The 10th edition of Japan’s largest beauty retail show Cosme Tokyo took place from 12th to 14th January 2022 at Tokyo’s Big Sight Expo Centre.
Unlike last year’s event, Cosme Tokyo 2022 was not a hybrid show; it was held completely offline but luckily organizers RX Japan (formerly Reed Exhibitions Japan) had provided a detailed exhibitor database and digital product showcase. There were even two live-stream segments from the show (which were so much fun to watch!) so I attended from a distance, as per usual these days.
As usual, Cosme Tokyo took place as part of Cosme Week Tokyo, with its sister shows Cosme Tech (the 13th edition, OEM/ODM, manufacturing, packaging, ingredients), Inner Beauty Tokyo (5th edition, nutritional supplements, wellness) and Esthec Japan, a salon show which took place for the second time in 2022. In addition there was the Cosmetics Marketing Expo fair but I’ve never visited this section of the show as it’s mostly marketing and agency services for the Japanese beauty industry and there are no finished products.
There were around 450 exhibitors in total at Cosme Week 2022 with around 220 companies at Cosme Tech, Cosme Tokyo with120-odd exhibitors, Esthec Japan with maybe 70 exhibitors, and Inner Beauty with around 40 exhibitors.
KEY TRENDS AT COSME TOKYO 2022
The key trends at the 2022 show mostly continued on from previous years: organic and natural was a big influence, obviously, frequently combined with the regional/local slant that plays such an essential role in many Japanese beauty and food brands. High-tech anti-ageing beauty – and human stem cells in particular –played a major role at the show, and so did CBD (cannabidiol) products.
Finally, there were some really interesting colour cosmetics brands, especially in the face makeup category which has taken the biggest hit since the pandemic began. And there was a most delightful newcomer beauty brand that practically embodies what makeup and skin care in a pandemic is all about!
COSME TOKYO 2022: CBD BEAUTY
Let’s start with one of the most interesting Asian beauty trends of recent years: CBD (cannabidiol) cosmetics which had a huge presence at the show this year!
Almost all CBD exhibitors were Japanese companies proudly presenting CBD products made in Japan. This is big deal because Japan continues to have very strict cannabis and drug laws in place. And whilst CBD is not psychoactive as it contains no (or barely any) THC, and is therefore not a drug per se, the cultivation of hemp in Japan is still heavily regulated and associated with a lot of red tape.
For many years public perception of cannabis-based beauty and supplements was tainted by its “illegal drugs” image so the CBD product category has had a difficult start in Japan.
Cosme Tokyo 2020 (incidentally my last offline Asian trade show) was the first show that I ever even noticed CBD products on exhibition booths, but the few exhibitors in this category that attended the fair were mostly Japanese distributors of international CBD brands.
However, judging by the number of domestic CBD brands at this year’s show cannabidiol-based products appear to have well and truly taken off in Japan, at least amongst the urban and GenZ/Millennials demographics.
Most of the CBD brands at Cosme Tokyo 2022 were positioned as luxurious lifestyle-y wellness items (see Greeus or Walala) and had a price tag to match, but there were also brands like Jezus CBD which have a strong mass market everyday-basics kind of vibe.
Walala was launched in 2020 which makes this Tokyo-based CBD brand one of the first domestic companies to manufacture their CBD products in Japan. With its upscale positioning and price tag of around 8,000 JPY, the Walala range offers four key products: Nutritional supplements in capsule form, a CBD Point Cream, a CBD serum and CBD sheet masks.
The CBD Point Cream is a lemongrass-scented multi-purpose cream formulated with niacinamide, allantoin, vitamins C and E and fermented seaweed extract which can be used on face, body or even rubbed on aching joints and muscles. The CBD Enrich Serum is based on baobab oil, prickly pear oil and squalane and the SCN Night Recover Mask is a, well sheet mask which promises to heal and repair dry and irritated skin.
GREEUS CBD (Japan)
Dropstone Japan is the Japanese distributor of international CBD brands such as Sheabrand from the US and Good Hemp from the UK. A couple of years ago Dropstone launched its own CBD brand: Greeus offers CBD supplements, capsules, gummies and so on but also a stylishly packaged facial serum and even a CBD toothpaste.
