It’s great to see publications across the country promoting Black-owned beauty brands as ESSENCE has been doing for the past 50 years. While it’s unfortunate that their tenacity came only after the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, we’re hoping that touting Black beauty businesses as the best will not be a trend, like promoting Black beauty on Black people has been.
So we want to introduce the people behind several Black-owned beauty brands, because that’s truly what’s important here. From kitchen chemists to beauty industry insiders, these men and women created their brands when no one else catered to our needs. They get up everyday and hustle hard for the community and beyond. Their businesses are fueled by love and run on passion (and, of course, kick-ass teams).
When the protests end and if the movement proves to have simply been a moment, these entrepreneurs will still be here. So while shopping Black-owned beauty might only be on trend today, we hope that seeing the actual people who founded these brands will make supporting Black businesses timeless.
Editor’s Note: There are several Black-owned beauty brands and we regret that we could not include them all, and their founders, in this list.ESSENCE will continue to promote Black-owned beauty brands and entrepreneurs creating quality products year-round.
Jamika Martin of Rosen Skincare
After a lifetime of acne with no effective products to deal with it, Jamika Martin founded ROSEN Skincare and never looked back. "We formulate fun stuff for your face to help the 85 percent of us who deal with acne see results, naturally," she says.
Nigerian-born Chichi Eburu absolutely disrupted the market when her Juvia's Place eyeshadow palettes and rich color pigment lipsticks debuted. Her roots are felt through the richness and vibrancy of every collection the brand drops.
Joelle Lynn strives to make your "girl" happy, and we're here for it. Her feminine care brand carries everything from gentle cleansers to bump serum and vagina facial masks. And to think it all started in her kitchen.
Certified Aromatherapist Aba Gyepi-Garbrah is a lover of plant medicine who parlayed that affection into a brand filled with lush, hand-crafted botanical skincare. She's also an expert in olfactory art, and it shows through her healing and therapeutic products.
Wuzzam Supa isn't just a beauty brand owner who made $1 million in 90 minutes. She's the reason why her brand, The Crayon Case, is the immense success it is. While her fun array of products are superior and need no selling, her open-book personality and vibrant spirit make you want to be a part of the Crayon Cutie community.
Business and life partners, Talima and Allison are devoted to making products that are good for the body and the environment. A personal passion fueled by life circumstances, the products started as a side project and quickly became a full-time investment that the world is beyond lucky to have.
“As a young girl, I spent a lot of time in Africa with my family of medicine men, farmers and educators," says Nyakio Kamoche Grieco, whose namesake brand is making waves in beauty. "My favorite memory is of my grandmother teaching my mother and me to crush coffee beans and rub them on our skin using a piece of sugarcane to remove dry skin. I discovered that memories like these are shared by women around the world.”
Frederick Benjamin is here to disrupt the skincare industry standard for men of color and founder Michael James is leading their charge. Using natural oils and clinical ingredients, the brand is creating effective skincare regimens that yield long lasting results.
Dermatology PA Blair Armstrong created Gilded after "noting the inordinate amount of time, and singular focus people have with face care often to the detriment of body care." She combined a team of clinicians to create a beautiful and powerful yet simple luxe skincare range that focuses on improving skin texture and appearance.
An ESSENCE BeautyBox success, Maision 276 is the brainchild of New Orleans native Angel Cornelius. Her signature body butter was the start of the brand, and now she offers products for hair with lush ingredients.
In 2016, Shontay Lundy launched Black Girl Sunscreen, equipped with the knowledge that our melanin needs to be protected from the sun just like everyone else's. Her formulations keep skin from looking ashy and filmy, letting our beautiful color glow.
Keamone F and Alisha Ricki created their brand kanti to help Black girls find their glow from within. They wanted to address the concerns of people with melanin-rich skin, such as hyperpigmentation, dark spots, eczema, dehydration, excessive oil, acne, uneven texture and more. Mission accomplished!
