Fiona Chan of Youthforia Talks Anti-Pollution Makeup and What’s Coming for the TikTok-Viral Brand

August 17, 2022
Alanna Martine Kilkeary
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary | by L'Oréal
fiona chan posing for the camera

It’s not as easy as it looks to take the beauty world by storm on TikTok — but Youthforia founder Fiona Chan has made it look effortless with the launch of the beauty brand’s viral BYO Blush. This color-changing formula is green in its tube and transforms to create the perfect complementary blush shade for your skin through some pH magic — and it’s made waves all over the internet in short-form videos. Here, we chatted with Chan about anti-pollution makeup, her routine and what else is to come for the social-first beauty company. 

Tell us a little bit about your background and the concept behind Youthforia. Why a focus on skin-friendly makeup specifically?

I worked in tech before starting Youthforia — and my work took me to some of the most polluted cities in the world. I used to sleep in N95s every time I traveled to these cities, and I’d always sleep in my makeup because I was always on a plane or jet lagged. That made me realize that my normal skincare and makeup,even ‘clean’ products, didn’t work for my skin. When COVID hit, I got stuck in Hong Kong, and all my ideas for Youthforia came about that first week of COVID. But I had no beauty industry experience prior to this.

I think it was the inability to go out and see people that made me realize that makeup is about going out and having fun with your friends, and I’m someone who always sleeps in my makeup if I’m out with friends. 

What makes Youthforia different from other beauty brands?

We try to formulate without fossil fuels, mostly because of my experience in these very polluted cities — I could see how the pollution was affecting me and the community at large. It’s a huge passion area of mine. During development, I had the idea to test everything by sleeping in it because I wanted makeup that acted like skincare and  really wanted to put that to the test. The first morning after sleeping in BYO Blush, my skin looked so much nicer on that patch. I couldn’t believe it, so I made my husband sleep in it too, and the patch where he applied it also looked really nice. So we slept in BYO Blush for two months, and now sleeping in our products is a big part of our development process.

Youthforia is a very social-first brand. Can you speak a little about why you've made this choice, and why being Instagram/TikTok-centric is so important for beauty brands these days?

I actually moved back from Hong Kong to the US to launch the brand because I wanted to be on TikTok (TikTok is banned in Hong Kong). Being social first was important because I was bootstrapped — I didn't have a marketing budget, and I didn't have any other choice. But now, I absolutely love short-form videos, making memes and making content.

As an AAPI brand founder, tell us about how you're feeling regarding the state of the beauty industry over the last few years — what changes would you like to see in the makeup/beauty landscape as a whole? 

I love the changes we're seeing with more brands being started by founders with an authentic mission and perspective. I think diversity is so important;I learn so much from other beauty brand founders, and I love how their life experiences have influenced their brand and their products! I have a real appreciation for founders who can show up and be proud of who they are and share that with the world and I love celebrating that! 

What does a typical day look like for you? 

Right now, I'm in the busiest season of running Youthforia I've ever been in — I won't lie, my working hours are every waking hour I have right now. I'm honestly a different girl depending on the time of day.

Right now, I'll get up at 6 a.m. and run for an hour or walk while I do EFT Tapping — it's my version of a hot girl mental health walk. I swear by EFT to help me get into the right mindset for the day.

I have two times of the day where I like to block off to film TikToks — it's either at 9 a.m. or 4 p.m. I don't have any plans for TikTok — I'll just create content for whatever I feel like. During USA working hours, I'm more sales and marketing focused. Youthforia marketing meetings are really fun — we share lots of funny memes and amazing work from creatives.

By 5 p.m., I switch gears and move strictly into product development because it coincides with Asia time zones. Post 5 p.m. is my sacred time —  it's when I work on passion projects. I get really inspired in the evening, I learn the most at night, and I love product development. For part of the year, I spend it in Asia because I love working on products while I'm there.

What does your personal makeup routine look like?

Right now, it's all product samples I'm testing out! But I will switch my makeup routine depending on my situational skin type or where I am.

I’ll always start with some sort of lymphatic face massage, face roller or gua sha. There’s a ‘pump’ that goes from behind your ear, down your neck; I learned that is the most important point to massage. After sunscreen, I wear our Pregame Primer. I learned in Asia that primer is one of the most important skincare steps — it really helps prevent pollution and irritating ingredients in your makeup from sticking on. Then, I apply the foundation that I’ve been developing for Youthforia. For concealer, I use a lighter shade of the foundation I’m developing. Instead of contour or bronzing, I'll use a different shade of the same foundation sample. I'm just really into the texture!  

To set my makeup, I use our Pregame Setting Spray. I can’t set my face with powders because it’s too drying for my skin and my skin barrier is too weak for powders. Compared to powders, our Pregame Setting Spray creates a protective film to seal in your makeup and prevent pollution from sticking onto your makeup.

Most of my routine is influenced from my time living in Asia, in a lot of pollution. One of the things I learned early on was that makeup can be very sticky and pollutants can easily stick onto your makeup. The entire Pregame line was made with that in mind.

What does the future of Youthforia look like to you? 

I’m really excited for our foundation,which I’ve been working on since the early days. I think we’re a year away from launching it, and everything we’re launching from now until then is basically my journey of figuring out how we even make a foundation that I'll sleep in to test (I just recently finished sleeping in our foundation samples — the texture is divine!). 

What's your advice for an aspiring beauty entrepreneur?

Go for it — there’s no better time to start. You’ll develop resilience as you go on your entrepreneurial journey. And be yourself and embrace your unique experiences and perspectives — no one can ever take that away from you.

And finally, what does beauty mean to you?

Being myself! I feel the most beautiful when I accept who I am, [and when] I'm following my passions and embracing who I truly am! I have a different glow! 



Photo Credit: Courtesy of Youthforia

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