As the Asian Beauty and Asian Skincare market becomes more popular, due to beauty imports from Japan and Korea, the more exotic ingredients have been trending and can sometimes be found in Western skincare products. Many of these ingredients have only recently become popular, and unfortunately a lot of them do not have readily available research studies in English. Beyond snail extract, I’ve compiled this list of the most popular and lesser-known ingredients.
Hover over the ingredient for a short explanation on its role in skincare and clicking on it will open a new page. You’ll find more information and a list of skincare products it’s featured in.
The More “Exotic” Asian skincare ingredients
You’ll find entire lines of products devoted to these popular Asian skincare ingredients. Some can be seen in Western skincare (venoms in particular, the Rodial brand comes to mind). Skincare brands that have a substantial presence in Asia have been known to jump on to these trends as well.
Not as popular* Asian skincare ingredients
These are the ingredients that you’ll sometimes see, but aren’t talked about as much as the more “exotic” ones above.
Maple Tree Sap
Salmon Hatchery Water
Horse fat / Horse oil
Bird’s Nest saliva
Chia seed extract
Osory Oil (Badger oil)
Other Asian skincare ingredients
These are the skincare ingredients you’ll sometimes find in Western skincare ingredient lists, but most definitely will find in Asian skincare ingredient lists. They’re not exactly star ingredients and usually have a supporting role. (Listed in no particular order.)
Lotus flower extract (the lotus seed extract is seen in Western skincare instead)
Job’s tears (Coix seed)
Chestnut seed extract
Skullcap extract (seen in Clinique products)
Gardenia Florida extract
Orchid extract (are you seeing the white flower trend here?)
Various honeysuckle extracts (especially japanese honeysuckle)
Satsuma, Mandarin and citrus everything
Blue Mallow flower
Camellia Kissi Oil
Grape seed powder (in exfoliants)
Rice powder (in exfoliants)
Egg white (albumen in Western product ingredient lists)
Volcanic whatever (volcanic ash, jeju volcano rocks, etc.)
Placenta and other animal derived ingredients (though companies maintain placenta can be plant-derived, I don’t know how as plants don’t have placentas?)
Meadowfoam seed oil
Rice bran oil
Water Pepper extract
Ingredients you’ll definitely find in both Western and Asian skincare
Unsurprisingly, asian beauty formulators use these ingredients too. Most of these ingredients have been proven to work and have numerous studies backing up the claims behind them.
Panax Ginseng Root
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid)
Beta Hydroxy Acids (betaine salicylate, salicylic acid)
PHAs: Gluconolactone and lactobionic acids
Arbutin – and all its sources, like mushroom, pear, blueberries, bearberry, mulberry extract
Vitamin C – and all its citrus-y and non-citrus-y sources
Lycopene – watermelon extract, tomato extract
Fermented Soy or Natto extract
Beta-glucan – and all its sources
Fermented Rice extract
Tea Tree Oil
Rose oil and rose water
Wild Yam extract
Silk protein (sericin)
Skincare trends from Asia
Skincare “technology” making its way over into Western brands from Asia are listed below. Some have been very popular* (cleansing oils, cushion makeup) and others seem to be less so.
Cushion compacts, foundations, etc.
Carbonated water skincare
Hydrogel or hydro gel masks
Water drop essence serums (lightly spreading droplet particle “technology”)
“Natural” preservative systems (Benton comes to mind, leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate, probiotics etc.)
This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a starting point, and will be updated frequently.
*By “not as popular” I mean they’re not discussed as often as the more “exotic” ingredients