Retail notes from Shanghai: [Show Report] China Beauty Expo 2018

A few days ago I returned from Shanghai, the last stop on my three-week research trip to Asia. My main focus here was China Beauty Expo, the most important beauty trade show in mainland China.

However, I also managed to visit two new bars (Sober Company and Woo Bar; both very much worth a visit!) and explored the very cool M50 Shanghai Art District on Monashan Road (an old factory site converted into an art/gallery space. I have now become a big fan of contemporary Chinese porcelain art!). I also spent a considerable amount of time just walking around the city centre streets, taking pictures of Shanghai’s surreal-looking and amazingly varied cityscape.

But back to the trade show! The 23rd edition of China Beauty Expo took place from 22nd to 24th May 2018 in Shanghai’s Pudong International Exhibition Centre (SNIEC) – for a more detailed description of the exhibition centre’s layout (with pictures) check out my China Beauty Expo 2017 article.

My impression was that this year’s CBE was somehow more structured (a little better organised, perhaps?) and also more international than CBE 2017 – there was a special registration gate for „foreign visitors/media“ which they didn’t have last year (at least not that I remember!) and there seemed to be more Western beauty brands amongst the exhibitors.

Don’t get me wrong, CBE was still overwhelming; bustling, chaotic and completely crowded with visitors, including families and children – tickets are free and anyone can visit; you don’t need trade visitor credentials. The halls featuring primarily Chinese exhibitors were especially popular amongst the local visitors – most of the companies offered free skin care treatments, raffles and freebies.

But this year the show felt much more manageable; probably because I knew what to expect and I also knew which subway station was the best option for the trade show! If you’re interested: it’s the last stop on Line 7, Huanmu Road, which connects to Kerry Parkway shopping center and the Kerry hotel. So much more pleasant than Longyang Road which the official website tells you is the closest station for SNIEC.

But now let’s jump straight in! Click on the link below to read more about some of my favourite brand discoveries at China Beauty Expo 2018.


One of the first exhibitors I saw at CBE was Yoseido. The Chinese beauty brand was launched in 2017 and they offer face care cosmetics that are based on birch sap. Yoseido’s factory is located in Japan (hence the Japanese-sounding name) and the birch sap they use instead of water is sourced from Finland, I was told.

An interesting fact: Yoseido belongs to Chinese bottled water manufacturer Nongfu Spring; it’s Nongfu Spring’s first venture into skin care and I read in an article on that Nongfu Springs founder Zhong Shanshan has announced that he intends to turn Yoseido into one of the five top-selling domestic skin care brands in China.

The line-up comprises three sheet masks (moisturising, brightening and anti-ageing) and two toners – one has an intensive moisturising formula, the other one is a little lighter. Yoseido’s products are only available in China at the moment but the company has set its sights on the rest of Asia as well. I tried out the toner and liked the texture very much; also the stylish silver, black and white packaging. I can totally imagine the products on the shelves of Loft or Tokyu Hands! As far as Google Translate was able to tell me the product formulas are near-natural. A highly attractive brand with an interesting concept.

I’ll keep an eye on Yoseido’s further expansion (and on its parent company Nongfu Spring; when I was in Shanghai I fell in love with their new 4-sku premium water bottle range which featured labels designed by UK artist Brett Ryder).

CENTDEGRÉS (France/China)

I see the work of renowned French-Chinese brand marketing agency Centdegrés at practically every international beauty trade show – the company creates a beauty installation for Cosmoprof Asia in Hong Kong every year and for Cosmoprof Bologna in Italy. And also for China Beauty Expo!

For CBE 2018, Centdegrés designed a circular fragrance installation called “8 Shades of Grasse”. Realised in cooperation with French fragrance manufacturer Firmenich and the Musée International de la Parfumerie, the installation introduced the visitors to eight individual fragrance notes (with EDP samples to take aways as a souvenir – a very nice touch).

The fragrance pavillion was laid out in a circular design, at each „station“ a bilingual information poster provided information about the specific fragrance component, the history of perfumery in Europe and especially in France and, last but not least, an introduction to the illustrous history of the Southern French city of Grasse, the perfume capital of the world.

In the middle of the pavillion were some comfortable seats (I sat down to compose an Instagram post and promptly left my business card case behind – luckily it was still there when I noticed its loss 15 minutes later!); with floral decorations. Very pleasant and really a tiny oasis of calm in the busy trade show hall.

JAYJUN (Korea)

Korean brand Jayjun needs no introduction: it’s a highly successful and internationally retailed face care brand. At China Beauty Expo the company presented its latest launch, the Intensive Shining range.

There are four products altogether, the Intensive Shining Mask (a sheet mask), the Regenerist White Essence Water, the Regenerist White Firming Eye Cream and Regenerist White Cream, a classic facial moisturiser. I really like the gradated colours of the packaging – the pink and blue shades look beautifully fresh.

