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Kanebo makeup theory

Makeup is an important tool for self-expression. As you enjoy the diverse colors of color makeup, you can contour the shape of your eyes, brows, and mouth and use highlighting and shadowing to redefine your face’s dimensions, making yourself look however you want.

There are no rules to follow when having fun with makeup. However, just as the art world has aesthetics, there are some designs and expressive techniques that are used in creating beauty. In makeup, just as in fashion, trends act as turning points in time, transforming the sense of beauty of ordinary citizens themselves and ushering in a variety of makeup styles. Nevertheless, there is a universal beauty underlying it all.

Ever since its founding, Kanebo Cosmetics has worked on researching and developing a distinct makeup theory. We have conducted extensive research over the years with the aim of revealing what universal beauty consists of when it comes to makeup.

Kanebo’s makeup theory goes deep. It comprises the fundamentals of makeup that beauty counselors and makeup artists need to hone their expert knowledge and techniques in order to create beautiful looks with makeup. Based on this makeup theory, free beauty advice is offered at Kanebo counters in department stores and other select outlets. You are welcome to stop by anytime and let us work together to discover your own unique beauty.

Here we will introduce some elements from Kanebo’s makeup theory that are essential for makeup design.

Kanebo has developed unique makeup dolls with “standard” facial features and surface properties similar to human skin. These dolls are extremely useful for studying makeup effects and training makeup artists.

3 elements of makeup design

There are three design elements to keep in mind when it comes to makeup: form, color, and texture. It is by combining these three elements that we create a certain look.

1: Form

Facial features (the shape of one’s face) are determined by one’s facial proportions. Certain “standard facial features” serve as the basic criteria for examining the individual characteristics of a face.

Elements of beautiful facial features

In order to enhance the facial features, we analyze a person’s facial characteristics in comparison with “standard facial features.” For that purpose, it is essential to know these standard proportions. The proportions of one’s face are determined by several elements, especially the size and position of the eyes and brows.

P.P.D. effect

A bedrock of Kanebo’s makeup theory today is what’s called the “P.P.D. effect.” Completed in 1982, this theory helps beauty counselors and makeup artists understand the characteristics of a face in order to propose makeup solutions for customers in the stores. The “P.P.D. effect” was awarded the prestigious Cidesco International Grand Prize in 1983.

P.P.D. = Parts, Positioning, Dimension

Parts: This refers to the shape, size, and color of the eyes, brows, and lips, which are the main elements that give a face its unique appearance.
Positioning: The look of a face is determined not only by the beauty of its actual parts, but also by the position of the brows, eyes, nose, and mouth.
Dimension: There are also characteristics relating to dimension, such as how deep, flat, or uneven the face is.

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2: Color

When choosing makeup colors, we should consider not only the shades (hues) themselves but also such elements of color as their tone and how they look in combination with each other. This enables a wider array of designs and makes it easier to create a certain look.


Hue is one of the main properties of a color that account for its appearance. We distinguish between hues such as red, green, blue, yellow, orange and violet. Neutral hues such as white, gray, and black and colorful hues such as red, yellow, and blue produce a variety of impressions and stimuli. For example, red evokes passionate, blue = sharp, yellow = healthy, and so on.

Color tone:

Even the same hue produces a different impression depending on its lightness (value) and saturation (chroma).

Changing the color’s lightness or saturation is a good way to try colors you are not normally comfortable using.

Effects of colors in combination:

When two or more colors are used alongside each other, each of them is influenced by the other and takes on a different look. For example, wearing bold red lipstick diminishes the appearance of dullness or uneven coloring in the skin.

Lightness contrast

A dark color can accentuate the brightness of the surrounding color

Example: The effect of eyeliner

Outlining the rim of the eye in a dark color with eyeliner and mascara, for example, makes the white of the eye look brighter, causing black or brown eyes to pop.

Saturation contrast

The same color can look quite different depending on the saturation of the colors around it.

Example: Eye shadow vs. lip color

Even when the same blue (eye shadow) and orange (lip color) hues are used, the impression of the face is different when a saturated, vivid orange is used for the lips than when a soft beige orange is used instead.

Example: Lip color vs. skin tone

The same shade of lipstick looks different depending on the saturation of the skin tone around the lips.

Color combination

When it comes to makeup, the finished look varies considerably depending on the color combination and balance. With that in mind, you may want to let one of our beauty counselors work with you to choose the right color combination for your desired look, coordinating it perfectly with your fashion choice and the occasion.

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3: Texture

With makeup, not only can we have fun just by playing with colors, but we can vary the finished look dramatically by employing colors with different shine, sparkle, and depth. By introducing changes in texture, our design possibilities expand and makeup becomes all the more exciting.

There are 3 broad types of makeup textures.

Suppresses light reflection, lending calmness and depth.
Has an elegant, refined look

  • For those who want to enjoy a defined coloration

Creates a festive, glamorous look.
Brightens the overall impression of the face or adds impact locally on one part of the face.

  • For those who want to enjoy both color and sparkle

Evokes a youthful image with a lustrous, dewy-looking shine.
Has a vibrant, richly hydrated look

  • For those who want to enjoy the texture more than the color

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