While traveling around Tokyo and Seoul in search of all things skincare and makeup related, we found some pretty interesting makeup trends we wanted to share.

Image from Savvytokyo.com

Do you have the impression that Japanese cosmetics and Korean makeup trends are just about having perfect skin? You’d only be partly right. The other half of the truth is, there are many bold makeup trends today that we see on runways and the blogs of fashionistas that originated in Tokyo and Seoul, and go far beyond the now-famed 10 step skincare routine.

So we ventured out into the streets of Tokyo and Seoul looking for some inspiration. This is what we found in the trendy neighborhoods of Harajuku and Myeongdong...

The “Gyaru” look

Glancing at fashion and cosmetics magazines in Japan, you’ll notice many girls modeling the Gyaru look. (It’s the English word “gal” turned into “gya-ru” by Japanese speakers not comfortable with pronouncing the “l” sound.) Google “Gyaru makeup” and you’ll be inundated with images of Japanese girls with wavy blond hair, impossibly large eyes, porcelain skin (obviously they have their skincare routine down pat), and Kewpie-style lips. The idea harkens back to a fixation of Japanese girls to look doll-like. You’ll notice this a lot when examining makeup trends in Japan—they often go for cute over sexy. This look is imaginative, and it’s not too hard to achieve. While this one started a couple years back, it’s still going strong today.

Gyaru Makeup

Gradient lips

A conscious and subconscious association is alive and well in Korean cosmetics marketing. Want to look like you just sucked on a lollipop? This is how to do it. Instead of outlining the lips with a lipliner, as is commonly done, use a concealer on the outer edges of your lips, and then add your color of choice to the center of your top and bottom lip. Using your finger, spread it out a bit, but not too much. The look, which is insanely popular in Korea, also highlights how much Korean skin care is a huge part of makeup looks.

Gradient Lips

Igari cheeks, Momoko makeup, or the fevered look

This one is called by many names, but it’s a style you can’t forget. Blush is used right under and adjacent to the eyes. People in Japan, and many other Asian countries too, get a red flush to their skin when they drink. Thus, igari, which means hungover. It’s a look that may have also been inspired by flu season. As it mimics the redness around the eyes that happens when you get an allergy or have a fever. Who knew feeling ill could look good, right? At least this means the next time you’re feeling under the weather, you’re halfway to a look popular in Japan.

Momoko Makeup

Aegyo sal or undereye makeup

We often see women obsessed with eye creams, and making the bags under one’s eyes less dark, less puffy, less whatever… In Korea, they, too, are obsessed with this bit of one’s face, but for vastly different reasons. “Aegyo sal” refers to the bit of puff that appears under the eyes when one smiles. Girls will use eyeliner, highlighters, and other makeup tools to make their undereye pouch stick out a bit more. There’s also tape for this purpose. This look of having a puffy undereye is associated with youth and being young. This one sounds so odd, that you need to see it in action to believe it. But it kind of grows on you.

Eun-Ha Park

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