In the decade-plus that I’ve been covering beauty—not to mention the many years prior I spent being a consumer and tried-and-true fan—I’ve seen firsthand how Asian beauty brands have completely revolutionized the industry. (Who can even remember what it was like before K-beauty won over our skincare-loving hearts?) So every May when Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month comes around, I love learning about new beauty brands I haven’t tried yet and seeing how far we’ve come in terms of representation.
After giving birth to her daughter, Jennifer Yen, a former actor, followed a traditional postpartum Chinese tradition called zuo yue zi that allows the mother’s body to rest after giving birth and incorporates superfoods. It ended up revitalizing her skin, inspiring her to launch Yensa in 2018. (She’s also the founder of Purlisse.) Yen acknowledges the appreciation and interest surrounding Asian beauty in recent years. “I believe this rise started happening when Asian Americans started representing themselves by creating their own beauty and wellness brands, bringing parts of their culture and unique perspectives into the beauty industry. And with this came more representation for us in the press, in campaigns, social media, and mainstream media. It’s about time that our flyness and impact are being recognized,” she says.
Despite the progress that has been made, Yen says that we still have a long way to go to “ensure that AAPI representation is amplified and not a passing trend but rather a permanent presence in the beauty industry.” Peach & Lily founder Alicia Yoon shares a similar sentiment, especially when it comes to beauty campaigns, influencer collaborations, and companies. “There are also so many beautiful ingredients, beauty techniques, philosophies, and modalities coming from all over Asia, and it’s important for beauty brands to give credit where it’s due, and I believe customers love that transparency and context of knowing where things come from,” she says.
Keep scrolling to learn about more AAPI- and Asian-founded beauty brands and which of their products you should add to your beauty routine this month and beyond.