Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Some of these beauty products were recommended to us by experts in our reporting, others were recommended by friends and colleagues, but the majority of them are part of our writers’ and editors’ regular grooming routines.
Ace Beaute was founded by Niye Aniekan-Attang in 2015 to sell cruelty-free faux-mink lashes; now it also offers brightly colored eye-shadow palettes and a wide range of nail and beauty tools. —Aisha Rickford
Aini Organix Aini Organix is an Africa-inspired natural skin-and-body-care company. They make shea- and coconut-oil products with botanical ingredients, including a wide range of serums with ingredients like jasmine and Moroccan rosewater. —A.R. Alaffia Alaffia focuses on fair-trade natural hair, face, and body care with products that center on a few key ingredients like shea butter, African black soap, and coconut oil, all of which are sourced from cooperatives in West Africa. You can buy its popular bubble baths, body lotions, and deodorants at Whole Foods or Amazon; profits support the Alaffia Foundation, an organization involved in empowerment initiatives in Africa. —A.R. Black Girl Sunscreen Shontay Lundy founded Black Girl Sunscreen, a moisturizing sunscreen for women of color in 2016, after growing frustrated with the unflattering white cast caused by most sunscreens. The line’s sunscreens — one for adults and one for kids — have nourishing ingredients like jojoba and avocado and range from SPF 30 to SPF 50. “I can confirm that it never leaves a white cast when I use it,” says Elisa Johnson, who recommended it to us, “and it blends seamlessly with makeup.” —A.R. Buttah Skincare Model, actor, and recording artist Dorion Renaud was inspired to create Buttah Skin after discovering the revitalizing effects that the simple combination of a gentle cleanser, vitamin-C serum, and shea butter had on his own skin. The vitamin-C serum is also a favorite of Elisa Johnson’s, who says it gives her “a smoother, more even complexion.” —A.R.
Ron Robinson worked as a cosmetic chemist for big beauty brands like Lancôme, Clinique, and Estée Lauder for decades before launching BeautyStat. After just a few weeks of daily use, its vitamin-C serum helped me fade some dark marks caused by early quarantine stress picking, and it also have an eye cream I’m itching to try. —Dominique Pariso
In 2011, Dana Jackson was diagnosed with lupus and completely changed her life. Because of certain symptoms of the disease, she had to take an all-natural approach to beauty and wellness. Her products have completely natural ingredients, and they can be found at Credo Beauty as well as on her own site. Her skin soufflé is her hero product, and it’s magical. —Chloe Anello
Brought to our attention by Byrdie writer (and Strategist contributor) Sydney Gore, BLK + GRN is a beauty and wellness marketplace full of all-natural products — all of which are made by Black artisans. We especially love its gift sets, whether for gifting or keeping for yourself, which feature a myriad of the retailer’s best products. —Casey Lewis
Nancy Twine, who grew up making homemade hair products with her grandmother, is the founder of Briogeo, a clean, natural hair-care line that caters to all textures. Rio Viera-Newton is a fan of its Don’t Despair Repair Mask because it has “the ability to moisturize my sad hair without creating any heaviness,” and finds it to be a good dupe for the Christophe Robin masks. —Jenna Milliner-Waddell
Self-taught makeup artist Danessa Myricks’s eponymous beauty company produces makeup that targets specific skin types and makeup goals — dividing products into those concerned with either complexion, color, or glow. The brand is also known for its highly pigmented color palettes. —A.R.
Environmental scientist Evelyn Nyairo founded Ellie Bianca, which makes vegan and cruelty-free skin-care products. The hero product is Rose Skin Oil, but the Breathe Bath Salt and Luxe Day/Night Serum are also standouts. The company also makes an exclusive line of spa-grade products. And perhaps best of all, Ellie Bianca supports the women who harvest the shea and other ingredients for its products, making them great for those with both sustainability and fair trade in mind. —A.R.
