Text Raeesa Sya Photography Courtesy of Raeesa Sya, Orkid Cosmetics
The Malaysian beauty market is growing with the rise of beauty-preneurs. A Google trends search for matte liquid lipstick rose 100% from 2016 to 2017, and almost every week there’s make-up brands launched by celebrities, socialites or Insta-personalities. This trend was, of course, started by the world’s youngest self-made billionaire Kylie Jenner who launched her own lip line.
Unfortunately, unlike those with deeper pockets, not all are willing to invest in proper branding, certification and quality. The reality is that with minimal surveillance, anyone just slaps a sticker on make-up bought in bulk (containing who-knows-what in them) and call themselves a beauty brand. What’s more disturbing is that some sources say that some of our own local founders don’t even use their products and wouldn’t recommend it to their friends or family!
You don’t need to look that far — there have been numerous cases where customers buying skincare products ”promising whitening in three days” end up with chemical burns. Buyer beware, of course, but there are unscrupulous marketing and tactics out there.
“If Henry Golding can make it big, so can Malaysian brands.”
I’ve noticed Malaysia is divided by two kind of beauty brands, led by the faces of their founders.
The first is “The Mass Founder”. Business model: Direct selling or multi-level marketing. Strategy: Flaunt excessive wealth. The more gold bangles the better! Taglines: “Be your own boss — 10 secrets by our millionaire founder” or “raunchy innuendo copywriting”.
And the second, “The Urban Founder”. Business model: Social media-driven with a focus on graphics. Strategy: Whatever Glossier is doing. Tagline: “Anything millennial/feminist/girl boss/female empowerment” + Pop culture references.
Jokes aside, on the other end of the spectrum, there are local brands with amazing, high-quality products. You can find a curated collection of these local brands from Mysmink.com or The Beauty Bar. Go for brands that have KKM and Halal certifications as you know they are safe and clean. Always check the ingredients, too.
In my opinion, I think it’s great that there are more players in the eco-system. Whether their target is the mass market or urban market, as competition gets tougher, everybody has to up their game. This leads to bigger market education, thus better-quality products. No more unrealistic three-day whitening tricks, either.
My dreams for the local beauty industry? I would love to see a brand that goes global and attract a huge buy-out from a beauty conglomerate. If Henry Golding can make it big, so can Malaysian brands.
This story was first published in the CLEO Jan/Feb 2019 issue.