If you know, you know. This phrase applies to avid beauty lovers who have ventured out of the renowned international mainstream and instead browsed a little closer to home, turning stones to discover local gems—Malaysian beauty brands.
Over the past decade, this arena has undergone a boom and has garnered much appreciation, with many looking forward to more and more launches. Some even go as far as growing an audience regionally, attracting the attention of Singaporeans, Indonesians, and Bruneians.
And they’re not your run-of-the-mill, fame-backed (though some of the frontmen do have some celebrity) brands either. At the heart of it all are entrepreneurs who are constantly pushing the boundaries of what they can bring to the table, all without tearing a hole in your wallet. Their advantage? They are the ones that come face to face with local ires such as Malaysia’s humidity and heat, so they have a targeted focus when creating a product. Malaysian beauty brands also have a deeper understanding of our interests, which include inclusivity and the kinds of colours that work with Malaysian skin tones.
Not only that, but the formulations that they come up with are highly competitive. Just look at Lumi Beauty and Chuck’s. Both are made in South Korea, a country currently regarded as the mecca of skincare innovations. P.S. Knudsen ventures to Morrocco to come up with its supple prickly pear seed oil. Velvet Vanity’s iconic liquid matte lipsticks have gotten upgrades to keep up with the current. And Plummp’s moisturiser doesn’t only come with cute packaging, but also with a tool to enhance the cream’s performance. All that is to say this: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
Keep reading to discover homegrown brands that are not only worth your while, but will also become a treasured member of your arsenal.
Best Malaysian Beauty Brands: Makeup
A favourite to many, Velvet Vanity is easily a pioneer in the local beauty market, as Adlina Nadirah, the brand’s founder, has kickstarted her entrepreneurial journey since 2016. Its iconic liquid lipstick, RM49 has seen upgrades, and flanking it are the Super Slim Lipsticks, RM39 and the Glossy Glo Lip Oil, RM49. Perhaps the best thing about this brand is the shade ranges you’ll find. There’s no way you’re just buying one here.
Editor’s pick: Glossy Glo Lip Oil in Crystal Clear
The maestro behind the brand is, hands down, Malaysia’s own Mario Dedivanovich. A makeup artist himself, you can count on him to have a sharp eye for colours. Just take a peek at his offerings and you’ll understand. His star product, the Matte Lip Laquers, RM72.90 come in a rainbow of hues that will put even international brands to shame. All of them are available in minis—a lot of which are perpetually sold out. The Artist Fluid Liquid Foundation, RM119.90 also arrives in a spectrum that covers a lot of bases.
Editor’s pick: Artist Finish Blush in Kigali, RM85.90
We’re here for the expressive branding at Kittie Yiyi Beauty. At the moment, it only has items for lips and eyes, but even with that, they come in wide ranges. Beyond just the staples, the brand goes even further by offering bold shades. Just take a peep at its 247 Slay Liquid Lipstick in Fearless, RM68—a pigmented deep black shade for you to rock on the days when you’re feeling a little Wednesday.
Editor’s pick: Cross the Line Eyeliner in Little Women, RM68
Maybe when Ariel the Little Mermaid sang ‘look at this trove / treasures untold,’ she was talking about Kamelia Cosmetics. Like many other homegrown brands, this one started with offering lip products (because let’s face it, it’s the fail-safe route). Since then, it has extended its line to include the Temptress Lash Maximiser, RM19 and base products—including a cushion foundation.
Editor’s pick: Mermaid Skin Foundation, RM49
This cruelty-free beauty brand is all about fun. Aside from its quirky packaging, this brand has perhaps the widest option when it comes to your face. Three different foundation formats, a loose powder, and blushers that come in a size that will easily last you a lifetime—that’s what you’re in for. In addition to that, Nita Cosmetics also has eyebrow products and, most interestingly, peelable nail polish: Resipi, RM29.
Editor’s pick: Cherita Nita Set & Spray in Watermelon, RM39
Best Malaysian Beauty Brands: Skincare
Have you ever seen a local skincare brand that sells its products via vending machines? That’s probably Lumi Beauty. Founded by Chryseis Tan, you can bet that its product range is of top-notch quality. It is, after all, made with South Korean formulations. Its best-selling, multi-award-winning Vitamin Glow Super Serum, RM135 and the Rose Brightening Moisture Mask, RM65 are the stuff of skincare dreams. Now, the brand has added more serums and masks into the mix, so get browsing already.
Editor’s pick: Cactus Gentle Jelly Cleanser, RM98
Jane Chuck’s namesake skincare line is not playing. It has practically a full skincare routine prepped and ready for the picking, even makeup removal. The Off-Duty Rice Cleansing Balm, RM98 is the latest addition, and it was easily another hit from the brand. The Self-Love for All Honey Cream, RM112 is a standout and has found itself becoming the holy grail of many popular influencers, including Bay Doucet. Earlier in 2023, the brand also expanded to include body care, and you can bet that the Effortless Body Wash, RM78 is in high rotation in many homes.
Editor’s pick: Don’t Worry Exfoliating Toner Pads, RM128
Love a good serum? Well, Cuura has at least five, all waiting for your keen exploration. You may want to start with the Pure Beauty Oil, RM89 to see what the brand is all about and work your way to the rest. Aside from that, they have three different iterations of sunscreens, one of each is a truly unique local find and is a favourite of ours. The Rose Mist, RM45 and the Recharge and Brightening Sleeping Mask, RM69 are also wonderful skincare items to include into the rotation.
