How social media has impacted on Gal makeup in 2017.

by - Thursday, May 11, 2017


So Gal is characterised by a few things, a tan, light hair, light makeup and big eyes with a couple of variations in between but I mainly want to talk about how the end of the gal boom was a catalyst for the natural-shift in Gal makeup and how it changed from that point up until now where a new "look" is starting to emerge. In the last few years, the international Gal community has shrunk and in my personal opinion, this has been down to the apparent dimming down of the look of Gal.

Why has Gal changed? 

Gal moved away from thick eyelashes, dramatic contact lenses and bright blush to a more natural, cute, casual look. Gal appeared to turn away from everything that made it interesting to the Western world. Gal started to look a way that stopped feeling Gal.
As gaijin gals, who are not Japanese and/or experience Gal through 2nd and 3rd party resources i.e stuff on the internet and not living in Japan, our experience of Gal and what Gal looks like is very different to both Gals who are born and raised in Japan and everyday Japanese people who experience or see Gals.
Goodbye, sweet prince
 In the last couple of years, Gal related media has declined as demand has dropped. Magazines such as Egg and Nuts have vanished forever, Ranzuki and Popteen changed demographic and we are left with only a handful of magazines that represent a limited number of Gal styles. For the girls living outside of Japan, this can give the impression that Gal is dying the death and ceases to exist. That is simply not the case. Yes it has declined but Gals are still out there.

If you're been a member of the international gal community for a long time, you'll have witnessed two or three significant changes in Gal makeup and one of the catalysts for the change of gal makeup from a flashy look to a more natural one was the end of the Gal boom which was around 2011.

We have to bear in mind that one of the keys to the success and longevity of Gal as a subculture and style is its ability to constantly change. Like goth that exists in the West, it is a spectrum style where an individual can be a degree of gal-ness and many sub-styles and looks exist that might look different but are still strongly associated with each other by others and by members of that community.

2006 to 2011 was a big boom for Gal, this is when we had the most Gal magazines, A LOT. For all kinds of styles but the boom ended and since then, we have seen an apparent in decline in Gals wandering around. At least in their most obvious forms.

What has impacted on the decline of Gal?

Fashion is at the mercy of changes in the economy, social and cultural movements and politics. Fashion and trends also directly reflect each of these things too so any changes that have happened in Gal we can assume are as a result of changes in Japan's economy, socio-cultural and political changes.

Let's talk about a few things that have contributed to the decline of Gal
  • The stagnation of Japan's economy means people are earning less, which means people have less disposable income to spend on clothes, which leads to the next point:
  • Gal-specific brands are expensive, particularly for the demographic they are aimed at. 
  • Gal brands are expensive because they are small scale and produce a limited amount of clothing so need to keep their prices high to turn over anything resembling a profit.
  • People are buying into fast fashion brands like Forever21 and H&M because they are cheap
  • Upkeeping a typically Gal aesthetic is expensive for young people, particularly those without jobs
  • Gals are still associated with delinquent youth which can can inhibit education and employment
  • Japan is really conservative particularly in regards to business so looking gal while trying to hold down a regular job is difficult
  • The culture in Japan often makes subculture-followers feel social pressure to "rejoin" society as they reach adulthood at around 20 years of age.
  • The impact of the Hallyu wave has infiltrated Japanese pop-culture and fashion.
The majority of the reasons for the decline of Gal is mostly economic in one way or another. There's an organic phenomenon that can be observed during times of economic decline or stagnation with is equal parts fascinating and so eye-rolling that you'll see 10 years into the past.
During times of economic decline or stagnation, women are more likely to dress in a way that is pleasing to more men. It's called the hemline effect (though it doesn't necessarily correlate to the lengths of skirts in a contemporary context) and it makes me mad, but it's been observed many times throughout modern history.
But why? Let's kind of break it down in caveman terms.

If a women present themselves in an alluring and non-threatening way (interpret that as you will), she has more of a chance of attracting more mates, therefore of chances of being given resources i.e. financial stability, increase. 
Gross gross gross, but it's true and currently Japan is still in a period of stagnation so that explains why more extreme street styles are on the DL, gal included. 

What watered down the standard Gal look in that last 5 years?

