The cosmetics community took notice of Foreo in 2017 when the self-confessed “non- traditional” beauty brand challenged the at-home sheet mask category by offering hyper-infusion, T-sonic pulsations and cryotherapy treatments which are usually the province of expensive skin care centers.
While Korea may be the birthplace of the sheet mask, Western beauty brands like Foreo are carving out a piece of the action in Asia by capitalizing on their strengths; i.e., European prestige and technological advancements.
A Clever Combination
In Foreo’s case, in-house Korean skin care experts have been at the forefront of developing and formulating several mini disc-sized mask packs made of plush, ultra-fine microfiber that pair up with the company’s UFO, a puck-shaped device that allows for better absorption of the mask’s ingredients in 90 seconds.
The combination of the microfiber packs which can be slotted onto the device and secured with a transparent attachment ring benefit from the heating, cooling and pulsation settings which activate and deliver the ingredients more efficaciously than a sheet mask placed on the face for 20 minutes.
Settings including Thermo-Therapy, which uses gentle heat to relax the skin while infusing the deepest layers with ingredients. The T-Sonic element pulses against the skin to boost absorption of the ingredients for a more radiant and healthier-looking complexion while the LED therapy consists of the same UV-free red, green and blue LED light wavelengths found in spa photo facial treatments, according to the brand.
As with all items that belong under the IoT category; activating the UFO requires the user to download an app and submit a few particulars. Once paired with a handphone, the app will recommend a specially formulated Foreo activated mask designed to cater to the individual’s skin needs with the top priority including diminishing the appearance of pores and reducing puffiness.
The Sky’s the Limit
By drawing on its technological strengths, Foreo rose to major contender status in the Asian beauty arena with sales reaching an estimated $85 million in 2017. And earlier this year, the Swedish brand signed with three major Asian airlines—Eva Airways, China Airlines and Hainan Airlines—securing in-flight listings of the UFO and Luna Mini 2 devices and expanding the range of products it offers on board Cathay Pacific’s flights.
“Taking the beauty tech world by storm one country at a time, Luna Mini 2 also earned the title of Best Electronic Product at the prestigious Travel Retail Awards in 2018, further strengthening Foreo’s domination of the travel retail world,” said Gary Leong, Foreo GTR director.
The Sheet Mask Trend
Before Foreo arrived on the scene, the sheet mask segment had already witnessed considerable advances in innovation over the last decade. As cosmetics formulators scrambled to one-up their competitors, consumers had their pick of sophisticated treatments from intricate formulations comprised of broccoli and charcoal to snake venom extract and silk, collagen gel and cotton lace creations.
Design had become the best avenue for cosmetics players to stand out among their competitors as the launch of 3D masks boasted the ability to deliver double the quantity of a serum for example, which increased the consumer’s perception of the layered benefits of the product.
As consumers have become more trusting of at-home devices, the category in China continues to be dominated by cleansing and anti-aging tools while South Korea and Japan witnessed innovation in the hair regrowth and hair removal arena. Nano-hydrogen infused technology and accompanying apps will also continue to promise another level of moisturizing and anti-aging care.
Hydrogen is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce oxidative stress damage in the skin thanks to its small molecular weight, meaning it can easily penetrate the cells and carry its’ benefits around the body through the blood. As consumers seek to minimize dark spots, smooth wrinkles and reduce inflammation, new launches in this segment include portable hydrogen-rich water mist machines and ultra-fine cleansing brushes featuring hydrogen-packed cartridges and steamers that double as inner care drinks.
Panasonic, for instance, has taken clear inspiration from this trend with a massager which produces high-dense ionized warm carbonated gas. Claiming to stimulate skin cells, the device is designed to be used with a sheet mask, which in this instance has not been infused with skin care agents but is instead soaked in water and placed over the face for the device to then be used as a massager.
In January, Lancôme teamed up with the cloud computing arm of Alibaba to introduce an augmented reality game for customers as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. The game was launched alongside a Lancôme pop-up store in Harbour City, Hong Kong that enabled customers to engage with an online and offline brand experience during the Chinese New Year, as well as the opportunity to bring home limited edition Lancôme products and gifts.
“Our technologies not only offer innovative ways of engaging consumers, but also help Lancôme better understand customers’ needs using data analytic tools,” said Leo Liu, general manager of Alibaba Cloud Hong Kong, Macau and Korea.
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.