17 Black-Owned Beauty Brands To Get Familiar With

Black History Month is technically once a year, but in my opinion, African-Americans should celebrate year-round. Any time is a good time to reflect on our history and remember the trailblazers who have helped to get us to where we are today — from civil rights leaders to athletes, and yes, even to beauty entrepreneurs.
The cosmetics industry has grossly underestimated the buying power of the Black consumer (more on that to come). So many of those consumers became businesspeople, creating brands that address the beauty and grooming needs of women of color.
From hair care to makeup to skin care, we take a look at the Black-owned brands that have made their way onto the beauty scene (you can read this for more background on some of the entrepreneurs) — some old, some new, all worth checking out.
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Iman Cosmetics
Fed up with having to bring her own foundation to runway shows and photo shoots — because the makeup artists didn't have any to match her skin tone — supermodel Iman decided to create her own collection of products. In 1994, her line of foundations, concealers, and lipstick made for and by women of color came onto the market, and has been making strides ever since. Never skimping on quality, the brand was one of the first to come out with BB creams and bronzers specifically for women with darker skin tones.
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There are only a handful of Black male entrepreneurs on this list (because, let's be real, who run the beauty world?), but they're no less important than their lady counterparts — especially in this case. SheaMoisture, founded by Richelieu Dennis, is, I'd say, the most talked about, beloved (read: worshipped), and immediately recognizable natural hair brand on the market. But its reach doesn't stop at hair care. The company also dabbles in makeup and skin care — impressively so — and continues to be a pioneer on the scene.
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Magnolia Makeup
A fairly under-the-radar brand, Magnolia Makeup, based in New Orleans, was founded by sisters Niala and Tia Howard. They're devoted to bright, poppy eyeshadows and lipsticks. (Basically, if your beauty look skews on the no-makeup makeup side of things, you may want to skip this slide.) Magnolia Makeup is unapologetically all about color, and is a welcome reminder that beauty products are supposed to be fun.
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After founder and creator Dawn Fitch fell ill — and with no diagnosis in sight — she decided to explore the healing qualities of aromatherapy. Her newfound passion grew into a commitment to take better care of herself. This included reading the ingredients of everything that went both in and on her body, switching up her entire healthcare regimen, and eventually creating her own bath products. Fast forward to today — Pooka's lineup includes everything from elbow grease and body mists to body scrubs and whipped creams.
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Oyin Handmade
After founder Jamyla Bennu realized that her favorite beauty products included some questionable ingredients, she decided that she could make them herself — and better. What started as a one-woman show, Oyin (the Yoruba word for honey) quickly evolved into a family venture, and a favorite among natural-haired women.
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Black Opal
Head to the beauty aisle of your favorite drugstore, and the options specifically for women of color are few and far between. But one brand that you've probably both heard of and seen in your local big-box retailer is Black Opal. What initially started out as a skin-care brand in 1994 — founded by Carol Mouyiaris, and Dr. Cheryl Burgess, a board-certified dermatologist — is today best known for its makeup products and wide range of base makeup shades.
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Gold Label Cosmetics
With a background as a makeup artist, Gold Label Cosmetics founder Kristen Elise Brown knows a thing or two about the beauty industry. A key thing? The fact that many makeup lovers have a penchant for highly pigmented, cruelty-free, and (for some) vegan formulas — and that is exactly what her line offers. These colors definitely aren't for those who prefer neutral or sheer shades; the brand's site even shows the hues on different complexions so you can see what the shade will look like on your skin before purchasing. It's the little things that matter — and that we appreciate.
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Miss Jessie's
Sisters Miko and the late Titi Branch appeared on the beauty scene at a time when products for curly, kinky, or coily strands were rare and conversations on the topic were still taboo. Over a decade later, they're still one of the leaders on the scene and with some of the most praised products on the market.
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There's a major skin-care issue that both Black men and women commonly suffer from: razor bumps. Tristan Walker and his team at Bevel decided to create a single-blade razor to help eliminate this problem. His products have received backing from both Magic Johnson and John Legend, and will be available at Target in early 2016.
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Coloured Raine
Founded by Lorraine Dowdy in 2013, Coloured Raine is a fairly new beauty brand. But with a line of liquid matte lipsticks that rivals even the offerings of Kylie Jenner herself (and with a much larger range of colors), we anticipate big things for this company.
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Kim Kimble
Created by celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble (the Queen B herself being one of the stars on her roster), Kimble Beauty is all about the philosophy that healthy hair and great styling can co-exist. Tbh, if Beyoncé trusts her with her tresses, so do we.
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Ginger + Liz
Vegan-friendly and 5-free, Ginger + Liz was created by Ginger Johnson and Liz Pickett, two beauty lovers who bonded over the bad reactions they had both suffered from using conventional nail formulas. The collection is a kaleidoscope of fashion-forward colors that won't totally eff up your nails.
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Vera Moore
Vera Moore, who was one of the first Black actresses to have a recurring role on a soap opera (a decade-long run on Another World), has lived several groundbreaking lives. With the opening of Vera Moore Cosmetics, she also became the first Black-owned business owner to set up shop at the prestigious Green Acres Mall in Long Island. That shop included the brand's skin-care and makeup lines, both of which cater to the needs and desires of women of color.
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Fashion Fair
Founded by the late Eunice W. Johnson, the creator of the Ebony Fashion Fair Show, and her late husband John H. Johnson, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, Fashion Fair Cosmetics tapped into the market for women of color at a time when nobody was even paying attention. It's been on the market for 40 years, and is one of the largest Black-owned beauty brands in the world.
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Cosmetic scientist Florence Adepoju created her lipstick brand out of her parents' shed. Now, the line of hip hop-inspired lipsticks is available at Boots and Topshop, among other retailers.

"I was interested [in beauty] in the sense that I wore makeup, but it wasn't really an aspiration," Adepoju told Cosmopolitan. "I was more a consumer. I didn't want to work in the beauty industry until I started working for Benefit... That's when I got the first light bulb moment, that every product has a founder." We're so glad she did.
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Curls founder Mahisha Dellinger didn't have it easy growing up — that's made very clear from the title of her book, alone: Against All Odds: From The Projects To A Penthouse. Today, the success of her multimillion-dollar brand is an amazing example of triumph over adversity.
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Beauty Bakerie

In 2011, Cashmere Nicole founded Beauty Bakerie, a line of cruelty-free color cosmetics designed to last for hours. In six short years, the brand has grown exponentially and now boasts almost 400k followers on Instagram thanks to its pigmented lipsticks and budge-proof formulas.

Beauty Bakerie Mon Chéri Lip Whip, $20, available at Beauty Bakerie.
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