Social Influencer
Photo Credit: Li Si
SOCIAL CHINESE

Pretty Talks: Talk Like a Chinese Beauty Influencer

Considering a career as a beauty influencer? Talk like one first.

How many lipsticks can you sell in five minutes? 15,000 was the record for Li Jiaqi, formerly one of China’s top 美妆博主 (měizhuāng bózhǔ), or beauty influencers.

Li, with 30 million followers on microblogging platform Weibo, became a household name soon after he started sharing creative makeup tutorials (美妆教程 měizhuāng jiàochéng) and beauty product reviews (美妆测评 měizhuāng cèpíng) in 2016. But he is not the only beauty influencer making waves. A makeup tutorial from last year, in which blogger Ruby Youxi recreates the look of actress Zhao Lusi in The Long Ballad, a 2021 TV show set in the Tang dynasty (618–907), has attracted almost 27 million views at the time of writing.

In 2021 alone, Chinese consumers spent over 400 billion yuan on cosmetics according to the National Bureau of Statistics, and China has become the second largest consumer market for cosmetics in the world. Li alone raked in 8 billion yuan in just one night on November 11 last year, during Alibaba’s annual “Singles’ Day” shopping festival.

Tempted to try your hand at selling some cosmetics? Anyone can set up accounts on Weibo, lifestyle app Xiaohongshu (or RED), or other social media platforms, and start sharing daily makeup looks, skincare tips, makeup techniques, and trendy cosmetic product insights, or even holler at viewers to click on the product purchase links embedded in posts or livestreaming sessions.

But before you rush to buy tripods or fancy spotlights, you might want to first get familiar with the lingo required to be successful in this highly competitive market.

Making your pitch

Skilled makeup influencers can transform their face into virtually anyone’s, winning them praise from followers: 一人就是半个娱乐圈 (yì rén jiùshì bàn gè yúlèquān, one person can stand in for half of the celebrity world). And even if you don’t yet have the makeup skills, you can at least talk the talk:

Today we’re creating a Liu Yifei look that even she herself would be amazed to see.

Jīntiān lái fùkè yíxià Liú Yìfēi fǎngzhuāng, běnrén kànle dōu shuō jué.

今天来复刻一下刘亦菲仿妆,本人看了都说绝。

But sometimes, rather than becoming a celebrity, viewers are more interested in learning to use makeup to create more personalized characters, or 氛围感 (fēnwéi gǎn, atmosphere):

Get ready for this viral, sophisticated rich girl look!

Shuābào quánwǎng de fùjiā qiānjīnzhuāng jiàochéng lái le! Guìqìgǎn mǎnfēn.

刷爆全网的富家千金妆教程来了!贵气感满分。

If you want to be simultaneously sultry and girl-next-door, learn this peachy makeup to get that young maiden vibe.

Xuéhuì zhè kuǎn chúnyù mìtáozhuāng, jiǎnlíng bìbèi, shàonǚgǎn bàopéng.

学会这款纯欲蜜桃妆,减龄必备,少女感爆棚。

If you talk yourself up too much, you might run the risk of failing to deliver—but that’s OK! You can save the day with a bit of self-deprecating humor:

That was a huge fail. I’m just demonstrating what not to do.

Shǐwúqiánlì de dàxíng fānchē xiànchǎng, gěi dàjiā páiléi le.

史无前例的大型翻车现场,给大家排雷了。

You understand it as soon as you watch, and fail as soon as you try.

Yí kàn jiù huì, yí zuò jiù fèi.

一看就会,一做就废。

Many makeup artists start simple, so as not to 劝退 (quàntuì, discourage) beginners. A look that anyone can achieve in 10 minutes before they rush off to work is a sure path to popularity:

Today I’m going to teach you a 10-minute everyday makeup look that’s easy for everyone, even the clumsy.

Jīntiān jiù jiāo nǐ yí gè shǒucándǎng yě néng qīngsōng gǎodìng de shí fēnzhōng chūménzhuāng.

今天就教你一个手残党也能轻松搞定的10分钟出门妆。

This contouring tutorial takes care of all your needs. If you still can’t do it, maybe I’ll have to mail you my hand, or you mail me your head?

Bǎomǔjí xiūróng jiàochéng, hái xuébuhuì dehuà, nǐ kànkaàn shì wǒ bǎ shǒu jì guòqù, háishì nǐ bǎ tóu jì guòlái?

保姆级修容教程,还学不会的话,你看看是我把手寄过去,还是你把头寄过来?

Raking in profits

To boost sales numbers through their online shops or embedded links, many influencers try their best to make viewers feel like if they don’t hit that “buy now” button, they’ll be missing out big time.

Skincare is a lucrative field. After all, everyone needs a little help discovering the next perfect product for their skin type. Here’s how a beauty blogger might advise you to add products to your shopping cart:

This facial cleanser takes care of sensitive skin, easy breezy.

Zhè kuǎn xǐmiànnǎi mǐngǎnjī yòng qǐlái zhēnde háowú yālì.

这款洗面奶敏感肌用起来真的毫无压力。

This liquid foundation cares for oily skin like a mother cares for her child.

Zhè kuǎn fěndǐyè zhēnde shì yóupí qīnmā.

这款粉底液真的是油皮亲妈。

This moisturizing mask is the one and only savior for your desert-like dry skin, keeping it calm as the seasons change. Buy it without a second thought!

