Makeup Shopping in Korea vs Japan / What to Buy in Japan Series

Posted on 01-03-2016

Hi guys!  Long time no post, mainly because I am terrible at keeping up with them but I will get there eventually as the pictures are all edited for the next Japan post.  I just was thinking about my trip and about what I would change next time I go – and I realised that one of the things I sort of regretted was not doing more research on what to buy in Japan beforehand – I ended up forgetting to buy a few things as a result of thinking: I am not going to spend so much on makeup and skincare this trip.

There were a few reasons for my thinking this way.  One was that I wanted to save money.  Two was that I bought so much makeup from Korean in my last trip, that I didn’t think I needed any more.  And Three was that I thought I preferred Korean cosmetics because of the huge variety and great things I’ve heard about it (while I hadn’t heard that much about Japanese cosmetics).

So on to my comparison of shopping for makeup in Japan vs Korea.  Note that this is my opinion and I’m sure some people may find they had a different experience.

On one hand, makeup shopping in Korea is heaps of fun because there are so many brand stores in Myeongdong and it’s all very visually appealing and there is quite a lot of English on the packaging which makes it easy to identify what to buy.  For example, Etude House, Innisfree, Nature Republic, Banila Co and Laneige all have their own individual stores in Myeongdong.  These individual stores generally have a ‘top’ products display, so it’s very easy to see what each brand is known for and do a quick google search if you want to do your own research because there is pretty much always an English name for a product.

Meanwhile, Japan’s makeup shopping is not so clear because there is very little English, and only a few individual stores (if any) dedicated to a particular brand.  Instead, most Japanese makeup brands are found in pharmacies like Matsumoto Kiyoshi (the biggest drugstore/pharmacy chain in Japan), much like here in Australia.  It is quite difficult to tell which brands or products are popular if you don’t know Japanese.

So, in my opinion as a tourist, Korea is a lot more enjoyable when shopping for makeup – this isn’t to say that Japan doesn’t have great quality makeup brands because I really love a lot of their products as well, particularly from Dolly Wink.  But, even though I prefer Korean makeup shopping overall, my mistake was thinking that I wouldn’t buy anything of the sort in Japan because let me tell you…

I was wrong.

Makeup is not the main thing you want to buy in Japan.   What I really should have planned for in my Japan spending budget was skincare Japan has fantastic skincare products.  I have been satisfied with almost all the skincare products I bought in Japan and not to mention the awesome hair products.

But, as I have already said, there is very little English on Japanese product packaging and as a result, I found it really hard to know what to look for.  I found myself buying things that I accidentally thought were other things, because of the lack of English LOL.

So I’ll be doing a What to Buy in Japan series of posts about everything I bought from snacks to makeup to skincare/hair, and which products I recommend (but in-depth reviews will probably come way later).  Hopefully it helps anyone who is thinking of going to Japan to know what to bring home!

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