It's no secret that Asian beauty brands and products have had a major influence on the beauty industry. Many of the trends of the past couple of years have roots in Asia. Think glass skin, ingredients like snail extract, lip stains, and, of course, sheet masks. And that's just to name a few because the innovations from Asian and Asian American brands are far-reaching and have really changed the beauty-product landscape.
This May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and in support of the community in the face of a rise in anti-Asian racism, we think it's more important than ever to celebrate and uplift the AAPI-founded beauty brands out there. Of course, there are plenty of other ways you can stand in solidarity with the community, whether it's through donating, educating yourself, or speaking out. But you can also do your part by employing your spending power and supporting some wonderful businesses, not just this month but always.
Take a look at some of our favorite Asian- and Asian American–owned beauty brands below.
After the stress and non-natural beauty products took a toll on her skin, Rooshy Roy turned to her grandmother's skincare recipes and remedies. Not only did they really work, but she also began to reconnect with her heritage. From that, Aavrani was born. The brand features products that target a variety of skin conditions from acne to dullness to dryness. Roy says the company is a way to unite her two worlds: "Clinically proven, modern-day routine and ancient, all-natural rituals."
2. CLE Cosmetics
Founder Lauren Jin started her career in fashion, but started CLE Cosmetics when she wanted to create beauty products that resonated with women and with the idea that "there is no one-way to feel beautiful, and no right way to get there." The products are designed with rituals in mind and are nontoxic, vegan, cruelty-free, and ethically made.
Priscilla Tsai left her job in the finance industry to start her clean skincare brand Cocokind at the age of 25. Six years later, the company now offers a wide variety of skincare products from cleansers and toners to moisturizers and makeup. Did we mention that it's affordable and available at major retailers like Whole Foods and Target?
4. Ctzn Cosmetics
Ctzn founders (and sisters) Aleena, Aleezeh, and Naseeha Khan have really been all over the globe. They were born in the United States, grew up in the United Arab Emirates, and have Pakistani ethnicity. They created Ctzn Cosmetics after they realized there was a lack of representation in mainstream beauty campaigns, as no models looked like them and the product formulations often overlooked certain skin tones and undertones. So Ctzn was born and designed to be genderless and for all skin tones. The products are also 100% vegetarian, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and talc-free.
5. Ellis Brooklyn
New York Times beauty columnist Bee Shapiro founded Ellis Brooklyn when she was trying to clean up her beauty routine as a new mom and realized that there was a lack of clean fragrances on the market. Now, six years later, the highly popular fragrance brand not only has some intoxicating perfumes but also features bodycare products and candles.
6. Em Cosmetics
7. Emilie Heathe
When Korean American Emily H. Rudman was growing up with her adopted white parents, she noticed a lack of Asian representation. Rudman said she spent years trying to hide her Asian attributes, even considering double-eyelid surgery. As she grew up, she discovered the power of makeup and went on to work as a makeup artist and hairstylist. After getting her MBA, she decided to start her brand, Emilie Heathe, with the mission to bring clean products in exciting colors and packaging that are unique and inspiring. Today the brand has nail, lip, and eye products, plus a selection of jewelry.
8. Glow Recipe
It all started over sheet masks and wine for Glow Recipe co-founders Sarah Lee and Christine Chang. When they launched the brand's signature Pink Juice moisturizer in 2018, it sold out within two hours of presale. What followed was even more cult-favorite products and a sister skincare brand, Sweet Chef.
Listen to Lee's Second Life episode here.
9. Good Light
David Yi has been running his popular beauty blog, Very Good Light since 2016, and he then branched out and launched the skincare brand, Good Light. The personal care products are clean, vegan, cruelty-free, and sustainably produced. And they're made for everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexuality.
10. Hero Cosmetics
Hero Cosmetics is really changing the game when it comes to treating acne. And the company all started when co-founder and CEO Ju Rhyu was introduced to hydrocolloid patches, which people in Korea were using to treat pimples. She then decided to bring the idea stateside and launched with one product, Mighty Patch, on Amazon in 2017. Now the brand also has cleansers, toners, and serums. The products are sold at retailers like Target, Ulta, and CVS.
11. Jason Wu Beauty
Fashion designer Jason Wu created an affordable line of makeup that focuses on letting your natural beauty shine. The products are clean and cruelty-free. In the past, the brand has partnered with the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) and donated a portion of the proceeds from its brow product purchase going directly to the organization.
