Golden Opportunities at the CIIE: A Surge of Beauty Tech Innovations

On November 5, 2023, the 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE) officially kick off at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), China. With the theme “New Era, Shared Future” the CIIE is the world’s first national-level exhibition focused on imports. Major industry-leading companies from around the world consider the CIIE as an excellent opportunity to showcase their latest achievements in China, and the beauty industry is no exception. At this year’s CIIE, global beauty giants such as L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, Shiseido, Procter & Gamble, and Coty have all appeared. What are the latest products and trends in the beauty industry that we can expect to see at this event?

Technology is the primary productive force

The theme of this year’s CIIE is “New Era, Shared Future”. In the future, regardless of the industry, technology will become the primary driving force for business development. At this event, major beauty conglomerates have showcased new technological achievements, providing consumers with more advanced and satisfying experiences.

As the world’s largest beauty conglomerate, L’Oréal has always been a trendsetter in the global beauty industry. At this CIIE, L’Oréal is focusing on the new exhibition theme of “Beauty for All, Beauty for Each,” showcasing the latest brands, technologies, products, and investments, aiming to create unparalleled beauty for everyone and unique beauty for each individual.

In terms of technological achievements, L’Oréal has unveiled 17 beauty technology innovations at this CIIE, the highest number in its history, with 4 of them making their debut in Asia.

One highlighted innovation is the K-SCAN AI Smart Hair Analyzer by Kérastase. It is an intelligent diagnostic tool that uses multiple light sources to analyze hair and scalp conditions. Driven by artificial intelligence, it enables stylists to gain in-depth insights into consumers’ hair density, diameter, dandruff, and scalp health, providing personalized product recommendations for salon treatments. The technology also allows for the visualization of the effectiveness of these treatments.

The Armani Beauty Meta ProfilerTM Skin Microscope is a high-precision, compact skin diagnostic device developed through a collaboration between L’Oréal’s Research and Innovation Center and two French startups, Newtone and TXCube. With three skin detail capture modes, it can deeply analyze up to 45 skin issues, surpassing the human eye’s observation capability by 10 times.

The Shu Uemura 3D shu: brow Intelligent Beauty Device is the first smart handheld eyebrow makeup tool, featuring Shu Uemura’s signature professional eyebrow effects. It can effortlessly create personalized eyebrow designs based on the user’s natural brows and facial features within seconds. This beauty technology is also one of the latest achievements in L’Oréal’s Open Innovation ecosystem in North Asia, co-created with a South Korean startup.

The L’Oréal HAPTA Ultra-Precise Smart Makeup Device is the world’s first handheld ultra-precise smart makeup applicator designed for consumers with limited arm mobility. The device incorporates an integrated smart motion control system and uses customized magnetic attachments to secure lipstick, allowing users with a restricted range of motion to achieve 360-degree rotation and 180-degree bending for assisted makeup application.

As early as 2018, L’Oréal set the strategic goal of becoming a global “beauty tech company.” At this CIIE, L’Oréal’s technological achievements focus on beauty tools, showcasing their commitment to providing consumers with a complete and immersive experience throughout the entire makeup process.

Under the theme “LifeLab: Unleashing the Beauty of Life,” this CIIE brings together 70 exhibits from over 20 brands across 9 categories, featuring more than 20 new products and significant green innovation breakthroughs. In addition to L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble (P&G) also presents its latest technological innovation in green packaging: the “Versafill Memory Honeycomb.”

In contrast to L’Oréal and P&G, Kao Corporation highlights its technological achievements in digitization at this CIIE. With cutting-edge technologies that can transform lives, Kao’s booth offers extraordinary digital smart experiences, igniting people’s boundless aspirations for a “beautiful future.”

Firstly, their intelligent application, Kao Life+, serves as a core highlight of Kao’s booth at this event. Launched in October 2023, Kao’s first mini-program intelligent application in China, “Kao Life+,” engages in imaginative interactions with visitors on-site. Fueled by the rapid advancement of smartphone technology and the dual impact of consumer differentiation and personalization demands, Kao Life+ was born with the research and innovation goal of “creating a better life through intelligent innovation.”

Moreover, in the “AR Costume Change – Real-time Makeup” mini-program, Kao collaborates with their popular haircare brand, Liese, and the renowned makeup brand, KATE, under the umbrella of Kao’s subsidiary, Kanebo. They create multiple inspired makeup themes with futuristic and trendy national styles using Liese’s trend color cards. By capturing data such as skin tone, skin brightness, and facial features and combining principles of color psychology, complementary colors, and visual illusions, the program assists participants in finding personalized hair colors and makeup styles that suit them.

Additionally, Kosé incorporates quantum computing into the beauty industry by developing a system for automatically generating cosmetic formulas using quantum computers. By leveraging a hybrid algorithm combining quantum computing and traditional computing, the system achieves rapid and practical calculations. One product developed using this formula generation system is an exceptional makeup remover oil with a superior ability to remove blackheads.

Technology is becoming an increasingly indispensable driving force for growth in the beauty industry.

What are the new product launches?

In addition to the new beauty technology achievements, various products and brands from major global beauty conglomerates made a significant appearance at this CIIE. These new products can be seen as the embodiment of the latest research and development achievements.

Aesop, recently acquired by L’Oréal, made its debut at the CIIE. Aesop showcased over 20 consumer-favorite products, including facial skincare, body care, hand care, and perfumes, demonstrating Aesop’s skincare philosophy and rigorous scientific formulations.

Furthermore, several brands under L’Oréal also had their global premieres.

La Roche-Posay presented its latest breakthrough anti-aging technology, combining 48 years of skin science expertise with 30 years of cutting-edge anti-aging technology from L’Oréal Group. The new products from La Roche-Posay’s Regenerist range were showcased at the CIIE, offering a multidimensional approach to anti-aging. Additionally, Lancôme, Shu Uemura, and Sisley introduced their debut products, bringing together global beauty trends at the CIIE.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) showcased two intelligent products. First is the China debut of the Oral-B iO3 Smart Clean Sonic Toothbrush. The iO series electric toothbrushes utilize magnetic wave technology, delivering 3 times more brushing motion compared to traditional sonic technology. The iO series is equipped with a sensor chip and gentle pressure control system, enabling precise control of brushing intensity for a gentler experience than manual brushing. Notably, the iO3 model comes with a gentle gum care brush head and a sensitive gum care mode tailored specifically for Chinese consumers, providing a milder brushing sensation.

P&G also presented the Braun Series 9 Ultimate Shaver with an integrated smart cleaning center at the CIIE. After each shave, users can simply press a button to initiate automatic cleaning, disinfection, and drying. The product is accompanied by a travel case with wireless charging capability, eliminating the hassle of carrying charging cables and docks when traveling.

Lastly, Procter & Gamble (P&G) showcased the new product line of its haircare brand Head & Shoulders at the CIIE. The new “Simplicity” series of anti-dandruff shampoo was unveiled for the first time in China. It features a simplified formula with only 9 selected ingredients and is free from 9 common additives, providing gentle anti-dandruff care for the scalp. The shampoo bottle packaging reduces plastic usage by 35% and can be rolled up to fully utilize the product, minimizing waste. Additionally, the remaining empty bottles and packaging boxes are recyclable.

OLAY, as the first brand to apply peptides from the pharmaceutical industry to the cosmetics industry, launched a new product called Signal Cream. It scientifically proves the anti-aging effects of “signal peptides” that stimulate collagen growth.

Shiseido showcased over 40 new products, 3 beauty skincare technologies, and 3 sustainable innovation initiatives at the CIIE. This includes the innovative “Shiseido Day and Night Water Glow Bounce” product, a spreadable water-glow formula, and the global premiere of the Anessa Nighttime After Sun Repair Essence, which utilizes replaceable jelly-core packaging technology, presented as the 9th generation Red Honey Lotion.

Unilever, participating in the CIIE for the sixth consecutive year, exhibited over 100 new products from more than 10 brands, including the Vaseline Pro Derma Essence series and the LUX Luminescent Hair Care series. They also showcased AHC’s “Triple Defense” Essence Toner, LUX’s “Radiance” Shampoo and Conditioner series, TUNEMAKERS’ “Black Label” Anti-Aging series, and more. In addition to skincare products, Unilever also presented nutritional supplement brands OLLY, SmartyPants, and Nutrafol, a brand focused on oral nutritional solutions for hair health, which made its first appearance at the CIIE and has already entered the Chinese market through cross-border e-commerce.

