by Amanda Etkind
Diversity and inclusion within the beauty industry is finally on the rise. While we definitely have a long way to go, the year 2020 sparked an awaited change within an industry that historically doesn’t cater to all people. According to a 2018 report by Nielsen, Black consumers spent $127 million on grooming products in 2017 and $475 million on skincare that same year. However, despite this high demand for melanin-friendly skincare, Black people have been ignored in the beauty industry for quite some time. So yes, this shift to be more inclusive is definitely notable, but we’d be remiss not to acknowledge that Black men and women have been creating products for a long time. To continue to honor, celebrate, and amplify these Black brands and voices, we want to shine the light on some of our favorite Black-owned skincare brands that are killing it in the beauty space. From beauty industry vets to cosmetic chemists and more, keep reading to learn more about these industry game-changers.
Ron Robinson of BeautyStat
Vitamin C is one of those skincare ingredients that’s hard to get just right, but leave it up to Ron Robinson, cosmetic chemist and founder of skincare brand BeautyStat, to get the job done. After working at brands like Clinique and Revlon, Robison went out to launch a blog BeautyStat, centered around product reviews, and trend forecasting from a literal cosmetic chemist (rather than an influencer or everyday person). This different perspective gained traction, and after reviewing countless products and ingredients Ron and team went on to create their own line—starting with a vitamin C serum. And well, let’s just say it's gained cult-status amongst skincare enthusiasts and beauty newbies alike.
Crystal Waters of Boyface Skincare
You may know singer and Billboard Award-winner Crystal Waters for her 90s dance chart toppers like “Gypsy Woman” and “100% Pure Love”, but now, after traveling and performing around the globe for 25 years she’s claiming her stake in the skincare space—and doing it flawlessly might we add. Founded on the basis of skincare that’s backed by science, but also clean, she sought-out to create an easy-to-use but oh-so effective skincare line marketed toward men. Not only are the products themselves highly-effective, but the sleek, gender-neutral packaging fits right in on any vanity.
Jamika Martin of Rosen Skincare
After a life-long struggle with acne, UCLA-grad Jamika Martin was tired of throwing harsh chemicals on her skin, taking derm-prescribed medications, and scrubbing her face with mediocre face washes in hopes that her acne would soon vanish. On top of that, she felt so much shame surrounding her bumps or spots, when literally everyone has acne. So instead of continuing this cycle, she set out to create her own comprehensive skincare lineup—and change the conversation around acne. And in June of 2017, ROSEN Skincare was born. The brand’s premise is clean and comfortable, and is all about giving you healthy, happy skin sans shame surrounding acne.
Olamide Olowe of My Topicals
Skin conditions are certainly no fun. Not only are they physically uncomfortable, but in an Instagram-centric world with flawless filters and FaceTune, it can be hard to feel good in your skin. That’s why Olamide Olowe and her co-founder Clauda Teng are trying to shift to a more acne-positive mindset with their brand My Topicals. After struggling with treating their own chronic skin conditions, the two sought out to “make flare ups funner.” They created a medicated botanical skincare range for all that doesn’t feel like something out of a derms office, but is dermatologist-tested and science-backed. Plus, the brand donates 1% of their sales profit to various mental health organizations from Sad Girls Club to Therapy for Black Girls.
Shontay Lundy of Black Girl Sunscreen
Sunscreen has a bad rap for being white, chalky, and leaving behind a weird cast. This is especially challenging for BIPOC—finding formulas that don’t leave skin looking ashy and grey can seem near impossible. And Shontay Lundy was tired of struggling to find sun protection that blended into her skin. In 2016 Black Girl Sunscreen was created. Lundy made sure that the SPF products are totally transparent—literally. Plus, they’re made without parabens and other questionable ingredients, but packed with ingredients to shield and hydrate skin. Lundy also wanted to change the conversation surrounding sunscreen in the Black community. She felt that the misinformation around melanated skin led to Black people not wearing sunscreen and is on a mission to continue to inspire and educate her community.
Nyakio Kamoche Grieco of Nyakio Skincare
At the mere age of eight, Nyakio was taught by her grandmother how to concoct powerful potions using crushed-up coffee beans mixed with superfoods found on their farm in Kenya. Since then, Nyakio has been all about sustainable skin and body-care inspired by her family’s beauty secrets and travels. In 2002, she created her namesake line, and the rest is history. As a pioneer, not only as a Black beauty brand founder but also in the clean beauty space, everything in the line is ethically handmade in small batches using ingredients from all over the world.
Kristen Noel Crawley of KNC Beauty
You’ve probably scrolled through Instagram and seen beauty columnist and model-turned-entrepreneur Kristen Noel Crawley rocking her fun kiss-shaped lip masks. After strolling through Don Quijote in Tokyo, Kristen came across a wall of lip masks and let’s just say it was love at first sight. Her only gripe? None of them were made with clean ingredients. So, she decided to create her own. Two years after laying eyes on these selfie-worthy lip masks, Kristen launched her own under KNC Beauty. The line features all-natural collagen-infused lip masks, retinol-infused eye masks, lip balms, and more.
She'Neil Johnson-Spence and Nicolette Graves of Base Butter
If a brand only makes one product, you best believe they put their heart and soul into it—and this rings true for She'Neil Johnson-Spence and Nicolette Graves, co-founders of Base Butter. After some skincare exploration in their early 20s the two realized that overloading their complexions with scrubs, actives, retinols, and more was just too much. They needed to give their skin some extra TLC, but couldn’t find a product that met all their qualifications. Enter their brand Base Butter. Their mission is to redefine skincare—making it easy, approachable, and filled with love. They designed their raved-about Radiate Face Jelly, an aloe-based moisturizer formulated for oily and combination skin. We can’t wait to see what other skincare gems they have up their sleeves.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and we will continue to do our part to shine the spotlight on underrepresented voices within the skincare and beauty community.