As a Black woman, my relationship with beauty has long been a complicated one. It’s taken me years to curate a collection of lipsticks that suit my style, whether I’m heading to a work meeting or dinner with family or friends. See, like some Black women, my upper and lower lips are two different tones, so finding the perfect formula to complement them has never come with ease. And let’s not get started on sunscreen. Most products either resulted in acne flare-ups or added an unflattering white cast to my almond complexion. And when I made the decision to stop relaxing my hair years ago? My talented hairstylist—Noël at the Noël New York salon in Brooklyn—pretty much turned every one of our appointments into a therapy session. I didn’t want to do the big chop (a.k.a. cut off my relaxed hair to start the process of wearing it naturally). I couldn’t figure out how to keep my hair moisturized without overloading it with products. Detangling it felt like a chore (the Wet Brush, which Noël swears by, is now my savior), and it was difficult to achieve a salon-style blowout at home—the ones I had been accustomed to getting religiously multiple times a month since high school. And, believe it or not, my list of beauty dilemmas doesn’t end there.
While I certainly still experience my own share of beauty issues as a Black woman, many brands, both independent sellers and those available at mass retailers, have finally responded to our needs. It’s good business sense, especially since Black women drive the beauty industry. For instance, according to ESSENCE, in 2018 alone, the Black hair care business yielded approximately $2.51 billion. It’s now less challenging to find makeup, hair, nail, and skin care products that are crafted with Black women in mind. To put it simply, we’ve come a long way.
Whether you’re looking to diversify your beauty arsenal or just need a little pick-me-up, browse some of my favorite beauty brands that, I believe, thoughtfully consider Black women.
If there’s one celebrity who is known for her well-defined curls, it’s actress Tracee Ellis Ross. In September 2019, the star of ABC’s Black-ish launched Pattern Beauty with 3B to 4C hair types in mind. The line includes shampoo, conditioner, and styling products.
Ask any Black woman about her favorite nude lipstick, and chances are she’ll share how long it took her to land on the perfect shade. This pain point is exactly how Mented Cosmetics was born. Its founders, KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson, not only created non-toxic nude lipsticks for a range of skin tones—they also offer eyeshadow palettes, blush, and more.
The beauty of discovery is what drives curlBOX, a monthly subscription service that offers quality hair products at an affordable rate. What’s more, its founder, Myleik Teele, hosts an informative podcast called My Taught You, where she shares her honest take on everything from personal finance to career advancement.
If you always fall for quality beauty products with creative packaging, Beauty Bakerie is for you. The brainchild of breast cancer survivor Cashmere Nicole, the brand’s adorable, Instagram-worthy packaging is just as good as its beauty offerings. Consider its eyeshadow palettes, liquid lipsticks, lip scrub, and setting powder.
This skincare brand—created by two friends—checks all the right boxes: its products are vegan, handmade, and smell amazing. Try the Turmeric Botanical Bar that features an alluring fragrance of geranium, bergamot, ginger, and sandalwood.
Since 2014, Monique Rodriguez’s Mielle Organics brand has been committed to supporting Black women on their healthy hair journey. Available at retailers like Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS, Mielle Organics’ natural hair products include hits like Mint Almond Oil, White Peony Leave In Conditioner, and the Detangling Co-Wash.
It’s no wonder why Alaffia snagged a 2019 Good Housekeeping Sustainability Award. Its Authentic African Black Soap, for instance, is a versatile option that can be used as a body wash, facial cleanser, or shaving aid. Plus, the brand prides itself on smart packaging. Along with relying on sustainable materials, including recycled plastic, you can find 32-ounce products that you’re sure to have on hand for a reasonable amount of time.
Pat McGrath Labs
Pat McGrath is one of the most sought-after makeup artists in the world, so it’s no surprise that her makeup line would strike a chord with beauty enthusiasts. Whether you’re on the hunt for pigmented eyeshadows or lightweight matte lipsticks, Pat McGrath Labs has it all.
Black Girl Sunscreen
Any Black girl knows just how difficult it is to find a sunscreen that doesn’t leave a gray or white cast all over your body. Thankfully, Black Girl Sunscreen came up with a solution. The brand’s paraben-free formula moisturizes skin and keeps it protected from the sun.
The Lip Bar
Melissa Butler’s vegan lipstick collection was rejected on “Shark Tank” in 2015, but that didn’t stop her from taking her Lip Bar business to the next level. While the former Barclays analyst has a retail store in Detroit, you can also shop her line of bold, affordable lipsticks at Target.
Grace Eleyae has garnered attention for her stylish silk-lined turbans and baseball caps, which are designed to combat dryness and thinning.
Get Hyper Skin
Former attorney Desiree Verdejo is not new to the beauty industry. For three years, she served as the visionary behind Vivrant Beauty, a Harlem boutique that stocked products from Black beauty brands. While the doors closed in 2018, Verdejo has since launched Hyper Skin to help those suffering with acne and hyperpigmentation.
