As the world continues to reel from the pandemic, we’ve witnessed a steep drop in global demand for cosmetics. Most recently, Becca Cosmetics has announced its closure due to the impact COVID-19 has had on its sales. However, the same can’t be said for China’s beauty market, because business is booming. In fact, its market is growing at an upbeat 12.6% pace, according to a report by the China International Beauty Expo.
Once dominated by the likes of L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, and other global conglomerates, the Chinese market is slowly being taken over by Chinese brands. Chinese beauty brands such as Perfect Diary have been giving these Goliaths a run for their money. Thanks to their great quality and accessible price points, C-beauty brands have really taken off in the past year. Yet compared to international brands, most of us are still under the impression that C-beauty lacks elements of prestige and trust.
For most of the last decade, C-beauty was mostly known for producing “copycat” versions of premium international products at a much lower price. But that is all changing thanks to a new generation of emerging C-beauty brands. Now, C-beauty’s reputation is set to switch from a cheap alternative to an industry trendsetter.
Challenging traditional norms of C-beauty, these rising brands are offering an upgrade in value, and they’ve got China’s urban population to back them up. Ready to discover the main players that are vying to take the top spot in the C-beauty industry? Keep reading to find out more about these C-beauty brands and the products you need to try.
Established in 2009, Chioture is known for its fun and whimsical cosmetics. For its most recent Lunar New Year collection, the brand rolled out a stunning gift box that drew inspiration from mahjong tiles. The range featured lipsticks, a lip glaze, eyeliner, and blush palettes that were all adorned with mahjong tile prints.
Besides makeup, consumers also flock to the brand’s skincare range, which harnesses the powers of natural ingredients. From moisturising sheet masks to niacinamide serums, Chioture has your entire beauty routine down pat.
Try this: Chioture 15 Colors Eyeshadow Glitter Sequins Matte Eye Shadow
After a spike in popularity thanks to its bestselling lipstick, the brand successively launched various other hits, such as the 15 Colors Eyeshadow Glitter Sequins Matte Eye Shadow.
Available in six colour variants, the eyeshadow palette features 15 pigmented hues in matte, metallic, and glitter finishes to help you achieve the most captivating eye makeup look. These powders are also silky smooth, so they blend seamlessly with other shades and last for hours on end.
2. Perfect Diary
For years, larger Western brands consistently ranked among the top revenue-making companies in China’s beauty industry. In 2019, however, the top spot was finally taken for the first time by a local Chinese brand – Perfect Diary, which launched in 2016.
Perfect Diary’s rise has been fuelled by a combination of affordable prices and social media platforms like Douyin (TikTok for China) and WeChat, collecting customer data to design and roll out new products rapidly. It helps to be backed by influencers and actresses with huge online followings too, such as “Lipstick King” Li Jiaqi (Austin Li).
Try this: Perfect Diary Weightless Soft-Velvet Blurring Loose Powder
To set your makeup and prevent any transfer when you wear a mask, try the Perfect Diary Weightless Soft-Velvet Blurring Loose Powder. Irs lightweight formula mattifies, blurs imperfections, and minimises the appearance of large pores. It even softens the look of fine lines and wrinkles without creasing or caking.
The loose powder sops up sebum too, which helps your base makeup last longer in our humid climate. The only downside is that it comes in three hues: ‘Translucent’, ‘Fair’, and ‘Natural’, so it may not be ideal for those with darker skin tones.
Where to shop: Perfect Diary’s official Shopee store
Known for its bold eyeshadow palettes and quirky packaging, Kaleidos has already attained global recognition with rave reviews from makeup artists and influencers. The Shanghai-based company was founded in late 2017, and they’ve since put out a wide range of makeup products, from brushes to their bestselling Space Age Highlighters.
Try this: Kaleidos Space Age Highlighter in Sky Walker
The brand’s Space Age Highlighter in Sky Walker will literally help you shine bright like a diamond. The iridescent blue shade has ultraviolet undertones to give your skin an otherworldly glow. Its vegan and cruelty-free formula is also super lightweight, and has a smooth texture that practically melts on your skin.
Layer it on your cheekbones or wear it like an eyeshadow topper for a chrome-like effect. We love how it comes in a cute metal box too, reminiscent of mint candies from our childhood.
Where to shop: Kaleidos’ official website (ships globally)
Launched in 2018, makeup brand Girlcult steadily picked up fans overseas with its edgy packaging and unique colour themes. Since its debut, the brand has launched a collection named after a Chinese classic about mythic beasts.
It even went on to collaborate with Kobitos, a strangely adorable Japanese cartoon character whose nickname translates to “ass peach”. Girlcult’s blush from this collaboration sold over a whopping 570,000 units since its launch, which solidified the label’s status in the makeup world.
Try this: Girlcult x Kobitos Blush
With the Japanese cartoon character’s peach head stamped on the soft pink powder formula, this blush will put a smile on your face each time you open it up.
Where to shop: Girlcult on Tmall
An affordable beauty brand that’s been rising the ranks in popularity among Chinese netizens is Judydoll. The brand is known for having products that make affordable dupes for higher-priced cult favourites – perfect for beauty junkies who are on a tight budget.
