China's top beauty influencer Li Jiaqi: No makeup when I am offline
Updated 10:54, 21-Jan-2020
By Li Zhao, Huang Yichang

Li Jiaqi knows how to command a crowd – and he does it with ease and grace. Sitting in front of a camera, he makes a living from selling beauty products during live streams, convincing tens of millions of potential customers to snatch anything from lipsticks to liquid foundation. He's the face of a new crop of salespeople who leverage the power of social media in tech-obsessed China.

According to Alibaba data, Li's online broadcasts raked in over 1 billion yuan (142 million U.S. dollars) in sales on the shopping platforms of the Chinese tech titan in the month ahead of Singles' Day, China's annual shopping extravaganza.

Li's road to success got off to a rocky start. The 28-year-old didn't make major sales in the first three years on the job, and faced cyberbullying because of the industry he's chosen to be in.

"There were people questioning why a guy was testing out makeup products, yet it was those hateful comments that made me stronger," Li told CGTN.

However, in 2018, things began to turn around as sales boomed.

Graphic designed by CGTN's Li Xiaojie

Graphic designed by CGTN's Li Xiaojie

The "Lipstick King" knows his clientele. By studying their feedback, he has mastered his unique way of promoting different products.

"Let's take lipsticks for example. I would examine every lipstick color and recommend accordingly to people of different age groups, professions and even personalities," Li said. "For example, I'd say this shade is for sharp business elites, and that color is for cute little girls."

Graphic designed by CGTN's Li Xiaojie

Graphic designed by CGTN's Li Xiaojie

Li is cashing in on his sales prowess, extending far beyond the realm of cosmetics.

"My popularity allows me now to reach out to different brands of various genres for more discounts or free gifts for my customers," he said, elaborating on the complicated selection process his team goes through.

"I have to make sure my fans get the best products and the best price."

Just an ordinary guy

The job requires Li to invert regular working and sleeping hours. He doesn't start his job until the sun had set and often wakes up in the afternoon. He's online at around 8 p.m. and doesn't go to bed before 6 a.m. 

"People working in every job give up something in exchange for something else. This is just my job and I love it," he said.

Li promotes one lipstick during a livestream in front of cameras.

Li promotes one lipstick during a livestream in front of cameras.

During his online sales events, it's not unusual for Li to cake his face with powder and paint his lips in red. But the male beauty influencer says this is just for show.

"Trying out makeup is my job. I'm an ordinary guy. I don't wear makeup when I'm off work."

The Hunan native is giving himself some downtime during the upcoming Spring Festival by spending a few days with his family.

"I love huddling together with my family. We don't have central heating in the south, so people gather around the fire and share old memories with family while snacking and eating fruit," he said.

"And I love it. It's the simplest way to reconnect with your family."