First Aid Beauty (FAB), a sensitive skincare brand under Proctor & Gamble, has closed its flagship stores on Douyin and Tmall, sparking rumours that the brand is officially exiting the Chinese market. Douyin is a key driver of beauty sales this year, as China’s “skintellectuals” flock to the short video platform for makeup tutorials and skincare routines.
Smaller FAB retailers operating on Taobao are also currently holding clearance sales, with facial creams previously costing 200 RMB now reduced to under 50 RMB. FAB appears to have been preparing for its exit for some time as the brand’s accounts on Weibo, Xiaohongshu, and WeChat had already stopped releasing updates as of late 2022.
Billed as an affordable alternative to Estée Lauder-owned La Mer, First Aid Beauty was founded by Lilli Gordon in 2008 as an answer to the dearth of products for sensitive skin. It was then acquired by Proctor & Gamble in 2018 for an estimated 250 million USD as the conglomerate looked to fill a mid-range gap in its portfolio between low-cost Olay and luxury SK-II. FAB then entered the Chinese market in 2020 just as the COVID-19 pandemic and the “buy Chinese” campaign sent C-beauty sales skyrocketing.
FAB claims to be one of the first brands to champion clean beauty – a concept that has recently been identified by Mintel as one of 11 key terms defining the future Chinese beauty market. Since the Chinese government lifted its animal testing requirement for foreign brands in 2021, the floodgates have opened and big names like Aesop are starting to have a greater presence. But clean beauty is still a relatively niche sub-sector of China’s beauty market, leaving room for less established brands like FAB to make a comeback.
Beijing-based news outlet Jiemian News contacted FAB for confirmation of the exit, but representatives declined to give an official comment at this time.