Asian-Owned Beauty Brands That Should Definitely Be On Your Radar
If your skin-care routine consists of more than a single slather of cream and doesn't cost an absolute fortune, you likely have Asian-owned beauty brands to thank. After all, the wonderful world of (Western) beauty you've come to know and love has been shaped and molded in part by the recent explosion of Korean and Japanese beauty. But K- and J-beauty are only two examples of the incredible influence Asian entrepreneurs and beauty gurus alike have had on the serums you slather on your face, the scrubs you run across your scalp, and the stains you swipe on your lips.
Whether you already count eco-conscious creations from, say, Cocokind and Glow Recipe as part of your routine or you need to restock your skin-care supplies overall, look no further than Asian-owned beauty brands. And while it's always important to support Asian-owned businesses — and especially those that are woman-owned — the recent string of attacks on Asian Americans and rampant racism that BIPOC communities have faced since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic have become a sort of call to action for support. And one way to join in? Consciously investing your dollars.
Your wallet has more power than you might realize. So, whip it out and start shopping to help elevate Asian- and other minority-owned businesses and foster inclusivity in the beauty world and beyond. (See also: These Asian-Owned Wellness Brands Deserve Your Support — and Are Just Really Cool)
Instead of dwelling on her "worst skin days," Priscilla Tsai turned her struggle with hormonal acne into a successful (and sustainable!) beauty brand known as Cocokind. Sound familiar? That's likely because you've seen the company's gentle, non-comedogenic products while perusing the aisles at Whole Foods, stocking up on, well, everything at Target, or searching for a gift for your girlfriend at Ulta. Since starting up in 2014, Cocokind has built quite the cult following that swears by the conscious company's affordable creations. Whether you're in the market for a new Resurfacing Sleep Mask (Buy It, $22, target.com, cocokind.com) or looking for a lightweight daily sunscreen (Buy It, $29, target.com; $24, cocokind.com), you'll be hard-pressed to find anything over $30. What's more, all of Cocokind's creations feature 100 percent recyclable packaging and some containers can even be repurposed as, say, a sprayer for watering plants or a jar for your packed lunch.
Between the cheery rainbow aesthetic and fruity, playful product names such as Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer (Buy It, $39, sephora.com) and Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream (Buy It, $39, sephora.com), it's hard not to smile when scrolling through Glow Recipe's site (and Instagram and TikTok, for that matter). And that's the point: Self-described as "unapologetically fun," Glow Recipe is on a mission to make skin care exciting and inspiring with its fruit-powered products. (Related: This Viral Skin-Care Brand Is Now Selling Avocado Retinol Face Masks)
Considered one of the OG beauty personalities on YouTube, Michelle Phan has established herself as the master of all things makeup — both IRL and online, where she has nearly 9 million subscribers on her YouTube channel and 2 million followers on Instagram. In addition to being the co-founder of the monthly beauty subscription service Ipsy, Phan, who's second-generation Vietnamese, is also the creator of the cosmetics brand Em Cosmetics. Featuring an array of beauty buys for your entire face — eyes, brows, lips, cheeks, and more — Em Cosmetics is all about providing the products needed to express yourself at any makeup expertise level. So, if you're a beauty aficionado who can draw winged eyeliner like it's NBD, then the brand's Illustrative Eyeliner (Buy It, $21, emcosmetics.com) is perfect for you. More of a lip balm-only kind of gal? Phan's got you covered with the Lip Cushion Nourishing Balm (Buy It, $22, emcosmetics.com). One thing's guaranteed: You'll find something you love.
Shaz & Kiks
For sisters Shaz Rajashekar and Kiku Chaudhuri, aka Shaz & Kiks, some of their fondest memories of childhood in India were centered on beauty — namely, the summers spent watching their grandmother whip up all-natural concoctions rooted in Ayurveda right in the kitchen. Inspired by these shared moments and passed-down beauty secrets, the duo engineered a hair-care line built around the same ingredients their grandma once used: ashwagandha, turmeric, jasmine, and many more. (Related: Your Complete Guide to the Ayurvedic Diet)
CEO and founder of Glamnetic, Ann McFerran, a first-generation immigrant from Thailand, admits that running a business wasn't exactly on her radar after graduating from college. Still, a passion for beauty — namely, how to make it cleaner and easier — was enough fuel to ultimately start her own company specializing in magnetic liner and lashes. Equally as beautiful as traditional strip lashes but far easier to apply, Glamnetic's lashes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials so that everyone can experience the confidence-boosting power of enhanced eyelashes.
