Japan’s beauty and cosmetics market

One of the largest cosmetics markets in the world, Japan’s beauty and cosmetics market features everything from standard international products to unique formulations made from plant and animal derived products specifically developed for their anti-ageing benefits.

The Japanese anti-ageing ritual

Japanese women are known for their smooth, radiant skin and for having little or no wrinkles, even as they reach middle-age and beyond. They achieve this by following stringent anti-ageing skincare routines in an effort to remain radiant inside and out.

With a population that invests much time into its beauty regimes it is important that manufacturers can cater to such demands and innovate with their consumers. That is why Japanese cosmetics manufacturers are known for investing significant resources into their product research and development, thus driving innovation in the skincare market, using wide ranging anti-ageing ingredients in their skincare formulations.

Japan’s beauty and cosmetics market

A Japanese beauty expert applying make up to a customer, inside a cosmetics store in Kanazawa.

As a result, the major international players keep a close eye on the latest innovations and formulations coming out of Japan’s beauty and cosmetics market. Furthermore, many Japanese players have also broken into the Western cosmetics scene. Perhaps best known amongst these is premier Japanese cosmetics manufacturer Shiseido, ranked 13th most valuable personal care brand in 2017*. Shiseido, Pola and Kanebo are Japan’s top three cosmetics manufacturers that have also successfully penetrated the Western cosmetics scene with many of their product ranges.

Unique ingredients and products

With major investments in research and development across Japan’s beauty and cosmetics market there is a whole host of unique domestic ingredients used in product formulations, many of which are also becoming popular in Western markets.

Discovered at a Japanese sake brewery, Pitera™ is a clear liquid rich in vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids which work together to improve the skin’s natural surface rejuvenation process. Shiseido’s high-end skincare range SK-II was developed around this unique ingredient. It has become the most famous Japanese high-end brand for anti-ageing products and is also a cult beauty favourite on the Western cosmetics scene.

Japanese camellia oil is a conditioning ingredient that has been used for centuries in Japanese hair care products. It contains oleic acid which is known for its strengthening and moisturising properties. It is also used throughout Japan to treat scars, cuts and burns, and more recently it has been included as an ingredient in a range of lip balms which are beneficial for healing even the driest chapped lips.

A trend that originated in Korea, wearing a sheet mask at night has also become part of the daily beauty regime for many Japanese women. As such, local manufacturers have launched their own sheet mask ranges using Japanese rice extract and a plethora of other domestic ingredients. As the Japanese buy these products in bulk for their daily use, compressed, budget-friendly versions such as the Muji Compressed Face Mask are becoming particularly popular and are now also available to buy internationally. There is no denying that Japan’s beauty and cosmetics market is a particularly exciting one full of innovation and discovery.