• Naomi Head

Everything you need to know about the Mulan make-up challenge

Updated: Feb 9

Originally posted on August 9 2019 by Time Out Beijing

Photo: Walt Disney Studios


The ‘Mulan Make-Up Challenge’ is bringing back some classic Chinese beauty trends


After the release of the teaser trailer for Mulan, Disney’s latest live-action remake, the reaction has been mixed. From the inaccuracies over geography to the lack of Mushu the dragon, people all over the world have had a lot to say about the film, which isn’t due in cinemas for another six months.


Photo: Walt Disney Studios


The birth of a cultural phenomenon

Photo: Walt Disney Studios


But it’s not all bad news. Chinese netizens have hooked onto something very specific – recreating the make-up from that match-making scene, and prompted the ‘Mulan make-up challenge’.


The look has gone viral and taken Chinese social media by storm, as the hashtags #MulanMakeupImitation (#花木兰仿妆#) and #MulanMakeupImitationContest (#花木兰仿妆大赛#) has gathered over 300 million views on Weibo.


While netizens suggest the look is ugly (as well as criticising the casting of Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei), there are those that argue the make-up is accurate to the period, and are praising the production team for their attention to detail as well as enjoying that the floral decoration looks like a certain Chinese electronic brand’s logo.

It’s not just for the girls either, the guys are getting involved too...

Photo: What's On Weibo


And there’s been some serious cosplay from those who like to go all in…

Photo: Weibo/@大大大星Ann


We don’t like to judge here at Time Out, so if you’re brave enough to try your hand at this particular challenge we have a few tips for you…

How to get the look

Photo: zabcosplay/Instagram


Way back in the day the infamous match-making look was created by covering the face with rice flour to make a ‘blank canvas’ and highlight the roundness of the face. Strong colour using crushed flowers was then applied to the cheeks and a floral decoration added to the forehead after the yellow ‘aura’ or ‘Buddha’s make-up’ was painted on, which was popularised by the Buddhist faith at the time.

These days, a base of powder, a bit of blusher, some lipstick and a dusting of yellow eye shadow will probably suffice. Oh, and don’t forget to draw the Huawei logo between your eyebrows.


Going the extra mile

Photo: Weibo/@京渝堂汉家铺子


If you want to take it further and really live the trend, clothing designer and Weibo user Aoluojia (@京渝堂汉家铺子)has created a line of Tang dynasty inspired clothing, giving you an edge over all the other Mulan wannabes.


Still lost? Scroll down to see more inspiration from Weibo’s best and brightest:

Photo: @姜涞将来/Weibo

Photo: @momo酱也是徐老师/Weibo

Photo: @捷咦咦咦/Weibo


With this kind of talent out there, you may want to leave it to the professionals.


Naomi Head is a writer and media professional based in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has written for Time Out Beijing, Refresh Magazine, The Collective Mag and more. Find out more at naomihead.com.

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