February 20, 2021 at 06:00AM
Black culture has informed and inspired the beauty space for decades—a fact that we need to celebrate and sustain. Now and forever. That’s why supporting the Black community and Black-owned businesses is important right now and going forwards. There is a need and an opportunity to supply this kind of support, love and commitment every single day and, right now, we’ll be doing this by shining a light on some of the brilliant black-owned skincare, hair and makeup brands that we swear by.
We acknowledge that there is a lot of work to be done. As we’ve communicated on-site and on our social platforms, now is the time for us to rise above (not simply to) the occasion and make actionable steps with deep indentations. Here, our Who What Wear editorial team has outlined a collection of ways you can make a difference in the fight against racism, in addition to a list of resources to get you started.
One such way to support and take a stand right now is, if you’re able, to put money where your mouth is. Alongside educating ourselves, attending protests, signing petitions, making donations and calling our government officials to demand justice, buying fashion and beauty products from Black-owned brands is extremely helpful, especially considering the financial impactCOVID-19 has had on Black-owned brands, which have been hit harder than others. (Please familiarise yourself with this helpful graphic to understand why.)
Below, we’re sharing 25 Black-owned beauty brands to support (now and forever). Keep scrolling to start shopping, or, if your funds don’t allow, simply take screenshots or bookmark for a later shopping date.
Uoma Beauty (pronounced uh-mah) was founded by Nigerian beauty executive Sharon Chuter and supports the belief that beauty starts the moment you decide to be yourself. The goal: to rewrite the rules of inclusivity and diversity within the beauty industry.
As for shopping, we recommend the brand’s Say What?! Foundation—choose from 51 shades. (Chuter used the Fitzpatrick scale to make sure each tone uniquely complements the skin based on the colour groups it falls into.) The foundation is also long-lasting, lightweight and wonderfully buildable to suit your coverage needs.
Sweet, serotonin-inducing, deliciously beautiful makeup products are the name of the game when it comes to Beauty Bakerie, founded by Cashmere Nicole. The brand as a whole is truly a feast for sore eyes, but if you’re looking for your first appetiser, we suggest the highly beloved Lip Whip that’s formulated to endure through even the highest water pressure. In other words, apply, and don’t worry about retouching until you’re forced to remove it.
Briogeo is another magical hair brand we love to support, which was born from founder Nancy Twine’s realisation that the majority of store-bought haircare on the market seriously lacked when it came to ingredients and performance. So Twine set to work to create her own line of strand-saving beauty elixirs inspired by the homemade hair formulas she grew up concocting with her grandmother in West Virginia. Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask is award-winning and a renowned best seller.
Think of KNC Beauty as the ultimate destination for affordable, whimsical and collagen-plumped lip and eye masks. The brainchild of founder Kristen Noel Crawley, KNC Beauty was born after Crawley took a trip to Tokyo, where she fell in love with a wall of lip masks. When she realised there weren’t any natural lip masks on the market in the U.S., she got to work. Now, the brand offers said coveted lip mask formula alongside other skin-enhancing options like under-eye masks, a lip scrub and lip balm. We recommend snapping up a little bit of everything.
Pat McGrath is one of the most iconic makeup artists in history, and her namesake makeup brand, Pat McGrath Labs, more than lives up to her legendary name. Fun fact: The brand also just announced iconic supermodel Naomi Campbell as its first-ever global face of Pat McGrath Labs.
“The entire planet is just as cosmetics obsessed as I’ve always been,” McGrath explains on the brand’s website. “Makeup is a movement. Makeup is mesmerising. Makeup is major. Mantra-esque, three words have repeated over and over in my mind ever since I was young. Obsession. Inspiration. Addiction. Those words became my guiding principles, my manifesto as I brought this brand to life.”
Visit the brand’s website and you’ll be faced with a kid-in-a-candy-shop array of lipsticks, eye shadow palettes and glittering highlighters, but our favourite staple is still the brand’s skin-enhancing foundation. For best results, we recommend investing in the entire system, which also features a primer and face powder.
Created in 2001 by Jamyla Bennu (a self-proclaimed lifelong naturalist and ingredient-conscious maker), Oyin Handmade (“oyin” is the Yoruba word for honey, BTW) was born when Bennu couldn’t find commercially available natural and organic products for her highly textured, natural hair. As you may have gathered, honey is the MVP ingredient of the brand’s lush product assortment and is famed for its natural hydrating and protective qualities.
