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.

Have you heard of cica creams? They’re the latest skincare buzz product to hit the South Korean market and we’ve handily put together everything you need to know about them.

The shift towards sensitive skincare

Hydration plays a pivotal role in the South Korean beauty market and it is the cornerstone of K-beauty innovation within formats, textures and claims. Along with this, soothing claims have sharply risen as the most sought-after benefit among consumers who have come to perceive their skin as sensitive, or who seek protection from pollution, stress and the chemicals in regular skincare.

Beauty brands have rushed to respond to such demands and have increased claims that assure safety and gentleness. In fact, according to Mintel Global New Products Database, 23% of skincare products launched in South Korea between January and October 2017 were designed ‘for sensitive skin’, growing from 11% in 2014.

Cica creams: the new skincare hero

Cica creams have become the hero product for new skincare launches claiming safety and gentleness. They are soothing and claim to relieve irritated skin, strengthen the skin barrier and gently moisturise. The South Korean market is currently flooded with cica cream launches that capitalise on consumers’ familiarity with the main ingredient Centella asiatica, known as a traditional herbal ointment.

The word cica was inspired by Western dermocosmetic soothing creams (e.g. Cicaplast, Cicalfate), which feature this word to signify gentle products with scar-healing properties. The same dermocosmetic feel is conveyed by the packaging of South Korean cica creams, which often resemble pharmaceutical ointments. Integrating derma-science and naturals is a winning solution for consumers who increasingly need solutions for their sensitive skin and want to be assured of safety and efficacy.

Brands are already trying to differentiate their cica creams by adding supporting ingredients (e.g. probiotics) and by developing alternatives to Centella asiatica (e.g. azulene chamomile). Similar concepts such as ‘Panthenol creams’ and ‘salt creams’ are also growing in popularity.

Make p:rem Cicapro Revitalizing Cream incorporates fermented probiotics to help soothe and improve the skin barrier.

Lirikos Oyster C.I.CA cream features oyster extracts and madecassoside (an active skin care ingredient derived from the plant Centella asiatica) to soothe tired skin and strengthen the skin barrier.

Looking ahead: new textures and formats

The next generation of cica creams will boast innovation in textures and formats. Brands will quickly move from creams to serums, toners and facial masks, while textures will become lightweight and watery. Moreover, the cica concept is highly compatible with complexion-aiding products such as tone-up creams, cushion compacts and foundations.

Other extension opportunities include:

Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Serum is enriched with Centella asiatica complex, herbs and botanical complex. The green-coloured, water-spreading serum quickly relieves, tones and preps sensitive skin.

Dermatory Hypoallergenic Cica Gauze Mask provides cica care that soothes, protects, moisturises, and minimises irritation on sensitive skin. It features a sterilised dual gauze sheet.

Missha Near Skin Madecanol Multi Balm protects and moisturises dry, rough skin on the body without leaving a sticky feeling.