Keba Guilan is not only a skin and fragrance savior with her brand Butter by Keba, she is herself, a word. "Our goal and mission is to bring people together through fragrance,” she says. The Harlem-based innovator is doing exactly that with her unique and creative blends.
Melissa Butler was told on national television that her idea was garbage when she took her brand, The Lip Bar, to Shark Tank. Now the savvy businesswoman is laughing all the way to the bank with her custom cosmetics, which are sold in Target amongst other retailers.
It's all about self-care and self love for Jacq's co-founder and CEO Barbara Jacques. It's no wonder the brand was created out of love, and an immediate need for non-toxic products. "Your skin tells the story of who you are," she says on the brand's website. And we are unapologetically beautiful.
Calvin Quallis' men's grooming brand Scotch Porter is a gem amongst gems. When Quallis quit his "cushy" corporate job to follow his passion to make people feel their best, he took a huge leap of faith. Now, men everywhere are benefitting greatly from his decision.
When you see a Danessa Myricks glow you know it. The famed makeup artist turned makeup mogul launched her eponymous brand to allow all of us the chance to show our artistic expression. “My vision was to create a brand where there were limitless possibilities for women from all walks of life to create," she says. Beauty with no boundaries? We'll take it!
Started as an experiment to provide her family with natural body care products, Chloe and Chad developed into a full-on brand for Aisha Besson. Her line of organic and natural soaps, balms, lotions and body butters are made to order in small batches to keep the integrity of the formulas.
Bonded by negative experiences treating their own skin conditions, Topicals co-founders Olamide Olowe (right) and Claudia Teng are women of color shaking things up in medicated botanicals for all skin types. "Our whole goal is to make a skin condition treatment synonymous with the fun and luxury of self-care," says Olowe.
Matrescence is the process of becoming a mother. So Raquel Roxanne gave this name to her brand because it is rooted in caring for mothers. She says the mission is to "refine motherhood by making moms more empowered, confident and beautiful." Amen!
A self-proclaimed lipstick junkie, Aishetu (Aisha) Dozie was an investment banker with a "serious" job when she ventured into the world of beauty. Equipped with a mission to empower women to look, feel, and do good while using cruelty-free products, she's also fueling her passion to give back through her brand.
A lifelong naturalista, Jamyla Bennu decided to be the solution when she had a challenge finding commercially available natural and organic products for her highly textured, natural hair. OYIN Handmade was born. Today, the brand carries natural deodorants, ash busters, and junk-free men's grooming products.
It's hard to find headshots of licensed esthetician Lesley Thornton, founder and owner of Klur, because she lets her prestige skincare products say it all. But to see her is to understand just how effective her formulas truly are.
A minimalist, a makeup artist and a skincare enthusiast, Lauren Napier finds beauty in taking it off. Her namesake brand specializes in cleansing wipes for all skin types. "In a culture obsessed with perfection, I see beauty in informal moments," Napier says.
An advocate for women of color and protecting that color, Katonya Breaux created Unsun to respond to the lack of clean sunscreen options for us. Her products are kind to both consumers and the environment.
Andres Roban, President and CEO of Ounce of Nature, is a walking advertisement for his products. The forty-something will make you do a double take. Formulated in a lab downstairs from the brand's full-service spa in Brooklyn, the serums, cleansers, masks and more are a melanin dream.
When Kristen Elise Brown first started her brand she was all about putting glitter everywhere. But after working with women from all walks of life, she had a renewed purpose. "I wanted to speak positivity and grandeur into everyone's life," she says. And a new Gold Label Cosmetics was born.
Before starting Good Beauté, Kimberly Hairston-Hicks (center) held leadership roles in the beauty industry. She brought her insider knowledge to the brand and the quality of its products. She lives by the motto: It is beautiful to be good. "I believe that Black women deserve meaningful research and product development in the beauty industry," she says.
