October 19, 2016
Here’s a challenge for you: name 5 Taiwanese beauty brands. We don’t blame you if you’re stumped, because this is definitely one underexposed sector of the local beauty market, currently dominated by the Western powerhouses; and on the other end, the Koreans, of course.
But if you’ve ever made a trip to Taiwan, besides stuffing yourself silly with all the street food, you’ve probably also left with a good supply of facial sheet masks. That’s perhaps what most of us know Taiwanese beauty for: affordable and widely-varied masks that make a good gift for friends and family,
There’s a whole world out there waiting for you to explore, actually. Look a little closer at the beauty selection in Sephora, Sasa or the drugstores, and you’ll find some pretty under-the-radar Taiwanese selections that are actually heavy hitters in terms of efficacy. You can start getting to know them with our little introductory lesson here.
For Beloved One
This might be the one most people are the most familiar with, as this cosmeceutical brand is stocked in Sephora. Brand founder Margaret Wu is a former beauty editor, and as part of a story that might sound familiar in the beauty world, she started For Beloved One in 2003 after feeling that there just wasn’t anything in the market that was able to sufficiently meet her beauty needs.
For Beloved One is able to call themselves the creator of the first-ever biocellulose facial mask, and they’ve since expanded the brand to include an extensive selection of anti-aging products rooted in powerful chemistry, like the Mandelic Acid line for powerful brightening, or the Ceramide Squalane anti-ageing line.
$43 to $95, available at Sephora. forbelovedone.com
Another brand based heavily in dermatological science, Neogence was born in 2005 that has a team of dermatologists and biomedical scientists working hard on the formulas to make them as effective and fast-working as possible.
Don’t let the no-frills packaging of this brand cause you to pass over it on the store shelves; we find their star hyaluronic acid range a fantastic moisturising range. It’s powered by, of course, hyaluronic acid, and a special ingredient called Tonare that has powerful water-binding properties to keep hydration levels in the skin tip-top.
$21.90 to $108, available at Sasa. neogence.com
Obviously, a trend is emerging here: the Taiwanese like their skincare to be very medically sound. As the name implies, Dr. Wu is a medical skincare brand, and currently the leading one in Taiwan at that. Its namesake is dermatologist Dr. Wu Ying-Ching, who started the brand with his eldest son Eric Wu. The unique selling point is potent skincare suited for sensitive skin, and they claim to be the first brand to use mandelic acid in their products to renew the skin texture.
The brand’s undisputed bestseller, however, is the Hyalucomplex line, made up of intensely hydrating products. Get yourself acquainted with the brand by grabbing their sheet masks, readily available in local drugstores.
$19.90 to $89.90, available at selected Watsons and OG Orchard Point. drwu.com.sg
We don’t think facial masks have ever been packaged so prettily – MasKingdom is the brand to turn to if you find yourself in Taiwan shopping for gifts. It calls itself the leading art and design facial mask brand, and boy, do their packaging designs prove it. Its Big Red Riding Hood Mask Series, for example, feature illustrations that show an altered take to the classic fairy tale, with our titular red-caped heroine towering over an itsy-bitsy wolf.
And then there’s the I-WISH mask series, highly useful for occasion-specific gifting, like birthdays, the arrival of a newborn, as well as, very strangely, a breakup (should you feel that it’s one worth celebrating). If you like your medicine traditional, the Chinese Medicine Mask Series is infused with the good stuff like red jujube, roseroot and ginseng.
$12.90 each, available at BHG ALT Concept Stores, Robinsons JEM and Metro stores. maskingdom.com
This brand is all about a man named Niu’er. Admittedly, we weren’t familiar with him, but a quick Google reveals that he’s basically a famous skincare guru in Taiwan, often appearing on those beauty-themed variety shows the Taiwanese media is so good at making to dispense beauty hacks and advice to eagerly listening women.
He also happens to have several years of experience studying skincare products behind him, and after seven years of development, he launched Naruko. All of the products contain PhytoFerulin, an active ingredient that strengthens the skin’s defense system against external aggressors, and is a pretty good moisturiser and antioxidant to boot. The brand’s various product ranges are all obviously botanical-inspired, with names like Raw Job’s Tears Series, Tea Tree Series, and Rosemary Series. What’s most tempting about this brand, however, definitely has to be its very wallet-friendly prices.
$4.90 to $28.90, available on naruko.sg; selected products available at Watsons and Guardian.
Main image: MasKingdom Facebook page