Expensive Doesn't Mean Better—Here's Why I Built My Dream Skincare Brand


(Image credit: @priscilla.tsai)

The Lineup is a monthly series where we’re giving you an inside peek at the beauty lineups of cool fashion people, editors, makeup artists, hairstylists, and aestheticians—all the people we trust the most. Get ready for a behind-the-scenes look at all the can’t-live-without products that make their worlds go 'round.

There are so many amazing, oh-my-gosh-please-pinch-me moments that come with the territory of being a beauty editor. But, bar none, the best part of my job is having the opportunity to meet and really get to know the founders and creatives behind some of my favorite brands in the business—brands that have produced the truly stellar product formulas that have positively impacted my hair, nails, makeup routine, or in Cocokind's case, my skin. So you can imagine how special it was when I recently had a full-circle reconnection with Priscilla Tsai, the founder and CEO of Cocokind, who I first met back in 2017 (when I was only just getting my toes wet as a very green beauty editor and when Cocokind was just a couple of years old).

Her radiant energy and incredibly warm demeanor aside, I immediately felt a kinship with Tsai, who, like me, dealt with sensitive, acne-prone skin for the majority of her life. "My love for skincare was developed from both necessity and curiosity," she explains. "I had such sensitized skin that I was always desperate to find quality formulas that didn’t make my skin sting." (At one point, she tells me, she was even forced to perform her product routine in the dark to eschew further skin sensitivity and irritation.)


(Image credit: @priscilla.tsai)

Searching for the types of products her skin desperately needed is what ultimately awakened Tsai's curiosity as to how products were made, why certain ingredients were chosen, and the complicatedness of product formulation. "Once I started to understand a bit more of the 'behind the scenes' of beauty products, I realized I could develop a different type of skincare brand that prioritized the substance of the ingredients and formula more than anything else," she says.

Another standout feature of the line? The totally doable price points. In fact, the idea that skincare has to be expensive in order to be effective is a huge myth in Tsai's eyes. "I'm so grateful to see so many brands like Cocokind proving you actually don't need to spend $80 to cleanse your skin or to see results from a powerful serum," she says. "I realize it can be hard to judge a product by its packaging and price, but just know that you can find amazing skincare at every price point—truly!" 

A few other hot tips from Tsai when it comes to having the best skin of your life: prioritizing sleep, infusing your routine with polypeptides, and instilling a less-is-more approach when it comes to highly active ingredients.

"I notice a huge difference with how supple and hydrated my skin is when I'm not getting enough sleep," Tsai shares. "I think it's a hugely underrated component of our overall health and mental well-being." As far as polypeptides—they're an all-star ingredient you're likely neglecting but totally shouldn't be. "I'm a huge fan of polypeptides, especially as someone in my 30s," she says. "Polypeptides help stimulate your skin's natural collagen production, which then helps reduce the look of fine lines. This is my primary skincare concern these days, so using polypeptides is a critical step! I also love the philopsophy 'a little bit often.' I don’t do super-high percentages of active ingredients because I don't want to have to overthink my skincare—I want to use AHAs, BHAs, and retinoids at a lower percentage but regularly."

Keep scrolling to find out which Cocokind products Tsai can't get enough of right now in addition to all of the other go-to beauty products in her day-to-day routine. Enjoy!

Up next, I Own a Nontoxic Candle Company—Here's How I Curate a Healthy Beauty Routine

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.