Traditional medicinal herbs and headline-grabbing actives often take centre stage when marketing beauty products in South Korea. But behind the limelight, it is functional ingredients that are the “best supporting actors” of many of the country’s most popular formulations.
And among these, silicones are multi-talented virtuosos. They create silky textures, lend spreadability to serums and sun creams, and impart shine to hair products and gloss to lip colour. The versatility, high performance and safety of silicones boosts their appeal as functional cosmetic ingredients.
Key consumer trends of sustainability and multi-functionality are spurring silicone manufacturers to innovate. This includes enhancing performance of the classics such as dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane, developing new silicone-based ingredients and exploring hybrids and alternatives.
Leading lights in silicone innovation
Dow Corning, a market leader in conditioning polymers in Asia, provides a wide variety of silicone materials to the South Korean beauty care market. These include elastomers, resins and emulsions. Elastomers in particular help to meet market demand for popular products like air cushion compacts as well as BB and CC creams. The company also sees healthy demand for its silicone-based ingredients in hair care and sun care products.
Customer expectations have changed demand for silicones. “In the past silicone ingredients were used to provide more general sensory benefits,” says Dogyun Eden Kim, Dow Corning Korea’s Beauty Care & HPB Regional Marketer. “However, today more customers and the market expect certain specific functional benefits from these ingredients.”
Going forward, the green beauty trend will continue to challenge formulators. But Kim sees room for silicones to contribute to various aspects of sustainability that the market requires.
German powerhouse Evonik Industries and its predecessor companies have been active in the South Korean market since 1985. Globally, the company saw a seven per cent increase in sales of its Consumer Health & Nutrition division last year.
In South Korea, Evonik is capitalising on steady demand from the personal care industry for its emulsifiers, emollients and actives. It offers a range of natural emulsifiers, high performance organomodified silicones and multi-functional active ingredients. Many of these feature in the cosmeceutical formulations so popular throughout Asia.
Despite the emergence of the silicone-free claim (mostly in certified organic beauty products and some hair care), silicones continue to play a leading role in this spring’s Asian beauty debuts.
Shiseido has reformulated its Anessa UV sun care with new ingredients and a “super waterproof technology” based on a silicon polymer. Ingredients include cyclomethicone, polymethylsilsesquioxane and dimethicone among others. The basis of Sooryehan’s Metal Cushion foundation is a blend of purified water and silicone-based emulsifiers and skin-conditioning polymers. And Banila Co’s VV Vitalizing Serum features water, plant oils and five silicone-based ingredients.
At the luxury end of the market, Amore Pacific has introduced a limited edition Prime Reserve Epidynamic Activating Creme that contains AP10Bioemulsion composed of multiple silicones.
Even Innisfree, one of Korea’s top natural brands, shows that silicones and sustainability can share the spotlight: the brand’s new Soybean Energy Essence (Light) includes a silicone wax (bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane).
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