K-beauty took the world by storm. Asian brands like Shiseido and shu uemura are staples in makeup kits and vanities. New homegrown brands like Allies of Skin and Sunnies Face have caught the eye of international consumers. Asia is ripe with beauty knowledge and products — and it’s safe to say that these have inspired and informed tastemakers and changemakers who are of Asian descent in the U.S. even though they didn’t grow up in the biggest continent.
Makeup brands founded by Asian-Americans are going toe-to-toe with more established makeup houses. Considering that makeup is 18.2 per cent of the international cosmetics industry, it’s quite a feat! How did they do it, you ask? By going back to their roots.
We chatted with ONE/SIZE’s Patrick Starrr and Wander Beauty’s Divya Gugnani on how they infused their Asian heritage in their makeup brands and how they made a space for themselves in the beauty industry.
If you ask Patrick why he chose to start a makeup brand, it’s a no-brainer. He’s one of the biggest beauty YouTubers on the platform, with over 4.4 million subscribers. “Becoming the founder of a makeup brand is something that I’ve thought about since the beginning of my career,” he shared. “Starting my own brand was a love letter to my audience and a way to show others that they can achieve their wildest dreams.” Now, he has ONE/SIZE, a makeup brand that celebrates individuality, creativity, and acceptance for all.
Meanwhile, Divya’s craving for “clean, fuss-free, fool-proof beauty” came from experiencing two high-risk pregnancies. “I became very aware of the products I was using and started to educate myself on clean beauty,” she explained, saying she completely changed her beauty routine afterwards. But as a mum and successful serial entrepreneur, she was always “time-starved” and “living her life in motion”. She also said that there weren’t any brands that “spoke to her” at that time. So, she decided to make her own travel-friendly, multi-tasking makeup alongside her co-founder Lindsay Ellingson. Hence, the birth of Wander Beauty, which offers “clean beauty essentials you reach for every day, wherever you wander”.
Inspired by their roots
Patrick and Divya’s beauty choices were informed by Asian beauty practices they knew growing up. “When I was growing up, my mum used to put milk on my face as the lactic acid helps with uneven skin tone and texture,” Divya reminisced. This inspired her to make the Fast Lane Instant Facial™ Mask, a chemical exfoliator with 10 per cent AHA and 2 per cent BHA.
She also shared that her beauty roots lie in Indian Ayurveda, “where everything is natural and organic”. This inspired Wander Beauty’s mission of using only “ingredients that drive maximum results with minimum effort”. Divya’s goal was to create multitasking makeup with clean, skin-loving ingredients that “work with your skin, not against it”.
Meanwhile, Patrick was inspired by Asian skincare practices and ingredients. He used Filipino-inspired ingredients like calamansi juice (found in the Secure the Blur Hydrating Under Eye Patches), which is used as a natural brightening agent in the Philippines. As another homage to his homeland, he also used fun, Filipino-inspired shade names for his Patrick Starrr Visionary Eyeshadow Palette. “Two of the eyeshadows in my palette are called ‘Manila Sands’ and ‘Mango.’”
On finding a place in Asia
More than being inspired by its practices and ingredients, Patrick and Divya also wanted to honour their roots by making their brands available in Asia. “I was excited to bring Wander Beauty to Asia as I spent most of my childhood shuttling back and forth between Asia and the US and also travelling extensively throughout Asia,” she shared.
She added that Asia and the US are quite similar, in that both have “a strong work culture” where women are “time-starved, on-the-go, juggling lots of responsibilities” and searching for “beauty products that streamline their routines”, which makes Wander Beauty a perfect fit for the Asian market.
Though there are a lot of homegrown Asian brands already available in our area, Patrick says “there’s room for everyone in the beauty space.” What ONE/SIZE offers, he said, are “innovative and versatile beauty products” that people can use in different ways, making it a safe space for “people who want to go from natural to full glam and back again”. Hence, there’s always a need for a makeup brand that represents what consumers want and believe in. “Representation is always needed.”
Makeup in the coming months
Even though we’re spending most of our days indoors at home, we know that makeup — whether it’s glam, natural, or something in between — actually has positive psychological benefits, some that we can personally attest to. It’s safe to say there will always be room for makeup — and brands like Wander Beauty and ONE/SIZE will be ready to fill that space.
“People are gravitating towards fresh-faced, Zoom-friendly makeup that they can do in five minutes with easy essentials,” Divya observed. Essentially, it’s about having fewer steps to their makeup process so people “can spend more time doing what they love”.
On the other hand, Patrick says “makeup will always be about innovation and helping people express themselves and feel confident in their skin.”It’s all a matter of pushing the bar and reimagining existing products to be better than ever, he added. “I hope to continue developing products that excite our fans and go beyond their expectations.”
Patrick and Divya are two kids from Asian families who have successfully made a space for themselves in the bustling beauty industry. Now that their respective brands are available in the region, we say, “Welcome home!”
(Cover photos from: Sephora Singapore)
For more interviews with the brains behind the brands, click here.