Asian-Owned Beauty Brands Every Beauty Junkie Should Know
It’s no secret that traditional Asian skincare practices have long been highly sought after in the beauty industry. Since 2015, K-beauty sales have grown by 300%. Additionally, Chinese beauty and J-beauty have also become a rising focus for commoditizing ancient Asian recipes in the market. Undoubtedly, the Asian American community drives sales and innovation in the beauty industry. In 2017, Nielsen found that Asian-American women ages 18-34 spend 21% more on health and beauty aids compared to other communities.
But it’s not just our spending habits that’s transforming the industry. Behind the scenes, plenty of Asian women (and men!) are creating cutting-edge skincare lines and educating the community on natural products that take good care of the skin. Additionally, makeup and hair brands are popping up utilizing the same ingredients and philosophical approaches when it comes to beauty enhancements.
I created this solid list highlighting Asian-owned beauty brands that every beauty junkie should know. It includes big companies as well as independently owned boutiques that you must discover ASAP. Brands are organized by product category (skincare, makeup, hair care.). For the ones I’ve actually tried, I included a quote with my personal favorite product from the brand.
ASIAN-OWNED SKINCARE BRANDS
5YINA – Ervina Wu, Co-Founder
Environmental pollution, daily stress and out-of-balanced lifestyles are a few factors disrupting our biorhythms, constantly affecting our mind, body and skin. Through the lens of ancient philosophical theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a comprehensive healing system, 5YINA skincare harnesses potent botanical adaptogens with innovative research. This form of modern alchemy is the core of 5YINA’s products, which include seasonal duos of a beauty oil and hydrolaut.
Cocokind – Priscilla Tsai, Founder
Being clean and conscious isn’t enough for Cocokind founder Priscilla Tsai. She also believes that her certified organic skincare should be accessible to empowered women. Today, Cocokind can be found in over 3,000 US-based stockists (Whole Foods and Bed, Bath & Beyond, to name a couple), and Australia, as well as on its own e-commerce site. The superfood-based skincare enthusiast is proud of how the company can provide consumers with accessible, everyday wellness with affordable price points (everything retails for under $20) and where products are stocked (at mass market, large retail chains). It also has a Cocokind Impact Foundation where female entrepreneurs in the health, wellness, and sustainability industries that have social impact initiatives can access financial grants between $2,500 to $10,000.
My sister and I have been religiously using Cocokind’s Chlorophyll powder mask weekly. Being the oil-obsessive that I am, I’ve especially been mixing the powder with different types of oils to create the ultimate multi-functional concoction.
Dermovia – Anita Sun, CEO/Medical Esthetician and Marielle Scott, Co-Founder and Beautyprenuer
Can there be effective solutions that address everyday skincare problems? That’s exactly what CEO and Medical Esthetician Anita Sun and Co-Founder and Beautyprenuer Marielle Scott set out to accomplish when creating the visionary Dermovia. This duo unapologetically raises the bar when it comes to skin health and beauty innovation, which is apparent through Dermovia’s premiere shapewear lace facial masks. After the economy’s downturn, Dermovia’s founders were impassioned to develop specialized products not only affordable and convenient in use, but also as highly deliverable in results as a visit to the Esthetician.
Purlisse – Jennifer Yen, Founder
Purlisse was created as a means to share the beauty and spirit of former actress Jennifer Yen’s heritage. In her raw story of what it felt to grow up as a Chinese-American in Alabama, Jennifer set out to combine Asian wisdom and modern philosophy to deliver a results-driven skincare collection. In her words, “We are reinventing time-honored wisdom into high-performing, multi-tasking and skin-loving modern essentials” with products like multi-masks and serums.
Remy & Rose – Chatti Brown, Founder
In 2009, Chatti Brown began creating cold process soaps, coincidentally at a time when she began experiencing dry skin issues due to a relocation from positively unforgivable sunny Southern California to drier Colorado air. Frustrated with the lack of improvement using store bought brands that further irritated her skin, she looked to handmade soap as an alternate remedy. All soaps at Remy & Rose are made in small batches in handmade wooden molds using palm-free recipes and include lush oil ingredients including avocado oil, mango butter, fair-trade organic shea butter, cocoa butter and rice bran oil. Read more about my experiences using Remy and Rose products in a feature post I did when the brand was fairly new.
“Believe it or not, but Remy and Rose was one of my first exposures to a beauty brand made with ethically sourced, organic ingredients that I paid a lot of attention to. Although no longer produced, her Rice Shea Soap had the loveliest scent and my most favorite product so far has been the coffee scrub.”