This skin-care line from Nigerian entrepreneur Ozohu Adoh includes a high-end face oil, night balm, and hydrating serum — all of which are made with Africa-sourced ingredients that are formulated to target “dryness and discoloration caused by the sun, free radicals, and air pollution.” —A.R.
Kayla Phillips, a touring hardcore/punk/metal musician, founded Foxie Cosmetics in 2015. And because Phillips lives with chronic pain, she started out making soothing bath bombs and salts but has expanded since to create hair, skin, body, and fragrance as well. Vegan since age 14, Phillips ensures that products are cruelty free and sustainably made. Most impressively, all of the products are handcrafted, packaged, and shipped by Phillips herself. —A.R.
Hanahana Beauty, founded by Abena Boamah-Acheampong, is a clean beauty brand that sustainably sources its shea butter and pays double the fair-trade price to its suppliers. Its shea butter comes in a variety of scents, including vanilla lavender, amber vanilla, and eucalyptus, but lemongrass is a favorite of Strategist beauty writer Tembe Denton-Hurst, because “it literally smells like summer.” It also makes a face scrub, lip treatment, and an exfoliating bar. —D.P.
Created by a former performer Hassan Sayyed, Haus Urban takes into consideration what stage performers need for their skin to counteract stage makeup, sweating in said makeup, and more. His line is all-natural and includes everything from body butters and oils to face washes and toners.
Highbrow Hippie was started by beauty-industry veterans Myka Harris and Kadi Lee. They stock their shops — online and in Venice, California — with thoughtfully sourced wellness and beauty products, including their own line of small-batch honey-infused bath salts. —C.L.
Bea Dixon started making feminine-care products in her kitchen, and today they are sold at large retailers like Target, Urban Outfitters, and Walgreens. They are 100 percent natural but still clinically tested and gynecologist approved. The line encompasses everything from organic tampons to bath bombs to feminine washes for everyone from the most sensitive to expectant mothers. —J.M.W.
Desiree Verdejo created Hyper Skin after a bout of hormonal pregnancy acne left her with stubborn hyperpigmentation. Its first product, Hyper Clear, is an affordable vitamin-C serum formulated with 15 percent skin-brightening ascorbic acid as well as kojic acid and vitamin E. —D.P.
KNC Beauty, founded by Kristen Noel Crawley after she observed the popularity of lip masks on a trip to Tokyo, makes all-natural collagen and retinol lip and eye masks with aloe, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin A. They’re a favorite of Elisa Johnson’s, who calls KNC Beauty’s retinol-infused eye mask a “literal face-saver.” —A.R.
Tony Johnson, son of Sierra Leonean immigrants, created his company after asking his parents what natural ingredients from back home they used to treat skin issues. Krio Skincare’s face, hair, and body oils are formulated with African oils like marula and baobab oil and have names that celebrate Sierra Leonean heritage, including Tacugama body serum, after Freetown’s chimpanzee sanctuary, and Bintumani hair oil, for the country’s highest mountain. —A.R.
Lauren Napier, former celebrity makeup artist, created a line of face wipes that don’t strip the skin and instead hydrate it as it takes off makeup. She created a different texture for the wipes, and they’re individually packaged, so they don’t dry out. They’re the ones I always buy for myself. —C.A.
Before Harlem-based salon the Nail Suite closed for the pandemic, “you’d be lucky if you could get an appointment two, three weeks out,” says founder Lisa Logan, manicurist for the stars and famous for designing Beyoncé’s nails for her “Single Ladies” music video. Now that New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening, you can book your appointment at the Nail Suite online or, if you’re not in New York, shop its nail colors. —A.R.
