Peruse the shelves and counters of shops in Thailand and you’ll see a fair share of masks, creams, cleansers, and serums from South Korea. But look a bit closer and you’ll discover that the country has its own burgeoning beauty industry comprised of familiar brands that have been around for decades as well as newer companies looking to elbow their way into the competitive skincare and cosmetics industry. But what exactly is the ethos behind Thai beauty products? And how does it compare to its Korean counterparts?
“Currently Thailand customers’ behavior is shifting to […] natural products,” said Apiradee Herunramdej, chief of research and development for Divana, a Thai company founded in 2002 with a philosophy of natural skincare, haircare, and cosmetics. According to Hyo Choon Yoon, organizer of the K-Beauty Expo held each year in South Korea, a few years ago the trend in Thailand was to tout bottles and jars chock full of benefits. “Now the focus is on beauty products that are organically sourced from nature,” she said.
And while the country’s industry obviously draws comparisons to the vibrant scene happening in Korea, Herunramdej does see distinctions between the two, “K-beauty is focused on new technology and functional cosmetics, [while] Thai beauty is focused on natural products with high potential in solving personalized problems.” That means hyper-customized solutions for targeting wrinkles and preventing pollution damage, brightening and whitening skin (a common practice throughout Asia), and countering blemishes, oiliness, dryness, and age spots.
Herunramdej does believe that the uptick in the popularity and availability of Thai beauty means that they might be ready for their close-up on the global stage — meaning beauty junkies will have a wider selection of gels, creams, and essences to add to their repertoire. “From skincare and cosmetics, Thai cosmeceuticals and color are on the process of entering the marketing and [being introduced] to international consumers.”
Explore these T-beauty brands that might be poised to garner as loyal a following as their K-beauty competitors.
Editor’s note: The listed benefits are those advertised by the beauty brands. Please consult a dermatologist or doctor before adding any into your skincare and wellness routine.
This Bangkok-based company encompasses not only a robust line of plant- and herb-based products available online and at brick-and-mortar shops but a chain of boutique spas, wellness retreats, cafes, and clinics around the country as well. The Divana Product Oriental Organic range offers products such as an emollient body butter made with ginger and olives; room fragrances designed to relax or rejuvenate with jasmine, papaya, mango, and other indigenous ingredients; and a collection of creams to keep hands soft and smooth. The Dii Wellness Skincare line offers a Dii Collagen Time Reversal Serum, with a marine-based MDI complex that increases flexibility and reduces wrinkles. You can use them at home, during a customized or off-the-menu treatment, or a beauty day focusing on anti-aging, detoxification, or anti-stress.
Thann’s reliance on all-natural and premium ingredients means that this company is decidedly more of a luxe option than some of the other brands. Three main components go into a lot of its core offerings: ReGeniStem (a biotechnology extract sourced from Himalayan red rice), nano shiso (rich in vitamin A and vitamin C), and rice bran oil (an oil extracted from the hard brown outer chaff of grains of rice). Each contains vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants to keep skin looking young, and go into offerings like a detoxifying clay mask with cucumber and rose, aromatic wood hand lotion infused with organic rose water and coconut and argan oils, and oil-free facial sunscreen with nano shiso and white tea.
3. Beauty Buffet
In malls and shopping centers from Chiang Mai to Phuket, you’ll find this brand’s brightly decorated shops and kiosks adorned with striped awnings and farmers market-esque stalls. Best-sellers from this company include whitening facial foam, which is enriched with hydrolyzed milk proteins for a brighter complexion and glycerin to hydrate; Made in Nature Collagen & Q10 Smooth & Bright Mineral Water Spray to refresh, tighten, and plump up skin; and Scentio Tomato Lycopene & Nano Multi-Vitamin Body Essence, a light moisturizer that absorbs quickly and promotes cell renewal with antioxidant-rich lycopene, hyaluronic acid, and vitamins A, B, C, E, and K.
4. Siam Botanicals
This Bangkok beauty company works with local purveyors whenever possible to source what goes into its 100-percent natural face care, skincare, and aromatherapy lines that are hand-blended in small batches. In addition, every ingredient in every product is listed on its website. Pure essential oils made with grape seed, papaya seed, or rosehip can be used as a daily or nightly serum or applied along with foundation. Eight combinations of botanical blends like lemongrass, ginger, plai, neroli, lemon balm, and bergamot work in tandem in cleansers and day and evening serums. And its men’s line covers skincare before, during, and after shaving.
5. Namu Life Snail White
If whitening products are your thing and you also have a penchant for snail mucin, you’re in luck, as this line is pretty much in every store including supermarkets. If you’re a bit skeeved out about slathering on mucus from a mollusk, know that’s it’s filtered multiple times and has no odor. The Snail White line includes facial cream, facial sunscreen, triple lift serum, foam bar soap, facial jelly wash, toner, and an overnight firming mask.
One of the country’s longest available and most popular cosmetics is the Translucent Powder created by this brand in 1948, which can be used to set your makeup or just to stave off shininess in the heat. A few years ago the company overhauled the line and now offers a more diverse selection of makeup and skincare. The packaging, especially for the powder, is gorgeous and the price point makes it perfect for gift-giving.