The sensitive skin category is one of the most important in the Asian beauty market, and it is no wonder given that Asian skin is more prone to sensitivity due to a thinner stratum corneum.
According to 2019 Mintel report, 44% of female skin care consumers switched products because of their sensitive skin. A third of Chinese consumer also said they were likely to pay more for a sheet mask that it suitable for sensitive skin.
In 2020, we also saw a rise of pandemic-triggered skin issues like irritation and maskne. Health and beauty retailer Watsons previously told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that they saw a year-on-year increase of sensitive skin products across its APAC markets.
Despite the importance of sensitive skin solutions in the Asian markets, South Korean ingredients company Incospharm believes there is a glaring gap in the segment for anti-ageing products, said director and CTO Jeong Sekyoo Ph.D.
After consulting dermatologists, Jeong believes sensitive skin is more vulnerable to premature ageing, which he dubs ‘Sensiti-Ageing’.
Most obviously, sensitive skin is more susceptible to extrinsic factors that contribute to skin damage, such as UV radiation.
Jeong elaborated that there are other factors as well. For instance, he believes anti-ageing products for sensitive skin are not as common in the market given the tetchy nature of sensitive skin.
“Sensitive skin has weaker skin barrier function, and they cannot use conventional anti-ageing products, such as alpha hydroxy acid or retinol. Instead, they are usually formulated to be very simple.
“The major claim for sensitive skin products is usually is a reduced number of ingredients to reduce the irritation potential and just soothe and calm the skin. So, you can see why there aren’t many anti-ageing products for sensitive skin out there.”
Another missing element in the sensitive skin care category the company has observed are products that tackle the root of the problem.
“Most of the ingredients and formulas for sensitive skin tend to address or alleviate sensitive skin symptoms. But I think there is a market gap for products that help to maintain the skin barrier function. I think you have to make the skin healthy and more resilient before using active ingredients to reduce inflammation or other kind of sensitive skin symptoms,” explained Jeong.
Shoring up defences
To tackle these issues facing sensitive skin, the company looked into autophagy. The autophagy process came into the spotlight when Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2016 for his research on how cells recycle and renew their content.
The company has developed several ingredients based on such technology and the latest is Serenitide, which strengthens skin barrier functions and prevent DNA damage.
Through clinical studies, the company proved that the ingredient could reduce irritation induced by capsaicin.
More importantly, one experiment found that skin treated with Serentide for two weeks could withstand the capsaicin irritant before treatment, proving that it could reinforce the skin’s ability to “fight back”, said Jeong.
As for the anti-ageing claims, the ingredient works to reduce DNA damage induced by UV radiation and blue light, two factors that can lead to premature ageing. It was also proven to improve the erythema and melanin index on volunteers after two weeks of use.
Furthermore, the ingredient has also been granted Microbiome-friendly certification, according to MyMicrobiome Standard 18.10, which means that the ingredient does not adversely affect the skin microbiome.