The conversation about the exclusion of women of color from beauty brands is one that is long overdue. And despite the massive success of brands like FENTY and Iman, there’s still plenty of work to be done in terms of the industry at large creating more space (as well as ensuring horrendous branding choices like this are not tolerated).
It’s an issue, of course, that runs deep; while some standout brands like SheaMoisture are geared towards black women, it’s also owned by Unilever, which happens to be a leader in the global skin-lightening trade.
Fortunately, the number of outstanding beauty and skincare brands owned and operated by women of color that hear and meet the needs of women of color is only growing. And there’s strength in your purchasing power—in showing the world that brands specifically created for WOC are needed and powerful.
Below, we’ve compiled some standouts from buzz worthy skincare and beauty brands owned by black women that make for an excellent addition to any daily regimen:
The Butter Bar Honey Clay Face + Body Mask, $15
When you choose a product from the Butter Bar, crafted by owner Kimberly-Chloe Wilson, you’re giving your face a treat. First off, 100 percent of her products are handcrafted to order without sulfates, parabens or petroleum. Don’t actually try it, but her goal to make products that feel and smell “good enough to eat” is, well, working.
This product, formulated with kaolin clay (which is v gentle and great for dryness) and raw honey is an excellent solution if you have acne-prone, yet sensitive, skin.
Unsun SPF 30 Tinted Mineral Sunscreen, $29
Unsun’s founder, Katonya Breaux, has been wearing sunscreen diligently since she was in her twenties. Her entire line is crafted for women of color, with tinted creams covering light olive to deep chocolate tones—because who wants that gross white and gray film on their face that’s part for the course with standard sunscreen?
Oh, and did we mention that Katonya is Frank Ocean’s mom? This SPF 30 cream is full of shea butter, vitamin E, coconut oil and fruit extracts, and formulated without parabens, phthalates, nanoparticles, PABA, propylene glycol, oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate, or formaldehyde releasers. It feels great, and is perfect for daily use, even in winter.
Carol’s Daughter Almond Cookie Shea Soufflé, $12
ICYMI, we love us some Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter and ultimate small biz queen. What started as a side hustle out of her Brooklyn kitchen with $100 has turned into a beauty empire that got acquired in recent years by L’Oreal.
The hype is legit, and one of the shiniest stars in the line is this shea soufflé, which smells like cookie butter and is ultra-nourishing for dry to ultra-dry skin. Smother yourself in this vitamin-rich, non-greasy body moisturizer sans any concerns about silicones, parabens, petroleum, or mineral oil. This has none of that. It’s just pure nourishment.
Nyakio Chamomile Soothing Sleep Mask, $35
Nyakio, pronounced neh-kay-oh, is the eponymous skincare brand of Nyakio Kamoche Grieco, first-generation American beauty maven of Kenyan descent. She sells her natural skincare (no sulfates, phthalates, parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum, formaldehyde, or butylene glycol) in partnership with Ulta, and is inspired by cross-generational beauty secrets.
This particular overnight skin mask is going to completely kick-start your morning routine, by helping you wake up having already cared for your skin. Grieco’s inspiration for chamomile products came from studying Ancient Egypt, so it’s well suited that she sources the chamomile in the product directly from Egyptian farmers.
FLAUNT by Lauren Napier in PRIZE, $23
Skincare specialist Lauren Napier boasts a client list of Academy Award winners, civil rights activists, Olympic gold medalists, an American President, and, hopefully, you. Her product line, CLEANSE, is the ultimate on-the-go skincare product: makeup removing cleansing wipes that are good for youandthe environment. The super efficient wipes are packaged in 100 percent recyclable, beautiful packets, and are made at a solar-energy-powered facility that uses absolutely no animal testing.
These wipes, in the “PRIZE” edition, remove stubborn makeup while using ingredients like vitamins K and C to protect your skin as it ages. They’re portable and perfect for travel, the gym, or even an unexpected overnight.
She-y Black Orchid Body Scrub, $90
She-y by Menaye is a line of ultra-luxurious Italian shea butter products made with a commitment to centuries-old artisanal traditions. The founder, Menaye Donkor, is a Canadian-Ghanaian entrepreneur and jack-of-all-trades. She won Miss Universe Ghana in 2004 and went on to have a successful modeling career. She now engages in international philanthropy while running her business from Milan. She even holds the title ‘Nkosuohemaa’ or ‘Development Queen’ of Agona Asafo, in the Central Region of Ghana.
The scrub may be a bit of a splurge, but She-y devotees swear by it. The scent, for one, is heavenly, and granules of walnut husk promote cell renewal and keep the skin soft and smooth. It’s the perfect product to prep your skin before a moisturizing body cream.