Buying Black-owned products has been an initiative in our community for decades and generations. It hasn't been (and still isn't) the easiest feat when it comes to access in all industries. Types of businesses where shopping and supporting Black-owned companies is a bit easier to have entry to is cosmetics. That isn't to imply that we see our brands everywhere (still); but, we are experiencing improvements in this area by comparison.
I first started buying my own beauty products in 1993 at age 13. Feeling inspired by seeing black teen stars my age looking "polished and pretty" in magazines and on TV, I wanted to experience what I thought they were feeling wearing it.
Other influences were the tween girls I saw in middle school, who were always reaching for their beloved compacts to "powder their noses". Not many black girls in school wore makeup at that time, with the exception of a little eyeliner and perhaps some lipstick or gloss. Rarely was there ever foundations being promoted by us around school, although many felt self-conscious about having post-acne scars that we wanted to cover up, too.
We did have some options in the stores; but, the formulas were mostly uncomfortable to wear (like feeling too greasy on already oily skin) or the shade ranges and undertones were too "off". For me, I was either going to end up looking like a tomato (too red) or an orange (too warm). Having an "in-between" brown, more yellow-olive skin tone, I might have gotten lucky to "get close"; but, it would occur in makeup lines like, Revlon (where "my best shade" might be the deepest made).
Plus, teen magazines like CosmoGirl and Teen Vogue was not trying to feature the beauty of many black girls...unless they were "hot enough". Not seeing richer hues beyond a dozen options was definitely a tiring and discouraging process...Having access to buy them was even more unnerving. Stores never seemed to have enough stock of what we wanted and needed.
Thank God for change! 27 years later, we still have discrepancies in the beauty industry; but, we now have more choices. More formulas. More undertones. More price points. More places to shop. It is an amazing thing to experience at 40 years old. Although there are now so many Black-owned cosmetics brands (that I hold a great sense of pride in supporting), I would have to write a whole 'nother book just to name them all. So, instead, I'm going to break down my 1st 5 favorite brands that can be purchased in-store and/or online and why I love them. Enjoy!
Fenty Beauty. Ever since it's launch in September 2017, this brand has proven to be a cult fave, especially among teens and Gen Z.
R&B sensation and Pop icon, Rihanna, used her challenges with finding complexion products that "work" for her skin tone/type and recognized the need for inclusive shade matching for everyone...especially black people.
Thus, she partnered with Louis Vuitton/Moët/Hennessy (LVMH/Sephora) to create her amazing cosmetics line.
I've never seen Sephora stores soooo busy...from opening to closing. It was like the TV debut of the Jackson 5 in '69! I worked in-store when it all went down and shared a bit of my experience in the infamous "shade matching" demand in my upcoming beauty book, Before You Take Up Makeup (available soon: make sure you're on our email list, so you can be one of the first to know when it officially drops). Queen Riri really "did dat" when this line launched and has been soaring ever since!
Why I love: Complexion made easy is their name in the game. Magnetic packaging, convenient to carry, and shade ranges that cater to the fairest to richest skin tones...every person can find a match.
We love how quickly and easily we can take our look from 0-100 in less than 60...
Prestige Beauty Brand; sold at fentybeauty.com or sephora.com (US); created by: LVMH in partnership with *Rihanna
Products featured in beauty look below: Match Stix in "Caramel" and "Rum"; Full Frontal Mascara
(Click here or the pic below for shop link)
*Rihanna holds 15 % ownership, as of 2019 data reports.
Pat McGrath Labs. She is the British Invasion we all needed...
Pat McGrath may be a "newly discovered" makeup artist by some Millenials and Gen Z; but, in the world of high fashion and luxury cosmetics, her innovative style has been long respected by beauty industry pros worldwide.
Her career span being over 20 years, she is the artist responsible for your favorite luxury products, (like a makeup line she developed for Giorgio Armani makeup in 1999).
There aren't many black creatives that get the coveted "seat at the table" that so many of us desire...(just to be able to make change where there is little to no opportunities). Affectionately called, "Muva", in our community, Pat has lit the way for aspiring makeup moguls proving that we can truly live among the stars. She is also one of the highest earning makeup artist in the entire world!
With her fashion house background, it is no wonder she partnered with luxury/prestige brand retailer, LVMH/Sephora, is her product "home" away from "home" [website]. What a way to take "Black Girl Magic" into the stratosphere!
Why I love: You experience a taste of pure luxury with any product from this line. Eye shadows that blend effortlessly, glosses that shine like diamonds...and OMG...the packaging! Every item feels "dipped in gold and bronze", fit for the royal treatment...and they're high performing.
Luxury Brand; sold at patmcgrath.com or sephora.com (US); created by: World renowned, makeup artist, Pat McGrath
Products featured in beauty look below: Mthrshp Sublime Bronze Ambition eye shadow palette. (product link)
Can you imagine having some girl time with your bestie and discovering that you both have the same struggle with finding your right nude lip? Funny question, right?
This conversation happens everyday between makeup lovers all over, especially with black women.
I don't know how many times I've been approached in-store from chocolate-rich women, looking for a nude they saw one of their favorite black celebrities wearing on TV.
