The cultural impact of Black-owned beauty brands cannot be overstated. Remember how the arrival of Fenty Beauty’s 40-plus shade range changed the game for all major beauty brands? Extensive shade ranges were few and far between and now, they’re de rigueur. Black-owned brands have made products like highly pigmented palettes and a wider range of nude lip hues accessible to everyone at retailers like Target, Amazon and Sephora at a wide range of price points.
To understand which brands and products are worth your hard-earned pennies, we tapped a pair of professionals to share their favorite Black-owned beauty brands. Makeup artist Kierra Lanice Wray is a fan of brands including Ustawi, Skin by Brownlee & Co., Bolden, Topicals, The Lip Bar, Ami Colē, Danessa Myricks, Pat McGrath Labs, Thread Beauty and Mented Cosmetics.
She finds herself especially drawn to Skin by Brownlee & Co. and shared that not only is she devoted to the products, but she also loves its CEO, Sylvia Brownlee. Wray explained that Brownlee “is an esthetician and creates educational content on the company’s social media about how to heal and treat the skin from the inside out.” She also said that Thread Beauty is doing everything right these days, noting that the brand is “vibrant and refreshing... Their products are incredibly affordable and effective.”
Jane Meng, a makeup artist and tarot reader, echoed several of Wray’s sentiments. She can’t get enough of makeup brands including Fenty Beauty, Unsun and Black Opal, and agreed with Wray that Pat McGrath Labs, Mented, Lip Bar and Ami Colē are also must-have Black-owned beauty brands — though she’s particularly excited by Danessa Myricks.
“I’ve been so happy to see her products jump in mainstream popularity among those outside of the industry. Danessa Myricks is a powerhouse artist whose innovations have been changing the game for years... She deserves all the love she gets,” Meng told HuffPost.
Below, we rounded up Wray’s and Meng’s recommendations from each of these brands, including everything from foundations to lipsticks, sunscreen and more. They’re the cream of the crop and guaranteed to become staples in your daily rotation. Supporting Black-owned brands year-round is a great way to shop your values and support these businesses so they can continue to thrive and create products that make everyone feel beautiful.
Ustawi Niacinamide Dark Spot Corrector
It can feel nearly impossible to find dark spot correctors that actually work on melanin-rich skin. This treatment can not only help reduce the look of dark spots and brighten skin, but it also helps smooth and refine skin texture. It harnesses the power of multitasking niacinamide to quench thirsty skin and protect the moisture barrier so that other ingredients like antioxidants and licorice root extract can get to work fighting hyperpigmentation. It's on Wray's list of must-haves.
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint
Rihanna has a huge fan in Meng. "There is no way I could leave out Fenty’s Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint for one of my top three favorites. Not only does it live in my kit, it’s what I wear myself everyday. It’s the perfect mix of just enough coverage, lightweight, and blendability. I have a stubborn undertone and skin that oxidizes foundations and concealers to orange. Fenty is one of the few brands that remains true to color on my skin," she told us. It's available in 25 shades.
The Lip Bar Gloss Up color-rich lip gloss
If you love a glossy lip, it doesn't get much better than The Lip Bar's Gloss Up. Wray turns to this lightweight and smooth formula for bold looks without icky stickiness. It delivers a high shine and color-rich finish that will look fabulous all day long. It's available in 10 different shades.
Pat McGrath Labs mini eyeshadow palette in Midnight Voyage
There's nothing quite like a Pat McGrath eyeshadow palette, but they are usually incredibly cost-prohibitive. Get your hands on one of these Meng-loved beauties by snagging a mini palette at a much lower price. It has six gorgeous, romantic shadows with matte, shimmer and metallic finishes. Get ready to dazzle.
Thread Paint It multi-use matte eye paint
If you want a fun, bold eyelid, then Wray recommends turning to Thread Beauty's eye paints. Each one is a full-pigment liquid shadow that pops on every skin tone, is long-wearing, water-resistant and smudge-proof. It's also vegan and cruelty-free. All shades but black and yellow are currently sold out, so make sure you jump on these popular items while you can.
