Japanese beauty brands are having a moment. Here are my just-launched favourites…
Over the past 18 months or so J-beauty (beauty products from Japan) has been gaining ground and giving K-beauty (from South Korea) a run for its money. Now J-beauty is seriously upping the ante.
First up is Curél (a portmanteau of cure and well) which is far and away Japan’s bestselling brand for sensitive skin (over a third of UK women say they also suffer from it). Curél was the first company to focus on ceramides – an oil component found in the skin which is important for moisture and barrier function. The UK launch will see a very curated (and reasonably priced) range – it’s like a Japanese pharmacy brand. There are two cleansers and two moisturisers, as well as an essence – mirroring the Japanese tradition of double cleansing and moisturising. I’ve been trying the Intensive Moisture Facial Cream (£19.50, boots.com from tomorrow) on some eczema on my fingers and – though the brand can’t make these claims – I’ve had transformative results.
DHC, another more affordable J-beauty brand famed for its olive-oil-infused Deep Cleansing Oil (from £5), has just turned this much-loved product into a line and added Olive Virgin Oil Essential Cream (£33) and Crystal Skin Essence (£31.50) – with both helping to boost moisture. All available at dhcuk.co.uk.
At the other end of the spectrum, is Clé de Peau Beauté – one of the most lusted-after Japanese beauty brands that arrived at Harrods at the end of last month. Its Radiant Multi Repair Oil is a cult classic. Though it costs a whacking £125, it really is great stuff – it makes skin look plumper, fresher, even firmer and I’ve heard the most cynical of beauty followers sing its praises. Also much lauded is its Concealer (£55). It’s a creamy texture that feels light, blends easily and gives lasting coverage.
Shiseido, a well-established Japanese brand in the UK, continues to innovate. Its new Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Foundation (£39, lookfantastic.com) has just launched in 30 shades. It’s long-wearing and lightweight, with a natural finish. Also launching is its Hanatsubaki Hake Polishing Face Brush (£59, johnlewis.com), which I’ve been super-excited about since I saw a preview some months ago. The red synthetic bristles are cut into a stylish camellia shape and it’s great for buffing in powder or cream formulations for both face and body.
So what sets J- and K-beauty apart? ‘The main difference we notice is that J-beauty technology, especially for skincare, is very cutting edge and targeted,’ says Jenna Anderson, buyer at Cult Beauty. ‘K-beauty, on the other hand, is considered playful and gimmicky. J-beauty is also much simpler in terms of routine. As a result, those who buy into it usually know exactly what they want and why they need it.’
A neat trick from Trinny
Ever the champion of practical, easy, on-the-go make-up, Trinny Woodall – resident YOU columnist and founder of Trinny London – has now launched her first make-up brush. Meet the T-Kit: a stackable brush with three different heads – one for lips; one all-rounder shade brush to help with smoky eyes, and a line brush for brows and eyeliner – that fit into each other (£28, trinnylondon.com). It’s reminiscent of those colouring pencils we all had as children, except these pieces click together with magnets. Choose the brush head you want to use and even adjust the handle length by leaving out one of the links. Why carry three brushes in your make-up bag when one will do?
Beauty assistant: Alice Robertson