The western beauty world has been forever changed by the explosion of Asian beauty, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to influential female Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) bringing their unique lens, experiences, and expertise to makeup, skincare, and beyond. Whether their journeys involve bringing Asian beauty philosophies and approaches to the United States, creating products for their community’s skin tones, or simply taking the unconventional route of becoming an entrepreneur — they’ve persevered through it all, while also building amazing brands. To support this gift-giving season, we’d like to shout out ten of the most influential AAPI beauty leaders that you should know about.
1. Soko Glam by Charlotte Cho
About Soko Glam: Charlotte Cho and her husband, David, launched Soko Glam in 2012; however, it was not supposed to be a business. Instead, the two saw it as a passion project that eventually grew into something bigger than they could have ever imagined.
At the heart of everything Soko Glam does is a desire to inspire good days ahead for everyone. Due to this, Soko Glam makes a point to give back to organizations making a meaningful impact on communities, which includes Black Lives Matter, Hate Is a Virus, Heart of Dinner Stop AAPI Hate, and many others.
Soko Glam knows that what you put on your skin is important. This is why they scour and test thousands of products to ensure that their curations are authentic, safe, and provide superior results.
You can find out more about Soko Glam and shop their collections here.
About Charlotte Cho: Charlotte Cho, a California native, travelled to South Korea in 2008 to assist Samsung in its marketing and communications department. During her trip, she met and married US Army Captain David K. Cho, and they both began curating Korean skincare and makeup products to the U.S. market.
Along with Soko Glam, the two also created “The Klog”, which is a platform that educates community members on the importance of adapting the Korean “skin first” philosophy to their daily routines. In 2018, Charlotte also launched In Then I Met You: A premium skincare line, inspired by the Korean concept of Jeong, a deep connection that encourages empathy and generosity while creating a sense of belonging.
Charlotte hopes that learning about beauty from a Korean perspective will change the way you think about your skin and how you treat it. She is constantly striving to empower people with the knowledge they need to have confidence in their skin.
Currently, their company, Soko Glam, is considered one of the most prominent firms specializing in K-Beauty products and treatments in the U.S. Charlotte is also known to be a major contributor to the current K-Beauty emergence in the U.S.
Pictured: Charlotte Cho Source: Forbes
2. Uma by Shrankhla Holecek
About UMA: Uma is a luxury beauty and wellness collection made of rare, precious botanicals grown in India and built around the 5000-year-old wisdom of Ayurveda. Every ingredient is cultivated with the utmost care and obsessively considered for its efficacy and holistic healing benefits for the skin, body, mind, and spirit.
For centuries, the Uma estate has farmed and crafted the world’s finest organic oils, securing the coveted role of trusted supplier to the world’s most prestigious beauty brands, such as Tom Ford and Estée Lauder. Uma’s botanicals are raised on the Uma estate, which is a 100-acre meadow that was carefully chosen for its rich, nutritious soil. Uma’s caretakers select the finest seeds and care for them through the growing season. This results in unparalleled purity and amazing therapeutic benefits.
Uma embraces technological advancements in all of its processes but believes technology will never be a substitute for experience, judgment, and personalized attention to products. This is why the brand carefully inspects every harvest and handcrafts its oils in small batches. Every bottle of Uma is the culmination of rich tradition, powerful science, and love. Uma aims to transform skin and overall well being, with products as distinctive as the women who wear them.
You can learn more about Uma and shop their oils here.
About Shrankhla Holecek: Shrankhla Holecek was raised in India where she was immersed in the knowledge and cultural tradition of Ayurveda and holistic medicine. When Shrankhla moved to Beverly Hills for business school, she soon found herself surrounded by misappropriations of the Indian rituals and Ayurvedic practices she had grown up with. Frustrated, she decided it was time to create a line of products with integrity and one that would do justice to her family’s heritage.
