Don't Shield Your Eyes From This Trend in Japanese Beauty

Dave McCaughan From Tokyo

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There is an awful lot of talk about changes among young Japanese women. They are staying single longer, choosing not to have children and seemingly are more confident. No doubt Riyo Mori winning the Miss Universe contest last month will boost that image. Seeing the way she confidently looked at the audience reminded me how much the role of the eye is changing in the Japanese beauty industry.

In a simple piece of research, we looked at differences in the content of popular women's magazines from 2003 and 2005. Of course, there were the usual changes in fashion, colors and trendy brand names. Who was in and who was not had moved on. But the thing that really struck us was the use of eyes. In 2003, models in photo spreads looked away from the camera in a traditionally demure downward pose. By 2005, the great majority of face shots showed big, bold eyes facing, even challenging, the reader.
Dave McCaughan
Dave McCaughan is Tokyo-based director of strategic planning for Asia-Pacofic at McCann WorldGroup.


Japanese people have a higher-than-average need for eye care at an early age, and it's no surprise this is the world's largest contact-lens market, as young people want to ensure they look their best while taking care of their eyes. One of the hit products in Asia is Johnson & Johnson's Acuvue Define contact lenses. These disposable contacts have a black or brown circle or "limbal ring" embedded into them so the iris appears about one-third bigger. The result is eyes that look bigger, a little bolder and, to Asians, much more interesting.

Many Japanese women have shorter and fewer eyelashes than Westerners and use thickening mascaras and stick-on eyelash extensions that cost around $150. Fortunately, they last about a month.

For the guys, the eye look is also important and always has been. One of my middle-age colleagues in Tokyo has more than 60 pairs of spectacles; he's in tune with a cool trend among younger guys. Megane danshi is the term used to refer to young men wearing glasses, and many actors and models are following the trend. The image of a megane danshi is that of an intelligent, sensitive man, and that makes him attractive to Japanese women. The reason for the trend? Good ol' manga again. In a number of popular magazine and cartoon romance titles, the male hero is a heartthrob in glasses who attracts the girl with his understanding and vulnerability.
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