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Beijing Beauty

November 2015

By Ami Li, Beijing

Innisfree

Korean beauty brand Innisfree is a common sight in Beijing malls, and they’ve made the products of Asia’s cult skincare routine accessible without a flight to Seoul.  Made with a panoply of all-natural ingredients from Korea’s Jeju Island, the brand brings together universal concerns about beauty and anti-aging with contemporary focus on natural ingredients, responsible business practices, and new directions in skincare regimens.

Growing up in the U.S., I was used to using cosmetics and skincare products that were formulated for Western skin types.  It took a couple of years in living in Beijing before a foreign friend of mine mentioned that Innisfree made the best sunscreen she’d tried yet—not too greasy, didn’t make her break out, and most importantly, did not contain any skin-whitening formulas.  From there, I discovered the rest of their skincare line, including moisturizers (I swear by the orchid enriched cream), face wash, and various masks.  I don’t wear makeup frequently, but always keep some Innisfree BB cream, mineral concealer, and all-natural lipsticks around.  After years of poorly matched shades from Western cosmetics manufacturers, it’s wonderfully refreshing to walk into one of their well-appointed boutiques and walk out with products that actually suit my coloring.

 

Lululemon

Global yoga and lifestyle apparel brand Lululemon needs no introduction, but their new Beijing showroom (opened October 2015) brings Luon fabric, sun salutations, and aggressive optimism to a new population of health- and exercise-conscious Beijingers. 

I’ve been practicing yoga for years, and Lululemon has always been a part of my exercise wardrobe.  But with limited options and prohibitive international shipping costs, I haven’t had the chance to update said wardrobe since leaving North America.  The opening of the showroom is not just a boon to retail, however.  Leading up to the launch, Lululemon led a series of free community yoga classes and ran a training series for the Beijing Marathon.  Yoga in Beijing has reached a saturation point much like in the rest of the world, and even though Lululemon is a global brand, they approached the Beijing launch with care and humility, using leading local yoga teachers to lead the classes and tailoring the launch around another city-wide sporting event—the Marathon.

 

Xiaomi

Founded in 2010 by eight partners and headed up by Lei Jun (now one of China’s richest men), Xiaomi is now the world’s fourth-largest smartphone maker.  In addition to phones and tablets, Xiaomi has made their name by manufacturing all manner of consumer electronics, from external batteries and fitness bands to air filters (a necessity in many parts of Mainland China). 

Since the phones’ debut in 2011, I’ve seen more and more Apple and Android users make the switch over to Xiaomi products.  One major factor is price—while Apple products in particular retail at a premium in both Mainland China and Hong Kong, Xiaomi sells phones almost at cost, with smartphones starting from ¥549 (approximately US$88).  All of this comes without sacrifice in quality or durability.  Xiaomi phones use the Android operating system, and are manufactured in the same factories that make other brand-name devices.

The phones get the lion’s share of attention by international tech press, but it’s Xiaomi’s other lifestyle electronic products that make them a household name.  Compared with other brands of air filter (which retail from US$2,000 and up) the Xiaomi filter sells for ¥899 (US$145).  Instead of picking and choosing which rooms need cleaner air (or moving it around) I can be assured of better air all over my apartment.  Unlike a Fitbit or Jawbone, both of which are marked up for China sales, the Mi Band fitness monitor and sleep tracker is only US$13 and one of the few Xiaomi products that are sold through third-party online retailers such as JD.com as well as the company’s own e-commerce channels.

 

Beauty & Cosmetics
Health & Fitness
Consumer Electronics
Beijing
Innisfree: Skincare products that actually suit my coloring
lululemon: Brings Luon fabric & optimism to a new population
Mi Band: Fitness monitor and sleep tracker is only US$13

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