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Diversity In Clean Beauty: Asian Beauty Bloggers Share Their Holy Grail Products

For the first part of my Diversity in Clean Beauty series, I reached out to some of my favorite Asian clean beauty bloggers to share their holy grail products, and they really showed up. 
There are a few familiar names and cult favorites in their responses, but I've also discovered a lot of new products that I am adding to my wishlist. More importantly, we each have an important message to the industry about what it means to navigate this space as a person of color and I hope that brands and PR firms are listening and paying close attention, because we matter too.
P/S: Products marked with asterisks are the blogger's own affiliate links (otherwise I've linked to the brand's product page), and your purchase through those clicks will help support the wonderful work that they do!
P/S: Read the entire Diversity in Clean Beauty series here

Afshawn @rayofsilver
How did you get into clean beauty?

I was always into vegan / cruelty-free beauty and the more research I did, the importance of clean ingredients in beauty products kept coming up. Once I found out that the U.S. FDA has only banned 11 chemicals in cosmetics compared to the EU banning 1,328 - I knew I had to make the switch.

Let's talk favourites! 

Hynt Beauty Sun Prep: This is a 3-in-1 product: moisturizer, sunscreen, primer. Non-toxic sunscreens were always a struggle since they felt drying and always left a white cast. Sun Prep is a holy grail product for me, works so well and smells amazing! 

Erin's Faces Firming Eye Gel: Holy moly this product is amazing! This eye gel works so well at depuffing under the eye area and I love using this at night. Think of it as an overnight eye mask. Tip: I love leaving this in the fridge for an extra cooling effect. 

Erin's Faces Firming Serum: EF was the first clean beauty brand that I ever bought from back in 2016, and this was the first product that helped with keeping my dry skin moisturized throughout the day. The ingredients are packed with antioxidants and vitamins to give a beautiful glow. The only serum I used consistently for 3 years until I wanted to try others on the market. 

Ilia Beauty Limitless Lash Mascara - I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to mascara, but this is the longest I've committed to one. I am super picky when it comes to performance, wearability, and ease of washing off. The Limitless Lash Mascara gives me voluminous full lashes without any smudging or flakiness and washes off with such ease which has made it a game-changer. What I love most is that it doesn't leave any black residue around the eyes. 

What is lacking in the clean beauty world? 

It's an ongoing discussion regarding inclusivity & diversity amongst brands. It's tiring to hear that when brands release a limited amount of shades during a launch they will work hard to release shades for a deeper complexion in the near future. Personally, it's best to wait until you have shades inclusive to most, if not all. That way no one is feeling left out over a hyped product/launch. 

I also wish more brands would use an array of models with different backgrounds/skin tones in their marketing campaigns to know what colors will look like on my skin tone. Some things I miss most from switching over to clean beauty products is the lack of bright bold makeup, though in the last few years it has gotten better. For example, I miss creating bold looks with bright shadows and a lot on the market are very neutral in their color story. 

You can follow Afshawn on Instagram @rayofsilver

Andrea @organicbeautylover
How did you get into clean beauty?

After I graduated from college and started actually earning money, I just got tired of putting on crappy products full of ingredients that sounded like chemical mumbo jumbo. I simply wanted better and clean beauty was able to offer that.

Let's talk favourites! 

May Lindstrom The Honey Mud*: I haven’t encountered a more luxurious mud mask than this and it ALMOST takes away my chocolate cravings. It's set to re-launch in summer 2020 and I am soo excited!

Earthwise Beauty Ferns and Moss Face Serum or Ruby Face Oil*: In a world of organic face oils, Earthwise Beauty's oils consistently stands out to me no matter how many new face oils and brands I try each year.

Mahalo Phyto Retinoic Restoring Night Serum*: The formulation behind this natural retinol alternative face oil is the best I've seen and experienced! A few years ago when I wasn't as interested in retinol this might not have made it to this list.

Thinksport SPF 50+ Sunscreen*: This holy grail status sunscreen is excellent for both face and body which is hard to find in a clean and organic sunscreen product!

