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KraveBeauty's founder Liah Yoo on entering Southeast Asia market and the women who inspire her

The YouTuber turned business owner shares with us her beauty journey.

Liah Yoo founder of KraveBeauty makes a splash with its exciting debut in Sephora Asia. (PHOTO: Krave Beauty)
Liah Yoo founder of KraveBeauty makes a splash with its exciting debut in Sephora Asia. (PHOTO: Krave Beauty)

Liah Yoo, the founder & CEO of KraveBeauty, is a trailblazer in the beauty realm, known for her skincare expertise and entrepreneurial flair. She gained prominence through her YouTube platform, where she shared unconventional tips and tricks to combat acne. With over 1.6 million social media reach, Liah’s personal skincare journey has earned her immense credibility, guiding countless individuals on their quest for healthier, clearer skin. Liah has cultivated a global community of skincare aficionados, empowering them with the knowledge and confidence to embark on their skincare adventures.

Founded in 2017 by Liah, KraveBeauty emerged from a vision to challenge beauty industry norms and hit #PressReset on complicated trend-led skincare routines. Guided by the mantra of "less is more," KraveBeauty's meticulously curated lineup reflects Liah's commitment to mindful skincare, prioritising simplicity and sustainability. PETA certified Vegan + Cruelty Free, KraveBeauty is dedicated to enhancing biodegradability and transparency, with annual impact reports and a commitment to social and environmental responsibility as a Public Benefit Corporation.

Yahoo Life Singapore speaks with Liah on Monday (2 April) about her beauty journey and what makes KraveBeauty so unique.


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Liah Yoo: I worked at Amorepacific, my first job out of college. At the same time, I started my YouTube channel in 2012. I started because K-pop was becoming really popular globally. I knew a lot of people were very interested in Korean makeup or Korean beauty products in general, but there wasn't any information on YouTube.

YouTube was definitely my first gateway into the beauty space. I think my interest in skincare has grown a lot because I have acne-prone skin. In my 20s, during the YouTube phase, I developed acne, either adult acne or hormonal acne. So, I tried so many products, and I wasted so much money on laser treatments. I did literally everything for acne except for Accutane.

At one point, I was even using a 14-step skincare routine, and part of it was a four-step cleansing routine to make sure that my skin was really clean, thinking there was no bacteria whatsoever that was causing acne. That was the biggest mistake that I've made for my skin because not only did it sensitise my skin, but it also really overloaded my skin with so many things that my skin wasn't ready to handle.

At one point, my skin was really constantly red and constantly inflamed and that's something that I actually documented on YouTube. After realising how smart your skin is, I just simplified my skincare routine to three steps: cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen. I stayed away from any active ingredients at the time because I wanted to give my skin kind of a break and a reset button. I actually saw a huge difference within two weeks by just simplifying my routine. That's when I noticed like, 'Wow, your skin is actually really, really smart. And you just need fewer products that are very gentle and help your skin perform.' So yeah, that's my beauty or skincare journey in short.

Liah Yoo: Our brand is for people who have sensitised or damaged skin barrier. I think our customers are growing because there are more people who are damaging their skin. During the pandemic, people were so excited to learn more about skincare, that they tried so many different things, only to realise that they were ruining their skin too.

People discovered the brand during COVID from influencers like James Welsh, who really did help take the brand to the mainstream. I think the building the credibility part has been a very slow, gruelling journey, and it's something that I'm still learning: how to manage the team, how to scale the business, how to grow the business, and how even to do PR, too. So yeah, I'm just learning in baby steps.

Liah Yoo: We stand out by saying less is more, and honestly, that's a very refreshing message in this space where it's all about needing more, like a day serum, night serum, toner, and essence. I think that's why people who have been there and done that and who have tried a lot of things eventually come to us saying things like, 'Less is more, and let's press reset,' because they're overwhelmed by the skincare industry.