E NATURE (Korea)

And more birch juice beauty: Korean brand E Nature offers birch sap-based cosmetics as well as other superfoods/vegetable-derived beauty products. The brand was launched in 2017, it belongs to the brand stable of C&T manufacturer Hanbul (whose star brand is It’s Skin). E Nature was obviously created to address the growing organic/natural beauty trend in Korea – It’s Skin is a hardcore functional/conventional beauty brand, nothing green about it.

In addition to the Birch Juice Hydro range which is, well, based on birch sap; E Nature’s line-up includes the Moringa Cleansingrange, the Squeeze Green Watery range (products based on a blend of leafy chlorophyll-rich greens including kale and parsley) and a line of sheeet masks to match the other sub-ranges. The E Nature PR lady at the booth told me that birch juice is becoming very popular in Korea. E-Nature’s products are sold primarily in Korea at the moment; both online and in drugstores.


Now, this is an interesting brand located right next to the Perfume Village installation. Liht Organics is a colour cosmetics brand from Singapore. This alone makes it noteworthy, Singapore is a very small city state and they have no natural resources whatsoever – the country imports pretty much everything, up to and including drinking water and electricty. Ditto for cosmetics – granted, my last visit to Singapore was quite a few years ago but I remember the Watsons drugstores being full of international brands – Western beauty, Japanese beauty, Chinese beauty and Asia-Pacific beauty but hardly anything that was based in Singapore.

Anyway, Liht Organics was founded three years ago by Singaporean Nerissa Low (it used to be called Reflections Organics but is now being rebranded as Liht Organics). There are 140 sku in the brand’s portfolio which cover all product categories – face, eyes, lips – except nail care. Product formulations are organic with up to 90% USDA-certified ingredients. Products are vegan and gluten-free and the white outer packaging (which was introduced as part of the brand relaunch) is refillable.

Liht Organics is looking to expand into China (through cross-border, obviously; not in offline retail) as well as Asia-Pacific (Australia, New Zealand) and the US and Canada; perhaps even Europe eventually. I’ll keep an eye out for Liht!


Paparecipe is a Korean beauty brand that is highly successful in the Chinese market – in fact, Paparecipe’s product manager told me that the brand’s more popular in China than it is in Korea. Hard to imagine, really…Paparecipe’s Bombee sheet masks seem to be retailed everywhere in Seoul.

Anyway, at the trade show Paparecipe presented its latest face mask launch: Bombee Fruitables, a 7-sku line of face masks formulated with various fruit and vegetable extracts. The company also introduced their latest brand ambassador (see picture above) – not that this boy needs any introduction in Korea or China: I was told that Fan Cheng Cheng is already a hugely successful celebrity who got his start in show-biz/celebritydom because he’s the younger brother of famous Chinese actress Fan Bing Bing. Seriously, I saw people at the Paparecipe booth that were taking selfies in front of the Fan Cheng Cheng poster you see in the picture above ; )


And Melissa Says is a nice little natural face care range from China. The brand was launched in 2015 and its ingredients are sourced from the UK. The line-up includes some 38 sku of face and body care and essential oils.

The majority of the products are near-natural although there are a few – such as the Organic Cleansing Balm you can see in the pic above – that come very close to being organic.


And Focus Cutey is a beauty retailer from Guangzhou. Word of warning: the information I am presenting to you is coming straight from Google’s Translate App and a very friendly booth attendant – basically, we communicated with our smartphones (me with Google Translate, her with a Chinese equivalent – Google, of course, doesn’t work in China without a VPN); holding up our respective phones to let the other person read the mangled sentences that our respective translation apps had created ; )

Ok, so if I understood Google correctly Focus Cutey is from Guangzhou; they currently have three stores there. Judging from the company’s China Beauty Expo booth the retail outlets have a young, fun and trendy vibe; with plenty of makeup bars to test products, selfie corners and a digital interface/online-offline infrastructure – a classic beauty playground store.

Focus Cutey sells hip Korean beauty brands like Missha plus a few Western and Chinese labels; all of these brands are aimed at the teen and twen market. The retailer also has a pretty comprehensive own label range of skin and body care and accessories.


An interesting exhibitor in the tent area outside was Beautéville – a C&T industrial park near Huzhou city in Zhejiang province.

As you can see from the model in the picture above, Beautéville is a large area that hosts cosmetics factories, R&D labs, raw ingredients and production facilities, companies offering brand and infrastructure services, training facilities and offices – sort of a Chinese version of France’s Cosmetic Valley. Beautéville was formally opened in 2015 and there are currently around 15 Chinese and other international/Asian companies operating in the new cosmetics park.

I forced the Chinese-language website through Google Translate and this it what it gave me: the entire area of Beautéville covers almost 10 sq km which is only the first stage in the development of the industrial park. In the long-term, organiser CBIC Corporation’s plan is to develop Beautéville into a strong production base within the domestic C&T industry, to eventually play a significant role in the worldwide cosmetics market.


