K-beauty’s post-COVID-19 future: Clean, hygienic and healthy beauty trends set to soar

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

South Korea’s post-pandemic personal care market can tap into upcoming trends triggered by COVID-19. ©GettyImages
South Korea’s post-pandemic personal care market can tap into upcoming trends triggered by COVID-19. ©GettyImages

Related tags K-Beauty COVID-19 clean beauty Hygiene

Beauty brands looking into South Korea’s post-pandemic personal care market can tap into upcoming trends triggered by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

South Korea saw the disease explode in the country in February, making it the worst-hit country outside of China then.

While the situation quickly stabilised, Christine Kim, CEO of K-GMP believes the effects of the outbreak has had a lasting impact on the country’s beauty market.

During a webinar hosted by Chemlinked​, Kim said one of the biggest changes among consumers is the perception of safety.

This has caused the personal care needs of South Korean consumers to shift.

For instance, she believes the clean beauty trend, which was already gaining momentum in the market, will accelerate.

“There is more interest in ‘safe’ cosmetic ingredients and demand for clean beauty is expected to increase. Companies will need to reassure consumers by making their ingredient labels as transparent as possible,” ​said Kim.

The clean trend will also extend to sustainability issues, which has been a point of concern for South Korean consumers in the past year or so.

Brands like Innisfree, with their emphasis on natural and ocean-safe ingredients, will be well-positioned to capitalise on the trend as it gains even more traction.

Hygiene and health

During the COVID-19 crisis, cultivating good hygiene habits became a priority and Kim thinks these habits will stick with consumers in the long run.

This means there will be more emphasis on product packaging with ‘hygienic’ designs, meaning products that won’t needlessly be exposed to the environment and fingers when it comes to application.

This trend will also call for more sanitising products. Even now, Kim believes the hand sanitiser market is set to grow and said companies can capitalise on it by developing hand sanitisers with added value.

“Sales of hand sanitisers are continuing to increase and it necessary for beauty companies to develop products with added functionalities such as a moisturising effect.”

The South Korean beauty market is set to see a huge impact on the health and wellness market.

“The need for a healthy lifestyle is expected to increase rapidly. Ingredients that can increase immunity like vitamin C and ginseng can be applied to beauty products to attract consumers,” ​said Kim.

Additionally, the market may see even more demand for ‘immunity boosting’ skin care products as ‘the skin is the first defence against the coronavirus’.

This will likely boost demand for microbiome-friendly products as well as derma beauty products, both of which are believed to be able to boost the skin’s immunity.

This also presents an opportunity for edible beauty products, she added.

The mask effect

As for make-up products, Kim said brands have to expect the beauty routine to change completely.

From February to March this year, Korean e-commerce platform recorded that colour cosmetic sales dipped overall. Lipstick sales for instance, declined by 21%.

The new habit of wearing a mask on a daily basis will continue to affect colour cosmetic sales.

Moving forward, Kim expects the most in-demand make-up category to be the eye category.

However, she noted that cosmetic companies have an opportunity to develop products that will suit the new normal of mask wearing.

Cosmetics manufacturer Kolmar Korea for instance, has developed new technology that would allow make-up to stay on the face without getting smudged by face masks.

With more mask usage, sales of skin care dealing with irritation or skin sensitivity are also expected to rise.

However, Kim warns that consumers will become more particular about these products.

“Transparency and trust will be key elements for consumers. They will become more particular about the quality of personal care products they buy, moving towards natural and holistic products.”

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