Despite Hollywood's obsession with spray tans and bronzers, flawless pale skin remains a top priority for Asian women. BT Weekend checks out the top whitening breakthroughs and shades of creamy skin to covet.
LOOKING like a hard-boiled egg might not sound like the sexiest beauty trend to adopt, but that's exactly the texture and luminosity that women in their 30s are trying to achieve with brightening skincare, according to the arguably most luxe Korean skincare brand on the market, Sulwhasoo.
Brightening skincare is no longer about being the palest possible version of yourself, but a reflection of the Asian woman's perception of beauty - one that revolves around flawless, fair skin. Regardless of age, defying the burning rays of our climes and achieving a tofu-like complexion is a major priority.
"Customers' perception of ideal skin is also changing; ladies in their 20s hope for skin to glow naturally without makeup - specifically youthful skin with pinkish vitality," explains Isabel Yeo, marketing executive of Amorepacific Singapore, Sulwhasoo.
"Women in their 30s want bright skin that looks healthy with defined radiance that is plump and bright like a boiled egg.
Women in their 40s love healthy, bright skin with vitality that is not unnaturally white."
With specific concerns that go beyond erasing dark spots, it takes a massive team of experts to tailor (and market) products for every whitening need.
And it seems sensible to turn to Asian skincare giants for a category of skincare that is predominantly popular in the east.
"We believe customers seek out whitening skincare developed for Asian skin such as Japanese skin care products - and indeed it is important for them to do so - for two good reasons," says Lynn Kang, sales & marketing manager, Fujifilm Asia Pacific (the company behind skincare brand Astalift).
"Firstly, Japanese skincare is more delicate on the skin but yet high in efficacy; and has also been specifically tested on Asian skin.
Secondly, customers want the highest possible quality out of their skincare and have developed a strong trust in Japanese companies to deliver that."
And with an increasing awareness of safety in skincare, and the rise in popularity of natural and organic beauty brands, even the most die-hard fan of whitening products knows to avoid nasty chemicals and bleaching agents in her quest to look like Song Hye Kyo.
"The mention of whitening products tends to give the perception of harsh and drying active ingredients that cause an imbalance in your skin's natural pH levels, which will result in horrifying breakouts and increased sensitivity of the skin," says Alfred Tan, marketing executive of CNP Cosmetics Singapore.
"Applying products with whitening ingredients alone will not result in fairer and brighter skin. Consumers are slowly learning that a simple and gentle exfoliant is fully capable of aiding the skin to shed its cells normally."
Rather than using just one miracle serum for lighter skin, the beauty pros suggest a full regimen that speeds up the rate of skin regeneration and get rid of dusky, sun-kissed skin cells.
Instead of adopting a brand new whitening skincare routine, however, busy urbanites can now choose from multi-tasking potions that also nixes other beauty woes such as skin sagging or lines.
"Today, customers are seeking products to not just even out their complexion, but also deliver long-lasting effects, as well as moisturising and other added anti-ageing benefits," adds Ms Kang.
"In addition, customers are also looking for products that allow them to achieve their desired effects within a shorter period of time."
Fairest of them all
Get luminous, glow-from-within skin that would fit any lifestyle with this guide
Astalift White Shield Drink, S$60 for 10 bottles;
Astalift White Brightening Mask, S$22;
and Astalift White Perfect UV Clear Solution, S$72
The trio of whitening skincare products contains nano-sized ingredients formulated by Fujifilm - which initially created nano technology for high definition photo-imaging.
The sheet mask contains the holy grail of skin brightening ingredients called arbutin, a molecule derived from the bearberry plant, while the beauty drink contains nano-sized particles of the antioxidant called astaxanthin to help protect the skin from UV rays and repair skin damaged by sun exposure.
The same ingredient, a naturally-occurring carotenoid that lends shrimp, lobster, crab and salmon their reddish flesh, is found in the beauty essence to fight age spots.
Sulwhasoo Snowise Line, from S$68 for Snowise Brightening Exfoliating Gel
Sulwhasoo brings brightening to the next level with an upgraded range that infuses the skin with collagen to boost resilience while reducing dullness and discolouration.
Apart from fighting the overproduction of melanin, the line uses white ginseng to whiten and firm up skin.
The ingredient comes in a powder-in-gel formula, for example, in the Snowise Brightening Exfoliating Gel to remove excess sebum and purify skin.
Its Snowise Brightening Mask is a bio-cellulose sheet mask fermented in white ginseng for two weeks and treated with Snowise Brightening Serum.
CNP Cosmetics Doctoray White Peel Set, S$58
A three-step regimen that peels, neutralises and stabilises skin, the set promises visible results after the first use. It hinges on polyhydroxy acid (PHA), which has a larger molecular structure than the conventional alpha hydroxy acid used in skincare.
Known for its anti-ageing effects, PHA is gentler on skin and causes less irritation as it penetrates into the skin slowly.
Thanks to its slow absorption rate, it can be used even on sensitive skin with problems such as rosacea, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, ichthyosis, keratosis pilaris and eczema.
Apart from exfoliating skin-dulling dead cells, the peel helps other cosmetic products penetrate deeply.
At the spa
Tarabliss Pigmentation: Lightening + treatment, S$380
#05/06-00 Chan Brothers Building Tel: 6336-9274
Perfect for skin with hyper-pigmentation, age spots, acne scars and uneven skin tone, this treatment uses aesthetic Dynamic Pulse Light (DPL) therapy to treat hyper-pigmentation at a deeper level of the skin and rejuvenate skin for a brighter, more even-toned appearance.
An intensive infusion of pure oxygen into the epidermis layer of the skin using a high-pressure spray works with a hydration mask to plump, revitalise and improve blood circulation.
The treatment encourages cell renewal, lightens pigments and acne scars and boosts the production of collagen and elastin.
Estheclinic Glow to Go IPL Facial Rejuvenation, S$165
72 Tras Street Tel: 6221-4797
Using an advanced Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology equipped with a pain-free technology patented in France, the efficient treatment helps to improve skin tone and texture and restore radiance through light energy.
Not only does it work on the deeper dermis layer of the skin to boost collagen production and promote regeneration, it is also highly effective in reducing uneven pigmentation on the skin's surface - giving a more even-toned, radiant glow and smoother skin in just one session.
Firma Skin Lighten & Refine, S$120
#01-33 Golden Shoe Complex Tel: 6557-4253
Using ultrasound to unclog pores and microdermabrasion to refine skin texture, and lighten scars and blemishes, nutrient-rich serums are infused to nourish and brighten skin over regular sessions.
A high concentration of active ingredients extracted from traditional Chinese bird's nest, is delivered into the skin using a device that breaks down the essence into nano particles and sprayed onto the face using a powerful jet of air.
Its Bird's Nest Micro Essence is rich in amino acids and minerals to regenerate skin cells and epidermal growth factors for cellular repair, to create radiance.
This article was first published on April 2, 2016.
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