores.
Does Japan set beauty standards in Asia?
Although beauty standards differ from culture to culture, there tends to be a through line in Asian countries with a push towards a high-bridged nose, big eyes, and an overall innocent and youthful look. Although Asian countries often exchange beauty and fashion trends, Japanese pop culture tends to circulate particularly well in Taiwan, and Taiwan continues to import a high volume of Japanese beauty products annually. Some Japanese brands like Shiseido are so loved by Taiwanese beauty junkies that they have specific product collections exclusive to the Taiwanese market.
Although print media has taken a dip in recent years, Japan still retains an avid magazine readership, and this could be attributed to the aesthetic covers, various tips, diverse styles, and gifts included in them. Magazines are abundant in Japanese convenience stores, beauty salons, cafes, and even hospital waiting rooms. Not only at home, but Japanese fashion magazines have held a strong presence in the rest of East Asia. They give overseas-based Japanophiles a peek into the current fashion designs, makeup looks, and hairstyles trending in Japan, arguably influencing beauty standards in East Asia over the years.
How are modern Japanese beauty standards different from Korean beauty standards?
To maintain a light skin tone, many Japanese women avoid the sun by regularly applying sunscreen or by wearing long-sleeved clothing to protect their skin from sun damage. Korean beauty standards are similar to Japanese beauty standards in some ways, yet very different in others. Korean beauty leans towards youthfulness, a slim figure, and clear skin.
In fact, jobs with better benefits are often reserved for the most beautiful people; therefore, many applicants submit to plastic surgery as an investment in their careers. As many as one-third of Korean women between the ages of 19 and 29 have undergone plastic surgery. So, while both Japan and the U.S. focus on “natural” beauty (that is not always that natural to obtain), Korean beauty focuses more on a flawless, youthful appearance. For a more detailed guide on key differences, check out J-Beauty and K-Beauty. What's the difference?
How the La Vie Précieuse skincare line fully upholds Japanese beauty standards
Japanese beauty (also known as J-Beauty) has been getting a major buzz in the beauty world. When we think of Japanese beauty here in the United States, the iconic brand Shiseido immediately comes to mind. It’s time, however, to take a real look at what other high-quality Japanese beauty products have to offer. At The JBeauty Collection, the La Vie Précieuse line keeps the skincare routine to a minimal but provides effective results. Most Japanese women have a much simpler skincare routine, particularly when compared to the 10-step Korean skincare routine. Japanese beauty generally consists of a cleanser, essence toner, emulsion, and cream.
The focus of this routine is hydration and protection. Less really is more. Not only is the La Vie Précieuse skincare line simple and elegant, it delivers the results all women want—skin that is glowing, supple, healthy, full of moisture, and free of discolorations. In addition to all the above skincare benefits, La Vie Précieuse products are also environmentally conscious and made with a number of wholly natural ingredients. Let’s take a look at what the “A.P.G. Hydration Theory” in our skincare line that really delivers.
The first ingredient in La Vie Précieuse is Aomori apple ceramides. Located in the far northern region of mainland Japan, Aomori is the largest apple-producing prefecture in Japan where they provide the key ingredient for the skincare line. These apple-derived ceramides reach every part of your skin, enveloping the water in your skin, and filling it with a rich source of moisture. These apple-derived ceramides were discovered after years of research at the Hokkaido Agriculture Research Center.
The second important ingredient in La Vie Précieuse is Proteoglycan. Proteoglycan come from the nasal cartilage of salmon, and although known as a “magical” skincare solution, they were prohibitively expensive to obtain. Then, a much more effective extraction method was found after meticulous research at Hirosaki University. With water retention that exceeds that of hyaluronic acid, proteoglycan aids collagen, giving you elastic, supple, and youthful skin.
The third natural ingredient in La Vie Précieuse products is Glycyrrhizinate from Aomori’s licorice roots. The low humidity in Aomori plays a very positive role in growing the high-quality licorice roots from which Glycyrrhizinate is extracted. Glycyrrhizinate is a fundamental ingredient for achieving soft, hydrated skin.
La Vie Précieuse, like all the very best, highest-quality Japanese beauty products, is grounded in heritage, and incredibly well-made. While you might pay a little more for our skincare products, you will receive a luxurious formula with every single detail meticulously crafted. Most importantly, you can expect results—and isn’t that the ultimate goal? Skin that shows its age is not inevitable, and we believe you will agree once you try La Vie Précieuse.