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Chinese beautification apps push overseas boundaries, Cheetah Global Lab report says

It is a common trick: take a selfie and let the photography app do the rest – skin-lightening and eye-enlargement and the likes – before posting it on the internet. Social media addicts in China and abroad share a fondness of beauty apps, even if beauty standards differ according to culture.

Cheetah Global Lab, the research arm of leading mobile tools provider Cheetah Mobile, on Tuesday released a report on Chinese apps overseas for 2016. The report shows that tool apps and photography apps are the categories with the greatest presence in the Top 3,000 app list for overseas markets.

Chart from Cheetah Global Lab.

The top five Chinese photography apps overseas

The ranking is based on app overall penetration rate, which is calculated by total active users divided by total overseas Android users. Average weekly openings is calculated on a per-user basis. The data covers over 50 countries and regions outside of Greater China.

Photo Grid

Rank: 1

Average weekly openings: 12

Company: Cheetah Mobile

Its users can combine photos into photo collages with as many as over 300 layouts for sharing on Instagram, or decorate photos by applying cool and vintage filters, adding stickers and text. Its widely popular prank-cam turns selfie photos into funny mimics of cute animals.

Photo Grid

Camera 360

Rank: 2

Average weekly openings: 13.43

Company: Pinguo Technology

The app, like most beauty camera apps, can shoot, take selfies, edit and enhance photos. On top of that, it allows users to share photos with the other 700 million users. It has some exclusive filters that aim to be more artistic.

Camera 360

YouCam Makeup

Rank: 3

Average weekly openings: 10.07

Company: Cyberlink (Taiwan)

Think of the app as a digital makeover and hairstyle studio. From changing skin tone to the double eyelid creator that make eyes pop up, it aims to give users true-to-life, virtual makeup application. Aside from photos, it offers real-time virtual makeup, which is a perfect fit for the live streaming era.

YouCam Makeup


Rank: 4

Average weekly openings: 13.97

Company: Meitu

Developed by China’s largest beauty app company, Meitu, BeautyCam helps its users look their best, helping its users take selfies and edit photos. Meitu has achieved success with its 270 million monthly active users and advanced technology.


YouCam Perfect

Rank: 5

Average weekly openings: 17.1

Company: Cyberlink (Taiwan)

YouCam Perfect is one of Cyberlink’s suites of apps. Aside from beautifying selfies, its multi-face detection enables users touch-up every face in group shots. Users can also use the timer, or simply wave their hand to take a selfie.

YouCam Perfect

Beauty app countries

Indonesia turns out to be the world’s most selfie-loving country, according to Cheetah Global Lab. Vietnam, China, and Thailand, following Indonesia, have also spotted the joys of beauty apps. All over the world, Asian countries, as well as Brazil and Mexico, dominate the list.

Why are Chinese photography apps popular outside of China?

Photography apps, the same with tool apps, are a natural fit for overseas markets. They can easily break cultural barriers and do not require much interaction by users, with either the app or other users.

Another reason, according Cheetah Mobile Lab, is that they don’t require a lot of local operations. Even if the company is headquartered somewhere else, the app can still penetrate the local market.

(Top photo from

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