Fitglow Beauty Vita Active Foundation*: Fitglow's foundation is basically skincare with a foundation effect and it's my favorite everyday type foundation. For anyone who wants to improve their skin health while getting coverage I would highly recommend this!

Prim Botanicals The Hair Oil: This is my favorite hair oil of all time! It's such a beautifully packaged and formulated product and the scent is out of this world. Gisou can move aside because Prim Botanicals is in a league of its own.

What is lacking in the clean beauty world? 

Personally, I feel like lash products are lacking for women of Asian descent. A lot of mascaras work well on people with regular lashes but 95% of mascaras won't work for me. I've also tried a number of faux lashes and found that they looked way overdone and inappropriate with my hooded eyes. I would love to rock faux lashes one day and wish there were options suited for Asian lashes and eye shapes!

You can follow Andrea on Instagram @organicbeautylover or visit her blog organicbeautylover.com

Jade @nephriticus
How did you get into clean beauty?

It was a combination of reading the book "No More Dirty Looks" and the acne I had been dealing with since my teen years. I had just started college and was breaking out from trying all sorts of foundations from Sephora (and probably stress), and then I went hard-core DIY and broke out even worse, ha! I laughed jealously at all the accounts from people who switched to green/clean beauty and saw their skin clear up, because it definitely got worse before it got better for me.

Let's talk favourites! 

YULI Halcyon Cleanser*:  I've been using this for maybe 5+ years, on and off? It's this totally unassuming clear gel cleanser that leaves your skin feeling clean but not stripped, that uses PEPTIDES to foam (amongst other very cool things). In general, I am just a huge fan of this brand, for what they stand for and how they formulate products.

YULI Cell Perfecto PM*: I've also been using this for probably 5+ years, on and off. I scar very easily from acne, so I am constantly managing my red post-acne marks. I find that this nighttime serum helps fade my acne scars over time.

Krave Beauty Beet Shield: I'm a fan of the founder, Liah Yoo, and this brand in general, but especially the sunscreen, the Beet Shield (note: it's not officially a sunscreen by outdated American FDA standards but it is in Korea). It has the texture of condensed milk, goes on the skin without white cast, and feels generally very comfortable for being sun protection.

Kjaer Weis blush*: I think I've consistently had some shade (if not multiple) of Kjaer Weis cream blush without breaks for several years now. The texture is gorgeous, there are many shades, and the blendability is excellent. My favorites are Reverence (lighter baby pink) and Abundance (more mauve-y that also enhances contour). Plus, the line has refillable compacts.

What is lacking in the clean beauty world? 

I didn't spend too much time in the conventional beauty world before going green, so I don't have any "dirty" products I'm tied to. If anything, there are products that I've drifted away from being strictly clean, haha. Liquid eyeliner is an example. I used Physician's Formula for a long time, and I thought the Ilia Beauty one was good except the ink pigment ran out really quick for me (I have monolids that I prefer using a lot of eyeliner on). Right now, I'm using Em Cosmetics which isn't "organic" or "natural"-focused but I'm a huge Michelle Phan fan and the product is good.

You can follow Jade on Instagram @nephriticus or visit her blog nephriticus.com.

Kasey @pleinvanity
How did you get into clean beauty?

I started using more organic and natural products and witnessed a positive change in my skin as well as a unique, genuine connection to brand founders I was purchasing from. I felt inspired after reading the book “No More Dirty Looks” by two journalists, and discovering the small, but burgeoning community of clean beauty bloggers and brands. It was around this time that I felt the desire to start my own blog, to document my journey into clean beauty, share my perspective on products, and showcase clean beauty brands and founders. I also made great friends through the clean beauty community, and the welcoming, encouraging atmosphere (even virtually,) felt so special. 

Let's talk favourites! 

Kimiko Super Fine Eyebrow Pencil Automatique*: Besides a little color to the lips, doing my brows is essential. This creamy brow pencil from Kimiko is my go-to for precise and natural-looking brows. It’s long-lasting and so easy to apply!