Amorepacific Group showcased its six flagship brands, including Sulwhasoo, Laneige, Innisfree, and Iope. The highlights included Sulwhasoo’s Moon Jar anti-aging series, Laneige’s Collagen Peptide Firming Sleeping Mask (Night Purple Cat Mask) for overnight repair and Innisfree’s Jeju Orchid Enriched Essence Water for sensitive skin. The Collagen Peptide Green Tea Ceramide Plump Cream and Jeju Volcanic Blackhead Control Oil-Free Gel Cream from Innisfree made their debut in China.

Coty Group launched the new high-end fragrance brand INFINIMENT COTY PARIS, applying the concept of scent molecularism. The collection consists of 14 fragrances, each with a unique story. It is Coty Group’s most promising and high-end fragrance collection to date.

Moreover, Swiss high-end beauty device brand GEMO showcased its luxurious beauty devices, G20 and G10. GEMO beauty devices utilize RF-ICE (Radio Frequency-Ice) technology, which allows the surface temperature to be lower than the temperature deep within the skin, achieving a cooling effect on the outside and heat on the inside, providing consumers with a better experience.

The introduction of these new beauty products reflects the significant advancements in technology and research. Beauty conglomerates apply their distinctive technological achievements to their products, offering consumers a more profound and immersive experience.

sustainable development will become a future trend

Sustainability has been one of the hottest topics in the beauty industry in recent years.

At the CIIE, L’Oréal, as a global beauty trendsetter, not only showcased a range of technological products but also presented sustainable development as one of its five key concepts.

In terms of ingredients, L’Oréal adheres to the basic principle of protecting biodiversity. The group uses approximately 1,600 raw materials sourced from nearly 350 plants, practicing responsible sourcing methods to protect the ecological environment and ensure its sustainable development. As of 2022, 61% of the raw materials used in L’Oréal’s formulations are from renewable resources, abundant minerals, or circular processes.

In terms of research and development, L’Oréal respects the scientifically recognized “Planetary Boundaries” and aims to achieve its 2030 “L’Oréal for the Future” sustainable development goals. Green science helps protect natural resources and biodiversity, and L’Oréal’s global ecological design approach supports this while providing consumers with safe and efficient products.

In terms of packaging, L’Oréal follows the eco-friendly 3R principle. Reduce: optimizing packaging structures and offering replaceable packaging to minimize material usage. Replace: using materials with a smaller environmental impact. Recycle: ensuring packaging is recyclable within existing channels.

As a global beauty leader, L’Oréal has already begun implementing sustainable development at various stages of its production process.

Additionally, Procter & Gamble (P&G) aims to achieve its “Ambition 2030” mission, envisioning that 80% of its products will no longer require secondary packaging from factory to consumer. P&G continuously develops and promotes product designs and green e-commerce packaging that meet the requirements of the e-commerce environment.

During the CIIE, Procter & Gamble (P&G) also showcased its latest technological achievement in green packaging, called “Versafill Memory Honeycomb.” In previous CIIE events, various green innovative e-commerce packaging solutions such as “Small Green Treasure,” “Big Green Treasure,” and “Air Capsule™” have been introduced to Chinese consumers. In 2022, P&G developed the China Ecom Test (CET) standard, a product packaging testing method based on the actual Chinese e-commerce delivery environment. This method guides the design of packaging to reduce the need for secondary protection and enhance the e-commerce consumer experience.

Amorepacific Group presented its vision called “2030 A MORE Beautiful Promise.” It aims to incorporate environmental and social-friendly attributes in 100% of its new products and engage in brand activities that promote sustainable lifestyles for customers. Additionally, the company is committed to achieving carbon neutrality in its global production sites, achieving zero landfill waste, reducing plastic usage in product packaging, and ensuring that 100% of plastic packaging materials are recyclable, reusable, or compostable. Amorepacific also pledged to invest 10 billion Korean won in biodiversity conservation and aims to use over 90% of sustainably sourced palm oil certified by the RSPO by 2023.

Similarly to L’Oréal, Unilever has also embraced the concept of sustainable development. The company has set a goal to achieve net-zero emissions from raw material sourcing to sales by 2023, as well as reduce its use of virgin plastic by 50% by 2025. Unilever aims to make all its plastic packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable.

In these visions of sustainable development presented by these beauty industry giants, technology plays an increasingly significant role. Whether it’s in research and development, packaging, or recycling, continuous technological advancements are essential to ensure true sustainability. Technology has become one of the most important driving forces in the development of the beauty industry.

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