For Allure, by Baze Mpinja.
These are the seven black-owned beauty brands to celebrate during Black History Month and beyond.
Supermodel Iman changed the beauty landscape in 1994 when she launched Iman Cosmetics for women of color. After decades of modeling and being forced to bring her own foundation to photo shoots, she knew that the struggle to find beautiful shades for dark skin tones was all too real. Her success came in part from leveraging her status as an icon, and also from her total commitment to her vision. For example, she ignored retailers who told her that black women don’t buy liquid foundation (she just launched a new one, Luxury Concealing Foundation). Makeup for brown skin isn’t as scarce as it used to be, but Iman’s brand is still holding its own amid fierce competition. And Iman continues to be an outspoken advocate for women who feel marginalized in the beauty aisle.
Star product: Second to None Cream-to-Powder Foundation, which is like a real-life filter for your skin.
The Lip Bar
Melissa Butler hasn’t let the brutal rejection she received on Shark Tank get in the way of her dream of building an empowering beauty brand that represents all women. Butler, a former Wall Street stockbroker, founded the Lip Bar for those seeking chic, edgy lipstick shades (like caramel Amaretto Sour and jet-black Night Owl) with healthy ingredients. The formulas include organic shea butter, organic avocado oil, and coconut oil, and are 100 percent vegan. Butler also wants to use her brand’s imagery to help broaden the industry’s view of beauty. Now that’s a plan that even the harshest reality show judge could get behind.
Star product: Liquid Matte in Bawse Lady, a power red that screams “I’m the HBIC.”
The products in this line, founded by Cashmere Nicole, look as sweet as the name sounds. And that’s the point. In a climate where teens routinely strike sexy poses and proudly show skin on social media, Nicole wanted to promote an alternative to the bad-girl images that young women are often exposed to. Her website is an explosion of pastel colors and smiling, happy faces. And, oh yeah, products. Beauty Bakerie features a range of soft, shimmery makeup for the face, eyes and lips. Certain items, like the Neopolitan Eyescream Palette, look good enough to eat.
Star product: Lip Whip, a liquid matte lip color that’s a hit with the brand’s massive Instagram following.
Speaking of Instagram, the platform has become a breeding ground for successful beauty companies, and Juvia’s Place is another such brand. The founder, Chichi Eburu, draws inspiration from her West African heritage and her appreciation for different cultures. The line boasts earthy eye shadows, many that resemble spices, along with gel eyeliners to go with them. Juvia’s Place is not exactly a household name yet, but if the brand’s 277,000 followers are any indication, it’s well on its way.
Gold Label Cosmetics
Any woman with brown skin knows how disappointing it is to try on a lipstick that looks deep enough or bright enough in the tube, but has a chalky effect on the lips. No need to worry about that with Gold Label Cosmetics, founded by makeup artist Kristen Elise Brown. The colors in the line are bold and supersaturated to flatter a global range of skin tones (Viola Davis has worn GLC Lipstick in First Class, a sexy red.)
Star product: Matte Lip Pen in Baby Grand, a gorgeous berry shade with a push-pen applicator that’s easy to apply in the back of a Lyft.
Vera Moore Cosmetics
The desire to fill a void is a recurring theme among many black beauty CEOs, and Vera Moore is no exception. Moore, a former soap opera actress, launched Vera Moore Cosmetics in 1979 with help from her husband, a licensed aesthetician. She wanted to provide a stay-put foundation in the darker shades that she felt were missing in the market. What started as a small mom-and-pop venture has turned into a full line of makeup and skin-care products sold at Duane Reade and Walgreens stores. The next big goal for the company? Expanding into the Caribbean market.
Star product: Liquid Foundation, a lightweight, sheer formula that comes in 13 not-too-red shades.
For Richelieu Dennis, founder of Sundial Brands, the company that makes SheaMoisture, business is a family affair. SheaMoisture is inspired by Dennis’s grandmother, Sofi Tucker, who made shea butter soaps to support her family in Sierra Leone after she became a widow at the age of 19. Dennis founded the brand with his his mother, Mary Dennis, and his former college roommate, Nyema Tubman, to address hair and skin needs he says had been “traditionally ignored by mass market beauty companies.” (The company addressed the issue of exclusion with a buzzy #BreakTheWalls campaign last year.) Shea butter sourced from Ghana plays a role in all of the products, and Dennis has also incorporated the recipes handed down by Tucker into the line. Grandma Sofi probably never imagined that her soap-=making would lead to this kind of success, but we’re guessing SheaMoisture will be around for generations to come.
Star product: Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie, an oil-rich styler great for smooth, defined twist-outs.
More from Allure: