Face masks unable to dampen the power of false eyelashes amid COVID-19
Published: Nov 19, 2020 07:27 PM
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, face masks have become a necessary everyday protective measure. However, this has lessened some people's enthusiasm to wear makeup considered half their face will be covered up. One the other hand, this has made the remaining real estate on one's face even more important. This has been a great boon for lovers of false eyelashes, as the eyes, the only part showing out of face masks, have become the cornerstone of beauty. 

A worker produces false eyelashes in a factory in Pingdu, East China's Shandong Province, on Monday. More than 800 factories in the town supply about 70 percent of the world's false eyelashes. Photos: Li Hao/GT

The increase in importance of false eyelashes can be seen in the increase in production at a factory in the small town of Pingdu, East China's Shandong Province. Chen Chunjie is the manager of the factory, which along with more than 800 other manufacturers in the town forms a false eyelash empire that meets the needs of about 70 percent of people around the world.

During an interview with the Global Times on Monday, Chen was constantly interrupted has he had to take calls and answer messages from clients and partners to the point that even five minutes wouldn't go by before the next call came. 

Speaking about the impact the pandemic has had, Chen said that he hasn't noticed any strong negative impact. The demand for false eyelashes has remained solid and e-commerce platforms and livestreaming have provided good alternative sales platforms to traditional retail channels. 

Chen's products are not only sold in China, but also in overseas markets. After observing overseas orders over a long period of time, Chen began noticing how preferences varied from country to country.

"Russian consumers love eyelash extensions the best. There are more orders for eyelash extensions from Russia than any other country," Chen said.

Consumers from the Middle East prefer thicker and longer eyelashes. 

"I think it's because they cover their face so that only the eyes are uncovered, so they want to make their eyes seem bigger and more impressive," Chen noted.

Compared with these more exaggerated styles, buyers in Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and Thailand mostly choose more natural-looking eyelashes that could pass as their own. 

On major Chinese e-commerce platform Tmall, the most searched keyword for false eyelashes is "natural."

Chen has signed cooperation agreements with overseas e-commerce platforms such as Ebay and Amazon. Through these platforms, he is able to get consumer feedback about his products and customer preferences. 

Yuan Feifei works at an international trade corporation in Pingdu that sells false eyelashes. She said she could see the impact of the pandemic spreading around the world reflected in the change in orders coming in from overseas.

Her company began to receive orders for Christmas-related eye lashes starting in September 2019. These limited holiday products tend to be more colorful and exaggerated to make them suitable for parties held during the season.

In 2020, however, "We have only received a few Christmas orders. I think because the pandemic does not allow people to gather together. One of our clients in Florida told us her [cosmetics] shop had to be closed down."

Even though the global pandemic has impacted Yuan's overseas business, she is still able to derive some satisfaction from her work.

"After buying our false eyelashes, a UK woman around 50 years old wrote a comment online saying that she was very happy since they made her appear 10 years younger."
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