South Korea may still be Asia's beauty and skincare powerhouse, but J-beauty has been tried and tested to be its worthy contender. After all, despite their many similarities, Japanese and Korean makeup and skincare practices vary in certain ways that make each unique and worth the separate attention. J-beauty products are also starting to become one of the main reasons why avid travellers want to visit the country. This is due to the superb, holy grail-quality of their products, all while being accessible through drugstores. But did you know that there are cool, underrated Japanese makeup and skincare brands worth spending your yen on? Ahead, the ones that should be on your radar.
Japanese drugstores are filled with cheap but noteworthy finds and Chifure is definitely one to not miss. Despite most of their selections going under less than JPY1,000 each, they've often been listed as dupes for brands like NARS, Shu Uemura, and more. They also have a skincare line that covers moisturisers, toners, essences — you name it — in great quantities but affordable prices. If you think that's where it ends, they also have durable and stylish nail products and accessories to really complete your beauty routine. Lastly, despite their accessible pricepoint, aesthetics are not compromised at all given their sleek and high-end-looking packages.
Another drugstore favourite, Cezanne is also a brand worth grabbing on your next Japan trip. Known for mixing minimalist packaging with an array of cute and kira kira (shiny) colour selections, these picks don't skimp on pigmentation and longevity. Most of their pans and palettes are also Instagram-worthy and of travel-friendly, earning points for both visuals and convenience.