2018 NO.23

Style in Japan


From Glamour to Vitality

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Applying makeup not only creates a more beautiful you; it can also be effective in boosting the spirits of people in need of personal care, and it can add allure to sports.

Photos: Kohara Takahiro, courtesy of Aflo
Collaboration: KOSÉ Corporation, Shiseido Company Limited

Pizzazz in the pool

“Achieving the final effect requires teamwork and good communication with backup staff and team members,” says the team’s chief makeup artist, Ishii Isao.

Japan’s national synchronized swimming team, nicknamed Mermaids Japan, has a KOSÉ Corporation makeup artist working for it behind the scenes: Ishii Isao.

The conceptual goal of KOSÉ is to “Show off beauty when active in sports too.” KOSÉ has developed water-repellant techniques to help prevent makeup from smearing even on top of perspiration. Its trendy cosmetics combine original resinous ingredients for extra stability and endurance.

KOSÉ became the official cosmetic partner of Mermaids Japan in April 2006, and for more than 10 years since then it has been involved in makeup development and guidance for them.

Ishii has been working as a top-ranking makeup artist for years. Each time the team has a new choreographed program, he talks things over with the national team’s coach and supporting staff, then comes up with makeup that works well with the new swimsuits, the music and the synchronized theme. He aims for makeup that will look good when seen from far off where the audience and adjudicators sit.

“I always try to incorporate the swimsuits’ most vibrant color in the makeup color. That way, the overall visual effect is one of harmony, even when viewed far from the action. That gives the performance even more punch.”

Ishii says it is important for the highlighter makeup to create a three-dimensional effect. He has all team members line up in a single straight line, then examines the effect from the front, the side and every angle in between, checking for optimal visual uniformity among all swimmers. And he makes sure to show each one of them ways to touch up their makeup on their own.

The contestants’ movements in the water can be frenzied, and the amazing thing is that there are no smears to their makeup, even though it is not a special type—Ishii says he uses cosmetics that you can buy in a store.

Ishii’s secret, of course, lies in how the cosmetics are applied on the swimmers’ skin.

“For example, the eye makeup starts with a waterproof liquid eye color, followed by a powdered eye color to emphasize the effect, with more liquid eye color on top of that. That gives stability and reduces the chance of smearing.”

The final effect, he says, may be achieved with colors not found on the market and the application of individual colors in sequence.

Alluring makeup for visual uniformity and one-on-one instructions from a top makeup artist strengthen the confidence of Mermaids Japan members and help them concentrate during the competition. Behind their energy and elegance is the technology of Japan’s cosmetics.

Each time the choreographed program changes, makeup lessons begin. Mermaids Japan members get their own rigorous instructions.