In Exclusives, Insight, Retail

Cosme Hunt is a curated destination site that makes all the best beauty products and the latest skincare from Japan accessible to beauty-forward people around the world. Born and raised in Tokyo and now based in San Francisco, Mai Chloe Wu is poised to become the primary expert and go-to resource for Japanese beauty in North America.

What prompted you to start Cosme Hunt?

I have been living in North America [Vancouver and San Francisco] for a number of years and haven’t been able to find cosmetics for my fair skin. Also I missed the skincare from Japan—especially the skin-lightening products. I started to think about how I could solve this [personal] problem, and at the same time noticed the popularity of K-Beauty in the US and thought, why not J-Beauty too?

What are the main differences between Japanese and Korean beauty?

K-Beauty has nice designs but it tends to be very busy. J-Beauty is more simple. Also, the Japanese market has been a lot more detached than the Korean market. Koreans are used to working and selling in other countries while Japanese companies haven’t really cared about appealing to an international clientele. With the current state of the economy, Japanese brands are starting to consider expanding globally and are starting to think about that with the product design.

What makes J-Beauty distinct?

Japan has a long beauty history. A skincare ritual is taught to daughters by their mothers. From a young age, my mother taught me to look after my skin. Starting at age 10 I was toning and wearing sunscreen on my face every day.

What are some current J-Beauty trends?

Anything with placenta or hyaluronic acid is popular. If a product says it contains placenta, it will be a big seller. Japanese women want mochi-hada [sticky rice] skin, that is plump and soft, and they use products that contain rice to achieve this  effect. Another trend is pucci-pura [petite price] products. These are cheaper small travel sizes that women can put in their purse. Women are on the go a lot, and having small, multitasking products saves space and time. Even sheet masks are becoming multipurpose, with a toner, serum, and milk in one.

Are there any new brands you are excited about?

Another trend is that men are starting to pay a little bit more attention to skincare. The brand Botchan is helping to lead this movement with its collection of genderless skincare, for everyone! This is a new idea in Japan and is being used by “beauty insiders” for now, but as the concept becomes more popular, so is the brand.

Photo: via Cosme Hunt

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