The world of beauty is vast. You'd think that with the countless items that make up the massive market, everyone would feel represented by the offerings. Unfortunately, that hasn't always been the case—for decades, deeper skin tones were downright ignored. Few products were created with dark skin tones in mind, and many brands mistakenly thought one "deep" foundation shade was enough. Walking through the beauty aisle was an isolating experience.
Systemic racism is deeply rooted in society; and the global unrest surrounding the unjust murder of George Floyd should spark a call to action to support the Black community more than ever before. A small way to show solidarity is by investing in black-owned businesses. 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. brands("for us, by us," which also happens to be the name of one of my all-time favorite songs by Solange) 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 been focused on our community from the beginning, to give them the recognition they deserve. Note: this is just a start—there are plenty of black-owned beauty brands that deserve your attention that aren't included in this list.
Here, 30 black-owned skincare, haircare, and makeup brands I'll never stop rooting for.
It's impossible not to fall in love with Hanahana Beauty's special story once you hear firsthand 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 from 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 biggest skin ailments, I highly recommend Epara's brightening night balm, which works overtime to target those exact issues.
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 ingredients. 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.
When looking for products to help his 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 seeing Renaud's skin in-person, and let me tell you, it made me want to get my hands on his products ASAP. To save my inherently dry skin, I lather 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. She received professional training at the New York Institute of Aromatherapy, so customers can be sure that each product is legitimate and will bring a great deal of healing to the skin.
Mary Louise Cosmetics
Meet Mary Louise Cosmetics, a brand that was born out of Akilah Releford's dorm room at Howard University. With dreams of creating a "fix-it-all" product that did not compromise ingredients and affordability, Releford created a 100 percent vegan brand best known for its Miracle Serum ($35): an acne and scar-erasing serum that'll give you a glow that cannot be duplicated—scroll through the brand's Instagram to see for yourself).
Beneath Your Mask
After overcoming Lupus, founder Dana Jackson was inspired to create a brand that meant something to her. The name "Beneath Your Mask" stems from her willingness to to take off her mask with the help of luxury products carefully sourced from clean ingredients. These sleek products serve women who are willing to invest and want to feel good. Trust, the Heal Whipped Skin Soufflé ($28) will take you there.
Dr. Jeanniton, the creator and founder of Epi.Logic, has spent years in her practice working with all skin tones, finding solutions, and discovering what actually works. This led her to create a line that blends both worlds of science and skincare together. My favorite product is the Collagen Renew Growth Factor Serum ($210)—once you experience it you'll also agree that there's no other product on the market like it.
Black Girl Sunscreen
It's no secret that the majority of sunscreens are not made with women of color in mind, which result in a ghostly white caste on our deep complexions. Black Girl Sunscreen is a brand committed to changing that. Simply, yet powerfully put: "[It's] sunscreen made by women of color for people of color, because we get sunburned too." Period.
Lauren Napier Beauty
Finally, a line that makes taking off your makeup cool again with the chicest packaging ever. Founder Lauren Napier found a need for beauty minimalists: makeup removing wipes that do it all without harming your skin in the process. These efficient products are packaged for women on the go with minimal time who care about clean ingredients.
Skincare and wellness brand Golde uses superfoods to power skincare. Created in Brooklyn by co-founder and CEO Trinity Wofford in 2017, this line of products uses pure, natural ingredients to keep your skin clear, healthy and glowing.
Let's keep it 100: Does Fenty Beauty even need an introduction? Since the birth of the brand, Rihanna has delivered top-of-the-line products with all complexions in mind. I can thank RiRi for creating my personal favorite foundation of all time (I'm shade 420), but what's even better, the Fenty Effect (offering more than 40 foundation shades in a range) is real.
"This is not multicultural beauty; this is simply beauty, and all are welcome to this beautiful tribe," reads Uoma Beauty's website. Can this go on a billboard? The boundary-breaking brand was founded by Nigerian-born boss Sharon Chuter, an all-around force in the industry who was named one of the 50 most forward-thinking executives shaping the future of the beauty industry by WWD. The Afropolitan-inspired collection doesn't follow a makeup manuscript. The shade-inclusive foundations, vivid lip colors (which I always get compliments on), and newest Brow-Fro pencil aim to tell a different story.
The Lip Bar
Before creating cruelty-free and vegan products was on-trend, there was The Lip Bar. 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 wanted to 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. A seasoned celebrity makeup artist and beauty entrepreneur, 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 Cashmere Nicole. Nicole had a dream of creating a makeup company, and even through a battle with breast cancer and raising her daughter as a single mom, she stuck with it. 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.
Ask any professional makeup artist of color to name their favorite makeup brands, and I guarantee Danessa Myricks will be mentioned. This artisanal-brand was developed to fill a void Myricks was experiencing herself: "As a self-taught makeup artist with minimal resources at my disposal, I had to be creative with the products I had access to, by maximizing their usage and creatively mixing and blending colors and textures to make things work," Myricks wrote on her website. "Even with this I found I was often limited by existing shades and textures and had the desire for more. Thus, the desire to create my own line of products to fulfill this void was born.”
Founder and CEO of Briogeo Nancy Twine wasn't fulfilled by her job on Wall Street and knew her life's true calling was working in beauty. She credits her grandmother, who taught 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, coil-y, 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, 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 family history rich 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 has focused on becoming the number-one haircare line for thick, curly type 4 hair (a more coarse natural texture). Founder and CEO Monique Rodriguez has a background as a registered nurse, and her experience in science helped her craft products full of minerals, amino acids, and herbs that enable healthy hair to thrive.
Tracee Ellis Ross told me it took her 10 years to create Pattern Beauty: a line of natural haircare products made for women with 3b to 4c curl types of textured hair. "The decision makers of the beauty world just didn't understand the magnitude, importance, beauty, and breadth of the curl community," Ross said in our interview. "I'm not saying everyone should go curly. But treat your hair with love, and develop and blossom in your own sense of selfhood; that's the most important journey. Embracing your beauty is a form of activism." You can trust that as one of us, she's putting on for us.
Created in 2011 by a mother of five, Janell Stephens dreamt up Camille Rose in her small kitchen. At the time, much of the haircare market was saturated with hash chemicals—especially products that spoke to the natural haircare community. Camille Rose is a line of over 30 ranges of product full of good-for-you, vegan ingredients that will breathe life back into your curls.
Wrap Life intentionally celebrates Black women through beautiful imagery and head wraps made with care. "The Wrap Life was inspired by West African expressions of head dress," the brand shares on their website. "We wear head wraps because they’re beautiful, fun and they allow colorful self-expression." And you should, too.
Pear Nova, created by Rachel James, is a collection of chic nail shades for all complexions worn and loved by Hollywood starlets like Issa Rae. The vegan formulas reimagine shades to work exceptionally well on women of color, like their BRWNGRLMGC collection of neutrals with names so iconic they're worth noting here: Cle F*ckin Patra, Frida Be Bree, Michelle Our Mama, and of course, Dianna Boss. So good.
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