Welcome to Generation AP, a weekly spotlight on emerging actors, writers and creatives who are on the verge of taking over.

As the fashion and beauty world explodes at the seams with 2000s nostalgia, from bright colors and detailed packaging, many makeup brands are eager to incorporate the liveliness of the 2000s into their branding, but few manage to pull it off. One company breathing a euphoric sense of new beginnings that encapsulated the early 2000s with its equally innovative approach and mesmerizing shades is Youthforia, the skin care-first brand.

Read more: 5 beauty products taking over #AltBeautyTikTok

While other companies flood consumers with condescending "#selfcare" marketing plots to entice emotionally driven, impulsive shopping habits, few brands can say they carry that ethos of self-care in their products and production. Youthforia’s products aim to act like skincare and makeup products, trialed and tested by CEO Fiona Co Chan by wearing them to bed. Bio-based, cruelty-free, clean and vegan, Youthforia has understandably become a buzz, with forward-thinking Gen-Z consumers striving to ethically consume and take care of themselves.

Following the virality of their BYO Blush on TikTok, Youthforia went from a start-up in the pandemic to a global operation. We sit down with founder and creative genius Co Chan to learn more about the brand.

If you could describe Youthforia as a movie, TV show and song, how would you?

Youthforia universe is a bit otherworldly. I think it’d be loud colors and makeup floating everywhere. Just really cool surprises and pops of color. If Youthforia is a song, it’s a summer bop. I made this brand and our products because makeup you can sleep in is what I wanted in my youth — in my teens and 20s. Working on the brand takes me back to a really fun time in my life, and summer bops always make me think of summer nights and summer dates.

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[Photo via Youthforia]

I read that you built this brand during the pandemic. How do you think the environment you were in — stuck inside, the world in a fragile state of collapse, no understanding of if or when it would be resolved — is reflected in the brand or the products themselves?

I built Youthforia during the pandemic in Hong Kong. I got stuck there because of COVID and ended up living there in 2020. Looking back on it now, being in Asia at that time was truly a blessing in disguise for a number of reasons. There’s a really different concept of makeup and skincare there — where you can see your makeup routine as an extension of your skincare routine. I trained under a makeup artist while building the brand, and I learned so much about situation skin types and protecting your skin because there’s a ton of pollution there.

But because I thought the world could end at any time, I really decided to follow my heart’s passions. Prior to this, I worked in tech, which is clearly not my passion, and because I literally didn’t see anyone for most of the pandemic, I explored Youthforia with a childlike wonder — and kept asking myself, “What would I do if I didn’t have a fear of failure?” Our best-selling, color-changing blush, BYO Blush, came out of that, and I’m so grateful that product development taught me to trust my gut.

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[Photo via Youthforia]

I know you also take a hands-on approach, even roping your husband and friends in to test products. Why is it so important to you to be this one-to-one with all of your products?

It’s the most important thing for me. I’m extremely passionate about product development. A huge reason why I started Youthforia was that I couldn’t find any products that worked for my skin or had the texture profile or quality of ingredients. I’m obsessive over every part of the development, even down to the shapes of the molecules. Ingredients are the only part of the business where there’s no budget. I refuse to compromise on quality, and I truly want to make the best products possible. But it makes me figure out how to be scrappy everywhere else for the business.

Youthforia is a skin care-first brand, something the makeup industry always needs more of. Oftentimes, we may think of makeup as a mask, something to hide behind. Your brand is doing the opposite, helping us to embrace ourselves and adore our skin. Could you speak on this more?

I hated how makeup used to be just about pretty colors or covering up blemishes. I hated that cycle of my makeup making me break out, so I need to wear more makeup to cover up the blemishes, [which] then made my skin worse.

Makeup should just be fun — and makeup is fun when you feel good about the ingredients. You don’t have to worry if you accidentally fall asleep in it, and it makes you feel better. I’ve always thought that makeup is a tool to help you be more “you” — and sometimes you’re a different aesthetic every day.

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[Photo via Youthforia]

As a person of Asian heritage myself, I’d be interested to know how your own heritage influenced Youthforia. I know quite personally how Asian cultures adopt unique, intricate skincare and lifestyle routines.

I built Youthforia while living in Asia, and I spent half of my 20s in Asia. It’s very much influenced by modern Asia and my experience being a young adult in Asia. There’s these amazing, very cosmopolitan cities in Asia where you meet people from all over the world, and you can go out and party all night. It’s really fun, but there’s always a huge emphasis on healthy routines, and it’s where I had the idea for makeup you can sleep in.

In Asia, there isn’t a “no makeup makeup” look, but there’s a very clear, “Wow, it looks like you have very expensive makeup on” look where makeup is just blended to perfection. It really does look different.

That’s definitely a type of look I really like. Our entire Pregame line works really well with mid-priced foundations to adjust the textures to achieve that look

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[Photo via Youthforia]

I’m really interested in the products themselves. The BYO Blush is so innovative to Western beauty, especially considering how universal and accessible it is for people with deeper skin tones or combination/sensitive skin. What was the trial and error like with this product, and when did you have that moment where you thought, “That’s it, it’s perfect!”?

So much trial and error! It was an incredibly hard formula to perfect because it’s an oil. Oil usually doesn’t play well with foundations and other makeup, but I wanted something that could also have a nice natural highlighter effect. The color-changing aspect, that came to me when I was brainstorming how to make a universally flattering blush. One day, it really did hit me. But so many formulas we’ve tried, some of our early trials just looked awful. When we got this final one, it was still during COVID, so it was just me and my husband trying it. There was something magical about it because we just knew it was going to be something special. This is one of my favorite core memories of building Youthforia.

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[Photo via Youthforia]

Finally, if you could walk us through your favorite products/product combos for the following moments:

"Day out with your gal pals"

  • Korean sunscreen (I don’t even know the name, but I suggest looking for the best texture to prevent it from dissolving makeup)
  • Pregame Primer
  • Dolce&Gabana MillenialSkin tint
  • NYX blue liner + Thrive Causemetics blue mascara
  • Any eyebrow pencil
  • Youthforia Sound Stage (love this color for daytime)

"Night out with bae"

  • Pregame Primer
  • Youthforia foundation sample for entire face (I use darker shades for contouring every part of my fave and lighter shades to create definition)
  • Youthforia foundation sample mixed with BYO Blush for salmony under eye corrector
  • Tarte Bronzer
  • Hotel Heiress
  • Eyes: Laura Mercier powder then UD eye primer then Dior shadow palette with Bobbi Brown sticks and KVD
  • KVD tattoo liner + Menu Beauty fake lashes
  • Kosas eyebrow pencil
  • Youthforia Play With Fire (such a sultry date night color!)

"Studying hard at home!"

If I’m studying, I need a bolder lip because it makes me feel confident.

  • Pregame Primer
  • Chantecaille Future Skin mixed with Dolce&Gabanna millennial skin
  • KVD tattoo liner + Thrive Causemetics Mascara
  • Kosas eyebrow pencil
  • Youthforia Make Some Noise (I made this color because its the color I always wore into every exam in college!)