May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and a timely opportunity to highlight some of the AAPI entrepreneurs who are reshaping the beauty industry. For these AAPI-founded beauty brands, it’s not just about creating new formulas or addressing the previously unmet needs of their founders (although that’s certainly part of what they’re doing, too). It’s about bringing more viewpoints and experiences to the table, increasing visibility and access, and making the industry a more diverse and inclusive place. Here, a few of our favorite brands for makeup, skin, and more.
Just from the bright, fun packaging alone, we fell in love with this Black- and Asian women-founded line called Topicals. Founders Claudia Teng and Olamide Olowe have teamed up to create science-backed skin care to treat chronic skin conditions that they both grew up with. Got eczema or dry skin? Try the Like Butter kit. The company also donates a portion of proceeds to mental health movements, which we love.
Having experienced the same struggles navigating the beauty aisles, Marie Kouadio Amouzame and Alice Lin Glover saw a hole in the skin-care market for people of color. After quitting their 9-to-5s, the former Google employees joined forces in 2019 to create Eadem, a skin-care company founded with skin of color in mind. Its debut product, Milk Marvel Dark Spot Serum, treats hyperpigmentation, a common skin condition among their communities.
Filipina-founded brand LESSE is all about organic skin care and simplifying your rituals with effective essentials. Founder Neada Deters created the brand to create a more diverse and inclusive space in the beauty industry and to celebrate “infinite modes of beauty that already exist within you.” Don’t miss the Regeneration Mist, a soothing and hydrating daily treatment.
If most makeup stresses out your skin, you need to get into Tower 28 asap. Founded by Amy Liu, its clean makeup is made for sensitive skin—and the formulas are so easy to use. For summer, we’re loving the Bronzino Illuminating Cream Bronzer, which comes in five shades that create that just-came-from-the-coast glow.
Then I Met You$38
Charlotte Cho, the founder of K-Beauty ecomm site Soko Glam and skin-care line Then I Met You, has tried just about every cleansing balm there is. Is it any wonder that TIMY’s Living Cleansing Balm is one of the best? Start your cleansing routine with the balm; finish with the soft, supple skin you’ve been looking for.
Shaz & Kiks$62
Founded by two sisters, Shaz + Kiks creates modern formulas based on Ayurvedic principles. Its Back to Your Roots Pre-Wash comes in versions for curly and fine hair types (all the better to get results!) and is inspired by the hair oil “recipes” their grandmother created for the women in their Indian family.
Since launching their own product line in 2017, Glow Recipe co-CEOs Christine Chang and Sarah Lee have built a loyal following of people who can’t get enough of their fruit-infused skin care. Their brightening (and best-selling) Watermelon Glow line is a great place to start if you’re curious about K-Beauty.
Cocokind founder Priscilla Tsai created her skin-care brand with the goal of dismantling the concept of “aspirational beauty.” Instead, her accessibly priced products are designed to hydrate and support the skin barrier—and to help people internalize the reality that they’re already enough as they are.