First-generation Indian American sisters Taran and Bunny Ghatrora are on a mission to de-stigmatize periods and encourage young women — especially those just going through puberty — to celebrate womanhood. How exactly? Through Blume, a beauty-slash-wellness company whose offerings include self-care products and education materials. Since its inception in 2016, Blume's expanded beyond its original target audience of Gen Z teens to people in their 20s and 30s who are also seeking menstruation education and items to help deal with its effects (see: cystic acne, cramps). Whether it's healing serums for acne scars (Buy It, $30, amazon.com) or biodegradable, organic tampons (Buy It, $10, amazon.com), Blume's bettering puberty and the not-so-fun parts of womanhood one product at a time. (Related: Why You Absolutely Need to Care About Period Poverty and Stigma)
In addition to its trio of salons in New York City, Sundays is also a nail-care brand boasting better-for-you polishes that are vegan, cruelty-free, and 10-free (meaning they're made without 10 common chemicals such as formaldehyde and toluene). Not only are these lacquers sans several barely pronounceable toxins (blech), but they're also available in a collection of timeless colors. So while Sundays might not have that trendy neon yellow you've recently seen all over the 'gram, its shelves are stocked with shades — think: buttery nudes, dark grays, rich reds — that are always in style. (Related: Clean and Natural Nail Polish Brands)
If you've ever watched your bathroom trash pile up with dirty makeup remover wipes, Q-tips, and other random products and felt totally wretched, you're not alone. And while makeup remover and skin-care wipes might seem like the last beauty products a person could ever make sustainable, Lena Chao miraculously (and thankfully) figured it out. Chao's company, Clean Circle, sells reusable (and machine washable!) makeup remover pads that feature a pointed tip to clean those hard-to-swipe areas such as inner eye corners and lashlines. (Related: These Innovations Are Making Your Beauty Products More Sustainable)
As anyone with sensitive skin can tell you (🙋♀️), finding products that won't send your complexion into a tizzy can be a frustrating endeavor — that is, however, until Tower 28 Beauty entered the skin-care and cosmetics world. On a mission to prove that #ItsOkayToBeSensitive, Tower 28 exclusively sells products (including highlighter balm, lip jelly, and cream blush) that are all hypo-allergenic, non-comedogenic, gluten-free, and dermatologist-tested. But the beauty brand doesn't just stop there: All of Tower 28's formulas also adhere to all of the National Eczema Association's ingredient guidelines, thereby creating irritant- and worry-free cosmetics for even the most sensitive of skin. (Related: Everything You Need to Know About Eczema, According to Derms)
Upon becoming pregnant with her daughter, Ellis, Bee Shapiro started cleaning up her beauty routine, somewhat seamlessly swapping skin-care products and makeup for safer alternatives. But there was one item in her repertoire that didn't seem to have a cleaner counterpart: fragrance. So, Shapiro — a beauty journalist for the New York Times — set out to make one herself. Around two years later, in 2015, Ellis Brooklyn was born. Today, the beauty brand sells a wide variety of fragrances, all with vegan, cruelty-free formulas that don't contain phthalates or parabens (both of which can act as endocrine disruptors). And they aren't missed: One of the website's top sellers, Salt Eau De Parfum (Buy It, $105, revolve.com) smells like a much-needed beachside vacation thanks to tropical floral notes, sandalwood, and musk.
