Five Asian skincare brands promoting clean beauty for a new generation of aware customers
As Asian consumers become more aware of healthy and natural beauty products, skincare companies in the region are stepping up to cater to the market. Here are five brands that offer toxin-free and chemical-free beauty
Sheet masks, snail slime, blotting papers – Asia has no shortage of beauty trends and cutting-edge ingredients that have taken the world by storm. One area where it has been lagging behind, however, is the development of non-toxic, chemical-free skincare brands.
While Australia and America have been pioneers in this category, there is still a big gap for home-grown Asian brands that truly personify the idea of “clean” beauty.
“Growth has been slow because of education. Too many people think that natural products are ineffective, which is a major barrier. Then you have the products themselves – many Asian-based brands I have tried so far haven’t delivered in terms of results,” says Brenda Lee, founder of Beyorg Organic, a Hong Kong based retailer that specialises in natural skincare.
That’s not to say that tides are changing. As the consumer becomes more concerned with wellness, which covers everything from meditation to organic food, skincare is set to be the next step in the evolution.
“We’ve seen a real shift in customers and how they want to experience beauty. It’s not just about big brands, and social media platforms have built awareness about alternatives. Customers want to explore new products, especially grouped around wellness, and skincare is a part of it,” says Lianna Mann, vice-president of beauty & well-being at Lane Crawford.
With its abundant resources and history of natural medicine, Asia could easily position itself as the new hotspot for organic skincare. The region is home to countless pure ingredients, including tea (LVMH has used a special Chinese tea for its first in-house brand Cha Ling) and precious oils such as rose and sea buckthorn to marine ingredients such as kelp and konjac.
Asia-based beauty giants such as Amore-Pacific are continually developing new technologies and innovations for international conglomerates, so there’s no reason why home-grown brands can’t harness this.
“Although Snow Fox’s key ingredients come from Australia (except for the cherry blossom from Japan), our products are made in a lab in Taipei, Taiwan, where they have a proprietary technology that allows us to keep our masks and bottles fresh without having to add synthetic preservatives. It’s the Asian technology that makes the difference,” says Phoebe Song, founder of Snow Fox.
“Asia, like every other region, has specific skincare concerns and demands, be it lightweight, highly absorbable or stain proof formulas. Climate plays a huge role and products developed here will be able to take into account factors such as humidity and the Asian lifestyle. This will eventually give us an edge,” says Charlotte Chen, founder of Everyday.
Here are five toxin-free Asian skincare brands to try:
Allies of Skin
This beloved Singaporean brand was founded in 2016 but has already reached cult status thanks to its series of specialised masks. A bout of teenage acne inspired founder Nicolas Travis to launch this range of multitasking products which are not only free of toxins, but dermatologist-tested and non-comedogenic.
The brand’s first and star product is the 1A All Day Mask, a leave-on treatment for men and women, designed to work under make-up and sunblock. New additions include a blemish treatment, double-duty cleanser-masques and overnight facial, plus a rose-infused mist.
The products combine the natural actives with technology – every formula undergoes rigorous clinical testing before going to market – so expect trademarked complexes and nourishing ingredients such as purifying moringa and Indian ginseng.
Launched in Japan late last year by former magazine editor Giselle Go and entrepreneur Philippe Terrien, this tightly edited line of five products is free from such nasties as parabens, synthetics and petrochemicals.
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The no fuss collection is perfect for city dwellers, with formulas that have been developed to reduce environmental stresses on the skin, thanks to pollution-fighting ingredients sourced in Asia and finished in Japan. Highlights include the Magic Drops, a lightweight, silky serum that is charged with avocado oil, jasmine and bitter orange leaf oil, to form a protective barrier on the skin.
Everyday for Every Body
Part of the new “healthy hybrid” category – which touts cost-effective, non-toxic and results-driven skincare – Everyday for Every Body is a sustainable personal care brand. Founder Charlotte Chen has taken everyday staples such as sunscreen and deodorant and reformulated them to be as clean as possible, while still being affordable (and did we mention the super stylish packaging?)
Top sellers include Resting Beach Face, an anti-pollution sunscreen serum with kale, spinach and seaweed to battle free radicals, and the Really Nice Pits deodorant, which is aluminium-free and packed with antibacterial colloidal silver.
Purearth draws upon ancient Ayurveda for its luxurious line, hand-poured into violet glass bottles and jars to protect and preserve its potent formulations, which are infused with steam-distilled rose essential oil and cold-pressed Himalayan wild sea buckthorn and rosehip seed oils.
Most of the raw ingredients are biodynamic or organic and are sourced from one of the purest terrains in the world – the Himalayas in India. What’s more, each is hand-harvested by small communities of women at the source, ensuring that they are fair trade and sustainable.
New additions to the collection include the Mitti Clay Face Masque, infused with honey, frankincense and tamanu oil, while there are plans to launch a Wild Seaberry Supercritical Oil in May.
After suffering from chronic rosacea, founder Phoebe Song set about creating a skincare line that also targeted highly sensitive skin types and issues such as inflammation and hyper pigmentation. While most of the professional-grade ingredients are sourced in Australia, they are packaged using proprietary technology in Taipei and are free of chemicals, synthetics and other preservatives.
An editor’s favourite, the Artic Freeze Detox Mask, is a sheet mask that promises cleaner and brighter skin after one use thanks to a combination of peppermint oil and aloe vera. Set to follow in its footsteps is the newly launched Japanese Cherry Blossom & White Tea Smoothing Mask.