I have no idea what this company (which was also a tent exhibitor) is called in English but from what I could piece together they offer retail design: different types of retail spaces, ranging from stand-alone beauty stores in malls to cosmetics shop-in-shop areas in department stores over drugstores/convenience stores to perfumeries.

I wish I could have found some company information in English, their store designs – displayed in photos and models – are very attractive.


Ah yes, the Meiyi Awards. Now, I took these pics on the second day of the trade show when the weather was spectacularly sunny – in fact, the light was so bright that I couldn’t really see what I was photographing. However, my trusty Huawei Leicaphone handled the situation beautifully; I think the pictures turned out really well. Anyway, the Meiyi Awards display was right outside in the middle of the tent area and luckily there was a large English language sign explaining what these awards were.

It’s annual industry awards ceremony which honours the most popular beauty retail products in China. 2018 marked the 10th edition of the awards: they were organised by China Beauty Expo in cooperation with media companies C2CC Media and Cosmetic News, online/digital retailers (Taobao is the domestic e-commerce retail  platform of Chinese online retail giant Alibaba group (Alibaba’s other big online business is, of course, Tmall)) and Tencent (creators of social media site WeChat and I cannot stress enough how influential WeChat is in China!); Cosmopolitan, Pretty Women and Moko magazines and social media app Meiyou.

The winning products are voted for by prominent KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders; it’s what they call influencers in China), industry experts, beauty retailers and selected women’s/beauty magazines. And the winners of this year’s Meiyi Awards include: L’Oréal with its L’Oréal Paris Micellar Water cleanser and the Revitalift Filler Ampoule, sister brand Maybelline’s Shine Compulsion Lipgloss range, Chinese brand Makeover with its Essence-in-Foundation Cushion (hello, hybrid product trend!), Kustie (also from China) with its Bulgaria Rose Hydrolate facial toner, Chinese beauty brand Autural with the Bright & Radiant Facial Mask, DMCK from Korea with its Clean AC Ampoule, Chinese brand Yolush with the facial oil Skin Tender Delicate Oil, Vimetime with its Ecological Nanoscale Gold Infusion Treatment and Chinese brand Herbetter with the Luffa Enzyme Toner.


And my personal award for the most novel cosmetic ingredient at China Beauty Expo 2018 goes to….Chinese beauty brand Bimelly! Launched in 2016 Bimelly‘s products are based on the active ingredient – you’ll never guess! – crocodile oil. Or more precisely, based on the oil processed from the stomach fat of the Thai crocodile. Crocodile oil is said to have superior anti-ageing and skin-healing properties. Who knew!

Bimelly’s portfolio offers a cleanser, essence, lotion, oil repair serum and face cream. However, the brand‘s newest product range is the Crocodile Oil & Oil line in which the crocodile oil is paired with various plant oils. In the case of the green serum  it’s camellia seed oil, jojoba oil and inchi oil; in the pink serum the key oil ingredients are peony seed oil, jojoba oil and inchi oil.

The texture of these serums was intriguing: watery yet slightly viscuous with a very light oily film left on the skin. Plus a very subtle non-fragrance. According to Google Translate the ingredients of the serums are actually pretty organic. They are priced at around 300 Yuan (40 Euro). And I love the fresh, beautiful colours of the packaging!


And speaking of pretty packaging, check out Chinese brand Forclarity’s Protect Hydrate BB Spray which was launched this March. It’s a BB cushion foundation packaged in an aerosol – the foundation is dispensed through three small holes in the top: first you shake the can, then pump the top bit up and down and this will draw up the lotion. You then apply it with the enclosed sponge. Less messy and more hygienic (i.e. less contamination by sun and air) than using a traditional cushion foundation, claims the company.

Protect Hydrate BB Spray is also a great example of the makeup/skin care hybrid product trend that I’ve been seeing in Korea and Japan. The BB Spray’s product formula contains mineral-rich glacier water, ginseng extract, anti-oxidative algae extract and snow lotus extract. It feels light and very cooling on the skin.


Wanquing’s a sheet mask manufacturer from China and their packaging design which combines traditional Chinese imagery with elegant art déco visuals is simply beautiful. Check it out!

I couldn’t find anyone to talk to me so I have no information about the brand, just pictures.


The exhibition centre is really spacious (especially when you compare it with most European trade show centres) and many of the Asian exhibitors had lavishly decorated booths – check out the pictures below!


Together with Japan (this year’s country of honour at CBE), Korea was one of the biggest Asian exhibitor countries at the trade show. All the big K-Beauty labels were there, from Tonymoly over May Coop to Secret Key.

And now I’ll leave you with some more images of the trade show halls. Bye!

1 Comment

Filed under Asia, Industry News, Retail, Trade Shows, Travel, Trends

One response to “Retail notes from Shanghai: [Show Report] China Beauty Expo 2018

  1. Pingback: Retail notes from Shanghai: [Show Report] China Beauty Expo 2019 | TRENDS. TRAVELS. AND BERLIN

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