An interesting point of discussion came up when I was doing research for this story. My BIPOC friend remarked that, “I question the entire ‘beauty industry’. I understand lotions to moisturize; I understand shampoo to clean your hair, etc – but when you get into ‘beauty products’ what does it say that we in society are still being judged on our outwards appearance – so much that we spends thousands of dollars just to look like this model or that celebrity.” While that could be true in certain contexts, in regards to BIPOC Beauty, I respectfully disagree with this statement. The reason why the #BlackLivesMatter movement was so powerful and is affecting every facet of society is because it has to do the narrative and who controls it. As a POC, for so long, this industry, like many others – was dominated by white individuals. These people dictated what the so-called “norms’’ and “standards” should be. Growing up, people like myself who didn’t fit into these artificial constructs were made to feel lesser than.
While it may appear that these stories are “trending” at the moment and constantly popping up on our collective newsfeeds – the overall objective and long term goal is to “normalize” these tales – rather than being just a blip on the map that alleviates a (white) person’s alleged guilt.
Having worked in both the beauty and fashion industries, I must admit that they can be powerfully wretched and wicked forces; these are multi-billion dollar industries which can prey upon impressionable people. However, in the same vein, it can be an EMPOWERING force for good, especially now that we have some semblance of constructing our own narratives – and access to a larger audience who is willing to listen. My hope is that these stories can amplify the voices of those who may not have as “loud” or as “big” of a spotlight on the world’s stage.
Ultimately, I still champion a more attainable philosophy of what beauty/fashion can be: that it is just ONE of the many multifaceted elements which can enrich our uniqueness BUT does not mean it defines who we are. These stories matter – especially the individuals who are behind these brands.
Here are a few incredible BIPOC beauty brands you can support now and forever:
Based out of Texas, this skincare and lifestyle company was founded by breast cancer survivor and certified aromatherapist, Valencia McClure. To mitigate the emotional and physical side effects from surgery and radiation, she had a strong desire to lead a toxin free life: this is when she discovered the countless benefits of utilizing essential oils and aromatherapy. In formulating her own unique blends for her colleagues and family- which resulted in countless requests for more products, it led her to founding her company in 2019.
The company creates products in artisan batches and uses only 100% all-natural ingredients (all of which are chemical, paraben and cruelty-free). Recommended items: Pomegranate Anti-Aging Facial Oil; Natural Moisturizing Spray Hand Sanitizer; Rosemary Body Scrub; and Alive Clean Botanical Perfume.
Founder and CEO of Bossy Cosmetics Aishetu Fatima Dozie wanted to take the term ‘bossy’ – which is oftentimes used in a derogatory sense – and spin it. As told to BET, she explains that, “to me, ‘bossy’ means that I’m with it; I’m a natural leader, I speak my mind, I’m forthright, honest… we’re in this together, and I’m about bringing my community forward.”
As a Harvard Business grad and Stanford Fellow, the entrepreneur made the transition from banking to beauty. She explains that working on Wall Street (investment banking) is where she obtained many transferable skills she now uses in her current industry. Ultimately, the shift stemmed from an introspection – Wall Street left her feeling burnt out – yet that hunger, curiosity and drive remained. She then defined what it meant for her to be a woman in business and that “what it means to have economic power beyond helping men have that power.” So she turned to makeup: “it’s my war paint – I wanted it to be bold but also have practical aspects to it such as longevity and comfort in wear,” so her clients could be “badasses all day.” It was also important for her line to be representative. “There are so many different expressions of ‘nude’, as it’s based on one’s ethnicity and skin color.”
As a result, Bossy Beauty offers thoughtful and stunning shades (are vegan and cruelty-free) of Liquid Lipstick, Lip Gloss, Lip Liner, Lip Eye Cheek Glitter, and specialty Power Woman Essential Collection that spotlight five attributes that “power women bosses in their personal and professional journeys.”
