You may originally know her as a Bag Snob from her cult-favorite fashion blog, but U Beauty founder Tina Chen Craig has also worn many hats in the beauty industry for a number of years, stemming from her early work as an influencer.
“I was known as the Bag Snob for years on social media, and I think my following blew up because everyone speaks the same language [when it comes to bags]—I always call them the great equalizer,” Chen Craig tells BAZAAR.com. “It didn’t matter what size you were; if you had a great bag, that was it. You were put together, you felt confident. And the same can be said for skin. I think a lot of people came for the bags, but stayed for the skin care tips.”
Chen Craig attributes her love of skin care to her Asian heritage, plus beauty lessons passed down from her mother and grandmother as a child. “I’m Chinese, and I grew up with a Shanghainese grandmother who instilled in me at a very early age that good skin was the ultimate sign of beauty, and anyone could have good skin if they worked at it,” she explains. “I think my skin barrier has really held up because of all those things I’ve learned from them, like taking care of your skin from the inside out. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup; it was just always about skin.”
Later in her career, Chen Craig worked as an ambassador alongside top beauty companies, like Charlotte Tilbury and La Prairie, to help launch and revitalize their brands, which ultimately sharpened her business acumen and product knowledge. Though she enjoyed the work she was doing promoting brands, Chen Craig questioned the need for an excess of items in one’s routine. “I started saying to all these brands I was working with, ‘I really love the fact that you have 500 products, you’re launching one more, and you’re paying me lots of money to now go on a master class tour with you, but could we just combine all of these into one to replace six of these serums?’ And they’d say, ‘Oh, no, you don’t understand science.’ So I started talking to dermatologists and biochemists.”
After developing a skin-changing, sample blend of ingredients in a laboratory in Europe (later known as Chen Craig’s best-selling Resurfacing Compound), the beauty founder was asked by a bevy of fashion and beauty insiders about the exact products she used on her face during a visit to Paris Fashion Week. “Paris is the last leg of fashion month—everyone looks like hell, everyone looks tired. And supermodels and everyone sitting front row kept asking me how my skin was still glowing,” she says. ” I pulled out my little lab sample that just said Tina Craig on the bottle and told them about my compound. Chriselle Lim was the first to say, ‘Tina Craig skin in a bottle?! How do I get some of that?'”
Chen Craig requested more and more early lab samples of the compound as demand for “Tina Craig in a bottle” grew, eventually garnering the attention of retailers, like Net-a-Porter. What started as a personal skincare passion project quickly blossomed into U Beauty, which sold out of a year’s supply of its products within the first three weeks of the brand’s launch. “I started seeing samples of U Beauty on eBay—it was this crazy frenzy, that early time. We named the company U Beauty, because we decided it’s about you. At that point, it was enough about K-Beauty, J-Beauty, everybody else’s beauty but your own. And every person should have their own beauty; that’s where the name came from. The brand was born purely by need, by this demand. My job is to make sure what I create is the best product I’ve ever used.”
In addition to a brand ethos that emphasizes minimal, efficacious products that adhere to strict European standards, U Beauty is also earth friendly, manufacturing its products in a carbon-free factory in Italy that runs on green energy.
For expert tips on prioritizing health, self-care, and an effortless, glass-skin glow as a full-time mom and business owner, Chen Craig shares her essential product picks and go-to methods for Taking the Edge Off.