Desiree Verdejo has been on the lips of every beauty editor since launching her brand Hyper last fall. A former lawyer turned beauty boutique owner and entrepreneur, she understands that women of color often have their needs unmet when it comes to their unique skincare concerns.
Kitiya King understood the importance of 10-free nail lacquer long before her competitors got on board. Her clean, luxury, vegan brand Mischo Beauty offers high-performance hues without the toxic junk we all want to avoid.
Love & Hip Hop star Yandy Smith-Harris has always proven herself to be a mover, shaker, and straight-up money maker. She puts just as much hustle into her skincare brand Yelle as she does all her other business ventures. She believes great skin care should be luxe and affordable.
Alicia Scott started her career in the fashion world. It didn't take long for her to notice the lack of shade ranges available at runway shows and photoshoots. Frustrated that there weren't better options for us, she decided to create them herself and launched Range Beauty.
Quon Wilson will teach you how to put your false lashes on properly to avoid damage to your natural hair. She can also teach you how to lift your head and command the room, which is at the core of her brand Quon's Eyes. She's an advocate for women shattering ceilings, period!
Another brand with the goal of making health and beauty simple for people of color, Bevel has been a go-to for all things shaving for Black men. While there's been much speculation about whether Bevel is still a Black-owned brand, founder, CEO, father, brother, husband and leader Tristan Walker is still at the helm of the brand. We Stan.
After dealing with her own skin conditions and flare ups due to stress, Ebony Clay was on the hunt for an effective solution. Soon after, she launched Kayaire, a skincare line that uses the benefits of CBD to treat ailments for people of all skin tones.
Marla Rene Skincare founder Marla Rene is a mother, a candle lover, and a DIYer. When it comes to beauty, her approach is to help women feel good as their authentic selves. "Hopefully, our line will help with any skincare insecurities that hinders us from feeling fierce, whether it's acne scarring, uneven skin tone or fine lines and wrinkles," she says.
Sharon Cuter is a pistol who is not to be reigned in. A former executive for LVMH beauty, she founded UOMA with the intent of disrupting a market that lacked diversity. Everyone is part of her tribe as she rewrites the rules of inclusivity.
For Ndidi Obidoa and Chinelo Chidozie, founders of Bolden, creating global conversations around inclusive beauty "where brown girls and women everywhere feel empowered to celebrate the natural beauty of the skin they’re in," is true entrepreneurship. Their brand is part of those conversations as much as their voices are.
When your favorite dermatologist launches a line of products made up of her coveted skin saving concoctions, your rejoice. That's what Dr. Rose Ingleton's clients did when the busy doc finally packaged her signature Jamaican SuperFruit blend. The products are potent and effective; you can't expect anything less from Ingleton MD.
Amanda E. Johnson and KJ Miller of Mented Cosmetics
Finding nude lipsticks that flatter Black women shouldn't be difficult. But Mented founders Amanda E. Johnson and KJ Miller understood just how hard it truly was until they launched their brand, made for women for color. "We believe every woman should be able to find herself in the world of beauty, no matter her skin tone," they say on their brand's website.
"Making women feel beautiful and confident is my passion," says Brown Butter Beauty founder Christine Grant. "When women feel good about themselves they can do anything." Her products range from 90-100 percent naturally derived ingredients and sustainability is at the forefront of what she does.
The lash guru to your favorite celebrities, your mama, your aunties, and your best friend, Camara AUnique offers an experience when she brings her treasured hands to your project. Her brand, Camara AUnique Beauty, gives the same experience at home with lush luxury lashes inspired by great women in the community.
Clean, effective and simple is how Dr. Anne and her team at AbsoluteJoi describes the brand. Originally inspired to create products for her teenage daughters to help them take better care of their skin, she was sitting on a melanin girl's dream regimen. Now, her carefully crafted concoctions are available for all of us.
Most of the photos you find of Symantha Wechie-Onyechi, creator of Triple O Polish, feature her with dozens of packages. She doesn't get a day off from sending out orders as her nail lacquer brand continues to rise in popularity. "[In 2016] I started mixing and pouring, and fell in love with creating unique colors that radiate on every skin tone," she says.