“We remain family-owned and operated, and manufacture our products with pride and care,” the brand explains on its website. “We are passionate about our commitment to high-quality, effective formulations made from natural, organic and food-grade ingredients. Our products are gentle, cruelty-free and moisture focused, providing impeccable nutrition and styling for dry, curly and highly textured hair types.”
Since launching in 2012, Samantha Jameson’s Soapsmith has become one of the most-loved luxury British soap companies among beauty editors. Inspired by London’s own diversity, the products themselves are formulated and named to capture the sense of London’s most iconic areas. From the fresh, herbaceous Hackney scent to Battersea’s very own sleep-inducing Lavender Hill formula, the scents that this brand have conjured up are seriously luxe. On top of all of this, the formulas are vegan, organic, 100% recyclable and hand-crafted on London’s doorstep. Oh, and they look impossibly chic on the bathroom shelf, too.
Founded by Shelley Davis back in 2003, Kinky-Curly’s collection of hair products is designed to add moisture, environmental protection and hold to natural hair without leaving strands dry and brittle.
The brand’s Curling Custard is an award-winning top seller that delivers a hydrating shot of moisture plus weightless definition well-suited for curls and waves. As for the formula, it’s made with advanced botanicals like humectant agave nectar to rejuvenate and strengthen the hair sans crease or crunch.
Championing natural African ingredients and beauty secrets, Liha Beauty, founded by friends Liha Okunniwa and Abi Oyepitan, is one of the chicest natural beauty brands around. Inspired by their heritage, Liha Beauty was founded by blending together the Yoruba (Nigerian) tradition, learned by all young women, that involves making beautifying oils, soaps and lotions from nuts, tree bark and plants with the discipline of aromatherapy. It’s sustainable self-care at its absolute finest.
Widely considered one of the very best Afro hairdressers in the game, it’s no surprise that Charlotte Mensah’s Manketti Oil products are some of the most-loved natural hair products around. In fact, the luxury hair products are so highly regarded that they have won multiple awards. Designed with Afro hair in mind, the products contain organic, ethical and sustainably-sourced oils to deliver next-level nourishment.
Meet Loraine R. Dowdy, a Brooklyn-born woman of Caribbean descent who founded Coloured Raine in 2013 after leaving behind her career in the finance industry. Noticing a gaping hole in the industry, Dowdy dreamt of creating her own cosmetics line that would encourage vibrant self-expression, diversity and loads of inclusive shades for people of colour.
Dowdy’s deep love for rich colour can be found throughout her stunning line of makeup, with her highly coveted eye shadow palettes falling front and centre on our radar. (Although, if you explore the brand’s website, you will find equally wonderful face products, highlighters and lip essentials.)
When Loretta de Feo became so frustrated by the lack of diverse natural haircare products available in the UK, she created Dizziak. Out of craving just one staple brand that catered to her hair needs that looked and smelled good while it worked, the Dizziak Hydration Wash and Deep Conditioner were born. Rich in shine-enhancing, nourishing ingredients, the formulas work to give textured hair all of the hydration it needs. Oh, and they’re vegan too!
Founded by none other than iconic supermodel Iman, her eponymous beauty brand, Iman Cosmetics, has been heralded as one of the most well-loved, shade-inclusive brands, well, ever. (It launched back in 1994.)
Tired of always having to bring her own makeup to photo shoots and sets, she began her venture into the industry by first creating the Second to None Cream to Powder Foundation, and plenty of other equally stellar makeup and skincare formulations launched from there. This Cover Cream concealer below is another favourite.
We’ve searched high and low for any editors, influencers or celebrities who don’t sing facialist Shani Darden’s praises, and they simply don’t exist! She has an uncanny ability to make your skin clear up and glow almost instantaneously. Therefore, it’s not surprising her namesake skincare brand has gained an extremely loyal following. In fact, almost every single product within her collection has accrued cult-classic status.
Shopping-wise, you can’t really go wrong, but Darden’s Texture Reform serum is pretty iconic. It’s a great alternative for folks looking for a high-quality retinol product but who are perhaps new to the retinol club or have sensitive skin.
We tend to think of Golde as more of a wellness brand, but considering the brand’s selection of face masks and the idea that wellness and beauty go hand in hand, it’s most certainly earned its spot. Trinity Mouzon Wofford co-founded Golde with her partner, Issey Kobori, in 2017 with the mission of introducing more “good vibes” to the wellness industry.
Based in Brooklyn, Golde is an independent brand that’s busy concocting superfood-enhanced essentials for both face and body. Whether you decide to invest in one of its face masks or fan-favourite latte blends, you can count on natural formulations that are lovingly boosted with lots of glow-enhancing, organic ingredients.
