Stylists thrive as nightlife booms

China's rising nighttime economy offers some help – many aspiring beauty stylists are waiting to give people the "Cinderella" treatment. 

For those wishing to be social butterflies rocking the dance floor or making a video on TikTok, China’s rising nighttime economy offers some help — many aspiring beauty stylists are waiting to give people the “Cinderella” treatment.

In Changsha, a central Chinese city known for its vibrant nightlife, beauty styling for night-goers is a niche yet booming business luring many young makeup artists to work nights.

At 9pm, before the midnight club-going peak, dozens of makeup shops are already buzzing on a discreet alley behind Jiefang West Road, a major destination for the city’s night owls. In Meimiao Studio, 19-year-old Luo Jiabing is applying makeup and styling the eyebrows of one customer.

The 40-square-meter shop receives 50 to 70 customers from 5pm to 11pm every day. A half-hour service can cost between 35 yuan (US$5) and 100 yuan.

“Night makeup’ is usually heavier to suit the dim lighting in the night clubs,” he said. “Most of our clients are women but influenced by male beauty bloggers on TikTok, more men are now seeking our professional services.”

Zhu Dejun, an official of Tianxin District, which includes Jiefang West Road, said there are about 100 makeup studios around the road, which employ more than 500 people.

Ma Zeping, manager of U+nail, explained how booming night activities have supported a large number of studios.

“People come for our makeup services before going to a bar, on a date or even before taking photos for their social media,” said Ma, whose customers range from white-collar workers to corporate executives.

“Some clients even come with pictures of celebrities from the Internet and ask us to mimic the makeup,” she said.

In August, the State Council of China issued a guideline with 20 measures to boost consumption, including supporting the nighttime economy, which refers to business activities in the services sector between 6pm and 6am.

Consumption is playing an increasingly important role in China’s economy, contributing more than 60 percent to GDP growth in the first half of the year. Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, is leading the national trend.

Zhu Yuanhong, deputy Party secretary of Tianxin District, said developing the nighttime economy is an inevitable choice for Chinese cities, citing a booming nightlife in cities such as New York and Paris.

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