Where To Buy Makeup In Japan – Tips From A Former Gyaru

It’s (already? only?) February and I’m ticking off items on my 2018 goal list. I mentioned that I wanted to return to my fashion roots, and here I am with a post about buying makeup in Japan.

Excuse me as I unleash my inner Kanye West and proceed to tell you l that that I know all about Japanese makeup since I was a gyaru after all.

Being a gyaru was an extremely labor intensive and expensive look. Luckily for me, I got to wear the latest fashions at steep steep discounts but when it came to makeup, I was on my own. Kind of hard to do when you only make 950 yen an hour.

Here’s a run down on where to go to buy cosmetics, and tips for finding the right makeup in Japan for you.

Department Stores

If you’re in a major city like Tokyo, Fukuoka, Osaka, Nagoya, Yokohama, you will no doubt find a Takashimaya, Seibu, Daimaru, Matsukaya, or Isetan. Department stores carry big name brands like Clinique, Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown, MAC, Shu Uemura, and so on.

Be prepared to pay a premium on your coveted western brands. In my case, I use MAC and still can’t get over the fact that Lipglass costs nearly 3,000 yen while Studio Fix costs around 5,000 yen. That’s nearly twice the US price! My only consolation is that I can earn T Points at Isetan or bonus credit card points and ANA miles at Daimaru/Takashimaya.


If you want to try Japanese makeup brands, but don’t know where to start, just hit up a drug store like Matsu Kiyoshi and Don Quijote. You’ll find local brands like Chifure, Cezanne (low priced); Fasio, Majorica KATE (mid-price); Coffret D’or and Integrate (high, Integrate even had an ad campaign with Hollywood star Angelina Jolie when they first hit the market).

For what it’s worth, KATE is my go to substitute when I can’t get to a department store to buy MAC. Their Ochre G is just about my color.

100 Yen Shops

100 yen shops or hyakkin (百均) as they are casually called in Japanese, are the holy grail or makeup shopping. Whether you’re saving yen or need a substitute mascara until you get your hands on your favee product, 100 yen shops have everything that you need.

There’s 3 major chains of 100 yen shops: Seria, Daiso, and Can-do. There’s also Lawson 100, but I’ve been here long enough that I remember when they were called 99 shop. incidentally, I bought my first pair of chopsticks at a 99 shop in August 2007 when I lived in Higashi Koganei, in west Tokyo. I still use them to this day (actually used them to eat today’s lunch).

Convenience Stores

The walk of shame doesn’t exist in Japan. Why? Not because Japanese girls are “good girls” but because there’s simply no excuse when you’ve got convenience stores all over Japan that are open 24 hours a day.

Convenience stores are where you go when you need eye shadow at 3 a.m., or make up remover, nail polish, sheet masks, and spare panties, and more! Seven Eleven even released their own line of makeup, Para Do (パラドゥ), late last year.


Color Match With Different Brands

Being in Asia, certain foundation colors and brands will be hard to come by, that’s just how it is. Go to a site like Temptalia that will suggest you different brands based on your current brand and shade. This way, you’ll be able to find your color in Japan even if your favorite brand isn’t sold here.

Go to a Bookstore

You might be wondering why I’m telling you to go a bookstore (本屋さん honya san) in a makeup article, but here’s why: Fashion magazines in Japan are super generous when it comes to furoku (付録), free swag.

The best part about the free makeup samples is that there’s a special insert or section in the magazine dedicated to looks you can recreate with the sample cosmetics.

Last fall I got a contour kit from Glow magazine.

Then in Winter I got a makeup set from Jelly

Magazine samples are a great way to try out seasonal trends without breaking the bank.

Shop Online

When all else fails, get it online. Sephora just started shipping to Japan (YAY! albeit with restrictions on some products) so you can always shop there. In my case, Colourpop is now my to go US brand. I bought a few things back in December, and I don’t regret my choices. They offer free shipping on international orders over $50. While that may seem like a lot, consider how far (little?) $50 will take you at Sephora.

Here’s what I got on my first order  — three eye shadow palettes, the Amber Crystal Bundle, and a set of 6 lippies. Plus, the Golden State of Mind palette was a freebie! Click here for $5 off your first Colourpop order!

Want to know more about Japanese cosmetics? Drop me a line in the comments about what kind of content you want to see next!

Find out what Japanese products I use to keep my skin hydrated in the wintertime:

Fight Winter Dryness With These 4 Skincare Items From Japan

Where To Buy Makeup In Japan – Tips From A Former Gyaru

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