Malaika Jones Kebede, Nia Jones and Tai Beauchamp of Brown Girl Jane
"Community and sisterhood are each at the center of everything we do and why we do it." That's how the check-in on the Brown Girl Jane website begins. It's right under the tab: You Good Sis? Founders Malaika Jones Kebede, Nia Jones and Tai Beachamp are influential Black women who are using their reach to uplift Black women.
Rachel James, founder of Pear Nova, found herself surrounded by artists, musicians, and a crew of brilliant Chicago scene stars who looked more like potential collaborators than employers when she made the decision to work for herself. She created the luxury nail lacquer brand soon after and i'ts now a go-to for women across the country.
Brooklyn-born Lorraine R. Dowdy infuses her Caribbean roots into her makeup brand Coloured Raine. The mission behind the brand "has always been to spread awareness of diversity through beauty and to embrace all aspects of color through unity." And she continues to maintain an all Black team.
Dr. Chaneve Jeanniton of epi.logic believes that beauty is not just about looking good, but about feeling your best. She's a board certified oculofacial plastic surgeon trained in reconstructive surgery. She says of her brand, "My goal is to provide skin logic for all by simplifying the ingredients and taking a benefits-based approach."
Paula Hayes is a product chemist inspired by the challenge of finding quality cosmetics that complement her complexion. For her brand Hue Noir, she uses science to design textures and shades guaranteed to work for all women of color.
Adiya Dixon Wiggins created Yubi the way many of the best products come to market—out of necessity. A busy mom and working lawyer, she found out just how helpful a finger brush could be in saving time and energy in a makeup routine.
Kim Roxie loved helping women discover their beauty since she was young. But the ingredients were often questionable. Her answer? Make her own. She opened LAMIK as a brick and mortar store in Houston, Texas with organic, vegan beauty products and never looked back.
Founder and board-certified Pediatrician, Dr. Lorraine Beraho created the first GlowRx skincare line specifically designed for teenagers and millennials. The goal: less products, more efficacy. "We believe that daily use of key products with quality ingredients can help you achieve a glowing complexion year-round," says the good doc.
Gizelle Bryant is known for her (mis)adventures with her fellow cast mates of the Real Housewives of Potomac. But don't be fooled, she's really a beauty mogul in the making. Her brand EveryHue Beauty offers products for, well, every hue.
"Nolaskinsentials was created when I noticed my own skin issues not being catered to," says Nolaskinsentials founder Jane Ormon. "I tapped into my Black Girl Magic and said, Fine! I’ll do it myself!” She created an affordable, vegan-friendly cruelty-free skincare line inspired by millennials and Mother Nature.
"I've always had big hair, a big heart, and big ideas," says 25th & June founder Nexus Cook. "So when I started 25th & June Nail Elixir on my bedroom floor, I did it with nothing but a passion for all things pretty, my pure obsession with nail polish, and a desire to create something bigger than myself."
Sparkle Lockett beat the faces of countless celebrities, including the late legend Prince, before she decided to launch Makeup by Sparkle. While she believes that beautiful cared for skin is the real foundation for any makeup, she still makes fantastic makeup.
Founder Danielle ‘Danz’ Edmond was born and raised in Jamaica by her mom and grandmother. She's a model, and athlete, and an entrepreneur. While modeling in South Africa she became intrigued by the artistry surrounding beauty and fashion, and Stay Golden Cosmetics was born.
What if someone made a nail polish brand that was made to complement the various shades of brown skin? It's what People of Color founder Jacqueline Carrington was asking when she embarked on creating her nail polish brand. A wife and mother, she has been an entrepreneur since childhood and continues to inspire the community.
Just after her 30th birthday Dana Jackson was diagnosed with a severe form of Lupus, and it changed her entire existence. After a humbling relearning of herself she met a new Dana, and Beneath Your Mask was born. The first product, Heal: Whipped Skin Soufflé, was created as an expression of self-acceptance and the brand has been on a roll since.
