Style in Japan
Japanese Cosmetics through the Centuries
5. Following the new trends of the “Age of Civilization and Enlightenment,” members of the upper class dance in Western attire in a social setting.
In 1868, the curtain rose on the Meiji period, and with it began the “Civilization and Enlightenment” movement that encouraged modernization through rapid Westernization. The world of cosmetics also went through tremendous changes, and the traditional practices of shaving one’s eyebrows and blackening one’s teeth were actually banned. New trends stressed eyebrow fashions that enhanced a woman’s facial features, and favored the beauty of naturally white teeth.
As the economy picked up in the 20th century, a growing number of women began working outside the home environment. To make moving about in the workplace easier, Western clothing and short hair styles became the norm. Soon after came the moga (“modern girl”) look, leading the way in the women’s fashion of the day. And manufacturers came out with stick lipstick—this was just one of the changes facilitating and popularizing makeup products.
This brings us up to the post-war modern period. In the economic boom times of the late 1980s and early 1990s, vibrant pinks with purplish tints were in style for lipstick, but then, after the disastrous earthquake and tsunami struck eastern Japan in 2011, popularity shifted to softer hues that would help bring back feelings of serenity, and to makeup that would create a gentle, warm-hearted mood.
All this goes to show that fashions and makeup have adapted to the changing times. In today’s “I’m happy to be myself” age, emphasis has turned to expressing one’s own choice of fashion.
When it comes to fashion and cosmetics in Japan, preferences are certainly not uniform—diversity and a variety of trends abound.
Born in Tokyo in 1950. Senior researcher at the Pola Research Institute of Beauty and Culture. Specializes in the history of Japanese and Western cosmetic and hairstyle culture.