There's a pretty amazing Seattle beauty startup called Beauty Beyond Borders (3B) we just discovered. For $12 every month, 3B delivers a subscription box of deluxe Asian beauty samples to US customers, chock full of goodies that will make you more glowy and radiant, masks that plump and perfect, serums that moisturize and revitalize. But get this—they're launching a full-size online shop this month, so whatever you love in your subscription box, you can purchase outright. We caught up with Ke Chen, who along with Neima Shahidy founded 3B, to find out more about her, the startup, and everything beauteous.
Tell me a little bit about the history; when did you start 3B Beauty Beyond Borders and what was the driving force behind it?
I've always been obsessed with Asian beauty products. I think I can pretty much track it down to when my mother gave me my first Shiseido skincare set when I turned 12. It was an all-consuming love affair from that point on. And for good reason—Marie Claire estimates Asia is 10-12 years ahead of the US when it comes to skincare innovation, putting them at the forefront of the beauty world. As I grew older, I realized it was an extremely frustrating process to shop for these products from Japan and Korea. In order to sample products, I had to order them from eBay, which of course is challenging as far as authenticity is concerned. If I liked the samples, I had to order them from another international retailer site (usually with a sketchy checkout process).
To learn more about products and brands, I had to scour numerous Asian beauty blogs. I would have twenty tabs open in my browser just to buy one product. It was an extremely fragmented and frustrating process. The vision for Beauty Beyond Borders is one source where you can try, buy, and learn about Asian beauty. For the past 15 years I've fallen in love with products originating from Asia but didn’t have an easy way to trial or buy new products so I finally decided to change that.
At Beauty Beyond Borders, we have a monthly subscription service where new beauty enthusiasts can try Asian beauty samples and discover the magic themselves. For $12/month, subscribers receive 4-5 deluxe samples of the most-clamored for, most coveted, cult beauty products from overseas delivered to their door. And if they like the samples they've received, they can purchase the full-size products directly through us as well. Our motto is “Try what you like and buy what you love." We want to help customers find the best beauty products regardless of what country it’s from or what language they speak.
What's your philosophy towards the company?
We want to help you feel your best, starting with your skin. This starts with changing the way we think about skincare in the Western world.
In the United States, the dominant conception of skincare is reactive. “What should I do now that I have this new wrinkle?” or “My skin feels really dry. Which moisturizer should I use?” This is not the case in Asia. In Asia taking care of your skin is a pleasure, not a task. It’s a ritual, not a routine. It’s a luxury to be savored, not a chore to be completed. Skincare is not a quick rinse of your face in the shower and applying a cream as you’re climbing into bed. It’s a quiet unwinding at the end of a chaotic day as you come home to yourself. It’s something to look forward to. To indulge in. Skincare in Asia is an art form, a practice, of investing in yourself every morning and every night.
Our goal is to help you build a skincare routine worth slowing down for.
What will this new online shop be like? Will the subscription box service still be in effect?
I’m so excited about the online store! It’s another piece of the vision coming together. The online store will feature full-size versions of brands and products that we’ve sampled but also serve as a platform where we can introduce new curations as well. The subscription service will still be in effect and run simultaneous to the online store. The idea is you get to try samples of Asian beauty products before making a bigger investment in your skin. Once you fall in love with a product and have tried it, you can feel more confident about your full-size purchase decisions.
What are your absolute favorite skincare products for Fall/Winter?
That’s so hard to pick! The same way not all clothes are flattering on every body type, you have to try a product to know whether or not it works for you but that’s all part of the fun! There’s beauty in the search and joy in the discovery. I have extremely dry skin so my skincare products are all about adding moisture and hydration during the fall and winter. I’m particularly fond of essences and serums right now. Serums are a concentrated treatment, a product stripped down to only the most powerful actives. They’re powerful potions for the skin; boosters, if you will. Essences are a subcategory of skincare that are crucial in Asian beauty routines but not common in the US. They are concentrated formulas that specifically targets wrinkles, fine lines, and dull or uneven skin tones. They typically contain an active ingredient that improves your skin’s natural cell turnover rate so over time, you’ll notice your skin is smoother and brighter. I love the Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence and the Skinfood Black Sugar Perfect First Serum. Other favorites include the Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence and Innisfree Green Tea Fresh Essence.