The global rise of Chinese cosmetic brands

The Global Rise Of Chinese Cosmetic Brands

In an era where beauty standards and industry paradigms shift with the wind, Chinese beauty brands (C-beauty) are not just joining the global beauty conversation; they are redefining it. As these brands cross borders and break through international markets, they carry with them a blend of ancient traditions and cutting-edge innovation, poised to challenge the dominance of Western, Korean, and Japanese beauty giants. 

This article explores the ascent of C-beauty on the world stage, highlighting the strategic maneuvers, cultural leverage, and digital savviness that have propelled these brands into the global spotlight. From the thriving export figures to the strategic global branding efforts of frontrunners like Florasis and Perfect Diary, we delve into the narrative of C-beauty’s ambitious journey from local gem to global powerhouse, unpacking the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Source: Florasis
Source: Perfect Diary

The Current State of C-Beauty Globally

Understanding the ascent of C-beauty begins with a glance at its current global standing, which reveals a landscape marked by dynamic growth and ambitious expansion. The global presence of Chinese beauty brands, commonly referred to as C-beauty, is witnessing an unprecedented surge.

In just the first half of this year, C-beauty exports have soared to $2.8 billion, a testament to a significant year-on-year increase of 32.5%. (Source: China Customs) This robust growth in overseas markets has not only highlighted the international appeal of C-beauty products but has also emboldened numerous Chinese beauty enterprises. Motivated by a strategic response to internal market dynamics, such as decelerating population growth and a plateau in the spending power of China’s youth, these brands have ventured beyond their domestic confines. With years of refinement and innovation within the Chinese market under their belts, C-beauty brands are now stepping into the global arena with renewed confidence, ready to rival international counterparts with their unique blend of tradition and innovation. 

Embracing Digital and Cultural Trends

In the digital age, C-beauty’s strategic embrace of online platforms and cultural trends has significantly contributed to its international acclaim. The advent of the ‘Douyin Makeup’ trend marks a new era for C-beauty, showcasing its viral success and the powerful influence of digital culture on beauty trends. This phenomenon has not only captivated international audiences but has also highlighted the dynamism of China’s style culture.

Influencers, such as the Croatian BeautyTok star, Mimiermakeup, have played a key role in this narrative, using their platforms to showcase the artistry of Chinese makeup styles to millions globally. Their success underscores C-beauty’s capacity to engage with cultural trends and self-expression, drawing upon China’s rich heritage and local culture.

 The impact of these digital and cultural movements on the global stage redefines the perception of Chinese cosmetics, positioning C-beauty as a burgeoning powerhouse in the beauty industry. Through its adept use of digital platforms to tap into global cultural trends, C-beauty transcends the notion of being a passing fad, solidifying its status as a significant player in the world of beauty.

Source: Douyin Make-up Trend; Radii China

Success Stories and Strategic Moves

The surge in C-beauty’s global presence is epitomized by the strategic successes of brands like Florasis and Perfect Diary. These companies stand as beacons of C-beauty’s ambitious march onto the global stage, reflecting a larger narrative of growth and expansion.

Florasis, a Hangzhou-based cosmetics label, exemplifies this journey with its deep roots in “Traditional Cosmetics, Floral Essences,” integrating Chinese culture, aesthetics, and craftsmanship into its products. The brand has made significant strides in global expansion, establishing its presence on e-commerce platforms in over 100 countries and opening standalone shops in 46 countries. Notably, Florasis chose Japan as its first global stop, leveraging cultural similarities and logistical advantages to penetrate the market. Its packaging designs, infused with eastern elements, have attracted global consumer interest, with products like the Love Lock lipstick — which combines eastern carving craft with the symbolism of love locks — highlighting its commitment to traditional Chinese aesthetics and innovative market strategies. This strategic approach has not only garnered over 1.5 million followers on international social media platforms but also plans to invest 1 billion yuan (about $141 million) in product development from 2022 to 2026, underscoring its ambition to deepen the understanding of overseas consumer preferences and foster partnerships for global expansion. (Source: CHAILEEDO)

Similarly, Perfect Diary has demonstrated its prowess in tapping into new consumer bases with a blend of offline presence and digital prowess. By collaborating with over 150 Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) or micro-influencers on platforms like Xiaohongshu for the launch of their Daydream product for Chinese Valentine’s Day, Perfect Diary has leveraged social media to enhance its brand visibility and engagement. Furthermore, its culture-focused co-branding efforts, such as the collaboration with the British Museum for an eyeshadow palette and the Chinese Discovery Channel for an animal-themed eyeshadow palette, have appealed to Gen-Z’s interests in sophistication, novelty, and diversity. Perfect Diary’s expansion into the Western market, marked by collaboration with beauty YouTuber Kelly Strack, showcases its successful penetration and the encouraging reception of its products overseas.

