Last year, Weiwei, a young Taiwanese girl, captured the hearts of many when her selfies and photos went viral on social media.

At the time, Weiwei was a part-time worker at McDonald’s. Customers often queued up at her counter to place an order, and when she was not around, the business suffered. The store manager wasn’t too happy, but, then again, Weiwei was no ordinary girl.

She was out of this world. Her big round eyes, a charismatic, anime-like face, a penchant for wearing cute blouses were her specialty.

Taiwan-made beauty masks are a hit with overseas visitors

Most importantly, her flawless skin—like a porcelain doll—redefined the beauty standards for girls in Taiwan. While not every Taiwanese woman is blessed with Weiwei’s unique features, many, however, have a youthful, radiant skin. Tourists camping at Taiwan are well aware of this. In a quest for a freckle-free look, several women tourists often flock to supermarkets to purchase the locally produced skin care regime. The most sought-after are the beauty masks.

Ingredients such as bird’s nest with collagen, hyaluronic acid, milk, pearl barley, rare herbs, vitamin C and white tea are what makes the masks magical. They are considered a must-buy souvenirs by tourists, ranking alongside Taiwan’s signature items like oolong tea and pineapple cakes, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Studies by Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) revealed that exports of beauty masks and related product grew 12.95% in 2015 to $204 million. This contrasts with a drop off in the nation’s total shipments of 10.6 percent for the same period.

Patty Yen, manager market development, TAITRA, stated that the strong shipment numbers reflect Taiwan’s rising reputation in the international beauty products market.

“Taiwan is now seen as a premium brand for many visitors throughout Asia,” Yen said. “The local lifestyle of health and sustainability also enhances the appeal of consumer goods made in Taiwan.”

Yen said that Taiwan will look at strategic promotion of beauty products, and the focus will also be on assisting local firms develop upgraded marketing strategies.

Michelle Sung, president, Tenart Biotech Inc., said beauty masks are more than just a thriving business. “They are a very powerful tool to promote Taiwan.”

Skin care products from Tenart Biotech are sold in more than 28 countries. The company is already a leader in the skincare market in Taiwan and endeavors to bring the soft skills of Taiwan to the rest of the world.

“Certainly, Taiwan faces stiff competition from South Korea. But we enjoy a strong competitive edge in product quality, given the successful experiences of our firms in contracting for global brands and their R&D capabilities,” Sung said.

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