Beauty industry China

Do Chinese Beauty Standards Affect How Women Buy Cosmetics in China?

Last Updated on May 1, 2024

The rise of brand-savvy buyers has forever changed how Chinese shoppers consume media, especially when talking about female beauty and cosmetics.
Today, you don’t have to be a famous cosmetic brand like L’Oréal, Estee Lauder, or SK-II to succeed in the Chinese beauty industry. Smaller brands now have a higher chance to excel if they understand the value of personalization.

As most Chinese women continue seeking new cosmetics to match their lifestyles, brands must keep up with the ever-changing beauty trends to predict the needs of their target consumers.

In this post, we will explore whether Chinese beauty standards affect how women buy cosmetics in China and how brands can take advantage of this.


Is the Beauty Industry Big in China?

China has a highly lucrative and massive beauty industry, with an impressive growth rate of 4.84% and a total revenue of $29.69 billion in 2024.

This remarkable transformation propelled the nation to the forefront of global beauty trends and market dominance. Let’s delve into the factors that have contributed to the enormous success and rapid growth of the beauty industry in China:


●     Booming Middle Class

Did you know that 40% of the global middle class resides in China? This significant population led to a surging demand for luxury goods, including cosmetics, skincare products, and plastic surgery services.

As 2024 starts, the country welcomes approximately 113 million people under the middle-class demographic. With more of the population gaining access to disposable incomes, the growth of the domestic beauty industry is almost guaranteed.


Chinese booming middle class

Source: South China Morning Post


●     Changing Perceptions Toward Beauty

For a long time, Chinese culture has focused more on inner beauty and modesty. However, in recent years, there has been a significant shift in attitudes towards beauty and self-expression.

Because the younger Chinese market embraces individuality and self-confidence, today’s beauty standards aren’t as restrictive as in ancient China. Advertisers and marketers can use these changes to form a strategy for positioning their services or products within the market.


●     E-commerce and Social Media

The rapid expansion of e-commerce platforms and the widespread adoption of social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo have revolutionized the marketing and sale of beauty products in China.

Chinese beauty influencers, known as Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), wield immense influence in shaping consumer preferences and driving sales. They engage with their loyal fanbase through posting niche content, reviews, and product endorsements.


KOLs for Perfect Diary on Xiaohongshu

KOLs for Perfect Diary on Little Red Book


Their dominating presence in the local social media landscape made them one of the main components that determine the meaning and essence of modern beauty in China.


●     The Rise of Chinese Skin Care Products

Smoother and fairer skin is the foundation of most Chinese aesthetics. More than typical makeup innovations, the beauty standard in China aims to maintain youthful-looking, pale skin.

Chinese women seeking ways to achieve the milky-white skin trend led to an influx of whitening and skin care products. In fact, the anti-aging product segment alone reached 154 billion yuan in revenue in 2024.

Another exciting development from this demand was the renewed popularity of natural and traditional Chinese medicine-inspired brands.


●     Localization Strategies

Besides conforming to Chinese beauty standards, marketers must understand that they’re not only catering to a typical Chinese woman. Like any sizable country, every region in China has unique needs and preferences. This is where proper brand localization strategy must play its part.



The Chinese beauty standard isn’t a singular concept. While most Chinese social media channels can help you determine the general gist of your target market, remember that not all of your potential consumers are basing their preferences on some beauty ads they saw online.

Foreign marketers can try joining forums and communities to determine their interests, such as whether they like having a fair complexion, a narrow chin, or a melon-seed face shape. You must gauge if these beauty standards align with your brand offerings to launch a successful cosmetic product or service in China.


●     Male Grooming Market

The ideal Chinese beauty found in women isn’t the only factor that can affect your marketing strategies. Nowadays, the male grooming market is seeing significant growth.

According to Statista, this male skincare market has a projected value of 21.3 billion yuan in 2025. Considering its continued growth year after year, these impressive numbers suggest that the industry will continue to grow.


Man putting on makeup on Douyin

Man putting on makeup on Douyin


What is the “Beauty Standard” in Chinese Culture?

It’s a no-brainer that many young women in China base their cosmetic purchases on the widely accepted Chinese beauty standards. Like South Korea, beauty ideals within Chinese society still play a crucial role in shaping tradition, history, and modern influences.

