By Hannah Muehlberger
If you haven’t gotten the memo, May is Asian American Pacific Islander Awareness month! Founded in 2020, Stop AAPI Hate is a nonprofit organization that runs the Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center, which tracks incidents of hate and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. In 2009, Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, became a celebration of the innumerable contributions, vibrant cultures, and rich heritage of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in the United States. 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. Many of these brands also sit at the forefront of the industry, thanks to founders both stateside and abroad who have captured longstanding skin-care and wellness rituals and distilled them into products that meet—and most certainly redefine—contemporary beauty standards. So we have rounded up some of the most renowned, life-changing, and beauty-defining brands founded by AAPI beautifiers to support AAPI awareness month.
With fans of this Japanese skincare brand including celebrities like Selena Gomez and Megan Markle, it is no wonder why these products are deemed the holy grail of skincare. What makes Tatcha so astonishing is that their products are so gentle, yet so effective in exfoliation and powerful medical-grade ingredients like retinol, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), and anthocyanin. Some of their most popular and potent products that get the job done with grace include their Violet-C Brightening Serum, Texture Tonic Liquid Exfoliating Treatment, and their Dewy Skin Water Cream.
The Violet-C Brightening Serum is a highly concentrated, fast-acting serum made with two types of glow-boosting vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that defends skin against pollution and prevents visible signs of aging. To maximize the effects of vitamin C, this formula includes Japanese beautyberry to boost and stabilize this potent ingredient. The light and fast-absorbing texture also feature fruit-derived AHAs that gently resurface dull skin for more radiant results, while Japanese angelica root extract helps target dark spots, acne scars, and discoloration for a more even complexion. If you are looking for something a bit more exfoliating, Tatcha’s Texture Tonic Liquid Exfoliating Treatment instantly clarifies skin with our gentle liquid exfoliating treatment. Fruit AHAs, niacinamide, Japanese mugwort, wild rose, and functional fragrance visibly even skin tone and texture without stripping essential moisture for calm, smooth skin.
This treatment gently resurfaces for smooth skin with fruit AHAs, visibly evens skin tone, calms, reduces redness, firms the look of pores with niacinamide and Japanese mugwort, minimizes excess oil and sebum and visibly tightens pores with wild rose, and has a functional fragrance blend of sweet fennel and rosemary oil minimizes excess sebum and increases mental clarity. And last, but certainly not least, Tatcha’s Dewy Skin Cream is a rich moisturizing cream with plumping hydration from a hyaluronic acid complex, for a dewy, healthy-looking glow. This replenishing formula with antioxidant-packed Japanese purple rice boosts moisture retention, leaving skin feeling soft and smooth. This heavy moisturizer is packed with purple rice bran, which does way more than lend the contents a charming lilac hue. The ingredient is rich in anthocyanin, an antioxidant that helps your complexion recover from stress and pollution. Other botanical extracts, such as algae, thyme, and marjoram, are added to intensely hydrate, reinforce your skin barrier, and retain more water.
2. Tower 28
Since its 2019 launch, Tower 28 has gained a loyal following of celebs and makeup artists, thanks to its easy-to-apply vegan formulas. Everything is formulated to be sensitive and 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. The products that rosacea and eczema sufferers swear by include the SOS Intensive Rescue Serum, Sunny Day’s Tinted Sunscreen Foundation, and their Dream Team Lip + Cheek Set.
Their SOS Intensive Rescue Serum is a lightweight serum to help visibly reduce redness and irritation for softer, clearer-looking, and happier skin. Powered by a concentrated dose of stable hypochlorous acid, a heroic anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial, this intensive, skin-saving serum is on a mission to help soothe and purify chronically sensitive skin (blemishes, rosacea, eczema, etc.) and strengthen the skin barrier. As someone who has eczema and very sensitive skin, it is very difficult to find a foundation that not only won’t dry out my skin but also won’t make me break out in eczema patches. However, with Tower 28’s SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation, people with sensitive skin and skin issues can take a breath and not have to worry about getting oily skin from sunscreen and dry patches from the foundation. A two-in-one, fragrance-free mineral sunscreen foundation with SPF 30, light-medium buildable coverage, and a natural finish that’s safe for sensitive or problem skin, this foundation aids all of your skin irritation woes. With ingredients like prickly pear for reparative + skin softening, white sage for anti-inflammatory and helps neutralize free radicals from the sun, and aloe vera to soothe and calm UV stressed skin. Lastly, their Dream Team Lip and Cheek Set contains a limited edition set with two full-size bestsellers, the BeachPlease Cream Blush in Magic Hour (sun-kissed rosy nude) and ShineOn Milky Lip Jelly Gloss in Pistachio (milky nude pink). BeachPlease Cream Blush is buildable, blend-able, creamy balm formula for a perfect sun-kissed flush! Silicone-free, essential oil-free, and coconut-oil free, the formula is made specifically with sensitive skin types in mind. The included shade, Magic Hour is an award-winning bestseller! ShineOn Milky Lip Jelly Gloss is the alternative milk of lip gloss! Everything you love about a juicy gloss with none of the hang-ups. Never sticky + made with nourishing plant-based ingredients like apricot kernel oil and raspberry seed oil. Get ready for the healthiest, shiniest, most wearable gloss ever. The included shade, Pistachio, is the newest color in the collection!
3. Glow Recipe
Most famous for their Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, Glow Recipe is a clean Korean Beauty Brand in addition to having some of the best-smelling products out there, the brand also uses no parabens, SLS, SLES, phthalates, or mineral oil, among others. Glow Recipe was established in 2014 by Sarah and Christine Chang with eight beauty products, before being granted funding on the US business TV series Shark Tank. In 2018, the duo founded Glow Recipe’s sister brand, Sweet Chef, to help target specific skincare concerns.