The CBD Serum Moisture Glow is based on baobab oil and scented with soft floral notes of Thai jasmine and neroli (which sounds like a wonderful blend!). And the Greeus CBD Toothpaste is packaged in a sleek aluminum tube and contains domestic hemp charcoal powder and 100mg CBD to gently clean teeth whilst disinfecting mouth and gums to help tackle gum diseases and bad breath. Prices: Around 2,000 JPY for the toothpaste and 10,000 JPY for 50ml of Moisture Glow Serum.
JEZUS CBD (Japan)
Jezus CBD is a mid-priced range positioned as regular skincare, offering everyday products rather than aspirational luxury items, with formulae to help boost and repair the skin’s own protective barrier.
The brand was launched in autumn 2021 and offers 11 products: two toners (one refreshing, one hydrating), two milky moisturising lotions, a cleansing oil, two face serums, a night cream, a body cream and sheet mask.
Besides the CBD, the products also contains various ceramides, phytosterols and the last third of the INCI listing is chock-full with plant extracts, most of them Japanese herbals. I also like the packaging of this range which is bright and cheerful and colour-coded (nothing worse than beauty packaging that makes every product look the same so you constantly grab the wrong one!).
The price range is 3,000-5,000 JPY which places Jezus CBD firmly in the mass market/masstige category. I’d love to find out where the products are retailed but the Jezus website doesn’t really go into detail – so for the time being let’s assume that their key retail channel is online.
ITOMA CBD (Japan)
Itoma CBD is a domestic manufacturer with an interesting product range. The company’s line-up includes differently flavoured edible CBD oils – straight-forward supplements – but there are also some intriguing beauty and wellness products (I’ve never come across CBD perfume roll-ons before!), CBD supplements specifically for sports-playing people and CBD-enriched foods and sweets.
I found Itoma’s Happy & Sleep launch particularly interesting. This CBD supplement came out in July 2021 and each jar contains two kinds of CBD gummies. The heart-shaped orange-flavoured gummy Happy is to be eaten in the morning, the star-shaped grape-flavour Sleep is for night-time use. Each gummy contains 25 mg of broad-spectrum CBD plus amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Wouldn’t mind trying those out!
And check out the Marula Treatment oil! This is a multi-purpose face and body oil (but mostly recommended for the face) with an extra high percentage of bakuchiol and a whopping 1000mg of CBD plus cannabigerol (CBG). I had to google this last ingredient: CBG is a cannabinoid just like CBD, but it comes from an earlier stage in the hemp ripening process before it synthesizes into other cannabinoids like CBD or THC. Apparently CGB has some potentially exciting health and beauty applications (even more so than CBD) but there’s not been much research on this compound. At the moment CBD is much more high-profile so CBG is still rather unknown. Anyway, the Marula oil contains broad-spectrum CBD and CBG and with its retail price of almost 10,000 JPY this product is definitely luxury category.
The perfume roll-ons also sounded fascinating: This is one of Itoma’s newest launches and there are three different fragrances to choose from. 8rue and 23rue are both inspired by different Parisian streets; 8rue, for examples, is described as feeling like a gentle stroll around Rue Saint-Honoré. The third scent, 37rue, evokes waking up in Nice on the Côte d’Azur and looking out of your window at the bright blue sea. All three perfume roll-ons contain 100mg of CBD to make wearing this fragrance a truly relaxing experience. Priced at 3,000 JPY each.
COSME TOKYO 2022: HIGH-TECH ANTI-AGEING
Japanese anti-ageing skin care, and especially the more luxury-oriented brands tend to have high-tech formulations at a level far beyond most European brands. Nano-technology, for example, which in Europe and many Western countries has negative connotations for a number of reasons, is considered to be a highly desirable characteristic in a Japanese beauty product – the extra small size of the molecules allows the actives to penetrate deeply into the skin, so it makes a product perform better.
As a result, any beauty product formulated with nano-sized ingredients will display the “nano tech” claim proudly on the packaging and near the POS. There are also certain traditional skin care ingredients– like placenta or horse oil – that are rarely found in Western beauty brands; and then we have human stem cells (which was one of THE big skin care trends at this year’s Cosme Tokyo).
