This past summer, celebrity makeup artist Kirin Bhatty was wandering around Sephora when she came across three young women perusing foundations. The women, who all had deep skin tones — a Black woman and two South Asian women — each picked out a bottle. What she realized was monumental: Each of their perfect shades existed in a singular bottle. Ten years ago, the only option would be to mix several shades to get something to somewhat match our complexion. It was a painful reminder that beauty for people of color comes at a steep price, both financially and emotionally.
Finding beauty products made for the spectrum of darker skin tones has been more accessible in recent years with brands consciously expanding their selection. But feeling like your most glamorous self goes beyond the right concealer. It means finding and embracing products that make you feel like your most vibrant self.
In Trinidad, where makeup artist and beauty influencer Jaleesa Jaikaran grew up, Black beauty was beauty — rich, celebrated and gleefully unadulterated. It didn’t feel like that in the U.S. magazines she read on vacations to the States, clearly centered white beauty. “I had to find it within myself to break through the mental barriers of not being good enough, pretty enough or worthy enough to not only show up online like I [do] now but also in the rooms I’ve stepped foot in,” Jaikaran said.
It took years of inner work for Jaikaran to feel like she was enough — and learn how to show up for herself when beauty brands and media didn’t. “True beauty is being unapologetically you,” she said.
Many of us are on that journey. For the record, any great makeup artist will tell you that if you love a product — a bright pink lipstick or aquamarine eyeliner — then wear it, regardless of which skin tone you think it’s “meant for.” But there’s so much out there now that was intentionally made with us in mind, so I had to create a roundup of what our darker-skinned beauty mavens are keeping on rotation this holiday.
These products are celebrations of the Black and brown beauty figures, business owners, and more, who have paved the way for inclusivity and a place in the industry — and who continue to remind BIPOC beauty users everywhere that we are neither a monolith nor an afterthought.
HuffPost receives a share from retailers on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.
Party Wave Mascara and Eyeliner Set by Caliray
Though the brand's name and aesthetic suggests otherwise, Caliray's eye pencil and mascara duo is made for the holiday season: It's soft and blendable, perfect for a party smokey eye, and it comes as a set of two full-sized products, giftable for the beauty user who prefers a natural look or who has Sephora's inventory in their kit. “[It's] such a great option for those who love to save but need party essentials,” Jaikaran said.
SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen by Tower 28
With buildable coverage, approval from the National Eczema Association
, and no dreaded ghostly white cast, SunnyDays is the basis of any pre-party beauty routine, whether you have five minutes or five hours to get ready. Plus, Bhatty herself helped the brand develop their shade range — so you know the product was made with inclusion top of mind.
Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner by Fenty
Is it even a beauty guide without Rihanna? I always have a tough time with brightly colored eyeliner because it takes a few applications before pigments really show on my skin. Fenty's Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner in Sea About It, however, is my one-swipe wonder. Plus, it's long lasting and doesn't smudge, which bodes well for late-night antics.
Therapy Session Hair Mask by Eva NYC
This decadent hair conditioning mask is like an oasis in the desert for people with curly hair of all textures. And to add purpose to pleasure, Eva NYC is a sustainability-minded brand whose focus is beauty through earth-friendly ingredients.
Real Techniques Eye Sparkle Set
Another influencer fave, this 9-piece kit has a brush for every “Euphoria”-style lid you can conceive of. Whether you're going for a liner-heavy look or precise shading, definition is key, and these brushes will get you there.
Soft Pinch Liquid Blush 3-Piece Set by Rare Beauty
Blushes can be tricky. Some refuse to show up on deeper complexions, while others make us look clownish. Rare Beauty's blushes are a delicately creamy balance between the two extremes. And because the product's formula is highly pigmented, a little goes a long way.
Nu Skin’s ageLOC LumiSpa iO
This dual-action cleansing device (that comes with a selfie-fueled coaching app) is key to preserving the melanated magic that is our precious skin. It's fun to use, designed for all skin types, and has three treatment head options to use with several products that cleanse and restore the most sensitive parts of your face.
Eye Tint Long-Lasting Liquid Eyeshadow by Armani Beauty
Jaikaran considers this shade “a great option for a gorgeous metallic eye that blends easily and effortlessly.” The liquid eyeshadow can really do it all — build on it for a sultry evening look or apply a single layer for an elevated natural look with subtle shimmer.
The Vault Set by Summer Fridays
What's a beauty routine without a solid skincare plan? This collection is worth every penny, with ultra-hydration that’ll revitalize any type of skin. “This vault set is perfect for the skincare lover or budding skin-thusiast,” Jaikaran said.
Iconic & Bougie Manicure from The Editorial Nail
The Editorial Nail has changed the game when it comes to quality press-ons. “As a pro herself, [founder Gracie J. Antoinette
] carries experimental shapes, styles and colors,” Jaikaran said, “and her Instagram feed
is drool-worthy!” This stunning glossy red set from the brand embodies its namesake — and is a reminder that we, too, get to be iconic and bougie this holiday season (and always).
Glowgasm Beauty Light Wand Highlighter by Charlotte Tilbury
This holiday, transform into the chiseled bronze demigod that you truly are. A BIPOC beauty influencer fave across the board, Charlotte Tilbury's Beauty Light Wand allows for precise application and maximum glow.
NUDIVERSAL Koh Samui by CTZN
“Pre-now, when you'd look for a nude lipstick, it was always that peachy, almost chalky, color,” Bhatty said. “If you have fair skin, it's a beautiful color! But if you're not, you don't have many options.” Enter: CTZN, a brand founded by three Pakistani sisters who recognized that nude is a spectrum, not a shade — and crafted a whole brand around that. Their NUDIVERSAL double-ended lipstick is a versatile fave.
Colorfix Foils by Danessa Myricks Beauty
If there's one word Bhatty could use to describe Danessa Myricks Beauty, it's “brilliant” — both to describe the way the brand caters to Black and brown skin, and the luminous pigmentation that shines through their color and foil products. The brand's Colorfix Foils manifests that glittery ethos, and this multi-faceted product. “It's very clear that Danessa is a makeup artist,” she gushes. “You can just tell through the products.”
Sustain Cheekbone Classics Palette by Cheekbone Beauty
This gorgeous palette by the Indigenous woman-owned Cheekbone Beauty is a true multi-hyphenate: bronzer, highlighter, blush and contour. Light yet vibrant, it's a great product for the party goer who puts emphasis on “go,” while also boasting rich pigments that will show up and show out.
The Jewel Box - The Discovery Edit by Ranavat
Bhatty said that Ranavat's assortment of hair oils, mists and serums are nothing short of potions — ones that smell divine, thanks to amla and jasmine that are infused into the brand's products, an homage to founder Michelle Ranavat's South Asian roots. “I couldn't be more excited about them,” the makeup artist gushed — and neither can we.
Holiday Liquid Lip Trio by Mented
Not only do Mented's lip products have a stunning range, but they're also vegan and cruelty free — a quality that was hard to come by for beauty products up until a few years ago. “Vegan brands just didn't have the payoff and pigmentation for BIPOC before,” Bhatty said. “To have a brand like Mented that's a vegan brand and works on skins of color, that's a triumph.”
Limited Edition Lip Treatment Oil Trio by Ami Nicole
“Nothing finishes off a party-ready face like a good gloss,” said Jaikaran — and Ami Cole's award-winning lip treatment oil does just that. Infused with baobab seed and passionfruit seed oils, the gloss is nourishing without being sticky. (Which means, no gooey residue on the rim of your champagne flute.) Plus, the trio comes in a gift-ready box, so you can keep the spirit of gifting alive to others — or yourself.