5 Skin-Care Brands To Shop If You Want To Buy Black
These entreprenuers are building brands tailored to the highly melanated.
Black people are beyond resourceful. When we come upon a problem, a roadblock, or a flat out "no," we find another solution. That's exactly what the following entrepreneurs did when faced with a skin-care industry that doesn't cater to brown complexions.
Ozohu Adoh wanted a luxury skin-care brand that was tailored to treat skin of color, so she created Epara Skincare. Katonya Breaux couldn't find a sunscreen that didn't leave her skin irritated or chalky white, so she founded Unsun Cosmetics. And when Trinity Mouzon Wofford didn't see herself represented in the wellness space, she whipped up her own inclusive brand called Golde.
Ahead, we spoke with five founders who are changing the skin-care aisle for the better. These Black women created their brands with brown skin at the forefront, and it shows in the marketing and the results.
Ozohu Adoh of Epara Skincare
With a degree in accounting from Oxford University, Ozohu Adoh never intended to start her own beauty brand. However, years of dealing with dry skin and misdiagnosed rashes left her frustrated. She tried all manner of lotions and creams to no avail. "I was trying every well-known product, but they weren't working," she says. "I began to understand that there are so many nuances around our skin." Finally, she realized she'd have to find the solution herself.
Adoh started to research African oils, butters, and botanicals to create her own moisturizing blend. After noticing a significant difference in her skin, she decided to create Epara Skincare, a luxury skin-care line for skin of color. "I noticed that the existing brands were not catering to [Black] professional women with disposable income, because they didn’t feel like that market was significant enough," she says. "Women of color and Black women use luxury, so why isn’t there anything that speaks to us?"
The Epara line, which is available at Barneys New York, targets the specific needs of brown skin, especially hyperpigmentation and hydration. "Historically when companies target hyperpigmentation they use bleaching agents in the product," says Adoh. "So the question for me became: How can we embrace the skin that we have while treating problem areas?" The brightening products address dark spots without affecting the overall melanin levels, and every product has moisturizing ingredients like shea butter and hyaluronic acid.
Katonya Breaux of Unsun Cosmetics
Ask any Black person about their sunscreen complaints, and they'll tell you that most formulas leave brown skin looking ghostly, and the ones that do disappear are chemical-based. So what if you want a mineral sunscreen that blends into brown skin? Well, you'd be out of luck.
That's why Katonya Breaux created Unsun Cosmetics. She started the company after discovering a smattering of bumps on her face were the result of too much time unprotected in the sun. "I started to get small moles on my face, similar to the ones my mother and aunts had acquired as they reached their 70s, but I was only 30!" she says. "I went to the dermatologist, and she told me that it wasn’t genetic. It was sun damage."
From there, Breaux began to hunt for a sunscreen that she could wear daily, but the chemical options left her skin irritated and the mineral sunscreens left her skin looking white. So, when formulating Unsun, Breaux made sure that the products were both clean and invisible on brown skin. "There are a lot of tinted sunscreens on the market, but they're not tinted for me, or they're filled with garbage," Breaux says. "I want a quality product that’s good for me [and] the environment." Unsun's Tinted Mineral Sunscreen (which comes in two shades) is a sunscreen, primer, and color corrector all in one, so you can wear it alone or under your makeup.
She’Neil Johnson & Nicolette Graves of Base Butter
She’Neil Johnson turned a full-time layoff into a 24/7 skin-care payoff. She and her co-founder Nicolette Graves created Base Butter to give Black consumers an elevated and curated skin-care experience. "I felt like a lot of Black-owned skin-care products were amazing, but they didn’t have the same experience as Glossier. I wanted my community to have that."
Since launching in 2015, Base Butter has gotten some push back for being so focused on the Black consumer, but Johnson says that's OK. "Over the years we've received feedback about being inclusive for all women. While I understand why that was being said, it just didn’t feel right," she says. "After a while, we just decided to take that stand and live in our truth." And the numbers prove that it was the right choice: 98% of the Base Butter customers are Black. The two products in the Base Butter lineup, the Body Love Cream and the Radiate Face Jelly, are meant to hydrate brown skin with ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, and mango butter.
Trinity Mouzon Wofford of Golde
Trinity Mouzon Wofford thought she was going to medical school. But after realizing how the health-care industry doesn't always give proper care to people of color, she decided to switch gears. "Being a Black woman and being in a relationship with a non-Black person of color, we didn’t see ourselves represented in the [wellness] space at the time," she says. "The ideal vision of wellness tends to be overwhelmingly thin, wealthy, and white." So, Wofford set out to create a holistic beauty and wellness brand that was accessible to all.
She started Golde with a turmeric tonic. Wofford specifically chose turmeric because it has been praised for its anti-inflammatory properties, and she'd seen its effectiveness firsthand as it helped ease the symptoms of her mother's rheumatoid arthritis. Now, Golde has also added skin care to its lineup, with two superfood masks that are 100% edible. Her customers rave about the ability of the all-natural powders to clear cystic breakouts and balance oily skin, and two years after Golde was born, Wofford became the youngest Black woman to launch a brand at Sephora.
Ashley Johnson of Jade & Fox Co.
Ashley Johnson started wearing her hair natural 10 years ago, and the transition set her on an unexpected path to entrepreneurship. She was frustrated with the lack of natural ingredients available in hair products, and the brands that were natural were flat out boring. "Just because it's natural doesn't mean it has to smell like lemongrass," she says. So, she started mixing up DIY recipes with ingredients from Whole Foods.
Eventually Ashley's interests pivoted to skin, giving life to Jade & Fox Co., a handmade skin-care brand for people looking to live a more natural lifestyle. "[Functionality] was so important because a lot of my customers were saying how they wanted to start their skin-care journey but didn’t have the time to dedicate towards it," says Johnson.
Jade & Fox Co. products are made with simple ingredients in order to avoid irritation of sensitive skin types. "Often people come in complaining of skin ailments or breakouts from other products, and I get to show them exactly how my product line benefits them and helps their skin," she says. "I also have a wide variety of products that directly target hyperpigmentation for Black women, which is a hot spot for us." The products' popularity among the Black community in Atlanta catapulted her brand out of her apartment and into a brick-and-mortar store only a year after her launch. "Black women sang the praises of Jade & Fox Co. It was such a humbling experience," she says.
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