The year 2020 stirred the pot in every way, and we'll all be whirling in the vortex of cultural change well into 2021 and beyond. Political scandal has laid bare centuries of deeply embedded racism throughout America, and the devastation of COVID-19 has sent the world economy reeling.
Among the effects include the assertion, loud and proud, that Black Lives Matter. In economic terms, the continuing impact of the virus has shuttered many small businesses, including indie hair salons, neighborhood barbershops and nail salons across the country, many owned by people of color.
VEGAMOUR is a brand dedicated to diversity in hiring. We remain hopeful that social justice will prevail in our great nation, so in that spirit we're happy to shout-out some Black-owned beauty brands that we love, particularly small brands that are all about black beauty and mostly owned by women.
Melinda and Delfondo Herron, founders of 103 Collection of vegan skin, hair and beard care, met at age 19. They named the company for 103rd Street, where they both lived but never met, founding their Black beauty brand in 2015. Based in Indiana, CEO Melinda Chenault Herron gives you all the tea about "straight naturals" hair growth, and men with curly facial hair will appreciate beard products that prevent painful, unsightly ingrowns and the permanent hyperpigmentation and darkened razor-bumps that result.
Cashmere Nicole launched Beauty Bakerie in 2011 as a way to raise awareness for breast cancer. After discovering she had breast cancer and undergoing a double mastectomy, Nicole continued to work on Beauty Bakerie. Almost a decade after its launch, Beauty Bakerie has been featured in Nylon, Essence, Teen VOGUE, Allure, Forbes and was even recognized by Beyonce. Beauty Bakerie has everything from eyeshadows to lip liners and can be found at your local Target.
Founded by cosmetologist, celebrity stylist and mother of three, Embellish Beauty CEO and founder Marcia Williams was inspired by her grandmother, a successful hairdresser in Philadelphia. Her color cosmetics beauty brand is vegan, cruelty-free and contains no gluten or parabens. Of her lip products she said, "Changing your lip color is like putting on war paint. From the moment women touched up their lipsticks to march for the right to vote to the bold female entrepreneurs conquering the beauty industry today, a bold lip has never failed to impress."
Audrey Vassell started her beauty career as a cosmetology student in the early nineties, and in the process learned about the parabens and toxins in mass-market cosmetics. This discovery took a more personal turn as she recovered from a hysterectomy, frustrated at the lack of clean, safe, effective skin care products. She created Glam Essentials to target the concerns of women with mature skin — "created for that woman who’s better, bolder and badder than she used to be." All of the products are clean, safe, cruelty-free and loaded with antioxidants and superfoods with high efficacy. They are also phthalate, paraben, binder and additive free.
Desiree Verdejo founded Hyper Skin after suffering from acne scars and hyperpigmentation during her first pregnancy. Hyper Skin complexion products contain turmeric, bearberry and other natural ingredients to help brighten skin, smooth texture and safely fade melasma or "the mask of pregnancy" (and dark spots in general).
Lauren Napier Beauty
Renowned makeup artist Lauren Napier first founded LNB due to a lack of clean makeup remover. LNB has been featured in VOGUE, Refinery29, PopSugar and Bazaar. You can even buy a limited edition "I Survived 2020" scarf.
Founders KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson co-miserated over a glass of pinot that nude lipsticks made for brown skin were missing from the marketplace. That conversation sparked Mented Cosmetics, which now includes eyeshadow palettes (warm neutrals, no baby-blue!) and foundation shades guided by a 60-second quiz. Their motto: "Makeup for All!"
OUI the People
After doing a deep dive into her brand, founder Karen Young has revamped and reinvented OUI the People, a brand created with redefining beauty by creating items for preventing painful ingrowns and "razor bumps" (common with super curly hairs) and other shaving needs.
The name means "honey-sweetness" in the Yoruba language of West Africa, and indeed honey is an ingredient found in many of the brand's products for black skin and natural hair. Oyin Handmade eschews silicones, sulfates, parabens, petroleum and animal testing. It offers products including "The Juices" which are herbal leave-ins for hair, "Funk Butter" natural deodorant and "Noashatall" cocoa butter lotion.
It's all about the BRWNGRLMGC with this high-quality vegan nail polish brand created by Rachel James, BRWNGRLMGC being the indie brand's best-selling collection of nude polishes intended to flatter medium to dark skin. Another editors' fave from Pear Nova: Michelle Our Mama, a luscious latte shade.
Learn: DIY Vegan Hair Masks to Try
People of Color Beauty
Founder Jacqueline Carrington founded People of Color Beauty she noticed a lack of nail polish colors suited to her deeply pigmented skin tone. Her passion for nail polish sparked after her daughter, Monroe, came home from grandma’s house with her nails painted. People of Color Beauty nail polishes offers a variety of colors that are non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty free.
"Soul food for the skin" is the motto of this woman-owned, black-owned skin care brand that celebrates the ancestral memory of the African diaspora. Founder Niambi Cacchioli is a world-traveller and historian who creates conscious products serving the ultimate purpose of transmitting culture, generation to generation. Pholk Beauty products treat conditions commonly experienced by skin of color, including dark spots and ingrown hairs.
Katonya Breaux founded Unsun Cosmetics after being frustrated with the lack of options in clean suncare for black women. Unsun provides no-residue mineral sunscreen options that are clean and free of potentially harmful ingredients like parabens, phthalates and oxybenzone.
Founded by esthetician and makeup artist Shalea Walker, Walker's Apothecary includes a botanicals-based skin care line including "Green Dream Sativa Face Cream", "The Breakdown Enzyme Oil Cleanser" and "Rose Geranium Toner." Although the founder claims no relation, students of African American history will resonate with the memory of Madam C.J. Walker, a black entrepreneur and activist who made her fortune developing and marketing her own line of cosmetics and hair care products for black women at the turn of the 20th century. The Guinness Book of World Records lists her as the first female self-made millionaire in American history.
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