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News Release

Release Date: Apr. 10, 2019

Publisher: Shiseido

Culture / Sports

Beauty Trend Transition in Heisei Era (1989-2019)

-Acceleration of trend shift and ushering in a new era of diversity-

In 2019, the current Emperor of Japan is set to abdicate, and his abdication will mark the end of the Heisei era and the start of the Reiwa era. In such a transitional period, Shiseido has appointed a model to depict changing trends across 30 years of Heisei from a beauty perspective by utilizing findings in its long-term trend research.

Shiseido started its research on beauty trends*1 in 1987, and since then, it has been working on beauty and fashion trend analysis to predict the future of beauty. As part of its activities, Shiseido conducts street surveys on makeup and hairstyling twice a year (spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons) in five cities, namely Tokyo, Shanghai, Soul, New York, and Paris. This time, Shiseido’s top hair and makeup artist and leader of the beauty trend research team, Setsuko SUZUKI*2, explains beauty trends as well as the historical context and consciousness of women in the Heisei era based on her expertise and learnings from ongoing street surveys.


The Heisei era started when the economic bubble reached its peak and brought about a heyday of fashion and makeup with feminine appeal. As women in Japan began to make advancement in society, they increasingly invested in themselves through beauty, fashion, fitness, and acquiring qualifications, etc. High school students served as key trend setters, previously the role of university students, and the young generation created and lead fashion trends including the rise of unique pop culture originating in Shibuya. This unique Shibuya-based culture (gal culture) and the boom of “KAWAII culture” which followed attracted attention from the world. These movements well suggest that the Heisei era can be called a representative era of Japan culture.
Speaking of beauty trends, unique cultures and new senses of beauty were introduced one after another, created a trend cycle of four to five years during this Heisei era, much shorter than the 10 years of previous eras. Generations born in the Heisei era are more likely to have a flexible attitude towards new trends and enjoy fashion by adopting and upgrading the cultures of the eras before they were born. They introduce their unique sense of values and elements and create new trends, which suggests that the trends have come full circle.

Heisei Years 1~5 (1989-1993)/Heisei Years 6~10 (1994-1998)/Heisei Years 11~15 (1999-2003)

■Heisei Years 1~5 (1989-1993)<Bubble & gorgeous, remains of the Showa era>
After an upswing of career-focused attitudes from the early 80s, Heisei saw the economic bubble reach its peak. Women in this period nicely balanced “strong” and “feminine” images. While enjoying luxuries such as overseas travel, they sought something “authentic” and “high-end”, creating an image boom of “daughters from higher-income backgrounds”.

Body-conscious clothing became hugely popular to create a feminine look, while a traditional elegant casual style dubbed “Shibu-kaji (Shibuya casual)”, which is a coordination of navy jacket with gold buttons and denim jeans, and conservative fashion were also well accepted.

A characteristic feature of makeup in this period was lipstick with vivid colors such as bright red and blue-ish rose pink, etc. contrasted with natural makeup overall, lightly putting rose and purple shades around the eyes to create a very feminine look.

 As for hairstyling, long “one-length” hair went mainstream, and hairstyles such as wavy hair with ends-only perms and straight long hair were favored. Other symbolic stylings within this period were the rolled-up bangs that look like a “cockscomb” and “blinding bangs” slightly covering the forehead.

■Heisei Years 6~10 (1994-1998)<Gal culture & brown hair, tin fine eyebrows and couture small faces>
After the economic bubble burst, Heisei entered a prolonged recession, and low-end products became popular in various ways. Generation Y (second-generation baby boomers) played a bigger role in consumption. Meanwhile, personal computers and mobile phones started to spread widely, increasing the volume of reachable information drastically.

Triggered by a boom of loose socks and other fashions, high school girls attracted attention and so-called “gal culture”, which included platform shoes and miniskirts, emerged. They became more visible and powerful, having a large social impact.

In step with the rise of supermodels, brown hair, tin fine eyebrows and couture small faces became popular. There was a growing awareness towards beauty and women became more particular about their makeup-applying techniques such as bleaching eyebrows to match hair color and creating shiny dewy skin with base makeup, etc. In addition, a new trend of shiny fabric in fashion had an influence on makeup too, creating a boom of cool, neo-futuristic makeup with pearl eyeshadow and beige or brown lipstick.

Regarding hairstyles, “charismatic hairstylists” caused a buzz in the media, and layered and shaggy cuts were introduced and well accepted in this period. In the meantime, the ratio of young women dying their hair exceeded 90%.

■Heisei Years 11~15 (1999-2003)<Gal fashion with bronze hair and thick eyelines>
The new millennium kicked off with an uprush of street fashion, which was mainly categorized into “gal”, “elegant”, and “Ura-hara” (Harajuku backstreet)” fashion.
A noticeable feature was the rather eccentric “gal” street fashion, which uniquely evolved from “gal culture” cultivated in the 90s and hit the streets of Shibuya area in particular. Styling was completed with primary color outfits, flower hair accessories, and quirky makeup, and it caught much attention from the media in Japan as well as overseas.

 The most distinctive feature of the makeup here was sun-tanned skin. Some went to a tanning salon and many others applied makeup using dark color foundation and face powder, finished with eyelines and light color eyebrows to emphasize the eyes.

