Global Ethnic Beauty Trends

Packaging for the Piudali skin care line, made from rare ingredients found in the Colombian Amazon, reflects the rainforest theme. Lip balm is contained in an actual Andean nogal nut.

Functional package designs and classic, bold graphics capture the attention of international beauty consumers.

Despite a slowdown in the economic growth of the global beauty market, stylish new products and innovative package designs continue to enter the international ethnic beauty scene.
Trends in ethnic packaging are shifting. Traditionally, ethnic products were packaged distinctly for a specific demographic group—for example, dark browns for African Americans, explains Julia Beardwood, founder, Beardwood & Co., New York, NY. “More recently, there is a trend toward bold colors, with bronze and brown highlights, to seem more inclusive of diverse ethnicities and skin tones,” she says.

Classic styling and a highly functional design also are key elements as the look of ethnic products evolves.

Global Trends

Growth in the global beauty and personal care market slowed to 4% in 2009, from 5% in 2008, according to The Global Beauty and Personal Care: State of the Industry 2010 report from Euromonitor International.Increased price sensitivity and spending cutbacks among consumers spurred the trend and fueled the demand for cheaper brands and private label products.

Brazil and China were two regions with standout performance. Brazil posted value growth of 15% in 2009, up from 14% the previous year, while in 2009, China added $1.7 billion to the market, according to Euromonitor analysts. Latin America and Asia Pacific were also dynamic with Asia Pacific poised to become the largest region globally by 2014. In addition, Africa and the Middle East have seen rapid growth in consumer demand for beauty products in recent years.Specifically, the market for cosmetics and toiletries in the Middle East grew by 48% between 2003 and 2008 and shows increased signs of growth (see chart).

Cosmetics and toiletries market in the Middle East and Africa (2003-2008)

Source: Euromonitor International from trade sources/national statistics

Hot Spots

Beauty leaders are building their presence in the growing Latino market. Sephora Americas recently entered into a joint venture agreement with Grupo Axo, a company that promotes international brands in the Mexican market, to establish a retail presence in Mexico. Sephora, owned by luxury leader LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and Grupo Axo, will open two stores in mid-2011 with additional stores planned for each successive year. “This joint venture marks a substantial step in Sephora’s expansion into Latin America and enables Sephora to capitalize on the exceptional growth opportunity we see in Mexico,” explains David Suliteanu, president and CEO, Sephora Americas.

Another industry player, direct seller Mary Kay Inc., saw its Latina independent sales forces increase by 39% over the last decade. The company notes the increase is a sign of the times. Budget cuts and workforce downsizing often make starting a direct sales business appealing to many women who desire a flexible work schedule. “Historically, Latinas follow Mary Kay’s principles, balancing their work lives and caring for their family, children or parents, while still finding time to earn extra income,” says Yvette Franco, vice president of U.S. marketing for Mary Kay Inc.

International skin care, cosmetics, and hair care segments of the beauty market all have seen exciting new product and packaging introductions.

Skin Care

Piudali, an organic, eco-friendly skin care line containing rare ingredients from the Colombian Amazon rainforest, recently debuted in the U.S. The line includes a lip balm and an extensive line of lotions, oils, and creams. Piudali co-founders, Martha Neira and Myriam Moya, both pharmacists and elected members of the Colombian Association of Skin Care Science and Technology, have forged a relationship with the Colombian Amazon rainforest’s indigenous communities, including the Uitotos tribe. As a result, they have access to the Amazon peach palm, a tree which they say produces fruits with essential fatty acids and antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E. The oil is extracted from this fruit for use in some of the company’s products.

The lines’ packaging reflects the ingredients’ origins in the Colombia Rainforest and Piudali’s commitment to using natural materials. For example, the Piudali lip balm, a lip conditioner with Amazon fruit butters, waxes and oils, natural carotenoids and phytosterols, is packaged within a special Andean nogal nut.“Considered sacred by the ancient Muiscas people (of Bogota), the nogal nut is handpicked by local women-in-need from various local, non-profit organizations,” says Neira.

The “Semillas” (Seeds) Foundation, created for Colombian women in vulnerable conditions, designed the packaging for the Amazonian Lip Conditioner from the seeds of the nogal tree. The women collect the nuts that fall from the trees and prepare them to be aesthetically pleasing, functional and hygienic packages, she explains.

Container & Packaging Supply Inc., Eagle, ID, supplied the bottles, dispensers and caps; Arte Impreso Ltda. (a Colombian company) provided the labels; and Alvilla S.A. in Colombia supplied the product cases.“Alvilla helped us design the box for the lip balm in a nut,” explains Neira. The skin care line was brought to the U.S. market by Nutritional Products International, of Delray Beach, FL.

Another new addition to the market is Specific Beauty, a “multi-hued” skin tone skin care line designed for African American, Latina, and Asian women. The line, which consists of five products that are formulated for use together, was developed by dermatologist Heather Woolery-Lloyd, and the brand firm, Beardwood & Co.

