Along with educating yourself, attending protests, making frequent donations (click to donate to the Official George Floyd Memorial Fund, The National Bail Fund Network, and The Emergency Release Fund), and encouraging those around you to have conversations about the #BlackLivesMatter movement, an actionable way you can confront systemic inequality is by redirecting your funds to black-owned businesses. Below, I’ve rounded up a list of truly excellent beauty gems, tried and loved by myself, as well as many of my beauty-obsessed friends, editors, and writers. All of them are produced by black, independently owned skin-care, makeup, and hair-care brands — from an intensely vibrant, high-pigment eyeshadow palette to a tumeric-rich vitamin C serum.
Rosen Skincare was founded by Jamika Martin while she was still a student at UCLA — she wanted to create a line of millennial- and Gen-Z-friendly natural products that target common student skin concerns (from acne to acne scarring to blackheads). Her Fade Routine kit comes with an antioxidant-rich cleanser, toner, and moisturizer (which uses kojic acid, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid to illuminate and nourish the skin), a purifying charcoal mask, a brightening serum (which uses a potent 20% dose of vitamin C), and an enzyme scrub to buff away dead skin cells. All of these products work in tandem to brighten and smooth textural issues and dark marks.
Dorion Renaud created Buttah Skin after noticing a lack of straight-forward, gentle skin-care products suitable for “melanin-rich, acne-prone” skin types. This deeply nourishing moisturizer incorporates noncomedogenic shea butter (meaning it won’t break you out) that is rich in vitamins A, B, and E to protect, hydrate, and rejuvenate the skin. This is great for any sensitive and acne-prone skin types in need of extra moisture.
Hanahana Beauty’s founder, Abena Boamah, prioritizes ethically sourced, high-grade ingredients; their shea butter comes from the Katariga Womens’ Shea Cooperative in Ghana. This Shea Body Butter lotion uses a mixture of nourishing butters (shea, cocoa, and mango) and natural oils (like jojoba, grapeseed, and hemp oil) to soothe, hydrate, and replenish dry skin.
This Brightening Balm from luxury beauty line Epara Skincare was created by founder Ozohu Adoh in order to deliver illuminating, potent, and nourishing ingredients to your skin while you sleep. The rich, intensely moisturizing balm is formulated with plant extracts, butters, and oils to treat hyperpigmentation and dark marks in a non-aggressive, non-stripping way that’s suitable for even the most sensitive skin types.
After suffering from acne and pigmentation problems throughout her pregnancy and realizing there wasn’t enough affordable and effective solutions on the market, Desiree Verdejo created this vitamin C serum that has highly effective brightening and healing ingredients, including vitamin E, kojic acid, turmeric, and bearberry, all of which work to gently eradicate hyperpigmentation and help smooth out textural issues.
This face oil by Evelyne Nyairo’s company, Ellie Bianca (which, during the pandemic, has also been producing aloe-infused hand sanitizer), contains a blend of antioxidant-rich frankincense and myrrh, which soothe irritation and inflammation while protecting our skin’s natural moisture barrier for soft, glowing skin.
Vegan clean-beauty brand Beneath Your Mask, founded by Dana Jackson, has a truly wonderful, insanely nourishing, extremely calming all-purpose cream, whose short but mighty ingredient list includes shea butter, grape-seed oil, avocado oil, almond oil, lemongrass oil, and tea tree oil. If your hands are dry from from avid washing, this will revive them in short order.
Niye Aniekan-Attang created Ace Beaute’s line of highly pigmented, vibrant, and affordable eyeshadow palettes to suit customers with all skin tones. Their Flair palette includes 15 creamy, matte, and shimmery shades — including a poppy blood-orange called “Saffron,” a rich mustard yellow called “Cider,” and a metallic, powdery blue called “Bayberry.”
Makeup artist Danessa Myricks created a line of multifunctional, easy-to-use makeup products. Her cream highlighters can be used alone on the high points of your face (brow bone, cheekbone, bridge of the nose) or mixed into foundations to give your coverage a pearlescent, lit-from-within glow.
Shontay Lundy was frustrated with the unsophisticated, chalky formulas of so many sunscreens on the market. So she created Black Girl Sunscreen, a white-cast-free, sun-safety skin-care brand. Black Girl Sunscreen has an SPF of 30 and is cruelty free, vegan, and reef-safe.
These hydrating lip balms from Dorian Morris’s brand Undefined Beauty are rich in shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and full-spectrum CBD — all of which work together to moisturize and replenish chapped or dry lips. They also come in a variety of colors — including fuchsia, rose, and copper — for those looking for a perfect daily-wear tint.
Editor’s note: the Glow Balm is no longer available, but here’s a Glow Gelée firming serum from the same brand.
The Honey Pot Company, created by Bea Dixon, is a line of synthetic- and fragrance-free, gynecologist-approved, biodegradable feminine-care products. They sell feminine wipes, postpartum pads (which help soothe and calm post-baby soreness) as well as menstrual products. These reusable menstrual cups come in two different sizes and can be worn for up to 12 hours. They’re made with 100% medical-grade silicone and are latex-and phthalate-free.
Brooklyn-based fragrance company Love Notes, founded by Nya Kam, sells hand-poured soy wax candles that deliver high-impact fragrance in sleek, pretty packaging. Their No. 4 “Sweet Gardenia” scent is muddled with grapefruit — the result is clean and citrusy, perfect for the summer months.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.