Far from just offering inclusive shade ranges, our favourite black- (and often female-) founded beauty brands play an integral role in expanding the conversation around race, representation and diversity in the beauty industry. We shouldn’t be content with a few extra hues added into a foundation line, but rather be listening to the beauty brands that are pushing things forward in terms of what women of all colours, shapes and orientations want from their products – be they make-up, skincare or haircare. And that’s precisely what these brands are doing. Below, 10 of the best black-founded beauty brands to invest in, learn from, and enjoy.
Created by Nigerian-born former beauty executive Sharon Chuter, Uoma is a make-up brand that offers an array of shades, colours, and consistencies in all of its products, and includes empowering messaging on its packaging. The brand places the emphasis on celebrating our differences – whether that means celebrating our skin colour, our sexual orientation, or our size. “The world is beautiful because we are all different and colourful in our unique way, and this is why Uoma Beauty exists,” Chuter has said.
Available at Cult Beauty.
Described as both an “aphrodisiac for afro hair”, and a “multi-culturally-minded haircare brand for the 21st century”, Dizziak was founded by Loretta De Feo, a former journalist who saw a gap in the market for luxurious and effective haircare products, for all hair types. So far Dizziak has unveiled two vegan-friendly formulas that aim to hydrate and nourish textured hair, housed in bold, monochrome packaging.
Available at Liberty.
It’s difficult to mention black beauty businesses without mentioning Fenty Beauty, which despite now being owned by LVMH, was founded, of course, by Rihanna. Shaking up the industry with its diverse range of shades in excellent formulations, Fenty also harnessed (and continues to harness) the power of a diverse array of faces. With campaigns that have featured trans and disabled models as well as models of all shapes, sizes and skin colours, it has swiftly established a reputation for championing diverse representations of beauty. To cut a long story short, the brand now turns over an estimated $570 million (£454 million) a year, and it’s a staple in most make-up bags.
Available at Harvey Nichols.
Pat McGrath Labs
Dubbed “Mother” by her legions of fans, Vogue’s beauty editor-at-large Pat McGrath founded her eponymous make-up line in 2016; unveiling a collection of luxurious palettes, lipsticks and glosses, as well as foundations and eye make-up. McGrath’s beauty mantra is about “the power of transformation”, and her range promises to contain a product for everyone – crucially one that will enhance how you feel as well as how you look. A glow is but one of the many (excellent) side-effects of use.
Available at Selfridges.
As enticing as a display of pastries in a real bakery, the beauty version offers playful packaging, fun product names and something for everyone. Cashmere Nicole is the woman behind it – and she’s had quite the journey since her brand’s inception. When Nicole underwent a double mastectomy as part of breast cancer treatment in Beauty Bakerie’s early days, Beyoncé heard her story, featured her on her website, and the rest is history. Counting Bey herself among its fans, the company is now valued at $40 million (£32 million), and offers easy solutions for finding the right foundation shade for you, as well as a selection of eyeshadow palettes, setting sprays and oils.
Available at Look Fantastic.
Multi-award winning afro hairstylist Charlotte Mensah also has her own line of award-winning hair products. Housed in sleek, minimalistic packaging, the formulas utilise manketti oil to fortify, nourish and condition hair, and are designed for afro, mixed and curly hair types. Her contributions don’t end there: she also set up the Charlotte Mensah Academy, which equips aspiring young Ghanaian stylists with hairdressing skills.
Available at Space NK.
Meaning “to cocoon oneself” in Ebira, a Nigerian dialect, Epara offers indulgent, thick and luxurious formulas that help to nourish and protect the skin. Utilising ingredients from African soil, the brand, says founder Ozohu Adoh, was “born out of a need to provide luxury skincare products to women with dark skin tones. The skin issues women have present differently in women of colour.” Having suffered with dry, uneven skin after university, she decided to develop her own product – and it worked. Now her formulas are heralded for addressing all manner of skincare issues faced by black women, and while they’re effective, they don’t skimp on the luxe factor.
Available at Epara Skincare.
Cleanse by Lauren Napier
Take it from make-up artist to the stars, Lauren Napier: cleansing your skin effectively is integral to a healthy glow. Napier, who has worked with countless high-end publications, several Oscar-winners, and a Beatle, founded a line of hypoallergenic face wipes using sustainable technologies that leave the skin clean and radiant. “In a culture obsessed with perfection, I see beauty in informal moments,” she has said. “We all want to feel comfortable and confident with what lies beneath. There is beauty in taking it all off.”
Available at Net-a-Porter.
Having adopted the mission of encouraging “each hair texture to take up as much space as it desires,” and celebrating curls that do their own thing, Pattern is a haircare brand that seeks to give customers their best-ever curls via hydration and nourishment. Started by Tracee Ellis Ross –whose own hair is an ever-changing joy – Pattern seeks to help you find your curl pattern, and the right products to enhance and support it. While it’s not available in the UK yet, we hope to see the chic, graphic packaging on our shores soon.
Available at Pattern.
Boucléme harnesses the power of plants to care for every kink, curl and wave, and help to improve the condition of hair over time. “I wanted to create a range of products using pure natural actives that deliver moisture where it’s needed, and that, with long-term use, would improve the condition of curls,” says founder Michele Scott-Lynch, whose bounteous curls are the best advert for her efficacious formulas. “It was born out of an authentic love and respect for curls, created by one curl for others.”
From British Vogue