Tatler House Stories: A panel discussion on the future of Hong Kong’s beauty industry

Tatler House Stories, Hong Kong

"Marking the first event of the series this year, this edition dived into the future of Hong Kong’s beauty industry—and it did not disappoint. Moderated by Tatler’s style writer Amalissa Hall, and with 60 guests in attendance, the panel featured expert insights from Regan Rabanal, education director at Mac Cosmetics in Asia-Pacific; Catherine Logue, founder of skincare brand Hibernicis; and Gavin Tsoi, chief clinical specialist at medical beauty treatment centre Oneness. The three gave the audience honest reviews about Hong Kong’s beauty industry, current trends and its evolution over the past decade.

“Hongkongers are very well-informed about trends and technology [in beauty]. Patients do a lot of research online first before coming to the clinic,” said Tsoi, who adds that the city has a sophisticated medical beauty scene and consumers have high standards. But this wasn’t always the case. As the former divisional merchandising manager for Joyce Beauty, Logue was instrumental in launching the brand in the 1990s when the market for beauty was much smaller. “Back then, department stores dominated,” said Logue. “Now there is a much broader range of choice [in Hong Kong].”

The pandemic has played the biggest role in changing beauty trends and consumer buying habits, as people were forced to stay home and shop online for their beauty needs. “Consumers began looking for skincare, self-care routines, fragrances and candles,” said Rabanal. “Even though they were wearing masks, they still wanted to look fresh and have vitality in their eyes—eyebrow and eye-make-up starting trending.”

And besides discussing how social media and popular shows, like Netflix’s Stranger Things and The Addams Family spinoff Wednesday, play a pivotal role in viral beauty trends, Rabanal also spoke of the evolution of men’s beauty products we’re seeing today.

“There is stigma [around this] but we need to breakdown the stereotypes,” he said, adding that make-up should be used as a form of self-expression, regardless of gender. And with brands like Gucci, Chanel, Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs creating make-up lines for men, the concept is now becoming more mainstream. “The future is going to be fluid. Moving forward, I think we’ll see couples wanting to have beauty experiences together,” he said.

Transparency in packaging and production was another hot topic. Hibernicis, which is committed to sustainability, uses recyclable materials and plant-based inks in its  product design. Not testing on animals, said Logue, should be a prerequisite for any make-up brand. “It is imperative that we are ethical,” she said. “We must be honest and not green wash. We are morally responsible as producers because everything we do has an impact [on this earth].”

Other topics discussed included the rise of beauty influencers, new age beauty treatments and inner beauty. Looking to the future, the panel expects to see a rise in stem cell transplants for facial rejuvenation, more conscious consumerism as well as Web3 and the metaverse playing a bigger role in the beauty market.

Above all, the panel urged the audience not to take anything too seriously: “Don’t feel overwhelmed by what’s out there,” said Rabanal. “[Lean into] what type of impression you want to make to the world. [Celebrity drag queen] RuPaul says it best: ‘We are all born naked. The rest is drag.’ Just have fun with it.”"

Words by Tatler House Stories

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