L’Oreal TR and Shilla DF ignite Helena Rubinstein interest in global travel retail

By Luke Barras-hill |


The Helena Rubinstein pop-up event runs for three days from 17 – 19 December.

[UPDATED] Helena Rubinstein is capitalising on the surging demand for luxury skincare in travel retail by catapulting would-be-buyers into the brand’s universe via a first-of-a-kind pop-up experience.

An immersive event space launched on 17 December at the Yeong Bin Gwan venue adjacent to The Shilla Hotel in downtown Seoul, South Korea runs for three days (17-19 December) and broadcasts the avant-garde skincare house to a new wave of consumers through three beauty adventures.


Speaking to TRBusiness on the sidelines of the event on its opening day, Petrina Kho, L’Oreal Travel Retail Asia Pacific General Manager for Helena Rubinstein, Kiehl’s and Urban Decay said: “Helena Rubinstein is like a secret weapon for the L’Oreal Group.

“People are still looking to go after premiumisation when it comes to luxury skincare; look at the Chinese market, more and more people are getting into luxury skincare and that is why premiumisation is driving growth.

“Helena Rubinstein has been in exceptional growth this year and for a brand that has been around for many years we are very proud of it.

“This is the perfect time to show the world Helena Rubinstein is back. Shilla is a great partner for us to do this VIP event and we are extremely proud of it.”


Petrina Kho, L’Oreal Travel Retail Asia Pacific General Manager, Helena Rubinstein, Kiehl’s and Urban Decay.

Kho stresses Helena Rubinstein’s novel roots in striking a balance between skin science and beauty – and investment in the two – and points to that USP when asked by TRBusiness what sets the brand apart in a highly competitive and consolidating marketplace.

Indeed, dermocosmetics remains a boom segment for Asia Pacific and the beauty market in general.

Estée Lauder Companies acquired South Korean brand Dr Jart+ last month (the transaction completion was announced today) and there is no shortage of consumer appetite for premium pharmacy and doctor brands such as Zelens, Murad, Youth Corridor, La Roche-Posay, Dr Sebagh and a wave of others.

“We are ready to go full gear – that’s all I can tell you,” said Kho. “Suffice to say, you will see more of Helena Rubinstein in 2020 and I’m very excited for the New Year.”

The L’Oreal-owned brand’s inaugural Asia Pacific travel retail event, aptly named ‘The Adventures of Helena Rubinstein’, acts as the springboard for its three pillar products – *Powercell Skinmunity, Prodigy Cellglow and Re-Plasty Age Recovery.

An official address drew brand and retailer officials, key Chinese and Korean VIPs and influencers aligned to The Shilla Duty Free, and featured a special guest appearance from Hong Kong celebrity and actress Cherie Chung.

Petrina Kho shared a few words on the significance of the first Asia travel retail event for Helena Rubinstein.


Taeho Kim, Korea Division Executive Vice President, The Shilla Duty Free then announced Helena Rubinstein has recorded more than 100% growth year-on-year as he paid tribute to the brand’s continued ‘desire’ and ‘conviction’.

Powercell Skinmunity, Re-Plasty Age Recovery and Prodigy Cellglow have listed for some time across The Shilla Duty Free’s retail estate (availability at Shilla I’Park Duty Free store on a pre-order basis only).


Building a new future (L-R): Yeowool Kim, International Cosmetics Director, The Shilla Duty Free; Chan Yoo, Head of The Shilla Seoul Duty Free Store; Taeho Kim, Korea Division Executive Vice President, The Shilla Duty Free; Cherie Chung, Hong Kong Celebrity and Actress; Petrina Kho, L’Oreal Travel Retail Asia Pacific General Manager, Helena Rubinstein, Kiehl’s and Urban Decay; Janet Chan, Marketing Manager, Helena Rubinstein Travel Retail Asia Pacific; and Patrick Kim, North Asia Area Manager, Helena Rubinstein Travel Retail Asia Pacific.

Speaking to TRBusiness, Jieun Lah, Buyer, Cosmetics & Perfume, Merchandising Division, The Shilla Duty Free says strong consumer demand for international skincare and cosmetics brands has bolstered Helena Rubinstein’s growing popularity, notably among Chinese consumers.

