Asia’s best-kept skincare secrets
The East is raising the skincare stakes with a focus on science, innovation and ritual.
The sophisticated—and lengthy—beauty regimens of women in countries like Korea and Japan begin early. Japanese girls are introduced to four-step bathing rituals when they are toddlers. In Korea, they watch their mothers work through daily beauty rituals that involve multiple cleansings, exfoliation, toning, massage, masks and revitalizing ampoules. According to Jaana Jätyri, founder of London-based trend forecaster Trendstop, “Asian women view their skin as a prized possession.” They treat it as such too, spending more than seven times what we do in North America on beauty products and staying out of the sun. Head to the continent in the summer and you’ll see more umbrellas than during the monsoons. You might even spot a “facekini” or two.
In the West, the focus is largely on fighting wrinkles, but the East has a different obsession: clarity and texture—which, we know now, are the true signifiers of youth. (This is thanks, in part, to a study that tracked the human eye’s propensity for instantly honing in on a dark spot or imperfection on a person’s face and perceiving it as older than it actually is.) For the last several seasons, fresh-faced, bare and beautiful faces have dominated the runway, further driving home the message that good skin is the most coveted beauty trend of all.
As the saying goes, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Perhaps that’s why the Asia is so much further ahead in the skincare game. “The East rules the skincare market because the products are developed for the most demanding consumers in the world,” says Jätyri. Emma Fric, head of research and future insight at consultancy Peclers Paris agrees. Skincare is serious business. “Japanese brands like Kanebo are constantly investing in research,” she says. “Korean men and women have long been immersed in a culture that emphasizes the importance of a meticulous skincare regimen focused on the prevention of aging and dehydration,” says Nathalie Paiva, senior manager of marketing and PR at Amorepacific, the Korean powerhouse beauty brand that invests 3 percent of sales back into research because “consumer desire keeps evolving,” as does its search for better and more advanced products.
It’s all for our benefit too. New innovations keep coming (or being smuggled in from a savvy traveller), like Shiseido’s Full Makeup Washable Base, a primer worn under makeup that allows even the heaviest waterproof formulas to be washed off with a splash of water. Those in the know love “skin finishers” from brands like Sulawhasoo that contain herbs and antioxidants and leave skin looking poreless and flawless without that cakey, heavy feel. It might be time to cash in those airmiles and clear some space in your bathroom cabinet.
IN YOUR FACE
All these beauty products had their start in Asia, where beautiful skin is priority #1 for women.
• BB and CC creams.
• Cleansing Oils
• Overnight Cream Masks
• Brightening Lotions
• Sheet masks
• Blotting Papers
• Cleansing Water
• Skin Cycling
• Snail Creams (okay, this one may not quite reach critical mass.)