From makeup to hair care, here are some awesome companies to check out.
The beauty industry isn't known for being the most inclusive, but recently, more and more brands created for women of color have been launching, and well-established companies are also deciding to expand their offerings. When Rihanna launched her Fenty Beauty line in September (with an impressive 40 foundation shades), and then swiftly raked in $72 million within the very first month, larger companies that had been offering a way less diverse selection for years suddenly started to take notice. Celeb factor aside, there was clearly a gap in the market that the mainstream beauty industry wasn't filling. But rather than wait for big companies, many entrepreneurs had already launched their own beauty brands, creating the products they wished they saw on the shelves at the drugstore and developing huge ranges of makeup shades rather than accepting the few options offered. Here, five companies created by and for women of color you'll definitely want to check out.
Founded by sisters Abigail and Antonia Opiah, Yeluchi is an at-home hairstyling service for women of color, currently serving the New York City area (with plans to hopefully expand to other cities). After starting Un-ruly.com, a site dedicated to hairstyle ideas, tutorials, and meaningful conversation, they decided to branch out into the at-home styling service. "I had the idea for it when I wanted to get box braids and didn’t have the time to sit in a salon for 7+ hours. I wanted someone to come to my home and do my hair while I worked," says Antonia. Now, instead of spending the day in the salon, a stylist can do your hair while you work, read, or catch up on Netflix.
While Antonia is based in Paris and Abigail is in New York City, they make managing the company work by having distinct roles: Abigail acts as the product manager for Yeluchi, and Antonia oversees all things Un-ruly. Luckily, much of the work involved in running both parts of the business can be handled online.
Favorite Product: "This isn’t hair related, but I’m loving Resurface by Shani Darden right now," says Antonia. "And we’re both huge fans of the Jane Carter Solution product line. It’s great for natural hair."
BLAC Minerals Beauty
The idea for BLAC Minerals, an all-natural makeup line for women of color, was sparked when its founder, Merced Boyce, couldn't find a natural makeup that matched her skin tone. "I also have sensitive skin and noticed that several ingredients in synthetic makeup cause irritation. I figured that if I was looking for a specific product like this, so were other women," explains Boyce. She was definitely right—and BLAC Minerals just celebrated its tenth anniversary.
Considering that the products are all-natural and paraben- and sulfate-free, the process for creating new products is thorough. First, it starts with a focus group to discover what's missing, followed by a brainstorm with the operations team. "Once we've narrowed our product selection, we work with chemists and vendor to perfect formulas," says Boyce. The brand currently offers everything from foundation and concealer, to lipgloss and liquid blush. What's next to be added? "We've received numerous email requests for liquid foundation, which we expect to launch in the near future!"
Favorite Product: "I use our foundation almost daily!" says Boyce. "A good base is an absolute must. I then add a little mascara and lipgloss and I'm out the door! The great thing about our makeup is that it's super quick and easy to apply with the perfect coverage for daily wear. Our makeup is so light that it feels as if I'm not wearing any at all."
"Like all good stories, ours started over a glass of wine," explains KJ Miller, the co-founder and co-CEO of Mented Cosmetics, along with Amanda E. Johnson. "We were enjoying a glass at my apartment one night, and Amanda mentioned she’d been looking for the perfect nude lipstick for THREE years. And I was in the same boat—I couldn’t find a single lip color I loved or wanted to wear daily. That was our a-ha moment—we firmly believe every woman should be able to find herself in the world of beauty, and lipstick is just the beginning."
Since starting as a nude lipstick company, Mented's selection has expanded into lip gloss, nail polish, and most recently, eyeshadow. And plans to expand even further are in the works. "By the end of 2019, we’ll be in every major product category, so stay tuned!" says Miller.
Favorite Product: Miller's favorite nude lipstick shade is Mented #5, while Johnson's is Dope Taupe. Want to find yours? Visit mentedcosmetics.com.
The inspiration for curlBOX, a subscription box for natural hair care products, came from its founder Myleik Teele's previous career as a public relations executive. After working with beauty clients and attending the World Natural Hair Show and other hair "meetups," Teele had an epiphany. "I knew that every person in the U.S. didn’t have access to these hair shows and meet ups. How would it be possible to package or “BOX” this experience (products and information) and send it to someone’s doorstep? The idea hit me and wouldn’t leave. I couldn’t even sleep at night with the thought on my mind. I took one step, and the rest is history."
Thanks to her PR career, Teele has great connections in the haircare industry, so companies will reach out for her to include their products before they're even created. How can you get on the list to try the latest products? Because of curlBOX's popularity, it has been "sold out" for six years. However, the list opens up one day per month, and you can be alerted by signing up for the email newsletter.
Favorite Product: "I cannot live without the Ouidad Double Detangler. It is MAGIC!" says Teele.
Marjani Beauty, otherwise known as "The Brown Girl Beauty Authority," is a site dedicated to beauty products created for women of color. Its founder, Kimberly Smith, is an Ivy League-trained attorney and self-proclaimed makeup junkie who decided to launch Marjani Beauty because mainstream beauty brands weren't cutting it. "I thought it was time to create a retail experience for women of color that could change the way we approach beauty, shop for beauty, and view ourselves within the beauty industry. We want something real. I wanted that for myself, so I’m curating that for all women of color," says Smith.
One of the ways Marjani Beauty is making it easier for women of color to shop for beauty products is with their Buy It and Try It™ Foundation Match Program. When you purchase a foundation through the program, you'll also get a free sample of the same product. If you try the sample and decide it isn't the right match, you can return the full-size, unopened product within 14 days for a full refund. "If the shade is their perfect match, well, we call that a match made in beauty heaven," says Smith.
Favorite Product: "The Facial Elixir from Beauty by Africa Miranda blends maracuja oil with other skin nourishing ingredients to give your beauty regimen a boost. I like to maintain glowy skin all year long. Through the cold winter months, the elixir’s hero ingredient, maracuja oil, leaves my skin refreshed, replenished, and revitalized."