She explains that “our mission at Beauty Beet Box is to introduce Women of Color to the products that will enhance their beauty and skincare routine. Beauty Beet Box brings subscribers the products they’ve heard raves about and can’t wait to try. But – we’ll also introduce subscribers to products they’ve likely never heard of or walked right on past thinking they’d never work for them.” The company helps with all the groundwork for subscribers with an aim to provide them with the highest quality, clean plant-based, and non-toxic products.
She also adds that as a BIPOC business, a continued commitment to support independent businesses like hers is more important than ever. “When media coverage dies down and the pandemic is over, diversity and inclusiveness is needed because they build economic vitality, uplift communities, and promotes productivity and resilience. For a green economy, holistic sustainability is impossible without the inclusion of all.”
Asutra is an all-natural self care brand whose partial owner is Venus Williams. She explains that “one of the reasons I became Chief Brand Officer at Asutra was because they want everyone to prioritize their wellbeing and practice active self care.”
Along with amplifying BIPOC voices and sharing their stories of how they use Asutra products in their own lives, the company team itself is made up of 77% people of color. And for Williams, this has always been important – especially now more than ever: “with the recent social movement, more and more people have begun to recognize and discover BIPOC brands and see the value in companies that cater to all people, regardless of skin color or personal background.”
Williams explains that she’s incredibly honored to work with Asutra, a brand that’s been ahead of the curve when it comes to inclusivity and diversity. “It emphasizes that everyone has the right to take care of their body, mind and soul. It’s exciting to see more brands adopting the same philosophy during the current (#BlackLivesMatter) movement and it’s important that it is a mindset that continues to spread across industries.”
Indigenous owned and operated, this socially-conscious beauty line was founded by Jennifer Harper in 2016 who strives to highlight the importance of representation, especially in connecting with her Indigenous roots and helping respective youth see themselves reflected within a beauty line.
Additionally, in honoring her Anishinaabe roots, she recently launched a line of less-waste lipsticks called Sustain. Not only are they created with biodegradable packaging (with a goal to eliminate single-use plastic by 2023) and sustainably sourced ingredients (100% vegan and paraben free) – but each shade is named after the earth or land in one of the over 7000 Indigenous languages (in this set, Aki is a blue-red hue; Askîhk is a plum-rose; and Kéyah is a pinky-nude). “For us, language is the foundation of a culture and for Indigenous people, words hold knowledge. Our stories, songs, and dances shared through the lips connect us to our history,” explains Harper.
Another fan favorite is her capsule Warrior Women collection whose range of stunning hues and are named after influential Indigenous women who have helped their respective communities and bridge cultural divides.
Tress Organix was founded by Pam Trice, a self-described beauty enthusiast and “momtrepreneur”. Her daughter Kassidy inspired the creation of this line – who unfortunately, suffered from dramatic hair loss due to harmful chemical treatments and heat damage. As a result, Pam sought out an organic solution to repair her daughter’s hair. Eventually, in her own research and testing trials, she crafted a line of high-intensive and hydrating hair creams, conditioners and moisturizers. Trice explains that “by focusing on nourishing the scalp and the consistent moisturization of the follicles, Tress Organix products are designed to strengthen all hair textures with proper treatment (e.g. via leave-in masques) and daily maintenance.” Her products are made with all-natural and organic ingredients that include coconut, avocado and olive oils, aloe leaf juice, jojoba oil, and hibiscus extract – to name a few. Hair is restored and left feeling soft and nourished – preventing breakage, and improving its elasticity and strength.
The range is also high-quality and affordable; popular products include their Moisturizing Bliss Deep Conditioner; Smoothing Silk Cream with Honey and Hibiscus; Intensifying Oil Treatment with Jojoba; Hydrating Leave-In Conditioner with Rose Oil; and Tress Moisturising Gel Cap.
