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China|Chinese Teens and Their Fixation on Luxury Skincare

May 24, 2018.Siqi DaiBeijing, CN
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In China, news regarding "Elementary school students using SK-II" recently raised many eyebrows and discussions. Soon after, on China’s biggest social media, WEIBO, someone had posted a question asking ‘What kind of skincare is used by young Chinese people in China?’ had over 13,000 replies from students born between 1997 to the 2000s. They were shown posting pictures raving about their favourite luxurious skincare products. The beauty habits of the younger generation created a sensation which had people in their 30’s commenting that they seem to be ‘one step behind kids these days’.

Currently, people refer to high-end skin care and cosmetics brands as the "rich lady brands" in China. For example, the most popular toner of skin care brands, SK-Ⅱ is 1980 yuan (about US$300) per bottle (330 mL) and ever popular Shiseido brand, Clé de Peau Beauté beauty essence is 2180 yuan (about US$329) per bottle (40 mL). La Mer luxury skincare under the umbrella of Estee Lauder in the United States has also many fans. All of the brands mentioned are the top threes in  skin care which were originally catered to adult skin problems, but many Chinese youngsters express their interests regardless. Below are pictures and comments of posted by WEIBO users born in the latter half of the 90s.

Photos of WEIBO users born in 1999:

Photos of WEIBO users born in 1998:

What is the origin of this phenomenon? The majority of consumers in China purchase high end cosmetics because they believe that high priced goods won’t betray their expectations and it also saves them time from choosing amongst a wide variety. In the case of teenage students who are not yet economically independent, many Chinese parents believe that when they provide for their children the best of everything, their lives become more enriched and in general, the idea that all children must be given the ‘best of everything conscience’ has had a big influence. Especially for those born in the ‘one-child policy’ in China (now abolished in 2016) tend to be doted on more than usual.

The high end skin care brand products are mainly aimed at people who have skin troubles in order to change the skin's’ appearance in texture, the diminishing of age spots, anti-aging, and to bring out the best conditions. For young people who are not confronted with these problems, it’s hard to believe that there’s any effect. There’s skepticism and one WEIBO user says,

"At first I bought by looking at internet reviews and referrals from sales staffs. I don’t know what I should use for my skin alone and I’m sure young people my age also don’t have the proper knowledge.”

Which begs the question: what kind of message, education, and correspondence should be addressed when children are still growing in elementary and junior high schools who’re using high quality skin care?

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