Although interest has somewhat waned of late in the West, the segment is building momentum in Asia Pacific. Taking the concept to another level in the skin-whitening category are some of the region’s biggest players like Shiseido with beauty foods designed to be used in conjunction with existing sun care and brightening ranges.
In 2016, there’s been a very visible shift in priority as consumers in Japan, China and Korea seek products that soothe inflammation and restore skin vitality rather than bleaching it. So, it’s no mistake that these inner care products are capturing consumers’ attention with marketing buzzwords such as “radiant light from within” and “brightening from deep inside the skin.”
Ingredients Create a Buzz
Regional trend tracker Florence Bernardin informed Happi that artichoke extract, goji berry, green tea and vitamin C have been the go-to ingredients in many of this season’s launches; all of them with claims of whitening the skin from the inside out. One example, according to Bernardin, the CEO of Franco-Asian consultancy firm, Information et Inspiration, is Fancl’s White Force drink and supplements pack. The formula features artichoke and pineapple extract, niacin to boost brightness and vitamin C to “achieve translucent skin’ from the inside out,” according to the Japanese company.
Meanwhile, Shiseido’s Benefique White Bloom, also formulated with goji berry, reportedly improves circulation and radiates the skin from the inside out thanks to the likes of siberian ginseng, broccoli sprout and Sakura extracts. The brand’s skin care product, Haku Melanofocus 3D formula, also claims to block melanin formation routes and deliver a whitening ingredient to both the upper and deeper layers of the skin.
Other noteworthy launches in this category includes Clinique’s Even Better Clinical dark spot corrector and optimizer serum featuring a duo formulation of Japanese Green Tea Gyokuro to act on uneven skin tone while the CL302 complex promises clear, bright skin.
What the Experts Say
While the “whitening from within” concept is still met with some skepticism, research into nutritional supplements in conjunction with the use of traditional sun protection formulas has increasingly shown that nutrients can reduce photo-oxidative damage. Beta-carotene supplements in particular have been used to protect against ultraviolet (UV) light-induced erythema, according to Dr. Alain Khaiat, VP-technical and scientific affairs at the ASEAN Cosmetic Association. He noted that ultraviolet A radiation has photo-oxidative properties and targets skin and blood antioxidants while also damaging cell components such as DNA.
While the sun protection factor of beta-carotene or lycopene is significantly lower than that achieved by topical sunscreens, and require several weeks to attain protective effects in the skin, Khaiat contends an optimal supply of antioxidant micronutrients ensures an increased basal dermal defense against UV irradiation and contributes toward long-term protection and overall maintenance of skin health and appearance.
“(The) intake of beta-carotene is helpful in slowing down ultraviolet A-induced photoaging in human skin by acting as an O2 quencher,” Khaiat told Happi.
Additional properties of these carotenoids include inhibition of melanin synthesis, including those in dark acne scars, freckles, dark underarms and age spots. These materials also possess anti-inflammatory properties in wound healing and UV damage.
“Carotenoids suppress the UVR- or IL-1-induced inflammatory response in dermal fibroblasts by blocking the UVR induction of the matrix-eroding enzyme, MMP-1, providing enhanced protection from inflammation and premature aging caused by sun exposure,” Khaiat further explained.
Whether this emergence of the inner care category is for real or merely little more than clever marketing has yet to be determined.
Either way, the direction of Asia’s skin whitening segment can only become more interesting from here on out.
Michelle Yeomans is an award winning multimedia journalist. She has been reporting on cosmetics industry movements in EMEA, US and Asia for five years and has won an award for her coverage of the complexities of operating in the Middle East. Michelle’s passion lies in tracking the beauty culture and trends of the Asia Pacific region. Ever the AV enthusiast, she also relishes the opportunity to create engaging video and podcast content for the B2B industry.