Trending in Japan: Skin care and microbiome interest soaring amid COVID-19

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Beauty trends in Japan are shifting in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. [GettyImages]
Beauty trends in Japan are shifting in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. [GettyImages]

Related tags: Japan, trends, microbiome, Skin care

Beauty trends in Japan are shifting in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with accelerated interest in skin care and skin microbiome especially, according to the annual @cosme Best Cosmetics Awards.

@cosme is a cosmetics portal owned by Japanese beauty retail and media firm istyle Inc, and has a retail presence in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand.

The Best Cosmetics Award is a bi-annual ranking that is announced in the middle and end of the year. The line-up of award-winning products is based on product reviews and opinions of @cosme customers in Japan.

This year, @cosme analysed nearly one million reviews, up 130% from last year, and awarded the 1st​ Grand Prize to Lancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Serum.

Microbiome mania

According to the company's trend report based on the rankings, Lancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Serum’s popularity skyrocketed to the top because of the increasing interest in microbiome beauty.

This trend has been fuelled by the COVID-19 health crisis and the increased concern around health and immunity.

In fact, an @cosme survey found that 56% of its consumers expressed interest in wanting to boost their skin immunity.

“As the infection of COVID-19 virus continues to spread, products that meet the needs of consumers who want to ‘protect themselves’ may attract more and more attention in the future,” ​said the firm.

Furthermore, the firm speculates that the rave reviews the product has received in the past contributed greatly to its win.

In previous years, the Lancôme product has topped @cosme’s ranking of facial essences and has been inducted on the site’s Hall of Fame.

 “In 2020, when there was a lot of anxiety, there is no doubt that the absolute sense of security backed by its popularity has become a factor that encouraged consumers to purchase the product,” ​said the firm.

The report also highlighted that that Lancôme adapted well to the store closures and tester removals by offering consumers the chance to buy a 7ml sample size.

“The fact that a first-time user could purchase the product with confidence is one of the factors that made Lancôme’s Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Serum the face of 2020 despite its JPY10,000 (USD96) price tag.”

Skin care boost

@cosme said this was the first time in seven years that a skin care product has bagged the annual top prize, said @cosme.

According to the firm’s analysis, the interest in skin care began to increase gradually in 2019 and this year is when the trend took off.

This was driven by several factors, including more consumer concerns over sensitive skin issues, which have been aggravated by the frequent use of protective face masks.

Aside from Lancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Serum, other skin care products that made it into the rankings included Shiseido’s IHADA Medicated Balm, Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Cream and Mediheal’s NMF Aquare Ampoule Mask.

All these products have similar claims that work to soothe skin irritation and redness as well as improve skin roughness and dryness.

In particular, the company has noted a significant increase in the ingredient Centella Asiatica or cica, the go-to ingredient for skin sensitivity

After Japan declared a state of emergency due to the pandemic, sale of cica products increase 14 times at its flagship store in Toyko. Additionally, mention of cica in online reviews increased 5.4 times compared to 2019.

The interest in skin care has also been influenced by the change in lifestyle. With more people isolating themselves at home due to COVID-19, there’s been more time to spare for skin care routine.

Additionally, communicating via video-based calls, where focus is on the face, is driving consumers to take better care of their skin, said the firm.

“It is no exaggeration to say that all the award-winning products in 2020 were supported by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consumer needs that arose from it.

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