Antonym Cosmetics Baked Blush in Rose*: With dry, sensitive skin, I usually stick to cream-based makeup products but this baked blush is an exception. The formula allows for the intense color definition and staying power of powder products, but is still uniquely silky and nourishing. The Rose shade is my holy grail blush because it provides a perfect neutral pink flush, yet also the hint of bronze allows for some glow and contour all in one swipe. This looks equally stunning applied with a light hand, or built up. 

Fitglow Beauty Lip Serum*: Not only is this lipgloss-meets-lip-cream extremely pigmented, it is also deeply hydrating and nourishing. It truly helps to moisturize lips and provides beautiful color. The Lip Serum comes in a variety of shades, but my favorite is Koi, a cool-toned coral that looks beautiful for either a subtle daytime or evening look.

Strange Bird Beauty Inner Clarity Cleanser*: My friend, Tina (a former clean beauty blogger) started this skincare line, inspired by Chinese beauty traditions and I cannot stop raving about how amazing the products are! It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the Strange Bird cleanser is hands down life changing. It’s a 3-in-1 cleanser, mask, and exfoliator that is gentle enough for daily use and removing makeup. The uplifting citrus scent makes face cleansing all the more delightful.

MoMi Texture Mist*: Clean products that work with my hair are hard to come by. Especially on “no wash” days, I regularly use this MoMi Texture Mist to refresh my hair and help add some volume. This product doesn’t add any grease to my hair and really holds volume well on my stick-straight hair. The soothing, fresh scent is also a nice pick-me-up. 

What is lacking in the clean beauty world? 

In general, I think the clean beauty world still lacks diverse voices and support for women of color, whether with brands, shops, or bloggers. I think it’s just as important to purchase from and support brands created by women of color, as it is to hear about diverse experiences and perspectives in clean beauty. The representation is still very limited, and this affects the types of products and shops available in the clean beauty world. Until women of color are able to shine and more voices are heard, clean beauty is going to continue to be very one-sided.

You can follow Kasey on Instagram @pleinvanity or visit her blog pleinvanity.com

Payal @questforglow
How did you get into clean beauty?

For the longest time, I avoided green beauty brands and it was fear tactics used by some of the brands that had me running in the opposite direction. Back in 2017, I remember reading my friend Emily's post on her first Boxwalla* box. I found myself on Boxwalla's feed savoring one post after another - discovering brands and stories that I had never heard of. It was a light bulb moment in my skincare journey which eventually pushed me to reconsider my purchasing decisions.

I've since chosen to only purchase from such brands. Other than the luxurious effective products that also look and smell appealing, I rely on these heavily for their ability to transport me for a few minutes, every day, to a faraway land. It is this meditative self-care aspect of my daily skincare ritual that I love the most and I really cannot go back to using conventional skincare products ever again.

With Earthwise Beautyproducts, I'm walking in the Amazon jungles in Cuyabeno Reserve, Ecuador. pAra Botanica with its grounding scents pushes me to take a few deep breaths much like a serene yoga retreat. Siam Seas takes to me to Asia, I visualize women pounding roots and herbs to make delicious pastes to nurture their skin and with my latest crush Aislin Quinn Skincare*, I find myself walking among lush fresh flowers breathing in their sweet scent on a tropical island. I also indulge in products from brands like You Skincare and Lovinah Skincare that combine the best of both worlds, the products are loaded with botanicals that have been used for centuries and they also feature science-backed actives.

Like I said, these are addictive and I'm hooked. There is no looking back now!

Let's talk favourites! 

Cleansers: My recent favorites have been Lovinah Skincare Power Cleansing Balm for my first cleanse and Ranavat Luminous Ceremony and Plenitude Skincare Nourishing Cleanser for my second cleanse. 

Mists: I usually follow up with a mist with my favorites being Earthwise Beauty On A Swing Among Trees Serum in mist and pAra Botanica Chanda Mist. I look forward to a fine spritz landing on the skin, to gently hydrate and prep the skin for the next steps. These two get special brownie points for their invigorating scent.

