Liah Yoo On KraveBeauty’s Launch In Singapore And Her Best-Kept Beauty Secret

The founder and CEO also dives into the brand’s purpose and sustainability efforts
Liah Yoo, founder and CEO of KraveBeauty. Photo: KraveBeauty

You’ve probably heard of Liah Yoo, the digital content creator who started her own YouTube channel and took over the internet with her honest, no-frills approach to skincare. Posting online videos about her struggles with adult acne led her to build a close-knit community of like-minded women online, amassing over 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube.

After years of experimenting with different complex skincare regimens to fix her skin health, Liah found that a simpler beauty routine worked wonders. Completely converted as an advocate for the ‘less is more’ mindset, Liah set off on her own journey to create KraveBeauty, her skincare label that prioritises hydration and natural ingredients, tapping into the skin’s own healing abilities.

Now, seven years on, KraveBeauty has finally reached the shores of Singapore. Available at all Sephora outlets across the country, KraveBeauty’s gentle and wholesome skincare lineup helps to distill our skincare routines to its most simplified forms, in the best way. Below, we speak to the founder on her brand’s big launch in Singapore, KraveBeauty’s sustainability ethos and her best-kept beauty secret.

KraveBeauty’s full lineup of products, available at Sephora stores in Singapore. Photo: KraveBeauty

Congratulations on KraveBeauty’s official launch in Singapore! Why did the brand decide to make its mark in Singapore now, after coming onto the beauty scene in 2017?

Honestly, I wanted to launch it sooner because the minute that we launched, we had a lot of Singaporean fans. We noticed a lot of the people who were commenting on our social media were from Singapore. And Singapore was always in our top three most followed countries on our Instagram stats and our Tiktok as well. So we knew that the demand was there. But our primary focus was definitely just establishing the brand first and foremost in the market that we were already playing in. Because if we had spread too thin, too early, we weren’t sure how we were going to prioritise between the different markets. 

Now that the brand is more stabilised in America and we have more team members, we’re now able to go to places that we wanted to go. Before that, it was difficult because of COVID too. We started the conversation with Sephora during COVID and so now we’re finally ready to hit the shelves at Sephora in Singapore. So we’re really excited!

KraveBeauty is all about being intentional in its skincare approach, how does that translate to its key products?

We definitely tell people to #PressReset on their skincare routine and say ‘less is more’. Sometimes, [when we are faced with skin issues], it’s easy to overload your skin and your skin gets really sensitive. That was the experience that I had when I had my adult acne. And that’s when I started my entire journey and took a deep dive into the skincare world. When I started using a 14-step skincare routine, that’s when I had so many more skin issues. And back then, I believed that you need more products to fix your skin, you need more products to have beautiful skin. And I think that’s the idea that the beauty industry has planted in a lot of people’s heads.

The Supplement series from KraveBeauty. Photo: KraveBeauty

My skin became a lot better ever since I simplified my routine to three steps: cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen. That’s when I just thought that there’s not a lot of brands talking about this idea of ‘less is more’. Your skin is really smart and knows how to do its own thing. You just need gentle, very hydrating products to support your skin’s natural ecosystem and natural skin’s functionality. This approach is definitely embodied in a lot of the products we have, in the Core series and Supplement series. The Core series—the Matcha Heartleaf Hydrating Cleanser and the Oat So Simple Water Cream—is what we like to call our daily cup of coffee; it’s what we use everyday to optimise our skin health. The products in the Supplement series are different. The brand’s name is KraveBeauty, so we want to tune into and listen to what our skin is craving. So the products from the Supplement series can work to help our skin when it needs an extra boost; they don’t need to be used every day. We feel that skincare should be more intuitive and more intentional, choosing products that make sense at the time, instead of strictly following a skincare routine, regardless of how we’re feeling.

Why is the idea of sustainability so important to you, personally, so much so that you were driven to create KraveBeauty?

Sustainability was actually not ingrained at the start of the company. But it’s something that we started incorporating one step at a time. In fact, we are still adding one step at a time and getting better. My husband works in the climate space, so just being exposed to that his side of the world has grounded me as a person and made me think about how we can use the business to make a more positive impact for not only our customers, but also the planet that we’re living in. That personally motivated me to research deeper into how our ingredients are sourced or what the packaging impact is and what the recycling system looks like in America, and in Korea, too.

