Japan experiences anti-aging boom

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Skin whitening Cosmetics Aging

The combination of increasing economic confidence and the
never-ending ambition to maintain health and youthful looks is
leading to an unprecedented boom in anti-aging cosmetic treatments.

Cosmetic companies have reported significant increases in sales of anti-aging creams, skin tonics and skin whitening creams in the past year as an aging population reaches out for products that aim to fight the physical effects of ageing.

As a result cosmetic companies and retailers across Japan have reported a significant increase in a variety of products targeting specific areas related to aging, including treatments for blotchy and wrinkled skin, as hair care treatments and tonics aimed at nourishing tired or graying hair.

Confirming the boom, leading Japanese cosmetics player Shiseido says that the market for anti-aging related products has increased by 154 per cent since 2000 - according to Japanese press reports - a trend that seems to be growing all the more rapidly in the past 12 months.

In line with this, Shiseido introduced its Revital Retino Science Lotion in October last year. Claiming to contain the most up-to-date formulation technology, the product is said to contain a vitamin that helps the skin to rejuvinate itself, allowing for unprecedented results.

Priced at around $85 for a 1oz pot of night cream, the treatment does not come cheap, but the country's economic recovery means that after a lean period for retailers, Japanese consumers are now starting to come out of hibernation again.

In response to this retail renaissance, Shiseido says that sales of the Revital range, which includes night and day creams as well as a skin whitening treatment, have exceeded expectations by around 20 per cent.

Undoubtedly the strong sales are linke to the upturn in the Japanese economy.

Financial analysts this week confirmed that the economy grew 1.4 per cent in the fourth quarter - far in excess of the 0.3 per cent growth recorded in the US and growth of 0.4 per cent in the European Union, the world's other leading developed economies.

Japan's strong last quarter growth exceeded market expectations and raised the 2005 annual growth rate to 2.8 per cent, spurred chiefly by domestic spending on a range of products that many Japanese consumers had cut back on during the more difficult economic times from the late 90s up until 2004.

But the renewed consumer vigor for youthful looks is not being solely confined to cosmetic products. In conjunction with this there has also been a big boom in gym membership, together with trips to spas for a range of beauty treatments that claim to combat aging.

Science is also playing its part in the boom, with the formulation of increasingly sophisticated products increasingly relying on the latest innovations in science to woo the consumers.

Behind the scenes Japanese scientists are combining their resources with the research and development facilities of leading cosmetics companies in an effort to gain a better understanding of the aging process.

In turn a comprehensive study is currently being carried out at the University of Tokai to determine which genes advance the aging process, work that could eventually help cosmetics companies take their anti-aging product to the next level.

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