HONG KONG: Males born after 1990 have become almost as important to the growth of cosmetics in China as their female peers, analysts have uncovered.

This is according to analysts from Cinda Securities who suggested that China may be entering the “male beauty era,” the South China Morning Post reported.

With the advancement of cultural and societal norms as China’s economy has grown, attitudes towards men taking care of their skin appear to have softened.

Tao Yi Xue, a consumer analyst at Cinda Securities, explained that males between the ages of 18 to 26 are responsible for the current growth in the market, in part thanks to continuously growing disposable incomes in top-tier cities specifically.

Cinda’s research added that men tend to focus on treatments for acne, sun creams and oil control products. Men’s favourite brands are L’Oréal Paris, Nivea and Clinique.

“Maintaining high levels of self-hygiene and improving attractiveness are always the two major focuses for men.” said Tao.

In tandem, it seems, the spending gap between women and men fell last year, from 26.6 yuan to 13.7 yuan. The market is considerable. According to the country’s national bureau of statistics cosmetic retail sales were worth 222.2bn yuan in 2016, posting 8.3% growth, far above the 6.7% growth in the Chinese economy overall.

According to Euromonitor, average annual growth for male cosmetics will be 13.5% by 2019. Globally, the male cosmetics sector is expected to grow just 5.8%, in comparison.

Yet the Post pointed out that this is not necessarily a new phenomenon in China. As far back as the Han dynasty, around 200 AD, men in powerful public positions would wear on their necks a white foundation made of mashed rice and oil.

Data sourced from South China Morning Post, Financial Times, Euromonitor; additional content by WARC staff.