Dewy, radiant and glowing every day

A self-portrait story
Skincare secrets with U Beauty founder Tina Chen Craig

If you’ve been following fashion for a while, you’ll know Tina Chen Craig as one of the original influencers, who launched BagSnob in 2005. A self-proclaimed “skincare obsessive”, founding her own beauty company wasn’t on the radar until years of access to skincare products left her with an overwhelming 15-step routine and increasingly irritated skin. The search for an effective formula that streamlined her routine began… 

“I asked brands I’d been working intimately with, ‘how can I create a science-based, results oriented product that replaces half my current routine?’” she explains. “Everybody told me it wasn’t possible.” It wasn’t until a chance catch-up with seasoned beauty-brand developer Katie Borghese, who saw the potential in the idea, that the two teamed up to create U Beauty’s first hero product, the multi-tasking Resurfacing Compound, launched in 2019. 

Conceived and named with an inclusive “you” in mind, U Beauty products are designed to include all genders, ages and skin types. “Our motivation always starts with seeing an issue and seeking to resolve it simply so you can ultimately use less and buy less.” 

Targeting skin health, all the products are multi-tasking, such as the SUPER Hydrator which combines a moisturizer with SPF protection and the BARRIER Bioactive Treatment which you can use as an overnight mask to soften and strengthen your skin or apply during the day for added moisture. Here, Tina tells us how to get that glass-like glow from within, all day every day.

What was your earliest skincare revelation?

What you put in your body is just as important as what you put on it. I was taught by my grandmother from a young age that skincare starts from the inside-out, from the foods you eat to the thoughts in your mind. 

You started off working in fashion, what made you decide to start your own skincare line?

I worked as an influencer and beauty ambassador for over 15 years, so I gained incredible access to the best skincare on the market but conversely, this also meant I ended up with a 15-step routine and skin that was increasingly irritated. I realised there had to be a better way. 

I wanted a simple yet powerful skincare routine that provided real results without irritation and didn’t take up too much time and energy. It just didn’t exist yet. So I decided to create my own line. 

What do you see as the most common mistakes when people want a “shortcut” to get glowing skin as quickly as possible?

Overloading their skin with products and actives, without realizing healthy skin should be left alone! My advice is to streamline your routine. This is why I created U Beauty! You can get the most out of your skin by being strategic about the products you choose and what you use every day. When you have targeted formulations featuring the right technology, you get results faster and with less chance of irritation. 

How have you seen the approach to skincare shift over the past few years?

People are beginning to prioritise quality over quantity. More isn’t always better. We’ve begun to enter a time when sustainability is equated with luxury and sustainability doesn’t just mean less waste. It translates to choosing products that serve more than a single purpose and encourage long-term skin health. 

With new beauty brands launching every week, how should consumers filter out the noise and find what’s right for them?

See what works best for you, and don’t use additional products because there’s a voice in your head saying, “but shouldn’t I add an oil? Or a toner?” You can get what you need with just a handful of smart, science-driven formulas. It’s key to start simple and know what you want to achieve. 

What do you think is the biggest difference between looking after your skin in summer vs winter? What are the top dangers to look out for?

Whether it’s cold or hot, your skin loses hydration in any extreme temperature. It's all about the prevention of hydration loss. I use The BARRIER Bioactive Treatment to seal in The SUPER Hydrator and apply The SUPER Body all-over, twice daily—no matter the season. Drink plenty of non-caffeinated non-carbonated liquids; water and herbal teas are best.

I know a lot of people are reluctant to wear SPF on holiday because they want to tan ASAP – what would you say to this? 

I’d say they will live to regret it. Wear sunscreen and buy a good bronzer. 

People often focus so much on their face, they forget their neck and body – do you have a routine for the rest of your body?

The body is just as important as the face! I have always treated my neck and chest even more carefully than I do my face. Not only is the skin there more delicate, it lacks fat and sebaceous glands, so it’s not as sturdy as the face. As for the rest of the body, the skin is thicker, denser and even more prone to dryness. Apply each product in an upward motion—always up, never down—gently massaging it in to reveal glowing supple skin. 

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as the founder of a beauty brand?

After a lot of rejection, U Beauty was born from a chance conversation with my current business partner Katie, the wife of a long-time friend. It just goes to show it never hurts to ask and all it takes is one person to say yes to make the seemingly impossible happen. I never take no for an answer and I never get deterred by challenges. If anything, they propel me to want to succeed even more.