Japan Data

How Tokyo Makeup Trends Have Changed Compared with 1999

Society Lifestyle

Makeup preferences past and present in Shibuya and Marunouchi, two major districts of downtown Tokyo.

Over the past two decades, Kanebo Cosmetics has been keeping track of makeup trends among young women in Tokyo’s Shibuya and Marunouchi districts, the former a fashion center for young Japanese, the latter a major business hub. They have found a changing pattern of makeup styles from 1999 to 2019 that has culminated in the warm, soft look that prevails today.

Photos courtesy of Kanebo Cosmetics (same model for both photos).
Photos courtesy of Kanebo Cosmetics (same model for both photos).

Shibuya in 1999: At the Height of the Gyaru Trend

Highlights on tanned skin with thin, sharply angled eyebrows, blue or silver eyeshadow, bloodless lips, and bleached or meshed hair were the trademarks of the gyaru culture popular among young girls in Shibuya.

Shibuya in 2019: The Influence of Korean Idols

White, translucent skin, straight eyebrows dipping slightly at the edges, orange-toned eyeshadow applied on eyelids and just under the eyes, and dark, rose-red lipstick: a makeup trend sparked by a desire to emulate South Korean TV stars and singers.

Photos courtesy of Kanebo Cosmetics (same model for both photos).
Photos courtesy of Kanebo Cosmetics (same model for both photos).

Marunouchi 1999: Deliberate and Stylish

The women of Marunouchi, Tokyo’s main financial district, were generally smartly dressed in suits and jackets and their makeup was elegant and sophisticated. Matted foundation combined with thin, sharp eyebrows, rose-colored lipstick, and purple eyeshadow.

Marunouchi 2019: A Toned-Down Natural Look

Natural skin tones and straight eyebrows. Pink and beige tones for eyeshadow and lipstick and a faint pink blush on the cheeks. Carefully applied eyeliner and mascara highlight the natural tones.

Eyebrows that Reflect the Times

The makeup trends in Shibuya and Marunouchi vary for the different age cohorts of the two districts, but, interestingly, the trends in eyebrow styles are much the same for both areas, suggesting eyebrows may be a universal measure of the times.

Photos courtesy of Kanebo Cosmetics.
Photos courtesy of Kanebo Cosmetics.

Over the two decades surveyed, both Shibuya and Marunouchi show a shift in cosmetic trends from “cool” and “strong” to “warm” and “soft,” moving toward a more natural look.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

cosmetics Tokyo makeup Shibuya Marunouchi