Just last week on our recent jaunt to the world’s second largest beauty market, we sat down with Australian expat and beauty blogger of Tokyo Beauty Book, Alisa Kerr, for insights into where to shop, Japanese brands she loves and what’s hot right now in the Tokyo beauty scene. Read on for which big ingredient Alisa says is having a huge moment right now, where to buy organic beauty and which drugstore brands you’ll want to stock up on.
Weird ingredients are always “weird” in the beginning, until they’re not. Remember when Korean beauty brought us bee venom, snail mucus and stem cells and we all cringed? Nowadays, I’m sure you will barely even pause when you see the aforementioned on skincare labels. So keeping that in mind and don’t cringe too hard when I say that placenta is THE BIG anti-aging ingredient of the moment in Japan. No, not human placentas (that’s weird), pig and horse placentas (okay, still feels a little weird).
At the Cosme Tokyo beauty convention this year in Japan, Alisa says that placenta was everywhere in skincare products and supplements.
“Placenta drinks are really big here right now,” explains Alisa, “Collagen drinks have been around for a while now, but placenta drinks are the new ingredient of the moment. You can buy the drinks at drugstores in little glass bottles and people drink them everyday. And there are more and more skincare brands coming out with placenta as an ingredient in them.” (If you’re curious to learn more about placenta supplements, click here.)
For drugstore finds…
Where: 1-26 Roppongi 6-chome, Minato-ku; +81 3 3470 6244; Open 24 hrs, 7 days per week
Brands to lookout for: Kiss Me, K-Palette, Maquillage
Why go: “This 24-hour drugstore is cram packed with beauty finds. Towards the front will be the promotional items and inside you’ll find haircare, skincare, makeup, masks, supplements, etc.
Product highlight: “Look for my favorite mascara by Kiss Me for curling and elongating the lashes; It’s one of my favorites.”
Ainz & Tulpe
For a little bit of everything…
Where: 1-13-14 Meijijingumae, Shibuya-ku; +81 3 5775 0561; Open 10:00-23:00, 7 days per week
Brands to lookout for: Infinity, Koh Gen Do, Sofina, Kanebo
Why go: “There are two levels; The first is a wide selection of drugstore brands sectioned off into hair, skin, makeup, nails and supplements, and the second lower level has higher end brands, like SKII, Kose and Koh Gen Doh. They offer wider selections of drugstore brand lines than you’ll find in the drugstores, and they also have a corner dedicated to natural and organic skincare.”
Product highlight: “Try Koh Gen Do’s Aqua Foundation . It’s so good!”
For organic and natural products…
Where: 23 locations around Tokyo (full list here)
Brands to lookout for: In Fiore, Uka, Mama Butter, Etvos
Why go: “They have the best selection and an impressive range of Japanese natural and organic products,” says Alisa, “and quite a few imported lines. You can find big brands and smaller up and coming lines. In addition to cosmetics and skincare, they have a bit of everything: home products, laundry products and health food supplements.”
Product highlight: “Try Uka’s products if you can’t make it to one of their spas.”
For department store luxury…
Where: 160-0022 3-14-1, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; +03-3352-1111; Open 10:30-20:00, 7 days per week
Brands to lookout for: Shu Uemura, THREE, Ipsa, Episteme
Why go: “Isetan really is the best place to shop for mid-range and luxury beauty products in Japan. They also have an apothecary floor of smaller, natural lines, too, which is great.”
Product highlight: “When I first moved to Tokyo I resisted using SKII for so long because you cant get it everywhere in the world, but their Stempower Cream is amazing in the wintertime. It’s really hydrating and gives you a great glow.”
Written by Amy Chang, founder + editor; main image photographed by author