“Crystals and gemstones have always existed [in Asian culture]. I think it struck the West as very interesting culture-wise and belief-wise, which led them to incorporate it [into beauty],” said Kwek, a Senior Innovation and Insights Analyst for Beauty and Personal Care at Mintel.
East meets West
Speaking to Cosmetics Design Asia at in-Cosmetics Asia, Kwek expressed that the lack of the trend in Asia is quite baffling and fascinating at the same time.
“I was just wondering why it’s not big in Asia yet, but it’s interesting to see how western brands are adapting our Asian beliefs and innovating,” Kwek said. “They may look at it from a different perspective than we do, since we are immersed in the belief.”
Kwek ventured that the trend of gemstones in beauty is linked to the East-to-West trend she has observed, which is largely due to exposure from new and different sources, namely from social media.
“Westerners are more than interested in Asian culture and ingredients, and crystal and gemstones are largely one that have been picked up by them,” said Kwek.
In the region, she noted, the trend is still revolving around Asian ingredients as there are still many stories to tell about them from an Asian perspective.
Balancing mysticism with science
There is a huge potential for skin care or cosmetic products inspired by semi-precious stones in Asia, said Kwek. “It is part of the natural and organic space which is still a very big thing. With everyone looking at how they can play in the natural space, I think gemstones and crystals have positioned themselves as a new angle.”
Contrary to what some might think, Kwek believes making it new will be challenge for marketers. “It’s not enough to tell [Asian consumers] about the beliefs behind gems and crystals because it won’t be new to us.”
The key, she said, is positioning the product as a complete and holistic solution – which includes strong scientific justification.
“We are starting to hear a lot about emotional healing and emotional well-being and I think the science portion will come from that context. For example, when we talk about sleep and stress, which people are turning to beauty products for,” said Kwek.
She added that brands can leverage on scientific studies done on emotion and well-being, such as one by Aalto University School of Science in Finland.
The study, Kwek explained, mapped the physiological responses of different studies and found that human beings experience emotions the same way regardless of culture or ethnicity.
She said, “I think it’s important to discuss mood management through these kinds of products and how it translates to skin appearance because consumers today are also looking inside as well.”
In the market today, many products from western brands are infusing gemstones into formulas, like Colourpop’s Amber Crystal Collection, which was created with crushed amber crystals.
Utilising gemstones and crystals this way is just the start of the trend, Kwek believes, and that there is plenty of room for new and creative innovations.
One of the more interesting adaptations of the trend she has noted is the appearance of applicators made out of semi-precious stones in the market.
A product example is Odacité Skincare’s Aventurine Kiss Lip Serum, which has an Aventurine crystal applicator that is meant to impart the energy of the precious stone as product is applied to further enhance its benefits.
The future of semi-precious stones and beauty, Kwek believes, will most likely be in haircare. “There’s a lot happening within haircare, we’ve seen scalp care products with built in comb applicators, which apply product directly while gently massaging the scalp. Maybe brands could convert that to a gem applicator? There’s just so much room for this kind of innovation.”