In Japan you can buy makeup at every corner. You’re never far away from a drug store, but if for some reason you cannot find one, you can simply step into the nearest convenience store. With over 50,000 outlets around the country, the shops known as kombini became an essential part of the Japanese city landscape.

I decided to test the products available at the three biggest kombini chains: Seven Eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart. Were they any good? If you suddenly find yourself in need of a cheap foundation or mascara, should you give these a chance? Read to find out!

SHOP #1: Seven Eleven

I went to a medium-sized shop in Ebisu. The makeup was hidden in the back on the lowest shelf. Quite difficult to find.

SHOP #2 Lawson

False advertising at its finest. Shiseido Integrate and Lawson collaboration items are 500 yen each. That’s only the top row, mostly sold out at this particular location. The other items were more expensive.

SHOP #3: Family Mart

I bought Kanebo media cosmetics when I first visited Japan years ago. The brand is still sold in thousands of Family Mart shops around Japan, which is a clear sign of its popularity.

Step 0: All the makeup I bought! Amount spent: a little over 7,000 yen. As much as possible, I tried to use only the brushes and applicators provided. The only exception I made was a blending sponge for the CC cream.

And my makeup-less face. Ready to start!

LOOK 1, STEP 1

What? UV Base CC cream
Brand? ParaDo
Where? Seven Eleven
How much? 1300 yen for a set of three items, including this one

CC creams are supposed to be a better, upgraded version of BB creams. All the benefits of their predecessors plus colour correction. It was my first time using one.

   

First, I put the CC cream on the right side of my face only. It comes in only one shade so I wasn’t sure it would be good for me. As you can see, it blended quite nicely, making my complexion just a little lighter but still natural-looking. It felt fluffy and not very heavy. A thin layer was enough to make big difference.

Final mark: 7/10

LOOK 1, STEP 2

What? Powdery Foundation Powder
Brand? ParaDo
Where? Seven Eleven
How much? 1300 yen for a set of three items, including this one

As it’s a powder FOUNDATION and not a regular powder, it provides better coverage but feels a little heavy. Not heavier than other powder foundations though. In the box it looked too dark but it blended quite nicely with my skin tone and ended up looking fairly natural. The texture had some creamy quality to it but it was still drier than most powder foundations I’d used before. Despite that, it was easy to apply and felt fairly pleasant on my skin.

Final mark: 7/10

LOOK 1, STEP 3

What? Slim Eyebrow Pencil
Brand? ParaDo
Where? Seven Eleven
How much? 1300 yen for a set of three items, including this one

My favourite item so far! Easy to use, natural-looking, perfect colour for me. I actually took my old eyebrow products out of my carry-on makeup bag, and put this one in instead. I don’t need a pencil AND a brow shadow anymore. This one product can replace both. The only thing I dislike about it is that, despite the name, it’s not really that slim. The tip is thin, but not sharp, so you cannot be perfectly precise when you use it.

Final mark: 9/10

 

 

LOOK 1, STEP 4

What? Gradient Colour Eye Shadow
Brand? Kanebo media
Where? Family Mart
How much? 1,026 with tax

OK, I found another favourite. The creamy texture makes it extremely easy to apply. Perfect for lazy people who don’t want to spend more than 30 seconds putting on their eye shadows. Great for casual, every day looks. I started with this safe set of colours but now I’m tempted to get the purple one for a stronger look. That tiny sponge applicator is not the best, but they couldn’t exactly put a longer one in this box.

Final mark: 9.5/10

 

LOOK 1, STEP 5

What? Cheek Stylist Blush
Brand? Shiseido Integrate
Where? Lawson
How much? 1,500 yen + tax

It’s pretty. That’s really the only good thing I can say about it. I dragged the tiny brush across all three shades and applied liberally to my cheeks. Can you see it? I can barely see it. Definitely not worth the money I spent on it.

Final mark: 2/10

 

LOOK 1, STEP 6

What? Long Mascara
Brand? Kanebo media
Where? Family Mart
How much? 918 yen with tax

In the pictures I’m wearing the mascara only on my right eye. As you can see, there isn’t that much of a difference. It does make your lashes look a little longer and gives your eyes some definition. I suppose it could work for a subtle no-makeup kind of look. Probably not for me, but could be good for some people.

Final mark: 5/10

 

LOOK 1, STEP 7

What? Connected Petite Crayon Lipstick
Brand? Shiseido Integrate
Where? Lawson
How much? 500 yen + tax

It’s tiny, which is both good and bad. Bad, because you’re not getting a lot of product for your 500 yen. Good, if you’re going to party and carrying a tiny purse.

I’m not in love with it. The texture was smooth but a little too sticky and shiny for my taste. The rounded shape made precise application difficult without a brush. The lipstick is scentless and the colour looked even on my lips, but it just wasn’t very impressive.

Final mark: 4/10

  

The finished look with better light! Literally the same makeup as above. What a difference good lighting can make!

LOOK 2, STEP 1

What? Pro Finish Foundation
Brand? Shiseido Integrate
Where? Lawson
How much? 500 yen + tax

Since I had a few other items to test, I removed all the makeup and started all over. I re-applied the same CC cream, but this time I used an Integrate powder foundation on top. You can see that it does make the right side of my face smoother and more evenly coloured, but it’s not a great difference. It felt quite dry and not pleasant on my face. The colour (again, only one available) was OK, though. Just like the Integrate lipstick, you don’t get a lot for your money. The case is tiny and very, very thin and flimsy.

Final mark: 3.5/10

LOOK 2, STEP 2

What? Petite Crayon Eye Shadow
Brand? Shiseido Integrate
Where? Lawson
How much? 500 yen + tax

Another really tiny product from the Lawson-limited line of makeup. Probably my least favourite one, too. I was rather excited to try it because the idea of an eye shadow shaped like a lipstick seemed fun. But the texture was too sticky and didn’t feel like an eye shadow at all. They were not pigmented enough. I had to rub them on my eyelids repeatedly to get any colour there. It was almost impossible to get the colour to look even. The baby blue and pearly white shades are not really for me either. Much too 80’s.

Final mark: 1/10

 

LOOK 2, STEP 3

What? Connected Petite Crayon Lipstick
Brand? Shiseido Integrate
Where? Lawson
How much? 500 yen + tax

I then tried the other colour of the Integrate lipstick. Baby blue eyes and pink lips? No, thank you. Never again. I don’t think you can see it that well in this picture, but I felt like a Barbie doll. The lipstick itself wasn’t that bad. Maybe I’ll use it again when I wear a different shadow.

Final mark: 4/10

LOOK 2, STEP 4

What? Lip Gloss
Brand? Kanebo media
Where? Family Mart
How much? 500 yen + tax

Last but not least, I wiped some of the pink lipstick off (though there was still some residue left) and put on a clear lip gloss. I hadn’t used a plain clear lip gloss since high school so that was a new/old experience. I usually wear liquid and/or matte lipsticks, so for me every gloss is too shiny and sticky. But I guess this one isn’t any worse than other more expensive ones. Decent value for the money if you just want some shine.

Final mark: 6.5/10

And again, a proof that proper lighting changes everything. The same look five seconds later.

So, if convenience store makeup any good? Depends on the brand and on the specific product. Some were definite hits, some were definite misses, and many fell somewhere in between.

Please note that cruelty-free cosmetics in Japan are rare. Kanebo does NOT test on animals, but Shiseido does. I couldn’t find any information on ParaDo. Buy and use at your own risk.

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