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How Sarah Lee and Christine Chang Built a Cult Skincare Following


In the ever-evolving world of beauty, there are few names that evoke as much excitement and reverence as GLOW RECIPE. This skincare brand has taken the beauty industry by storm with its innovative use of clean ingredients and its commitment to creating a truly transformative skincare experience. At the helm of this powerhouse brand are two visionary women: Sarah Lee and Christine Chang. Together, they have built a brand that has become a household name, with a cult following of devoted fans to match.

From humble beginnings to global domination, the rise of GLOW RECIPE is a story of passion, determination, and, of course, a whole lot of glow. Let's take a closer look at the two brilliant minds behind this beauty revolution and see how they are changing the game one glowing complexion at a time.

Lee and Chang may have come from different backgrounds, but their shared love for Korean beauty brought them together in the most unexpected way. The two met while working as interns at L'Oréal Korea, where they bonded over their mutual passion for sheet masks (and Korean BBQ!). They also shared a frustration with the limited K-beauty options available in the US market at that time.

“We were always talking about the latest trends or inspirations in Korean skincare, and we realized that we were both working on projects in our own individual departments inspired by K-beauty,” says Lee. “We have actually worked in Korean offices in the beauty industry and have a pretty good network of people in the K-beauty space. We were very uniquely positioned, and we thought how amazing it would be if we joined forces and brought the latest K-beauty innovations to US consumers in real time, as opposed to rebranding it under another global company’s umbrella.” That's when the idea for GLOW RECIPE was born—but not like you know it today.

Before the brand’s fruit-powered, clean skincare and brightly colored, sustainable packaging was glowrecipe.com, the duo’s e-commerce market that brought the abundance of innovative and effective beauty products found in Korea to the U.S. “We felt it was our mission to support smaller indie brands in Korea that had the potential to go global but didn’t have the resources or networks to do so,” says Chang. “In 2014, we quit our jobs and flew out to Korea to start scouting the best of K-beauty.”

Their shared passion for beauty and skincare soon became the foundation for a dynamic partnership that would go on to create one of the most iconic skincare brands of its time. “We started our brand GLOW RECIPE SKINCARE in 2017 with the idea to create a skincare company that combines the best of two worlds: clinical efficacy and sensorial, approachable skincare,” says Lee. Turns out, they weren’t the only ones dreaming of products that filled that industry gap.

“We never imagined the launch becoming as successful as it was in our wildest dreams,” says Lee. “Our first GLOW RECIPE baby, our OG Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, sold out seven times on both glowrecipe.com and at Sephora, and generated an 8,000-person waitlist.” With that rapid success, the pair were faced with the need to grow equally as rapidly. “We needed to place bigger orders to keep up with demand, grow our team, and find a larger office space. For the first few launches, we felt immense pressure to keep up with the success of our first launch, but we found that if we stayed true to our philosophy and our community, we would always have a product beloved by skincare lovers.”

What sets GLOW RECIPE apart from other beauty brands is their commitment to using clean, fruit-based ingredients that are not only good for your skin, but also sustainable and eco-friendly. By harnessing the power of nature, Lee and Chang have created a brand that not only delivers results but also promotes healthy living and a more conscious approach to beauty. “Our mission for Glow Recipe was also to redefine what clinically effective skincare meant for our community,” says Chang.

Chang continues: “We’re most proud of creating Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops–our bestselling SKU, which has now gone viral multiple times! Dew Drops became a holy grail product to our community as it really embodies what GLOW RECIPE represents, bringing out your inner glow with one multitasking, easy-to-use skincare product with both skincare and makeup benefits.” Today, one Dew Drop is sold every minute around the world, so we’d say that’s a massive success.

But perhaps what’s most inspiring about Lee and Chang is their dedication to empowering women in the workplace. “We’ve dreamed of reaching a level in our business where we can provide mentorship to other female founders just starting their business,” says Lee. “As two female co-founders of Asian heritage, we’re especially passionate about providing mentorship to not only female entrepreneurs, but specifically Black and POC female founders. In 2021, we launched our mentorship program and have been mentoring new female leaders ever since.” Through mentorship programs, community outreach, and partnerships with other female-led businesses, they have demonstrated a commitment to lifting up other women and creating opportunities for them to succeed.

In a world where beauty standards are constantly changing, and the industry is becoming increasingly saturated, Sarah Lee and Christine Chang have proven that passion, innovation, and a dedication to empowering others can make all the difference. As the GLOW RECIPE brand continues to grow and expand, there is no doubt that these two visionaries will continue to lead the charge, inspiring others to embrace their own unique glow and achieve their dreams.

Ready to try out amazing products from GLOW RECIPE and other female- and AAPI-owned beauty brands? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started with your own IPSY subscription. Already an IPSY member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.

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About the author
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Maddie Aberman
Maddie is the senior manager of editorial at IPSY. She’s been covering beauty and wellness for more than nine years. Her work has appeared in Allure, Cosmopolitan, Popsugar, Women's Health, Good Housekeeping, and Seventeen, among other publications.
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Article Last Updated May 2, 2023 12:00 AM