Try this: Judydoll Shimmer Highlighting Powder
Apart from its powder blush, which makes a close dupe for Clinique’s Cheek Pop, the brand also has a dupe for M.A.C Cosmetics’ Extra Dimension Skin Finish highlighter – its Shimmer Highlighting Powder. The soft and fine powder glides on the skin to give you a beaming glow.
Where to shop: Judydoll’s official Shopee store
Rainology is the Kinfolk magazine of C-beauty brands – it adopts a minimalist take on makeup and wants nothing to do with hype. The label’s Singaporean-Chinese founder, Rain Xiao, designed storefronts for Shiseido and L’Oreal Luxe while starting up Rainology in 2018.
Besides cosmetics, such as their eyeshadows and nail polishes, Rainology also offers makeup brushes in warm, earthy colours that were inspired by China’s Terracotta Warriors.
Try this: Rainology Brow Pencil
Perfect your brows with Rainology’s Brow Pencil. With a skinny tip, this automatic brow pencil twists up easily and features a spoolie brush on the other end. It even comes in cool shades of grey to suit Asian brows better.
Where to shop: Rainology on Tmall
7. WEI Beauty
Traditional Chinese medicine has been around for more than 3,500 years and includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, cupping therapy, gua sha and more. By incorporating key techniques and ingredients into its products, WEI Beauty is now the leading TCM brand in the beauty industry.
If you’ve ever browsed online on Sephora.sg, you would’ve spotted WEI’s products when you’ve looked up moisturisers and sheet masks. They’re all formulated with TCM ingredients to bring your skin back to its balanced state. Plus, these ingredients help improve the skin’s natural defence system too.
Try this: WEI Golden Root Purifying Mud Mask Set
For those who have been struggling to manage maskne, the WEI Golden Root Purifying Mud Mask Set is here to help. Packed with Golden Root and China clay, the mask goes on soft and smooth to minimise the appearance of large pores and reduce blemishes for a clearer, more radiant complexion.
Where to shop: WEI Beauty on Sephora.sg
Digital Chinese brand HEDONE is China’s answer to the Euphoria-inspired makeup trend that American Gen Zs are obsessed with. This modern brand defies every beauty norm, and treats makeup as a tool for self-expression rather than self-perfection. The forward-thinking brand injects its makeup products with a load of fun and playfulness, so expect glitter, sequins, and vivid eyeshadow shades.
Try this: HEDONE x The Powerpuff Girls Eyeshadow Palette in Brain Hole Bubble
Pastel eye makeup has been in the makeup spotlight for a hot minute, and there’s no easier way to experiment with the trend than with the HEDONE x The Powerpuff Girls Eyeshadow Palette in Brain Hole Bubble. Featuring four shades in one compact palette, you can swipe on some pastel pink, green, blue, and yellow to create a soft, rainbow eye look.
Where to shop: Various retailers on Shopee
9. Zeesea Cosmetics
Zeesea Cosmetics is an emerging makeup label that has impressive formulas and stunning packaging in its range. This year, it has collaborated with the British Museum to bring us Alice in Wonderland-themed eyeshadow palettes. Each palette is embossed with motifs from the classic tale and comes in three different colour stories.
Try this: ZEESEA x British Museum Alice in Wonderland Face Makeup Primer
Need to perfect your base in a jiffy? No problem. Zeesea has three colour-correcting makeup primers in its Alice in Wonderland collection to help with that. Go for #1 Purple to brighten a sallow, yellowish complexion. #2 Green lets you bring down the redness and reduce the appearance of acne scars, while #3 is a tone-up product that gives you a more radiant complexion.
10. Florasis Beauty
Out of all the C-beauty brands on our list, Florasis Beauty is perhaps the most well-defined label. It fully embraces the “guochao” trend, from its products, to packaging, brand ambassadors, as well as marketing content that draws on ancient Chinese culture. For the uninitiated, “guochao” refers to the rise of hip, homegrown Chinese brands that are challenging international brands for domestic market share.
The brand’s beautifully packaged products have even garnered the attention and praises of Redditors on the r/AsianBeauty subreddit, so you know you’re getting a touch of luxe with Florasis Beauty. Even celebrity makeup artist Wayne Goss has sung its praises on his YouTube channel.
Try this: Florasis Luoshenfu Palette
If there’s one beauty product you have to own, it’s the Luoshenfu Palette. This gorgeous curved palette opens up to resemble an elegant fan. Use these shades on your lids, cheeks, and cheekbones. It’s a piece of art all on its own.
11. Flower Knows
If you’re into cosplay, chances are, you’re familiar with Baozi and Hana. After all, they are two of the most famous male celeb cosplayers from China, and they’re the founders of cosmetics brand Flower Knows. Last year, they launched a gorgeous new Unicorn collection, which you can easily get off their official Taobao store.
Try this: Flower Knows Unicorn Liquid Lipstick
You’ll also want to get your hands on the Unicorn Liquid Lipstick, which look like mini magic wands with their gold star toppers. Pick from six magical hues that will give your lips a juicy finish.
Where to shop: Flower Knows’ official Taobao store