UK-based Bouclème has seen huge success in the last few years thanks to its fun, sustainable haircare products formulated specifically for curly hair. Founded by Michele Scott-Lynch, the brand aims to create products that deliver maximum hydration for frizz-free curls while remaining committed to using natural active ingredients. From shampoo and conditioner to masks and oils, Bouclème’s product offering stretches across most curly-hair needs – there’s even a unisex line!
Whereas many of the brands on this list focus on either hair or skincare, The Afro Hair & Skin Co. offers products that cater to both Afro hair and melanin-rich skin. Founded by wellness beauty expert Ibi Meier-Oruitemeka, the brand is dedicated to creating purely organic, natural, handcrafted products with locally-sourced ingredients that also benefit the body and mind. The Glow Recovery Face Mask sounds particularly wonderful, as does the Perfectly Balanced Facial Oil which aims to soften, smooth, combat breakouts and slow the damage of environmental aggressors responsible for worsening hyperpigmentation.
Founded by Rose Ovensehi, Flora and Curl is a plant-based haircare brand designed to nourish and protect all types of curls. Created when Ovenshi realised just how damaged her own scalp had become as a result of chemical processes over the years, the brand uses some of the most hydrating botanical ingredients around, including aloe, rose water, lavender and calendula. And, while the formulas themselves promise intense nourishment, hydration and care, they also look and smell amazing too. It’s basically the full package.
Yard + Parish doesn’t offer its own branded beauty products, however it is an amazing retailer that brings together a whole bunch of amazing Black-owned beauty brands and products. From Canadian brand jELN, which produces wonderfully chic natural and sustainable skincare products, to Eléngé, a brand that champions Fair-trade, ethically-sourced ingredients to make small-batch, handmade skincare, Yard + Parish has some create products in its line up. And it’s not just beauty products that Yard + Parish offer either, from homeware to fashion, it’s a total Aladdin’s cave of treasures.
Trepadora’s sole purpose is to make achieving effortlessly bouncy curls easy for everyone. After 10 years in hairdressing and listening to clients explain how they were struggling to find the right products for their curls, Keisha Jo Lawler founded Trepadora to provide simple step-by-step routines for every type of curl texture.
So, we know this isn’t a skincare, hair or makeup brand, but it’s just so great we couldn’t not mention it. Founded by Ricki Lawal, Selfmade Candle creates natural soy wax candles with 100% essential oils. Not only are the jars and scents themselves seriously chic, the products are also vegan and eco-friendly (right down to the ink and glue). In the brand’s own words: “We’re all about getting lit, responsibly.” From the fresh orange, ylang-ylang and cedarwood based BOUJIE candle to the relaxing lavender and vanilla notes of BREEZY, we’re all in.
Encompassing the idea that skincare is self-care, Freya + Bailey offers up the most divinely destressing and mind-soothing skin products. Founded by Abbie Oguntade out of want for a genuine solution for her own acne and stressed-out complexion, Freya + Bailey products are easily shoppable by skin concern, making even the very act of shopping as stress-free as possible. The best bit? The brand donates 10% of its profits to charities to help reduce poverty-based stress.
Speaking of hair icons, Vernon François, a household name within the beauty industry, is a true champion when it comes to celebrating the versatility of textured hair. He’s been behind some of the most iconic hair moments in history, and his wide range of hair products features multiple collections to suit every hair type.
As if that wasn’t enough, his specialty formulations go the extra mile thanks to additions like ethically harvested, organic oils from Africa, plus the appreciated absence of things like parabens, sulfates, phthalates, cruelty, gluten, DEA and dye.
More than just another natural skincare brand, DWIRA aims to bridge the gap between western beauty and Ghanaian wellness traditions and skincare rituals. Born out of a want for skincare products that offer glowing radiance without relying on unnatural chemicals, DWIRA champions natural butters and oils to nourish and “feed” skin.
If you’re looking to browse some of the most vibrant, gem-like eye shadow palettes available, look no further than Juvia’s Place. Founder Chichi Eburu launched the line with the intent to celebrate the beauty of rich, highly pigmented colours that define African tribes.
“Africa is not only the birthplace of humanity, it’s the birthplace of all beauty,” the brand notes on its website. “Juvia’s Place was created to celebrate the rebels, rulers and queens of the African kingdoms of long ago, who emulated and honoured beauty through their soulful and innovative techniques that the top beauty gurus still use today.”
Of course, the brand offers far more than just eye shadows, but the stunning palettes are true eye candy and have the habit of selling out at lightning speed.