White and fair skin are viewed as symbols of beauty by Chinese, Japanese and Koreans for geographical, racial, cultural and traditional reasons. In China, there is an old saying that, “A white complexion is powerful enough to conceal thousands of faults.” Observing the Chinese cosmetic market today shows that products with skin-whitening claims are the most popular. In fact, according to AC Nielsen data, whitening products make up nearly 30% of the total skin care market in China. The market for such products continues to grow at a fast rate. For example, the sales value of whitening facial cream increased 17.9% and 6.2% year-on-year in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Consequently, skin whitening has become one of the hottest areas of focus among R&D in Chinese cosmetic enterprises.
Meanwhile, statistics have shown that products with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) claims account for a large share of the skin-whitening product market in China—nearly 33% in 2011, which has risen year after year. This article thus serves as a summary of the historic and current application of TCM in whitening cosmetics. It also provides a preliminary discussion of the challenges faced when incorporating TCM into skin care and skin-whitening products.
This is an excerpt of an article from GCI Magazine. The full version can be found here.