If you have no qualms about going bold with your makeup, make the products from Juvia’s Place staples in your beauty routine. What to buy? Their vegan and cruelty-free eyeshadow palettes, which are all you need to make a statement.
Whether you’re suffering from dry scalp or damaged hair, Briogeo has you covered. The brand is available at Sephora, Nordstrom, and QVC, among others. We recommend looking for its Farewell Frizz Rosehip, Argan & Coconut Oil Blend, plus its popular Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask that’s loaded with rosehip, sweet almond and argan oils as well as vitamin B5 and biotin.
There’s nothing like a rich body moisturizer to soothe dry skin, and the raw shea butter from Karité—a brand that was founded by three sisters from Ghana—can get the job done. And if you’re hunting for a new addition to your hand cream collection, you won’t be disappointed with their hypo-allergenic Crème Mains shea butter product that’s packed with vitamins A and E.
She’s dominated the music industry for years, and Rihanna has teamed up with LVMH’s Kendo Beauty division to take over the beauty world, too. Since 2017, the brand has launched beauty products that cater to Black women. Take, for instance, one of the star’s favorite products in the line—the Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation with an impressive 50 shades for just about every skin tone imaginable.
Oui the People
Add a dose of luxury to your shaving experience with Oui the People. After growing more and more frustrated with typical pink razors that leave nicks and cuts behind, Karen Young decided to take matters into her own hands. Her rose gold razor, which comes with 10 blades, is designed to keep irritation and in-grown hairs at bay.
Thanks to Mischo Beauty, your struggle to find trendy nail polish that’s void of chemicals is over. Its 10-FREE formula comes in a slew of shades, including reds, pastels, and navy blues.
One look at the packaging of Gilded’s body products and you immediately know that you’re in for a treat. Its Supreme Body Balm features a nourishing blend of Cupuacu butter and Meadowfoam seed oil, while its Brightening Body Polish contains sugar, Himalayan pink salt, dead sea salt, lychee extract, and vitamin E to keep skin looking its best.
Lauren Napier Beauty
Once Lauren Napier’s cleansing wipes are in your makeup bag, you’ll have a hard time going back to any drugstore offering. Not only do these gentle cotton wipes remove stubborn eye makeup without a fuss—they’re also great for days when you just want to freshen up your skin. Add her La Rose wipes, which are infused with a calming blend of rosewater and starfruit, to your cart.
Beneath Your Mask
Never underestimate the power of a good beauty regimen. Beneath Your Mask, with its mission of producing high-quality skin, hair, and body products that are free of harmful toxins, fully understands this. The brand’s creator, Dana Jackson, launched the line after suffering skin damage from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
From its popular Black Vanilla haircare line to its Almond Cookie body products, there’s so much to love about Carol’s Daughter. While the brand is now owned by L’Oréal, it’s the brainchild of Lisa Price, who started the company right in her Brooklyn kitchen.
Founded by Tristan Walker, Bevel is the answer to every man’s grooming needs, whether it’s minimizing razor bumps or pinpointing sulfate-free body products to soothe sensitive skin. And Walker’s hard work paid off. The company was purchased by Procter & Gamble in 2018.
It’s always admirable when doing good is a part of a brand’s ethos. Eu’Genia Shea, run by a mother-daughter duo, carries 100% shea butter, and directs 15% of its profits to an educational fund that supports female nut pickers in Ghana. It’s also worth noting that the shea butters come in luxe gold embossed tins that you’ll be tempted to re-use once the product is gone.
Love a bold lip? Tired of mixing multiple foundation shades to find the right one? Then Uoma Beauty should have a spot in your makeup bag. The brand, which is sold at Ulta, carries a whooping 51 foundation shades, pigmented eyeshadow palettes, and much more.
When it comes to Urban Hydration, there’s something for everyone. This line of natural skincare, hair, and body products (think coconut oil, natural sea salt and sugar) are crafted with hydration in mind.
There’s something about a scented body product that instantly makes you feel pampered. Make sure Skin Buttr’s whipped shea body butters and exfoliating scrubs, which come in scents like Cocoa Vanilla, Gingr Lemon, and Strawberry Coconut, are part of your next at-home spa session.
Of course, fashion model and entrepreneur Iman would know a thing or two about achieving the perfect makeup look. Get in on her beauty secrets by shopping her collection of foundations, lipsticks, and more at retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walgreens.
If you’re in search of bold, non-toxic nail polish, Suite Eleven might be right up your alley. The company was founded by Arieal “Ari” Smith-Liburd in 2018.
Keep your summer manicures in good shape with Pear Nova’s vegan nail polishes, founded by Rachel James, a graduate from the International Academy of Design & Technology.
Senior Home Editor, Good Housekeeping
Monique Valeris is the senior home editor for Good Housekeeping, where she covers decorating ideas, home tours, gift guides and more.
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