Just when you think you've seen it all from K-beauty innovators, South Korea's commitment to the latest cutting-edge advances in ingredients and formulations has seen launches including various clever ranges around snail slime or horse oil gain traction around the globe.
The most recent ingredient raising eyebrows in skin care is the starfish - mainly comprised of water and proteins, such as collagen and calcium - nutrients that are reported to hydrate, regenerate, and rejuvenate the skin.
One brand, Mizon claims its 'Returning Starfish Cream', which contains 70 per cent starfish extract is 'cruelty-free' and is a natural bi-product from the culling of a huge overgrowth of starfish in the Pacific Ocean which are destroying the ecosystem and, in turn, having a negative impact on local fishermen.
Mizon's range also includes an 'All-in-one Snail Repair Cream', 'Cotton Shower Sheet Essence' and an 'Egg White Bubble Cleanser'.
Demand for k-beauty
As the West calls for more of South Korea's beauty innovations, even the smallest of players are benefiting, despite struggling to ward off stiff competition at home.
The country's beauty launches have been categorized by trends like 'K-Pop' which are heavily influenced by flamboyant male pop icons, the alphabet craze known as 'BB' (et al) creams, and more generally 'K-Beauty' which refers to Korea's influence on the West's skin care developments.
This overseas demand is giving even the smallest of players a voice where they might be struggling to be heard in their competitive domestic market.
Take for example; the Elisha Koy brand first launched in 2007, which got major coverage for its BB cream in the West and now exports to over 20 countries and accounts 60 per cent of its sales from overseas demand.
According to OECD statistics, market-leading scientific research is the foundation of Korea’s top industries. Indeed, the country is world champion when it comes to R&D investment (4.4% of GDP in 2012).
In fact, trends analyst Nica Lewis says that thanks to a surge in patent registration in 2013, South Korea is now among the top five in the world for trademarks.