Palo Santo is a tree native to South America, and its essential oil is traditionally used in aromatherapy.
Akarii’s founder, Alice Liang, explained that Palo Santo contains a medicinal ingredient called limonene, which is known for its high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
“Palo Santo is still very new, and maybe not as appealing as other botanical ingredients. Compared to wood that conveys feelings of stiffness, rigidity, and masculine, herbal or flowery are stuff people are more familiar with.
“But I’m increasingly seeing brands trying to combine skin care with mindfulness or spirituality. They’re trying to position skin care as part of a holistic regimen to improve your well-being. In this sense, I think Palo Santo would have room to grow and become more popular [as a cosmetic ingredient],” she added.
Established in 2022, Akarii’s skin care range spans a calming gel mask, moisturiser, cleanser, and a serum targeted at consumers with sensitive skin, including acne and skin conditions like eczema.
The proportion of Palo Santo essential oil in its products is less than 0.2%. Other ingredients include bakuchiol extract, beta glucans polysaccharides, a chamomile extract known as bisabolol, and more.
Liang said that the NPD potential for Palo Santo beyond facial care, to body and hair care as well due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
With the mindful beauty movement picking up around the world, Liang highlighted heightened consumer expectations around skin care to be both an effective and enjoyment product.
“The lockdown has created an opportunity for people to work on their inner beauty. They also have more time than ever for their beauty regimen. Apart from function, they’re seeking the holistic experience from their skin care, that includes how it looks, how it feels, and how it smells.”
Liang added that mindful beauty carries forward to sustainability as well, as consumers are increasingly turning to product labels to assess how clean the product is, and its carbon footprint.
Given the mindful beauty positioning of its brand, she said that it mainly draws customers who are already accustomed with Palo Santo through aromatherapy, meditation, or yoga.
“There’s a lot of storytelling involved because the ingredient is still very new to the market. The customers who are familiar with Palo Santo would get the products right away.
“As for generic consumers, they might take some time to digest the information. We will sell the anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe acne or allergic skin. But at the same time, there’s still a lot of other skin care in the market that tackles these problems.
“So, in this sense, I would say that people who have this wellness mindset would more likely buy our products.”
However, people are still generally curious about Palo Santo skin care, said Liang.
The firm taps on its official website for consumer education, mainly sharing information about the uses of Palo Santo and mindful rituals like meditation.
Its products are available for shipping via its official website, sold at four brick-and-mortar beauty stores in Hong Kong, and one in Taiwan.
Liang explained that the Taiwanese market is generally enthusiastic to learn about new products, especially since story telling is key for the brand.
It is targeting to distribute in wellness stores, and looking to expand to Singapore soon due to its climate similarity to Hong Kong.
“The product texture is actually very light and non-greasy, yet enriching at the same time. We have some Singaporean [online] customers, and they expressed that they love the products for this reason and also it smells good. Especially when the weather tends to be so humid, I think there’s an opportunity there.”