China’s Cosmetics Market
BY HKTDC ResearchNov 18, 2021

I. Market Overview

China’s cosmetics sector has been growing rapidly in recent years, in line with the growth of the economy. According to Euromonitor, retail sales of skincare products in China reached RMB260.4 billion in 2020, while sales of make‑up products totalled RMB52.5 billion according to Shenzhen‑based Forward Industry Research Institute. Though the trade through physical stores was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, online sales of skincare products and make‑up conducted via the Alibaba group of e‑commerce platforms grew respectively 31.8% and 32.5% year‑on‑year. According to the China Cosmetics Industry Research and Development in 2021 released by mainland‑based iiMedia Research, the cosmetics market in China is projected to reach RMB478.1 billion in 2021. The table below shows the retail sales of cosmetics by wholesale and retail enterprises above a designated size in recent years.


The current structure of China’s consumer market of cosmetic products is as follows:

  • Skincare products: the largest and fastest-growing segment in the cosmetics market.

  • Shampoos and haircare products: a market niche becoming saturated, with slowing growth.

  • Make-up products: this market is far from saturated, particularly for enhancement items such as colour correcting (CC) and blemish balm (BB) cream. Sales of eye make-up products have recorded significant growth in recent years.

  • Products for children: sales of products designed for use by children continue to soar.

  • Sunscreen products: seasonal demand ensures sales do not slow down during traditionally quiet periods.

  • Anti-aging products: cosmetic products that help consumers stay looking youthful and fight aging are increasingly popular.

  • Sports cosmetics: many consumers who love sports and fitness pursuits are keen to look good as well. They use sports cosmetics that help prevent moisture loss and are anti-odour, anti-sweat, and anti-bacterial, packaged in compact, portable sizes.

  • Cosmeceuticals: consumers are increasingly aware of products that combine cosmetic and pharmaceutical features, such as spot lightening cream, acne treatment lotion and acne ointment. Cosmeceuticals can be roughly classified into three types: pharmaceutical cosmetics that are sideline cosmetic products from pharmaceutical companies, medical skincare products that provide supplementary therapeutic functions and functional cosmetics that deal with specific skin problems.

  • Green/natural cosmetics: these contain natural or nutritional ingredients, such as aloe and vitamins.

China’s demand for make‑up products is maturing and diversifying. Previously, mainland consumers mostly bought basic products, but now demand has expanded to include products such as liquid foundation, eye make‑up and lipstick. Eyeshadow was previously considered a Western style make‑up and was not sought by Chinese consumers. Now, thanks to online video tutorials about make‑up, more consumers have come to appreciate eyeshadow and consumption has shot up.

As pointed out in a mainland research report on rational skincare in the post‑pandemic period (後疫情時代理性護膚白皮書), people have been wearing facemasks constantly since the beginning of the pandemic. As a result, allergies and acnes have become the main skin concerns of consumers. The demand for cosmetics has fallen significantly, particularly for make‑up removal and sunscreen products. As consumers stay home more often, they spend more time on skincare. This trend is particularly evident among the post‑90s generation. In the post‑pandemic period, the ingredients, efficacy and safety of make‑up and skincare products are the key reasons for choosing a product.

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