One of the original and best-known natural-hair vloggers of the past decade, Whitney White (a.k.a. Naptural85) co-founded her hair-care company, Melanin Haircare, with her sister Taffeta in 2015. A longtime proponent of clean, DIY natural-hair products, Melanin Haircare’s silicone-free, paraben-free, and sulfate-free shampoo, conditioner, style cream, and oil use plant-based and safe-synthetic ingredients like camellia oil and mango butter, African black soap, and turmeric. The company also sells hair accessories like hats and headwraps. I absolutely love its products, which come in large sizes (16 ounces) at reasonable prices and have drastically improved the health of my hair since I started using them almost a year ago. My favorite is the Twist Elongating Style Cream, which is unscented and light enough to give my fine hair definition without weighing it down. —A.R
Gwen Jemmere started Naturalicious, a natural-hair-care company, with the mission to “eliminate the frustration, time, and expense” associated with black hair and to assure customers with curly and coily hair that “they are the standard of beauty.” The company has products specifically made for all types of curl textures, including multi-step systems and treatments. —A.R
Awa Diaw and Chelsea Trotter started Nekawa as second-year M.B.A. students with a desire to share the uses of shea butter for hair, body, and health and to bring “minimalism” to beauty. Senegalese-born Diaw sources the shea and oils for lavender and unscented butters and baobab face serum from Senegal; 10 percent of all proceeds go to Amref Health Africa, a health-development nonprofit. – A.R.
A body-care company, founded by Karen Young, that makes the nicest reusable, direct-to-consumer razors I’ve ever seen. They also sell a body gloss, a gel-to-milk in-shower moisturizer, and bikini-line masks. —D.P.
Pat makes some of the most luxurious makeup products, and with her long list of celebrity supporters, she’s one of the most loved makeup artists. —C.A.
Jacqueline Carrington decided to create her line of nail lacquers — designed specifically to compliment women of color’s skin tones — after her daughter took an interest in nail polish. The brand’s vegan, cruelty-free polishes come in a range of nudes as well as bright shades like lime and orange. —D.P.
Rooted Woman offers ethically made, vegan-friendly nail polishes, along with online self-care courses. Its nail polish comes in a range of muted, flattering colors — like a glittery pink called “Joyful” or a gleaming red aptly named “Unwavering.” Plus it’s the longest-lasting one that I’ve ever used. —A.R.
Jamika Martin started developing the idea for what would become Rosen Skincare, a brand with natural ingredients like fruit extracts, kojic acid, and clays, while an undergraduate at UCLA. Dissatisfied with what was available, Martin wanted to make “thoughtful products” for acne-prone skin — so Rosen was created for custom routines to target specific skin issues like scarring, texture, and hyperpigmentation. Its products are available on its site and at Urban Outfitters. —A.R.
Shea Radiance was created after Funlayo Alabi started mixing shea butter in her kitchen to treat her kids’ eczema and dry skin. Now, it’s a fair-trade hair-and-body-care company that utilizes sustainable supply chains to empower women and communities in West Africa. My favorite is the Antioxidant Body Cream, which has eucalyptus, ginger root, and baobab oils, giving it a rich and luxurious scent. You can buy its products from its website; they are also available at Whole Foods and Amazon. —A.R.
Dorian Morris founded Undefined Beauty, a botanical-and-CBD-powered beauty brand, with the dual mission of introducing the benefits of cannabis in skin care (like its popular Glow Elixir), and “infusing social purpose” into the beauty industry. Her brand is committed to highlighting the social-justice crisis of cannabis-related incarceration of people of color. —A.R.
As pointed out in our list of sunscreens for darker skin tones, Unsun, founded by Katonya Breaux, is one of the few sun-protection brands founded by a Black woman. This came expert-recommended as one of the best tinted mineral formulas out there that works for a wide range of skin tones. —J.M.W.
Sharon Chuter, a former beauty executive, started Uoma to bring more diversity to the world of beauty. I recommend its foundation, which has one of the largest shade ranges on the market. —C.A.
When Illeisha Lussiano’s Lower East Side hair salon the Way had to close due to COVID-19, she created a braiding kit so people could braid their hair at home. You can buy the kit at Lussiano’s online store, which also sells hair accessories, home incense, and, in a very 2020 move, face masks. —A.R.
The Strategist. (2020, September 8). BEAUTY. Nymag.Com. https://nymag.com/strategist/article/black-owned-businesses-support-shop.html