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During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, TODAY is sharing the community’s history, pain, joy and what’s next for the AAPI movement. We are publishing personal essays, stories, videos and specials throughout the entire month of May.
Much of this past month has celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and recently, much of the AAPI news-making headlines have been marred with tragedy. With a 169% rise in Anti-Asian hate crimes from the first quarter of 2020 versus the same quarter of 2021, it’s been a heartbreaking reality for many Asian and Asian Americans around the globe.
We’re trying to do something different by highlighting the positive — specifically, celebrating Asian beauty with influencers and experts who are using their platforms to not only share their favorite products but also uplift their communities.
Dr. Joyce Park, MD, FAAD, @TeaWithMD
Dr. Joyce Park isn’t just a board-certified dermatologist. In between being a practicing dermatologist and a toddler mom, she also runs her blog, Tea with MD, and her TikTok and Instagram, where she preaches about sun protection and healthy skin practices to her audience of nearly 500,000 followers.
When it comes to Asian beauty, Park believes greater inclusivity is key. “For too long brands have made products for a certain demographic, but by incorporating ingredients and tools from Asian beauty, the beauty industry can become more inclusive and serve a much larger population,” Park told Shop TODAY. “We have a myriad of skin tones, eye shapes, body builds, and more, and I want the beauty industry to recognize and appreciate that.”
As for the rise in anti-Asian violence and utilizing her platform to amplify the voices of the AAPI community, Park says, “I have never felt more scared or worried about my parents leaving the home. At the same time, I feel hopeful as I see the AAPI community banding together to raise our voices to support the victims and also to call for change ... All of us who have a platform have a responsibility to speak up for the AAPI community — the time is now.”
When it comes to skin care, she doesn’t necessarily subscribe to the "more is more" philosophy. “I think there is going to be a big push to go back to basics when it comes to skincare. We don’t need a 20 step skincare regimen where each product does just one thing; we need science-backed ingredients in products that are shown to work,” she said.
“You can break the top off the ampoule to use that small quantity of vitamin C within one to two days,” Park said. “Once open to air you want to store the vitamin C in a cool dark environment to prevent it from oxidizing.” Another favorite vitamin C serum of hers is the Revision Skincare C+ Correcting Complex 30%.
“I could write a paragraph on sunscreen but my favorites are broad spectrum tinted mineral sunscreens that don’t leave a white cast on the skin,” Park said. “ I use SPF 30+ and reapply every two hours. And if I’m on a desert island then I’m definitely bringing a big ol’ hat with a broad brim and sunglasses. Maybe throw in a UPF sun shirt too!” She also recommends Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield Classic SPF 50 and La Roche Posay Anthelios Tinted Mineral Ultra-Light Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 50.
Dr. Park is also never without moisturizer. Her favorite is Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer, which is formulated with antioxidant Pygmy Waterlily Stem Cell Extract, nine skin-plumping signal peptides, and elasticity-preserving Soybean Folic Acid Ferment Extract. For a more budget-friendly option, Dr. Park also loves Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream.
Amy Chang, @BondEnAvant
Over 1.1 million followers on TikTok and 193,000 followers on Instagram follow @bondenavant, the handle of mom of two and AAPI skin/hair care influencer Amy Chang. When it comes to her beauty philosophy, it’s all about balance. “In traditional Chinese culture, there is this idea of ‘qi’ — energy, or life force — and the importance of keeping your qi in balance through holistic health practices,” Chang said. “And I think this idea of keeping a balanced body for health and subsequently beauty is something that is woven into the foundation of most, if not all, Asian beauty practices.”
And Chang highlights why representation is incredibly important. “I remember attending the AMAs in 2019 and was amazed to see BTS perform in their native language to an American audience that sang along to every word. And I’m pretty sure Asian beauty practices helped facilitate the cultural affinity and acceptance of Korean culture we have seen in America and around the world,” she said. “Traditionally, Asian beauty practices are heavily associated with eastern Asian cultures — Korean, Chinese and Japanese. But I hope as this trend of Asian beauty continues we will see the Asian beauty practices from Southeast Asia and India share the spotlight.”
