Chinese makeup brush goes global

Luyi, a rural county with a population of more than 1 million, has developed a goat-tail hair processing industry since 1978 ...

Workers produce makeup brushes in Luyi County, central China's Henan Province.

For the first time, Liang Zhiguo, a migrant worker, no longer needs to struggle to get a ticket home for Chinese Lunar New Year.

The 24-year-old made makeup brushes at a plant in Shenzhen for four years before returning to his hometown Luyi County, central China's Henan Province, a year ago, together with his boss Xie Shaofeng.

"The monthly salary is 3,000 yuan (US$476) back at home, 1,000 yuan less than in Shenzhen, but I can take care of my parents," Liang said.

They produce OEM makeup brushes for international brands, including Procter & Gamble, L'Oreal, Chanel, Mary Kay and Estee Lauder.

"Labor costs are much lower here and Luyi has a complete industry chain for makeup brushes," said Xie, who started his business in Shenzhen in the 1990s.

Luyi, a rural county with a population of more than 1 million, has developed a goat-tail hair processing industry since 1978 when China began opening-up. But it mainly provided raw materials for cosmetics companies in coastal areas.

Things began to change in 2015 when Liang Qingzhi, a makeup brush tycoon decided to transfer his business from Shenzhen to his hometown in Luyi.


The makeup brushes produced in Luyi.

Liang, 64, was a pioneer in bringing the tail hair processing business to Shenzhen in early 1990s. He, together with dozens of peers from Luyi, made a fortune due to Shenzhen's position as China's top export center.

"The makeup brushes serve women who are more willing to spend. It is a promising business," said Xie Shaofeng, who followed Liang to move his plant back to Luyi.

So far some 100 makeup-brush-related companies have settled in Luyi and form a complete industry chain that includes manufacturing of tail hair, tubes, aluminum skin, wooden handles and bags.

About 65,000 people, many of whom are rural women, engage in the those businesses with an annual production value of 3.5 billion yuan.

"We moved the production to Luyi and keep an office in Shenzhen to handle international orders," Liang said.

The county government is not content with being just an OEM base and is committed to building its own brand. It has established the first ever local standard in the country for makeup brushes, including technical requirements, test methods and regulations, packaging, transportation and storage, according to Zhang Zhengxiao, a county government official.

"Once we have our own brand, the market will be enormous," Liang said.


A woman works on a makeup brush in Luyi.

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