While a Hermès handbag or a pair of Christian Louboutin heels might require some serious saving, a Chanel lipstick lets a woman experience luxury with a lot less expense. And luxury cosmetic lines are lucrative in and of themselves, even without taking into account their power in establishing a relationship between a brand and a younger generation of consumers.
What were the big hits in the world of high-end beauty in 2017? We rank the different approaches among the leading players, with European luxury brands still selling conventional anti-aging products in ultra-glamorous packaging, while Asian brands have shifted their focus to younger demographics with a lighter luxury style of natural beauty products.
The French brand is known for iconic red lipsticks, and this Christmas, Chanel launched a feast of red. The Numeros Rouges collection (225 RMB) is highlighted by four limited edition red lipsticks, each of which is placed in a “rare red-lacquered click case”. The all-red theme successfully catered to Chinese customers’ tastes, earning the nickname of “中国红” (China red) on Chinese social media. In July 2017, actress Liu Shishi (刘诗诗) was enlisted to promote Chanel’s makeup lines.
If red is classic Chanel, classic Dior is gold — another color favored in China. For their 2017 holiday collection, Dior added five limited edition shades to the Diorific lipstick line (350 RMB), each of them packaged in what Dior calls a “jewel-like gold case”, which resembles two conjoined light bulbs. In addition to the novel-looking case, the lipstick itself is an unconventional crayon shape. The Diorific Khol holiday edition features a long-lasting formula, which is marketed as a “powder lipstick.” This year, actress Wang Luodan (王珞丹) joined the Dior campaign with ads set in the south of France.
Guerlain released two new shades this Christmas. The 2017 limited edition Rouge G (480 RMB) follows the conventional design of Rouge G de Guerlain, the most luxurious lipstick collection from Guerlain, but with a gold and black case instead of the original silver. Guerlain paid big money in 2017 to have Yang Yang (杨洋), Wang Ziwen (王子文), and Fan Bingbing (范冰冰), who have reputations as great beauties and coveted brand ambassadors, represent the brand.
Three new shades, nude red, orange red, and mauve red, were put into LANCOME’s L’absolu Rouge collection (270 RMB, including a mini lotion and perfume) with a case specially designed for the 2017 holiday season. Based on the original L’absolu collection’s sleek black and gold case, the holiday edition has sparkling, golden-flake shading from the top down. The actress Liu Tao(刘涛) joined LANCOME’s Spring Festival campaign at the beginning of 2017 to promote the brand.
5. Estee Lauder
In 2017, EsteeLauder launched Re-Nutriv, the skin care collection that contains black diamond truffle extract, which is believed to have anti-aging and skin sculpting properties. A 25ml Re-Nutriv essence costs a whopping 3,800 RMB. The collection is packaged in gold embellished with silver and black. Besides the company’s primary brand ambassador Mi Yang (杨幂), Estee Lauder engaged several other celebrities from various fields, such as Olympic diving gold medalist Guo Jingjing (郭晶晶).
6. Helena Rubinstein
Unlike other premium cosmetic lines, Helena Rubinstein did not rush to launch a limited edition line in China. Instead, its Christmas set includes a full size 50ml Re-Plasty day and night cream (3,480 RMB). The Re-Plasty line features anti-aging and self-repairing cosmetics. The pure black or white colored bottles convey a more understated sense of luxury. Jia Jingwen (贾静雯) is the brand’s ambassador in China, though they also cooperate with a wide range of beauty bloggers.
In 2017, inspired by the philosophy of Japanese traditional cuisine, Shisheido launched a new line of skin care products called Waso. The name is derived from Wasoku, a traditional Japanese cuisine, that advocates the selection of fresh ingredients and minimal use of seasoning to enhance the flavor of the food itself. The packaging of the Waso line is simple, standing out from the flashier efforts of other brands. As an “entry-level line”, Waso shows rare dedication to attracting younger consumers. In 2017, Shisheido had two Chinese ambassadors: Huang Xuan (黄轩) and Tang Yan (唐嫣). Gao Yunxuang (高云翔) also joined hands with the brand to endorse their sunblock cream.
8. Cle De Peau
Inspired by “Chinoiserie,” Cle De Peau lauched “Clé de Peau Beauté Rouge Allegro n” lipsticks (480 RMB) in 14 rich and creamy shades. The packaging of the lipstick employs the classic CDP mazarine and gold angular design. Wang Luodan (王珞丹) and Wang Lihong (王力宏) joined the 2017 campaign for the high end Japanese brand.
Skin “brightening” is a constant pursuit for Korean cosmetic products. Snowise EX Whitening Serum (1,340 RMB/50ml) is the highest priced item in Sulwhasoo’s new collection. The packaging uses an iridescent pearl-like texture on the bottom in combination with a white silver top. A sense of the pure and natural is conveyed. The ingredients of this line are marketed as natural and rare traditional herbal medicines. Instead of the conventional choice of an actress as brand ambassador, Sulwhasoo has worked with successful females from all spheres: writer Zhang Xiaoxian (张小娴), Olympic medalist Wu Minxia (吴敏霞), and singer An Yixuan (安以轩), among others.
Signia ampoule (1,800 RMB/50ml), the anti-aging cream with narcissus essence, is even pricier than Sulwhasoo’s new essence. While both brands tout the benefits of plant extracts, Signia ampoule attempts to communicate a more high tech product, which is packaged in a tall, long bottle in dark gold with two different textures. Model He Sui (何穗) and actress Wang Ou (王鸥) worked with HERA to endorse the product.