Glow Recipe, a K-beauty brand that has captivated US consumers for more than half a decade, started when two beauty enthusiasts were sheet masking and drinking wine together back in 2014. Founders Sarah Lee and Christine Chang wanted to bring their knowledge of and passion for skin care to the US, quickly becoming one of the most sought-after skin-care brands in the world. Made with natural fruit extracts and displayed in vibrant, pastel-colored jars, Glow Recipe is more than just an aesthetically pleasing beauty line — it's an ode to Korean skin-care culture.
Growing up, Chang lived in the US, Korea, and Australia. Being exposed to different cultures allowed her to see how each one approached skin care. After moving back to Korea when she was 10 years old, Chang became immersed in the skin-care practices her mother and grandmother shared with her, and by the time she was in middle school, she had established a consistent skin-care routine. Still, she noticed a difference in how Americans approached the topic.
"When I returned to the US for college, I noticed this approach to skin care was not necessarily universal and that my roommates considered skin care more of a chore to get through before applying makeup," Chang told POPSUGAR. That's why she wanted to bring her newfound philosophy to the masses: "The Korean approach to beauty has been a lifelong inspiration for me. I consider it incredibly fortuitous that my years of experience in the beauty industry in both countries somehow converged at a time where there was a burgeoning interest in K-beauty, and I was able to be a bridge between these two cultures as I've been doing many other ways my whole life."
"For me, being a Korean American in the beauty industry truly empowers me to completely be authentic to myself and my Korean heritage."
As for Lee, growing up in Korea also had a huge impact on her views toward skin care. The practices were an integral part of her upbringing, and they soon flourished into a passion. She noticed that global brands were constantly looking to Asia as the hub of innovation in the beauty industry, and she spent time working at L'Oréal Korea before getting transferred to L'Oréal USA, where she shared her knowledge and expertise as a Korean marketer. "It was an amazing career opportunity as it truly empowered me to embrace and leverage my heritage and background," Lee said. "When Christine and I started our own brand, our dream was to share the world of Korean beauty to the US and the global consumer."
Flash forward to today, and Glow Recipe is one of the most widely recognized and coveted brands in the US. What's more, inspiration for many of its products came from practices their mothers and grandmothers taught them, which has helped introduce their customers to K-beauty traditions: "My grandmother used to rub cold watermelon rinds on my back during the hot summer months, which helped heal and soothe the skin overnight," Lee said. "This ultimately was our inspiration behind the OG product, Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask."
Each product ties back to Korean culture, and the founders use their favorite elements as inspiration for the brand. "For me, being a Korean American in the beauty industry truly empowers me to completely be authentic to myself and my Korean heritage," Lee said. Having a brand that so perfectly encapsulates Lee's skin-care values and culture is extremely important to her, meaning every item incorporates Asian traditions passed down between generations, making them that much more effective and sentimental.
As for the brand as a whole, educating consumers on K-beauty practices is just one of the steps they are taking to uplift the Asian community during this time of distress. "It's so important to have an open dialogue and use your platform to take action to help the AAPI community — and all minority groups, for that matter — feel safe, seen, and supported," Chang said. Whether it's supporting organizations that are seeking justice and equality for Asian Americans or amplifying their voices, speaking up for change — and more importantly, fighting for it — is a battle we all must be ready to fight.
"It's so important to have an open dialogue and use your platform to take action to help the AAPI community feel safe, seen, and supported."
Glow Recipe has donated $20,000 between Act to Change and the AAPI Community Fund in response to recent attacks, and the brand is committed to sharing stories that highlight and reflect the APIA experience. From the products the brand makes to the family traditions behind them, Chang and Lee have brought attention to the special and effective practices behind Asian culture and skin care: "At Glow Recipe, we're committed to making Korean-beauty inspirations we grew up with accessible to our global community," Chang said.
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