According to Jo Lawlor, Mintel’s global beauty skin care analyst, companies are shifting away from selling points such as fragrance, “the worst thing for sensitivity,” she told Happi, and are incorporating active ingredients such as vitamin C into their skin care solutions to meet growing demand.
But these days, consumers are just as concerned about what’s not in their lotions and creams, as they are about what’s in them.
“We are seeing a focus on clean beauty,” Lawlor explained, “free from parabens, mineral oils, fragrance and toward more actives such as antioxidants and vitamins to strengthen the skin.”
Now That’s Smart!
The sector is also embracing new, innovative smart technology to meet the issue head on—particularly in Asia. At the retail level, Japanese skin care brand SK-II, which is owned by Procter & Gamble, is among those leading the way in smart skin care. Its Future X Smart Store in Shanghai includes an interactive mirror that scans skin, diagnosis it and recommends the appropriate products that can be found, not so coincidentally, in store.
In the home, the HiMirror is a smart scale and mirror combination created by Simon Shen, CEO of New Kinpo Group, the parent company of Kinpo Electronics, New Taipei City, Taiwan. His invention assesses the condition of the skin to help target problem areas, keep track of the user’s skin care and makeup formulas, and even print out a report. Now, thanks to Shen, consumers see how badly they look in the morning while they weigh themselves. It’s a gadget that goes hand-in-hand with the old Rodney Dangerfield, joke:
“My doctor told me I was fat and I said I want a second opinion. He said ‘Okay, you’re ugly too!’”
Another new apparatus is the Foreo Luna, which is billed as a 2-in-1 smart cleansing massager and cleansing solution. When the skin analyzer is connected to the Foreo app, it measures hydration and provides an overview of skin health and recommends a personalized skin care routine.
Lifestyle or Environment?
Eczema is the world’s most common skin condition. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it affects up to 3% of adults globally, many of whom suffer from chronic or acute symptoms. Psoriasis, another common affliction, affects approximately 125 million people worldwide. These and other skin care issues can be worsened by environmental pressures.
“Sensitivity is cyclical, as usually a sensitivity presents itself and can indicate an underlying skin condition or inflammation which is triggered in the body,” explained Lawlor. “Once the inflammation is there, the body becomes sensitized to other external or internal irritants, causing the sensitivity which can then progress to a skin condition.
“It’s a bit like the chicken and egg analogy—sometimes hard to know which came first but they are usually related,” she added.
In Japan, skin sensitivities are a concern for 56% of women, according to recent data. There, in an environment of rising temperatures and poor air quality, consumers cite particular sensitivities—to water, pollution and humidity.
“Looking at the data, I would say it is mostly down to the humidity and the fact that they have very delicate skin texture,” Lawlor told Happi.
Consumers elsewhere in Asia, particularly in China, have similar concerns.
According to Lawlor, in China, consumers perceive skin conditions and sensitivity to come from lifestyle, such as a poor diet, as well as pollution and hormonal issues. Most have oily skin or enlarged pores, which impact the products they buy.
Chinese consumers afflicted by skin conditions won’t touch skin care products containing formaldehyde, which she describes as the “biggest concern,” ahead of colors, parabens, silicones or alcohol.
But while 70% of European Union consumers with eczema seek new and improved skin solutions, 30% of 20-49 year-old consumers in China do not take any measurement of their skin and let the condition heal on its own.
“The respondents stated they do not use any skin care,” said Lawlor. “However, 52% say that they change lifestyle, exercise and diet to improve things.”
According to the analyst, the beauty industry must do more to better communicate options to consumers affected by skin sensitivity.
“They could do much more; however, most brands are promoting fragrance and paraben-free now as a consumer expectation, and we see increasing demand for dermo-cosmetics,” said Lawlor. “Brands like La Roche-Posay communicate well with sensitive skin users. Also, personalization/customization is coming in.”
Customized dermo-cosmetic products include a digital diagnosis of the skin to determine the individual’s needs and specific characteristics which beauty experts then use to create tailor-made treatments. It’s the ultimate in product personalization—assessing the level of sensitivity, hydration, elasticity and oil to develop the most appropriate treatment for the needs of each person, thus ensuring the best results in facial care.
L’Oréal brand Kiehl’s, which is extremely popular in Asia, just celebrated its 10th anniversary in Indonesia and recently introduced bespoke skin care with Apothecary Preparations, an in-store-only service that features powerful concentrates that pinpoint the individual’s unique skin concerns.
Overall, relevancy is a key to survival in the fast-paced Asian skin care market.
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.