From sheet masks to snail cream, South Korea is always one step ahead of the game when it comes to new product innovation and fresh formulas that break the usual beauty-trend traditions. But as we move into the new year, it's as good as time as any to start paying closer attention to another one of our neighbors to the east: Japan. Thanks in part to the country's recovering economy, the beauty capital is staging a big-time comeback — and the best products the Land of the Rising Sun has to offer are set to make their way westward. Final destination? Our makeup bags.
BeautyMART co-founder Millie Kendall MBE, who introduced Shu Uemura to the European market decades ago alongside Mr. Shu Uemura himself, explains that she's noticed an uptick in customers who want pared-back routines with a few simple, hardworking products — something Japanese beauty brands excel at providing. "We're seeing a return to the expert, where the use of product is based on performance, not gimmick," Kendall says. "They need well-made products that deliver where there is no room for error, and that's where Japanese formulations come in."
Among the demographic of beauty lovers who opt out of 12-step routines and unconventional ingredients in favor of the simple and science-backed, Japanese beauty is set to soar. "The thing that makes Japanese products so interesting to me is the fusion of natural and high-tech," says Kendall.
Ahead, the brands and products that are making Nippon the newest beauty hotspot — no matter how no-nonsense you like your routine.