While Korea may lead the trend space in beauty for western Asia, is that the case in Eastern Asia? Do Korean beauty trends impact the Japanese and Chinese markets as well? One might assume so, but this is not necessarily the case.
According to Songyang Liao, friend and former colleague and formerly with an international brand design firm in China and a current student in the Graduate School of Fine Arts - Color psychology, Joshibi University of Art and Design, Japan, and Chinese native who has always been an incredible resource when it comes to tracking beauty trends in Asia, there are many differences in trends.
Japan and Korea – Leaders in Skincare
Beauty consumers are constantly striving for a more youthful appearance. The US and European beauty marketers frequently turn to Japan and Korea for leading edge product innovation in the skincare space. The Japanese consumer exported the skincare regimen but the Koreans took it to a new level and made it a global phenomenon. Both the Japanese and the Korean consumer are on an eternal quest for flawless skin and a youthful look, so this naturally puts these markets in the lead for constantly generating new products to meet the addiction. While there are clear differences between the consumers and what trends they embrace, these markets mutually benefit from reciprocal influences and close proximity to the consumer giant, China.
What’s the Difference?
There are differences in the desired skin appearance and how makeup helps deliver the façade between the Japanese and Korean consumer. The Japanese consumer seeks perfection in skin texture, total skin quality improvement resulting in a pore-less, translucent, flawless complexion. Makeup is used to enhance self-confidence and achieve this ideal look (less can be more). The Korean consumer is looking for a glow and illumination which deliver the impression of youthful radiance. Makeup is used to create that look (highlighting for skin).
Japan is becoming the leader in developing revolutionary anti-aging skincare to cater to an aging population.
One of the attributes that is most favored by Chinese and Japanese women alike is pale skin. The Japanese have devised all sorts of treatments that achieve this effect for the consumer – not just topical application. Ingesting Vitamin C is believed to have a whitening effect for skin. There is a trend in Japan for skincare brands to sell ingestible supplements and topical treatments together. The skincare products are topical, so the supplement works within your body, and are taken with the skincare treatment.
Examples include Lipo-type C from POLA: vitamin C and other 10 types of vitamins, Ceramide.
Besides skincare products and supplements, whitening injections and whitening drips have also become popular. By injection, the whitening effect is very obvious and has limited side effects. And the price is also affordable for the consumer.
Korea, on the other hand, is motivated by the 30-something consumer, her desire to have the look of youth, and by the demand of the Chinese market.
Korea is famous for generating makeup trends such as the ombre lip – known as the “bitten” lip in China. The inspiration comes from when you’re standing out in the cold wind and then you bite your lips. The red part in the middle of the lips resembles being bitten by your teeth, which shows the delicate and youthful actions and look of a girl. It became popular in China in 2013 because of the Korean TV series “I miss you”. The actress Yoon Eun-hye wore the bitten lips. And bitten lips suddenly became well known. The lipsticks Yoon Eun-hye used were out of stock for months. The color of the lipstick was dubbed the “miss you color”.
The “bitten” lip look is in such demand that Maybelline has introduced a single lipstick that can achieve this look. It has three layers of color, allowing the consumer to just produce the gradient directly instead of drawing with a brush.
How the Markets Manifest
Japanese skincare trends and Korean regimens (the Japanese invented the regimen, the Koreans took it to the next level) are infiltrating the USA and Western Europe quickly, thanks the to the Internet. There are websites such as webichi.com which specialize in Japanese skincare and brands such as Tatcha which have become mainstream in the USA. Korean products are featured on the highly trafficked peachandlily.com, as well as sokoglam.com. Chinese consumers probably have the quickest access to new products from these countries as some of them launch simultaneously in that highly populated beauty market.