Uma is named after Shrankhla’s aunt, who played an important role in raising both her and her sister. She hopes to honor her aunt with a brand that celebrates her generous spirit and strong sense of self. Shrankhla wants the brand to bring out the inner Uma that we all have. Her aunt taught her that true beauty is found in simplicity, integrity, and equilibrium, and Uma honors that by ensuring every drop of their oil consists of the same.
Pictured: Shrankhla Holecek Source: WM Magazine
3. Live Tinted by Deepica Mutyala
About Live Tinted: The onset of Live Tinted began when the founder, Deepica Mutyala, went viral with her red lipstick hack video, which showed how to combat dark under-eye circles and hyperpigmentation using red lipstick. In it, she gave a lot of tips specifically to women who have complexions similar to hers. Shortly after, she founded Live Tinted, a beauty brand whose mission is to create products that don’t exclude people from their shade offering.
Live Tinted officially launched a digital community focused on inclusive and diverse beauty, which shapes a storytelling platform focused on underrepresented people in beauty, along with their culture and identity journeys. Live Tinted believes that beauty is a vehicle for connection. Their multicultural community offers a place to discuss all things beauty and culture, and have those discussions lead product development.
This year, for Diwali, Deepica is joining forces with Meena Harris, founder of Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, a social enterprise e-commerce platform and media company to create a special gift set, which includes three Live Tinted Huesticks, in the shades Legacy, Origin, and Change; Live Tinted’s RAYS Copper Eye Masks; a Phenomenal bright orange hoodie that says “phenomenally brown”; and a handcrafted Diya oil lamp. Deepica and Meena partnered to celebrate the new generation of South Asian entrepreneurs, executives, and artists.
You can find out more about Live Tinted and shop their collections here.
About Deepica Mutyala: Deepica Mutyala is a South-Asian beauty entrepreneur, businesswoman, and founder and CEO of Live Tinted, a multicultural community about beauty and culture. Her viral Youtube video, currently sporting 10 million views, has launched her into appearances on The Today Show and The Dr. Oz Show, as well as featuring in the New York Times, CNN, Vogue, Marie Claire, Refinery29, and other media outlets.
From 2015 to 2018, Deepica dedicated her efforts as an on-air beauty expert, YouTuber, and activist collaborating with brands on panels and campaign efforts geared toward minority representation. She’s partnered with major beauty brands including Estee Lauder, Coty, LVMH, and Unilever. She’s also been seen in commercials for L’Oreal and Samsung airing during the 2018 Academy Awards.
Pictured: Deepica Mutyala Source: Forbes
4. Tatcha by Vicky Tsai
About Tatcha: Months from birthing her first child, Vicky Tsai eagerly studied the natural Japanese ingredients and timeless rituals that transformed her skin. Alongside a team of scientists, geisha, and cultural advisors – from Kyoto to San Francisco – she began a learning journey that continues to this day. Tatcha is a celebration of the wisdom and wonders learned along Vicky’s journey through life.
Tatcha promises to help bring you harmony from skin to soul. They’re phasing out the use of “normal” as a skin type because it implies that the natural condition of skin is somehow abnormal. Additionally, they’re phasing out “anti-aging,” as a term because they believe that aging is a gift and that skin should be celebrated at every age. Every formula is crafted at the Tatcha Institute in Tokyo, where leading scientists innovate within tradition: balancing timeless Japanese botanicals with proven clinical ingredients to work with skin, not against it.
Tatcha is invested in making quality education accessible to all. In 2014, they created the Beautiful Faces, Beautiful Futures fund to keep girls in school to reach their potential through Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program, and to bring diverse books to underserved communities in the United States through Room to Read’s U.S. literacy initiative by the end of 2021. To date, their support has provided 6M days of school for Girls’ Education Program students and will soon support the printing and distribution of 70,000 diverse books in the Bay Area with the U.S. literacy initiative.
You can find out more about Tatcha and shop their collections here.
About Vicky Tsai: About 10 years ago, Vicky Tsai, a Taiwanese-American, decided to leave her thriving career and travel the world in search of happiness and meaning in her life. Her job in corporate America caused Vicky to be disillusioned and suffer from acute dermatitis that required daily steroids and antibiotics.
