Hayward (KPIX 5) — Catrena Laluangphet says she’s had a hard time finding the right shade of foundation because she is half Southeast Asian and half black.
“My experience before for finding foundation was to go to one store, another store, and another store, keep color matching and color matching, and asking for a bunch of samples,” she said. “To go home to find that barely any of them really match me because the undertones were wrong.”
Laluangphet’s search ended when she found Orcé Cosmetics through Instagram. Orcé ‘s CEO and founder Yu-Chen Shih shared the same frustration.
“What I think is missing in the market right now, so in between the Japanese and Korean brands that have mostly very fair shades, and Western brands like the household names in Sephora, most of them have a pink undertone,” said Shih. “So pink undertones are more suitable for Caucasian skin.”
So Shih created a first-of-its-kind line for Asian Americans–a full range of shades with golden and warm undertones, crafted and manufactured in Hayward.
“Asian Americans, we have one of the highest spending power in the country, four times that of millennials, and no one is paying attention,” Shih said.
Shih is paying attention to their unique concerns and qualities. Asian Americans tend to struggle with hyperpigmentation and breakouts. So the liquid foundations are enriched with ingredients like Tahitian pearl extracts and a Chinese herb that is said to increase radiance.
“I watch a lot of YouTube videos, usually Asian makeup gurus, they always seem to have two shades of foundation to find the perfect match,” said shopper Mica Bautista of San Francisco.
Asian American shoppers who spoke to KPIX 5 in downtown Burlingame have been improvising with what is on the market. Burlingame resident Nicole Beal just returned from a trip to Hong Kong.
“People want to be pure, people want to be white, more of a lighter complexion, versus here, Asian Americans typically want to go for that bronzer, golden look,” Beal said. “So I think it’d be nice to have a product that’s suitable for Asian Americans.”
Korean American actress Jamie Chung from San Francisco is one of the brand’s ambassadors.
Shih, who grew up in Singapore, says she wants her brand to help shatter the narrow standards of beauty within Asian culture.
“I was always criticized for being too dark, for being too fat, and I want to challenge this, I want to challenge this idea that only a certain skin tone is beautiful,” Shih said.
Since its launch this year, Orcé Cosmetics says sales have tripled each month. It is already working on more shades of liquid foundation and expanding its line of products.
The brand is currently sold online. Full-size foundations are priced at $89.