Friday, January 19, 2007

The Make-up Culture

As I travel every now and then to various destinations, I realize that not so many women wear make-up the same way we do here in Japan. The same way, means most if not all of the following:

- foundation (liquid and powder)
- concealer
- face powder
- eye shadow (usually using several colors)
- eyeline
- mascara
- eyebrow
- cheek
- lipstick or lip gloss

and when it comes to ladies with more perfect make-up, layers of them. Whether you think this is less, normal or too much depends on, I guess, the society you live in and the culture you grew up in. For many Japanese females belonging to the age range of 18-27,28 or so, I think I can say this is normal.

I notice that here in Japan we have a unique culture of wearing make-up, and like in clothing and hairstyle there is a trend in make-up as well that shifts every season and gradually changes year after another.
For example, a couple of decades ago the trend was the so-called "surfer-make" which was generally represented in sky blue eye shadow and rather bright pink lipstick. Eyebrow trimming which is a common sense today was not so common back then, so thick brows were the mainstream.

A decade ago was about the time when "natural-make" started to spread (save the whole gal phenomenon). This is a kind of make-up in which you put on some make-up, but only within the extent of making your face look as if you don't have so much make-up on. Colors were close to the natural color of your skin and lips.

Right now since about a year ago, the idea of "chocolate make-up" came up using colors close to gold, bronze and brown. These colors mostly deal with eye make-up and lipstick (in the case of lipstick, a bit more redder than brown) but also are used for cheeks.

The reason for wearing full make-up, not point make-up like just mascara and lipstick, mostly comes from wanting to make your face look more distinctive, I think. I wouldn't go into the topic of inferiority complex that a lot of Japanese people have with their features and figures, but for women especially, there is definitely a tendency of wanting to make the eyes look bigger and rounder and lips sexier.

In addition to the above reason, there is also this kind of tacit understanding that wearing make-up is part of the social etiquette. If you're going out for grocery shopping it doesn't really matter so much, but if you are meeting someone like at work or are going to be present in a group of people (whether you know them or not) you might want to put some on. Of course, this isn't a rule and there are many people who don't wear make-up at all times so it's completely up to the individual and no one has the right to criticize anyone for not wearing it. I'm not sure if this has something to do with it or not, but there's been an understanding in Japanese tradition and culture since hundreds of years ago to completely separate private and public faces, to draw a clear line between the this-world and the other-world in many senses.

Thus, wearing make-up is part of the every-morning preparations for many college students and working women in Japan. But mornings are super busy unless you get up hours before you set out, and wearing this much make-up takes a surprising long time if you do it neatly. When I was in univ some of my friends were telling me they get up two hours before they leave home - an hour and a half for shower, make-up and hair styling, and half an hour for the rest of the preparations.

So I was thinking that this is the case for many females who look so perfect on trains and schools and office, but I was surprised to read an article based on a quick poll of how much time working females afford for everyday make-up. Nearly 80% of the twenties through fourties only required less than 20 minutes, covering most or all of the items mentioned earlier. I was like, wow, and this morning I observed how much time I needed to wear make-up, and wow, it only took me 15 minutes - which was less than I thought I needed every morning.

To many people who don't have the habit of wearing make-up, 15-20 minutes may seem like a long time just to wear make-up (like men who always wonder and complain why women take too much time to get ready), but if you want to look good and as perfect as you can, it's pretty short. I guess it's not like it only takes that little time, but women train themselves and obtain the ability to make preparations more efficient and shorter.

So that was my thought for the day. Not much point really.

Today's update on Japan Mode (will be up around 17:00 JST): webmanga CharmyNurseM chapter 8

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