The lipstick effect is one of the reasons the beauty industry is still holding firm despite the downturn, according to one of the organisers of Cosmoprof Asia 2009. 'Women still want to buy things to cheer themselves up, but instead of buying big expensive things, they are reducing their costs and buying small items of luxuries such as lipstick,' said Ginnie Koay, senior event manager of UBM Asia. 'This is why the beauty industry hasn't been affected as much as the other industries.' Cosmoprof Asia 2009, hosted by UBM Asia and BolognaFiere, takes place at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai from today to Friday. The fair is divided into five product sectors - Natural Health, Retail Distribution, Pack, Hair and Beauty Salon, and Beauty Salon. There are 1,405 exhibitors from 39 countries, up from 1,357 exhibitors last year. The 18 countries hosting their own pavilions are Australia, the mainland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, Israel, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Taiwan, Britain, the United States, South Africa, Switzerland, Singapore and newcomer Poland. Some exhibitors believe that the beauty industry has remained strong during the recession because of the availability of greater sources of information. 'With improved technology, we have noticed an increase in information about beauty products coming into Hong Kong, [enlightening] the population on topics such as make-up,' said George Ng, managing director of Giffarine (Hong Kong). 'There has been a significant increase in people coming to us for Halloween make-up compared to eight or 10 years ago, after they noticed how people do the same overseas.' The organisers believe the spotlight on brands will be widened this year. 'Besides the European countries that are renowned for their beauty products, such as France, Spain and Italy, one of the spotlights will also be on the [South] Korean products due to the Korean wave in Hong Kong,' Koay said. The number of Korean exhibitors has risen 31 per cent compared with last year due to subsidies the Korean government offers its companies to participate in overseas trade fairs. UBM Asia said that more international small and medium-sized companies were deciding to join Cosmoprof Asia after receiving subsidies from their respective governments as this fair was the most recognisable and largest international beauty fair in Asia. Giffarine (Hong Kong), an exhibitor, claimed the fair was highly regarded in the beauty industry and that Hong Kong's proximity to the mainland helped its cause. 'Cosmoprof Asia is not only the biggest beauty fair in Asia, it also serves as a stepping stone into one of the world's fastest growing markets,' Koay said. A spokesman for nail polish company OPI said it was 'gradually approaching the mainland market, while strengthening ties with Hong Kong by launching a new nail polish line at this year's fair'. 'For each nail lacquer collection, we designate a specific country or city and due to the popularity of our brand in the city, we decided to create the Spring/Summer 2010 Hong Kong Collection and launch it at the fair,' said Eiri Aoshima, executive director of W&E International. A spokeswomen for professional beauty exhibitor Eternal Optical & Perfumery (Far East) said the downturn has had a detrimental effect on business. 'We have not lost any clients at the beauty salons but we have noticed the number of times clients come for treatment have decreased and when they buy products from the salons, they prefer to purchase the multipurpose ones,' said Sandra Iu, brand development and management director of professional beauty department of Eternal Optical & Perfumery (Far East). Other trends to be highlighted include premium beauty products, facial whitening products, organic beauty products and anti-ageing products, said UBM Asia. Luxurious raw materials such as diamonds are used to make some premium beauty products. Spanish brand AINHOA uses diamond powder in the creation of products such as the Lifting Eye Contour Cream with Diamond Powder.