And we’re not just talking about generic human stem cells either: In some case the brands go into detail about the age and gender of person whose human stem cell derivatives are used in the product formula. Every second anti-ageing face care product seemed to include some sort of human stem cell compound.
Another ingredient whose acronym appeared in quite a few Japanese product descriptions at Cosme Tokyo 2022 was NMN. I had to Google this: NMN stands for nicotinamide mononucleotide, a vitamin B derivative which is already a popular ingredient in nutritional supplements as it is believed to slow down the body’s cell-ageing processes. There is also increasing research on the possible applications of NMN as a topical skin care component and in the Japanese beauty market at least, it seems to be an ingredient growing in popularity.
Like Japanese salon brand BiEst whose new Rejuing Essence intensive treatment is based on NMN as the key ingredient. I regularly see BiEst at Asian trade shows and I always enjoy seeing what this Osaka-based beauty brand has come up with! I was told that using NMN in skin care formulations is difficult since the powder component can quickly become unstable and ineffective once it is blended with water or other liquids, somewhat similar to vitamin C.
However, BiEst has found a work-around: the NMN powder is contained in the cap of the serum bottle. When you use the product for the first time you depress a button in the cap and the powder is then added to the formula. You need to store the product in the fridge and it will remain effective for around two weeks, after which the bottle is empty anyway!
WAVE CORPORATION (Japan)
Wave Corporation is another Japanese salon manufacturer that I visit at every Japanese trade show. They always have some exciting new launches to present, like the Spa Treatment NMN Oil Essence which was launched around ten months ago.
This is a beauty essence to hydrate and deeply moisturize the skin, based on vegetable oils including jojoba seed oil and squalane. Besides the NMN, the formula also contains hyaluronic acid, ceramides and vitamins. I wonder how long the NMN stays active in this oily base…?
Axxzia is also from the salon sector, and this is another company that I always like to check out at trade shows.
At Cosme Tokyo 2022, Axxzia presented several new launches, including a new Element Serum kit in the brand’s super luxe high-tech B-Pro anti-ageing range. The Element Serum is a two-phase product: you mix a freeze-dried blend of three types of raw collagen into the liquid serum and voilá! High-tech anti-ageing action for the low, low price of 40,000 JPY (around 300 Euro). I was unable to find out whether you tip the liquid into the little powder bottles or vice versa, but am inclined to think it’s the former – so you always have a freshly “activated” portion of serum.
Another recent launch is The White Drink in the company’s Venus Recipe range of liquid nutritional supplements. The key ingredient in this drink is polyphenol extracted from unripe apples (which, apparently is much more potent than polyphenols produced from ripe apples). In addition, the supplement contains pomegranate and acerola extracts, coix seed and fermented natto extract.
Then there is LisBeau (see above) from spring 2021, a range specifically created for women of the “pre-aging” generation, i.e. from their late 20s onwards. This is a major trend in the female anti-ageing face care sector in Asia; women start worrying what ageing might do to their faces at an increasingly earlier age. In China, for example, many anti-ageing beauty consumers are in their early 20s since they believe that it pays off to invest into your skincare from an early age.
The LisBeau range comprises four products, an emulsion (milk), serum, essence and cream and Google Translates the explanation of the brand name and what this new skin care series attempt to offer as “a neat and dignified beauty, like a white lily [“lis” (or rather, “lys”) from the French for lily, “beau” for beautiful], resulting in glossy, moisturized and well-textured skin. The products are scented with a feminine, sophisticated fragrance.
I was intrigued by some of the ranges of Japanese luxury anti-ageing brand Monnali. The company offers five different face care ranges (B-Hachi, Pearl, Black, Gold and there’s also a salon-exclusive line) with some truly fascinating plant-based and human ingredients.