Serums: This is my favorite category and luckily, I have found a few that are on my forever repurchase list. They are Skindewi Vitamin C Helichrysum Treatment, Earthwise Beauty Resiliency Face Serum, Siam Seas Twilight Be Calm and You.Skincare Clarifying Glow. These four together work on all of my skin concerns. I have dry, acne prone skin so these help with brightening, calming, plumping and well-aging. As a final step, I'm currently obsessed with Aislin Quinn Skincare Vjola - it is a rich barrier repair cream disguised as a gel textured moisturizer that surprisingly is really nourishing but also non-greasy.

Masks: I cannot talk of skincare and not gush over several masks that I love. It is no secret that I love honey based masks, a few favorites are Purearth Mitti Raw Honey Face Masque, Malaya Organics Advanced Repair Mask, Leahlani Mermaid Mask, Aislin Quinn Liliko'i Fruit and Flower Mask. Some other favorites are the exquisite masks by Lovinah Skincare, they are truly luxurious and effective.

You can follow Payal on Instagram @questforglow or visit her blog questforglow.com

Tricia @nihaonewyork
How did you get into clean beauty?

I never put much thought into what went into my beauty products until I moved to the US and randomly went down an Instagram rabbit hole . The fact that my mother had just recovered from Stage 3 Breast Cancer also motivated me to be more mindful about what I was using. I started my blog Ni Hao New York because there was (and still is) an underrepresentation of Asian voices in the clean beauty space and I wanted to bring a different perspective to the table.

Let's talk favourites! 

5Yina Enlighten Spring Beauty Oil* and Hydrolat*I sing the praises of 5Yina to anyone and everyone who will listen- they are a holistic seasonal skincare line based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine and worth every penny. The Spring Beauty Oil is infused with no less than 24 herbal bioactives and will restore elasticity and luminosity to the skin with regular use, while the Hydrolat is a glow-inducing elixir that will give a hydrating boost for dewy, glowing skin. 

Strange Bird Inner Balance Serum*This serum is a true powerhouse, with their signature trio of Ginger, Ginseng and Goji Berry and skin-soothing ingredients like Niacinamide and Licorice Roots, along with essences of Amethyst, Oak and White Chestnut. It smells like a dream and will leave your skin feeling plump and petal soft- I wear it under my makeup for the ultimate dewy look. 

Sahajan Cleansing Oil* and Toner*: This Ayurvedic oil cleanser is a rich blend of Moringa, Squalene and Rose oils that will melt away all your make-up and grime (plus it rinses off with water!) and leave your skin feeling clean and nourished, and their toner is the perfect companion to detoxify, protect, soothe and even out your skin tone after you've cleansed your face. 

Siam Seas Shampoo and Conditioner: I have tried many brands of clean shampoo and conditioner but nothing really worked for my Asian hair until Yenny introduced me to Siam Sea’s all-natural hair products and I have never looked back since. My hair is much healthier, softer and bouncier and I make sure I always have a back-up bottle!

Clean Beauty Box*: Clean Beauty Box is a thoughtfully curated bi-monthly subscription box that gives you a steep discount to discover the best and most effective products in the clean beauty space, and so many of my amazing clean beauty discoveries have come from them, like Leahlani Skincare’s Aloha Ambrosia, Malaya Organics’ Firming Eye Serum*, Moss Skincare’s Potentci Intensive Dermal Repair Hydrating Emulsion* and Suntegrity’s Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer to name a few!

Boxwalla*: Described as a beauty box for the luxury loving skincare nerd, Boxwalla elevates slow beauty to a whole new level, and I have been able to try out some incredible products like African Botanics Le Masque Hydralift Intense* and Fleurs D'Afrique Intense Recovery Oil*, H is for Love's KINU Glowing Skin Balm and Twelve Beauty's The London Mask and I am super excited that they are featuring Lovinah Skincare soon!

What is lacking in the clean beauty world? 

Although it seems like everyone is hoping onto the clean beauty bandwagon, it is still unaccessible to a lot of the population and I honestly would love to see the industry do away with its unspoken sense of elitism and work on its messaging. Less judgement, more empathy, less fear-mongering, more education, less White-centric, more inclusivity.

You can follow me on Instagram @nihaonewyork or visit my website nihaonewyork.net

Vanessa @cleancurator
How did you get into clean beauty?

