More beauty startups are getting funded than ever before (the industry is on track to hit a record-high of more than 145 deals by year-end). But more brands doesn’t necessarily guarantee diversity in the leadership, as we know all too well from venture capital’s paltry support of underrepresented founders.
That makes it all the more important to support brands that are founded by people of color, especially as many mainstream, high-end beauty brands continue to overlook deeper skin tones in their shade ranges and product quality. Whether you’re a woman of color seeking products for your skin tone, or simply a conscientious consumer, here are nine black-owned companies worth checking out—seven of which are led by black women.
If you keep up with the beauty guru subculture, you may have peeped Juvia’s Place eyeshadows on Instagram or YouTube. The online brand’s owner, Chichi Eburu, started Juvia’s Place with the intent of creating eyeshadows that were pigmented enough to show up on darker skintones. Eburu’s choice of color palettes and packaging take a cue from her West African heritage: The Nubian palette, for example, was inspired by the Egyptian queen Nefertiti.
The brainchild of entrepreneur Tristan Walker, Form is the second release from his startup, Walker & Company—the first being, of course, shaving brand Bevel. As I wrote when I covered Form’s launch in June, the company’s goal is to be a one-stop shop for women of all hair types, serving customers a pared-down lineup of 10 products (at least at launch) that can be mixed and matched. Form’s products aren’t customizable, but the brand is still selling customization, offering a consultation that advises women on which Form products to use for their hair type. Form is already available at Sephora, where it joins only a handful of haircare brands catering to women of color.
Nude lipsticks have been all the rage for the past couple of years, but that doesn’t mean it’s now easy to find a good nude as a woman of color. The term “nude” is a loaded one, as nude means different things to different people, and more often than not, brands don’t create nude lipsticks with darker skin tones in mind. Enter Mented Cosmetics: Founded by Harvard Business School alums KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson, the brand’s goal was to make nude lipsticks explicitly for women of color. But Mented wants to be more than just a lipstick brand, as Miller told Blavity recently; next year, the brand will expand into eyeshadow, blush, and highlighter, with eventual plans to introduce foundation, powder, and concealer.
Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture
The prestige sister brand to Shea Moisture, Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture borrows its name from Madam C.J. Walker, a wildly successful black, female entrepreneur who built a business out of creating beauty and haircare products for black women. Launched last year by parent company Sundial Brands, Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture made its debut exclusively on Sephora’s shelves; the brand carries four collections that aid in curl definition, frizz control, style extension, and scalp and strand nourishing.
Sugar Doll Vibes! ????????????Model @jasmynnwhite is wearing: Brows: Dark Brown BROWnies Neapolitan EyesCream Palette Something new and sweet coming. Can you guess it????? Face: new So Icy shade in Candied for the glow, set with Flour Setting Powder for a Matte finish Lips: Louvre Palace Matte Lip Whip???? Get your Baked Goods at BeautyBakerie.com ???? #makeup #wakeupandmakeup #lifestyle #kbeauty #fotd #settingpowder
Beauty Bakerie—whose products are bakery-themed in name and packaging—is probably best known for selling $20 liquid lipsticks that do not budge. Take a look at Instagram and you’ll see videos of arms swatched with Beauty Bakerie’s Lip Whips under a tap, being scrubbed to no avail. There’s no shortage of liquid lipsticks on the market, but there are far fewer options when it comes to black-owned brands selling liquid lipsticks. In fact, Beauty Bakerie’s founder and CEO Cashmere Nicole was even featured on Beyoncé’s website a few years ago, in a series about breast cancer survivors.
This is truly one to watch: Helmed by none other than Rihanna, the new makeup line debuted on September 8 with a whopping 40 shades of foundation. (The product has already received rave reviews.) For comparison, some of the most inclusive high-end brands don’t carry 40 shades, even after expansions of their shade range. Fenty also released 20 shades of concealer and contour sticks, along with a slew of highlighters and other makeup products and tools, all of which debuted across Fenty Beauty’s site, Sephora, and U.K.-based luxury department store Harvey Nichols.
Another brand you might have spotted on the pouts and lids of beauty bloggers is Coloured Raine, whose vibrant eyeshadows and lipsticks have been lauded by influencers for their lasting power. The matte lip paints, in particular, run the gamut from lavender and hunter green to a metallic royal blue. As with other indie brands like Juvia’s Place and Mented Cosmetics, Coloured Raine is cruelty-free.
Last year, Katonya Breaux—otherwise known as singer Frank Ocean’s mom—launched Unsun, a skincare line with a focus on sun protection. Breaux was frustrated that she couldn’t find a natural, chemical-free sunscreen that didn’t give her a white cast, so she rolled up her sleeves and got to making her own. Unsun’s first product was a mineral-based, tinted face sunscreen, but the brand has since expanded to offer hand cream and lip tints with SPF. Next up, according to Breaux, is a facial moisturizer, eye cream, and, eventually, a natural makeup line.
As the owner of Foxie Cosmetics, Kayla Phillips is responsible for running her business—including the aesthetically pleasing packaging and photography on the Foxie site—and making each and every one of the natural, vegan products that she sells. Phillips first started out in 2015 by selling three handmade bath bombs; she now claims to have created more than 600 products. In the Foxie shop, you’ll find a cornucopia of bath bombs and soaps, but also face masks, cleansers, body butters, shampoos, and conditioners.