The TR50 Essence in the Gold series (a product line based on traditional plants and herbs), for example, contains several types (!) of human stem cell peptides, some which were marked as synthetic, the rest weren’t – actually, I’m going to copy the Google Translated INCI list here, just for fun (take it with a grain of salt, please; Google Translate doesn’t really do well with some of the Asian languages):
Water, BG, Kappaficus alvarezi extract, borosilicate (Ca / Na), silver oxide, hydrolyzed hydrogenated starch, glycosyl trehalose, pentylene glycol, Na phosphate, lecithin, hydroxyethyl cellulose, Acrylate / alkyl acrylate (C10) -30) Cross-polymer, human recombinant oligopeptide-1, human recombinant polypeptide-11, human gene recombinant polypeptide-10, human gene recombinant polypeptide-9, human gene recombinant oligopeptide-2 , Synthetic human gene recombinant polypeptide-60, Synthetic human gene recombinant polypeptide-31, Human gene recombinant polypeptide-19, Human gene recombinant polypeptide-2, Human fat cell conditioned culture medium, (Bacillus / Peptide) / (Natsume fruit / Soybean) fermented solution, allantin, Na hyaluronate, K hydroxide, glycyrrhizic acid 2K, hydrolyzed collagen, water-soluble proteoglycan, placenta extract, perilla extract, hop extract, apple fruit culture cell extract, xanthan gum , Glycerin, Na silicate, humus extract, seawater, phenoxyethanol
Sounds fascinating right? It’s also costs 12,000 JPY so we’re looking at a 100 Euro price tag here. The price range for the Gold products is pretty luxe throughout: the majority of products start at 7,000 JPY with the most expensive sku – the Isbest No.48 – priced at 32,000 JPY (approx. 245 Euro).
DR. SOÍE (Japan)
Anti-ageing beauty brand Dr. Soíe was created in cooperation with Tokyo-based dermo clinic Hiroo Prime Dermatology so all the products have a strong dermocosmetic vibe.
Amongst the brand’s new launches is the 3-sku Saibow range which offers an emulsion (moisturising milk), a serum and a sheet mask formulated with a TON of actives, including human stem cells (oligopeptides), plant stem cells (apple fruit cultured extract), EGF (epidermal growth factor), retinol, royal jelly, hyaluronic acid, AC-11 (had to Google this, it’s a proprietary complex based on the Amazonian cat’s claw plant), carnosine, DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol, another potent anti-ageing substance, says Google) and more plant extracts.
The products in this range are said to help rejuvenate the skin by boosting cell regeneration and improving skin density and tone. The price range for the Saibow products is slightly lower than the usual Dr. Soíe price tag (which ranges from 6,600-11,000 JPY): lotion and serum cost 5,000 JPY, the sheet mask is priced at 2,300 JPY.
And of course, Mitomo! A regular exhibitor at Cosme Tokyo and their booth is always worth exploring: This year there were several new skin care lines, including the two ranges that are featured in the screenshots.
There are nine new cica (centella asiatica) products which are divided into the green-packaged Cica & Peptides, a blue-clad Cica & Hyaluronic Acid series and a pink Cica & Collagen range. Each sub-range comprises three products, a sheet mask, a face/neck mask and a serum.
Also new is the purple Sicon range (see above) which was named after the key active, the Murasaki root which is also known as Purple gromwell. According to the information on the Mitomo website, the Purple gromwell has been a popular traditional medicinal herb in Japan at least since the late Edo period. The Sicon products also contain aloe vera and collagen, panthenol, tea leaf extract, frankincense resin extract, pomegranate and various other fruit extracts.
COSME TOKYO 2022: COLOUR COSMETICS
Since the pandemic started in early 2020, the international colour cosmetics sector has been struggling. The face makeup (foundations, powders, blushers etc.) and lip categories were especially badly-hit as consumers around the globe started wearing protective masks every day, home office became the norm in many countries and intermittent lockdowns made going out to bars or restaurants, or attending parties more or less impossible.
Even-toned, glowing skin or brightly coloured lips simply aren’t much of a priority if no one can see your efforts behind the mask. Eye makeup and brow products, on the other hand, did very well indeed as makeup fans redirected their focus on the only facial area left uncovered.
However, after two years of living in pandemic circumstances people are adapting (and personally, I never stopped wearing a full face of makeup every day because I enjoy applying it!) and colour cosmetics brands are finally going all out again – it really does feel like it’s been years since I’ve seen so many new face makeup products at a show!
GINZA KESHODO (Japan)
Let’s start with a great newcomer brand which launched in spring 2021 and whose product line-up is totally on point, pandemically speaking!