I started to use clean beauty around the time that I was training to be a licensed acupuncturist.  I had already started living a more holistic lifestyle; an inevitable change since Chinese Medicine truly encompasses all aspects of life. I was tired of dealing with my adult acne which was always consistently there.  Harsher, conventional products that I used to “appease” my skin just increased the sensitivity of my skin(and, in turn, compromised my skin barrier). I still remember that my first skin care product was Kypris’s Moonlight Catalyst and my first makeup product was Beautycounter’s Tint Skin in Linen! I had such great experiences with both that I became more excited to slowly but surely incorporate new clean products. My present-day skincare and makeup collection is a culmination of new and old favorites.

Let's talk favourites! 

I love the entire Ranavat line, but my favorite is definitely Radiant Rani! I rarely find facial oils that work well for my skin and this is one of the few exceptions. Radiant Rani calms any sensitive skin I have but also deeply moisturizes without leaving an oily residue on the skin. Radiant Rani smells like luxury largely due to the potent Saffron that is present in the formulation.

Honest Beauty’s Mascara
is tried and true for me! I have repurchased this over many years and have not yet tried a clean mascara that has given me both volume and definition quite like this mascara.

I have been a huge Kosas fan since the company’s infancy and it’s difficult to pick which product I love the most. I will say, I have a soft spot for their Shade and Light Highlight and Cheek products! My favorite shade is Contrachroma, a beautiful neutral that completes my look by making it natural but put-together. I also love their Lipstick in Stardust.

Fitglow Beauty has the best Lip Serums! Gospel is my favorite shade and is one that I will continuously repurchase (when I can, since the price tag is so high)! They also have an Undereye Concealer that I swear by for my dark circles due to its yellow undertone. Many under-eye products have peach tones but I find that yellow toned products work better for my own dark circles.

My favorite face mask of all time is the 5Yina Divine Biocellulose Sheet Mask. My skin looks so plump after using it and it’s also so calming whenever I have any type of skin sensitivity from trying out new products. I also find that, if I consistently use it, my skin looks more vibrant.

I love Hynt Beauty’s Sun Prep since it is so lightweight and gentle on the skin. It also works well under makeup which is hard to say for many sunscreens!

What is lacking in the clean beauty world? 

It’s quite apparent, but there aren’t many base products in clean makeup that really focus on the more yellow undertone of Asian skin. There is much to be done in terms of creating more shade variations, especially for darker skin tones, so that BIPOC women and men can easily find shades that work for them. There are some amazing lipstick colors that I’ve found in Asian Beauty brands that I haven’t found in clean beauty yet. Specifically, warmer shades for lip products (I find many products tend towards the cooler side).

You can follow Vanessa on Instagram @cleancurator and @curatorwellness or visit her website curatorwellness.com

Yenny @ecochicbeauty
How did you get into clean beauty?

My journey into clean beauty began about eight years ago. I wanted to lead a healthier lifestyle so I started paying attention to the ingredients that I was putting in my body and on my body. I came across the book "No More Dirty Looks" (which I dub the "Clean Beauty Bible") -- reading that book solidified my decision to switch to clean beauty. It changed my life!

Let's talk favourites! 

moss Skincare Beurre Céleste Honey-Infused Rinsable Cleansing Balm*: Beurre Céleste is completely waterless and is like an oil cleanser, cleansing balm, and raw honey cleanser in one. It brilliantly removes makeup, SPF, and impurities thoroughly, but gently, while balancing and healing the skin. It rinses off cleanly and works nicely as a nourishing hydrating mask, too. The cleansing balm has a light honey-citrus scent that is to die for. (Use code "ecochicbeauty10" for 10% off)

YULI Panacea Facial Elixir: Panacea is a gentle, multi-tasking mist that delivers serum-level performance in a liquid form. It contains fifteen different botanicals that helps purify and rebalance congested skin, provide ultimate hydration and maximizes absorption of serums. With regular usage, Panacea resets skin to your optimal pH, improves the skin barrier and boosts skin immunity. My skin always looks balanced, clear, refreshed and happy!

