These 20 AAPI Founders & Culture Creators Are The Future Of Beauty

Meet Bustle’s AAPI beauty class of 2024.

Written by Sarah Y. Wu

On a recent spring evening, I was answering emails at my desk when my phone started lighting up with texts in Mandarin. Did you see? You know who this is, right? It’s a big deal in the U.S. too, right?

It was just after Nymphia Wind’s history-making RuPaul’s Drag Race win and every Taiwanese person I knew was — to put it mildly — totally flipping out. Days later, I watched Nymphia’s emotional speech on Instagram when she performed for Taiwan’s former president, Tsai Ing-Wen at the presidential hall in her signature “banana fever” yellow, flanked by the colorful House of Wind. A continent away, my heart felt so full.

Growing up Taiwanese American meant growing up with a strong, always-present awareness of cultural identity. There were times I loved it, spending my summers learning to haggle with the aunties at the street markets in Taipei or slipping in and out of languages like breathing. There were times it made me feel intense pain, seeing news stories of anti-Asian racism or hearing friends share stories of physical attacks and slurs thrown their way, feeling my chest go tight remembering my own experiences. And there were times it admittedly made me confused, having every inflection of my speech and behavior dissected as “not really Taiwanese” or “not really American,” but some mixed-up blend of the two. But through it all, I never wanted to be anything else but exactly as I was: Taiwanese American, and born into a community I’m proud to call my own.

May marks Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, but it might as well be every month for me. To be honest, I was daunted when I sat down to compile Bustle’s AAPI beauty class of 2024 — not because of a lack of inspirational voices in our community, but because there were so many to celebrate, it seemed impossible to shrink them down to a list of 20. Consider this list ever-expanding, but every name here deserves their flowers for ushering in a new age of AAPI beauty. The brand founders and culture creators in this list are part of a vibrant community shaking things up and rewriting our standards of beauty. Celebrate them, support them, and amplify their voices — but also remember to celebrate all of us, all year.

The Brand Founders

1. Nikita Ramsinghani Charuza, founder of Squigs Beauty

Enter the Squigiverse, as Squigs Beauty founder Nikita Ramsinghani Charuza calls it, and you’ll be greeted with a joyful homage to Ayurvedic ingredients. Charuza drew from her childhood memories of Indian hair oiling to create a line of “headcare,” an amalgamation of scalp- and hair-centric products sprinkled in Squigs’ signature bright colors. The brand stocks dreamy hair accessories, skin care, and haircare all designed to infuse your routine with happiness. Start with the best-selling Gooseberry Delight Hair Oil, a thoughtfully formulated Amla oil treatment wrapped in confetti-dusted packaging.

2. Lulu Ge, founder of Elix

You can usually find Elix founder Lulu Ge on TikTok, where she breaks down a wealth of information about periods and holistic health under @lulutheherbalist. Ge started her menstrual and hormone health platform after going off birth control and experiencing cramps, bloating, and headaches. To find relief, she relied on herbal medicine inspired by her grandfather’s childhood concoctions of superfood tonics. Her journey sparked a desire to take these treatments online. Elix’s team includes doctors, herbalists, nutritionists, and acupuncturists, who advise on personalized herbal medicine for menstrual wellness.

3. Ava Lee, founder of ByAVA

Every editor and dermatologist on my feed is obsessed with ByAVA’s snackable sachets of skin boosters. Founder Ava Lee based her brand on the premise of #JELLOSKIN, a term she came up with to describe a healthy, bouncy complexion. Lee grew up between Korean and China, and created her line of skin-focused supplements with the herbs and superfoods her family used in their traditional recipes. From supercharged collagen powders to hormone-balancing brews, each launch revolves around the idea that “jello skin” starts with internal nourishment.

4. Shaz Rajashekar and Kiku Chaudhuri, co-founders of Shaz & Kiks

Sisters Shaz Rajashekar and Kiku Chaudhuri teamed up to cofound Shaz & Kiks, a celebration of Ayurvedic hair care and history. Rajashekar drew on her career in product development to create a new spin on the formulas their grandmother used to mix and apply by hand. The results: a clay-based shampoo made with Multani Mitti that transforms into a satisfying lather, Nourishing Naram Conditioner infused with ashwagandha and kokum butter, and more reimagined treatments that blend the sisters’ heritage with beautiful formulas.