Gal has changed a lot since its fruition in the 80s but there are a couple of consistencies in regards to the aesthetic that remain to this day. The most important one is that Gal has never strived for natural I-rolled-out-the-womb-like-this beauty. The first gals were tanned, has lightened hair and wore light makeup which stood out against a sea of girls with dark hair, pale skin and dark makeup but since then we have seen Gals with dark hair or pale skin. Gal makeup has always been about going against the grain, being flashy, having a well-defined face, having big eyes and wearing lots of slap but the techniques that have been used to achieve these things have changed, are still changing and will always continue to change. Besides, going against the grain in regards to appearance in Japan is really easy. REALLY easy
Mid 90s to early 2000s Gal realness.
Thick spiky lashes and big cartoony circle lenses were replaced by more natural lashes and an emphasis on the eyebags, which was a new technique that enlarged the look of the eye. This eye bag trend been banging around for few years but with its decrease, we are starting to see the tail end of the impact that the Hallyu wave has has across Japanese pop-culture as a whole.

The Hallyu Wave was the name of the period of time that Korean pop-culture and music became incredibly popular outside of Korea, Japan included. Nearing the end of the 2011 Gal boom, Gal adopted a more Korean-centric look. We saw shorter, sparser lashes than we were used to in Gal, tinted lips, big puppy-like contact lenses and most significantly, aegyo-sal aka eyebag makeup which was something that has never existed in Gal before.
This was a shift towards Seiso-Gal, or "polished" Gal and we will refer to this era of Gal as the seiso period for the sake of this post.

Does this FEEL Gal to you? ...NOPE!

The power of the Hallyu wave worldwide is beginning to wain and Korean music doesn't hold the same power that it did a couple of years ago so I think this trend reflects a shift in interests amongst those who are gal-inclined. Plus people get bored and want something new to be inspired by.

What new trends are emerging in Gal?

Ok I went off topic but through my research i.e me obsessively hunting through Gal instagrams for new makeup ideas, I have started to notice a distinct shift away from seiso looks, particularly in regards to makeup. I'm seeing a shift away from the naturalness that was emphasised in seiso gal and a return to glamourous statement makeup. There's more emphasis on looking sexy rather than cute which is something we haven't seen in Gal in a while. Here are some of the things I have been noticing.
  • Bright, clear contact lenses with minimal enlarging effect, particularly in blue and grey
  • Thick, medium-to-long lengthed, feathery eyelashes
  • Long cat eyeliner with eye makeup that emphasises is on the top and sides of the eyes
  • Grey eyeshadow with gold accents
  • Thicker, defined eyebrows
  • Soft contour and a more dramatic highlight
  • Generally nude shades on the face
  • Matte lipsticks 
  • and the tan is BACK
The most distinct changes we can see in this look are the long, almond eye and the nude colour pallet. Note the distinct lack of pink particularly in the cheeks.


The look for the eyes is big but long and almond-shaped. Largeness is achieved from the bright clear coloured lenses which make the whites of your eyes look more noticeable and draws your eye into the middle of the eye instead of the black abyss of the surrounding eyelashes. The shadow and eyeliner are applied with a focus on and around the top eyelid in an effort to enlarge the eyes.
Eyeliner is used to create a new shape rather than through using false lashes. The attention is on the outer corners and top eyelids with minimal alteration of the natural lash line. No fancy bottom lash applications here but eyeshadow or liner is a must, Long and large, man.
Makeup around the eye is kept light in colour minus the liner, there are less blacks and deep brown shadows and more greys, golds and light browns to create a gentle 3d form.

We are also seeing less of the korean-inspired eye bag makeup. Girls are opting for a silver or gold highlight under the eyes and no longer contour the eye bag using brown shadow or pencil or at least less obviously.


