On one hand, North Asian markets are more established, with Japan relying on its solid reputation of quality and scientific innovation, Korea having established its dominance on the beauty industry with disruption and glow power, and China’s young digitally-driven market reinventing the luxury codes through local pride and heritage.

On the other hand, South East Asia (SEA) markets are perceived as emerging and defined by their diversity. Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world, paving the way for halal beauty, Thailand is strongly inspired by K-Beauty but its connection to wellness and natural beauty is deeply embedded in its beauty culture. Singapore is targeting more influent and international consumers, but carries the same conditions that impact beauty routine everyday: a hot and humid climate and pollution issues.

North Asia beauty markets shape South East Asia industry in many ways, by influencing beauty routines and contributing to the latest trends, but local brands create their own custom answers.

Efficacy Obsession

The obsession for skincare efficacy in Asia is illustrated by the rise of powerful actives, beauty ingredients that are magnified through high concentration, freeze-dried formulas, ampoule formats, layering and mixing gestures, like in Korea with the power of single ingredient in iconic Amore Pacific Vintage Single Extract Ampoule formulated with 100% fermented Camellia essence. This trend has become viral in South East Asia, with local brands like Am Herb (TH) or Azarine (ID) launching series of high concentrated serums or ampoules targeting specific skin concerns.

Full Protection Mode

The second direction which is central for Asian consumers is full protection, whether it is from climate change or to enhance skin barrier against external aggressions. Microbiome Barrier is more and more relevant in Asia, as consumers understand a healthy microbiome allows to protect the skin against aggressions and offer a fully moisturized skin.

Japanese brand Iniks new aging skincare line for sensitive skin proposes a “barrier aging care” that helps improve sensitive skin with decreased barrier function caused by aging.

The answer in SEA is the emergence of brands focusing on microbiome-friendly brands such as Biome Beauty by Nusantics : one of the first company to offer microbiome analysis to understand skin condition.

Nomad Beauty

One of the most important shifts in Asian beauty is the surge of new formats that are all about travel-friendly items, fast-paced lifestyle, integrating every day routine.

The boom of the stick format can be explained by its many benefits: a touch-free application, flexible usage and also its multi-functionality. Among many Korean launches that go from soothing care to bang shampoo– all of them are super easy to use and reapply in stick format. For instance, SO NATURAL launched Vegan Heartleaf Vinegar Stick with a soothing & balancing action thanks to star ingredients : 90,000ppm houttuynia vinegar & 80% hydrating essence.

In Indonesia, local brand ESQA launched Supreme Hybrid Sun Stick Spf50+Pa++++, a new sun stick with various benefits adapted to local concerns and needs : lightweight, breathable, fast absorbing, non-greasy with UVA/UVB protection that blurs pores and can be used as primer and is formulated with oatmeal to reduce skin inflammation.

To conclude, Korea, Japan and China markets are huge innovation laboratories that influence Southeast Asian consumers, in terms of beauty ideals as well as in routines and beauty gestures. Many concerns and expectations are common among Asian consumers in terms of benefits (brightening, acne care), usage (on-the-go, in and out), and sensoriality (texture, fragrance), forging the success of both Asian and local brands in S.E.A.