Where to shop for beauty products in Tokyo
Like my parents before me, I've loved almost anything and everything to do with Japan for years; from its long, colorful history to its current, trend-setting pop culture scene. Learning the language was a dream of mine since I was a young teen and I made that dream a reality by coming to Tokyo and settling here for almost the past year to do just that.
Of course, as a beauty blogger and overall 'beauty enthusiast', the fires of my passion for beauty are fanned almost daily by living here as Japan is the home of some of the most sought after and innovative makeup and skin care products. Japanese women take their cosmetics and skin care seriously, as do I, and you quickly realize not only why Japanese women are some of the most revered when it comes to their skin as well as makeup techniques, but why many the world over look towards Japan when it comes to all things beauty.
Since coming to Japan, I've gained an abundance of beauty knowledge that included how to greatly improve my skin care regime, the most popular makeup techniques, as well as the best places in Tokyo to shop for ultimate beauty buys!
If you’re a certified beauty addict in general, you can’t leave Tokyo without dropping by an Ainz&Tulpe branch. Carrying both local brands, such as Canmake, Dolly Wink, and K-Palette, as well as foreign ones with the likes of Maybelline and L’Oreal, Ainz&Tulpe knows how to cater to practically everyone of the beauty-loving sort.
With its bright, neatly organized interior and friendly and knowledgeable staff, shopping at any branch is as easy as it is fun. Skin care junkies like myself can also happily lose themselves among the dozens of shelves of sheet masks, toners, and cleansing oils just to name a few, as every Ainz&Tulpe branch has its own section largely dedicated to skin care products which are as varied as their cosmetics.
Though they currently only have 4 branches within Tokyo, the newest located in Shinjuku, they’re located in highly convenient and popularly visited areas such as Harajuku and Shibuya so no Ainz&Tulpe trip will ever ‘be out of your way’.
Beauty regime on a budget? Then Daiso is a one-stop shop for all your girly needs. Though there are many Daiso branches located throughout Japan, one of the more popular branches is nestled in between the many small, fashion boutiques along the famous Takeshita Street in Harajuku. This 4-floored building is stocked with everything one could possibly need for the home, office, and school. Thanks to good ol’ Japanese ingenuity, you’ll easily find items you probably didn’t even know you needed in the first place!
Being Daiso, most items are ‘financially friendly’, as I like to call it, and priced at just 108 yen (around 43 pesos). This includes Daiso’s very own wide array of beauty choices that extend from makeup and skin care products, to nail tools and makeup brush cleaners. A couple of my favorite finds include the Sake Skin toner (which actually smells like real sake) and their Puff and Sponge Detergent that gets the likes of my Real Techniques Miracle Complexion sponge squeaky clean. It’s not difficult to find large, pink signage of this place if you’re strolling down Takeshita Street, so swing by when you do. It’s also a great place to buy lots of souvenirs to take back home!
Located in the ‘heart’ of Shibuya and adjacent to the famous Shibuya crossing, Shibuya 109 is for the gal who needs as many tubes of lipstick as she does shoes. Comprised of seven floors including two basement sub-sections, each one contains both popular and lesser-known Japanese fashion brands such as CECIL McBEE, MA*RS, and MOUSSY; it’s almost any girl’s dream department store.
This chic haven, frequented daily by Tokyo’s young and trendy women, also has its own beauty section located in its basement level. Despite its slightly more limited selection (well, limited in Tokyo!), you can still peruse the hundreds of cosmetic products they have on hand. Popular choices include famous Japanese model Tsubasa Masuwaka’s Dolly Wink and Candy Doll false lashes and makeup line respectively, and an assorted range of officially licensed and Japan-exclusive Barbie skincare and cosmetics that include sheet masks and cute, pink bristled makeup brushes.
For those of you who are fans of Asian beauty products of all kinds, there’s even an Etude House corner so you can get your Korean beauty fix at the same time. Shibuya 109 is almost as popular of a meeting spot as it is a shopping destination, so the next time you find yourself in Shibuya, make sure to stop and shop at this iconic Tokyo landmark.
If luxury beauty is more your thing then the famous Isetan department store will be the ultimate go-to destination for all your cosmetic cravings while you’re in Tokyo. Chanel, Tom Ford, Yves Saint Laurent, Bobbi Brown, and many other high-end beauty brands can be found.
You can also check out the uber cute Les Merveilleuses LADURÉE, a cosmetic range created by French luxury bakery and sweets maker, LADURÉE. Each product is as intricately and beautifully decorated as the double-decker macarons they’re known the world over for. One of their most popular items include the Face Color Rose Ladurée, a beautiful container which Marie Antoinette herself would be all too proud to display on her vanity table, that holds rose petals coated in pigments of different hues to give you a unique and beautiful flush of color.
Designer handbags, clothes, and shoes also occupy the rest of the building so Isetan is the perfect place for your high-end shopping hijinks.
I like to fondly refer to Don Quijote as “the general store of Tokyo”. As Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the author of the original Don Quixote novel wrote, “Thou hast seen nothing yet.” This certainly applies to one of Japan’s most popular and tourist-crammed shopping destinations, as you’ll find quite literally everything you can think of whether it’s quirky costumes for any occasion, snack foods, household appliances, or skin care and makeup products of every sort.
The best part: a lot of items on hand are sold much cheaper than in other stores, so you probably won’t have to think twice about grabbing more than one bottle of that raved about DHC cleansing oil, or even the limited edition Sailormoon liquid eyeliner from the brand CreerBeaute. It’s best to visit Don Quijote on a weekday during working hours as it’s usually packed on weekends with locals and foreigners alike trying to take advantage of those awesome deals!
Matsumoto KiYoshi and HAC
Japan takes “drugstore beauty” to a whole new level with stores such as Matsumoto KiYoshi and HAC (Health and Communication) that stock an almost mind-boggling amount of brands and beauty items. Even beauty veterans can’t help but be a little intimidated when they wander into either store and are greeted with an array of skin care and makeup items to suit every skin type and issue.
Both stores also combine the best of health and beauty as there are tons of variants of beauty supplements to ogle and purchase, like Eisai’s Chocola BB drink, considered Japan’s no. 1 “beauty drink”, that promises brighter and healthier looking skin thanks to it being rich in Vitamin B group ingredients. You can then pamper your skin with one of the many kinds of the popular Pure Smilesheet masks. Not only are they affordable, priced at less than 200 yen (around 83 pesos) each, but they’re also a guaranteed moisture boost to your current skin care regime with other skin benefits to go along with it. My favorites are their Milk, Snake Venom, and Snail essence ones.
Both stores are located throughout different areas of Tokyo such as Ikebukuro and Shinjuku for Matsumoto KiYoshi, and Tokyo Square Garden in Kyobashi for HAC. No matter where you stay in Tokyo, their branches are either a pleasant walk or uncomplicated train ride away.
Do check these stores out on your next Japan trip! Which ones would you love to visit, or have visited before?
Arian Yupangco is a Filipina beauty blogger currently based in Japan.