The Asian Male Skin Care Market: A Q&A With Florence Bernadin

The male skin care market in Asia, specifically in Korea, is on the uptick, according to Florence Bernadin, founder and CEO of Information et Inspiration. Here, she engages in an exclusive Q&A on the Asian male skin care market with Cosmetics & Toiletries. Hear more of Bernadin's expertise at in-cosmetics Asia in Bangkok.

Q: Why is the Asian male skin care market so popular?
A: Reasons can differ from one country to another one. The Japanese market is driven by anti-aging and hair care lines that contribute to the popularity of skin care. The Korean market is clearly driven by beauty competition between women with the ideal image of beauty promoted through TV dramas. The Chinese men’s market is driven by social image.

Q: What skin care products are popular with Asian men and why?
A: First, face wash (cleanser) is generally the first skin care product a man uses, and most men start their skin care routine by cleansing their face. A cleanser can not only remove grease and dirt on the face, but can also revitalize the skin instantly. So the cleanser is a key market entry product for Asian men in general.

Secondly, moisturizing products with oil control effects are popular in this segment. Most Asian males have oily or dry skin types, so they need a basic moisturizing product to hydrate their skin that can also balance skin oil moisture levels throughout the entire day.

All-in-one products are also very popular. An all-in-one product can be a product that combines the benefits of lotion, serum and cream together to simplify an Asian male's daily skin care routine. It can also be a multifunctional product that combines moisturizing, oil control, whitening, anti-aging and even UV protection to satisfy different skin needs of Asian males. There is also an economic reason, as an all-in-one product costs less than buying three or four products at the same time, so they’re especially attractive to men between the ages of 20-35 years old.

BB creams are also very popular, thanks to the success of this type of product in the female market in Asia. More and more males have started to use BB cream to get an instantly even, bright and healthy skin.

Q: How does the popularity of these products vary by country, i.e. are certain products more popular than other in certain countries?
A: Cleansers are popular in China, Korea and Japan, as it's the indispensable product in men's skin care. Lotion is more important in the Japanese market. Japan invented the cosmetic water and has the longest history of lotion in women's skin care; therefore, lotion is also considered a key skin care product for males. All-in-one products are extremely popular in Korea, where there is the most launches of these products. This all-in-one trend is influencing China and Japan. BB and CC creams are also very popular with Korean men, compared to other Asian males, and this market is strongly influenced by the female BB and CC market. Korean men don't hesitate to use BB cream to get an even, bright and healthy skin in their daily life. We’re seeing more and more Chinese males using BB creams, but BB creams are not as popular yet in Japan.

Q: Why does Korea lead the charge in the Asian men's skin care market? What products and ingredients are popular there?
A: Korea leads the way thanks in part to the popularity of Korean flower boys, who are considered the new beauty models due to their perfect skin. Many Korean cosmetic brands for women are actually represented by males. At the same time, Korean males are in beauty competition with women for job opportunities. They really take care of their skin on a daily basis and have the most sophisticated skin care routine when compared to males in other Asian countries. Brands try to launch more and more new products to help Korean men achieve beautiful skin and are very inspired by what is on going on in the female skin care market, Korea is now one of the most innovative cosmetic markets in the world.

Q: How do you formulate for the Asian male differently than you formulate for the Asian female?
A: There should be more emphasis put on the balance between oil control and moisturizing power, and texture should be light, fresh and non-greasy, as most men have oily skin.

Q: What ingredients and sensorial attributes should formulators use to appeal to Asian men?
A: Natural ingredients such as charcoal, clay for cleansing, tea tree for oil control, ginseng for revitalizing, etc. Asian males are under a strong social pressure to achieve in their career, so energizing ingredients are very important.

Q: What ingredients and sensorial attributes should formulators avoid to appeal to Asian men?
A: They should look to avoid traditionally feminine fragrances such as peony, lotus, rose, etc, and too much fragrance.

Q: What does the future of the Asian male skin care market look like?
A: The market will continue to develop at a fast rate thanks to the increasing number of users, especially in China and other South Asian countries such as Thailand and Malaysia. Men's skin care routines will become more and more sophisticated, with the use of face washes, lotions, serums, creams, UV protectors, BB creams, sheet masks and night care. The market will also become more and more segmented by age and also through the growth of the special care market, through the use of anti- wrinkle and t-zone deep cleanser products.

Q: What are some interesting innovations in the Asian male skin care market?
A: In China, sheet masks are becoming more and more sophisticated, with two part masks targeting the T-zone and U-zone. We’re also seeing local application, such as the targeting of the shaving zone and even a complete range targeting military men in Korea. New textures are arising such as a new anti-aging serum from Mentholatum in China, which is orange with white capsules inside. There are also products such as transparent shaving gel in Korea and cushion foundation that have arrived in the men's market in Korea. L’Oreal Men Expert have also launched a transparent and transforming BB cream that promotes skin styling and revitalizing in one step.

Q: What other market segments are following the Asian male skin care market in popularity?
A: Skin toning, particularly in Korea, and men’s hair care products such as the styling and color are popular.


Florence Bernadin is among the many cosmetic industry experts to present in the educational program at in-cosmetics Asia 2014 in Bangkok, taking place Nov. 4-6, 2014. Visit the event's website for a complete listing of speakers, labs, exhibitors and more.

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