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Speeches and cream on foreign tour

By XU JUNQIAN (China Daily)

10:48, April 13, 2013

A customer chooses Pehchaolin, a skin-care product, at a supermarket in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. (China Daily/ Long Wei)

Skin care cream Pehchaolin is making a comeback in China after Peng Liyuan, China's first lady, presented an assortment of products from the previously out-of-fashion brand as State gifts during her foreign tour with President Xi Jinping last month.

The cream, sold in little blue and yellow tins, is now riding a wave of popularity among young, trendy women who used to favor foreign brands.

"Sales have doubled, or sometimes tripled, since the visit," said Zhang Lehua, the sales manager of Shanghai's Beijing Department Store.

Founded in Shanghai in 1931 and once considered a luxury among young women, Pehchaolin, sold for less than 5 yuan ($0.81) a tin, was the first homegrown skin care product in China.

For decades, the cream was a must-buy for many Chinese families and a favorite among domestic movie stars and celebrities before the influx of foreign beauty products in the late 1990s.

"Spring is never a good season for selling creams, but this year, it's all different," said Zhang, 55, adding that he is now worried about "how to get his salespeople, mostly middle-aged women, out of the idleness they have been accustomed to for decades".

Shop assistants inside the cramped store woke reluctantly from their afternoon naps to serve customers, mostly girls, who came to snap up what they called "the first lady's cream".

Zhang said his store, which opened in 1977, is one of the few places — if not the only location — in Shanghai that sells the "rejuvenated cream".

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