According to Euromonitor, the Chinese skincare sector was worth GBP3.3bn in 2007, while cosmetic surgery raked in an estimated GBP1.5bn last year and is thought to be growing at around 20% a year.
Now women have added a new weapon to their armoury of facelifts and Botox injections: collagen. Department stores in Shanghai and Beijing display advertising slogans with promises such as: “Take a collagen drink for 30 days and have skin as soft as a baby’s.”
Cosmetics firm DHC China uses fish collagen in its drinks, but promises that they do not smell fishy. Sure enough, the pale yellow juice-like drink tastes a little sweet, a little sour, but certainly not of seafood.
“Sip it every night before sleep and you will see a clear improvement in skin texture after just 10 days,” says a spokeswoman for DHC China. “And if you want to maintain good skin condition, you should not stop drinking it.”
Clearly women are taking that advice - sales of collagen-enriched drinks, powders and tablets are growing rapidly - and it’s not a cheap investment. A month’s course comes to around 900 yuan - more than half the average urban disposable income.
Cao Lingzhi, a 22-year-old enthusiast, says her skin is “super smooth” after a six-month course, while 30-year-old Tian Jing thinks her pores are less visible after two years. “My skin is better than before. But I am not sure whether it is because of collagen or because now I sleep more than I used to,” she admits.
Beauty expert, Meenakshi Dutt says, “Collagen is produced in our body till we are 30 years old after that the production reduced and ultimately it is stopped. That is the reason why the newborn baby’s skin is the softest while as people grow old wrinkles and shrunken skin develop.
Guardian with inputs from HTC