from Japan

Yuka Noguchi Talks Creativity, Child Acting, and Curled Eyelashes

Yuka Noguchi Hair and Makeup Artist



Born in 1988, Yuka Noguchi is a hair and makeup artist from the Saitama prefecture. Her career in entertainment began at age four, when she began appearing in countless magazines, TV dramas, and commercials. Currently, Noguchi works at ROI Salon in Omotesando. In addition to styling editorial hair and makeup, she also lends her talents to various advertisements and theatrical performances.

Taking A Step Behind The Camera

Yasuo  Yoshikawa Whenever we work for the same client you’re typically in charge of hair while I take on the makeup. It’s always a joy to have you on my team. 

Yuka Noguchi The pleasure is all mine!

Yasuo What made you want to quit modeling and explore makeup and hair styling? 

Yuka I didn’t like feeling so visible to other people. When I was a child and signed to an acting agency, my parents really encouraged me to work. I was the third child, born after two older brothers, so I guess they thought it would be a nice experience for me. Acting became a large part of my life, but it wasn’t what I truly desired in my heart. My dad was always fascinated with the entertainment industry. 

Yasuo Even if it’s not what they truly love, many people keep up with modeling because they enjoy being pampered on set. 

Yuka There may be such a person, but I wasn’t pampered at all! Modeling is not easy work—you have to endure a lot of different climates, temperatures, and waiting around for others. I really respect models, particularly because you’re always being scrutinized. 

Yasuo Modeling is definitely misunderstood. People see the final product and wonder how hard it can really be, but it’s a tough job, both mentally and physically. I couldn’t do it unless I really believed in the work. 

Yuka I’ve always been a very “hands on” kind of person, so when I asked my mom if I should become a makeup artist or a chef, she laughed and told me that I’ll cook every day once I’m married, so I shouldn’t do that. I finally decided to change my path when several of my commercial appearances were cancelled—even though I’d booked and filmed them, they never aired on TV because the original products were defective. After that happened three different times, I took it as a sign and quit. 

Yasuo Was your dad disappointed? 

Yuka Yes, but it’s my path, not his. If I wasn’t satisfied, then why continue? People asked me why I didn’t push on with it until I got married, but life isn’t that simple. Ultimately, I’m grateful for my father’s guidance because it allowed me to see so many interesting things.

Yasuo Absolutely. The industry is so thrilling, and it’s great that you made your parents proud.

The Healing Benefits Of Holistic Skincare

Yuka I had super acne-prone skin as a teenager. Up until junior high school, I popped roughly ten pimples a day.

Yasuo You shouldn’t do that!

Yuka Try explaining that to a teenager! I still pop them, but I’m much better about it now. I’ve mastered the method of never leaving a core.

Yasuo Teens tend to produce more sebum, but it’s particularly painful because they break out during the most sensitive times of puberty.

Yuka I’m so happy that I outgrew those days. I have a lot of sympathy for people struggling with facial imperfections. 

Yasuo Absolutely. However, I did notice that your skin is rather dry. 

Yuka That’s so true, but at the time, I didn’t realize how that correlates to breakouts! A woman at my skincare salon pointed out that my skin is too thin and inflamed, and that it has trouble absorbing moisture. I was so shocked because I took antibiotics, went to a dermatologist for years, and even did chemical peels. 

Yasuo If you eliminate the oil causing the acne, it will only temporarily prevent breakouts. As a result, the skin becomes much more sensitive. 

Yuka I should have taken my medicine log to the dermatologist and showed them what kind of medicine I was prescribed and how much, but I didn’t have that knowledge at the time. Each time I went to a different dermatologist I was prescribed different antibiotics, and it probably made my feminine functions a lot weaker. I weakened my body in order to fix my complexion. 

Yasuo My daughter had similar issues when she was a teenager. Her skin negatively reacted to the amount of product that she was using and became quite rough in texture. 

Yuka A lot of magazines ask me to share my experiences with acne, and I always advise others not to pop or pick and to develop a good skincare routine. 

Yasuo Acne is often caused by dirty old sebum that should always be removed. Keep the skin clean and always apply non-irritating and clean oils.

Yuka If you focus on cultivating a healthy skincare routine instead of just healing your acne, then you’ll see more positive results. If only I knew that fact in the moment.

Yasuo Many models are afraid of acne, so they only use oil-free cosmetics. Some of them wrongly assume that their skin is already too greasy and end up further drying it out by avoiding extra moisture. Dryness can be difficult for a makeup artist to work with, and in the long run, it causes skin to become more sensitive and prone to wrinkles. People try to target one problem without thinking of the other issues that may arise in the meantime. I think people need to strike a better balance between over-hydrating the skin or completely dehydrating it. 

