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Imogen Matthews Discusses How Asia is Leading Beauty Trends

Posted: April 24, 2014

Reporting from in-cosmetics 2014, Imogen Matthews of Imogen Matthews Associates recently wrote on her feelings about the Asian premium beauty market—and how it is far ahead of the beauty market in Europe.

She begins, “Asia is light-years ahead of Western beauty markets in terms of sophistication, innovation and product usage. This is the conclusion I came to listening to Florence Bernardin's presentation on ‘Innovative Beauty from Japan, Korea and China’ at this year's in-cosmetics show earlier this month. Some of the ideas coming out of Asia seem like science fiction, but they are already big trends, and we should be sitting up and taking note. I mentioned a few in the blog [post] I wrote from the in-cosmetics Hamburg show. Here are some other trends you should be thinking about.”

The first big trend Matthews cites is the focus on convenience and time-saving products. “Asian women are constantly looking for time-saving products and devices to fit around their crazy 24/7 lifestyles,” she notes. “Many consumers are mist addicts -aerosols and pump sprays provide skin care anywhere and anytime. Think of a light skin care or sun protection mist you spray over your makeup, without smudging it, that gives you protection whenever you need it.”

In the same vein, “All-in-one products are a huge trend and have moved on from BB/CC creams to all-in-one gels,” Matthews writes. “These 6-in-1 products combine the effects of lotion, emulsion, serum, cream, make-up base and UV protection. For example, Za Cosmetics Amino Mineral Refreshing Gel is a 10-second instant hydration as well as a long-lasting makeup with sebum hold and pore powder. And it's not just [in] skin care—the Skin Dear My Muse Liquid Rouge is a liquid 4-in-1 lipstick, lip gloss, tint and lip balm. The alphabet craze is still in full swing, but Asian cosmetic companies aren't moving through the alphabet letter by letter: enter SS "Sun Shield" creams and QQ cream for baby, elastic skin that is moisturized and fresh-looking. Multi-action cleansers are a strong trend. They are more skin friendly, deeply enriched with skin treatments and designed to deliver quicker results. Some are designed to warm up when massaged into the skin and then cool the skin when rinsed off, leaving it feeling pure and fresh.”

For the next big trend Matthews identifies, she looks to a more mature market—and how to talk to them. “Anti-aging is not a term you'll find associated with Asian skin care products,” she points out. “Age is perceived as an accomplishment [in Asian countries], the gaining of wisdom, stability and mental beauty. The big beauty brands recognize this with dedicated websites for 50+ women from Shiseido and Sofina. However, age targeting starts young and there is a new word for it: Initially Old Syndrome, which describes anyone over 35 who is getting older mentally due to the stress of modern living. SKII actively targets this group with skin care products designed to address dull skin that has an unrefined texture. The ideal is to have skin as smooth as a peeled boiled egg.”

She continues, “Moving on, from skin lightening products that correct age spots, tone correctors are all the rage. These target a wider range of color irregularities and give the user the fresh, clear skin tone which is a sign of youth. Surgery [also] is very popular, but the ‘new surgery’ is about using makeup to slim, contour and sculpt the face. The Asian ideal is to create a firm V-shaped face that looks youthful and perfect from any angle. Dull, flat lips are a sign of aging and can be prevented thanks to new tinted lip serums. These products promise a rosy color, volume and tone and are the latest in creating a more youthful appearance. And finishers—just one last step in the extensive 10-product Asian woman's skin care routine. A new type of product, it is designed to restore skin's natural radiance and enhance the effectiveness of other products in a long-lasting formulation that lasts all day and evening.”

Finally, Matthews discusses a trend that is seemingly growing all over the beauty industry—texture. “Textures are the best way to deliver emotional and functional innovation to the consumer,” she writes. “Asian cosmetic companies are way ahead in creating jelly-like, colored, transparent textures that are versatile to use. A brand new best seller is BRTC Vitalizer White Gel, which is a whitening facial gel with multi-vitamin capsules containing ten vitamins accounting for 10% of the formulation. Another is Albion Exage Mirrored Skin is a special skin polishing rinse-off massaging gel in a soft plump jelly base that adhesively spreads over the skin—when water is added it slides more easily onto the skin.How about a new type of super moisturizer with a unique texture that changes gel into water and then into oil [Belif Aqua Gel Oil]? Or a foundation made from a "bouncing mesh effect" structure that promises smooth skin for 24 hours [Chosungah 22]? These are the types of products that Asian women are using in their daily routines.”

And to conclude, Matthews speculates, “How long before they find their way onto our retail shelves?”