You'll need a cleanser, moisturiser, or sunscreen. Listen to your skin's cravings, and add product intentionally only when you need it. We educate people about skin condition and type and what products to apply when their skin feels this way. We always say that serums and ampoules should be applied just when you need them, not every single day.

The notion of needing all these 10-step skincare routines is so b***s***, and I think that's also influencing the younger generation, like teenagers, to buy a lot of serums that contain active ingredients and ruin their skin. When I see the Sephora kids just trying very advanced skincare, I see my future customers because they're going to damage their skin barrier.

Liah Yoo: I shop at Sephora in the States because it's such a well-curated experience. Each brand has such stunning visual merchandising that you can really get a sense of what the brand is about just by looking at the shelf. I really wanted to prioritise bringing it here because there are a lot of unauthorised resellers selling the brands.

Also, Sephora already has many stores across Asia, not only in Singapore but also in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. So, I thought Sephora would be a great partner to help us expand our brand awareness in the region. So yeah, it was a no-brainer, to be honest.

Liah Yoo: I think our Jumbo Great Barrier Reef is selling at a discounted price. I do think our price is very reasonable. I walked into Sephora Singapore, and I compared all the prices and our brand's price was definitely one of the lowest and the most affordable ones out there. We priced it that way because I don't believe in luxury skincare. We also don't compromise on the amount of our ingredients.

Liah Yoo, founder of Krave Beauty speaks to Yahoo Life Singapore in Singapore. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)
Liah Yoo, founder of Krave Beauty speaks to Yahoo Life Singapore in Singapore. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore)

Liah Yoo: (squeezes some on her skin) You'll kind of smell it: very earthy, muddy and almost smells like Chinese medicine. And then when I went to Malaysia, some Malaysians were like, 'Oh, it smells like gamat oil. It's definitely not tolerable to a lot of people. But it is one of the ingredients, especially in the oil space, that I found to be the most healing.

Polynesians have used it for centuries for skin ailments, scars, burns and anything on their skin because it helps regenerate your skin really well. I also wanted to use it because my aunt is an acupuncturist, and she uses a lot of herbs, and then I think she came across Tamanu oil. Notice how amazing and rejuvenating Tamanu oil is (points to her skin). She was the one who let me know about the oil and I started using it. And I started seeing my acne scars fading immediately, within weeks. And that's something that I had so much success with, not only with me but also with my viewers and subscribers who started using Tamanu oil. And of course, it smells crazy. Especially, the 100% version of it. But I know how amazing it is regarding efficacy, so I had to use it. We do warn people that, you know, our products are not fragranced, but they will smell like the ingredient itself.

Liah Yoo: First is the Matcha Heartleaf Hydrating Cleanser. I think it's such an easy product to start with. It has such a feel-good formula with a fun texture as well. And it just leaves your skin really, really hydrated and not squeaky clean at all.

Liah Yoo: Sunscreen, stay tuned!

Liah Yoo: There are definitely a lot of people who paved the way before me. I'm also not an American; I am a Korean who was born and raised in South Korea. We moved to the States, like six years ago, because of the company. I think it's definitely different from the Korean market, where there are more founder-led brands and more storytelling about the brand. If you look at Drunk Elephant and Glow Recipe, there are a lot of rich stories that started from the founders, like personal journeys. And I just love seeing that!

Liah Yoo: I think Michelle Phan is a great example because she has walked a very similar path. She started her YouTube channel and has a brand now. Her journey is admirable because she paved the way for a creator who became a businessperson. And yeah, do look at what she's doing.

Also, Cassey Ho Vinh is a fitness YouTuber. Yeah, she's like the OG, Michelle Phan era, who did Pilates workouts. So I followed her and did a lot of her workouts, and now she's an amazing businesswoman owning her own brands.

KraveBeauty is now available on Sephora.sg and available in-stores.

Yahoo Shopping Southeast Asia
Yahoo Shopping Southeast Asia