Jane Jang
Jane is Mintel’s Global Beauty Analyst based in Seoul. She provides insightful in-depth analysis of beauty, retail, and consumer trends in South Korea and wider Asia.

Clay is making a comeback

Clay is an age-old beauty treatment known for absorbing oil and removing dead skin cells, impurities, dirt and toxins from the skin while nourishing with its rich mineral content. Clay facial masks are very appealing for consumers who want a natural solution that can combat the effects of pollution on their skin.

In recent years, there has been an increase in clay-based skincare product launches. To stand out in the crowd and set new trends, brands are exploring ways to add multi-sensory and multi-functional benefits to enhance the traditional use of clay.

Share of global facial skincare launches featuring clay in the product description, Jan 2013 – Aug 2017:


Colourful cues for sophisticated and fun skincare

The multi-masking trend (the use of different masks on different areas of the face) and the use of vivid colours have shaken up the traditional mud-coloured clay mask market. Coloured clay masks offer additional skincare solutions, with each colour addressing a specific skin concern, such as brightening, vitalising, refining and soothing. This has quickly proved popular with young Millennial consumers by allowing them to customise their facial skincare, while giving them a fun, Instagrammable experience.

GlamGlow #Multimasking Mask Treatment is a selection of six travel-sized mud treatments for different occasions.
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Calming Color Clay Mask, formulated with Jeju’s volcanic clay, comes in seven different colours and textures, each to be used on different parts of the face.

New textures can improve the effects of clay masks

Introducing new sensory experiences can improve the effects of clay masks. Recent inspiring K-beauty innovations include a clay mousse format, a sheet mask covered with clay, and a ‘clay mask cleanser’ that transforms into a fine foam and can be used daily.

These new textures and formats will resonate with a wider group of global consumers who put focus on pore care and purification for healthy, fresh-looking skin. And brands can position these products further as an anti-pollution solution to target consumers seeking ‘deep cleansing’ solutions for problems with fine dust.

New clay mask textures

pink mud
nature republic
The Face Shop Jeju Volcanic Lava Clay Mousse Pack: a whipped mousse mask made with volcanic ash from the South Korean island of Jeju to help remove debris from the pores.
So Natural Pink Mud Mask: formulated with pink mud, it helps to absorb sebum and extract blackheads and dust.
Nature Republic City Care Pack to Foam: a hybrid product, in-between a mud mask, a bubble mask and a foam cleanser.

Try new ingredients for skincare-savvy consumers

Finally, brands can generate new interest by including trending ingredients to attract skincare-savvy consumers. Apart from popular beauty ingredients such as collagen, hyaluronic acid or ceramide, and natural and food ingredients (such as tea extracts and marine ingredients), brands should also look at the potential of probiotics, which can be tied in with clay masks to strengthen the natural, healthy balance of the skin.

So Natural Pink Mud Mask: formulated with pink mud, it helps to absorb sebum and extract blackheads and dust.