While facelifts and Botox were already popular among many Chinese women, the latest fad is collagen, associated with trout pouty lips. But instead of taking it in the form of injection, they are drinking it. Department stores in Shanghai and Beijing are luring customers with advertisements that say, “Take a collagen drink for 30 days and have skin as soft as a baby’s.”

Chinese cosmetic firm DHC uses fish collagen in its drinks, but promises that their pale yellow juice like drink doesn’t smell fishy and is not seafood. A company spokesperson claims drinking it every night before sleep results in definite improvement in skin texture after just 10 days. It is essential to continue drinking in order to maintain the good skin. A bottle of DHC China's cherry-flavored drink costs $4.58.

However, Bian Huawei, vice-director of nutrition studies at the Sun Yat-Sen university hospital in Guangzhou is not one to be impressed. He advises that the amount of collagen that is absorbed through the digestive system is negligible. Instead eating more vegetables and fruits may be more helpful because they have antioxidants. Cosmetic surgery is big business in China. The Chinese skincare industry was worth $5.3 billion in 2007, while cosmetic surgery alone did a business of nearly $1.47billion last year. The industry is growing at a rate of around 20 per cent every year.