Ask China Anything: The changing face of male beauty in China

2 min read

If you can’t see the YouTube player above, try watching here instead.

Using social media as a platform, an increasing number of male beauty bloggers have emerged in the public consciousness, changing the perception of male beauty.

When interviewed by TechNode, some respondents were able to name bloggers like Aike Lili and Heima Xiaoming.

But by far the most widely-known male beauty bloggers among our respondents was Austin Li, who has amassed nearly three million followers on microblogging site Sina Weibo, as well as 5.8 million on Taobao Live and 28 million on short video platform Douyin.

After selling cosmetics on the side during his university days, Li became a full-time livestreamer on Taobao in 2017. Nowadays, millions of people tune in to his livestreams daily.

In one livestream, Li reportedly applied upwards of 380 lipsticks during a two-hour livestream session, selling a whopping 15,000 tubes in 15 minutes.

For many men, makeup is still a taboo. “The mindsets of many Chinese men are still not as open as men from other countries,” said one respondent.

However, times are changing. Makeup has never been a topic widely discussed by men, but an increasing number are embracing cosmetics.

The Chinese male beauty market is brimming with untapped potential. Male customers on average spent more on beauty products and sunscreen than their female counterparts on social e-ccommerce platform Pinduoduo, accounting for 40% of overall sales in the busy shopping season following the college entry examination period.

During this year’s 618 shopping season, JD posted record sales of male face masks and eye cream among other products. Male customers who purchased beauty products increased by 61% year-on-year, and masks, lipsticks, BB creams, eyebrow pencils were hot-sellers.

Most respondents felt that Generation Z—loosely defined as those born after 1995—were the most likely among men to buy cosmetics. According to JD, users born after 1995 accounted for 27% of 618 cosmetic sales. 18.8% of these males had the habit of using BB cream while 18.6% of them had the habit of using lip balm or lipstick.

Half of the customers who bought male cosmetic products were actually female, pointing to a possible reason for the booming demand: more women want their partners to care more about their appearance.

One respondent said, “It (makeup) could boost their self-confidence, and let other women know that they take care of themselves.”

“Makeup for men may not be widely accepted now,” said another respondent, “But it has become a trend, and society could become more accepting of it.”

Taobao doubles down on livestreaming with ambitious Taobao Live plan