By Caroline Goldstein
As a mindful consumer, you understand the power of the dollar. Supporting Black-owned businesses is a simple but effective way to redistribute wealth more fairly among marginalized communities — and, as a result, empower future generations of Black people to build their own businesses. And as a beauty lover, what better way to take action than buying some gorgeous, high-performing, clean beauty products?
Obviously, this is far from an exhaustive list. I’d encourage you to do your own research into Black-owned brands across industries, and find as many as you can to support in lieu of major corporations. That said, these seven Black-owned beauty brands and their standout products are a great starting point. From a weightless foundation to a goddess-inspired beauty mist, these products will compel you to use your money for good, now and always — and discover your new beauty must-haves.
1. Mented Cosmetics
KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson founded Mented Cosmetics when they realized, “over a glass of pinot” (the starting point to any brilliant idea, IMO), why they couldn’t find a nude lipstick that was actually nude for their skin tones. Thus Mented Cosmetics, and their extensive line of lipsticks that work for every complexion (and, now, every other cosmetic you can think of) was born.
You can’t go wrong with any Mented Cosmetics lip products, but their Matte Lipsticks are an OG and a bestseller. The nine-shade range features a mix of pinks and browns to complement all skin tones, and the velvety matte finish will make your lips look instantly plump and smooth. Plus, all their lipsticks are vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic, and made in the USA.
Founded by Nancy Twine, Briogeo makes some of the highest-performing and cleanest premium hair care products out there — all their products are 90 to 100% naturally derived, and free of six of the most common synthetics that can compromise hair health, like sulfates, silicones, and parabens.
Lots of their products have earned cult status, but this Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado + Kiwi Mega Moisture Superfood Mask is a great entry point into the brand. This nutrient-rich mask is packed with natural ingredients rich in fatty acids and emollients, like avocado and cocoa butter, which work to restore moisture and nourishment to dry hair without weighing it down. (It’s basically a green smoothie for your hair.) This works for all hair types and textures, including chemically treated, dyed, and relaxed hair. And since it’s free of proteins, you can use it up to twice a week if your hair is feeling especially brittle, tangly, or unmanageable.
Another brand that’s well on its way toward cult status, Golde was founded in 2017 by Trinity Mouzon Wofford (who’s since nabbed a spot on Forbes’ illustrious “30 Under 30” list) and her partner with the intention of “bringing good vibes to the wellness industry.”
The Brooklyn-based brand’s Clean Greens Face Mask is a lovely way to bask in those good vibes. Think of it as the face mask equivalent of Briogeo’s avocado mask: It contains all-natural superfoods, like chlorella and spirulina, which help soften, detox, and brighten up your skin. Not for nothing, the application is super fun, too — the powder thickens up into a creamy gel when it’s mixed with water, so you can spread it on easily. Heads up that this mask is extremely hyped right now, so it’s often sold out. It’s worth it to join the waitlist.
4. 54 Thrones
Christina Funke Tegbe was inspired to found 54 Thrones by her love and respect for African beauty and skin-care traditions. Tegbe travels to Africa to source all her major ingredients, which are grown and harvested by independent artisans, cooperatives, and ethical businesses. As a result, all of their products are infused with the love, care, and devotion of its founder, and the African soil in which their ingredients are grown.
I’m intrigued by all 54 Thrones’ entire line of soaps, masks, oils, and body butters, but their OSUN African Beauty Water has been a game-changer for my skin-care (and self-care) routine. Inspired by the Yoruban river goddess Osun, this mist is infused with African botanicals like Moroccan rosewater, Egyptian jasmine, and Nigerian hibiscus flower. A few spritzes in place of your toner in the morning and evening can help clarify and balance your skin, though I find myself spritzing it on throughout the day whenever my spirit needs some rejuvenation, too.
5. UnSun Cosmetics
Zinc-based mineral sunscreens are generally safer for both the environment and your skin than their chemical counterparts. But many of them leave behind a white residue, which makes it difficult for people with darker skin tones to find one that works. Enter UnSun Cosmetics, founded by Katonya Breaux, which creates both tinted and untinted mineral sunscreens that blend into beautiful, chalky-free finishes.
Since most of us neglect our hands during our daily SPF application, their Hand Cream SPF 15 is a stroke of genius. This rich but non-greasy hand cream is infused with shea butter and coconut oil to soften your skin, while zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide up to 40 minutes of sun protection.
6. The Lip Bar
The Lip Bar founder Melissa Clark launched her brand as a diverse, inclusive, experimental, and straight-up fun answer to the mainstream beauty industry, which tends to market the exact opposite of all those things. They’re also vegan, cruelty-free, and non-toxic — another rarity for major beauty brands.
Of course, The Lip Bar’s lip colors are the brand’s signature offering, but don’t overlook their Skin Serum Foundation. As the name suggests, this foundation has a light, fluid, blendable consistency, so it feels more like skin care than makeup. Thanks to hyaluronic acid in the formula, it’ll make your skin look visibly plumper and more hydrated, too. The range boasts an impressive 26 shades to suit virtually every skin tone under the sun, while the click-pen applicator and attached brush makes it easy to apply anywhere, anytime, whether you’re at home, in your car, or in a public bathroom (needs must).
7. Uoma Beauty
Uoma Beauty was founded by Sharon Chuter, a Nigerian-born former beauty executive, who empowers people of all races and gender expressions to be fearlessly and authentically themselves — and to feel beautiful in the process. From carnival-inspired eyeshadow palettes and subtly bejeweled falsies to fire-engine red lipsticks, Uoma’s bold but modern makeup will make you feel like your best, baddest self.
If razor-sharp cheekbones and a radiant glow make you feel like your best, baddest self, go for Uoma’s Double Take Contour Stick. This double-ended stick has a creamy, blendable contour shade on one end and a buildable highlighter on the other for the easiest, most blissful contour-and-highlight experience ever.
Caroline Goldstein is a commerce beauty writer for Bustle Digital Group, and her freelance writing has appeared in HelloGiggles, Refinery29, Men's Health, and other publications. Based in New York, she received her MFA in Fiction from New York University, where she taught creative writing to undergraduates and wrote her first novel.