The Asian Skincare Low-Down

The Asian Skincare Low-Down

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While Asia is synonymous to a multitude of things, skincare definitely rakes in a high ranking on the list. The overall skincare industry is by no means minuscule and Asia alone is already worth 51% of the global market. The celebrated “Korean skincare routine” may have been the influence of this growth, expanding far beyond the vicinity of Korea.

So what’s the big deal about this skincare routine that have taken the industry in Asia by storm? No longer subjected to just the regular “cleanse, tone, and moisturise” routine, the skincare regime in Asia has evolved to include extensive steps and products, like the infamous “10 step routine” that  has been credited to the porcelain skin of Korean celebrities.

Source: Pampadour

The substantial boost from the market meant an imminent demand for various skincare products tailored for the Asian skin. Here, we analysed the patterns among bestsellers from different skincare categories to determine these demands. The Malaysian market’s data from Hermo, one of the leading local e-commerce platform for skincare and beauty, was used as an example for the reflection of the current industry. 

Cleansing Waters

Cleansing water bestseller

From left to right (all from Hermo): Bioderma Sebium H20, The Saem Healing Tea Garden Cleansing Water, The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Mild Cleansing Water

The first step to any skincare routine is to cleanse the skin of any impurities. Double-cleansing is important in the Korean skincare routine as it includes removing traces of makeup or sunscreen before rinsing it with a traditional water-based cleanser. While there are many makeup removing cleansers in the market such as oil-based cleansers, wipes and even cleansing balms, cleansing water, also known as micellar water, seemed to be a fan favourite, experiencing stockouts and replenishments of at least 3 times within the timeframe.

Foam Cleansers

Foam Cleanser Bestseller

From left to right (all from Hermo): The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Foaming Cleanser , L’Oreal Men Expert White Activ Oil Control Charcoal Foam, The Face Shop Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Cleansing Foam

As for traditional water-based cleansers, foam cleansers were most popular and experienced a 62.2% sellout rate from Hermo.

Chemical Exfoliants

BHA chemical exfoliant bestseller

From left to right (all from Hermo): Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner, Some By Mi AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner, Cosrx Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol

Exfoliating is crucial in order to remove dead skin cells to allow for new skin cells to resurface. Physical abrasive exfoliants are a thing of the past, as the market seemed to favour chemical exfoliants. Toners containing BHA (beta hydroxy acid), a chemical exfoliant, were especially patronised by consumers of Hermo. Products with the keyword BHA had a sellout rate of 75% whereas the the overall average sellout rate for facial scrubs was 66.3%.


vitamin c serum bestseller hermo

From left to right (all from Hermo): Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop, The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%, By Wishtrend Highest Vitamin Kit 

While consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to treatments and serums, the main ingredient that rode the skincare wave was vitamin C. Vitamin C serums, known for its brightening properties, outranked other players in the market, experiencing at least 7 stockouts within the timeframe. It proved the prevalence of this not-so-secret ingredient among consumers that even international models swear by.

Instant Treatments

Instant Patches bestseller hermo

From left to right (all from Hermo): Lovemore Platinum Eye Whitening Patch, Lovemore Collagen Eye Firming Patch, Mia Care Acne Patch Night

Besides serums, another well-performing treatment was instant patches such as acne and eye patches that promise to deliver results overnight. The eye patches, especially, went out-of-stock at least 5 times. Another interesting detail that was be observed from the bestselling patches was the cute and engaging packaging, which made them stand out as unique in the skincare arena. 

Overnight Masks

Bestselling sleeping masks hermo

From left to right (all from Hermo): L’Oreal Paris Skin Expert White Perfect Total Recover Sleeping Mask, Naruko Taiwan Magnolia Brightening and Firming Night Gelly EX, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask 

As mentioned above, there seemed to be a pattern among overnight treatments, even for masks. Products with the keywords “night mask” experienced a 73% sellout rate on average.


sunscreen bestseller hermo

From left to right (all from Hermo): Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel UV SPF 50+, Kiss Me Sunkiller Perfect Water Essence SPF50+, Senka Perfect UV Gel SPF50 

Suncare plays an important role in the Asian community given their vigilance towards sun protection and maintaining fair skin. However, sunscreens with a gel consistency were among the bestsellers in the subcategory. Given the humidity in Asia, a thinner and lighter consistency will typically fare better than heavier, creamier formulas.

While this is not a representation of the overall market, being able to map consumers’ purchasing patterns is made easier with access to millions of data points on a single platform. Especially when skincare could possibly cause a disruption for e-commerce, it is crucial that demands are met across all markets and regions. Competitors in this industry can emulate a proper strategisation of Asian skincare brands and retailers by tapping into the market with the right products that cater to the right consumers.

Interested to find out about the current skincare industry? Drop us an email at and we’ll be in touch!

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The data above were obtained from Omnilytics, real-time retail data platform. The numbers and statistics may vary, as the platform is updated everyday. The time period of the information taken were between 25 December 2017 to 15 February, 2019.

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