The new face of Asia may be Shum Pak-hin's.
Every morning, Mr. Shum puts on a gel mask and then applies a day cream, a sunblock and sometimes a bit of eyeliner. At night, the 21-year-old Hong Kong native uses eye make-up remover, cleanses his skin and then applies an anti-age serum.
'My skin ages very easily, much more than others,' says Mr. Shum. 'This isn't just for girls. Boys want to feel good, too.'
Mr. Shum and a growing number of men like him are making Asia one of the fastest growing markets for men's skin care. The region accounts for US$2.1 billion, or 64%, of the $3.3 billion spent globally in 2013 on such items as male skin creams, lotions and whiteners, according to data compiled in April by Euromonitor, a market-research firm.
That amount dwarfs the $286.4 million spent by North American men and the $682.9 million used by Western European males on the same products. China, including Hong Kong, is the largest market for men's skin care, at $974.8 million, an amount that's forecast to grow to $1.2 billion this year. In second place is South Korea, which spent $635 million.
'This is where the market's development is happening. It's very concentrated in Asia,' says Nicole Tyrimou, a beauty analyst for Euromonitor in London.
Men are still far from rivaling women--the women's skin-care market is valued at more than 30 times the men's at $107.6 billion. But men's skin-care products are growing at a much faster pace, 9.4% compared with 4.8% for women's skin care.
And as men have only recently considered buying items like serums and deep-cleansing moisturizing soap, beauty companies see much more potential for expansion among males, compared with the mature women's skin-care market.
The most enthusiastic adoption, by far, is in South Korea, where male celebrities, like singer and actor Rain, have long endorsed skin care in billboards and television ads, paving the way for broader acceptance. South Korean men spent US$25.30 per capita on skin care in 2013--more than three times second-place Denmark. Asian countries account for five of the top 10 countries in per capita spending.
'There is a wider idea of skin care being effeminate in many countries, but in Korea this doesn't seem to be the case,' says Simon Duffy, co-founder of the U.K. brand Bulldog, which started selling its line in Korean stores last year.
Some retail experts attribute Asian men's relative affinity for skin care to simply following the lead of the women around them. 'If your mother has a nine-step skin routine, which happens a lot in Korea, you're going to do five,' says Ms. Tyrimou.
Like Asian women, Asian men are interested in whitening creams to lighten their skin's color.
Alexis Perakis-Velat, vice president for Asia Pacific at L'Oréal SA, believes climate is a large factor in the growing male beauty trend because much of China and Korea has cold, dry winters and hot, humid summers. 'When you live in central China in winter, you're happy to put a good hydrating cream on your skin,' says Mr. Perakis-Valat. The executive added the men's beauty market in China is growing two to three times faster than the overall global beauty market for men.
Estée Lauder Co. is increasingly developing products for its male-targeted Lab Series first in Asia, which accounts for more than 60% of the line's business and is growing at a rate of 10% to 12%, compared with a world-wide average of 8% to 9%. The company developed its BB cream, or 'blemish balm,' specifically for the Korean market, and it's now on sale in the U.S. and Europe, says Stephane de la Faverie, senior vice president at Estée Lauder.
Some brands say more work still needs to be done to make men's skin care seem less feminine--especially at the department stores and drugstores where it's generally sold.
'The main obstacle is that department stores are not really a masculine environment,' says Laurent Lautier, president of Asia Pacific at Clarins.
But back in Hong Kong, Mr. Shum, who also writes a beauty blog, says he doesn't view skin care as a women's preserve. He says he became interested in men's skin care at the age of 17 after watching a male friend demonstrate his own routine.
'Before our generation, men hated skin care and didn't want to do it,' he says. 'But the culture is different now.'
雅诗兰黛公司(Estee Lauder Co.)正首先在亚洲开发更多的Lab Series产品，亚洲市场占这个男子护肤品牌业务的60%以上，并以10%-12%的速度增长，而在全球市场的平均增长率为8%-9%。雅诗兰黛高级副总裁Stephane de la Faverie称，公司专门针对韩国市场开发了BB霜（一种遮瑕霜），目前这款产品也在美国和欧洲销售。