“My specialization in “multi-hued” skin tones, which refers to the range of tones including tan, olive and brown skin, coupled with my determination to create an effective skin care line that would deliver radiant, even skin at a price point accessible to all women, was the driving force behind the creation of Specific Beauty,” explains Woolery-Lloyd.“The packaging needed to inform women about the products’ function, reassure them that the formulas are based in the science of dermatology, and convey a sense of serious beauty.”

Several key design elements to support the brand image were employed. They include an apothecary aesthetic using cobalt blue bottles to convey clinical efficacy. Clean white cartons and medicinal labels with clearly laid out product information and regimen charts add to the appeal. The cartons and labels were inspired by Woolery-Lloyd’s prescription pad. The design avoided the rich dark color palettes, which are traditionally used to cue “ethnic” beauty. Finally, a custom bronze logo type was used to cue radiant skin tones, and the logo is surrounded by a blue and a purple circular seal to convey precision and focus. The overall effect is premium and serious.

The Beardwood team, led by creative director/partner Sarah Williams, decided to eschew traditional cues for beauty products targeted for the ethnic market, such as rich color palettes and, instead, designed clean packaging inspired by the apothecary. “As drug stores are upping the level of premium products and improving the overall shopping experience, it was important to create packaging for the mass marketplace that could stand out and compete in this environment with its modern, clean, and fresh graphic treatment,” explains Williams.

Because there was a lot of information to communicate, a chart on the side of the cartons was created to efficiently communicate the product’s benefits and its place in the skin care regimen. HR Industries, Inc., of Ridgefield, NJ, produced the cartons. Gintzler Graphics, Inc., of Buffalo, NY, produced the labels. Nice Pak, of Orangeburg, NY, supplied the exfoliating wipes. The 15ml airless pump was purchased from PKG (YonWoo pump, Korea). The products are produced at Englewood Labs in New Jersey. Specific Beauty products are available at a number of drug and mass market retailers in the U.S. and online.


Emmy award-winning makeup artist Eve Pearl, who has worked on the set of“The View” and is now at the “Today Show,” designed a pro line for makeup artists, and has a “makeup with skin care for every complexion” line for women available at her New York boutique, additional retailers, and online. Her line is very popular with women of color. “Recently we were the official makeup for Caribbean Fashion Week,” says Pearl, who wrote the book Plastic Surgery without the Surgery.

“The Eve Pearl brand is not only creating makeup that works for women of color, but also makeup that lasts, and we also are educating on the application,” explains Pearl, who notes that the makeup application videos on her website are of major interest to women of all complexions.

The line is simple with just six color combinations: fair, light, medium, tan, dark, and deep. Each foundation has two shades of the selected color.“All of our foundations have a universal spectrum of color so it actually adheres to your face and becomes the color that you need it to be,” she says.

The newest introductions to the line are the deep foundation and the dark/deep salmon concealer. The Deep Color covers women who are a little darker and who often have trouble finding the appropriate color for their skin type, she says.

The packaging design for the foundation is both highly functional and stylish. Every component has two sides for a lighter and dark shade of the foundation that can be blended together and used for different areas of the face. “Initially, Eve Pearl was a brand geared toward professionals. For the Pro Line, the initial packaging was a round component with three colors in it,” she explains, noting that the component broke easily when dropped.

Pearl then worked with a second manufacturer to create her own design for the component. After several prototypes, they arrived at the current version, a rich-looking component with rounded edges. It opens and closes, has a mirror on top, and an applicator on bottom with air holes. A flip-top goes over the makeup to keep it sanitary and prevent the mirror from getting dirty.

“The component is quite beautiful. It comes in the box and in a little velvet pack, which has a nice little EP logo, and when you take it out, the foundation is protected by the flip-top. You can use the flip-top as protection and also to mix your two colors on the inside part,” says Pearl, who adds that she found her component and packaging suppliers at the HBA Global Expo trade show.

Hair Care

Cantu Shea Butter Advanced Clinical No-Lye Relaxer System, from Advanced Beauty Systems Inc., Dallas, TX, offers a seven-step “salon-quality” relaxer system. The line offers a range of new hair care products with natural shea butter that is designed to penetrate deep into the hair and scalp to moisturize, prevent breakage and smooth the texture and appearance of dry, coarse or chemically processed hair. Cantu is sold at Walmart, Target, Walgreens, among other stores.

According to company president Chris McClain, the brand is dedicated to meeting the distinctive needs of multicultural, “multi-textural” women who want both quality and quantity at an affordable price. “For centuries, women of West Africa and the Savannah grasslands have relied on shea butter, also known as karite, to protect their skin, hair and scalp from the harsh African climate.”

The Cantu collection is designed to bring a professional look to the mass market. “When Cantu first launched, we felt that the ethnic hair care products that were on shelves were stale and spoke down to the consumer. Cantu’s packaging provides an upscale brand image that reflects the salon quality formulas in our products,” says McClain. “The color orange used on Cantu’s packaging catches the consumer’s attention and is most associated with feelings of joy, enthusiasm, happiness, creativity and success.”

Both mass market and high-end prestige ethnic products are undergoing a design upgrade. Sophisticated design and packaging are key elements in leveraging consumers, especially in a slow economy.