Zuì hǎoyòng de shāmò dàgānpí huànjì wéiwěn de jiùxīng miànmó, méiyǒu zhī yī, bìyǎn rù jiù duì le.

最好用的沙漠大干皮换季维稳的救星面膜,没有之一,闭眼入就对了。

A must-have for acne-prone skin, this concealer makes your skin as fresh as a newborn baby’s.

Xiácīpí bìbèi de zhēxiáyè, dǎzào māshēngpí zhuānggǎn.

瑕疵皮必备的遮瑕液,打造妈生皮妆感。

Lost in lipstick color options like 烂番茄色 (lànfānqiésè, “rotten tomato color”), 豆沙色 (dòushāsè, “bean paste color,” or dusty rose), or even 死亡芭比粉 (sǐwáng bābǐfěn, “deadly Barbie pink”)? Beauty influencers can make your choice easier in just minutes:

Rotten tomato is the best shade to make your skin look fairer. A must-have for those with yellowish or dark skin.

Zhège lànfānqiésè zhēnde shì xiǎnbái lìqì, huánghēipí bìbèi.

这个烂番茄色真的是显白利器,黄黑皮必备。

This classic dusty rose doesn’t discriminate against skin tone, including olive-toned skin, and makes lips look sweet and charming.

Jīngdiǎn dòushāsè rìcháng bù tiāo pí, huángpí yě kěyǐ jiàyù, shàngzuǐ chāojí wēnróu de.

经典豆沙色日常不挑皮,黄皮也可以驾驭,上嘴超级温柔的。

And how about some love for your hair? Beauty bloggers always offer inspiration for a range of hairstyles—from strikingly modern to arrestingly cute—much sought after by stressed out young workers worried about their receding hairlines:

Compensate for your hair loss: This three-minute look will make your crown fluffy and luxurious.

Zhěngjiù fāliàng, sān fēnzhōng yōngyǒu péngsōng gāolúdǐng.

拯救发量,三分钟拥有蓬松高颅顶。

In the ecosystem of beauty influencing, to grow a liking for a product is called 种草 (zhòngcǎo, literally “planting grass”), to finally place the order is to 拔草 (bácǎo, “pull up the grass”), and when you 踩雷 (cǎiléi, “step on a mine”), you have fallen prey to bad products (and will hopefully learn from the experience). A seasoned influencer is always able to plant the right seeds in the right hearts.

I’ve got a hankering for this mascara. It’s dirt cheap—perfect for students.

Bèi zhè kuǎn shénxiān jiémáogāo zhǒngcǎo le, xuéshēngdǎng báicàijià.

被这款神仙睫毛膏种草了,学生党白菜价。

This super moisturizing liquid foundation does not crease or cake off. You’ll use it all up in no time!

Zhè kuǎn fěndǐyè chāojí shuǐrùn, bù qǐpí bù kǎfěn, jìnqī kōngpíng xuǎnzé.

这款粉底液超级水润,不起皮不卡粉,近期空瓶选择。

Products from highly coveted brands like Chanel, Dior, and La Mer have at least one thing in common: They hurt your wallet. But beauty influencers claim fans of luxury beauty products can find alternatives that work just as well—at least for those who are not obsessed with filling their social media with logos.

All five of these facial creams are inexpensive substitutes for luxury options. For less than 300 yuan, your face will stay just as moisturized as if you are using top-notch brands.

Zhè wǔ kuǎn miànshuāng kěyǐ shuō shì shénjí dàpái píngtì, suīrán zhǐyǒu liǎng sānbǎi kuài, dànshì bǎoshī xiàoguǒ wánquán bù shū dàpái.

这五款面霜可以说是神级大牌平替,虽然只有两三百块,但是保湿效果完全不输大牌。

Winning trust

While it may seem like influencing is a business that’s solely focused on revenue, more conscientious influencers do their best to look out for their impulsive beauty product buyers and try to steer them away from wasteful purchases:

Do your research before purchasing. Grow grass rationally.

Zuòhǎo gōngkè zài rùshǒu, lǐxìng zhòngcǎo jiù hǎo.

做好功课再入手,理性种草就好。

Although this product is popular online, I find it far from cost-effective. I don’t recommend it.

Suīrán wǎngshàng fēng hěn dà, dàn gǎnjué xìngjiàbǐ yǒudiǎn dī, bù jiànyì rùshǒu.

虽然网上风很大,但感觉性价比有点低,不建议入手。

But of course, there are still plenty of influencers out there who are driven purely by sales numbers and don’t hesitate to push their viewers to pull the trigger on buying an item they may not really need:

Divide the price by 365 days, and you’ll be looking at only a few yuan a day. It’s basically free!

Bǎ jiàgé chúyǐ sānbǎi liùshíwǔ tiān, yì tiān cái jǐ kuài qián, sìshě wǔrù jiùshì bú yào qián!

把价格除以365天,一天才几块钱,四舍五入就是不要钱!


Pretty Talks: Talk Like a Chinese Beauty Influencer is a story from our issue, “Public Affairs.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine.

SHARE:

author Yang Tingting (杨婷婷)

Yang Tingting is a Chinese editor at The World of Chinese. Interested in telling Chinese stories, she writes mainly about culture, language, and society.