Sabbatical Beauty – Adeline Koh, Founder
There’s something to appreciate about the core of Sabbatical Beauty; that it was founded with a political, intersectional feminist vision where beauty isn’t seen as a frivolous form of self-care, but rather, as a way of caring for ourselves that then allows us to better care for the people around us. After being frustrated with mighty claims of active ingredients listed on generic products that weren’t performing, Founder Adeline Koh took it in her own hands to create outstanding, wholesome products.
Skin Laundry – Yen Reis, Owner
When searching for advancements in skin technology, Yen Reis, creator of Skin Laundry, turned to Southeast Asia, specifically Singapore. Reis, of Vietnamese Chinese descent, started suffering from hormonal acne after having her third child, she said. She discovered mild laser treatments while living in Singapore, which successfully treated her skin issues. When she couldn’t find a comparable treatment after moving to Los Angeles, she partnered with medical professionals to develop her own and opened the first store in Santa Monica, California, in 2013. Today, Skin Laundry has 21 locations globally.
SLMD skincare – Dr. Sandra Lee, Founder
After studying thousands of cases and connecting with hundreds of patients, each living with their own stories of skincare struggles, Dr. Sandra Lee, took her more than ten years experience as a board certified Dermatologist to bridge the gap between visiting a doctor and traipsing down the skincare aisle. Her mission is to cut the clutter when it comes to effective skincare lines, primarily SLMD Skincare, and develop products using powerful ingredients that work into the hands of the people who need it most.
Soko Glam, Charlotte Cho, Founder
Soko Glam started out as a passion project out of the home of Charlotte Cho. In partnership with her husband David, they began curating products from then little-known Korean brands she discovered while living in South Korea from 2008 to 2013 during a public relations position for Samsung. From its popularity with U.S. consumer sales, the brand has ultimately expanded with a spin-off blog and YouTube channel as well as a Seoul office. Cho is also a licensed esthetician and wrote a book on Korean skincare, “The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin.”
Summer Fridays – Marianna Hewitt and Lauren Gores, Co-Founders
Summer Fridays is one of the newly launched beauty brands on this list, founded by beauty vlogger Marianna Hewitt and lifestyle blogger Lauren Gores. With a mission to create something with good-for-you ingredients that give skin selfie-worthy glow, the duo teamed up with industry experts to create its first product: a simple mask that will have skin looking gorgeous whether you’re hopping off a plane or just running out the door. Although incredibly young in its nature, the brand quickly grew a following BEFORE the first product was launched and there are promises of more to come that’ll give consumers confidence in clear, beautiful skin.
Tatcha – Victoria Tsai, CEO
Although not technically a J-beauty brand, the roots of Tatcha products and its philosophy lies in Japanese traditions. CEO Victoria Tsai (who is of Taiwanese American and not of Japanese descent) started Tatcha in 2009 following a trip to Kyoto where she met modern geisha and was inspired by their skincare regimen. She also translated a 200-year-old book that contained the “secrets” to geisha skincare, the “Miyakofuzoku Kewaiden” (or “Capital Beauty and Style Handbook”).
ASIAN-OWNED MAKEUP BRANDS
100% PURE® – Susie Wang, Co-Founder
Unlike other cosmetic products that may have been colored with FD&C dyes like Red Dye #40, Blue Dye #6, Yellow Dye #5, etc which could contain harmful coal tar, lead, mercury and other heavy metals, 100% PURE® cosmetics uses fruit dyed makeup. Products are colored from vibrant fruit, vegetable, tea and other plant pigments which contain an exorbitant amount of skin beneficial vitamins, antioxidants and other healthy phyto nutrients that make skin healthier. 100% PURE® also creates potent, result-driven skincare products that drive a strong belief that consumers should never have to choose between safe ingredients and healthy skin or gorgeous results.
EM Cosmetics – Michelle Phan, Founder
Inspired by the revelation of learning how makeup is a powerful medium of self-expression, beauty YouTube vlogger Michelle Phan created EM Cosmetics. Its products are geared towards giving you the tools you need to express yourself through colors, lines and other forms of creativity. Whether you are a new beauty enthusiast, a seasoned creator, or a bona fide pro artist, EM Cosmetics products are designed to be refined, effortless and useful in your own personal journey of self-expression.
HAN Skin Care Cosmetics – Susan Wong, Founder
Although already incredibly educated of the ingredients of products in the beauty industry during her tenure at Sephora, Susan Wong became more conscious about her own product usage during her pregnancy with her first child. After having no luck in finding green skin care products that fit her budget, she founded HAN Skin Care Cosmetics. This is 100% natural skin care and cosmetics line strives to offer pure, healthy and high quality color cosmetics formulated with nourishing butters, anti-aging antioxidants and pure minerals at affordable prices. HAN Skin Care Cosmetics’ innovative line combines effective skin care ingredients to promote healthy skin while packing in a punch of vibrant colors to enhance natural beauty in a safe manner.
