Tracing back to passengers in the chronicles Kojiki and Nihon shoki and from the color on the clay haniwa figurines made during the Kofun period (300-710), we know that in ancient times there was a custom of painting the face with red pigments.This was quite common in the history of China and Korea as well. There would be stories in anecdotes or historical documents that some concubine attracted the emperor then by enlightening her face with red pigment
After Tang Dynasty when Chinese culture impacted Japan the most, cosmetics in Japan shifted from an imitation of Chinese models to a style more attuned to the Japanese sensibility: women wore their hair very long and straight, almost reaching the floor; applied white face powder, plucked their eyebrows and repainted them higher on the forehead; and blackened their teeth.
Face powder was the first cosmetic material to be popular around Edo period. Women then enjoyed the application of face powder, for a white skin was regarded as the essence of a beautiful woman. There was even an old saying "a light skin conceals seven other defects." Then, pigment for rouge was made primarily from safflowers, and applied to the lips, cheeks, and fingernails. The practice of blackening the teeth is very interesting and unique during Japanese history. It was deeply associated with coming-of-age and marriage for women since the Middle Age. Women would blacken the teeth immediately before or just following their wedding, and would shave off their eyebrows upon the birth of their first child.
After World War II, western culture especially magazines, advertisement and products from the US hugely influenced Japan. Cosmetics industry became modernized around 1960s in Japan. Nowadays, cosmetics products from Japan are famous for its high quality, low chemical elements and natural/organic manufacturing tied with strong regulation environment in the country.
As detailed and delicate as Japanese culture, Japanese drugstores can be found as huge chains like grocery stores in the US. The variety and specifications of products will open your mouth wide. Check out this article below for some general recommendations and we will talk about some products from our own experience.