Asian trends inspire manufacturers worldwide

On 7 February, SPC Editor Julia Wray delivered a talk on new Asia-influenced trends in Western markets at the UK Society of Cosmetic Scientists’ RDG Wales & West event. What follows is a synopsis of this talk...

Some of the most intriguing and joy-inspiring beauty and personal care products to launch in recent years have come from Asia. Many of them – alphabet creams and cushion compacts in particular – have become huge hits in Western markets too.

A term that is creeping into women’s vocabularies the world over is ‘ulzzang’ – which is a popular South Korean term literally meaning ‘best face’ or ‘good looking’. This ties in with the Korean preference for a minimally made-up look, which unsurprisingly requires skin to be kept in tip-top condition.

The Korean multi-step skin care process, despite having been slightly mythologised as requiring 14-plus products, is really not so different to the classic cleanse, tone, moisturise routine. You have a more thorough double cleanse, first with an oil-based cleanser, then with a foam one. Then between the toner and serum products you use an essence. An emulsion may also be introduced.

Western brands, such as Murad and Elizabeth Arden, have done a good job of assimilating the essence concept for their core markets; many have a more serum-like texture than traditional Korean essences, to excite consumers with something novel, but not to overwhelm them with choice.


Ingredient Exchange

We’re also seeing more Western brands tap into the concept of pared-down formulations. The Japanese approach to beauty is quite a minimalist one, built around simple rituals and formulations based on very few, but very efficacious ingredients.

This philosophy is gaining ground globally. In Korea, you have the Power 10 Formula line from the It’s Skin brand: a series of essences enriched with a different active ingredient. Canada’s Deciem, meanwhile, has a new brand called The Ordinary centring around clinical formulations named after key ingredients, for example Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5.

The concept of simplicity in both formulation and routine is a refreshing one for consumers. Another trend that’s made it to US and UK shelves is . . .

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