A Chinese taxi driver was suspended after he was seen wearing a cosmetic facial mask when driving. Photo: Qianjiang Evening News

A photo of a young male taxi-driver wearing a cosmetic facial mask normally worn by women went viral over the weekend in China.

The photo of 25-year-old Chen Yiqun from eastern Zhejiang province became the subject in various online social platforms titled “exquisite cab driver” and had more than 56 million hits, CGTN reported, citing local paper the Qianjiang Evening News.

Chen, who was later suspended from his job, told the media he started caring for his skin when he turned 20. He said he used facial masks every two to three days and help purchase skin care products for his family.

It was not a pre-Halloween prank, but part of a growing trend of the medical beauty market in China. China’s medical beauty market grew more than 27% to 224.5 billion yuan (US$32.33 billion) in 2018, according to a white paper on the China Medical Beauty market compiled by SoYoung.com, an internet portal dedicated to the subject.

An estimated 20 million people in China have had cosmetic surgery. For every 100 consumers of medical beauty products, 64% per were from the post ’90s, followed by 19% of millennials, according to So Young, which conducts the survey every five years.

Interestingly, there were an estimated 100,000 cosmetic surgeons, of which only 10% were licensed doctors. In other words, 90% of facial surgery is conducted outside the official medical system.

Like South Korea, another nation that loves plastic surgery, more than 60% of Chinese people held a positive view of medical beauty.

For example, Beijing people were positive about cosmetic surgery in South Korea, where Chinese people make up 20% of those getting operations.

Shanghainese like the services, but are among the most vocal group to complain and accounted for one-sixth of those using the nation’s complaint hotline.

Guangdong people are among the highest numbers getting breast surgery. For people in Hangzhou, the home to Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma, there seems to be a phobia about going bald as they account for one-eighth of hair-plants.

For Zhengzhou residents, they care most about their eyes. They have the largest number of people of any province getting eyelid surgery.

The list goes on, but the reality is Chinese people like medical beauty.