Korea Focus: Our most-read stories on the K-beauty industry

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Top stories on K-beauty. ©GettyImages
Top stories on K-beauty. ©GettyImages

Related tags: Korea, Cosmetics

We round up our top stories on South Korean beauty, featuring Quadpack’s ambitions in the market, why K-beauty may be losing its lustre in Singapore, Chungnam National University’s eco-microbeads study and more.

1 – Quadpack eyes Japan and South Korea beauty market to drive its APAC growth

Packaging solutions firm Quadpack is looking to Japan and South Korea to drive its growth in Asia​ Pacific on the back of two years of growth in both markets.

Jason Smith, regional director of Asia Pacific, Quadpack told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ Quadpack sees APAC as a significant market for its cosmetics business.

“As Asia Pacific accounts for over a third of total global cosmetic exports, securing a position as a key packaging supplier to this market is a critical part of Quadpack’s long-term vision. This is only reinforced with the region’s production tipped to grow much faster than the likes of Europe and the Americas over the next few years,”​ he said.

In the last two years, the company has been performing particularly well in Japan and South Korea. According to Smith, the “phenomenal” success was largely driven by its wood offerings manufactured by its Quadpack Wood facility.

Smith elaborated: “One example is the cap we created for Korean brand The SAEM for its new luxury skincare range for men. Beautifully crafted from sustainably-sourced ash, it perfectly follows the company’s ethos of finding inspiration in nature.”

2 – Why K-beauty make-up brands may be losing the trust of Singaporeans

South Korean make-up brands may be losing their lustre with Singaporean beauty consumers, with Western outfits taking over when it comes to trust.

K-beauty colour cosmetic brands, which usually secure top ranking in an annual consumer trust survey undertaken by Daily Vanity, are being beaten by western brands including Benefit, MAC Cosmetics, NARS and Urban Decay.

US make-up brand It Cosmetics rose 57 places to cinch the top spot as the most trusted make-up brand in the country.

Korean make-up brands that remained in the top 10 ranking were Innisfree, Laneige and Etude House, which took fourth, sixth and seventh place respectively.

COO and editorial director of Daily Vanity, Kristen Juliet Soh, attributed this decline to the inadequacies of some South Korean make-up products.

3 – Calcium alginate ‘novel’ eco-friendly microbead alternative: Study

Calcium alginate microbeads offer a promising and cost-effective alternative​ to polymer additives, rapidly in sea water and simple to fabricate, say researchers.

Writing in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, a team from South Korea’s Chungnam National University investigated the possibility of developing novel, environmentally-friendly alternatives to polymer microbeads for use in cosmetic products.

Marine pollution and microbead bans

“The worldwide pollution of the marine ecosystem by microplastics urgently demands novel environment-friendly microbeads,”​ the researchers wrote.

Certain countries had also recently banned use of non-biodegradable microbeads, adding pressure to find alternatives, they said.

Earlier this year, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) released assessment findings that showed microbeads also polluted the terrestrial environment and freshwater because of wastewater treatment methods and farming practices.

4 – Rules of engagement: How to stay on the right side of ad regulations in Korea

Fact, fiction or exaggeration? One industry expert explains how advertising rules in Korea​ have changed and how she expects them to continue evolving with the trends.

Korean advertising guidelines have undergone many changes in recent years, said Chin. For instance, cosmetic companies used to be limited to using phrases from a pre-approved list.

Today claims such as anti-wrinkles can only be made with approval from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS)

“Functional claims, such as SPF, whitening and anti-wrinkle, need to be approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety before the product is released to market. And finally, claims such anti-ageing or anti-cellulite need to be substantiated with scientific data,”​ said SooYoung Chin, President of Chin Soo Young Consulting.

However, cosmetic companies still have to be aware of a few important rules. For instance, medical claims are still not permitted under any circumstances.

5 – New beauty X-periences: Singapore start-up launches online platform for cult Asian brands 

Newly launched online beauty retailer, Asian Beauty X, is aspiring to become a leading authority in cult Asian beauty​ and cosmetic products in South East Asia.

The Singapore-based e-commerce beauty platform curates cosmetics products from around Asia. Asian Beauty X currently carries four cult Korean beauty brands including Lagom and Thank You Farmer.

CEO and co-founder Justin Lee told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that the company was very selective about the brands they were considering on representing.

“We are not looking for brands that push products out too quickly. Those that are more measured in their approach and don't just jump on the bandwagon give you the best results at the end of the day. We expect to see these brands around for the long-term.”

Lee said the company was also on a lookout for Halal K-beauty brands to offer the large Muslim population in SEA.

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