The business of beauty is inherently personal to the wearer, right down to the perfect foundation shade. But the products that land in the medicine cabinet often reflect a larger story about shared values, experiences and aesthetics, as well as the manufacturers one chooses to support.
Although the last years of the pandemic were difficult for many, they proved particularly difficult for members of the AAPI community in the United States, who faced a horrific increase in racial violence. According to a report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, the number of anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 164% between the first quarter of 2020 and that of 2021, leading to an underlying atmosphere of fear and, by extension, growing solidarity.
Nonprofit groups like Stop AAPI Hate have formed to study and address such incidents, while existing organizations like Gold House and Heart of Dinner have served as a touchstone for cross-cultural collaboration and representation. But it’s also imperative that those outside of the AAPI community also offer meaningful support, especially during AAPI Heritage Month.
One such approach is to champion the many beauty brands founded and operated by AAPI on the shelves. From sustainable skincare steeped in Japanese tradition to makeup artist essentials illuminating TikTok to saffron-inspired start-ups, they exemplify the richness and ingenuity of the many cultures that make up the AAPI community. Plus, you just might find the product that will take your beauty routine to the next level.
After years of working with beauty brands, founder Amy Liu decided to create her own, with sensitive skin in mind. (Tower 28 takes its name from a lifeguard tower in Santa Monica that serves as a hangout for locals.) Every product in the line, including the line’s best-selling tinted sunscreen, the blush balm and a restorative facial mist, is formulated in accordance with National Eczema Association guidelines to avoid any potential irritants.
Soft Services may only be a year old, but the skincare brand has already made an impact on the beauty industry, shifting attention from the face to the areas below the neck. Founded by two Glossier alumni, it applies go-to ingredients in percentages high enough to treat thicker skin on the body, targeting stubborn issues like ingrown hairs, keratosis pilaris and body acne, all in style. .
House of M
After a period of postpartum depression led Anne Nguyen Oliver to the benefits of medical-grade saffron for improving sleep, the Vietnamese embarked on research into the ingredient’s topical uses, particularly as an ultra treatment. -gentle for his hormonal melasma. This discovery inspired her to launch House of M in 2019, starting with a serum containing the purest quality of saffron (called negin), which sold three times. Nguyen Oliver’s California line has since expanded to include two additional skincare products.
Following requests from her vast digital community, beauty influencer-turned-entrepreneur Deepica Mutyala launched an inclusive makeup line in 2018. It features products inspired by Mutyala’s own hacks (such as using red lipstick to correct dark spots). dark circles under the eyes) and has become a favorite. from Phenomenal founder Meena Harris and dermatologist Shereene Idriss, MD, who is particularly fond of the brand’s mineral sunscreen.
Japan has long been a player in the world of skincare (see: Shiseido and SK-II), but DAMDAM, co-founded by Giselle Go and Philippe Terrien, represents the next enduring iteration of J-beauty. Made entirely in Japan, the line’s formulas are infused with traditional ingredients like shiso leaves, rice and konnyaku.
After making a name for himself as the go-to makeup artist for Gigi Hadid, Camilla Cabello, and Joan Smalls, Vietnamese prodigy Patrick Ta packed that explosive aesthetic and created his own makeup line in 2019. Steeped in shades and textures designed to give skin a dewy, sculpted glow, the product line covers face and body. He leveraged his pro pedigree by pairing complementary colors in a best-selling blusher palette to ensure a pop of color with long-lasting wear.
Woo Skin Essentials
The art of tattooing is necessarily tied to skincare, so it wasn’t a complete surprise when Brian Woo, the Los Angeles-based tattoo artist better known as Dr. Woo, launched his own line of products. in 2020. Known for its single-needle designs — and A-list clientele, which includes everyone from Bella Hadid to Zoë Kravitz — Woo focuses on the essentials for a healthy canvas, including a fairly gentle cleanser bar for even freshly inked skin.
Eggs are known for their high nutritional value and have therefore been a mainstay of Asian skincare for centuries, but they are decidedly not vegan. With Superegg, founder Erica Choi set out to replicate this diet using all-plant-based formulations, combining proven ingredients with botanical extracts. The line includes all the elements of a complete (but simplified) routine, including a deliciously creamy cleanser.
Featured backstage at big-name runways (Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler), nail artist Jin Soon Choi is known as much for her carefully curated range of nail colors as she is for her namesake salons. In recent years, it’s branched out into soft, seasonal nail appliqués and a dedicated nail care range, proving there’s more to a polished manicure than polish alone.
BagSnob founder Tina Craig introduced her first skincare product, Retinol Resurfacing Compound, fashion influencer style: by giving away samples during Paris Fashion Week. Once known for its multi-step skincare routine, it has sought to change the process with its thoughtful and effective formulas, which use proprietary technology to deliver active ingredients exactly where they’re needed most.
Tatcha was among the first skincare brands to hire a makeup artist; it was none other than Daniel Martin, who was responsible for Meghan Markle’s 2018 wedding makeup. It was a smart move for founder Victoria Tsai, whose products are inspired by age-old Japanese beauty rituals. The line also offers resolutely modern formulations, adjacent to make-up, such as a new mineral sunscreen that is as transparent and smooth as silk.
Minimalist in spirit, CLE Cosmetics (short for Creative Lass Esthetic) applies cutting-edge Korean technologies to makeup and skincare essentials, resulting in deliciously plush textures and hybrid formulas. CLE Cosmetics founder Lauren Jin rarely goes without the brand’s innovative lip powder, which she applies to lips and cheeks for a natural complexion.
Therapist and life coach Tina Chow Rudolf was inspired to create a conscious beauty brand after seeing the mental benefits of a daily ritual in her practice. Through Strange Bird, she aims to encourage a regular practice of “positive impact skincare,” which combines Chinese traditions with effective formulations. Highlights of the line are the gentle clay cleanser and a lightweight hyaluronic acid moisturizer.
Founded by three sisters who noticed a lack of makeup options for dark skin on the shelves, CTZN Cosmetics is an edited collection best known for its nude lipsticks, which come in 25 variations. Product offerings also include lip liners and glosses, all in an equally wide range of shades meant to suit every wearer imaginable.
Riki loves Riki
As light rings were a game-changer in the beauty world, especially on social media, Wanchen Kaiser and her husband, Erik, took the concept one step further with a line of sleek mirrors framed in bright LED lights. Riki Loves Riki’s mirrors also come with different dimming levels, a magnetized phone holder, and even Bluetooth capabilities, making them ideal for makeup experts and beginners alike.
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