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Do you have to wear makeup to work in Japan?


Japan has long been known for its unique culture, rich history, and distinct customs. One of the most interesting aspects of Japanese culture is its approach to beauty and appearance. Although it is a common stereotype that Japanese women wear heavy makeup, the reality is more complicated. In this article, we will explore whether or not you have to wear makeup to work in Japan.

The role of appearance in Japanese society

In Japan, appearance is considered important, especially in the workplace. However, the emphasis is not necessarily on wearing makeup. Rather, grooming and presenting oneself neatly and professionally are crucial. This includes having clean and tidy hair, nails, and clothing.

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The history of makeup in Japan

Makeup has a long history in Japan, dating back to the Heian period (794-1185). During this time, noblewomen would paint their faces white with rice powder to signify their social status. Over time, makeup became more elaborate and varied in style.

Modern attitudes towards makeup in Japan

Today, many Japanese women still choose to wear makeup as part of their daily routine. However, there is also a growing trend of embracing natural beauty and minimalism. Many women opt for a simple skincare routine and a light touch of makeup.

Expectations for women in the workplace

In Japan, there are certain expectations for women’s appearance in the workplace. This includes dressing conservatively and presenting oneself in a professional manner. However, these expectations vary depending on the industry and company culture.

How men are expected to present themselves

While there is less pressure on men to wear makeup, they are still expected to present themselves professionally. This includes having a clean-shaven face or neatly trimmed facial hair.

Exceptions to the rule

There are some industries where appearance is less important, such as in tech or creative fields. In these industries, it may be more acceptable to have a more casual or individualistic style.

The impact of the pandemic on makeup habits

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on makeup habits in Japan. With more people working from home, there is less pressure to wear makeup or dress up for the office. Many women have embraced a more natural look during this time.

How to navigate workplace expectations

If you are working in Japan and unsure about the expectations for appearance, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Dress conservatively and avoid anything too bold or flashy. Pay attention to the company culture and follow the lead of your colleagues.

How to incorporate makeup into your routine

If you choose to wear makeup in Japan, it is important to keep it subtle and natural-looking. Stick to neutral colors and avoid anything too dramatic. It is also important to invest in high-quality products that will hold up throughout the day.

The importance of self-expression

While there are certain expectations for appearance in Japan, it is also important to remember the value of self-expression. If you feel more comfortable wearing makeup or dressing a certain way, it is okay to do so as long as it is within the bounds of professionalism.


In conclusion, while there are certain expectations for appearance in Japan, wearing makeup is not necessarily mandatory. The most important thing is to present oneself professionally and neatly, regardless of whether or not makeup is involved. As with any workplace, it is important to pay attention to company culture and follow the lead of colleagues when it comes to dress and grooming.

Is it rude to not wear makeup in Japan?

In Japan, it is considered impolite to go out in public without wearing makeup. For some women, meeting anyone outside of their family without makeup can be embarrassing, as they feel naked without it. These cultural norms may be surprising to many people.

Is it mandatory to wear makeup to work?

It is not fair for employers to force female employees to wear makeup without a legitimate reason. Women should not face discrimination if they choose not to wear makeup. However, if an employer can demonstrate that wearing makeup is necessary for the job, they can include it in their dress code requirements.

Is it OK to not wear makeup to work?

Wearing makeup is not a requirement for being professional. In certain fields, a more polished appearance is expected and makeup may be a part of that, but if casual attire such as hoodies and sneakers is acceptable in your workplace, then it is likely not one of those fields.

Is it allowed to have facial hair in Japan?

In Japanese workplaces, having a beard is often considered unprofessional because it is uncommon among the Japanese population and can be viewed as messy. Many companies in Japan aim to present a pristine image to customers, which is why they discourage employees from having facial hair.

Can I work in Japan even if I have tattoo?

In Japan, having a tattoo can make job-hunting challenging, but some industries and small businesses are more accepting of them. For instance, tattoos are generally not an issue in agricultural and construction fields, which also happen to be industries that actively seek foreign workers.

What is considered attractive in Japan?

Japanese beauty standards emphasize having big eyes and a “double eyelid” (called 二重 or “futae”) in addition to having fair and smooth skin. Although some Japanese individuals are naturally born with the double eyelid, many others put in significant effort to achieve this aesthetic.

It is important to note that Japan’s approach to beauty and appearance is not unique to the country. Many cultures around the world place a high emphasis on presenting oneself in a neat and professional manner, especially in the workplace. However, the specific expectations and customs may differ from place to place.

It is also worth mentioning that while appearance is important, it should not be the only factor considered when evaluating someone’s skills or abilities. Unfortunately, there can be a tendency to judge women based on their appearance rather than their accomplishments. It is important to challenge and avoid such biases in the workplace.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement in Japan towards promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This includes challenging traditional gender roles and stereotypes, such as the idea that women must wear makeup to be considered professional. As more companies embrace these values, we may see a shift towards more inclusive and accepting attitudes towards appearance.

In conclusion, while there are certain expectations for appearance in Japan’s workplace, wearing makeup is not mandatory. The most important thing is to present oneself professionally and neatly. While makeup can be an important part of many people’s daily routines, it should never be used to judge someone’s abilities or worth. As attitudes towards beauty and appearance continue to evolve, it is important to strive for inclusivity and acceptance in all aspects of life.

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