The ideal Chinese beauty refers to a specific skin tone and body shape. From fixing single-fold eyelids to coveting a goose egg face, here are the key elements many Chinese women aim to achieve by using cosmetics or plastic surgery procedures.


  1. Porcelain or Fair Skin

Like in most Asian countries, having lighter skin is a quality every Chinese woman aims to achieve. From ancient China up to this day, a pale skin tone is associated with wealth, social status, pureness, and femininity.

Due to the ardent obsession with fairer skin, global trends like herbal teas, face masks, and skincare routine products quickly gained traction in the local market. While Western beauty standards prefer tanned skin, Chinese people openly embrace whitening innovations to achieve light skin.


  1. Delicate Facial Features

Besides pale skin, Chinese beauty ideals highly regard symmetrical facial features. Most of these women desire an oval-shaped face, double eyelids, a tall nose bridge, a very thin chin, and almond-shaped eyes to be considered attractive.

Although South Korea is still the world’s plastic surgery capital, these very specific Chinese ideals drive the country to be one of the largest markets when it comes to cosmetic procedures.

In addition to Chinese beauty culture, the growing market for cosmetic surgery stems from the influence of social media platforms. In these online channels, Chinese beauty influencers shape the trends on what regular consumers accept as the standard of physical attractiveness.


Chinese beauty standards


  1. Slender and Balanced Proportions

Beyond facial features, a slim body shape, lean physique, and balanced proportions fall under the typical Chinese beauty standard.

Typically, men in the country don’t carry the same societal pressure to stay thin as most Chinese women. Because of these beauty standards, eating disorders have become a hidden epidemic that plagues every Chinese woman in the country.

Fortunately, their appreciation for different body types grew as local beauty standards evolved in the new era. Chinese women in today’s generation put more emphasis on natural beauty, convincing some to forgo the idea of excessive plastic surgery.


Understanding The Modern Chinese Beauty Shopper

The rise of the millennial generation and Gen Z consumers have played a significant role in the increased demand for cosmetics in the Chinese market. With a younger demographic, the changing attitudes regarding brand loyalty in the cosmetics sector also come to light.

Modern-day Chinese beauty consumers are no longer blind followers of big international brands, mainly because they are growing curious about niche brands.

These Chinese girls are paying more attention to products that can solve specific problems than all-in-one formulations. They also research and analyze product reviews on platforms like Little Red Book before making a purchase decision.



Future Trends in Chinese Beauty Standards

1.   Clean Beauty

Organic beauty and skin care products are familiar concepts for consumers, but they are becoming a massive business in China due to the changes in consumption habits. Nowadays, listing natural ingredients alone is not enough to win over this audience. Foreign brands need to commit to converting these users.

It’s crucial to communicate your production process clearly, from where the ingredients are sourced to the packaging costs and recycling procedures.

This trend also puts the spotlight on the usage of traditional Chinese ingredients. The inclusion of Chinese Angelica Root, Ginkgo Biloba, and Chinese Wolfberry will increase the likelihood of consumers viewing your brand positively.



2.   Beauty Tech Devices

As the definition of beauty in China takes different forms, the integration of technology into cosmetic products is a highly welcomed innovation. In last year’s 618 festival, these goods dominated e-commerce platforms like Taobao and Tmall.

According to reports, sales of these products doubled during the said event. Revenue from facial beauty lights alone reached an all-time high of RMB 100 million. With the main buyers belonging to the 18-30 age groups, chances are these product categories will continue to increase in demand in the coming years.


Li Jiaqi featuring beauty lights in his live broadcast

Li Jiaqi featuring beauty lights in his live broadcast (Source: Jing Daily)


3.   Domestic Partnerships

The lack of brand loyalty in the cosmetics industry has allowed local Chinese brands to emerge and share some of the cosmetic and skincare market shares. Chinese brands such as Maogeping, Chioture, and Perfect Diary have all made a name for themselves.

Despite the credibility of international brands, consumers are willing to give local brands a shot, mainly because they understand the beauty standard in China better than anyone else.

Due to the increased competition, it’s wise to consider partnering with a domestic brand when launching your cosmetic products or services. This will allow you to stay ahead of the ever-changing China beauty standards.



