You all knew this was coming, didn’t you? A trip to Japan and Taiwan would not be complete without buying some makeup for me. Now that I’m (somewhat regrettably) back from my trip and mostly over my post-vacation blues, I’m ready to talk about everything I bought!
This isn’t meant to be a shopping guide, because I really just kind of went wherever I had the opportunity to go. I didn’t plan any shopping time into my trip, so I didn’t have any plans on where to go. This is purely just a compilation of what I bought and what you can be expecting to see in my routines later on!
It goes without saying that makeup and skincare from Asia – Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, specifically – are completely different than any European or Americans formulations. For me, they always warrant a second look because they work better for my skin – both in shades, understandably, and in formula. I find that many formulas are designed to last in hot and humid weather (have any of you been to Taiwan in the summer?? It’s humidity and heat to another level), but offer hydration to prevent dehydrated skin. Since I have oily skin that is often dehydrated, and live in a place where it gets very humid in the summer, this makes many Asian brands work better for my skin by default.
Formulations aside, there is just a whole other world of trends happening in Asia, and within Asia that I do not know nearly enough about to talk about intelligently. There’s obviously K-beauty, which is making big waves here in the states, but I noticed that from country to country, there are pretty big differences. In Taiwan, for example, I generally did not notice people wearing nearly as much makeup or bright lipstick like I saw in Japan. It tended to be much more natural and subdued.
I’ve noticed this for many years now, ever since I became interested in makeup, that color products also have a different feel. Blushes and eyeshadows tend to be more sheer, so even though blushes might look bright red or orange in the pan, they are much more subdued on the skin. Similarly, eyeshadows are much more sheer, and glitter eyeshadows have more of an overlay of glitter rather than the intense frosty finishes we have here. I’ve always been a fan of this type of shadow more than the super metallic and intense pigmentation we get.
Another note on makeup, I tend to find the average drugstore product in Asia waaay better than the average drugstore product here. I do most of my makeup shopping in drugstores whenever I’m over there, and have been very happy with most items I pick up without doing any prior research.
Onto skincare. Obviously, skincare is a HUGE deal, especially in South Korea. I’m sure you all have heard of the 10-step routine by now, and the huge surge in K-beauty skincare products recently. Skincare tends to be emphasized more than makeup, and people’s skin showed for it. So many women had flawless (and even if they were wearing makeup, SMOOTH, untextured) skin was everywhere.
That being said, I only bought ONE skincare product. Mostly because I’m not a huge skincare collector, so even though I wanted to buy a million things, I have a few products already sitting unopened in storage, and I didn’t want to add any more products. Unlike my habits with makeup, I try to keep as few unopened skincare products around as possible.
I’m also not a fan of masks, which I’m sure you probably all know by now. I just can’t really be bothered with them, and usually find them more of a chore than as an enjoyable ritual. But, everywhere I looked, there were sheet masks, foaming masks, clay masks! If masks are your thing, you could easily spend a day hopping from drugstore to beauty store to department store shopping for masks.
Anyway, on to what I actually purchased. It actually is less than I was anticipating, but I barely spent any time shopping. We were so busy seeing friends and going places that I only had time to stop into a couple of places and make some quick decisions.
Another note, if you are a tourist visiting Japan or Taiwan, you can shop tax free at many shops if you spend over a certain amount. The signs are usually very obvious and displayed all over the store, but it gives you about a 10% discount! Both Taiwan and Japan had slightly different processes, so I encourage you to do some more research, because I certainly couldn’t tell you all the terms and requirements.
Again, drugstores in Japan and Taiwan are a heaven for makeup. There are so many Asia-exclusive brands, and Asia-exclusive products from brands we see here, like Maybelline or L’oreal. My favorite Japanese drugstore makeup brands are Kate and Visee, although Canmake, K-Palette, and Majolica Majorca are brands I also saw a lot.
From Canmake, I’ve heard time and time again that their Cream Cheek Colors (¥580, about $5) are amazing, so I finally picked some up. They are also a great budget option, hence why I ended up with three of them, in shades 07, 08, and 015. I’ve only swatched them and I haven’t worn them yet, but they are buildable but pigmented, and creamy, but not too soft. I can’t wait to put them to the test!
Next, from Kate, I picked up a new lip oil and a new foundation. I didn’t do any research on these beforehand, but they looked interesting in store.Kate makes one of my favorite gel liners, but I’m pretty well-stocked on liners for now. Lip oils are getting pretty common on this side of the world, but I’m seeing them everywhere in Asia! They seem to be an oil tint that is moisturizing, yet dries down to a slightly stained look. Every brand seems to have their own, so I picked a few different ones from different brands to try. This one from Kate is called the Color Lip Tint Oil, which I bought in shade RD-1, a sheer rosy pink shade. I don’t remember the exact price, but it was around $16 USD.
I also liked the sound of the Powdery Skin Maker Foundation. I have high hopes that it will give me more of a matte finish and give me some oil control for the summer, and I found a pretty good shade match, plus they had a set for about $16 USD with a couple color corrector primers.
Not pictured is a concealer pen from Visee. In my packing haste, I managed to bring everything – including my undereye corrector – but not a concealer. This one looked fairly light coverage and moisturizing, and it certainly does the job, but isn’t anything amazing.