After quitting her job, Vicky unexpectedly found herself in Kyoto, where she encountered a culture of harmony, beauty, and well-being. Her life-changing moment, though, was when she had a meeting with a geisha. She learned some of their natural skincare secrets which healed her skin and soul in the truest sense and she wanted to bring the same experience back with her to the U.S.
Today, Tatcha is available in Sephora and QVC and is the second-fastest-growing, women-led company on the Inc 5000 list.
Pictured: Vicky Tsai Source: Mecca
5. Peach & Lily by Alicia Yoon
About Peach & Lily: Peach & Lily’s mission is simple – to empower you to transform your skin. Whatever your skin concerns, struggles, or goals, Peach & Lily aims to provide you with the knowledge and Korean skincare products you need to achieve your best and most healthy skin yet. Since Alicia Yoon launched Peach & Lily, the brand has embraced and created ground-breaking K-Beauty products and innovations, such as the Acne Spot Dots.
The brand uses natural ingredients along with innovative skincare technologies to heal and transform your skin from the inside-out and is very transparent about their curation process. Peach & Lily rejects the use of harsh chemicals to induce temporary improvements since these short-term gains can have significant mid and long-term downsides. The brand promises to always provide you with 100% Worry Free skincare with formulas that deliver big results with zero compromises.
You can find out more about Peach & Lily and shop their collections here.
About Alicia Yoon: Alicia Yoon’s love of skincare comes from a personal place. She struggled with severe eczema and problematic skin growing up, worrying that her skin would be itchy, rashy, and dry for her entire life. Alicia attended esthetician school in Korea and discovered the knowledge, techniques, and Korean Beauty product technologies that helped her take back control of her skin.
For the past 20 years, Alicia has continued to study skincare ingredients, formulas, and techniques in both Korea and the USA, while also obtaining her New York esthetician license and practicing her own unique and effective skincare treatments on friends, family, and customers.
Currently, Alicia is working on the Peach Skincare Academy, which you can follow to keep up with content on skincare and esthetician-led expertise to help you achieve your healthiest, best skin yet.
Pictured: Alicia Yoon Source: Makeup.com
6. Glow Recipe by Christine Chang and Sarah Lee
About Glow Recipe: Glow Recipe is a K-beauty-inspired brand that formulates natural, fruit-powered skincare designed to help bring out your inner glow. All of the brand’s products are 100% natural and cruelty-free. Additionally, the brand is Leaping Bunny Certified and promises to never formulate with animal by-products, environmental hazards, and colorants.
Glow Recipe is built on the philosophy of taking it day by day, skin by skin. The brand knows that skin changes daily and it wants to empower you to love and treat your skin based on its ever-changing needs.
Glow Recipe is committed to giving back to both the planet and organizations that better the world. Sustainability and charitable giving are both integral to Glow Recipe’s mission. It’s constantly looking for ways to give back to the environment by reducing its carbon footprint and give back to communities through mentorship, allyship & monetary support.
You can find out more about Glow Recipe and shop their collections here.
About Christine Chang and Sarah Lee: When Glow Recipe founders Christine Chang and Sarah Lee were living in New York and working in the beauty industry, they noticed global brands looking to Korea for the latest advancements in skincare and ingredients. Christine and Sarah found that the whole industry was intrigued, but the K-beauty brands didn’t share some key secrets behind the approach.
Both Christine and Sarah grew up in Korea, where beauty was interwoven into their everyday lives. Their mothers and grandmothers took pride in their beauty routines, utilizing natural ingredients as much as possible. Witnessing this over the years is what inspired them to introduce Glow Recipe to the world.
Christine and Sarah’s mission with Glow Recipe was to introduce the latest skincare innovations from South Korea to the world and offer accessible best-in-class skincare. They also wanted to educate consumers on K-beauty trends and how to use advanced ingredients to get the best out of their skincare routines.
