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A growing number of men are using cosmetics and skin care products, and for some of them, wearing makeup has become a lifestyle choice, statistics show.
In February last year, Chinese research institute CBNData and e-commerce platform Tmall released the report Cosmetics and Skincare Consumption Trend in China.
From 2013 to 2016, online sales of male skin care products continued to increase. In 2016, such sales of makeup products to men ages 18 to 22 rose by 100 percent year-on-year.
In 2016, the five provinces and autonomous regions that led online sales of male facial masks were Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hebei and Anhui.
The same year, some Chinese and European cosmetics brands started to invite Chinese male stars to be their spokesmen, with notable effects.
Brands prefer xiaoxianrou - young male celebrities with fine, delicate features who often appear with elegant makeup - as young female fans are willing to pay for what they represent. Meanwhile, xiaoxianrou are paying attention to skin care themselves, adding credibility to such products.
In April, consulting company iResearch and online discount retailer Vipshop released a report on fashion consumption trends among Chinese born after 1995.
Of 532 males born between 1995 and 1999, about one in five used BB cream - which has a creamy formulation, is typically lighter in texture than foundation, and is used to even out facial skin tone - or lip products. One in 10 of these men used eyebrow products or eyeliner.
Vipshop's data show that for cosmetics, males born between these years bought facial masks, skin care sets and cleansing products, with the highest number of such sales being reported last year.
Mao Xun, a fashion commentator, said lip protection and hand cream are basic cosmetics, but not for the exclusive use of women. Personal grooming, such as cutting the fingernails, will help to give men a good image.
"As for skin care, Chinese men have a higher brand loyalty, but Chinese females like to try new products," he said.
"Chinese women's makeup favorites are lipstick and foundation.
"While Chinese men born in the 1980s can barely accept the idea of using foundation, the post-90s generation are more likely to use popular online products such as BB cushion and eyebrow powder."
He said that if a man has an uneven skin tone or pimples, applying products to conceal this will help provide a uniform complexion.
"It's OK to use light makeup to showcase yourself in an upbeat way, but do not imitate the heavy makeup of some male idols," he said.
Mao said men should do more exercise, as this will be beneficial for their skin. Also, a good body shape will make them appear vigorous and stylish.
Wu Yifan, 22, couldn't agree more.
"The most important aspect of skin care is to have a regular schedule of work and rest, and good eating habits," said Wu, who has just graduated from a university in Tianjin, and who never stays up late at night and goes to the gym regularly.
He uses cleansing foam, essence oil, lotion and eye cream, but not makeup. He also uses sun block, which is routine for both men and women from the southern province of Hainan - where he comes from - to protect the skin from ultraviolet rays.
Skin care is a habit that Wu formed when he was a middle school student. His mother and elder sister taught him about it from scratch and prepared products for him.
Wu said a man's eyebrows are important, and an energetic and good image will be presented if they are trimmed. He once bought an eyebrow pencil and eyebrow growth serum but now rarely uses them.
"You first need to have an objective assessment of your skin. If you need to improve it, you should choose the products that suit you best," he said.
Wu even used to own more varieties of skin care products than his girlfriend until he found those that were the most suitable for him.