We’re going to take a wild guess and say your beauty regimen—and approach to skin care—wouldn’t be the same without the influence of AAPI-owned beauty brands. Think about it: a dewy glow is practically synonymous with Tatcha’s celeb-loved skincare line. A watermelon- and hyaluronic acid-infused sleep mask (hi, Glow Recipe) is a non-negotiable to self-care Sunday. And your stacked skincare routine would be a lot more sparse if weren’t for the many Asian and Asian-American beauty brands serving up powerhouse formulas that are part of your daily repertoire.
The impact Asian and Asian-American-owned brands have had on the beauty landscape is far-reaching—and it’s made room for products and ingredients that are downright game-changing. (Looking at you, “bee glue”.) Many of these brands also sit at the forefront of the industry, thanks to founders both stateside and abroad who’ve captured longstanding skincare and wellness rituals, and distilled them into products that meet—and most certaintly redefine—contemporary beauty standards. Without their contributions, we would never know what glass skin is, experience the myriad Korean beauty innovations, or even think to double cleanse—now an integral step before applying moisturizer.
From mainstays like Tatcha and Glow Recipe to newcomers like Tower 28 and Kulfi Beauty, we pulled together a list of some of our must-have AAPI-owned beauty brands and products, including the ultimate bronzer for sensitive skin, the bright and cheery kohl eyeliners rooted in South Asian beauty traditions, and everything else worthy of a prime spot on your top shelf.
Japanese skin care brand Tatcha brand counts everyone from Selena Gomez to Meghan Markle as fans, and for good reason. With formulas and ingredients rooted in Japanese beauty practices, Tatcha’s products are both undeniably luxurious and effective—and we’re loyal to the Glamour Beauty Award-winning Essence and the cult-favorite Dewy Skin Cream.
Since its 2019 launch, Tower 28 has gained a loyal following of celebs and makeup artists, thanks to its easy-to-apply, vegan formulas. (One of the brand’s hero products is the Glamour Beauty Award-winning Bronzino, a bronzer for people who hate bronzer.) Everything is formulated to be sensitive skin-friendly due to the fact that founder Amy Liu has had eczema her entire adult life. The brand is certified by the National Eczema Association, and all of its products are hypo-allergenic, non-comedogenic, and dermatologist-tested.
Priscilla Tsai is no stranger to acne, and it’s her experience with cystic acne (both as a teenager and an adult) that prompted her in 2014 to quit her job as an equity researcher at J.P. Morgan and launch Cocokind, a skin care brand that offers gentle yet effective formulas at affordable price points. You can find Tsai’s many products—including its popular skin-care sticks—at major retailers like Ulta, Target, and Whole Foods.
Is there anything more fun than colorful eyeliner? (Answer: no.) Founded by Priyanka Ganjoo, Kulfi is all about celebrating the South Asian community through self-expression and beauty—and the brand carries a range of rainbow kajal liners that’ll get even the most minimalist beauty lovers to play around with makeup.
Watermelon sleeping masks? Avocado-infused serums? Banana soufflé creams? All of these juicy, fruit-infused bestsellers perched on your vanity are likely from Glow Recipe, the clean-minded K-beauty brand that’s brought multiple-step skincare routines to the masses.
Jin Soon Choi’s non-toxic nail polishes are a beauty editor staple: The 10-free formulas are as long-lasting as they are are beautiful, especially if you’re looking for dark, moody shades.
Peach & Lily
Your roadmap to glass skin begins (and ends) here. Founder Alicia Yoon trained as an esthetician in South Korea before launching Peach & Lily, the K-beauty brand known for its potent, fast-absorbing formulas (featuring ingredients like hyaluronic acid, fatty acids, peptides, and minerals) to give your skin instant bounce.
Ellis Brooklyn began as the brainchild of New York Times columnist Bee Shapiro in 2015, when she was pregnant with her first daughter Ellis (hint hint) and couldn’t find any luxury non-toxic fragrances to use. Inspired to fill that white space gap, Shapiro launched her own brand of clean, high-quality frangrances, including perfumes, nontoxic candles, and body care essentials.
It can be hard to find over-the-counter acne treatments that actually work, but Hero Cosmetics is proof of concept they can. After learning Koreans were using hydrocolloid patches to treat pimples, cofounder Ju Rhyu brought the idea stateside. She launched the brand on Amazon with one ~hero~ product: the Mighty Patch, which is a vegan sticker spot treatment that works overnight miracles on pimples. Hero Cosmetics has since expanded to cleansers, toners, and serums—all available at mega retailers like Target and Ulta (and Amazon, of course).
Brought to you by Glossier alums Annie Kreighbaum and Rebecca Zhou, Soft Services’ targeted body treatments are meant to be as desirable as any other hyped-up beauty product on your want list. Case in point: The brand’s Carea cream—which is housed in a sleek, photogenic bottle—is packed with the active ingredient urea to moisturize and exfoliate keratosis pilaris-prone skin.
Eadem is a relatively newcomer in the beauty space—the brand was built during the pandemic—but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the most buzzy brands on the market. (The brand won a Glossier Grant for Black Owned Businesses and is part of Sephora’s Accelerate Incubator Program.) Founders Alice Lin Glover and Marie Kouadio Amouzame are on a mission to challenge existing notions of skin care with Milk Marvel, a dark spot serum formulated to safely treat hyperpigmentation in melanin-rich skin.
Considering it’s founded by Tina Craig, one of the earliest fashion bloggers (does BagSnob sound familiar?), it should come as no surprise that U Beauty became an internet success practically overnight. The brand is known for its supercharged formulas that are meant to simplify your beauty routine and deliver real results.
Vietnamese celebrity makeup artist Patrick Ta (a.k.a. the master behind some of Gigi Hadid and Shay Mitchell’s glowiest looks) launched his namesake beauty line in 2019. You’ll find everything here from romantic cream blushes to lipsticks and eyeshadow palettes with serious color payoff.