Natural Asian ingredients brighten skincare in the US

March 20, 2017
4 min read

Traditional medicine has been part of Southeast Asia’s cultural fabric for thousands of years and, today, US Millennials show growing interest in some of the region’s key natural ingredients. We expect to see more Western brands develop their own new formulae, backing them up with promotional campaigns which effectively showcase the multifunctionality of traditional Eastern naturals.


Macroalgae (seaweed or kelp) has long been a health food staple among Asian consumers, and is even seen as a Blue Zone essential for Okinawans. According to Mintel’s Facial Skincare and Anti-Aging US 2016 report, two in five Millennials report having used products containing seaweed, and show an interest in trialing others which showcase their natural ingredients. This aligns with the growing use of seaweed in US facial, body and eyecare products since 2014. Natural brands should tap into the multigenerational appeal of seaweeds’ eco-friendly, healthful message.

The Seaweed Bath Co. Wildly Natural Seaweed Detox Cellulite Cream

Shiro English Garden Body Milk


Turmeric, which was named by Mintel as a superfood to watch in 2016, has a rich history in Indian Ayurveda medicine, being described as a ‘super spice’ for use in food, smoothies and as a supplement, due to its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the UV protective potential of one of turmeric’s key actives, curcumin.

According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), turmeric’s worldwide use in facial skincare formulations increased between 2015 and 2016, with launches rising 0.7% in North America. Despite this, turmeric still only appears in a few US bodycare products. Western brands can expand turmeric’s skincare use to create nuanced and standalone Asian-inspired formulae that promote its centuries-old wellness effects.

Tumerica Unscented Body Lotion

Aveda Tulasára Wedding Mask


For US Millennials, multifunctional claims such as ‘UV-protection’ and ‘soothing,’ which go beyond simple moisturisation, are becoming a must-have in their purchases, and many show more of an interest in these claims than do older generations.

Brands can also gain male attention by using anti-pollution claims, as a quarter of US men want some form of protection against pollutants, while younger consumers also want products that calm and de-stress, according to Mintel’s Body Care and Deodorant US 2016 report. Brands need to introduce full protective bodycare formulae that also aid relaxation.

Comfort Zone Tranquillity Aromatic Nourishing Body Cream

Sarôme Jasmin Crème Douceur Moisturizing Body Cream


The K-Beauty phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down, with Korean exports of cosmetics to the US reaching $663 million in 2015 – a 56% increase from the previous year, according to reports. Consumer demand is being spurred by e-commerce entrepreneurs such as Glow Recipe and Peach & Lily, as well as specialty retailers, like Sephora and Ulta, which engage consumers by offering a fun usage experience. Mass-market stores such as Target and Walmart are also now showcasing K-Beauty items.

Natural ingredients are a key feature of K-Beauty products. Once considered exotic by US consumers, fermented plants, fruits and herbs – which see common use in Asian products – are now sought by a quarter of US iGens, according to Mintel’s Skincare Ingredients and Format Trends US 2016 report. Western natural brands can tap into this enthusiasm for K-Beauty by incorporating elements from the East’s expanding repertoire of popular ingredients.

Su:m 37° Secret Repair Emulsion

Whamisa Organic Fruits & Tomato Fermented Hydrogel Facial Mask with Lactobacillus

David Tyrrell is a Global Skincare Analyst, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel. He provides analysis of consumer skincare needs and behaviors, ingredient and product assessments and competitive insights that impact business interests of skincare companies across the globe.

David Tyrrell
David Tyrrell

David Tyrrell is Global Skincare Analyst at Mintel. He analyzes consumer skincare needs and behaviors, ingredient and product assessments and competitive insights.

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