5 Remarkable Asian Clean Beauty Startups

Clean beauty has been one of the most searched terms over the past few years and has been staying on top of the search results also for this year. For the future, it will become even more relevant than it already is since consumers are becoming more conscious of beauty products by reading and checking labels before purchasing.

However, when searching for the term “clean beauty”, there is no clearly defined description. You will see many different terms like sustainable, vegan, natural, green or organic. What we found is that clean beauty is actually subjective and a very versatile term that is interpreted and defined in many different ways. Therefore, we created an overview and quick guide through the common terms and buzz words around clean beauty.

First of all, in a broader sense, clean beauty is associated with safety and non-toxicity. Safety in regards to the health of people and the planet by utilizing nontoxic, more plant-based and natural ingredients instead of synthetic ingredients such as paraben, artificial fragrances, silica or aluminum compounds.

The definition of clean beauty is also oftentimes extended. For instance words like green and sustainable emphasize the consideration of the environment. Eco-friendly packaging or no-waste packaging being glass or paper packaging, biodegradable packaging, post-consumer recycled packaging.

Moreover, very few definitions of clean beauty also include terms like organic meaning non-genetically modified as well as vegan meaning ingredients or by-products not sourced from animals. Some common non-vegan ingredients found in beauty products include beeswax, honey, lanolin, and tallow.

Lastly, some might include cruelty-free when explaining clean beauty, which means that the beauty product was not tested on animals during or after production.

A study from 2019 by AlixPartners has revealed that global demand for beauty and personal care products with natural or organic ingredients is growing. 72% of all respondents from major markets including China, France, Germany, the UK and the US said it was important to purchase healthy or clean products and are willing to pay extra. This number increases to 90% if only looking at Chinese consumers. Generally, Gen Z and Millennials are the consumers leading this movement of clean beauty all over the world.

We can already see industry leaders following and changing to be more transparent and clean. Beiersdorf for instance just launched a premium skin care brand CHA’UL — the brand that is inspired by fermented tea. Recognized for its clean and mild formula, CHA’UL recently received a test result that all products are free from 15 ingredients which are considered ‘toxic’ within clean beauty community. Or Shiseido changed to more sustainable refillable packaging.

Leading beauty retailer Sephora introduces a Clean at Sephora Seal that identifies beauty products without synthetic ingredients for example phthalates, parabens, and sulfates. But also established brands like Clarins have launched a cleaner beauty line MyClarins, which is their vegan, paraben sulfate and phthalate free collection that uses natural plant extracts and recycled material for their packaging.

The beauty industry is clearly heading towards a new standard but especially the startup and independent brands are the ones driving this movement. As the demand in Asia for clean beauty is rapidly rising, we collected a handful of remarkable Asian clean beauty startups that help drive clean beauty in Asia and hence help create more availability for consumers in this market.

1. Beigic (South Korea)

To start our list of Asian clean beauty startups, we included a very familiar brand Beigic that we have featured on our channel before. Beigic is a Korean startup inspired by the good feeling of the color beige. Kate Namgung, the founder of Beigic, created vegan and cruelty-free beauty products ranging from facial oil, moisturizer to hair masks, body lotion and more all with only natural and plant-based ingredients. The beauty products leverage the benefits like antioxidants and Vitamin E and essential amino acids from natural coffee and green coffee bean extract and avoid any synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, silicones, harsh sulfates (SLS, SLES), and parabens.

2. DAMDAM (Japan)

Launched in 2018, DAMDAM is a beauty startup from Japan focusing on 100% natural skincare. DAMDAM stands for emotion, inner perception and conscious awareness. With this meaning, all of their products and ingredients are carefully selected, plant-based, and free of parabens, silicone, sulphate, aluminum synthetic fragrance, alcohol and more. You can find all kinds of skincare products from serum, masks, cleanser to mist and lip balm. DAMDAM products are produced through Japanese craftsmanship and traditional ingredients like Konnyaku root, Kaolin Clay or Komenuka to elevate daily life and nurture our connection with self, environment, and each other.

3. 23.5°N (Taiwan)

Inspired by Taiwan’s nature, Helen Ho founded the brand 23.5°N, which name is derived from the latitude Taiwan lies as the unique geographical location is the reason for the richness in flowers, fruits, crops, and vegetables. This clean beauty brand is dedicated to natural ingredients, simple formulas, and light textures. Only nutritious plants free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are selected to make their rich and simple products that are all free of SLS, SLES, artificial coloring, fragrance, alcohol, parabens, and animal ingredients. These ingredients include rice, pineapple, red pearl barley, oriental tea and bamboo. Their formulas are a perfect balance of oil and water-based ingredients that nurture the skin comfortably and without any irritation.

4. Coconut Matter (Hong Kong)

The Hong Kong based clean beauty brand Coconut Matters, founded in 2015, was a pioneer for clean beauty. Not only are they specialising in products made with organic, natural and plant-based ingredients, but they are also conscious about ingredient sourcing conditions and their product packaging. As the name suggests, the core ingredient for their products is fair-trade virgin coconut oil sourced from the pristine Solomon Islands. Above that, all of their products come in in sustainable plastic-free, biodegradable paper packaging to make a positive impact on our planet.

5. OTZI (Korea)

Last but not least on our list, we have OTZI, a K-beauty brand that just recently launched in the end of 2020 targeting Gen Z. The name derives from the Korean word ‘우리,’ which translates to “us” in order to highlight its desire to build a skin care community open to everybody. This brand is the second collaboration of Korean company MBX, and beauty retailer Sephora. Their products are all cruelty-free, vegan and without sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, and mineral oil. The Korean origin is reflected in the products that are infused with quality Korean ingredients like bamboo water, ginseng berry, tea blend and more. For instance the Crystal Nova Makeup Removing Cleanser is formulated with Korean crystal flower blend or the C-Drop Brightening Serum is infused with ginseng berry.

The New Wave of Beauty Industry Led by Clean Beauty

This completes our list of remarkable Asian clean beauty startups all using only natural ingredients good for human and nature. With a common mission behind the beauty products, they are setting an example for the beauty industry in Asia and around the world. This is only the beginning for clean beauty and we are convinced that brands like Beigic, DAMDAM, 23,5°N, Coconut Matter or OTZI will soon be the standard in the industry.