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The beauty of the beauty industry

Malaysians spend an estimated RM1.6 billion annually on cosmetics, with skin care products being the most purchased item. – File pic, April 14, 2014.Malaysians spend an estimated RM1.6 billion annually on cosmetics, with skin care products being the most purchased item. – File pic, April 14, 2014.It could be the gorgeous young woman with flawless skin promoting the "magic" anti-ageing cream on billboards, or the leggy supermodel cat walking on a high heeled designer shoes for a magazine photoshoot.

It could also be the curvaceous K-pop idol curving (or curveting) on your television screen or the face of the plain Jane who had lost some kilos after a treatment at a slimming centre posted in your Facebook page.

The truth is these days physical beauty is paraded and idolised. One cannot escape this yearning to appear immaculate, prompting a desperate desire in many, especially among the fairer sex, to pursue a beautiful face and the dream figure.

Undeniably, this craving is what has been feeding and nurturing the ever flourishing beauty industry all over the world.

The Beauty Company, a UK-based consultant company on brand and product strategy, concluded in its research that the beauty industry has been the most consistent throughout the economic downturn and recovery cycle.

A local beauty industry practitioner Selina Goh, in concurring with this finding, said "it is an industry that is less affected by the economic cycle".

The Glow Exhibition Management Project Director said beauty has become a necessity for most people to the extend that some women could not even leave their rooms without make up, and men too were actually grooming themselves.

"In addition to that, nowadays people are living a hectic life and therefore massage and spa services are seen important in rejuvenating the body and looks.

"The spa business is getting more and more competitive that one just need to walk through any row of shops nearby to find at least one, or two, spa or beauty salon," she said.

Goh stressed that the industry, which is associated closely with health and wellness, is developing fast globally. In staying concurrent, local beauty professionals are urged to catch up in terms of latest developments in the industry and skills.

Developing qualified beauty therapist

The recent Beauty Trade Exhibition for beauty professionals, held from March 24-27 at the Putra World Trade Centre, focused on improving industry skills and quality of beauty therapists.
   
Among activities held were workshops on skill enhancement by renowned speakers from the UK, namely trained aroma therapist and reflexologist Christine Fisk, holistic therapy practitioner Julia McCarthy and pre and post sports massage expert Liam Harkness.

This year about 200 companies including from South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore participated in the exhibition, attracting over 8,700 beauty professionals from all over the country and the region.

As organiser of the event since 2012, Goh saw that there was much room for local beauty practitioners to refine their skills and upgrade their centres or products, particularly in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

She also felt that the spa and beauty salon industry, which rely heavily on foreign workers, is in pressing demand to develop more local masseuses and practitioners, as well as shaping its own identity.

"There are still many spas in Malaysia that promote Thai and Bali (concept) spa. Actually we also have traditional massage such as for women in confinement, those very traditional Malay massage. However, it is difficult to find these experts probably because no one takes the initiative to promote them," she told Bernama.

Spa therapist training

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture in its website stated that the spa industry generated RM20.7 million revenue in 2011 and was projected to contribute RM6.7 million for Malaysia's yearly income. The industry is estimated to spawn more than 6,000 jobs by 2020.

Realising the importance of developing more quality spas and producing local therapists for the leisure and travel industry in the country, the government had started conducting a six month spa therapist training programme since 2012.

Participant, Rusnija Ridwan, 28, explained that the training comprised of 3 months in class learning at a spa academy, followed by another 3-month practical training in any of the ministry's listed three to five star hotel's spa.

Originally in the marketing line, Rusnija said the training is very beneficial for any keen Malaysians especially youngsters to build their careers as professional masseurs or beauty therapists. Upon completion of the course, trainees are given opportunity to gain experience working in an entrenched spa for 2 years.

"Among other things, we learn how to do facial, manicure and pedicure, body massage and physiotherapy, spa receptions, and communicating in the English language.

"I have been in the spa industry for five years and I believe that these skills can help me to go far in the industry," said Rusnija who is under training at the Energy Academy in Seri Kembangan.

Currently only five spa academies throughout the country offered the free training programme.

Local cosmetics

Meanwhile, in the cosmetics department, Malaysians spend an estimated RM1.6 billion annually on cosmetics, with skin care products being the most purchased item. (Statistic provided by Asia-Pacific Cosmetics and Toiletries Market Overview 2010).

Quoting the official portal of Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), the total market for cosmetics was valued at RM321.2 million with imports of cosmetics and toiletries accounting for 72.3% of the domestic consumption in 2012.

Amid the large number of imported cosmetics and toiletry products circulating the local market, established brands from Europe and US emerge as favourites among Malaysians.

However, Goh said local cosmetics brands have been steadily gaining the public's trust. She pointed out that many of Malaysian cosmetics manufacturers have been exporting their products to countries as far as Europe, Australia and China.

"It shows that we do have manufacturers who are doing fairly well. Their brands have reached a standard that they can now compete with foreign products.

"I'm sure if a product is very effective, plus with good packaging and branding, people would not mind buying even if it is a local product," she said.

The beauty industry has a huge potential as a revenue earner and thus it is time for Malaysia to boost its participation in the sector. – Bernama, April 14, 2014.

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