An enclosed booth fitted with a see-through door and stocked with high-end makeup products was placed in a mall in Wuhan last year. Not long after, a local newspaper published a story on shared makeup’s arrival and national public discussion quickly ensued. Further media headlines asked questions like “would you really dare to use them?”, which seemed a fair query.
The booth in question, a “shareable makeup space”, is one of many that opened in major Chinese cities last year, but the first to spark nationwide interest in the service. Placed mostly in malls, the concept of the service is to give young, urban women an alternative to using public restrooms for on-the-go touch-ups and the option of doing so with high-end brands like Dior and Nars to boot.
Using the space is just like using anything else in the Chinese shared economy: scan the QR code and access is granted. Sessions cost anywhere from 28RMB (15 minute session) to 50RMB (25 minute session). Sweet deal, right?
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The only thing is that for many of the spaces the makeup on hand, while high quality, is also being used by everyone else who visits the station — avoid the lipstick I guess? While not as disturbingly unhygienic as some other shared service ideas, it makes sense many would still elect to use that potentially dirtier but not quite as risky public bathroom mirror for a quick makeup sesh.
Not all shareable makeup companies neglect the concern for hygiene, though. Many of the makeup products at 17Beauty, for instance, are disposable or stored in containers that are supposed to be more sanitary, like squeezable tubes. Han Shuqi, the post-1995 born founder of the company who took a year off from USC to pursue the idea, did admit in an interview that some people will double dip disposable brushes into shared make-up containers though.
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For those who’ve been following China’s shared service industry over the years and the variously creative and bizarre ideas that have emerged from it, this latest iteration might be met with little shock. The shareable makeup spaces might find ways to further improve the hygiene issue, but we ask again as the headline above did: do you dare?
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