The world of beauty is vast. You'd think with the countless products that make up the massive market, everyone would feel represented. Unfortunately, that hasn't always been the case—for decades, deeper skin tones were downright ignored, and walking through the beauty aisle was an isolating experience. Barely any products were created with dark skin tones in mind. And no, I'm not accounting for the one "deep" foundation shade brands mistakenly thought was enough.
Thankfully, progress has been made, and more and more products are being created for people of color, by people of color. Black-owned beauty brands aren't asking for a seat at the table, they're making one.
What I love most about supporting F.U.B.U ("for us, by us," which happens to be the name of one of my all-time favorite songs by Solange) brands is that their intentions are always pure: serving the underserved. In a world where being "diverse" and "inclusive" has become a marketing tactic to benefit from the black dollar, it feels right to support brands who've serviced our community from the beginning. To give them the recognition they deserve. Here, 15 black-owned skincare, haircare, and makeup brands I'll never stop rooting for.
Founder She’Neil Johnson dreamed up Base Butter to serve women of color who care about products made of pure, simple, and good-for-you formulas. Since the brand's inception in 2015, Base Butter has exploded, and now carries the number-one Aloe vera gel–based moisturizer for pH-balanced and hydrated skin. It makes my skin feel like silk.
It's impossible not to fall in love with Hanahana Beauty's special story once you hear first-hand from the brand's founder, Abena Boamah, just how much thought goes into each incredible product. Hanahana provides women of color with handcrafted shea butter sourced straight Ghana. I rely on the Shea Body Butter to soothe and hydrate my skin in the brutal winds of winter, and to give me a glow-up when the sun comes out.
This luxury skincare line was birthed out of founder Ozohu Adoh's kitchen, but is now available at Barney's. Women of color willing to invest in sophisticated formulas that will do right by their skin will appreciate that African botanical ingredients are at the heart of each product. If hyperpigmentation and dehydration are your skin's biggest ailments, I highly recommend Epara's Brightening Night Balm, which works overtime to target those exact issues.
When looking for products to help his own skin problems, Actor and model Dorion Renaud couldn't find any he really loved, so he decided to create his own. "I created Buttah Skincare for us," he says on his website. Each product is infused with organic shea butter imported from Africa to reinvigorate your skin's natural radiance. I've had the privilege of witnessing Renaud's skin in-person, and let me tell you, it's going to make you want to get your hands on his products ASAP. To reverse my inherently dry skin, I love lathering the shea butter over rough patches right before bed.
Aba Love Apothecary
You won't find any synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals, or parabens in Aba Love Apothecary's products. Instead, you'll find potent, botanical ingredients and antioxidants. Founder Aba Gyepi-Garbrah has a passion for plant medicine, which inspired her to infuse healthy ingredients into her products. And she received professional training at the New York Institute of Aromatherapy, so customers can be sure that each product will bring a great deal of healing to the skin.
Shop These Black-Owned Skincare Products
The Lip Bar
Before creating cruelty-free and vegan products was on-trend, there was The Lip Bar—a makeup brand introduced to the world nearly seven years ago. After leaving her job on Wall Street, founder Melissa Butler began cooking up clean formulas completely free of chemicals in her home. When it comes to diverse shade ranges for all skin tones, and a bold and beautiful color pay-off, The Lip Bar still wins.
For so many years, women of color were excluded from the "nude" makeup conversation. Nude is not one-shade-fits all, and a single beige color is surely not going to complement all deep skin tones. The founders of Mented Cosmetics want to bridge the gap and redefine what "nude" means for women of color. So, they created "nude" lip products and eyeshadow palettes available in a diverse range from deep chocolate to soft taupe. I'm never not complimented on my lipstick when I'm wearing Mented.
AJ Crimson Beauty
To put it simply, AJ Crimson, is a makeup guru. As a seasoned celebrity makeup artist and beauty entrepeneur, he founded one of the first makeup lines to serve all skin tones. “I wanted to create a product inclusive of women of all ethnicities, a product all women could find ownership in and believe in," Crimson writes on his website. "So often, makeup has been designed with a one-size-fits-all mentality, and with black women and women of color my cosmetic line contains shades for women of every ethnic background and skin tone.” His contour palette gives me the chiseled cheekbones of my dreams.
Beauty Bakerie Makeup
Beauty Bakerie was founded in 2011 by CEO Cashmere Nicole. Nicole had a dream of creating a makeup company, and through a battle with breast cancer and raising her daughter as a single mom, she stuck with it, overcoming the struggles of building a company from the ground up. After the rest of the world caught on to the brand's viral liquid lipstick videos—which show the product's miraculous staying power—Beauty Bakerie's success skyrocketed. Dream of putting on a lipstick and never having to touch it again? Get their infamous Matte Lip Whip; it's a crowd-favorite because it legitimately does not budge.
Pat McGrath Labs
Pat McGrath, the "Mother of Makeup" needs no introduction. Her products are unparalleled and everything she touches turns to gold. Her iconic makeup brand has turned her into a black woman who owns a company that's worth more than $1 billion. I stan, celebrities stan, the whole worlds stans Pat McGrath. So, yes, you should 100-percent believe the hype.
Shop These Black-Owned Makeup Brands
Founder and CEO of Briogeo, Nancy Twine, wasn't fulfilled with her job on Wall Street and knew her life's true calling was working in beauty. She credits her grandmother, who used to teach her DIY recipes as a child, for igniting her passion for hair. Now, Twine is the youngest black woman to launch a line of shampoos, conditioners, hair masks (and more) at Sephora, which is major. Her products are created for all hair types, and made of antioxidants, oils, and vitamins to ensure stronger, healthier hair.
For more than 20 years, Taliah Waajid has been leading the natural hair movement with sustainable products. Curly, coily, kinky, and wavy girls: She's got you covered. Every single shampoo, oil, conditioner, and hair mask has moisturizing, conditioning, and cleansing benefits made specially for natural hair textures. Waajid's Green Apple Collection reigns supreme in my book because it makes my hair smell amazing for days.
The Mane Choice
When beauty, health, and science collide, you can expect something beautiful to happen. As in, you can expect gorgeous hair. The Mane Choice was created by a physician and registered nurse duo who combined vitamins and nutrients in solution-based products, with healthy hair as the top priority. Want longer hair? Get your hands on their hair growth oil ($10).
Rucker Roots was started by two sisters with a rich family history in healthy hair. In the 1980s, their mother created her own concoctions from their family garden, using oils, mayonnaise, eggs, avocados and more, and the girls grew up with a love for hair products. Inspired by their mother's use of the garden, Rucker Roots' shampoos and conditioners are derived from vegetable roots and vitamins to meet the needs of every naturalista.
Oftentimes, people make the mistake of grouping natural hair into one category. Wrong. Within natural hair, there are different curl types and a range of textures, which require different products. Mielle Organics understands this, and they're the number-one haircare line for thick, curly type 4 hair (a more coarse natural texture). Founder and CEO Monique Rodriguez has a professional health background as a registered nurse, and her experience in science has helped her craft products full of minerals, amino acids, and herbs that allow healthy hair to thrive.
Shop These Black-Owned Haircare Brands
This is a good start, but I vote for more black-owned beauty businesses in 2019 and beyond.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.