Tosca Hillman of GlōGirl Cosmetics is hard to find on social media. It's because she's busy empowering women through diverse and inclusive beauty on a global scale. "This is the new age of beauty where the possibilities are limitless," says Hillman.
Ron Robinson, cosmetic chemist and founder of BeautyStat Cosmetics, has been in the industry for 20 years on the product development side. He says, "I started BeautyStat with the goal of helping consumers cut through the clutter and understand what types of beauty products are working and what's not." Eventually, he came up with his own effective beauty tech and a brand was born.
Makeda Robinson started making eyelash stripes with one goal—create lash extensions that adapt to the natural lash hair of Black women. With a modest savings and guidance from an incubator she launched Makeda K beauty with immense success.
"Hanahana began from a simple want to truly feel confident in my own skin," says founder Abena Boamah-Acheampong. With shea butter as a go-to in her household, she turned to it when she was moved to start her own all natural skincare and wellness brand. Now it, and her products, are go-tos for women all over.
Sholayide Otugalu is not here for the basic. With the icon Josephine Baker as her inspiration she started her cosmetics brand Joséphine Cosmetics for the untamed, opulent and radical. Natural beauty would never be the same, or basic, ever again.
"Once I decided to make this product I only wanted the best ingredients, the most gorgeous colors but most importantly I wanted to make sure the product represented all of us!" says Joelle Phillips of OMGLO Cosmetics. "All of the people that inspire me to be fearless, to be strong, to have fun, and to always create. Each shade does just that."
Merced S. Boyce, founder of BLAC minerals longed for inclusive, toxic free makeup products. So she created them. "The mission behind BLAC has always been to showcase the diversity of women of color," she says. "We come in a myriad of shades and that needs to be reflected."
Beauty Bakerie founder and CEO Cashmere Nicole (left) has been an entrepreneur since she was a child. By the time she was a teenager, she was more advanced in how to grow a business, she also had her daughter Jasmyn (right) around the same time. Both have been a big part of her journey of having her cake and eating it too.
Brianna Walton created Noire Beauté in 2018 when she found herself cruising the skincare aisles at department stores in search of natural products that would suit her needs. Then she thought, maybe I could make my own. So she did. "Who says natural skin care has to be boring, why can’t it be fun, and healthy all at the same time," says Walton.
A lover of all things beauty and makeup, Karen Stallings founded Colour U Cosmetics to create a line of smart cosmetics that can easily take you from day to night. She strives to create makeup for the modern woman: sophisticated and with no bounds.
Cheryl Mayberry McKissack and Desiree Rogers of Blk Opl
When Black Opal announced that the 25-year-old global beauty brand had been acquired by Desiree Rogers and Cheryl Mayberry McKissack last fall, Black people rejoiced. “As we continue to grow the company and bring high quality products to the market, we also plan to focus on creating a positive impact in our communities," says Mayberry McKissack.
Opaque cremes, vivid brights, cool nudes and toxic free nail lacquer formulations were far and few for friends Ginger Johnson and Liz Pickett. So they created Ginger & Liz, a 5-free nail polish brand with something for everyone. The duo expanded product offerings with Hand Toning Cremes and natural Pout Polish Lip Scrubs.
LaVonndra "Elle" Johnson became a skincare creator after her own battle with extremely oily skin led her to seek viable options for skincare. Chemical based products couldn't cut it. With a formal background in branding, she decided to put her skill set to use and launch her own natural brand. That's how Elle Johnson Co. bloomed.
If you don't know AJ Crimson's face you surely know the faces he's touched, including Brandy, Christina Milian, Keyshia Cole and Angela Bassett. As a makeup artist he saw the need for great products for Black women and his name sake line was created. “I felt like there was an absolute need to bring products to women of color that actually worked and didn’t oxidize or change,” he explains.