Qingxian county's makeup brush business facing bright future | investinchina.chinadaily.com.cn

Qingxian county's makeup brush business facing bright future

By ZHANG YU in Shijiazhuang China Daily Updated: 2023-03-21
A brushmaker takes care of the bristles of a makeup brush at a factory in Qingxian county, Hebei province, on March 7. [YIN XIANGPING/FOR CHINA DAILY]

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Hu Na sat in front of her workbench and did a livestreaming demonstration on e-commerce platform Taobao on how to create a makeup brush.

She first weighed out an amount of wool, used a comb on it and carefully placed it into a small, jar-like mold.

Then she tamped the wool down in the jar on her workbench dozens of times, so that the wool became more solid and even.

"The brush will meet quality standards only when its bristles are full and symmetrical," said the 38-year-old skilled worker in Cangzhou's Qingxian county, Hebei province.

There are over 16,000 workers like Hu involved in producing makeup brushes in Qingxian, which is about 170 kilometers southeast of downtown Beijing.

Each year, the workers can produce more than half of the makeup brushes sold in the country, local officials said.

Last year, revenue produced by the county's makeup brush industry reached 1.9 billion yuan ($275.8 million), about 8.5 percent of which was export earnings.

The county has developed into one of the nation's biggest producers of makeup brushes. There are 253 brush manufacturers, among which 16 are built with foreign investment, and more than 1,000 factories make related and supporting materials.

"We have such a large market share because we have more than two decades of history in making makeup brushes," said Kang Shaoxing, president of the Qingxian Makeup Brush Industry Association.

Hu, the brushmaker, has done the job for 14 years, becoming more experienced and skilled at dunguan, a Chinese word meaning "tamping jar".

"It's the most demanding and difficult step in the process of creating makeup brushes," Hu said, adding that it normally takes years of practice to master the skill.

"If the step is done well, the brush will be more precise and comfortable for customers to use and can greatly enhance fine results when applying makeup," she said. "I now have a great sense of accomplishment with my dunguan skill."

Workers make makeup brush products at a factory in Qingxian county, which has developed into one of the nation's biggest makeup brush producers, on March 7. [YIN XIANGPING/FOR CHINA DAILY]

The makeup brush industry in Qingxian started in the 1990s, when manufacturers from South Korea visited to invest in the county, Kang said. Their motivations were multiple, including convenient transportation, the county's complete wool processing industry, low labor costs and favorable government policies.

"The industry in Qingxian covers a whole industrial chain, including raw material processing, packaging and sales," he said.

The county's biggest competitive advantage lies in its history of producing makeup brushes for well-known international brands, which gave local companies and their workers a wealth of experience, Kang said.

Companies in Qingxian produced mainly for large brands in the very beginning and then started to create their own brands several years later, he said.

When Qingxian Xingyuan Makeup Brush Factory was founded in 2006, its main business was to make products for over 150 well-known brands at home and abroad, said Xing Ran, deputy general manager of the factory. They included Chanel, Bobbi Brown, MAC and Maybelline.

"After production is complete and in line with the brands' quality standards, the brushes are sent to big cities in the country and overseas for sale," Xing said.

In 2011, the company created and registered its own brand, Energy, with over 500 different kinds of products. It has grown into a very popular brand in domestic and overseas markets.

"The experience of making products for the big brands has given us the ability to make high-quality brushes as well as strength in research," Xing said.

Domestic demand for makeup brushes is growing steadily, which is prompting companies to focus on their own brands.

"We are more familiar with Chinese people's needs," Xing said.

The county has registered more than 500 local brands with almost 200 patents in makeup brush innovation and design.

Drawing from years of experience and strong capability in innovation, Qingxian has been able to target its products at middle and high-end markets, Kang said.

"While strengthening our R&D efforts, we are establishing close contacts with makeup bloggers and makeup artists so we can constantly improve product quality based on consumer preferences," he said.