Black Opal True Color Soft Velvet finishing powder
Available in four hues, this finishing powder has gorgeous, silky finish. "I found it randomly when I needed to grab a loose powder in a bind. Their neutral shade is truly neutral and it leaves the best finish I’ve been able to find. It works in person and on set so it goes with me everywhere," Meng said.
Black Girl Sunscreen Make It Hybrid SPF 50
SPF is a non-negotiable regardless of skin tone, but it's not easy to find formulas that don't leave a white cast. Wray recommended Black Girl Sunscreen's lightweight hybrid formula. It's made with zinc oxide, aloe, lavender, and shea butter and leaves skin dewy, soft, smooth and healthy — as well as protected.
Danessa Myricks Beauty Evolution powder
Finding the right powder color match is incredibly daunting, but Danessa Myricks' Evolution powder makes it a delight. A favorite of Wray's, this micro-fine translucent powder is whisper-light and uses skin-blurring technology along with light diffusion to leave skin silky smooth and shine-free. It's available in nine shades.
Ami Colē Ultra-Flex Brow Shaping Gel
When it comes to Ami Colē's fabulous lineup, Wray recommends the brow gel. It's a clear gel that not only sets, lifts and sculpts brows but promotes brow growth as well. The custom double-sided spoolie ensures you don't miss a single hair, leaving you with perfect brows all day and night.
Unsun mineral tinted sunscreen lotion SPF 30
Meng is a huge believer in Unsun, particularly in the brand's sun protection. "Unsun has always been a favorite of mine when it comes to skincare," she said. "When working outside, whether it be for a shoot, an outdoor wedding or engagement photos. I alway include sunscreen to my prep. Unsun’s mineral tinted sunscreen is cruelty free, inclusive, and never leaves the dreaded sunscreen cast so many mineral brands can."
Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection foundation
Both Meng and Wray love Pat McGrath Labs' stunning makeup. Wray recommended this gorgeous foundation in particular. It comes in 36 shades and doubles as both a foundation and skin care. It moisturizes, smoothes skin and blurs the look of imperfections while helping to improve texture. The weightless formula leaves skin silky soft and looking like an Instagram filter.
Mented Cosmetics semi-matte lipstick
"Mented semi-matte lipsticks are to die for," said Meng. "They are our generation’s version of Bobbi Brown’s original 10 lipsticks. They’ve captured the perfect nude shades for every skin tone. They mix beautifully as well." Get one for yourself in one of nine shades at Amazon.
Mented lip liner
Wray turns to Mented for long-wearing lip liners that don't dry out lips or fade. This liner is perfect for adding color and a bit of definition to lips, and is available in nine shades. Best of all, it's vegan, paraben-free and cruelty-free.
Danessa Myricks Beauty Colorfix eye, cheek and lip pigment
Available in 30 metallic high-shine and matte hues, this versatile, multifunctional pigment is one of Meng's go-tos. "Colorfix has staying power that is unrivaled and is a product that has never betrayed me when I needed to depend on it for wet shoots, sweaty dancers, or weepy brides," she said.
Skin by Brownlee & Co.
Wray loves this cleanser and with good reason. It's meant to help cleanse and soothe even the most irritated skin, leaving it refreshed and renewed. It can help correct the skin's pH levels without stripping it of its natural moisture barrier, helping to support your skin care routine.
Ami Colē Light-Catching highlighter
"Ami Colé's Light-Catching highlighter is my favorite, because it works with any skin tone. It blends into the skin seamlessly, giving the perfect natural dew that looks healthy, not distracting," Meng told HuffPost.
The Lip Bar vegan matte liquid lipstick
The Lip Bar is on Meng's list of fave brands, and we love this matte liquid lipstick for its serious staying power. It's available in 15 shades, is cruelty-free, vegan and very accessibly priced at Target.