Starting with the most famous Watermelon + AHA Glow Sleeping Mask, this is a skin-smoothing, cult-favorite nightly sleeping mask with watermelon, hyaluronic acid, and AHAs that gently exfoliate and refine the look of pores. The Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask is a luxuriously bouncy, breathable sleeping mask that smoothes and refines skin, overnight. This pillow-proof formula acts as a radiance-boosting hyaluronic acid face mask, formulated with soothing, amino-acid rich Watermelon Extract, hydrating Hyaluronic Acid, and pore refining AHAs that work while you sleep to gently exfoliate and clarify. It’ll quickly become your go-to face mask for glowing skin. Their Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum Brighten dark spots & even skin tone with our new clinically advanced Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum, a potent brightening serum that treats & prevents dark spots with 5 forms of vitamin C, guava, and tranexamic & ferulic acids for glowing, even-toned skin. Unlike any other vitamin C serum, our Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum delivers clinically-effective ingredients in a stable formula. This silky non-sticky gel is quick-absorbing and stays a beautiful pink hue (even over time) while delivering a radiant glow. Made to brighten the radiance of all skin types, this serum’s Vitamin C encapsulation technology treats and prevents dark spots over time and brightens skin without any harsh irritation. Finally, Glow Recipe’s Strawberry Smooth BHA + AHA Salicylic Acid Serum is powered by our 10% Clarity Acid Complex™–a special blend of 2% salicylic acid & mandelic acid (AHA+BHA), strawberry, azelaic acid, and succinic acid–this serum gently smooths texture, clears breakouts, and refines pores, while calming skin. These clarifying qualities are balanced with hydrating & soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid & allantoin to add moisture and protect your skin for a soft-glow finish. It’s time to ditch over-drying acid treatments & get Strawberry smooth! Gently smooth texture, clear breakouts, and refine pores, while calming skin with our most powerful, yet gentle daily clarifying BHA+AHA serum.
4. Peach and Lily
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. This brand is the best way to get glassy and refreshed skin!
Their Power Cocktail Lactic Acid Repair Serum is not your typical lactic acid serum. This unique power cocktail combines 10% lactic acid with 12 active extracts, each with special properties to deliver visible results. Our potent yet gentle formula is ideal for tackling even stubborn age-related skin issues and visibly restoring youth. It also helps prevent accelerated signs of aging. Visibly and dramatically lift firm, smooth lines, refine texture, even skin tone, and boost radiance. 10% lactic acid is uniquely cocktail-ed with 12 active extracts, including Panax ginseng and red algae, to repair and resurface, so that your skin can have a new beginning. Next Peach and Lily’s Glass Skin Veil Mist launched the first-ever iconic Glass Skin product in 2018 and sparked the Glass Skin movement. The Glass Skin Refining Serum has become a staple for hundreds of thousands of people, regardless of skin type or skin concern, to achieve skin that looks poreless, luminous, and translucent. We received daily requests for another transformative Glass Skin product. It took two years to perfect the ultimate compliment for our Glass Skin Refining Serum. Now, the wait is over!
This non-toxic, silicone-free hydrating mist delivers an instant glass skin look. Spritz throughout the day to keep skin replenished with hydration, antioxidants, and calming ingredients. Each day we face a host of skin stressors – this luxurious mist keeps skin glassy through it all. Wear on bare skin for a hydrated, glassy veil or under/over makeup as a skin-improving highlighter. Refreshing, lightweight, and highly moisturizing with major glow-staying power. Think of it as glass skin on tap – anytime, anywhere! A body product that Peach and Lily has is their KP Bump Boss Microderm Body Scrub, inspired by the super-smoothing Korean bath scrub, KP Bump Boss delivers the benefits of a chemical peel, microdermabrasion treatment, and skin-softener in one. 10% AHA, PHA, and micro-crystals smooth KP bumps and unclog pores while Korean spa ingredients, mugwort, barley, cica, and tea extracts visibly calm redness and nourish the skin. Hyaluronic acid, cucumber, and squalane deeply hydrate while being lightweight on the skin. Visibly transform your KP bumps, ingrown hairs, rough flaky skin, body breakouts, and strawberry legs with our scrub.
5. Hero Cosmetics
It can be hard to find over-the-counter acne treatments that actually work, but Hero Cosmetics is proof of the 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 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).
Starting with the famous Mighty Patch Original, The award-winning hydrocolloid patch visibly flattens and pulls gunk out of pimples overnight – so you can wake up to clearer-looking skin. No steroids needed! Another great product from Hero is their Rescue Balm. Just patched (or popped) a pimple? Reach for Rescue Balm — the only post-blemish solution designed to push your comeback into hyperspeed. This balm delivers intense moisture, visibly soothes upset skin, and evens and smooths textures. This multi-use moisture bomb handles 4 signs of trouble after a breakout. It’s dermatologist approved, and has zero fragrance or irritating ingredients – so it’s totally safe to use on just-patched (or popped) pimples. Gently blend a rice-sized amount onto the blemish area- or wherever your skin needs a replenishing boost.
Lastly, their Lightning Swipe serves powerful post-blemish brightening for smooth, illuminated skin. Effortlessly improves the look of post-blemish marks on face & body, so you feel like a shiny new you. Starring major-league brighteners (like the complex of Niacinamide + Tranexamic Acid) to even skin tone ASAP. Illuminates, resurfaces, and soothes in one step. No drying alcohols here – our pads keep it gentle with a combo of Heartleaf + Kombucha. Face, chest, shoulders, butt – these XL-sized pads swipe on in a flash. Dual-textured sides let you adjust the exfoliation so it’s just right.
If you are interested in more brands to celebrate AAPI month, check out this Glamour article to learn more!