‘Beware what you buy’: Natural and organic skincare brand strives to drive demand in Malaysia

By Richard Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Malaysia is poised to see a boom in beauty products containing natural and organic ingredients. ©GettyImages
Malaysia is poised to see a boom in beauty products containing natural and organic ingredients. ©GettyImages

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Malaysia is poised to see a boom in beauty products containing natural and organic ingredients, despite there currently being meagre demand on the market.

That’s according to Zaza Zainal, who founded Orgga Malaysia last year.

She believes she currently has few competitors in this segment and argues the country’s regulatory process is not strict and does not require provenance to be tested. As a result, non-natural ingredients might slip through the net.

The regulator just asks for the ingredients, how they are designed, so people can say what they like​.”

While awareness of natural and organic products is still sketchy, compared to other markets like Europe, America or Australia, it is nonetheless on the rise. What has been holding back the development of more products is a general demand for instant results, as well as Malaysia’s place in the trend chain.

“Malaysian women are more likely to choose skincare that gives them fast results, like a whitening effect. Many local products contain harmful ingredients like skin bleaches, but this doesn’t matter to consumers because they are not willing to wait for the effect​,” said Zaza.

There has been a stigma in Malaysia: most people think natural skincare is not effective because it takes a long time to work. I’m trying to break this stigma​.”

Orgga, which employs 15 staff and has been steadily growing since its 2018 launch, targets the 24-50-year-old professional market with its three lines of cleansers, face mists and beauty oils. These are manufactured in Senawang, a Kuala Lumpur satellite town, at Orgga’s own facility using mostly imported ingredients.

The brand came about after two years of research while Zaza was living in Britain. She had identified that her native Malaysia would see a natural and organic boom in the next 3-5 years. Though few local and genuine brands are currently available in this segment, foreign products have been showing women what can be achieved by using them.

Anything that happens in other countries, Malaysia will follow a few years later. There is starting to be more awareness about what is good for the skin. Some of the products that are famous now, there aren’t many from local brands​,” she said, citing local competitors like Argania Skincare, and Mary Jardin. “There aren’t many, frankly​.”

Though after Orgga’s launch Zaza was approached by a number of pharmacies and other cosmetics stockists, she has continued to hold off on widespread distribution, preferring instead to position her products in boutiques and speciality retailers. Still, she hopes by 2021 to have made a dent in Malaysian chain stores.

It’s not hard to get into pharmacies and beauty counters; we are all ready but we are not well enough known yet. Retailers keep asking us to stock our products but we aren’t keen to yet because our brand will be lost alongside all the others​,” she said.

I want to educate Malaysian women and give them a chance to buy organic and natural products for the first time at an affordable price while there still isn’t much competition​.”

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