Not horsing around: Tradition, efficacy, and Japan-made quality drive horse oil cosmetic sales
Horse oil, or umayu is considered a traditional folk medicine in Japan. It has been used for centuries to help remedy burns and wounds, and protect the skin from cold, dry air.
Loshi is a cosmetic brand developed by local manufacturer Cosmetex Roland that specialises in a range of products with umayu. The brand’s product portfolio spans from its face cream to lip balm to shampoo. According to Hua, the company typically launches new products twice a year.
The brand is already available in several markets across Asia, but the company believes it still has room to grow and is seeking out new opportunities in the region.
“In Thailand for instance, Loshi is sold at Japanese-style shops. We still have room to expand in local shops,” said Yanzhe Hua, international business development manager, Cosmetex Roland.
For the foreseeable future, the company will fix its attention on expanding in Asia, where the awareness of umayu is high, said Hua.
“The main focus is Asia. Umayu has strong Japanese culture and Asian people know and appreciate this. It may be harder for Western people to accept it. Until we find a good distributor who can help us sell these products there, it is hard.”
With the rise of ethical consumerism, shoppers are becoming more conscientious about their product choices. Concerns over the environment and ethics are spurring demand for vegan and cruelty-free products.
The Asia Pacific region is expected to become the fastest-growing market for vegan cosmetics, driven by increasing awareness in major markets like China and India, according to a 2022 report by Markwide Research.
Research from Kantar has observed that in Asia, heightened concern about safety has driven the interest in vegan beauty products.
Despite this, Loshi continues to Cosmetex Roland’s most recognisable and enduring brands, not just in Japan but in the wider Asian market.
“Umayu is valued as a traditional product that has been used for many years in Japan and Korea as well, there is a shared culture there. The concept of umayu is appreciated in other countries like China, Singapore and Thailand, where Japanese products are popular and respected,” said Hua.
This year, Loshi is set to exceed 50 million units in total shipments. The brand sells over five million units a year, and approximately half of the sales are attributed to its flagship Moist Aid horse oil skin cream.
“What people like about umayu is that it [has components] that are similar to human skin. So it absorbs very quickly and doesn’t leave a sticky feeling. It can be used for many things, in olden times it was even used as medicine to heal scars,” said Hua.
Horse oil contains a potent amount of linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid found in human skin. It has been found to have skin barrier restoration and moisturising effects, as well as anti-bacterial properties.