Masking impact: Is the sustainable beauty movement threatening Asia’s sheet mask fixation?

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Sustainable solutions needed to keep facial mask category thriving in Asia. [Getty Images]
Sustainable solutions needed to keep facial mask category thriving in Asia. [Getty Images]

Related tags: sheet mask, Asia

Facial sheet masks are an Asian beauty staple, but consumers are wising up to the waste these single-use products can generate and driving the need for more sustainable solutions to keep the category thriving.

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ at the height of the pandemic last year, specialty fibres company Lenzing expected the market size of facial sheet masks in Asia to grow as consumers began to place self-care and wellness as a top priority.

This was reflected in the growth of Lenzing’s Veocel brand which recorded double-digit growth in Asia last year. Veocel branded lyocell fibres are used as a facial sheet mask material for Asian brands including Watsons, Sensatia Botanicals and Annie’s Way.

While facial sheet masks have been considered ubiquitous in Asia for years now, awareness of environmental damage caused by single-use products – like facial sheet masks – are threatening their place in the Asian beauty routine.

“On one hand, the consumers want to have the accessibility of a single-use facial sheet mask because it's easy to use, ready to use, and brings the performance,”​ said Steven Tsai, senior regional commercial director for nonwovens Asia, Lenzing.

“At the same time, we also understand from the brands and from consumers themselves, that more and more of them are becoming conscious [of the environment]. They are now very conscious of the materials, ingredients, and even packaging.”

Furthermore, this is being driven by regulatory shifts, such as the European Commission’s Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Directive, which recently came into force on July 3.

While Tsai believes it will take a few more years before such regulations are implemented in Asia, he is certain its impact will be felt promptly in the region.

“It’s going to be interesting because the global brands cannot say they have an environmentally friendly product that is only sold in Europe. It would be very contradictory for them to have other no-so environmentally friendly products elsewhere.”

The push from consumers, brands and regulators will certainly ensure that sustainable beauty products will be the future of the industry.

“We can expect the mentality to continue drifting towards this direction. Before, it was a nice-to-have, but nowadays it’s a must-to-have. If everyone is going into this direction, you can continue making a less environmentally friendly product; the market is still going to be there, but it’s definitely going to shrink,” ​said Tsai.

‘Working for generations to come'

Moving forward, sustainability will be a priority for the company and its Veocel brand.

“The sustainability concept is the backbone of what we are focusing on now. We want to build the Veocel brand as a label of trust, not only for the brands, but also for the consumers,” ​said Tsai.

He elaborated that Veocel fibres are made of cellulose derived from certified and controlled sources. At the end of their lifecycle, the fibres break down back into their original form, making them 100% biodegradable in nature.

The company is set to debut more products soon under the concept of climate care. But aside from product development, the company is also concentrating on sustainability education.

“We are working with the brands on the educational aspect. We need to keep on educating and transmitting how important sustainability is. Therefore, we are spending a great deal of effort not only on marketing but educational efforts on brands and consumers,” ​said Tsai.

“We need to keep on pushing this mentality is because we only have one earth. Veocel is a young brand but with these efforts, we’re working for all the generations to come.”

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