4.   The Decline of K-Beauty Standards in China

It’s no secret that the rise of the Korean wave has influenced Asian and Western beauty standards in the past decade. Chinese women also used to have these preferences, from the goose-egg face shape to the double eyelids. However, beauty enthusiasts in China are getting more in tune with authenticity.


Without the typical restrictions of old Chinese beauty standards, small and medium-sized international brands can redefine the preferences of a regular Asian woman and attract beauty and cosmetic shoppers.


How To Build Brand Exposure Aligned with Today’s Chinese Beauty Standards

  • Engage with Millennials & Gen-Z

Chinese women often become exposed to cosmetic and skin care products before they reach the age of 20. They also crave new, niche products that are less known or available on the market.

These niche products could offer anything from a unique product application to a specialized beauty technology not commonly seen on popular brands. As they search for something new, it’s essential to catch the attention of this consumer group during the early stages of their skincare and cosmetics journey.


  • Hire the right KOLs

Whether you are interested in boosting awareness or generating leads, choosing the right KOL can do wonders for reaching your ideal audience. Their followers are usually up-to-date with the latest content they post and are likely to patronize quality products endorsed by them.

Your KOL search should include choosing an influencer with quality content and deep insights about Chinese beauty standards for their viewers. Don’t rely solely on production experience to make your decision.


Xiaohongshu KOLs collaborations

KOLs collaborations on Xiaohongshu


  • Get familiar with omnichannel

Given the reputation of e-commerce in China, it’s essential to have a strategy that creates a seamless experience for self-care products.

Modern shoppers tend to make purchases in both online and offline channels these days. By providing a cross-channel shopping experience, you can generate private traffic for your brand.

For example, you can give out free samples, release exclusive products, offer discounts, and offer some loyalty perks when shoppers visit your products online.


  • Build trust with live-streaming

Livestreaming might be the perfect choice for showcasing the authenticity of your cosmetic product. This media type is highly popular in China, with over 727.9 million users. KOLs also utilize this feature to expand and interact more with their fan base.

It has become the go-to choice when shoppers seek out new beauty products, allowing the audience to ask questions and receive a response instantly.

Both domestic and international beauty brands utilize live streaming to host events and embrace social shopping on Tmall and other social media platforms.


Quiet live streaming China

Live streaming with real-time products demonstrations


  • Don’t forget about WeChat & Weibo

These two platforms will always be great picks for brand recognition. They are some of the first social media platforms that Chinese users will use to learn more about your products and brand.

You can use these platforms’ CRM capabilities to segment your target audience and offer personalized services to meet individual needs. You can also launch special-day campaigns targeted explicitly at Chinese girl audiences and utilize WeChat advertising to offer coupons and vouchers.




Top Cross-Border Platforms To Sell Your Products

China’s cross-border e-commerce platforms are local gateways for your beauty products to reach Chinese consumers without setting up a physical store within the country. Here are some online sales channels you can consider:


  1. Kaola

Cosmetics and fashion brands often consider Kaola the gateway to the Chinese beauty and skincare market. It allows international companies to sell their products securely to consumers.

The platform is known for cost-effective and trustworthy products among shoppers since it buys products directly from foreign companies. marketplace for beauty brands in China


  1. Little Red Book (RED)

RED’s user-generated content plays a significant role in helping Chinese consumers shape brand perception and build brand loyalty.

Thanks to its reward system, users are encouraged to share their personal experiences with products, give tips, and provide discounted information. This app is also becoming a social commerce hub for industry experts and enthusiasts with the influence to shape the country’s beauty standards.


Xiaohongshu marketplace for beauty brands in China


Ready to Dominate the Chinese Beauty Market? Get In Touch With Us Today!

Marketing cosmetics in China is all about intimately approaching your potential customers while offering a unique experience that caters to their individuality and the ever-changing Chinese beauty standards.


You may also want to read:

Best E-commerce platforms for beauty brands in China


At Sekkei Digital Group, our team understands the importance of brand localization. From consumer behaviour to domestic preferences, we can empower your business to seize new opportunities, build brand awareness, and cultivate a loyal customer base.


Sekkei Digital Group Services


With our comprehensive knowledge and expertise, we provide valuable insights and guidance to help you navigate and thrive in the dynamic Chinese cosmetics market by utilizing the country’s evolving beauty standards.


contact us SDG


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