Supporting black-owned beauty brands isn’t new to me. As a black woman, those products are organically integrated into my routine as they’re often the only ones that cater to my skin tone and hair texture. But as a black beauty editor who has worked in the magazine world for more than 20 years, promoting those brands has had to be a conscious effort. I’d always have to step back from the preponderance of products and ask myself, could I choose one that was either black-owned or inclusive of black women? Thankfully, I was in a position of power and could make that call.
During those days, I attended event after event to launch products that wouldn’t work for most black women, but they served much of the magazine’s predominantly white readership. I needed to be fine with that; it was my job to know about them. But when an invite came in for a black beauty brand’s event, I sometimes turned the table and would send a white editor on my team instead. It’s not that I didn’t want to be there and see the latest product advancements made for, and by, women who looked like me. I did. But I felt it was even more important for a white editor to witness that too.
Today, thanks to pushes and posts from social media and online outlets, backing black-owned brands with the power of a purchase is being talked about more than I’ve ever seen. The message is unequivocal: A purchase is an investment that can not only boost a company but also a community. I’ve done it quietly but the time has come to turn up the volume—and you can make that happen. My curated list (and many more amazing companies are out there—just Google “black-owned beauty brands”) is a start. Opening minds and wallets to haircare, skincare, and makeup from black-owned (or founded) businesses shouldn’t be short-lived. Here’s hoping it becomes routine for everyone.
La Rose By Lauren Napier Facial Cleansing Wipes; Pattern By Tracee Ellis Ross Heavy Conditioner
When you talk about black-founded beauty brands, respect must be given to the OG in the game: Carol’s Daughter. The company that industry icon Lisa Price started in her kitchen holds a special place in my heart. I remember going to different festivals in Brooklyn and marveling at all of the skin and hair-loving concoctions Lisa, daughter of Carol, had in her booth. I felt included. Today the brand (haircare, skincare, and body products) has grown exponentially and still makes me feel like a kid in a candy store.
The ever present need for inclusivity led Nigerian-born Sharon Chuter to start her “Afropolitan” makeup range. Whether you want to ace your base with foundation in one of the 51 shades, sculpt and strobe with a dual-ended stick, or simply conceal your lack of sleep, Chuter has you covered with Uoma. For me, it was love at first swipe with the Badass Icon Matte Lipstick in Maya. It’s a perfect nude, which isn’t easy to find for women of color.
It only makes sense that Tracee Ellis Ross, known for her outstanding hair, would have a line that encourages curl power. As its name implies, Pattern is about celebrating and caring for texture patterns from curls to coils to tight textures (that’s 3B to 4C). It’s hard for me to choose a favorite, but the shampoo leaves my hair feeling more hydrated then usual and also less tangled—major score.
Lauren Napier Beauty
We can all agree: a face wipe makes life a little easier. Lauren Napier has infused her stretchy cotton cloths (available in three complexion-caring formulas) with some pretty impressive ingredients like vitamin K, aloe, cucumber, and rosewater to nourish skin as they remove dirt and makeup. Each wipe is conveniently individually wrapped and consciously 100% recyclable.
In 2016 I decided to grow out my chemical relaxer and embrace my natural texture. Getting it right, or shall I say to look the way I envisioned, took time, patience, and a whole lot of products. Then I found Taliah Waajid and Shea Coco Leave-In Conditioner, to be specific. Waajid’s eponymous line of products includes multiple collections for natural hair, protective styling, and even kids.
Grace Eleyae managed to design protective hair accessories that merge functionality with fabulosity. If you are a fan of sleeping with a satin pillowcase to keep strand damaging friction at bay, then you too will love her silk and satin lined caps and turbans. Way better looking than any bonnet I have ever seen, they keep you stylin’ come morning and can be worn out in the world.
As a hydration-hungry woman of color (with eczema to boot), shea butter has always been the jam to my toast. Hanahana Beauty founder Abena Boamah-Acheampong has elevated the centuries old skin cure all by using only all-natural ingredients and ethically sourcing her shea from the Katariga Women’s Shea Cooperative in Tamale, Ghana.
Strolling down the Target’s black haircare aisle (or shall I say, shelves—not quite an aisle yet) I was often curious about Camille Rose products. I’m now a believer in their magic thanks to the Honey Hydrate leave-in. Founder and CEO Janell Stephens believes that whatever you put on your body should be good enough to put in it, and her clean hair and now face products are proof—I can vouch for that.
While an in-salon manicure or pedicure may feel like a fairy tale these days, you can up the ante on your DIY job with Rachel James’s Pear Nova. The perfectly pigmented vegan polishes (the nudes for medium to dark skin tones are noteworthy in my book) are “5-free”, meaning no toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, or Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP). If longwear is your thing, there’s also a line of gel lacquers in shades you’ll want to keep on even longer.
Leave it to Rihanna to start a makeup revolution. When her Fenty brand came out in 2017, the industry was abuzz about a breakthrough. The unprecedented wide range of foundation hues had many companies scurrying to throw shades into too-often skimpy offerings. Fenty continues to take the industry by storm with makeup bag must-haves.
You get the elegance of Epara at first glance of its chic black packaging. And then you get into the nitty gritty of the luxurious formulations made from high-quality, all natural ingredients for women of color. Nigerian-born founder and CEO, Ozohu Adoh, created Epara (which means to cocoon oneself in the Nigerian dialect of Ebira) out of need—she couldn’t find effective solutions to treat her dry, uneven complexion. With hydrating serum, brightening moisturizer, and balancing face oil, Epara has products for those issues and so much more.
Can’t leave out the boys. I remember meeting Tristan Walker sometime around 2013 when he was launching Bevel’s shaving collection, designed to care for men of color’s sensitive skin and ixnay ingrown and irritation. Today Bevel has an impressive range that stays true to his mission of making health and beauty simple for people of color.
PHOTO CREDITS: featured image and product image, Pattern By Tracee Ellis Ross; opening and closing image, UOMA Beauty; additional product image, Lauren Napier Beauty