Daily Insights

5 Digital China Cosmetics Trends

By: Liz Flora | Mar 25, 2019

As online trends significantly impact consumption patterns in China’s beauty industry, brands are using data on what’s popular to develop and market new products. Following the online buzz surrounding popular product categories, skin care ingredients, and cultural elements, beauty labels have quickly responded to consumer demand with new items and digital campaigns. Based on analysis in Gartner L2’s new Beauty China: Product Innovations Insight report, below are five key trends in China’s beauty market informing brands’ product development and digital marketing: 


While “made in America” products have cachet in the US, “made in China” has increasingly become a source of pride for Chinese brands in their home market. Both the government and e-tailers like Alibaba have encouraged consumers to purchase Chinese-made products across categories, and the local beauty industry has caught on. The percentage of C-beauty brands using made-in-China keywords in their product listings (like “the glory of Chinese goods,” or 国货之光) increased from less than half in 2017 to 72% by December 2018.

Male Beauty

Urban, young professional men in China are upping their beauty spending across categories, which includes not only increasingly elaborate grooming and skin care routines, but also the use of color cosmetics. Tom Ford Beauty’s newly opened Tmall store, for example, sells male concealer, while Chanel recently launched its Boy de Chanel male color cosmetics collection on WeChat. Some brands are more on top of the “he-beauty” revolution than others: while almost all beauty brands in the Index received questions on their Tmall shops asking if products are suitable for men, less than half actually sell male products.

The Lipstick Craze 

Chinese consumers’ obsession with lipstick continues, especially with premium brands. MAC Cosmetics, YSL Beauty, and Giorgio Armani Beauty all see more than 80% of their total Tmall unit sales going to lipstick, and all are among the top 10 brands for Tmall search results performance on lipstick-related keywords. MAC’s recent lipstick collaboration campaign with China’s most popular mobile game Honor of Kings was especially successful at generating sales from Gen Z and millennial beauty shoppers.


In line with a global trend, Chinese consumers are becoming more focused on the effectiveness of their skin care ingredients and spurring the popularity of cosmeceutical products and brands. Index brands that perform well on cosmeceutical-related search terms on Tmall include formal cosmeceutical brands like SkinCeuticals and Dr. Ci: Labo, as well as traditional beauty brands like L’Oréal Paris and Elizabeth Arden as they develop products with cosmeceutical ingredients and invest in relevant SEO. As a result of the popularity of cosmeceuticals, the Chinese government has moved toward regulating the industry by banning brands from claiming products have medical effects.

Palace Intrigue

In relation to both the C-beauty and lipstick trends, Chinese aesthetics have become popular in the China market. This is driven in part by the popularity of period dramas like Story of Yanxi Palace, China’s most-watched and the world’s most-Googled TV show last year. Not only have C-beauty brands like Pechoin and the Forbidden City’s own gift shop have launched popular Chinese imperial-themed products, but international brands have taken advantage of the trend as well: Guerlain created a marketing campaign for its Rouge G lipstick, which was used on Yanxi Palace characters. The most recent example of a successful imperial makeup collection was a line of lipstick, eyeshadow, and face masks released by Beijing’s Summer Palace in partnership with a local beauty brand.