Beauty trends in Southeast Asia

It feels great to be back home in Santa Monica before my European leg begins. If you remember from my Snapchat (follow me @kohkim!), I was running dangerously low on all of my skincare products since I only planned on being away for 4 weeks instead of the eventual 6 weeks! All I had left was the basics: facial cleanser, moisturizer, eye cream and sunscreen.  Southeast Asia, especially Thailand and Bali, is renown for their spas, massages and beauty. Fortunately, the services and products are at a much more affordable price point compared to its American counterparts, so I took the liberty to indulge in quite a few experiences. Here are the top beauty trends I've noticed from this trip.

  • All the Southeast Asian skincare brands look to Korea. Korean skincare and beauty products has certainly taken the world by storm. Women in Southeast Asia certainly aspire to be like the popular K-pop stars and K-drama actresses. Ad campaigns for Southeast Asian products look like they were ripped straight from Korea, and the products use similar ingredients popular in Korean skincare products as well.
  • Beauty is not only how you take care of yourself on the outside but inside as well. I've seen more nutritional supplements purporting to enhance beauty in powder, pill or liquid form than I've ever seen stateside. "Beauty drinks" filled the refrigerators in the convenience stores, and I've seen a lot of women (and men!) buy a few in the morning or take them before bed.
  • Natural and organic ingredients are incredibly popular. This comes as no surprise as the region has some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the entire world. There were tons of vendors selling essential oils, soaps, lotions, serums, and many other products made from natural or organic ingredients. I was able to buy cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil for a $1 off the street. I also discovered thanaka powder which acts like a natural sunscreen, tightens pores, improves complexion and leaves a pleasant fragrance on my skin.
  • Hair products are a big deal. Women take pride in their hair, and Southeast Asian women, for the most part, have enviable, long, luscious dark locks. Hair cream (aka deep conditioning) and scalp detox treatments are incredibly popular.