“I’m a huge hair junkie all about preserving the health and luster of my hair, which is why my haircare routine is as extensive, if not more so, than my skincare routine,” Chang said. “The Hairitage Double Down Conditioning Wash Shampoo is one of my favorite cleansers and only available at Walmart — and one I like to use when the weather heats up and I find myself washing my hair more frequently. Conditioning washes like this one cleanse the hair with gentle ingredients while deeply hydrating it, leaving hair super smooth and shiny and helping to avoid overstripping and overdrying the hair.
“The Beekman 1802 Jelly Milk Cleanser is a gentle cleanser I recently discovered at Ulta and can’t get enough of! It’s a cross between an oil and a gel cleanser that removes makeup and dirt, impurities without over stripping the skin,” Chang said. “It contains natural lactic acid that sweeps away dead skin cells without any irritation and contains the brand’s signature ingredient, goat’s milk, which contains fatty acids and probiotics that help to strengthen and repair the skin barrier.” Beekman 1802’s Jelly Milk Cleanser is also cruelty-free and safe for sensitive skin.
Like any good skincare advocate, Chang never goes without SPF. She recommends MD Crème Mineral Beauty Balm by MD Solar Sciences. Enriched with skin-awakening caffeine and pore-reducing niacinamide, the balm also has skin smoothing qualities in addition to offering UVA/UVB protection. “When the founder created this line, she really wanted to formulate elegant textured SPFs since she felt like there weren’t any up to her standards on the market,” Chang said. “One application with this BB SPF cream and you can see she was successful in her goal; the whipped texture of this tinted SPF glides on like silk.”
Ava Lee, @GlowWithAva
Ava Lee is an AAPI skinfluencer with 116,000 followers on Instagram and 1.1 million followers on TikTok. “The skincare industry, our very own beauty routine, and the way we shop — they would all look very different without Asian beauty and the brands, influencers, and spokespeople behind it,” Lee said. “These are not just ‘trends’ but routines and rituals that these Asian countries have been practicing for centuries. It saddens me when I see these deeply rooted traditions appropriated by the Western world. It’s crucial that these brands are actually paying attention to the history behind these practices and ingredients, and at the same time, we amplify the voices and practices of Asian-founded beauty and skincare brands.”
But she’s careful about the pressures that these beauty standards place on people. “Asian beauty is a tricky subject because while there is so much wisdom and beauty behind it that allows people to achieve the most beautiful skin, it has also perpetuated a standard that is almost too high to achieve,” Lee said. “Having grown up in Asia my entire life, I’ve always tried to ‘fit in’ to these unrealistic beauty standards and because I always felt like I fell short, and to a certain extent, still to this day suffer from the idea that my skin and body is ‘not good enough,’ So while I have the utmost respect for the wisdom and culture behind beauty practices, I also want to make sure we are aware of these beauty standards and be kind to ourselves.”
“It’s been an incredibly sad, conflicting, and emotional few months ... We must continue to discuss these things in a healthy manner so that we as a community can dismantle hate and violence as a whole,” Lee said. “As a creator with a significant platform, I wanted to urge people to speak up even if you have three followers and don’t feel like you don’t have anything to contribute to the conversation. You have a voice and you have emotions.”
“To gently exfoliate my skin and body here and there, I will need exfoliating pads for convenience,” Lee said. “My go-to are the Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Pads from Dr. Dennis Gross.” Regular exfoliation is the key to glowing skin, and these pre-packaged AHA/BHA daily peel pads have five acids that help smooth uneven texture and brighten dark spots.
If you could only choose one SPF, naturally, you’d want a product that does triple-duty. Lee recommends this Saie Beauty’s Slip Tint because it’s “moisturizing, provides sun protection, while also containing a slight tint.” It comes in 10 shades and includes hyperpigmentation-correcting licorice as well as hydrating hyaluronic acid.
“I feel naked without an obnoxious amount of lip balm and gloss so one that hydrates yet still plumps my lips like no other is the Dior Lip Glow,” Lee admits. Hydrating, long-lasting, and with the perfect amount of color, it’s no surprise Dior’s Lip Glow has a 4.5 star rating with 1,400 reviews on Sephora.
For more stories like this, check out:
- These women are shaping Asian American representation with their beauty brands
- This K-beauty sunscreen sold out in a week — and now I get the hype
- 12 Asian American–owned brands you'll want to recommend to your friends ASAP