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

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.)

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!

"This product has been a game changer for dealing with fine lines and increasing the overall suppleness in my skin. I use it both day and night and find that it's rich but never greasy. I've noticed a huge difference with the fine lines around my eyes ever since we developed this formula in the lab and I started using it regularly!"

"I don't typically wear fragrance on a day-to-day basis, but when I want a bit more, this is a special go-to. It really does make you smell like the best version of yourself!"

"I love this blush because the color is beautiful on my skin tone, and it's super easy to apply. It's also lasted me forever as a little goes a long way! I dab it on the apples of my cheeks and use a tiny bit on my nose."

"Finally, a bronzer that didn’t make me feel like I needed to be a contouring expert to use it! I apply it using my fingers, and it adds a beautiful, natural glow to my skin and a bit of dimension. Two things are most important to me when it comes to makeup: 1) that it is compatible with my skin (aka doesn’t make me breakout) and 2) that it is easy to use and you don’t have to be an expert to apply it. This one meets both of my criteria beautifully!"

"Our Ceramide Barrier Serum is the most versatile serum possible—I use it every day, morning, and night, no matter what. It helps solve so many skin concerns, from dryness, of course, to breakouts and fine lines. Ceramides truly are the GOAT of skincare ingredients, and this serum makes it so easy to get a very high-quality, powerhouse blend of ceramides in one step. If you're looking for one simple step that will make the most impact on the health, look, and feel of your skin—this is it!!"

"Usually with tinted brow gels, I feel like the tint is too dark/heavy and comes out looking mismatched with my typical no makeup look. This one from Kosas adds fullness to my brows and has a subtle tint that still looks totally natural."

"For years now, I've been using the Cocokind Rosewater Toner ($18) on my scalp to calm and hydrate the itchy and flaky areas I deal with regularly. This hair oil from Fable and Mane has stepped up my scalp routine majorly. First off, the smell is SO good. I love giving myself a bit of a massage with it before shampooing, and I always feel like my hair is healthier and way more shiny after using it."

"I keep my haircare routine very simple, and I like that this is no-frills shampoo and conditioner is moisturizing but doesn't leave my fine hair greasy (which is a hard feat!). I use it only once a week, and it lasts forever!"

"This is my favorite cleanser, hands down, because I love oil cleansing, but I don't love how difficult it usually is to wash all of the oil off my face afterward. I formulated this cleanser to act like an oil cleanser on dry skin. I apply a small amount directly onto my dry skin to get off all of the makeup, dirt, etc., but what makes this cleanser so unique is when you add water; the oil emulsifies into a milk, which washes away super easily. My skin never feels tight after I use it, but instead feels soft and lightly moisturized from the prebiotic oat."

"I'm not really a full face of makeup person, so I really love this foundation because it's so easy to use and doesn't require a makeup brush. It leaves my skin still looking like my skin and smooths texture, instead of adding to it! I'm very sensitive to makeup that feels 'heavy,' and this one feels extremely lightweight."

"This is my most repurchased makeup product ever!!! This eyeliner is hands down the most precise, easy-to-use, long-lasting liner that I've ever used. Over the past couple of years, I've tried a few alternatives, but I always come back to this because it's just superior."

"I love this eye shadow palette because it's super natural looking! It has pretty strong staying power too, which is important to me because I oftentimes have 'greasy' eyelids and find myself having to reapply eye shadow too much. This one stays with me all day!"

"As I've said, I really love oil cleansing, even on my body! This one is my go-to because it emulsifies super well in the shower! I love that it leaves a light layer on my skin afterward, which means that I can sometimes skip applying body lotion because my skin already feels supported!"

"I have a ton of hair, and as a busy mom, this hair clip is the easiest way for me to style my hair in 0.5 seconds and look put together. It can hold all of my hair, and it's also beautiful!"