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This selfie-enhancing app maker wants to take care of your skin in real life too

Meitu takes another crack at beauty hardware after giving up on smartphones

This article originally appeared on ABACUS
Remember that selfie app called Meitu that went viral in the US two years ago and turned everyone from Barack Obama and Donald Trump into airbrushed anime characters? The Chinese company behind it now wants to take care of your skin in real life, too.

Meitu, China’s selfie king

Meitu unveiled the MeituSpa facial cleansing device this week, and it bears a striking resemblance to facial massagers from Sweden’s Foreo. Just like Foreo’s LUNA, Meitu’s electronic brush promises to deliver thousands of sonic pulsations a minute to remove dirt from deep inside your pores. It also claims to use ion technology to extract debris and help with the absorption of skincare products.

The device works together with the MeituSkin app, which Meitu says will offer skincare advice tailored to each individual user.

Meitu’s new facial cleansing device versus Foreo’s LUNA 2. (Picture: Meitu/Foreo)
For years, Meitu has been grappling with the question of what its beauty-conscious users may want besides a photo editing app. It tried selling smartphones catered to selfie enthusiasts and Sailor Moon fans. It created a shopping app that recommended products after analyzing a user’s skin type. It even added a social feed on the Meitu selfie app for photo-sharing.  
Despite those efforts, the decade-old company still hasn’t turned a profit. As the smartphone market continued to contract, Meitu sold a paltry sum of fewer than 730,000 handsets last year. Apple, in comparison, shipped 10 times as many iPhones each day just in the last quarter of 2018. Meitu ultimately decided to give up the fight last year when it handed over its smartphone business to Xiaomi.

The company hasn’t given up on selling hardware, though. Meitu told Abacus it plans to release more skincare products in addition to the facial cleansing brush.

Though smartphone sales are falling, demand for beauty tools in China appears to be on the rise. A report by market research firm Euromonitor shows such tools were a growing trend last year, with cleansing devices dominating among beauty devices in Tmall sales. Among the best-selling brands, four of the top five were from overseas, including Foreo.

(Abacus is a unit of the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba, the operator of Tmall.)

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