Earthwise Beauty Resiliency Face Serum*: Resiliency is non-comedogenic and is completely oil-free as the essential oils that are in it are more extracts than oils — which makes this a fantastic serum for acne-prone skin. The thick gel texture feels so incredible; it’s refreshing and cooling. Instantly, my skin feels hydrated, plump, supple, and looks radiant. After extended use my skin is smooth, even-toned and the appearance of dark spots and any hyperpigmentation have improved greatly. A must for glowy skin. (Use code "ecochicbeauty" for 15% off)

Agent Nateur holi(water) Hyaluronic Pearl and Rose Toner*: holi(water) is a total game changer. It's technically a toner but it performs more like an essence. The texture is somewhat thick but still sprayable and has the most addictive light coconut-y scent. holi(water) really does it all: it exfoliates, plumps, tightens, brightens, and firms the appearance of the skin while providing a radiant glow. (Use code "ecochicbeauty10" for 10% off)

Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator*: The Hydrating Accelerator is meant to be a hydrator, toner, and a light moisturizer in one. It contains organic vitamin-infused aloe water that enhances the delivery of hydration into the skin, and rich antioxidants and fatty acids that soften and boost the skin. Aloe and other herbal anti-inflammatories calm and relieve redness. It’s impossible not to want to mist very liberally with this! I think I have this in every size. (Use code "ecochicbeauty10" for 10% off)

African Botanics Fleurs d’Afrique Intensive Recovery Oil: This is hands down this is the best retinol that I have ever used. It contains African Botanics’ ‘African Oil Complex’ which includes extracts of baobab, damask rose, immortelle flower, and jasmine that provide omegas 3, 6, 7, and 9 to fight signs of aging. A unique blend of marine micro-algae, retinol, vitamin c, and CoQ10 help refine and calm skin, while also providing antioxidant protection. This is a fairly lightweight oil that can be used both AM and PM, but I like to use it in the PM as an overnight treatment. The next day my skin looks better than ever — more youthful, radiant, elastic, smooth, and firm.

AYUNA Balm*: AYUNA's "Balm" is really a mask that’s rich in volcanic glass and active carbon which gently draws out impurities and gives it its distinctive glossy, black color. The mask has a thick pudding-like texture, and like all of AYUNA’s products, possesses their signature delectable fruity scent. Because the Balm contains pullulan, a natural sugar, it does not dry out like other detoxifying masks that I’ve tried. It actually creates a ”film” that locks moisture in and tightens the skin. A really unique product! (Use code "ecochicbeauty10" for 10% off)

In Fiore Beauty Vis Clair Suprême Firming Eye Complex: Vis Clair Suprême is the best eye cream that I've ever used. It's a revolutionary firming eye cream treatment that is extremely potent and fast-acting - you'll begin to see results immediately and full results in a matter of days! I’m so impressed with its efficacy and how quickly it works. Even after the first use you can literally feel it firming and strengthening the eye area and depuffing of the under-eye area. Dark circles and fine lines don't stand a chance when using Vis Clair. The eye cream has a thick, sumptuous, cushiony texture that feels incredible on the skin.

What is lacking in the clean beauty world? 

I think the clean beauty world is lacking in the makeup department for women of color. It would be great to see clean makeup brands include shades and colors that represent / work for ALL women of color. I see too often darker foundation or concealer shades aren't available in a makeup range. Even for me, as an Asian-American of East Asian descent, finding the correct foundation color is really frustrating. I can never find the right shade on the first try - I always have to test out multiple shades to find one that "works" for me. Even then, it's still not a perfect match - the undertone is often wrong. I end up looking too dark, orange or even ashy.

You can follow Yenny on Instagram @ecochicbeauty or visit her website at www.ecochicbeauty.co

"Diversity is being invited to the party. 
Inclusivity is being asked to dance." 
- Verna Myers

Read my Diversity in Clean Beauty series here


  1. What a great read. Loved hearing more about everyone's journeys and my skincare "must try" list has just doubled! Oh that lipstick you're rocking is FAB.

  2. Thanks Lynda- I believe that lipstick is from Axiology! I am really excited for the second part coming out soon, cant wait for you to read!


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