What Is Jirai Makeup? Japan’s Landmine Girl Trend Popularised By Tsubasa Masukawa | CoolJapan

Jirai makeup adds to Japan’s many trends that combine beauty (and sometimes fashion) with a social statement. It originated from the term 地雷女 (jirai-onna) which means ‘landmine girl’. This refers to young women whose looks and personalities have a huge disconnection from one another. The term had negative connotations, but since model Tsubasa Masuwaka made it a popular style trend in 2020, many women started adopting it. This led to the growing fame of Jirai makeup and its whole aesthetic becoming its own trend category called Jirai-kei.

What Jirai makeup stands for

Before we dive into the basics of the look, it’s important to understand Jirai makeup’s appeal. If Japan’s byojaku trend is meant to raise awareness about mental health using fashion and beauty, Jirai makeup is about breaking stereotypes about a woman’s personality based on her looks. It was initially viewed as a derogatory way to describe women who seem ‘okay’ at first but are actually prone to blow up or are too emotional (similar to a landmine). However, as it started to gain popularity, women used it more as a way to showcase their different facets.

How to do Jirai makeup

Much like most of Japan’s beauty trends, creating a doll-like appearance is an essential element of Jirai makeup. The base has to be nice and smooth but not too glowy. The blush should look like a soft flush of colour to the cheeks and the contour (called ‘shading’ in Japan) should also look very natural and soft-focused. The brows are also less complicated because there’s not a lot of shaping involved. The key is just to fill them in nicely, ideally with a shade a bit lighter than your own hair colour if you have dark hair to achieve a softer and more youthful appearance.

Colours like reds, peaches, pinks, and browns are essential to achieving the Jirai-kei eye look. It’s all about trying to achieve a gradient between these colours, with the browns mostly exaggerated at the bottom lashline to highlight — yes, highlight — your eyebags. Sometimes, similar to Tsubasa Masuwaka’s tutorial, darkening the bags at the lower lashline with a brown eyeliner/pencil also does the trick. Then, a lighter eyeshadow or highlighter is applied in the middle of the eyebags to create a puffier appearance. Of course, sparkles for the top lid (which is common in most J-beauty trends) is a very welcome addition to the eye makeup.

Jirai makeup’s other signature element is a downward, puppy-eyed liner look. This, again, is to create that cute and innocent but somewhat edgy vibe that the trend is all about. To finish the eye look, go with your usual style in creating fanned out lashes — just make sure it’s not too heavy and still has a very natural vibe.

As for the lips, a nicely diffused finish is the way to go. This is to match the subtleness of the blush and to make sure the eye look takes centrestage as intended.

Complete the Jirai style

If your heart wants to further commit to this trend, you can go for a full Jirai-kei makeover by going with clothes to match. Jirai style is fairly simple; it’s basically cute and edgy combined. Just mix mostly black, white, and grey pieces with touches of pinks, peaches or purples. Think of Sanrio’s Kuromi as your style icon.

It’s still hard to discern if Jirai makeup is gaining popularity as a form of protest or simply because it’s the new ‘it’ thing. However, it’s yet another example of how a negative trend or idea can result in something positive. It definitely shatters the idea that a woman who’s emotionally sensitive or whose personality isn’t easily readable through her outward appearance should be reprimanded. If anything, it shows that women are embracing their versatility and allows them to just be who they are — inside and out — through yet another artistic form of self-expression.

(Cover photo from: Oladimeji Odunsi via Unsplash)