5. Jenny Chang, founder of Mochiglow

Scroll through Perfumetok and you’ll see Mochiglow, a family-founded business that went viral for its perfumes inspired by familiar desserts like mango sticky rice, banana milk, and bubble tea. Jenny Chang and her mother, “Mama Mochi,” create each fragrance out of a desire to share flavors and memories through scent. Mochiglow also stocks hand-poured candles and wax melts in similarly nostalgic scents, each designed to spark a feeling of connection.

6. Taran and Bunny Ghatrora, co-founders of Blume

Blume, a brand founded by sisters Taran and Bunny Ghatrora, is setting new standards for period-focused skin care. The Ghatrora sisters set out to create a line that candidly opened a conversation around acne, puberty, and periods without any sense of stigma or shame. All of their products are formulated for sensitive skin, from their non-comedogenic Meltdown Acne Oil to their barrier-strengthening Milky Fade Serum. A portion of each of their sales goes to Days for Girls, an organization focused on providing education and resources for menstrual health.

7. Yanghee Paik, CEO of Rael

Yanghee Paik and her two Korean-American co-founders created Rael out of missing space in the menstrual health market. Paik wanted to launch a line of period-focused products that prioritized clean, natural ingredients and provided what the brand calls “360° cycle support.” Aside from organic cotton pads, liners, tampons, and period underwear, the brand also designs acne patches, washes, wipes, and skin care all meant to make your cycle more comfortable.

8. Alyx Liu, founder of Útiles Beauty

As a celebrity hairstylist, Alyx Liu has worked their signature magic on an A-list lineup including Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Miranda Kerr, and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan. (A recent highlight: Grande’s swishy, side-parted Met Gala ponytail.) Liu’s work on the red carpet inspired him to found a line of mindful hair tools — all personally designed and developed by her. Útiles Beauty was founded with the simplest hair tool of all: The Hairtie. Far from your average elastic, the super stretchy soft nylon is one you’ll never want to misplace.

9. Amy Roe, founder of BYROE New York

Beauty brands usually focus on the new and the polished, but Amy Roe wanted to create her line of salad-inspired skin care out of upcycled ingredients that get a second life through her formulas. Roe grew up eating her mom’s organic cooking and converted the leftover superfood scraps into DIY face masks. Now, those homemade masks have evolved into a full line of serums, creams, and cleansers. The brand’s standouts include a powerful Tomato Firming Serum, made from upcycled tomatoes to plump and brighten, and a juicy lip oil infused with jojoba oil and black cherries (upcycled, of course).

10. David Yi, co-founder of Good Light

Every aspect of Good Light reflects founder David Yi’s focus on moving beauty beyond the binary and his commitment to championing Asian-American voices. Yi co-founded their brand to reflect a more inclusive definition of beauty and advocate for change. Good Light’s launches are “gender-inclusive” rather than “genderless” or “gender-neutral” to celebrate a beauty and self-care space that welcomes a full spectrum of gender identities. You can see this purpose in every product, including the excellent Taste of Space Lip Milk, a hydrating raspberry lip treatment inspired by the center of the galaxy.

The Culture Creators

11. Nymphia Wind, drag queen

Drag queen Nymphia Wind made history when she won season 16 of RuPaul’s Drag Race this year, taking to the stage in a boba cape complete with floating black balloons for her viral lip sync look. Throughout the season, Nymphia made it a point to show her love for Taiwanese culture and pay homage to her heritage. Since her win, she’s continued to spread her brand of “banana fever” to the world and performed for Taiwan’s former president, Tsai Ing-Wen, with the House of Wind at Taiwan’s presidential hall.

12. Aditya Madiraju, creator

With 1.8 million followers on Instagram and TikTok, influencer Aditya Madiraju has made it his mission to redefine beauty standards and inspire his audience with his own unique perspective. You may know him from his detailed makeup tips or viral Desi wedding (Madiraju and his husband, Amit Shah, took over the internet in 2019 with their traditional Indian wedding at a New Jersey temple). From his recreation of the Asoka trend to blush placement tips, it’s easy to see why he’s created a loyal community.

13. Auliʻi Cravalho, actor

Actor Auliʻi Cravalho is an inspiration. There’s the ever-evolving way she plays with beauty of course, from pink pixie cuts to graphic winged liner. Then there’s the way she uses her platform intentionally to advocate for underrepresented communities. Cravalho first made her mark when she voiced the title character in Disney’s Moana. Since then, she’s racked up a long list of film and TV credits (this year, you can see her in the 2024 Mean Girls remake.) Throughout her career, she’s continued to shine a light on causes she’s passionate about, speaking up for her Pacific Islander community every step of the way.