Going through swatch after swatch of beige, taupe, and "toasted" shades of brown and never settling on the "right one" (without having to perform calculus) is a feat that many will complain about, understandably.
These two dynamic sistahs actually did something about it through their cosmetics line, starting with nude lip products as their focus. They not only created everyday nudes to complement richly melanated skin, they put a lot of care and thought into it's sleek packaging, too. The first time I felt the products in my hands, I thought, "This is like Laura Mercier's packaging", which I find to be satin-y, soft, and luxurious feeling. The bonus is that the price points and products [themselves] are competitive with more popular name brands as well. Very impressive, ladies.
Why we love: If you've ever experienced difficulties finding "brown-skin complementing" lipsticks, liners, and blush colors, then this brand's full collection is dedicated to helping solve that issue.
These products are definitely "everyday" wearable for those who like to keep their look "naturally" enhanced.
Indie-Prestige Brand; sold at: mentedcosmetics.com and hsn.com;created by: K.J. Miller and Amanda E. Johnson
Products featured in beauty look below:
Mented Blush in "Clay Too Much" and Lip Pencil in "m5"
(Click here or the pic below for shop link)
BLK/OPL Cosmetics: I remember this line hitting the drugstores the year I turned 14 years old. It was the first time, in my memory, that I recall stumbling across a brand that catered to who I was and what I was looking for in a brand.
Nothing feels better (as a black makeup wearer) than going into a store with $10 or less and being able to purchase makeup, from a brand whose focus is all about you. In those days, we had department store brands like Fashion Fair; but, it was more expensive to buy because of it's retail environment.
As a teen girl, it was just out of the question. With Black Opal Cosmetics, we had an affordable option that also worked... in shade range, functionality, and yes- a handy, dandy compact that we could carry around that looked like our skin! It was a revolutionary experience in '94...and it still is today.
Having worked in luxury retail cosmetics nearly a decade, I seldom made purchases from "outside brands"... because I honestly had too many makeup products in my collection. Now that I am no longer in that environment, I thought it best to go back to my beauty roots and try some of the brands I grew up on under a new lens...especially since the acquisition of this amazing company in 2019.
Desirée Rogers and Cheryl Mayberry McKissack truly deserves their flowers from the culture for making this power move.
There aren't many (if any) major Black beauty product manufacturers that exist. That is still a mountain to climb in reality; however, we know that when sistahs take over, we create and dominate. No one understands our plight in beauty better than us and no one will treat us with more dignity, inclusion, and respect as we. If you aren't familiar with Desirée Rogers, just Google her. As a matter of fact, here's a [link].
If you haven't tried this brand's foundation sticks, pick up a few. You can easily find foundation options that gives you range to cover, highlight, and contour your complexion for around $30! If you're an aspiring makeup artist, you can easily build your kit with this kind of affordability. Much gratitude to Desirée and Cheryl for keeping this brand alive and well.
Why I love: This line is not only a long-standing part of black beauty culture, their products were of the earliest made with us in mind. We can look amazing without having to break the bank. SPF enriched,
highly-pigmented formulas that conceal and cover in one step makes these foundation sticks an easy "go-to" for feeling flawless.
Consumer/Drugstore Brand; sold at: blackopalbeauty.com or walmart.com; created by: Niko Mouyiaris (1994), acquired/owned by: Desirée Rogers and Cheryl Mayberry McKissack (2019)
Products featured in beauty look below:
True Color Foundation Stick SPF 15 in "Truly Topaz" and "Sweet Espresso" (Click here for the shop link)
Beauty Bakerie. Creativity and women's empowerment summed up in one brand.When you're a mother on a mission, you will reach beyond the confines of your imagination to what you can create in order to care for your family.
This brand (founded by mother and entrepreneur, Cashmere Nicole), leads by example in just that way. With a bakery-themed product line, she was among the first that made makeup fun to play in.
Rich, pigmented hues of lip color, metallics that reflect light, and the longest-wearing liquid lipsticks I've tried to date, it's no wonder that other, (more popularly known) brands tried to "copy and paste" her ideas. I've seen it unfold before my eyes in shock and disapproval. Yet, the "beat" of this brand still marches on...
If you've ever wanted to feel "fun and flirty" at the same time, this cosmetics line delivers just that. There's not too many brands that exist who will inspire makeup wearers to complete a "look" at 2 AM... because they just can't get enough of it. Visually appealing and high-performance is where it's at for this company. Their market reach and value is constantly expanding. Congratulations to this company on their recent deal with Nordstrom (*announced 9/2/2020)!
Why I love: There's no love like a mother's love...and when she finds her passion in beauty, we all reap the rewards.
One of our faves from this line is
long-wearing, metallic/matte finish Lip Whips. If you're looking lips that lock onto it's lipstick, founder Cashmere made it.
Indie-Prestige Brand; sold at: beautybakerie.com or ulta.com; created by: Cashmere Nicole
Products featured in beauty look below:
Lip Whip (Metallic) in "Rosé Posé" (Click here for the shop link)
If there was ever a time that we needed to further see ourselves in beauty, it is now. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, other companies are starting to place some focus on us; however, our own companies have always recognized our light, whether or not anyone else would see it. Not only do we shine because of our beauty, we are also shining as beauty business owners...and all of this is just the beginning... #WatchUsWerk
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