Over the last year, the beauty industry was rocked by Fenty Beauty and its impressive foundation shade range (40 colors, with more to come). That, along with the debut of other black-owned lines like Pat McGrath Labs, caused brands like Kylie Cosmetics and Marc Jacobs Beauty to step up their own shade offerings. It’s no doubt that 2017 raised the bar for what it means to be truly inclusive and accommodate women of color, and black women in particular.
That said, it’s important to recognize that black folks were providing for their communities long before Fenty. We had Overton’s face powder in the very early 1900s, supermodel Iman’s cosmetic launch in 1994, and many others in between. Now, more and more black women are starting beauty lines in their kitchens and building them off Instagram. The overlooked consumers have become entrepreneurs, creating products to meet the beauty needs of women of color.
And here are 10 of those brands to get familiar with. Some, like Unsun, are making sunscreen for a wider range of complexions (see: no white cast). Others, like Mielle, are creating full ranges of hair products for all of the different hair textures specific to black women. And many, like Folie Apothecary and Foxie Cosmetics, feature products made with raw, vegan ingredients.
Folie Apothecary: This vegan hair and skincare brand was founded by Instagram wellness queen Nikisha Riley in 2015. Everything from the Palo Santo All-Purpose Mist to the fan-favorite Prickly Pear Face Serum is made in small batches by Nikisha herself. Check out the product reviews — they’re all glowing.
Unsun Cosmetics: Katonya Breaux was tired of the white residue her SPF left behind on her skin, so she founded Unsun, a line of all-natural skin protectants specifically for people of color. The brand makes tinted mineral sunscreen (SPF 30) as well as other add-ons, like SPF hand cream (SPF 15) and tinted lip products (SPF 18).
KNC Beauty: The brand behind Instagram’s favorite all-natural collagen-infused lip mask is brought to you by beauty columnist (and Instagram fave in her own right) Kristen Noel Crawley. She launched her brand just last year and it’s already stocked at places like J.Crew, Net-a-Porter, and Violet Grey. The lip mask is KNC’s only product so far, but it makes for really soft, plump lips (and equally delightful selfies).
Mielle Organics: This natural haircare line isn’t a secret — ask around and Mielle will likely come up as a favorite among black women with natural and curly hair. Founded and formulated by registered nurse Monique Rodriguez in 2014, the line includes deep conditioners and leave-in products, plus hair oils and stylers. Check out the brand’s Instagram to see just how diverse its fans are; you’ll see all types of textures, from loose curls to tightly coiled 4C hair.
Foxie Cosmetics: Founder and musician Kayla Phillips started this vegan cosmetics line with a small range of colorful bath bombs. Since then, it’s evolved to offer everything from shower gels to solid perfumes, face masks to shampoos, and more, all hand-crafted in her Texas shop. (Warning: Things notoriously sell out quickly, so if you want something, buy it when you see it!)
Juvia's Place: If you live for high-pigment lip colors and shadows, you need to know about Juvia’s Place. The buzzy shadows come in palettes like Nubian and The Saharan, and the rich tones look great on fair and dark skin alike. The brand also offers a range of blush shades, if eyeshadow isn’t your thing.
Cleanse by Lauren Napier: Luxurious, refreshing face wipes! What’s not to love? These individually packaged towelettes come in recyclable (and photogenic) packaging and are perfect for keeping in your bag for post-gym or while on a flight. And they do more than just makeup removal; infused with water, aloe, and chamomile and cucumber extracts, the slightly textured wipes help exfoliate and remove oils (and the day) from your face.
Bekura Beauty: This Georgia-based line (pronounced bee-kure-ah) specializes in treating fatigued dry skin and hair with what it calls “comfort blends” — think nourishing doses of floral honey nectars, cacao bean, and cold-pressed fruit butters. The site makes it easy to search by product, from rinse-out remedies to emollient oils, or by ingredient, should you be specifically interested in trying something with cacao or honey.
Tallish Waajid: Taliah Waajid is the self-proclaimed “Queen of Natural, Curly, and Coily Hair,” which makes sense considering her namesake line goes above and beyond for those textures. There’s a huge range of products made with natural ingredients, fruits, and herbal extracts, like nourishing curl defining creams and Jamaican black castor oil, the latter of which has long been used to nourish dry skin and thicken hair. The best part is that you can find the line at places like Walgreens, Target, and Rite Aid.
The Lip Bar: Melissa Butler left the world of finance to start The Lip Bar — a vegan, cruelty-free beauty brand — out of her kitchen in 2012. Since then, Both Butler and the line have been recognized by Forbes, WWD, and more. The products include lipsticks and lip glosses that come in a handful of nude and pastel shades, as well as liquid matte formulas. The highly pigmented shades look particularly great on darker skin tones, plus, the packaging is really cool.