“Faces with Light Makeup Are Better Recognised than Faces with Heavy Makeup” by Keiko Tagal et al., (2016)

Below shows a scanned in annotated notes of a research study carried out by the Shiseido group (Tagal et al., 2016), regarding how faces are perceived or recognised in Japan with different amounts of makeup. I found this study interesting in relation to Western culture and how we strive to look glamorous and like our favourite ‘cultural or celebrity icons’ for example, often wearing lots of makeup and following the latest beauty and social media led trends. Whereas, this study examines how the opposite is more favourable in Japan; youthful, light makeup; as backed up by interviews (Vogue Japan and Nicole T) and findings from my Japan research trip.


  • ‘Natural’ looking makeup is the ‘trend’ in Japan and seen as the native ideal look with results showing that attractiveness was rated highest for ‘light makeup faces’ shown in the study
  • The above contrasts to Western culture, and is backed up by research and interviews in Japan/UK
  • Light makeup in Japan is seen as preferable in Japan as it does not interfere with facial recognition and ones true identity; contrasting to the UK whereby we often use makeup to change our appearance in a bid to feel more attractive
  • The Equality Act in Japan was only derived in Japan in 1987, with claims that men and women were not equal in daily lives, therefore hindering the identity of women at times and therefore stemmed a natural makeup trend in order to be recognised and seen for who they really are as people; almost exposing themselves publicly in response
  • Results of 38 Japanese women used in the study concluded that facial attractiveness was judged greatest for faces with light makeup, followed by faces with heavy makeup, and then no make up at all in last place, acknowledging that wearing makeup was still favourable even if to achieve a ‘natural’ and ‘not there’ look opposed to not being worn at all
  • Acing has a negative effect on colouration of the skin, and formulations for skin-lightening products in Japan adopt this scientific knowledge to produce anti-aging products that decreased colour heterogeneity.
  • Wearing makeup affects women’s self-image in a positive light, through changing ones skin colour, texture and shape, (i.e. eye shape) as noted previously above, having a positive impact on self-perception, confidence, self-hood and self-esteem.