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Japanese beauty brands are reinventing traditional skincare formats with re-energized ingredients and textures that emphasize hydration. While South Korea is known for providing fun, affordable and innovative products, Japanese brands are commonly seen as technologically advanced and effective. J-Beauty emphasizes fresh, youthful complexions and touts hydrating claims that are backed by research.

J-Beauty brands reinvent traditional US skincare regimens

In Japan, essences and harsh toners are replaced with lotions that focus on hydration. Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion claims to use hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, and sodium acetylated hyaluronate to provide maximum hydration and prep the skin for better skincare absorption.

The Shiseido Essential Energy range uses ReNeura Technology with Ashitaba CGL Complex, which is made with ashitaba leaf andstem extract, caffeine and glycerin. The product is inspired by advanced neuroscience focusing on skin senses, and the products claim to leave skin moist and radiant, as well as to soothe skin damage.

Kao Bioré Sarasara UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+/PA++++ claims to protect skin against UV rays while leaving skin moist. The product emphasizes its watery texture on pack and also uses hyaluronic acid to boost hydration.

J-Beauty brands also take a different approach than their Western counterparts when it comes to fighting acne. Where traditional US acne products typically contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to treat acne, Japanese skincare brands use vitamin C, tea extracts and essential oils that claim to fight acne without punishing the skin. The Clinical Salon Ci:z.Labo Pro-use Cosmetics skincare range uses anti-inflammatory ingredients to reduce the appearance of acne instead of more common acne-fighting ingredients.

What we think

The success of K-Beauty in the US has paved the way for other Asian countries to shape the US skincare market. As consumers continue to adopt Korean products into their beauty routines, their willingness to try new products will bode well for K-Beauty’s clinical successor.

Alison Gaither is a Beauty and Personal Care Analyst at Mintel. Prior to joining Mintel, Alison worked as a global research analyst for a CPG company and an educator for a leading beauty retailer.