14. Kirin Bhatty, celebrity makeup artist

Kirin Bhatty grew up fascinated with household beauty rituals like henna and hair oiling. That early inspiration eventually led her to become a makeup artist for celebrities including Tessa Thompson, Awkwafina, Rupi Kaur, Lorde, Ayo Edebiri, and Freida Pinto. Bhatty previously told TZR that her biggest catalyst was showing other South Asian girls that they could make a place for themselves in the industry, too. “I think seeing me do the stuff that I'm doing is reminding people who look like me that you can actually do whatever you want,” she said in her 2023 interview.

15. Veronika Pome’e, model and creator

Veronika Pome’e is the first Tongan model to be featured in Sports Illustrated. That career milestone occurred in 2019, but it’s just one of her many major accomplishments since then. The model, activist, and entrepreneur has built her brand on creating a lasting impact on the world and uplifting her community. As Pacific treaty champion for the Fossil Fuel Nonproliferation Treaty, she’s doing the work to create a more sustainable future. Pome’e also works closely with the Remake organization and Model Mafia activist community to push for ethical practices and inclusivity in fashion.

16. Naomi Yasuda, celebrity nail artist

You think you know what nail art looks like, and then one of Naomi Yasuda’s paradigm-shifting designs crosses your feed. Yasuda studied the art of manicure and nail design at Chunichi Beauty College in Nagoya, Japan and has since become one of beauty’s most innovative nail artists. Her work has appeared everywhere from Fendi and Chanel campaigns, to the fingertips of Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rita Ora, Nicki Minaj, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Kesha, and Emma Stone. Her designs range in style and inspiration, but somehow, they all carry her signature transformative touch. Take a scroll through her feed, dotted with gems, swirls, fantasy scenes, and bright colors — and you’ll get an idea.

17. Melemaikalani Makalapua, creator

Esthetician and Polynesian dancer Melemaikalani Makalapua covers it all for her community: skin care favorites, dance videos, and education and resources on Hawaiian culture and history. Since the start of her creator career, she’s been passionate about standing firm in her heritage and sharing an unfiltered version of Hawaii’s history with the world. Her posts range from a peek at her current favorite under-eye masks, to a lesson on Hawaiian naming (her own means “song from heaven” and “beautiful blossoming flower”), but you’ll always get her full, authentic self.

18. Sarennya Srimugayogam, model and creator

From “melanin friendly frosty girl makeup” to faux bleached brows, Sarennya Srimugayogam’s feed is a beauty wonderland filled with dreamy, peaceful photos. The model and creator practices radical self love and shares that spirit of inclusivity with her community. She summed it up best in her Nazar No More campaign for boundary-breaking South Asian brand Kulfi Beauty, “Being raised in a society that upheld ideals perpetuated by fatphobia, colorism, and colonialism definitely negatively impacted my self worth,” she told the brand in an interview. “There was no one who looked like me that was depicted as beautiful, worthy, or capable. I had to unlearn all these ideals and move towards a radical self love.”

19. Steph Hui, creator

Born and raised in Hong Kong and now based in New York, Steph Hui is known for always being ahead of the trend. Her feed is a masterclass in all the looks you’ve seen on your TikTok FYP, recreated to flatter her features. From a full face of blueberry nails, to Pat McGrath’s iconic porcelain doll makeup for Margiela, she’s tried it all. Scroll through, and you’ll get her beauty-centric take on dopamine dressing. Her love of experimenting with makeup and finding the fun in beauty has won her a loyal community that tunes in for every transformation.

20. Ivan Lam, creator

Whether you follow Ivan Lam on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube, it’s easy to see why so many have fallen in love with them. Lam highlights the vulnerability of beauty and identity in a powerfully honest way, often sharing thought-provoking reflections on queer representation, authenticity, and community. Of course, you’ll also find skin-care routines and reviews of viral makeup products on their feed. But a recent beauty shoot inspired by insect life probably sums up their voice best. “Expanding our ideas of beauty not only pertains to us humans physically, but so important universally as well, it means we make the world safer for all,” they wrote in the caption. “I hope for one day we get to familiarize ourselves with the unfamiliar, for it is only fear that keeps us apart.”