Ah, Japan. The home of Hello Kitty has many amazing things to offer its visitors, from beautiful onsens to all-night karaoke bars. Cheap makeup and beauty products.
But it also just happens to be a little slice of heaven for cosmetics junkies.
Want a spray-on hand moisturiser? Done. Top-notch cleansing products? Sure thing. Peel-off lip stains? You got it. Drug stores like Matsumoto Kiyoshi are everywhere in Tokyo and have heaps of beauty treasures to discover, whether you're after the quirky (panda-face sheet masks, anyone?) or the cutting edge (they were all over the oil trend way before the rest of us).
And the best part of all? The prices. Considering their high quality, these drug store buys are surprisingly affordable.
So here's our list of 10 beauty buys that are definitely worth checking out if you happen to be heading that way soon. And if a trip to Japan isn't on the cards, there's always Auckland's Ippondo and Japan Mart stores - both carry a good range of popular Japanese beauty products (including some of the ones mentioned below).
People go nuts for this for this foaming face cleanser from Shiseido, so don't be surprised if you see foreigners buying it in bulk.
What's so great about it? It's cheap (about ¥400 or $5 in Japan), it lathers up into a rich, creamy foam and it leaves your face squeaky clean without drying it out.
They're not kidding when they call this a one-day tattoo. This popular felt-tip eyeliner glides on smoothly, creating super fine lines that make it easy to draw a sharp cat's eye. And once it dries, it's not going anywhere. Available in black and brown.
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Why use a boring old lippie when you can play around with a peel-off lip stain? This one by Berrisom (which is actually a Korean brand but easily found in Japanese chemists) promises - and delivers - long-lasting colour (mine made it through two meals and a shower without budging).
Just apply a thick layer of the gloss to your lips, wait 10 minutes, peel it off and voila - lip colour that doesn't budge for hours. How cool is that?
4. Miccosmo White Label Premium Placenta Essence
Smearing placenta extract on your face may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if that's the secret to the flawless skin many Japanese women have, it's certainly worth a shot.
This popular and well-priced range by Miccosmo features products containing "carefully-selected Japanese-made placenta extract" designed to give you "soft and clear skin like a newborn baby's skin".
That may be a bit of a stretch, but the essence from this line certainly does leave skin feeling smoother.
Blotting tissues are a lifesaver for anyone with oily skin. And since they originated in Japan (geishas apparently used them for touch-ups back in the day), you can still find some of the best ones here.
Take your pick - they're all cheap and cheerful and do a good job of getting rid of shiny skin issues, but Japan's Kose brand has some of the best ones (in very cute packets to boot).
6. Shiseido Ferzea Hand Moisturising Mist
Trust those clever Japanese scientists to come up with a solution for greasy hand moisturisers.
Shiseido claims this is the first hand mist on the market, boasting that you can use smartphones and touchscreens right after spraying it on - without any greasy fingerprints (yes, we know, #firstworldproblems). But it really does leave your hands surprisingly soft - with zero stickiness.
Come on - who doesn't want to look like a panda or a cat while plumping up their skin? OK, these sheet masks may be more creepy than cute, but they're definitely moisturising - and they're everywhere in Japan.
The animal range from Korea's SNP brand is a good option for a bit of a fun, but the super popular LuLuLun line is probably a better bet overall. This Japanese brand targets specific skin issues and is known for its cute packaging, effective formulas and cheap-as-chips prices - but no animal faces.
These cute little cleansing pods from Japanese brand Kanebo have a serious cult following.
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The cool packaging may have something to do with it, but the powder inside also does a good job of gently exfoliating skin and contains ingredients like tofu extract and royal jelly to brighten it.
Still looking for the perfect face sunscreen? You'll find it in Japan.
Japanese women take their sun protection very seriously and that means oodles of high-quality sunscreens to choose from. Anessa (yet another Shiseido brand) has some great non-greasy options, which makes them an ideal base under makeup.
This one is an oldie but a goodie - and it's apparently the No.1 selling multi-use oil in Japan.
Made from 100 per cent natural camellia oil, it's billed as a hair oil, but devotees use it pretty much everywhere - face, scalp, elbows, cuticles, etc. There's no scent, and the packaging - while not entirely practical - sure is pretty.