Together, the strategic initiatives of Florasis and Perfect Diary — ranging from leveraging traditional Chinese aesthetics and engaging in culture-focused co-branding to expanding their digital footprint and investing in future growth — underscore a deliberate effort by C-beauty brands to not only tap into new consumer bases but also to foster a meaningful cultural exchange and redefine global beauty standards.

Building a Global Brand Image

Beyond the individual successes of pioneering brands, the global journey of C-beauty encompasses the intricate task of building a resonant brand image across diverse markets. This challenge is particularly daunting in environments where Japanese (J-beauty) and Korean (K-beauty) beauty brands have already established a formidable presence and a solid reputation. The endeavor to carve out a significant space for C-beauty on the global stage faces the hurdle of overcoming a comparative lack of desirability, a perception partly shaped by the global influence of K-drama and K-pop. In response, C-beauty brands are turning to the rich tapestry of traditional Chinese aesthetics and the revered practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to distinguish themselves. By infusing their products with a unique blend of innovation, superior quality, and cultural heritage, these brands aim not just to compete but to ignite global consumer interest and cultivate a brand identity that resonates across varied demographics. It is through this strategic embrace of traditional elements, coupled with an unwavering commitment to quality and innovation, that C-beauty positions itself to potentially redefine the contours of the global beauty landscape.

Overcoming Market Entry Challenges

Navigating the global market presents unique challenges for C-beauty brands, from cultural adaptation to regulatory compliance, each requiring a nuanced approach to overcome. As these brands embark on their journey of international expansion, they are becoming adept at mastering the art of localization to effectively connect with diverse global markets. This strategic focus on cultural nuances — adapting beauty products and marketing strategies to align with local preferences — demonstrates a deep understanding of the complexities involved in global market penetration. 

Beyond mere aesthetics, C-beauty brands delve into the specifics of formulation preferences, packaging designs, and messaging that resonate within the cultural contexts of their target markets. This nuanced approach is particularly crucial in regions like the U.S., where preferences may lean towards clean beauty and sustainability, diverging from traditional Chinese narratives and intricate packaging designs. 

Furthermore, C-beauty brands face the critical task of building trust and navigating complex regulatory environments, ensuring compliance with international standards for product quality and safety. Amid geopolitical tensions, especially between China and the U.S., the emphasis on the quality and sophistication of their offerings, rather than geographical origins, becomes a pivotal strategy for C-beauty brands aiming for global resonance.


From strategic expansions and the overcoming of multifaceted challenges to the adept harnessing of digital trends, the ascent of C-beauty onto the global stage heralds a pivotal shift in the dynamics of the beauty industry. This remarkable rise of Chinese beauty brands signifies more than just increased market presence; it marks the dawn of a new era in global beauty dynamics, characterized by a blend of tradition and innovation that challenges existing paradigms.

As C-beauty brands navigate the intricate path of international expansion, their journey illuminates the critical role of cultural authenticity, digital innovation, and strategic localization in crafting a brand that resonates globally. By skillfully combining the revered elements of traditional Chinese aesthetics with the latest in technological advancements, these brands are doing more than merely competing on the global stage—they are captivating hearts and minds across continents, weaving a narrative that transcends geographical boundaries.

However, the path forward for C-beauty is not devoid of obstacles. From navigating market entry challenges to distinguishing themselves amidst established beauty norms, the journey is fraught with hurdles that demand strategic foresight and innovative solutions. Despite these challenges, the unwavering commitment of C-beauty brands to innovation and their clear vision for the future position them at the forefront of a movement poised to redefine global beauty standards, marrying the best of tradition with modernity.

As we witness the continuing expansion and evolution of C-beauty across the globe, it’s clear that the story of its rise is just beginning to unfold. What lies ahead is a promising horizon filled with opportunities for cultural exchange, innovation, and collaboration, setting the stage for C-beauty to weave a rich tapestry of influence that will shape the future of the beauty industry worldwide.

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