This new brand is made by and for Asian women
As a teenager in Singapore, Yu-Chen Shih loved to play with makeup, but she felt the stigma of being darker, shorter, and curvier than the typical Asian beauty ideal. “A phrase I heard often throughout my life at home was 一白 遮三醜, which essentially means that no matter how ugly you are—literally and figuratively—you will look beautiful as long as you have fair skin,” she recalls.
Upon moving to Los Angeles for college, Shih faced yet another impossible ideal—blonder, leggier—and few role models in the media to suggest otherwise. That lack of representation, along with her disappointment with the beauty status quo, led her to see an opportunity. “It struck me that, even though Asians represent one of the largest ethnic groups in the world, most Western beauty brands do not offer makeup that is suitable for Asian skin tones and concerns, while ‘Asian’ beauty brands typically offer a very limited range of shades,” she says. Her realization—and the desire to offer something better—ultimately inspired Orcé, a modern luxury cosmetics collection created for Asian-American women.
"I think it’s time for people of Asian descent to feel included in this conversation."
This week marks the launch of Orcé’s debut product, Come Closer foundation. It’s available in six shades intended, as Shih puts it, to cover “both the light and dark ends of the spectrum, from people of Japanese and Korean descent, to Cambodian and Indian, and everything in between.”
Formulated with ingredients used in TCM and Ayurvedic medicine, the liquid foundation is also cruelty-, fragrance-, and paraben-free. Experience sets—neatly packaged trios of sample-sized testers—are available to ensure the correct shade match.
From a practical perspective, Shih hopes that Orcé will give Asian-Americans better options for their makeup. (She notes that additional shades and products are already in development.) But Shih hopes to have a deeper impact, too. “So many incredible new brands have popped up over the last few years that have challenged more traditional, limiting, or staid standards of beauty,” she says. “I think it’s time for people of Asian descent to feel included in this conversation.” —Annie Tomlin