When it comes to looking to other countries for “secret” drugstore beauty products, the usual suspect is France, the land of great skin. But with hordes of fashion editors running to City-Pharma, Paris’s premiere beauty emporium, come Fashion Week, it’s clear another “secret” is out. The newest country with a still-untapped drugstore beauty bounty is Japan, where six-step skincare regimens and full-face makeup are the norm, and where rigorous quality standards apply to cars, electronics, and the perfect humidity-resistant mascara.
Backstage at Fashion Week, you often hear makeup artists say that their moisturizer, hair pins, or eyelash curlers come from Japan. There’s also been an increase in Japanese-inspired skin-care and makeup lines (that sell out at Barneys). But the originals are still found in konbini, the convenience stores thatpepper Japan. To learn about why Japanese drugstore beauty products are so great, I met up with Maki Ryoke, a painter turned makeup artist who was convinced by Nicola Formichetti to make the career switch. As Ryoke explained, “Japan is the number-one country for makeup and cosmetics. If a drugstore product is not good and cheap, it won’t survive. It’s a very severe market. It’s the only place you can find high-quality makeup for super cheap.” Click through the slideshow for our picks of the best Japanese drugstore beauty buys.