The evolution of techniques for chasing Japan’s kogao ideal.

They say the only constant is change, and that’s definitely true for fashion and beauty trends. Especially in a country like Japan where people take so much pride in their personal appearance, the definition of the “in” look is always evolving, and Japanese cosmetics maker Kate recently took a look back at Japan’s major makeup trends of the past 25 years.

The journey begins in the late 1990s with the “suntanned gyaru” look which skyrocketed in popularity as the fashionable young ladies of Japan drew inspiration from J-pop recording star Namie Amuro. But they weren’t just applying bronzer in admiration of the tropical tanning properties of the sunshine in Amuro’s home prefecture of Okinawa, but also to help achieve the coveted kogao look. Kogao literally translates to “small face” and refers to defined yet delicate facial characteristics, and many felt that the bronze foundation that was in vogue in this period helped bring their facial features visually closer together.

The next stop on the cosmetics timeline is the late 2000s, with the “mote OL” (“popular office lady”) look. The objective here was to make the rest of the face look smaller by making the eyes bigger. Upward-angling eyebrows and volume-boosting mascara worked towards that effect, while foundations went back to lighter shades.

The early 2010s came with a sudden boom in the popularity of Korean pop music in Japan, and with it increased admiration for K-pop idols’ makeup techniques. This became known as the “oruchan makeup” style, coming from an approximated pronunciation of a Korean phrase for “beautiful girl,” and was characterized by thick eyebrows with very little arch. This helped bring the face’s perceived center lower for a kogao result.

The “natural ruddy” look came next, with the trend getting started around 2015. The name might sound like a contradiction at first, but the ideal here was to keep most of your makeup looking natural, almost as if you weren’t wearing any, while applying plenty of blush to the cheeks. Ideally, it’d look sort of like your cheeks were flushed with color after stepping out of a hot bath, and by differentiating them from the rest of your face, give the rest of your features a tidy kogao look.

Around the same time the natural ruddy style was rising in popularity, many Japanese women also started employing contouring makeup techniques. Applying highlights and shading is an alternate way to compartmentalize various sections of the fact and create the user’s desired sense of feature spacing.

And last, Kate offered its prediction on what the next trend is going to be. Making the pretty safe estimate that the kogao look is going to remain in fashion, Kate thinks the next technique will be a variation on the “mote OL” look, but with a 180-degree twist. Instead of accenting the features above the eyes in order to make the eyes look bigger, Kate predicts that the next trend will be to shift the focus to below the eyes. By using eye shadow underneath and to the side of the eyes, the cheeks become visually smaller, making the nose and mouth appear more compact as well.

Well just have to wait and see if Kate decides to test out those new techniques on its newest spokesmodel, anime Evangelion’s Rei Ayanami.

Source, images: PR Times
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