At the recent 5-day Hong Kong’s Beauty and Wellness Expo organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), which showcases 100 exhibitors from beauty, cosmetics and skincare, the millenial and Gen-Z appetite for more natural, green brands was clear. Unlike previous years, there was a marked focus on more clean, natural and organic beauty products and some small progress made towards low packaging offerings at this year’s expo. Amidst the global mass beauty and cosmetics industry, this reflects that an alternative sector is emerging in Asia, driven by consumer awareness about toxic ingredients and environmental responsibility.
Consumer figures back this – the Asian natural and organic beauty market is growing fast, with sales increasing by 21% last year compared to single digits in European and North American markets according to Ecovia Intelligence. The analyst firm also predicted that the highest growth will most likely be seen in Chinese and Indian markets in the region.
While most of Asian brands still have a long way way to go in terms of a 360 approach to sustainability, and packaging is still a major issue (plastic is everywhere), we zeroed in on a few local and regional companies that are taking steps in the right direction, which was an encouraging change from earlier when most of the more eco-natural brands on offer were imported from the Europe, Australia/New Zealand and North America. Below we spotlight four eco-forward Asian brands worth calling out:
Toun28, a Korean skincare company focused on natural skincare, espouses “slow beauty”, with ingredients that are promise a lowest hazard score of 0-1 awarded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), with part of range also featuring organic ones. The brand works with unrefined plant oils and butters such as grapeseed oil, damask rose oil, and shea butter, and utilises organic botanical extracts such as tomato and paeonia suffruiticosa root. Toun28 stands out amongst other Asian brands for their commitment to low-waste recycled packaging. While some of their products still feature plastic caps, the rest of their packaging used is made from recycled paper.
BE.ST Beauty Sensation
BE.ST Beauty Sensation is a Hong Kong-based and Australian-made ACO Certified Organic skincare brand whose products are free from toxic petrochemicals, sulphates, synthetic fragrances, parabens and other harmful ingredients- they are also cruelty-free. The range includes essential oils and gels, eye essences, detox masks and organic cleansing oils.
AOBiome Cosmetics is a clinical microbiome company based in Boston focused on developing probiotic skincare products. The main probiotic contained in AOBiome’s line is a single strain of auto-regulating Ammonia Oxidising Bacteria (AOB), which contains properties linked to reducing inflammation, pH levels and amount of pathogenic bacteria on our skin. The company believes that the widespread use of surfactants, antimicrobials and antibiotics have stripped our skin of its ‘good’ microorganisms, which has led to higher incidences of inflammatory skin problems such as allergies, acne, eczema, rosacea and atopic dermatitis. The key product on offer by the probiotics cosmetics brand is a biome-friendly AO+ Restorative Mist that works to restore our skin’s natural pH levels, and is suitable for those affected by inflammatory skin conditions. Their preservative-free products contain only plant-based, botanically sourced ingredients, and is not tested on animals. While the products are interesting, the brand’s packaging is a low-point- everything comes in plastic.
Dr. SEED Natural Therapy
Dr. SEED is a Korean haircare brand formulated with plant-based extracts and oils from fruit seeds like lemons and peaches, whose packaging bears a slight resemblance to a certain English skincare brand whose name rhymes with Deal’s Bard. In addition to sensitive scalp friendly shampoos and conditioning treatments, the Korean company also offers Boosters, which are serums formulated for different skin types and conditions (oily, hair loss prevention, damaged hair, etc.). Packaging wise, there’s still some ways to go- most of it is plastic. The brand also uses ingredients like honey and milk in some products, so the range is not vegan-friendly though Dr.SEED products are not tested on animals.
Lead image courtesy of HKTDC.