For hairstyling, even more people dyed their hair during this period, making hair dye no longer unusual, and enjoyed more varieties of colors, such as bright yellow, ash, and high-bleach, etc.

Heisei Years 1~5 (1989-1993)<Bubble & gorgeous, remains of the Showa era>

Heisei Years 6~10 (1994-1998)<Gal culture & brown hair, tin fine eyebrows and couture small faces>

Heisei Years 11~15 (1999-2003)<Gal fashion with bronze hair and thick eyelines>

Heisei Years 16~20 (2004-2008)/Heisei Years 21~25 (2009-2013)/Heisei Years 26~Present (2014-2019)

■Heisei Years 16~20 (2004-2008)<Decorative makeup for femininity>
This period, when the recession and economic gap became more serious, saw a growth in desire for marriage perhaps due to a sense of insecurity. Spouse-hunting boomed, along with an increase in women's “consciousness to be popular and liked by others”.
 Romantic fashion with frills and laces and fast fashion that allowed for trying new trends instantly also expanded. Plus, the internet rapidly spread and bloggers quick to post their fashion trend tips garnered attention.

 Makeup with natural shades became popular as those colors nicely blended with original skin colors, and brown eyeshadows and pink beige lipsticks were favored. “Decorative makeup”, which creates a natural look yet emphasizes femininity, boomed. Women applied eyeliner around the eyes and layered mascara with false eyelashes to make bigger, brighter eyes, and put on gloss rouge or layered lipstick and gloss to create an effortless “decorative” look. Beauty enthusiasm was boosted as women cleverly incorporated other items such as black contact lenses and eyelash extensions into their makeup.

Nice thick semi-long/long hair came into vogue and the favorite hair color shifted to dark brown. “Decorative” was also a key word for hairstyling. Hairstyling with volume added on the top or sides with hair extensions or the hair ends curled with hair ironing were favorably received.

■Heisei Years 21~25 (2009-2013)<Nuanced soft, adult-cute style>
The Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in 2011 during this period. Amid the deepened recession, society had become divided into “winners” and losers” in various aspects and changed people’s mindsets. However, the earthquake changed the values of society and consumption behaviors as a whole. SNS grew rapidly in the pursuit of accurate information and a growing sense of “bonding”.

Women asked themselves what they actually need and consciously adjusted their consumption trends towards their needs. Fashion also shifted to something more natural and relaxed, creating a new trend of “easy and soft” style. During this period, KAWAII culture and fashion among young generations attracted attention from the world, and “kawaii” became an international word commonly used around the world. In Japan too, the sense of “kawaii” expanded to influence even adults, and the expression “otona-kawaii (adult-cute)” became accepted.

 Likewise, effortless natural makeup became the trend. Makeup such as “eye bag makeup”, applying pearl highlights to the lower eyelids, and “yuagari (after bath) cheeks” with blushes on the upper cheeks became popular.
Popular hairstyling was a natural style including soft fluffy hair that was permed or curled with an iron or with the hair ends wrapped inward to convey an airy feeling.

■Heisei Years 26~Present (2014-2019)<Revival of effortless bubble>
At the end of the Heisei era, there were positive signs of economic recovery as an increasing number of tourists visited Japan. Millennials expanded their presence, welcoming and purely enjoying new out-of-the-box values.

80s and 90s fashion such as high-waisted bottoms, sweaters around the neck, and sneakers became popular as a symbol of revival. Internet content including user-generated videos and video-sharing SNS, etc. spread worldwide, more users enjoyed posting self-portrait photographs, and many influencers made their debut.

Adult-like looks with keywords like “lady” and “mode” were the makeup of this period. “Natural thick eyebrows” such as short thick eyebrows in bright colors were reminiscent of makeup in the economic bubble period. Long-gone bright lipsticks such as red, rose and vivid pink, etc. were also back on the street.

Bob hairstyles became popular, and “see-through bangs”, which were thinly trimmed and once popular in the economic bubble period, were revived.

Heisei Years 16~20 (2004-2008)<Decorative makeup for femininity>

Heisei Years 21~25 (2009-2013)<Nuanced soft, adult-cute style>

Heisei Years 26~Present (2014-2019)<Revival of effortless bubble>

New era from Heisei: Hair and makeup trends in the future...

<Coming full circle to futuristic>
Going forward, more women are expected to enjoy diverse values in fashion and makeup, stepping beyond something categorized as “XX style” in the past. It will become the era that woman will not stick to one trendy styling, rather, they will be more willing to choose the one most suitable to themselves from widely-available information.
In hair and makeup, “personalization” to distinguish individuality is expected to accelerate. People will be enjoying more “diversity”, choosing a style according to their moods and life events, etc. and ways of expression and choices will further expand.
 For example, “futuristic” fashion and makeup, which were popular in late 90s, will be revived into a new form. It focuses on texture rather than shapes or colors, aiming for a smooth bare-faced look, and conveys freshness by creating a cool yet innocent image with the application of shiny pearl colors to the eyes and lips. It also aims to convey a playful look with color eyelashes as an accent.

New era from Heisei: Hair and makeup trends in the future...

Beauty Trend Research Team Leader Shiseido top hair & makeup artist, Setsuko SUZUKI

※The content of the release is correct as of the time of release, but please note that it may in some cases differ from the latest information.