China’s beauty secrets uncovered

Are make-up and skincare products the same wherever on earth you find yourself, in this fast-paced, 21st-century world? Not so, as Marie Claire Beauty Writer Cassie Steer discovered on a recent trip...

In this fast-paced, 21st century world, where the big beauty brands rule the supermarket aisles, you’d be forgiven for thinking make-up and skincare products are pretty much the same wherever in the world your find yourself. Not so, as Marie Claire Beauty Writer Cassie Steer discovered on a recent trip…

‘My best beauty buys of last week included a Hello Kitty Face Mitt, Collagen Hand Cream and Bird’s Nest Face mask. Did I mention I was in Shanghai?’ writes Cassie.

‘Tuesday 24 November saw the opening of the 500th A S Watson’s store in China (the owners of Superdrug to you and me) and what an opening it was! Red carpets were rolled out, and the obligatory ribbon was cut, but in true Chinese style we were also treated to a sensory spectacle, which included a traditional Chinese Lion Dance designed to bestow luck and fortune (not real lions obviously – specially-trained dancers in costume who perform impressive feats of acrobatics).

‘It was a strange mix of the traditional with the modern, but I shouldn’t have under-estimated the gravitas of the beauty product (it is, after all, an industry that prompts women to queue for hours on end for the latest must-have elixir promising youth and beauty) and AS Watson’s Chinese contingency was no different.

‘As the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, apart from a few cultural peculiarities (bird’s-nest eye serum anyone?) the stores are pretty much what you’d expect of any cosmopolitan international city stocking well-known brands from L’Oreal to Maybelline. Shanghai itself is an impressive array of skyscrapers and cranes not dissimilar from a landscape out of Bladerunner.

‘Chinese women’s beauty habits differ slightly from their Western counterparts however, skin whitening features heavily and skincare is a comparatively bigger concern than make-up but they are well versed on all the latest trends and fashions.

‘All in all it was a feast for the senses in every respect and even our meals consisted of at least six courses, breakfast included – my M&S Chow Mein for One has never looked so paltry! It also made me realise A S Watson’s expansion programme slogan of “numbers not colours” rang true, and whether you live in China or Cheshire the thrill of buying a new lipstick transcends continents.’

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