Skip to navigationSkip to content

If you want to sell skincare to rich Chinese, make moisturisers out of ginseng…or parasitic fungus

AP Photo/Nathan Martin
Cordyceps,a parasitic fungus L’Oreal mixes into beauty creams sold in China.
By Naomi Rovnick
ChinaPublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

L’Oreal is doing fantastically well at selling high-end skincare in China, Bloomberg reports, because it has struck on the idea of filling its lotions and potions with traditional Chinese ingredients.

These include, Bloomberg says, custom made pots of moisturizer “with ginseng, cordyceps [a parasitic fungus that grows on insects’ bodies] and white fungus.”

For while Westerners tend to prefer anti-aging potions that contain rosewater or vitamin C extract, Chinese consumers like a much wider range of animals and plants in their beauty creams. Their chemists sell face products (Chinese) containing bee or wasp venom, fish collagen and powdered reishi mushroom, all of which are thought to have anti-aging properties.

And the reason the Chinese are none too squeamish about fish- or fungus-based moisturizers is that traditional Chinese medicine involves remedies made from ingredients that are much earthier. For instance, Chinese medicine shops often sell deer antlers (believed to improve muscle strength), ox penis (said to improve male virility), centipede (for the liver) and dead snakes (thought to improve immunity).

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.