Sick Is The New Black

ByoujakuIn the eternal search for a beauty trend that their mothers dare not copy, young women in Japan are now trying to look…sickly. Yes, it’s gone beyond dyeing their hair gray to using makeup in ways that makes them look positively feverish!

I first noticed this trend when I signed up to be a Lolita for a day, and the hair-make artist used pale, glittery, shadow under my eyes to make them look PUFFY. At first I thought she was just using Japanese makeup techniques that didn’t really work on a foreigner, but later I discovered that it was A Thing for girls to make their lower eyelids look swollen, almost as if they’d been crying. Or not sleeping much. Or suffering from some kind of killer allergy attack.

But this latest trend – called byoujaku, or sickface – goes way beyond that just-pulled-an-all-nighter look. Pale foundation and eyeshadow colors usually reserved for lips and cheeks are used to make you look positively contagious. There’s even a crowdfunding campaign for a line of makeup called Little Red Riding Hood that’s specifically designed to give you that distressed, get-thee-into-quarantine look.

Little Red Riding Hood looks upset that the big bad wolf was not waiting at granny's with chicken soup.

Little Red Riding Hood looks upset that the big bad wolf was not waiting at granny’s with chicken soup.

Of course, everything old is new: oiran courtesans were apparently in the habit of making their eyes look weepy and sick too.

Of course, everything old is new: oiran courtesans were apparently in the habit of making their eyes look like they were suffering from hay fever too.

For more, head over to Marionchan’s blog, which has a lot more byoujaku and oiran makeup details & pix! Tip o’ the top hat to RocketNews for the photo & crowdfunding heads-up, the exiletribe blog for the sickface makeup photo, and to TokyoGirlsUpdate for the oiran makeup info.

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

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