Makeup Re-Wined. Photo: KraveBeauty

From an ingredient standpoint, we wanted to use ingredients like matcha and oat, that are known as superfoods and that are familiar to a lot of people. We wanted to bring more familiar concepts into their skincare so that it’s easy for customers to understand the products. With sustainability being embedded into the product strategy, we’ve gone into more sustainable sourcing. So in our Makeup Re-Wined, we use upcycled grapeseed oil that comes from the wine industry, that would otherwise be wasted from the wine industry. It’s a fully circular zero-waste process.

The Great Barrier Relief, one of our hero products, uses a lot of tamanu oil. So at one point, we started looking at how our tamanu oil is farmed, extracted and harvested. And we wanted to kind of raise the standard of how the land is used, what the land health or the soil health looks like, how the workers are treated in the farm and who is actually extracting the nuts. So we took on a project with the Women’s Earth Alliance, which is a non-profit company who works on a lot of environmental solutions. We partnered with them to invest in a region in Indonesia. We invested in the farm, we planted more tamanu trees. We also worked with the local woman workers to give them financial education, but also increase their wages by 50%. Our team was there two months ago, and it was such a rewarding experience for us.

How will KraveBeauty’s products work in Singapore’s hot and humid climate?

In Singapore, the Core Series would do really well. The Matcha Heartleaf Hydrating Cleanser is such a fun texture, that can provide a really refreshing experience. It also has a very, very faint smell to the product that adds that special summery feel. And then the Oat So Simple Water Cream is such a basic moisturiser, in the best way possible. I didn’t want our moisturiser to be loaded with all sorts of different ingredients to overload the skin. So this product is made with less than 10 ingredients. It’s very clean, lightweight and has that water-bursting feel so it is definitely a great experience when you apply it in a humid climate like Singapore.

If you were to recommend one product for the extra intense heat that Singaporeans have been experiencing as of late, what would it be?

Great Barrier Relief. Photo: KraveBeauty

The Great Barrier Relief was the product that put us on the map, because it has the mot crazy before-and-afters. It’s a skin barrier repairing serum that’s packed with all the skin-identical ingredients like ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol, but we also added tamanu oil. Tamanu oil is great at healing your skin and it’s the most skin-rejuvenating oil. Not only does it help with the healing of redness, eczema, and acne scars, it also helps with inflamed skin or anyone who’s burned their skin under the sun. This product is almost like a reset button for your skin, literally.

How has your skincare routine changed over the years, to match your changing beauty needs?

I think with the realisation that less is actually more than for your skin, I tend to focus now a lot on doing no harm to my skin, and I mean that holistically. I try my best to not cause any physical friction on my face. After I wash my face, I don’t dry my face with a towel, I pat it down then let it air dry. And when I lie down, I never lie on my sides, only my back. So now, my entire skincare focus is more centred on the lifestyle aspect, in addition to a more simple skincare routine.

Liah Yoo. Photo: KraveBeauty

What is your personal best-kept beauty secret?

To not cleanse your face in the morning! Not cleansing really changed my skin. What really helped my oiliness in general was skipping my morning cleansing. When you sleep, your skin doesn’t accumulate a lot of dirt, and it’s not dirty to the point of needing an additional cleanser. So after I started doing that, for about a couple of months, my skin started to be less oily and less dehydrated. Try it!

Since it’s been about 7 years since KraveBeauty’s inception, how do you foresee the brand moving forward and changing in the years to come? What can we expect to see from KraveBeauty in the future?

My vision for the brand is to become like a Patagonia within the skincare industry. Patagonia has had great examples of revolutionising the supply chain to become more sustainable in the fashion space. I think that just creating that type of influence in the beauty industry with KraveBeauty is my dream. 

That’s why it was important for us to set up our own Venture Capital (VC) fund called Press Reset Ventures. We invest a lot in not only other like-minded brands that are just starting out but also in a lot of new supply chain technologies. And these little technologies find their way into our own products. 

For a more short-term goal, we’re bringing our sunscreen to Singapore very soon, so our customers here can look forward to a super lightweight sunscreen that will protect them.

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