“Despite Helena Rubinstein’s long [listing] presence, the brand was not recognised so much before,” she admitted. “But with L’Oréal Group’s recent investment and focus, the brand is showing strong momentum.”

Interestingly, that popularity surge manifested itself in the opening of Helena Rubinstein’s first local shop in Korea in October last year at the Hanwha Galleria Department Store.


The inaugural Helena Rubinstein travel retail pop-up in Asia Pacific occupies the foyer, Topaz and internal garden areas of the Yeong Bin Gwan building adjacent to Shilla Hotel. Pictured are KOLs invited to the event.

More recently, Helena Rubinstein named Chinese singer-songwriter and actress Faye Wong as its new brand ambassador.

“We believe the scale of the event is a first and Shilla is happy to make a successful case to build more brand awareness and fun experiences for both Shilla and Helena Rubinstein’s customers,” said Lah.


Kho continued: “Helena Rubinstein started out and was very famous for cosmetics in the past but the skincare range is now driving growth for us and that is where we are capturing travellers, particularly Chinese.Biotechlab-HelenaRubinstein

“The premiumisation of skincare trend you see today is also benefitting Helena Rubinstein.


A photo booth transports the user into the bold, avant-garde world of science-based beauty synonymous with Helena Rubinstein, discovered Deputy Editor Luke Barras-Hill.

“[Powercell] Skinmunity is the point of market entry for younger travellers starting to get into Helena Rubinstein and the recruitment product for Chinese.”

The serum range draws on the power of native vegetal cells to boost the appearance of skin.

Re-Plasty Age Recovery uses a 30% clinical dose of Pro-Xylane to maximise the efficacy of skin regeneration, while Prodigy Cellglow contains Edelweiss native cells

Re-plasty underlines Helena Rubinstein’s solid partnerships with some of the most respected scientists in the world, including Dr Michel Pfulg, Laclinic-Montreux Director and Plastic & Cosmetic surgeon, and Doctor Jean-Marc Lemaître, INSERM Research Director.

Kho singles out Prodigy Cellglow, aimed at more seasoned skincare users, as receiving a ‘phenomenal’ response since its launch earlier this year.

“It’s a great product particularly in the winter season to help with that glow and moisturising effect on the skin,” added Kho.

The pop-up itself reveals an augmented reality influenced journey through three distinctive beauty spaces that unbox the aforementioned product lines and the cellular skin science behind each creation.

The philosophy and science behind the eponymous label and its aspirational and pioneering entrepreneurial founder is showcased to guests before they explore the engagement zones.

After activating their e-digital passports at the boarding gate, visitors can use first-class check-in to begin the tour.

QR code-enabled touchpoints bring to life elements of Helena Rubinstein’s history, heritage and product composition in enlightening fashion. A VR experience where users can search for Alpha-Edelweiss in the Swiss Alps is a notable highlight.


Guests to the pop-up can end their journey by enjoying ‘uber luxe’ skincare consultations in a first-class, cabin-style setting that blends beauty expertise with the comfort of prestige travel.

Postcard and luggage tag engraving services add lustre to the overall experience and visitors leave with the opportunity to redeem special online offers for a limited time only at the Helena Rubinstein Shilla Seoul downtown duty free shop or via the Helena Rubinstein e-store.


The offer covers the six-piece Star Icon Travel Deluxe Set (RRP US$255) and nine-piece First-class Travel Deluxe Set (RRP US$475) on purchases of more than $630 and $900, respectively.

“We are a niche brand that is why it is important to do a showcase of its spirit and DNA,” commented Jenny Ip, Marketing Executive, Helena Rubinstein and Urban Decay. “When you establish a brand, you have to have some icon products.”

Rubinstein opened her first salon in 1902 and is credited with helping to transform the discourse between beauty and science, inventing the world’s first waterproof mascara in 1939 and first automatic mascara in 1958, among a host of other accomplishments.

Watch out for a Q&A with Petrina Kho, L’Oreal Travel Retail Asia Pacific General Manager, Helena Rubinstein, Kiehl’s and Urban Decay…

*Powercell Skinmunity The Reinforcing Serum (75ml), travel retail RRP: US$208; Prodigy Cellglow The Deep Renewing Concentrate (100ml), travel retail RRP: US$382; Re-Plasty Age Recovery Night Cream (50ml), travel retail RRP: US$360.


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