I have the privilege to be able to travel to Asia on a fairly regular basis since my husband’s family lives in Taiwan. For the past few years we have visited them around the holidays, and this was our third year where we decided to stop in Tokyo for a few days before returning home to New York. It’s taken me about that long to get really comfortable with shopping in Tokyo in terms of finding shopping areas I enjoy, trying brands I’m curious about, and identifying products that spark my curiosity. It’s not so much that I had a set shopping list, but that I’ve gotten better at maximizing feelings of fun and success and minimizing feelings of aimlessness and confusion while shopping.
One of the places I like to hit at some point during a visit to Tokyo is the Tokyu Hands in Shibuya, which I find really easy to navigate and explore and think it’s just a very accessible spot if you don’t know where to start. Every year I visit, the brand selection is a little different and they have lots of special displays, little trial sets, and product testers. I think most of the brands that they carry fall into the “mid-range” kind of price point, higher than what you find in the drugstores but not quite as high as the nicer department stores.
I’ve never seen Naturaglacé carried at Tokyu Hands prior to this trip, but I did purchase a little mini set of their products at Cosme Kitchen in the Daikanyama Station last year. This year Tokyu Hands a very large range of products from them, and the brand’s entire look had been redesigned at some point in the past year. I decided to try the Moist BB Cream SPF 43 PA+++ in 01 and the Emollient Cream Foundation SPF 39 PA+++ in NO1. Finding some foundations with solid SPF was something that I did have in mind when I was planning the trip, and Naturaglacé had some good options for me. I tried to keep my receipts but I seem to have lost track of this one. I think the BB cream was in the area of $20-25 and the foundation was $30-35.
I also enjoy the Yodobashi and BIC electronics stores, which genuinely sell electronics but also have a floor for cosmetics, and they carry some of the drugstore-equivalent ranges. I picked up the Visée Perfect Finish Glow powder, which seems to be a luminous finishing powder (rather than a strong highlight). This cost about $17.50.
Last year I bought a winter collection highlighting powder from Visée and really enjoy it, so I thought I’d try something similar. Visée has a sort of, um, “normal” price point for the drugstore market as far as I can tell, rather than being extremely affordable, but the general feel of the brand is pretty refined and not ultra-young.
I didn’t really need to buy a lot of blotting paper this time around but I saw this one with cats on it, I bought it. This was another thing I found at Tokyu Hands, where they have a pretty extensive collection of affordable blotting paper options.
Moving on to the department store purchases, I’ve bought several things from RMK in the past and wanted to return to them and explore more. This brand has also completely redesigned their packaging in the past year. Like Naturaglacé, they’ve made a move toward very plain, simple design (particularly noticeable in the design of the new bottles). I like the cursive R that now adorns the boxes and bottle lids.
I bought their Liquid Foundation in shade 201, which has SPF 14 PA++ (around $40); the Makeup Base, which is a hydrating primer lotion ($33); the Basic Control Color in 03, which is a gently tinted green primer with SPF 20 PA++ ($18); and the Multi Paint Colors in 02, which is a creamy lip and cheek color ($27).
I specifically had foundation and cheek colors in mind when I went shopping at the RMK counter at the Ginza Mitsukoshi, and then I got talked into the two primers with simple demonstrations on the back of my hand. The textures are really beautiful.
The Multi Paint Colors seem to be part of the spring 2018 collection so I don’t know if they will be longstanding products, but last year I purchased permanent powder blush from RMK as well as a slightly squishy creamy-powder type blush that was limited edition for spring 2017 and I’ve thoroughly loved both of them, so I was excited to see the cream color range.
I played around at a couple other counters at Mitsukoshi and was sucked in by THREE, where I was tempted by more complexion products. I bought the Complete Harmony Foundation liquid foundation with SPF 35 PA+++ in shade 101. This is a fancier brand and this foundation is nearing the $60 mark.
I became a bit enchanted with the overall look and feel of the THREE brand, even though they really are more expensive than the stuff I generally indulge in. They emphasize natural, organic formulations and have a high-end aesthetic. They also have a full English website, which seems to be pretty rare for Japanese brands.
There was no English (written or verbal) at the counter when I was there, but the foundation’s texture just seemed super flattering and smooth on my hand. Despite being sold in a jar like a thicker cream might be, it seems to be designed with balance in mind, with a more liquid consistency and a name like “perfect harmony” (I wasn’t actually aware of the product name when I was shopping, it wasn’t until I left that I saw the name on the box). It has a gorgeous jar, too, and came with a little spatula. It’s also made of 81% naturally derived ingredients.
Last year I found out that the famed Majolica Majorca might actually make my favorite mascara formula. Like, ever. So, this year I had to visit a few stores before finding sufficient stock for my needs, but ended up walking away with a generous supply to keep me going for a while. You can totally find this brand in the US, but I find that in New York a mascara might cost $18 or so whereas in Tokyo they’re about $10. I’m not familiar with all of the styles yet so hopefully at the end of working through these I’ll be an expert.
Etude House is a Korean brand but I’ve found they’re more affordable in Tokyo than anywhere else in Asia I’ve been (I have yet to visit South Korea). I like to take one trip to Harajuku while visiting Tokyo because although it isn’t my husband and my favorite place to be, it’s definitely different from all of the other areas of Tokyo and it’s kind of cool to see. It’s an area where very young girls hang out, and being there makes me feel pretty old.
Anyway, there’s a great Etude House there. You can order Etude House online in the US, but it’s nice to be able to play with product testers. This time I bought the All Day Perfect SPF 50+ PA+++ cushion foundation ($20), a Dear My Enamel Lips-talk lipstick (RD303, $11), two Apricot Stick lip colors #1 PK001 and #8 RD302, $4/ea), two Dear Darling gel tints (RD301 and RD305, $4.30/ea), one Dear Darling oil tint (#7, $7.20), and two single packs of Collagen Eye Patches ($2.50/ea).
I have previously tried an Apricot Stick, which I really loved, as well as a Dear My Blooming Lips-talk lipstick, which is a matte finish product. I think they’ve expanded the Dear My Lips range to include different finishes this past year, as I think the matte version was the only one they had last time, so this time I tried the Enamel.
This year, I didn’t get any of the true New Year’s lucky bags that have mysterious contents, but I found a couple of bags that cut a deal for the products inside that looked interesting to me.
This one is a set from ASTALIFT that includes a Moist Lotion and Night Charge Cream. The bag knocked 25% off of the regular product pricing and cost about $72. I really don’t know much at all about the brand and just took it as an opportunity to try some more Japanese skincare.
There are two things going on in this photo of My Beauty Diary masks. One is that I bought four boxes of the masks while in Taiwan, and second is that I found a lucky bag from My Beauty Diary while in Tokyo. The boxes I bought in Taiwan were about $8/ea for sets of 10 masks, and I picked out the Imperial Bird’s Nest (emollient), Damask Rose, Black Pearl (brightening), and Iris (hydrating) versions.
And the lucky bag included four 6-pack variety boxes, and only cost around $15. Each of the variety boxes include Royal Pearl, Black Pearl, Imperial Bird’s Next, Cool Mint, Aloe Vera, and Squalene Restorative. I’m a really big fan of all of the My Beauty Diary masks I’ve tried so far, and while they do exist in the US and can be purchased online, it’s just convenient for me to be able to grab them in Asia for a good price.
If you have any experiences with these brands or products I would really love to hear about them. And, if there are any Japanese brands you’ve enjoyed, let me know. I’m always trying to learn more about what’s out there. I hope you had a really great holiday season and start to 2018!