Brown and Coconut was founded by two sisters, Letisha and Zeena Brown, based out of Boston, MA. The duo was frustrated with the lack of effective products that could not combat nor alleviate symptoms of their severe acne. It was then that they were struck with an epiphany and sought to nourish their skin from the inside-out. In addition to overhauling their nutrition and diets, they eliminated harmful skin care products that only exacerbated their condition. Brown and Coconut was then born and began as a lifestyle blog in 2013 to chronicle their journey to living a more conscious and holistic life. Considering the lack of effective products on the market, they were motivated to develop their own line of skin care products. “After researching and identifying the ingredients we found effective in healing our skin, we came up with formulas that matched our needs: plant-based powerhouse products that did exactly what they said. As a result of our success with our own skin, we decided to start selling our products.”
Moreover, formulations are incredibly nourishing: “our entire skin care line is gentle yet effective, plan-based, vegan, fresh/small-batch, and minimal (we carefully select our ingredients and use as few as possible).” While Zeena and Letisha have acne-prone skin, their line is suitable for all skin types.
Recommended products include their Blemish Repair Set (restores harmony to unbalanced skin and include a cleanser, kale mask and mini ceramic bowl), Rejuvenating Set (exfoliates, brightens and hydrates skin; includes a creamy cleanser, face polish and hydrating face oil), and Nourishing Body Oil (whose enriching formulation includes shea nut oil, pomegranate seed oil and squalane).
At the forefront of the cannabis movement is Dr. Manisha Singal, Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of Aethera Beauty. She created a non-toxic skincare brand that features rich tropical concentrates and soothing Cannabis Sativa and CBD (with dosages starting at 200mg) for calm, glowing skin. In this self care skincare range, her beauty products utilize antioxidant-rich hemp seed oil to nourish the skin. Additionally she harnesses the power of Caribbean botanicals such as hibiscus, acerola cherry, and guava fruit extracts which helps the skin become smoother and more luminous. Recommended products include her Sunrise Botanical Reboot Serum with CBD, the Everyday Botanical Brightening Concentrate with CBD, and Sunset Botanical Rejuvenating Serum with CBD – all of which include between 200-500mg of CBD along with nut seed/ plant-based oils and a blend of botanical extracts which help de-stress and revitalize the skin.
Additionally, Dr. Singal’s CBD/THC knowledge extends beyond beauty products. As an industry leader, she is pioneering the country’s first hospital-based pain management centers using CBD/THC. Additionally, she is certified to prescribe medical cannabis in Washington, D.C., and is a member of Americans for Safe Access, Women’s Grow, and the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS).
Co-Founder and CEO Trinity Mouzon Wofford was always surrounded by the natural beauty of the Hudson River Valley where she grew up. As she explains, “I had a family who prioritized natural, well-sourced ingredients and a whole body approach to wellness.” It was this positive exposure that motivated her to pursue a career as a holistic physician.
However, while a pre-med student at New York University, she explains her crisis of conscience: “I became increasingly conflicted by the lack of accessibility to natural health care.” It was then she shifted her path and went into a marking/technology career. Eventually with her skill-sets and talents, she found her calling and merged her passion for storytelling and wellness together. In 2017, she launched Golde with her partner, Issey Kobori with the primary objective: “to make wellness fun and approachable for customers.”
In making self care more accessible and lighthearted with relatable stories and practical advice, she remarks that even the all-natural face masks are edible: “they’re completely natural with no fillers.” Popular products also include Clean Greens Face Mask, an anti-pollution mask made with chlorella, spirulina, marshmallow root extract, and mango juice. The formula gently detoxifies while promoting skin renewal and repair. Meanwhile, the Papaya Bright Face Mask is packed with superfruits such as lucuma, papaya, and sea buckthorn berry – whose gel formula aids in exfoliation to reveal supple and radiant skin. Lastly, if you seek an all-encompassing kit to nourish yourself from the inside-out, Golde also offers their Complete Beauty +Wellness Kit which includes their top superfood essentials: three turmeric tonics and their two superfood face masks.