Maybelline Japan/Asia has the best drugstore foundations, I swear. Last year when I went to Taiwan, I picked up the Water Gel BB Cream, and it has been one of my most worn foundations, year round. It’s a light-medium coverage BB cream that lasted all day and gave me a beautiful glowy finish. I wanted to pick up a backup, but the one store I went to was out of stock on them, and I didn’t have a chance to go anywhere else. However, I did end up getting the cushion version of this – the Pure Mineral BB Matte Cushion (about $20 USD). I started wearing this during my trip, and it has heavier coverage – about medium – and is more matte, though it also has a nice subtle glow. This lasted all day for me as well, so another winner here.
Lastly from the drugstore, I picked up the K-Palette 1-Day Tattoo eyeliner (about $12 USD). I really love the Physician’s Formula Eye Booster liquid liner, but I’ve heard such amazing things about the K-palette one that I wanted to give it a shot.
While we were in Taiwan, the hotel we were staying in was down the street from an Innisfree store. I first tried their no-sebum powder last year, and knew I definitely wanted to come back for more. They are a Korean brand that are more natural and eco-friendly, with a mid-range price range. They apparently have really great skincare, but I only tried two of their color products.
I also saw that they just opened a store in New York City, so I highly recommend you check them out if you live there, or are visiting!
They have a really great freeform palette system where you can customize eyeshadows, concealers, and cheek products. I swatched a few blushes, but the only one I really wanted was out of stock, so I just picked up an eyeshadow in the most predictable shade – a cool-toned bronze shade in #10 (NTD 180, about $6 USD).
For the lip products, I was really intrigued by their liquid lipsticks, which are more creamy, and do not have a matte finish, like the ones we usually see here. This is their Creamy Lip Tint in #8 (NTD 350, about $12USD), which is a dark cherry red shade.
3CE is a brand I’ve been seeing online for awhile, so when I saw it at the 86 store in Ximending in Taipei, I knew I definitely had to try it. They only had a few lipsticks so I really had limited options. I’m not entirely sure where they sell the full range of 3CE products, but I suppose I’ll have to do more research for next time! I’ve been really into rusty red shades, and the Asian brands do these shades so well. The shade I have is #222 Step and Go (NTD 600, about $20 USD).
Etude House is another South Korean brand that is priced between drugstore and mid-end. They have really cutesy packaging, which I’m usually not into, but was really drawn to for some reason. My favorite product from them is the Dr. Mascara Fixer, which I use as a primer to make my mascara hold my curl and be waterproof. I’m almost finished with my current one, so I picked up a backup. Last year, when I visited Taiwan, I bought a couple lipsticks from them and really liked them, so I wanted to try more lip products again this year.
They have a system where you can buy lipstick cases and lipstick tubes to go inside, and they had a few limited edition ones for the cherry blossom season. I absolutely loved the blue one, and to go inside, I found a rosy brown shade (BR401) that seemed like a great neutral (¥970, about $9, case is ¥486, about $4).
Continuing the trend of oil tints and rusty red shades, I bought an oil tint – the Lip Rich Vivid Tint (¥1400, about $14) in that shade, BR401. How original, I know. I haven’t tried this on my lips yet, but it seems like a great moisturizing tint!
Another tint/stain I found is more of the traditional watery formula, the Dear Darling Tint, (¥519) which I thought worked really well with the mauvey purple shade, PK003.
As far as face products, I found a really small and compact highlight and contour duo that was both dark and cool enough for my skin. I have many contour products already, but I only have a few that are travel friendly, so this Shining Powder Cheek Duo (¥1500, about $15) was a convenient buy.
Finally, the only skincare items that I bought. I looked at almost every product that had, and managed to only make it home with these two. There were a couple toners and cleansers that looked nice, but I have plenty of those in my collection already. The Pink Vital Water Serum (¥2160, about $20), however, really caught my eye. It promises to be lightweight but intense moisutrizing that is also energizing and relieves fatigue. Maybe I was just in the state of mind to be on a long flight back home, but the fatigue-relieving promise really sold me. I’ve tried this a few times, and it is super refreshing yet moisturizing! I could see this being a great serum for the summer.
Finally, I can never be without acne patches, so I grabbed this little pack of the AC Clean Up Spot Patches.
My last makeup purchase was in the airport duty-free. Sadly, I did not have any time to visit department stores to look at some more high-end brands, like Lunasol, THREE, Addiction, or Suqqu. My wallet is slightly relieved, but I was still excited to see Lunasol in duty-free. I’ve heard great things about their eyeshadows, and I definitely spent a long time trying to narrow down my choices to this one palette. The shadows are so smooth, and the shimmer finish is really multi-dimensional. I think the one that I got *may* be limited edition, but I can’t really tell. It’s the Velvetful Eyes in 03 with a gorgeous champagne shimmer, a multi-dimensional sand shimmer, a light shimmery bronze shade, and a darker bronze satin. It really looks and kind of sounds dull, but they really feel like velvet, and have a finish unlike anything I’ve seen from American or European brands. I’m also glad that I ended up getting this at duty-free, because it retails for ¥5000 (about $50 USD), but it was ¥4250 at duty-free (about $42).
…Woosh. That’s it! It was actually less damage than I thought I would do, but I ended up being overwhelmed a lot of the time, and walking away with far less than I initially picked up. My focus wasn’t to go shopping on this trip, so I just didn’t have a chance to see as much as I wanted. Which is completely okay with me, because I had an incredible experience with everywhere I visited and everywhere I went!
I’ll also be coming back soon with some reviews with swatches, but for now, I just wanted to get everything up. If you have questions on anything, let me know!
Any other beauty favorites from Asia that you love? Let me know!
As always, thanks for reading.