These AAPI-Owned Beauty Brands Go Back to Their Roots
Time-tested beauty rituals, routines, and techniques have found their way to these products.
Beauty is many things. Luxurious, subjective, and perhaps, extensive. But there is also a personal aspect to it. That at its core, generations are linked through tradition and the legacy of the people before them. It's a common notion behind some of our favorite AAPI-owned beauty brands that celebrate and share their own heritage with the world.
While the beauty industry is coming around to being more inclusive of people of color and of different backgrounds, it’s exciting to see so many new brands popping up. Ahead, we rounded up our favorites that are more than great products, but set the standard for the change that is coming.
Photo: Courtesy of Fable & Mane
Selling out Sephora within weeks of launching is a big feat—especially at the beginning of a worldwide pandemic. But right around the time that people were stuck at home, calming down, and looking inwards, they were also taking extra care of their hair. The reason it sold out a second time? Well, the products speak for themselves.
Founded by Nikita and Akash Mehta, the brand launched with one mission in mind, to return to their roots. When she visited home, their grandmother would massage their hair with her potent plant roots and oils that she grew in her Indian garden, as she would often tell them beautiful centuries-old myths, tales and stories that they bonded over later on.
“In our family, beauty brought people together over rituals. Our upbringing was all about community and respecting each other, especially our elders. Beauty was a self-care practice, with meaningful intentions,” says Mehta. Their hero product, the HoliRoots Treatment Oil contains the ‘magical’ dashmool, which has 10 different strengthening roots and nourishing Ashwagandha, proving that thousands of years later, these ingredients still have the power.
HoliRoots Pre-wash Hair Treatment Oil
SahaScalp Wild Ginger Purifying Scrub
SahaScalp Amla Soothing Serum
Photo: Courtesy of Kulfi Beauty
In India, no celebratory meal is complete without the wonderful, colorful ice cream dessert called Kulfi. With a sweet, cheeky take, Priyanka Ganjoo honors her Indian heritage with her makeup brand, Kulfi. The brand's first product takes on the beloved, centuries-old ritual, the Underlined Kajal Eyeliner with a personal emphasis on self-expression with fun colors—traditionally, kajal eyeliners are as integral to South Asian culture as it gets. “You will often find Grandmas making kajal in their kitchen while burning almond and ghee or castor oils to make a thick, creamy paste, traditionally used to ward off “nazar” or “evil eye.”
Growing up, Ganjoo didn’t always feel confident or beautiful wearing makeup and erred on the side of being extremely uncomfortable around the idea of beauty. “I never sought products that would help me feel more beautiful because I felt like I didn’t belong,” Ganjoo says. Her approach? Give it a new definition. “Rather than reducing parts of me to “fit in,” I now use the generations of beauty traditions I carry with me loudly and proudly as a source of empowerment and as a way to celebrate my uniqueness,” states Ganjoo.
Underlined Kajal Eyeliner
Photo: Courtesy of Shaz & Kiks
Built on encouragement, care and their immeasurable bond as sisters, Shaz and Kiku Chaudhuri are bringing Indian beauty secrets that they learnt over their summers spent in the Himalayan foothills. “The very impetus of creating Shaz & Kiks was for us to pay homage to our Indian heritage and celebrate it—from the very beginning of our supply chain, to our product development, all the way to our visual language,” says Chaudhuri. Their haircare line contains a Prewash, Cleanser, and Conditioner, and feature nutrient-rich Indian herbs, oils and flowers that nourish your hair root to tip, and are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent.
“Our formulas are created from scratch and start with these Ayurvedic ingredients that we have grown up with. We make sure to share not only their benefits but also their origin story with our community.” With a mission to support the traditional communities who have grown these nutrient-rich plants for generations, the brand showcases how Indian beauty is one of the most vibrant, and oldest healing systems in the world.
Scalp + Hair Prewash for Fine to Medium Hair
Unearth Yourself Balancing Clay Hair Cleanser
Unearth Yourself Nourishing Naram Conditioner
Photo: Tom Medvedich
At its foundation, Supernal is a natural coalescence of NYC-based Melissa Medvedich’s love for well-considered skin care and design, but also heritage. “Aspects of my heritage are subtly yet definitively embedded into the heart and soul of Supernal.” The brands first product, the nourishing Cosmic Glow Oil contains Camellia Oleifera a type of green tea that’s native to China and has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects on the skin.
“Caring for one's skin was something I observed from as far back as I can remember and was one of the earliest sparks for my passion for skin care,” says Medvedich. Even despite the language barrier with her grandparents and great-grandmother (who lived till 100!), “we have always been able to understand each other in our own way and enthusiasm for skin care has always been a big connector with the women in my family.”
Cosmic Glow Oil
Illumine Restorative Oil Serum
Photo: Courtesy of Humanist Beauty
“The Humanist Beauty brand is all about the love we have for ourselves, how we care for each other, and how we live in harmony with nature. The combination of these aspects contributes to our overall well-being,” shares founder Jennifer Norman. With a mission to bring a humanistic approach to beauty, she founded the Human Beauty Movement to support radical inclusion and wellness in the beauty industry and beyond. More than just beauty, Norman is motivated to make the change she didn’t see growing up.
Born in South Korea and adopted and raised in a very white suburban neighborhood, Norman often felt like the ugly duckling that didn’t belong. Witnessing the elevation of Korean culture in such an aspirational light gave her a sense of pride, having never felt connected to her Korean heritage or culture. “When I discovered that Korean fermented oils significantly outperform their original counterparts in antioxidant activity and feel, I knew I had to pay homage to my heritage by including them in my first formula, the Herban Wisdom Facial Oil.” In addition to CBD, the oil incorporates herbs such as black cumin and coriander, frankincense, and sage, that have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) rituals. “Our culture is rooted in ancient wisdom, herbal remedies, and soulful practices from around the globe,” Norman shares.
Herban Wisdom Facial Oil
Hand-crafted Soy Candle
Top photo: Tom Medvedich
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