Peach & Lily
Alicia Yoon dealt with eczema and perpetually problematic skin growing up, a struggle that ultimately drove her to obtain her esthetician license in Korea and New York (she's a Harvard Business School grad, too). During her time working as an esthetician, Yoon dissected beauty and skin-care labels, in constant search of the types of formulas and ingredients that would produce radiant, problem-free skin. A few years — and many faces — later, Yoon compiled her extensive research and unique and effective treatments to officially start Peach & Lily. Specializing in Korean beauty, Peach & Lily provides the products needed to take control of your skin, such as the Glass Skin Refining Serum (Buy It, $39, ulta.com) to help calm and hydrate skin and the Pore Proof Perfecting Clay Mask (Buy It, $43, ulta.com) to decongest clogged pores. (Related: "Skip Care" Is the New Korean Skin-Care Trend That's Going to Make Your Life Easier)
On the surface, Chunks is a Seattle-based accessory boutique best known for its funky hair clips that take your 'do to the next level while channeling your inner child. But behind its tie-dye claw clips (Buy It, $14, urbanoutfitters.com) and wavy barrettes (Buy It, $14, bando.com) is a serious dedication to sustainable manufacturing. For example, all hair accessories are made from acetate (a plant-based rather than petroleum-based plastic that will eventually biodegrade), according to the brand's site. Chunks also never throws away its unsold or slightly damaged products, often selling production "rejects" at a discount or for free, which are proudly manufactured in China, BTW.
A trip to Kyoto, Japan, is sure to inspire any traveler and Victoria Tsai is no exception. During her travels, Tsai met a modern-day geisha who taught her a veritable lifetime-worth of lessons on Japanese beauty and skin care. Naturally, this education inspired Tsai to create her own beauty brand based on Japanese skin-care secrets and time-tested ingredients: Tatcha. At the core of every Tatcha product is a science-based formula called Hadasei-3, a "trinity of anti-aging superfoods born from the Japanese diet and the basis for the original geisha beauty rituals: green tea, rice, and algae," according to the company's website. You can score that amazing-sounding elixir by slathering on The Water Cream (Buy It, $68, sephora.com, tatcha.com) or spritzing your face with Luminous Dewy Skin Mist (Buy It, $48, sephora.com, tatcha.com).
Prior to seeing clients such as Sarah Jessica Parker (casual) at her New York City-based salons, Korean-born Jin Soon Choi was a rising freelance nail artist whose impressive hustle earned her the nickname "Bicycle Jin." (She was known for her frequent back-and-forth cycling from one client to another on busy workdays.) Today, Choi is the brains behind two brick-and-mortar spas and a 10-free nail polish line, JINsoon, which specializes shades that are quick-drying (she has her own patent), long-lasting, chip-proof, vegan, and cruelty-free.
When it comes to clean and effective skin care, few brands know their stuff as much as Tula — after all, the company was founded by none other than Roshini Raj, M.D., a practicing gastroenterologist and probiotics expert. After years of studying probiotics and witnessing the major effects that they had on her patients, Dr. Raj set out to create a probiotic-based beauty brand that could topically deliver the same glowing results her patients' seemed to experience from ingesting them. Today, Tula (whose name means "balance" in Sanskrit) has quite the lineup of salves, serums, and scrubs made with a range of standout ingredients including (but not limited to!) probiotic extracts (duh), prebiotics (i.e. chicory root), watermelon and apple (for hydration), and azelaic acid to even out skin tone. (Related: Everything You Need to Know About Your Skin Microbiome)
Then I Met You
Built on the Korean concept of jeong — "a deep feeling of empathy and affection that one can develop for people, places and things," according to the company's site — Then I Met You is a sustainable skin-care company with just a handful of products. But don't be fooled — the brand's streamlined offerings are intentional. The brainchild of Charlotte Cho (who, BTW, is also the founder of Korean beauty brand Soko Glam), Then I Met You takes a less-is-more approach to skin care to help simplify your routine and encourage you to use that time wisely (i.e. pressing pause, taking a deep breath).
Like many beauty business founders, Cary Lin imagined her skin-care line, Common Heir, using other, already-established products as inspo. Although for Lin, she actually stumbled into said products — while walking on her local Santa Monica beach one day, she found hordes of plastic beauty bottles littering the shore. From that point forward, Lin — along with Common Heir's co-founder, Angela Ubias — engineered a beauty line with all biodegradable, no-waste packaging and formulas. The company's flagship product, Vitamin C Serum, comes in cute, lightweight little capsules, so no more clunky plastic bottles falling in your vanity cabinet or shower.