Editor’s pick: Reapply Sunscreen Mist, RM59
Hailing from Borneo, this award-winning skincare line is made with cosmetic chemist Aerin Gabor behind it all. Utilising a treasure from the island (Kalalit extract), the skincare goodies at Olumes address all your skin health and anti-aging needs. Stemming from her personal struggles, you will find this to be super effective. The also have a more affordable range under Miss Olumes, and it’s perfect for those who want maintenance.
Editor’s pick: The Mighty Emulsion, RM180
Ah, yes. Prickly pear seed oil is one of the greatest ingredients in the world, and you can use it head to toe, too! And you will find this superstar ingredient all across P.S. Knudsen. Perhaps the easiest starting point here is through the Clean Cleansing Oil, RM108. While it may only have a small list of items for you to dive into, you can bet that each product is added to the roster with plenty of intention.
Editor’s pick: Prickly Pear Seed Oil, RM273
Long before Lily Collins announced her love for the Cocolicious Luscious Lip Scrub, RM40, the brand had already gained the love of many an adoring Malaysian. That very same lip scrub now has a companion, the Cocolicious Luscious Lip Mask, RM40, and Handmade Heroes have expanded the two items to include bakuchiol into the formula. And if you’re ever in the market for a cuticle oil or a nursing balm, they have those too.
Editor’s pick: The Ultimate Snow Shroom Hyaluronic Acid Serum, RM88
Over at Nature’s Palette, it seems like there are two factions. On one side of the store, you have items for the bakuchiol lover, and on the other side, for those seeking to restore balance to the skin. But don’t fret—you don’t have to choose just one. Minis and combos aren’t their only strong suits either. The brand also goes into developing different formulations for different skin types, as exemplified by the DewLight Skin Brightening Moisturiser, RM80 and the DewBright Skin Brightening Moisturiser, RM80.
Editor’s pick: Octa-blu Skin Refining Serum, RM110
Got some real sensitive skin that you need to give extra TLC on? And you also want to level up the brightness? Then head on over to Yello Skincare. Here, you will discover that almost everything is imbued with the ultra-soothing power of oat. But don’t let that fool you, because they are in the business of brightening. Just take a peek at the Oatellia Exfoliating Gel Cleanser, RM55 and the Snowmeric Hydra-Boost Brightening Serum, RM89 to see what we mean by that.
Editor’s pick: Oatmeal Tumeric Mask & Scrub, RM39
This is no joke. Kayman Beauty has perhaps one of the largest local skincare menu to date. The brand began with its crowd-favourite, uber-successful CoalFace Soap, RM35, and has now grown to a 13-product-strong legion. It’s even concocted one of the rarest finds in town, and that’s its BluMarine Invisible Sunstick SPF50 PA++++, RM69, which is a total feat to achieve, especially for local brands. Aside from harnessing the power of marine algae, it also has scores of hero products surrounding calming centella asiatica and repairing honey.
Editor’s pick: Skintella Repairing Serum, RM75
Sure, the brand may only have two items up for grabs at the moment, but they have already garnered the attention of many local skincare advocates. And with only about one year of track record, we’d call that a success. Its most successful one? The Plump and Calm Day Moisturiser, RM69, and it’s even got SPF50+. The brand also prides itself on its sustainability efforts, allowing customers 50% off when they return their emptied tubes.
Editor’s pick: Seal & Soothe Night Moisturiser, RM79
There may only be five items on its list, but with the amount of success that the brand has had, we’re sure that new launches are just around the corner. With Dr Nurul A’in Sa’ari behind it all, you can count on its formulations to be some of the most effective yet. Its most successful launch is the Purifying Cleanser with 5% Glycolic Acid, RM55.
Editor’s pick: Barrier Cream, RM59
New to the scene is Plummp, and it’s already set to disrupt the game. The Happy Glow Super Hyaluronic Creme, RM178 is a total game-changer. Attached to the cap of the product is a beauty tool that helps you unlock the glow from within even faster with light therapy. The best part? You won’t be stuck with multiples of the same tool when you need to reup on this. You can just get the refill, and you’re good to glow.
Editor’s pick: Happy Creme Super Hyaluronic Creme Refill, RM68
One of the OGs of the local skincare market is Clef Skincare. Don’t let the lux factor fool you—it indeed is a Malaysian brand. One of its most decorated is the Radiant Gold Essence, RM149, and it has over 6,000 smashing reviews on the site. The brand’s sunscreen is also another hit. The Skin Perfecting Tinted Physical Sunscreen, RM148 comes in three shades, so you can forgo foundation to achieve a low-effort makeup look.
Editor’s pick: Canadian Purple Clay Purifying Mask, RM138
Prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics aren’t just for the benefit of the gut. Your face could use some too. At B&B Labs, they believe that the combination is key to a healthy skin biome. Just take your pick of a box of the eco-friendly CustoMask (RM160) and see for yourself. The folks here are very pro skin-calming and balancing, so pretty much anyone can get into it.
Editor’s pick: Ceramides Boosting Moisture Cream, RM220