Four friends came up with the idea of Juara in a tiny kitchen in New York City's Lower East Side. Co-founder Metta Murdaya shared the Indonesian beauty and wellness rituals she grew up with, which is what Juara's products are based on. The skincare line fuses traditional herbal remedies and modern technology.
14. KimChi Chic Beauty
You might recognize Kim Chi from the eighth season of RuPaul's Drag Race. She launched her own KimChi Chic Beauty in 2019 that features colorful and bold makeup that's just a lot of fun. Like Jason Wu Beauty, the brand has also partnered with the NAPAWF in the past to donate a portion of proceeds from its lip products to the organization.
After working for years in the beauty industry for some big corporations, Priyanka Ganjoo wanted to create products for South Asians, who are often neglected in the beauty space. Kulfi has long-lasting eyeliners that have gorgeous shades and are infused with aloe vera and vitamin E.
16. Live Tinted
After her red lipstick hack video went viral in 2015, Deepica Mutyala started her career in beauty. She founded Live Tinted, a digital community focused on inclusive beauty in 2018. And then in 2019, she launched a four-in-one multistick after hearing from the community that hyperpigmentation was their biggest concern. Now the Live Tinted brand has the original multistick, plus a highlighter and balm gloss—all in flattering shades to give you a glowy look.
17. Orcé Cosmetics
Orcé Cosmetics founder Yu-Chen Shih is on a mission to set a new standard of beauty by catering to Asian skin tones and undertones. The foundations also address common skin concerns like dryness, hyperpigmentation, oiliness, loss of radiance, and signs of aging.
18. Patrick Ta Beauty
Celebrity makeup artist Patrick Ta launched his own beauty line in 2019, with products that are designed to make women feel comfortable and confident in their own skin. Hot tip: Who What Wear editors love the brow-shaping wax—some even say it's like getting your eyebrows laminated, but more affordable.
19. Peach & Lily
Peach & Lily is probably known for its cult-favorite Glass Skin serum that hydrates, firms, and brightens the skin. But the brand should be celebrated for introducing us to the best of K-beauty. Founder Alicia Yoon trained as an esthetician in South Korea and has struggled with eczema and problematic skin in the past so she has personal connection to skincare.
Cat Chen founded Skylar after she was searching for fragrances without allergens and harmful chemicals and coming up short. The brand's fragrances are hypoallergenic, made with clean ingredients, and free of parabens, SLS, phthalates, animal-derived ingredients, and synthetic dyes.
You probably know Erica Choi best from her blog, Egg Canvas, but now, she's adding founder to her resume. The esthetician and creative consultant just launched her own clean skincare line, Superegg. In Asian culture, the egg is commonly used in skincare, so Choi is taking that idea but giving it a vegan spin. The plant-based ingredients in the products mimic the nourishing benefits of an egg. Right now, you can buy its eye and cheek mask, moisturizer, and cleanser.
A trip to Kyoto introduced Vicky Tsai to Japanese ingredients and skincare rituals, and she was inspired to bring back her learnings. From that, Tatcha was born. The brand fuses Japanese skincare traditions with modern technology, and the results are luxurious, nourishing products.
23. Then I Met You
Soko Glam co-founder created her own skincare line, Then I Met You, which is inspired by the Korean concept of "jeong." It means "a deep feeling of empathy and affection that one can develop for people, places and things." The unique products are made with high-quality ingredients and created with sustainability in mind.
24. Tower 28 Beauty
Tower 28 Beauty founder Amy Liu has had sensitive skin and eczema her whole life, so she created products specifically for people like her. The clean beauty line features products that are all nontoxic, free of irritants, and infused with nourishing ingredients.
25. U Beauty
Tina Craig is the genius behind the popular fashion and lifestyle blog BagSnob, but now, she's also the founder of luxury skincare line U Beauty. She created the brand after wanting to streamline her skincare routine. The products contain highly effective and nontoxic anti-aging ingredients—all packaged in recyclable materials.
Yina is a wellness and beauty line that is inspired by traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Licensed acupuncturist Angela Chau Gray and licensed TCM dermatologist Ervina Wu founded the brand to demystify and enliven Chinese medicine. Products include gua sha tools, serums, masks, and body treatments.