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Why Do Japanese Women Makeup When Just Going to a Convenience Store?


January 27, 2024

By Yuka Tamura


Almost 80% of Japanese female university students wear makeup when going to a convenience store, as reported by Mynavi Co., a publishing company. This raises the question: why do they place so much importance on their makeup?



Makeup is a Manner in Japan


For many Japanese women, makeup is seen as a form of social etiquette. They prefer not to be seen without makeup, especially by people they know. Some even feel obligated to wear makeup because they believe society expects it of them. Additionally, there's the desire to look attractive if they meet someone they find attractive.


On the other hand, there are those who do not feel the need to wear makeup for a simple trip to the convenience store. They consider it unnecessary since it's just a quick errand. Furthermore, the ongoing COVID-19 situation has provided an opportunity for these individuals to wear masks, effectively hiding their faces without makeup.


A Matter of Etiquette in Old Days


The development of cosmetics from primitive forms to aesthetically-driven products likely took place in the latter half of the 6th century, with influences from neighboring cultures and knowledge of substances like red and white powders. During the Edo period in the 17th century, women's etiquette became more refined, and detailed instructions on makeup application were written. The main makeup colors at the time were red for lipstick and nail polish, white for whitening powder, and black for teeth and eyebrows. Women in the period were focused on white powder makeup because a fair complexion was highly valued as a beauty standard.


As women entered society more actively in the Taisho era (1912-1926), there was a gradual shift towards quicker and more socially-oriented makeup styles. In the post-World War II era, around 1951, the influence of American magazines and movies began to impact Japanese beauty trends, attracting attention and interest in makeup products. Makeup focused on emphasizing eye makeup and lip accents after 1960.


A Matter of Individualism in Current Days


Currently, there is a strong focus on individualistic makeup styles, nail art, functional skincare products, and medicinal cosmetics such as skin whitening. Unlike in the Edo period, beauty is no longer solely defined by fair skin; instead, makeup products cater to diverse purposes, and effectiveness on the skin is highly valued in this era.


Shiseido, a leading Japanese cosmetics company, promotes the idea of "BEAUTY for all people in the world to shine in their own way." They strive for individuals worldwide to embrace diverse values and lifestyles, and express their unique beauty authentically.


Presently, makeup is not limited to women alone; men also embrace it to gain confidence. It is no longer just about adhering to societal expectations. You can choose to wear makeup when you feel like it and when you want to boost your confidence, even just  for running errands to the convenience store. Ultimately, it's important to enjoy your own personal style and have fun with it.


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