Cosmetics lines developed by self-taught beauty gurus are an increasing presence in the Chinese market. These homegrown brands now account for almost 14 percent of the market, according to China Hairdressing and Beauty Association.
Naruko by Niu Er, J Plus by Li Jing, and Afrella by Nic Peng are some of the most popular of these brands.
Niu Er of Taiwan, one of the pioneering beauty gurus, has found great success with Naruko. With its bestselling serum products, lotions, and facial creams, Naruko is now a $10 million business.
According to China Daily, Niu gained experience working for big-name brands like The Body Shop and Sisley before creating the line, studying the components of lotions and creams. He now uses “sustainable elements from different plants” in his own label.
Li Jing, a television host based in Beijing, also incorporates natural ingredients in her cosmetics line. At the end of 2009, she founded her brand J Plus. The line’s 4-D facial mask “feels like you’re wearing a plant mask when you apply it,” and Li emphasizes her label’s “natural elements” when promoting it on her talk show.
Nic Peng (or “Brother Nic”) also found success as a self-promoter, reviewing and ranking a host of skin creams on his blog before launching his own label, Afrella, in July 2009.
“[Blogging] was a tough job, and I had to use 10 creams within one or two month,” Peng said.
Although the Chinese market is flooded with cosmetics lines, consumers are drawn to these homegrown brands because they are reputable and affordable.
Most of Naruko’s cosmetics are priced below 500 yuan (US$82). J Plus and Afrella’s products cost no more than 300 yuan (US$50).