Creativity Comes In Many Forms

Yasuo Some hair and makeup artists are much more creatively minded than others. I’ve always felt that my work is more commercial, but now I think that’s not so bad. It’s more reflective of the styles and looks of an everyday woman. I get the sense that that’s your main focus as well.

Yuka Yes, I am. People definitely feel that hair and makeup artists should be more artistic, but I’m perfectly content working with cute girls and sticking to makeup that suits their day to day lifestyle. 

Yasuo That’s a great point. While I like being creative, I truly enjoy certain elements of commercial makeup and expressing myself through that lens. After all, what really matters is the overall aesthetic sense of the hair and makeup artist, and their ability to make it resonate with others. 

Yuka I always wanted to be an outsider. 

Yasuo Me too, but I know that I never was, and I never will be! 

When It Comes To Makeup, There’s No Right Answer

Yuka I once met a model with up-angled eyes; she had such an intense expression.  When I did her makeup for the first time, I softened the lines of her eyes in order to ease up her gaze. But when I met the same model a few years later, I was actually enchanted by her eyes, and so I did my best to emphasize them. It occurred to me that the correct way of applying makeup was making the most of her natural eye shape. 

Yasuo Sometimes I realize that I was selfish with my work, and that I should have taken the opposite approach. 

Yuka I find myself trying to correct people’s flaws instead of enhancing them in a positive manner. 

Yasuo I think it goes both ways—you can soften their characteristics when you feel that it’s appropriate to do so. On the other hand, if you conceal all of their flaws, then you may erase their character. 

A long time ago, I worked with Sarah Jessica Parker. She has a centripetal face, so I wanted to sculpt it using a little bit of makeup. However, the more I tried, the heavier the makeup became. I was putting too much emphasis on her face, and therefore detracting from the rest of her body. I was disappointed because I ultimately wasn’t able to express her magnetic charm through my makeup. I often wonder about what I should have done instead. 

Yuka There are definitely times when I do better than usual. 

Yasuo With most people, I worry about how much I should accentuate someone’s flaws. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. I don’t want to cover something that is better left untouched. 

Yuka I understand that feeling. I wish I knew the answer myself! 

Yasuo There are no right answers, and that’s why we can’t quit this business. 

Yuka I’ve recently come to the conclusion that coordinated styling and makeup is the best approach for a successful shoot. It’s much better than making one point stand out all on its own. 

Yasuo When different people are in charge of preparing a shooting, everyone tends to work too hard and overdo it. The point of beauty and fashion is to make women look nice, so I agree that they should operate as a more cohesive unit. 

There’s Something In Her Eyes…

Yasuo For today’s shoot, I asked you to bring along some of your favorite items. 

Yuka Yes! I love this Kai Eyelash Curler, it’s my favorite. 

Yasuo Does it work well on your lashes? 

Yuka It’s definitely the best fit for my eye shape. Eyelashes are so fun to focus on! 

Yasuo They’re insanely important. Whenever I do makeup on women with short and straight eyelashes, I always curl them. 

Yuka My mother was always emphasizing their importance. She used to say, “Make sure your lashes are curled because it’s cuter that way.”

Yuka I’ll make a selection depending on my skin’s condition. When I feel a breakout coming on, I’ll use a color that doesn’t attract attention to my acne. 

Yasuo If your lips look good, then you don’t need to be so worried about acne. 

Yuka That’s true. When my skin cooperates, I enjoy lighter lip colors. 

Yasuo What about your nails? 

Yuka I have very small and unsexy hands, so I’ve always liked focusing on my nails because they make me feel more feminine. My job doesn’t really allow for me to have regular manicures, but I’ve been doing pedicures since I was a student.

Yasuo You have a little bit of a baby face. It’s quite charming. Does it ever bother you?

Yuka I don’t really think about it anymore, but I know that I don’t look so mature. I always try to come across as reliable and trustworthy. 

Yasuo You should use your cuteness to your advantage! 

Yuka Someone actually asked me if I was a fifth grade boy the other day. I’m nervous and wonder if I’ll still look like this in my old age.

Yasuo From my own personal experience, it doesn’t change as you get older, but I personally don’t think that’s a bad thing. Hold onto your youthful qualities as long as you can!


Photos / Interview :  Yasuo Yoshikawa

Text : Mikako Koyama