Chinese Medicine for Skincare

6 Min Read |

Cosmetics and personal care brands around the world in recent years have displayed notable interest in natural and clean label formulations. Traditional Chinese medicine has consequently gained the attention of manufacturers, with a wide range of skin care solutions gaining popularity among consumers. According to a recent report by Fact.MR, traditional Chinese medicine for skin care will account for a valuation of approximately US$ 7 Bn, while displaying a strong rate of growth through the end of the upcoming decade.

With increasing consumer awareness about side effects of chemicals and a transition towards herbal solutions, the demand from consumers is likely to regain strength through 2021 and beyond as the covid-19 pandemic subsides. So, what factors make traditional Chinese medicine popular in skin care? And what strategies are brands undertaking to improve business prospects?

Growing Consumer Awareness about Complementary & Alternative Medicine

According to a report in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, approximately a third of all America patients make use of complementary & alternative medicine solutions. This has been further driven by a number of research projects on integrative medicine in the country. With growing roles in primary healthcare, traditional Chinese medicine with offerings of acupuncture, cupping, and herbal medicine will play key roles in the future of alternative medicine.

The more popular skincare and beauty brands are increasingly reducing their reliance on synthetic ingredients. Traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes on the holistic treatment of the human body, which relying on aspects of natural and social environments through therapeutic methods.

With growing interest from western markets, combinations of western and Chinese medicine will gain traction in the future of the healthcare and personal care sectors. Wildling, 001 Skincare London, Sulwhasoo, Cha Ling, Herbivore Botanicals, WTHN, and Wei Beauty are some of the more popular traditional Chinese medicine skincare brands in the industry.

Bespoke Offerings to Gain Ground

As the clean label movement continues to gain momentum, a growing number of skincare brands are exploring traditional Chinese medicine for effective, chemical-free solutions. Leading brands continue to incorporate herbal solutions into western formulations. Alternatively, brands have also launched separate product ranges based on Chinese medicine techniques and principles.

On one hand, consumers are also seeking traditional Chinese medicine healthcare specialists to avail bespoke offerings, with topical product offerings dominating the moderately fragmented sector. With safe and viable solutions for acne, eczema, psoriasis, and more solutions such as herbal mixtures, specialized teas, and jade rollers, will continue to gain consumer interest in the long term.

On the other hand, the covid-19 pandemic has had an adverse effect on the industry. While stores are opening up gradually, beauty consumers are not matching the efforts of retailers. The effects have been more pronounced in terms of brick-and-mortar outlets. While virus transmission remains high, consumers are wary to shop at TCM stores. This in turn is generating opportunities for market players to explore online distribution channels to keep with demand throughout the crisis period.

Popular Chinese Medicine Ingredients in Skincare

Some of the more popular herbal ingredients finding roles in traditional Chinese skincare solutions include ginseng, pearl powder, saffron, green tea powder, and goji berries, among others. Ginseng is often used in preventative healthcare solutions to minimize the impact of UV damage, minimizing aging, boosting collagen and brightening skin owing to anti-oxidant properties. Pearl powder on the other hand is a popular ingredient in firming mask formulations, ideal for patients with sun damage, dryness, or spotting. Goji berry extracts have been proven to be an effective moisturizing agent, while green tea has also been linked scientifically to minimizing the risk of skin cancer. On the other hand, the high costs arising from the sourcing of adequate herbal supplies for skin care products is a major challenge that manufacturers have to consider while operating in the market.

Consequently, formulations such as ginseng and red date tea, turmeric milk, and goji berry smoothies are rapidly gaining a place in consumer consciousness, generating new, lucrative opportunities for market players to capitalize in the long term.

Acupuncture and Acupressure Skincare Solutions in TCM

The acupuncture process involves the insertion of disposable, sterilized, single-use, needles, by a trained professional, who specializes in assessing physiological imbalances in the human body. The process aims to use the needles to stimulate the body’s natural healing response to increase endorphin and immunity levels, which play key roles in rejuvenating skincare procedures.

Acupressure is a branch of traditional Chinese medicine, which aims to remove energy blockages, stimulating flow through the body by bolstering lymphatic drainage, and blood flow. This in turn results in increased levels of nutrient and oxygen circulation in the body, while also providing the benefits of detoxification. Unlike acupuncture, acupressure is more popular owing to easy applications in home settings, with jade rollers being one of the more popular tools for the process.

Challenges Facing TCM Service Providers

While the influx of traditional Chinese medicine reflects positive growth prospects for the near future, cosmetics and personal care leaders are likely to face a number of challenges while making inroads in the market. For instance, research and development of traditional Chinese skincare solutions in line with modern healthcare practices is a fairly cost-prohibitive process, which is a major issue hindering the entry of new players in the market.

Furthermore, processing required for Chinese skincare solutions is fairly complex, requiring expertise to sustain mass production of effective product formulations, which also hurts growth prospects in the industry. Also, alternative medicine solutions such as diet therapy, and acupuncture are at a nascent stage of acceptance, especially among western consumers. These trends are projected to negatively influence the market in the short term. However, long-term estimates remain positive.

While traditional Chinese medicine provides a number of effective skincare solutions, the availability of modern production and processing technologies to cosmetics and personal care product manufacturers, and investments into product research will continue to generate previously unexplored opportunities in the field for the foreseeable future.

Author Bio: Shambhu Nath Jha, Senior Research Consultant at Fact.MR

Shambhu Nath Jha is an experienced Senior Research Consultant at Fact.MR, a leading research and consulting firm. Fact.MR is headquartered in Dublin, and has offices in UAE and India. The insights presented here are from a report on Traditional Chinese Medicine for Skincare Market by Fact.MR.