So the Japanese love shaving off their brows and just using a pencil and powder to create a soft faded brow.. imagine those blush art sets you had as a bit. This new trend  calls for darker and more defined brows, which are popular in the West.. Gal brows generally go 2 ways, super straight or super arched, These brows are naturally arched but super defined. It is also ok to have brows that are darker than you hair which is never done here.

there are exceptions to the rules however
Small cherry-like lips are a thing in Japan so you'll see a lot of girls concealing down their natural lip size or using a gradient effect to make them look smaller and thinner but we're seeing full lips now.
We're seeing more matte lipsticks in a variety of nude and berry shades,

Healthy-looking polished skin
We are still seeing matte foundations but dewey ones are used just as often. Gal makeup has always used contour, generally on the nose and cheeks but we're now seeing more obvious silver and gold toned highlights along the cheekbones, the nose bridge and thinly applied under the brows to define them.
There is a definitely lack of pink in the cheeks and Gals are opting for orange and brown toned blush, which achieves a mature look. The blush is also applied following the cheekbones rather than the apples of the cheek. The foundation aims to look polished and well blended.

What influenced this change?

Instagram. Other than Ageha and AneAgeha, Gals can't rely on print media for fashion inspiration anymore but they can still rely on the girls who appeared in those magazines.
Most celebrity or Charisma Gals are adopting Instagram and through a trickle effect, that happens in any subculture, culture or trends, new ideas, looks and styles spread.

If we want to get really specific about what the catalyst was for this trend, I'll just tell you know, it's Kim Kardashian.

As much as you dislike it, the impact that the Kardashian/Jenner clan's have had on pop-culture as a whole has been absolutely mind-blowing. Kim and her sister Kylie normalised glamorous makeup for the daytime.

Casual look for a trip to the supermarket

There's a fine line between looking casual, edgy and weird but Kim's look can't be described as any of those things. Her look is almost genreless, which means individuals can apply their own meaning to that aesthetic. Somewhere along the line, this kind of pimp-out-the-whole-face look, the name 'Baddie' got thrown in and it wasn't applied to Kim's look itself but more the girls who were inspired by or did makeup that was super extra. All the parts of their face that they could pimp out, they did. Perfect brows, perfect contour, perfect lips, perfect everything.
So a Baddie in this context is a girl who is tough, sexy and has perfect makeup.

What does this Baddie thing look like?

It's pretty broad but it's unlike any makeup that we've seen before in previous years.

Hyper-natural; photoshopped unrealistic beauty, but in real-life. Everything on your face is contoured and chiseled to perfection.

Here's some examples:

Baddie makeup is not any one thing but there are some key traits: overdrawn lips, pristine arched brows and long eyes

Here are some other common features of Baddie makeup
  • Warm contour colour and dramatic highlight on the nose, cheek, forehead and chin
  • Feathery dramatic lashes
  • thick angular cat eyeliner that creates a long eye
  • well defined arched brows using pomade or gel
  • Full lips achieved through fillers or overlining
  • Matte lipstick generally in nude and brown shades
  • Natural coloured contacts
Anywho, moving swiftly on from that:

How did this trend reach Gal?

I want to talk about how trends in general work within Gal, or any subculture or style for that matter.
From what I have personally noticed is that a lot of girls who seem to be adopting this look are gals whose careers or interests are focused around keeping in shape, such as dancers, competitive fitness models and AV actresses. Naturally a lot of these girls follow others girls who share similar interests to them so along the line, these gals got inspiration from.
ex-AV actress Mana Izumi working a typical dark-lipper baddie look.
I want to talk about one of my FAVOURITE fashion theories, the trickle-down effect which will hopefully convey this to you. This model (theories is probably a less technical term to refer to it) can be used to give you a visual idea as to how Kim and Kylie came to impact this new Gal makeup trend and this model can be used to explain almost any trend whether it's relating to fashion or not.

The trickle-down effect can also explain why you first saw massive stiletto blingy nails on the KuroGals from Black Diamond 5 years ago and now everyone and their mum in every country has them. I'm going to be extra and explain these theories in great detail because 1) it's really interesting and 2) I want to pretend that I somehow made use of my marketing degree.

Please see my ugly diagram here which will give you some visual aid in how this theory works.  Please bear in mind that this model is Japan-specific time-wise and had we talked about this trend as a world-wide whole, the charisma gals would probably sit somewhere around the middle.

The curved line represents points in time during a trend's reign that people choose to jump on the trend bandwagon.
Kim started this trend so she's right at the far left. As time goes on, people start to become inspired by her makeup and adopt it for themselves; these are the innovators. Some of these innovators have massive followings, and because there are more of them than there are Kims, their combined audience is bigger than Kim's. This means they have a much farther outreach and can spread the trend to even more people. From that point on, there is a diffusion of what audiences pick up on the  makeup trend first and I tried to use everyday examples to explains how you know at what stage of a trend's life-cycle it's at. It also gives a give indication as to how long a trend is going to last.