Pictured: Sarah Lee and Christine Chang Source: Kwiat
7. Tower 28 by Amy Liu
About Tower 28: Tower 28, which was created by Amy Liu, is known for its clean formulas, beach-inspired shades, colorful packaging, and accessible price points. According to its website, Tower 28 is the place where two iconic LA worlds come together. It sits at the crossroads of the Santa Monica pier and gritty Venice Beach. A meeting place for locals, Tower 28 symbolizes community, healthy fun, and clean living.
Tower 28’s products are non-toxic, non-irritating, vegan, and cruelty free. The brand is very transparent with its consumers by keeping an updated list of ingredients that will never make the cut for its products.
This year, the brand launched a Class of 2021 Clean Beauty Summer School, which is a collective effort by founders and leaders in the beauty industry to support the growth of majority BIPOC-owned small clean beauty businesses. The Class is coming together to provide education, network mentorship and opportunity to help accelerate BIPOC entrepreneurs. The mission behind the program is to make the beauty industry more diverse and inclusive.
You can find out more about Tower 28 and shop its collections here.
About Amy Liu: Amy Liu struggled with compromised, inconsistent, eczema-prone skin since she was in college. After looking for products for her skin type, she noticed there weren’t any makeup products that addressed these issues. Amy wanted to wear makeup when she had flare-ups, but her biggest fear was making it worse by using products.
Amy’s parents immigrated to America from Taiwan, which is what inspired Tower 28. Being born in the U.S. and raised in California, she didn’t feel that she fit the typical standards of the American beauty culture which surrounded her. This influenced her decision to integrate a beach theme, with the shores of California being filled by more than just blue eyes and blonde hair.
Pictured: Amy Liu Source: The Every Mom
8. Strange Bird by Tina Rudolf
The Company: Strange Bird Beauty is an all-natural skincare brand that combines ancient Chinese beauty traditions with high vibrational alchemy to help you create a daily practice that supports your skin goals and your life goals. Strange Bird’s products are supercharged with the magic of flower and gem essences to help you reconnect with yourself.
Through Strange Bird, Tina Rudolf honors her skincare-obsessed Chinese mother and grandmother by incorporating the ingredients ginger, ginseng, and goji berry. Each of these ingredients serve an important purpose in skin care; the teachings of which have been passed down to her from her family.
The brand donates 1% of sales to supporting women’s mental health and is Leaping Bunny Certified and USDA Certified Organic (or ECOCERT). Additionally, Strange Bird’s packaging is almost entirely recyclable.
You can find out more about Strange Bird and shop its collections here.
About Tina Rudolf: As a child, Tina Rudolf saw her mom doing extensive, daily skincare rituals. Those two-hour, 12-step skincare routines and twice-daily showers were a part of something that Tina, a first-generation Chinese-American, says is deeply embedded in her culture. Tina’s mother taught her that skincare is self-care and a time to connect with yourself.
As an adult, Tina found skincare presented her with the very same opportunity. Her daily ritual was a time to truly be herself, connect to herself, feel present, and feel free. At the same time, Tina was supporting other women as a social worker and life coach. When she became pregnant with her daughter, Gaia, she began to dream of starting a business, which is how Strange Bird began.
Strange bird, Tina Rudolf’s nickname, was given to her by her husband of 16 years who calls her a very strange bird. For Tina, Strange Bird doesn’t only represent the mission of celebrating your authenticity, but is personal and has become a love letter to her very own family of strange birds.
Pictured: Tina Rudolf Source: Parents
9. Common Heir by Cary Lin
About Common Heir: Common Heir was founded by Cary Lin and Angela Ubias and is plastic-free, cruelty-free, biodegradable, and silicone-free. The brand was founded on the idea that even the most coveted skincare can also be kind to the environment.