J. Cat Beauty – Victor Chang, Founder
Founded by Victor Chang, J. Cat Beauty is a creative makeup brand full of fun and playful colors that can be mixed and matched for daring personalities. J. Cat Beauty is a cruelty-free brand that’s made especially for those who aspire to be makeup artists and those who love to experiment and play with products. Basically, it’s for those who are far from “basic.” Victor also founded NYX Cosmetics.
Julep – Jane Park, Founder
Julep was started based on a vision that beauty can be a fun and fearless experience for women. Adopting the phrase “BRAVE PRETTY,” Julep’s products are all about making a statement and being confident about it. The most unique proposition about Julep is the very specific way it heavily relies on its customers to be successful. Every new product is mass tested by a community of monthly subscribers before it’s fully designed and launched. With this extraordinary business model, Julep is able to launch more than 300 new products every year, which is 10 times faster than traditional beauty brands.
LeChat Nails – Newton Luu, President
Although Le Chat means cat in French, LeChat Nails also stands for the following principles: Learn, Experience, Create, Help, Achieve and Teach. Founder Newton Luu dreamed of changing the professional nail industry and with more than 20 years in leadership, LeChat continues to provide and develop cutting-edge products to consumers including thermal-activated mood changing polishes, the Gelée Powder Gel System and the Perfect Match Gel Polish & Nail Lacquer.
Mally Beauty – Mally Roncal, Founder
The personality of Mally Beauty packaging and products is closely related to Mally Roncal’s experience traveling across the globe doing makeup for some of the most fabulous faces in today’s world, including Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, Celine Dion, and Heidi Klum. Mally is a go-to makeup artist, sharing her advice in the pages of top magazines and on shows like Oprah, The Today Show, Rachael Ray, and The View. The brand itself boasts a collection of over 1,000 products coined as “bulletproof” beauty: user-friendly, multitasking products that truly stay put all day.
Velour Lashes – Mabel Lee, Founder/CEO
Velour Lashes began in 2011 as a dorm-room project by Founder and CEO, Mabel Lee, with her best friend, while Mabel was a student at the University of Toronto. After spending years of sourcing the softest material to perfect the luxurious Velour Lash Line, Mabel is proud to guarantee the art, craftsmanship and quality of each pair of Velour lashes. A strong guarantee that is exclusively worn by celebrities such as Kate Upton, Beyoncé and newlywed Meghan Markle. Every pair of Velour lashes is created for comfort and longevity and can be worn on average 25+ applications. Additionally, the lashes are made with ethically sourced, hypoallergenic fine materials such as mink and silk to mimic natural human lashes.
Veque – Audrey Siu, CEO & Founder
VEQUE is founded by a family of nail art experts, including CEO Audrey Siu, who have been sharing and teaching their craft for decades. Every facet of the VEQUE brand expresses the rich heritage and cultural identity of Vietnamese refugees marked by the French Indochine Vietnam era. Its color collection is carefully crafted to tell a story weaving in places, cultures and histories that inspire consumers. Veque specifically produces nail polish that is 9-free, vegan, cruelty free and handcrafted in the USA. What is most interesting is Veque’s color philosophy: that a woman’s choice in nail color is a direct reflection of who she is and not necessarily a decision she makes based on skin tone.
ASIAN-OWNED HAIR CARE BRANDS
Hairlab Chicago – Chanel Kwak, Master Stylist and Debbie Ansay-Martinez, Founder
Founders Debbie Ansay-Martinez and Master stylist Chanel Kwak have both experienced the devastating physical and emotional effects of hair loss. After living with alopecia, which occurs when the immune system attacks the hair follicles resulting in hair loss, Debbie and Chanel discovered the market had a serious void in quality options to address their symptoms. They founded founded Hairlab Chicago for individuals undergoing initial stages of hair loss, looking for preventative measures or dealing with total hair loss.
Lux Natural Hair – Debbie Ansay-Martinez, Founder and Leslie Oroc, Managing Partner
Lux Natural Hair is a small ethically sourced hair and hair care company, also founded by Debbie Ansay-Martinez, and also has Leslie Oroc on its executive leadership team. Similarly to how Hairlab Chicago was dreamed up, Debbie started Lux Natural Hair after dealing with hair loss of her own with having alopecia. Frustrated with the lack of quality of the extensions she kept running into, Debbie ultimately ran into a European hair company known to source from true donors that are properly compensated for their donations and also given beautiful new hairstyles so that they can feel beautiful walking out of the salon. Through a shared focus on providing quality, ethically-sourced materials to the public, Lux Natural Hair was born. The brand also has a line of hair care products perfect for use with hair extensions.
Which of these Asian-owned beauty brands have you tried so far? Did I miss any that should be on this list?