“Minimum but fabulous” is Ginza Keshodo’s brand slogan and although this Tokyo-based gender-free minimalistic beauty brand focuses on colour cosmetics, Ginza Cosme also offers face care, hair fragrance and personal fragrance.
All products are created around typical pandemic beauty needs; the liquid foundations, concealers and powders are transfer-proof and silky light in texture; the skin care products can be layered to achieve the optimal ration of hydration and lipids in skin to make mask-wearing as comfortable as possible (i.e. to prevent your skin from drying out or from producing too much oil because of the humid conditions underneath the face mask).
The eye and brow makeup offers stylish yet subtle shades that make it suitable for everyday wear, and all colour products are packaged in the prettiest re-usable zipper bags which can be used to store makeup or as a mask case.
I particularly liked the Jewel Eye shimmering twist up eyeshadow sticks which are SO my colours. The skin care selection also looks great: there’s a Watery Cleanser which eliminates the need for tedious double cleansing by removing makeup, oil and dirt in one go, says the brand; and the Glow on Me lip oil serum for dry and irritated lips which can be used as a gloss or an intensive over-night treatment pack. The two Stem Care facial products (Moist Lotion and Creamy Serum) have light and milky textures and are formulated with fermented seaweed and algae extracts, apple stem cell extract and peptides.
And there’s another really cool launch: My Style Keeper (thus the Google Translation) is a hair styling product formulated with hydrolysed keratin and hydrolysed silk extract and packaged like a mascara tube, with a wand-type brush to make it extra portable. The clear gel formula is scented with natural essential oils so you can tame, style and scent your hair on the go.
The packaging is beautifully minimalistic and so stylish and I really REALLY want to try out the products. The pricing is also fair: From around 4,000 JPY for the liquid foundation to 2,200 JPY for the styling mascara, the skin care is priced at around 3,000 JPY which places this product range firmly into the mass market category. I’d love to find out where the brand is retailed – their website shows what looks like shop-in-shop areas in a department store but it might just be a temporary pop-up. The whole brand looks a tad too stylish for Matsumoto Kyoshi drugstores but I could totally see the products in @cosme, Loft or Tokyu Hands.
DR. SOÍE (Japan)
Another brand new face makeup launch was the 5G Lift Cushion Foundation from Dr. Soíe which premiered at Cosme Tokyo 2022.
This is a cushion foundation formulated with the same anti-ageing ingredients as the other Dr. Soíe products, and it contains a particularly high concentration of the vitamin V derivative DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) for superior lifting power. In fact, Dr. Soíe describes the product as Japan’s first salon-style anti-ageing cushion foundation.
Axxzia’s new launches also include the liquid foundation Liquid Lucent UP (the up refers to the uplifting visual effect, like with other Asian “tone-up” creams) which hit the shelves in late 2021.
Part of the Beauty Force skin care line-up, Liquid Lucent UP has a liquid-to-powder texture and contains light-reflecting pigments to even out skin tone by adding a veil of translucent, glowing colour. Various plant extracts and moisturising ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and macadamia seed oil hydrate and soothe the skin.
Another interesting new makeup brand at the show was Miragem, launched in April 2020 by Japanese makeup otaku Sara Parin. Otaku is the Japanese word for someone who’s a massive fan of something, typically manga or anime; and we’re talking of fandom in the sense of being obsessed with something, completely focused on a single passion/topic.
Anyway, Sara has a massive presence on social media and seems to be very influential in her demographic. Her makeup ranges is focused on (Google Translation again!): “transparency, sparkle and an adult cuteness” and sparkles and glitter are indeed a key factor in the Miragem lipglosses and eyeshadows; check out the screenshots!
The company’s entry in the Cosme Tokyo exhibitor database states that the brand wants to offer makeup with “elegant sparkles” for adults who still love fun makeup with shimmer and glitter – I can definitely relate to that sentiment J
Anyway, the Miragem range offers three lipglosses, two powder eyeshadows and three different powder blushers, and the glitter factor looks very subtle to me – this is definitely not teen makeup but indeed a kind of grown-up makeup shimmer range. Nice!
The next Cosme Tokyo show is taking place from 11th to 13th January 2023, and fingers crossed my 2023 show report will be live from Tokyo Big Sight again! Thanks for reading.