Common Heir is clinically tested and Leaping Bunny certified. Additionally, the brand is a member of 1% for the Planet and partners with Ocean Blue Project to donate $1 from every email signup, equivalent to removing one pound of microplastics from the ocean. It also offers carbon neutral shipping.
During the pandemic, Common Heir launched their first product, which is a zero plastic, low-impact 10% Vitamin C Serum. The product’s zero plastic outer packaging and biodegradable capsules put no burden on the consumer to recycle the product properly. As important as recycling is, you can be ensured the packaging does not harm the environment even if it ends up in your trash can instead of your recycling bin.
You can learn more about Common Heir and shop their Vitamin C Serum here.
About Cary Lin: Cary Lin immigrated to the United States at the age of 5 and grew up in Berkeley, CA, which she found to be a unique place since it felt like everyone recycled, cared about environmental causes, and valued entrepreneurship. As a first generation Chinese-American, Cary felt caught between two beauty standards that she never truly fit into. As a result, her love for skincare isn’t really about conforming to a particular look, but rather about finding whatever brings out the best, most confident version of yourself.
Cary, a graduate of Harvard and MIT, always felt as if she’d never fit in perfectly to any given cultural idea because she occupied the space between multiple cultural beauty ideals. This is why Cary isn’t forward about leaning into her specific ethnicity throughout her journey with Common Heir. Instead, Cary and Common Heir’s co-founder, Angela Ubias, choose to focus on the things that unite the two. Common Heir was born out of this vision, Cary’s belief in our collective power to make change, and her quest to preserve beauty in the world.
Pictured: Cary Lin Source: Popsugar
10. Humanist Beauty by Jennifer Norman
About Humanist Beauty: Humanist Beauty, a Certified B Corporation, Social Enterprise Alliance member, and Leaping Bunny Approved business, is a beauty brand dedicated to the life-long practice of self-love. The brand is the first launched by The Human Beauty Movement (The HBM), a purpose-driven company on a mission to support inclusion, wellness, and sustainability in the beauty industry and beyond.
Humanist Beauty believes it has a responsibility to be a better beauty brand and stand for radical inclusivity. Additionally, Humanist Beauty believes in giving before receiving. The brand has donated funds to Gates Philanthropy Partners and Change.org to support projects that help those affected by the COVID pandemic. Donations have also been made to the mighty Black Lives Matter and Hate is a Virus social causes. And notably, the brand commits to donating 3% of gross revenues – not net revenues or net profits – to well-vetted 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that improve the well-being of underserved humans and enhance environmental health.
The Human Beauty Movement, including all Humanist Beauty operations, is a carbon-neutral organization with offsets made through carbonfund.org reforestry projects. All formulas are made from scratch, and corners are never cut when it comes to the quality and wholesomeness of the ingredients used. Every single ingredient used in every single product is carefully scrutinized for benefit, safety, and ethical sourcing. In terms of packaging, Humanist Beauty strives to use the most environmentally conscientious options it can and even offers a consumer recycling service of old products through a Zero Waste Program.
To learn more about Humanist Beauty and shop its products, check out this page.
About Jennifer Norman: Jennifer Norman was born in South Korea, but at the age of two, she was adopted by a Caucasian family and raised in a very white suburban neighborhood. She had no connections to her Korean heritage or to Korean culture, so growing up, she often felt like the ugly duckling and like she didn’t belong.
Jennifer was completely floored when K Pop and K Beauty became such massive global phenomena. Witnessing the elevation of Korean culture in such an aspirational light gave her a sense of pride that she had never felt before in her life. She had always known that fermentation was a big part of Korean culture, so it made sense to her that it would find its way into beauty ingredient technology.
Throughout her journey, Jennifer mentions being fascinated by the profound wellness benefits of natural botanical oil fermentation. When she first discovered that Korean fermented oils (FermentOils) significantly outperform their original counterparts in antioxidant activity and feel, Jennifer knew she had to pay homage to her heritage by including them in her first formula, the Herban Wisdom Facial Oil.
Pictured: Jennifer Norman for Humanist Beauty