Michelle Phan’s Beijing Beauty Diary
Vlogging sensation Michelle Phan (YouTube handle RiceBunny) is a bona fide hit in the U.S. The Lancôme-sponsored online makeup guru took home the Newcomer of the Year prize at this year’s WWD Beauty Biz awards, and her Lady Gaga “Bad Romance” tutorial has garnered over 17 millions views. Perhaps more impressive, however, is that in China, where YouTube is often blocked (as are Facebook and Twitter—the horror!), the same video has managed to find its way onto Tudou.com—a comparative YouTube site that encourages individual uploads—and has already accumulated over 65,000 page views. Recognizing Phan’s appeal, Lancôme’s China team invited the 23-year-old face painter to Beijing for the launch of its new Teint Miracle foundation and to meet a handful of the country’s tastemaking bloggers. Here, Phan shares her Beijing beauty diary with Style.com:
Ni hao, Style.com! I just got back from Beijing—such a beautiful city rich with history. It’s very modern, yet it retains its culture, which gives it a hint of mystery. I loved every minute of it—the people, the food, the fashion, and, of course, the beauty.
The Beijinese approach to makeup is very different from the approach in the United States. First off, the women there wear much less makeup. If anything, they like a sweet, clean, and simple look. Bold lipstick is not on fire the way it is in the U.S.; I saw one woman wearing red lipstick, but didn’t notice any lip products on anyone else I met. What I did notice, though, was a lot of nail art. Women may not be as experimental with color on their faces, but I saw a lot of red fingernails and a lot of decorated gel manicures. Red, by the way, means happiness in China. Every detail and color has meaning.
Eyeliner is also very big, especially liquid liner, and so are false lashes and lash extensions. I met one Lancôme executive with mink lash extensions that were just gorgeous. Also, I can’t believe how many people wear circle lenses—those contact lenses that change the color and shape of your iris and give you a more doll-like, girlish appearance. The trend is in full force over there. Even men are wearing them!
Makeup artistry may not have taken hold just yet over there (it’s coming), but skincare is a completely different story. I quizzed everyone I met about their skincare routine and you wouldn’t believe the regimens. The minimalists use about eight products: cleanser, toner, serum, “essence,” moisturizer, eye serum, eye cream, and UV (their term for sunscreen). The maximalists use even more. This isn’t too different from what I do, but it would shock most people back home. Both men and women have routines like this. The essence (I’m still not clear on what that is exactly!) and the moisturizer usually have something to do with whitening, another beauty obsession there. Every major beauty brand offers a whitening skincare line. Everyone repeats his or her elaborate routine at night, dropping the UV and swapping moisturizer for night cream. Sometimes they’ll use a face mask or an eye mask first. If you love those cloth masks that moisturize, tone, brighten, etc., you’d be in heaven in Beijing. There are so many different kinds available.
Photo: Courtesy of Lancome