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New Trends in the Italian and Chinese Cosmetic Sector

  •   16 Jul 2019
  •    Winnie Xu
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    The dynamic world of cosmetic is in continuous evolution and transformation. In research centers and in cutting-edge laboratories cosmetic formulas of all kinds are developed, designed and studied to meet the different needs of the skin. In a recent trip exploring cosmetic sector trends in Italy and China the author investigates to learn more about the beauty routines and the formulation concepts of the two countries.

    Green Cosmetology

    In Italy there is a growing demand for “green cosmetology”, meaning natural cosmetics backed by relevant certification. Moreover, products of this type can also be vegan and are increasingly demanded. In fact the Beauty Report of Cosmetica Italia (Italian Association of Cosmetic Companies) has confirmed that the "sustainability/green trend” is increasing, specifically cosmetic products with claims related to sustainability have grown globally by an average rate of 11%, with over 13,000 new references at the end of 2018, a sign of strong interest [1].


    Another very important trend is the “antipollution” trend: formulas designed specifically to counteract and fight the various consequences of pollution on the skin. More precisely, recent studies confirm that air pollution is one of the main causes of alteration of the skin barrier, which can result in premature aging, hypersensitivity and increased trans-epidermal dehydration (source: research in environmental dermatology presented at the congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (Eadv). In general in Europe many brands have developed “antipollution” formulae and the number of product launches grew 207% between 2016 and 2017! In 2018, at least 165 new products had “anti-pollution” properties [2].

    Neuro-Sensory Cosmetics

    Finally, “Neuro-Sensory” cosmetics, is another important trend in Italy.  “Neuro-Sensory Cosmetics” are products formulated and developed to enhance the users overall feeling of wellbeing. The general concept is that the mind and body are linked so if in balance, the mind is happy and the skin has a healthier appearance. So nowadays a growing trend in universities and research centers is to create a “feel-good factor” in newly developed cosmetics. Sensory research has always been very important, and as far back as 1987 L'Oreal started its first studies and still invests many resources and energy during new product development to ensure an exceptional sensory experience [3].

    High-tech & Smart Cosmetics

    As for the Asian market, in the past we have heard about K-BEAUTY (Korean Beauty) and J-BEAUTY (Japanese Beauty), but more recently C-BEAUTY, or Chinese Beauty, is becoming more and more established. In fact the Chinese cosmetics sector has been growing at a fast pace in tandem with the rapid development of the Chinese economy. Data reveals that total retail sales of skincare products and make-up products in China reached 251,4 Billion RMB in 2017 [4].

    What can this success be attributed to? What sets it apart from K and J-Beauty? C-Beauty is setting itself apart by focusing on cutting edge technologies to enhance user experience. Chinese laboratories and research centers are actively working to develop “high-tech & smart cosmetics”, in which new formulations with high technological content are studied and designed. In addition, C-Beauty is an early adopter of technologies from other sectors such as Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence and helps to create a more immersive and complete experience for consumers. [5]

    Herbal Cosmetics [6]

    Chinese herbal cosmetics are also a new trend and many renowned pharmaceutical companies in China, such as Choorigin of Yunnan Baiyao are entering the market with new products. Many ingredients applied in one of Choorigin’s masks are Chinese herbs.


    (A mask of Choorigin on Taobao)

    It is believed that China's herbal cosmetics market has much room for development because young consumers are now concerned about the ingredients and quality of products. For these reasons the Chinese laboratories and research centers are actively working, to develop and formulate new Chinese herbal cosmetics.

    Masstige & Premium

    Another very important trend in China is the“masstige & premium” cosmetics which focus on luxury and exclusivity, for high positioning within the market segmentation. Universities and research laboratories are investing to create unique, precious and exclusive formulations. Great attention is paid to the research of raw materials, to select the most powerful and efficacious active ingredients in the world. In fact China’s skincare-products market is trending towards the high-end. Research shows that although the retail value of high-end skincare products was still below that of mass-market fast-moving alternatives in 2017, the market share of the former has been rising gradually to 31% in 2017 from 27% in 2012. Consumers favor high-level brand skincare products, and spending habits are switching from price-focused to quality and brand-driven (according to Euromonitor).

    At the end of our short trip through the cosmetic trends in Italy and in China, there is no doubt that there is a common denominator: the importance of investments in research and know-how is vital to continue to meet the rapidly evolving demands of modern consumers.

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