I have stuck these Gals who are some key players in the subculture around the early adopters mark. These gals have seen baddie makeup be spread around by these super popular instagrammers and have picked up on the trend. The more people who wear the trend, the more people are going to see it and the trend visibility of the trend will increase and increase until it gets to a point which is bang in the middle of the early and late majority. From that point in visibility, the trend declines as the innovators move onto new things and again this eventually moves throughout this graph.

So back to the Gals again.

These gals already have a lot of following and influence so lots of people are going to see their makeup and copy it and tadaa a trend is born. As print is kind of dead and less and less dokusha models or 'reader models' that we saw in magazine exist, instagram-famous personalities are the 2017 equivalent. More girls are using the internet to seek out styles that they feel like they can relate to and naturally, icons are born within these platform

Should I feel worried? What does this mean for the future of Gal.

Gal is inherently a subculture, emphasis on the word SUB. Gal was never mainstream to begin with and the fact that there were a ton of Gals at some point were because a lot of regular girls just hopped on a band wagon and just rode on it until there was another new thing to jump onboard.
Y'all should be happy that all the ride-or-dies are still there.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the key to the longevity of Gal is it's ability to constantly evolve. With the few aesthetic rules that gal abides by, it still means there is plenty of wiggle room in terms of what one can do to turn their appearance up a notch. There have been many sub-styles that have popped up since Gal's fruition, each having different life-spans and periods of popularity.

This also isn't the first time that Gal has looked to different countries, time-periods, cultures and groups for inspiration. The pioneering Gals were girls who looked to Western media for fashion inspiration and the same still often applies. Most recently the, the 2014 neogal trend (we can debate whether it's actually gal or not until we go blue in the face) was an obvious shout-out to 90s American culture, hipster and online culture and this new baddie-esque trend is no different.
NeoGal began in 2014
BGals took inspiration from black culture and music, HimeGals took inspiration from Marie Antoinette, Paris Hilton and the stereotypical idea of european princesses. 
Himegyaru was most prominent in the mid to late 2000s
Few movements within Gal were born purely out of Japan influences; an example being extreme "tsuyome manba" which has no western counterpart at all or anything we can compare it to.

Tsuyome Manba appeared in the mid to late 2000s
Subcultures are also at the mercy of the macro environment; ie things like economic, social, political, legal and technological changes, You can guarantee that if there is a new way to achieve big eyes, gals are going to try it and it was literally only a matter of time before Gals cottoned onto this look.

And lastly, there will always be gals in some form.There will always be girls who go against the grain, whose personalities and interests are seen as stereotypically Gal and who feel attracted to an aesthetic associated with Gal and feel a connection to other girls who think similarly so in that sense, they'll never die.

I've spotted a couple of new "sub styles" that I will be writing about (when I get off my lazy ass) so those are in the works.

But yeah, I hope you enjoyed this post and it was at least a little it informative. Please let me know your opinions, thoughts, critiques or anything you're willing to share.

What do you guys think about the current state of gal and what do you think can be done to improve it? Let us know in the comment box or drop us a Tweet at @GxLBiBle

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  1. Really great post! I must confess that I was really worried about the super-toned-down direction gal was going in T^T It's just not the same now the magazines have disappeared and a lot of brands have become so boring (omg look at d.i.a *tears*). Glad to see it's going in a more glamorous direction again! These new trends work really well for me as orange/brown tones look good on my complexion, I like feathery lashes and my eyes are almond shaped! It's hard to see what's new these days... (as I used to find out through mags lol).

    I like how analytic you wrote this! I'm really interested in those types of articles about gal.

  2. Love this article, it's extremely well written :)
    Gal is not dead yet, but this is good for when everyone out there is panicking about gal being dead... I'll just shove them this post on their faces.
    Looking forward to read those articles about newer substyles ♥

  3. This article blew my mind. I learned so much about what's been happening and it actually made me very hopeful. Thank you so much for this. I don't feel so bad anymore for becoming gal so late xD