With almost 34,000 visitors across all six shows, the halls at Tokyo Big Sight Expo centre were busy throughout the entire three days of the fair. Besides Japan, the biggest exhibiting country this year was Korea, with K-beauty brands dominating the Cosme Tokyo hall in particular. This highly visible presence of Korean cosmetics at the show reflects the changing dynamics of the Japanese cosmetics market. Indeed, during the last few years, Japan’s beauty retail market has seen a massive influx of Korean beauty brands which are now widely sold in drugstores, convenience stores and variety stores/beauty specialist retailers.
As far as beauty trends are concerned, Cosme Tokyo was all about ingredients this year. In a market with highly educated and informed consumers, skin science and other dermatological approaches of beauty are more than ever a key factor of success in Japan.
Exosomes, NMN and other anti-aging active ingredients
Exosomes were undoubtedly among the most prominent active ingredients showcased at Cosme Tokyo 2024. Frequently, exosomes were combined with anti-ageing ingredients already highly popular in the Japanese beauty market, such as stem cells, PDRN (Polydeoxyribonucleotide), NMN (Nicotinamide mononucleotide) or placenta, as well as classic actives from the Korean beauty industry that have become popular in Japanese skin care in recent years, such as cica (centella asiatica), bakuchiol or niacinamide.
For example, Japanese salon beauty manufacturer Wave Corporation reformulated several products in its existing Spa Treatment HAS line with exosome technology and re-named the entire line – the Exosomes range now includes sheet masks, undereye masks and a highly-concentrated exosome serum.
Lady Bio’s Dualvie Clocell Therapy cream features both bakuchiol and exosomes.
Korean brand Nine Tails launched three new exosome-based products, including the Exo Collagen Serum which contains exosomes, collagen and niacinamide.
And Korean-Japanese brand Precime ecently introduced Exosome Mineral UV Protective Cream, a liquid tinted face cream with SPF34 PA+++ formulated with exosomes and cica-derived madecassoside and asiaticoside.
NMN was another very popular and highly visible ingredient at Cosme Tokyo 2024, not just in skin care but also in nutritional supplements and functional foods/beverages. When applied topically, nicotinamide mononucleotide is said to help increase skin elasticity and minimise fine lines and wrinkles.
Femcare beauty brand Seins Mous‘ new Champagne Carbon face and neck serum cream does not just include human stem cells but also NMN to further boost hydration and improve skin elasticity.
Japanese skin care brand Aderay’s new Aderay Warp Mask is an all-over eye sheet mask. The mask material is infused with nano-sized NMN and hyaluronic acid which quickly melt into the skin, deeply hydrating and redensifying it.
Eventually, Japanese newcomer brand Tokka Labo‘s most recent supplement includes NMN from fermented broccoli florets and broccoli seed powder as well as willow orchid extracts.
The importance of active ingredients was also visible in the many functional anti-ageing beauty launches at the show, especially from the Korean exhibitors. Retinol, cica, niacinamide, ceramides et. al. were very much in evidence, as were highly-concentrated serum, ampoule and essence products.
For example, the Dr. Rosa range, introduced by Korea’s Cosmax, featured three new functional serums. The Dr. Rosa Cica Exo Calming IV ampoule is based on 83% centella asiatica extract and promises to soothe sensitive and barrier-impaired skin.
And Korean makeup brand tFit recently launched two new functional face care line, including the 4-sku Pluvipoe pore care range which offers two different pore-refining serums and a pore-cleansing pudding mask.
The active ingredient in Korean newcomer brand Vegetology’s 6-sku face care range is antioxidant-rich grape flower stem cell extract which is cultivated in a bio reactor in the brand’s own production facility.
A different approach to anti-ageing – albeit still ingredients-focused – came from Japanese newcomer beauty brand Rupika which presented a truly innovative beauty product. Rupika Beauty Tooth Gel is packed with glutathione, colloidal gold and tiger grass extract as well as various anti-bacterial ingredients. The dental beauty essence utilises the superior ingredients absorption powers of the mucosal membranes: The mint flavoured gel formula is massaged into the gums – as an additional benefit, gum massage relieves muscular tensions in the jaw and neck area – so the active ingredients are absorbed much more quickly into the body than via topical application.
Keep it clean
Minimalist, gender-free and vegan beauty was also visible at the show, albeit more amongst the younger beauty brands.
Japanese newcomer brand Borderfree offers a compact 3-sku product range of cleansing foam, facial essence and facial cream. With a strong clean beauty vibe and minimalist packaging, this is a classic GenZ/Millennial beauty brand.
Korean functional beauty brand Geekko offers a similar brand experience: With 5 highly functional face care products packaged in eye-catching heavy glass flacons, fabric labels and concrete-gray cardboard boxes.
With colourful, simple packaging and a distinct unisex slant, Korean indie brand Shupong is also focused on the GenZ/Millennials demographic. The newcomer brand’s line-up comprises six products including an innovative pimple patch dispenser reminiscent of an adhesive tape roller which is launching very soon.
Finally, Hong Kong-based face care brand Pretti5 focuses on TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) plant extracts in classic clean beauty formulations. Manufactured in Japan, the brand’s line-up offers 14 face care products plus the most recent launch, a body cream.