In the midst of global outrage sparked by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, many of us are feeling pain, despair, and hopelessness right now, and are looking for ways to make a difference. Industries across the board have also been grappling with acknowledging and understanding the ways in which they have traditionally and systemically excluded Black people.
The beauty industry is no different. Even though beauty brands founded by and developed for Black people have been around since the early 1900s, many of us, like me, know what it’s like having to sort through a limited selection of products in the “ethnic” beauty section in our local drugstore, hoping to discover brands that cater to our specific needs.
“We are faced with the shared consumption of horrifying facts: Black bodies being brutalized in state violence and being disproportionately affected by the virus because of systemic racialized inequality,” Jamyla Bennu, founder of beauty brand Oyin Homemade, tells SELF. “I think Black-owned beauty companies are serving a surrogate role at this moment, allowing people to make supportive purchases and also to participate in much-needed self-care during a really difficult time.”
Thankfully, the beauty industry landscape is slowly shifting, with an increase in the number of Black-owned beauty brands available, and online shopping making it more convenient than ever to shop for them. Supporting these brands is an important way to help push the industry even further. “There are so many obstacles for these businesses to get started, much less succeed and thrive, which is why it’s so important to recognize this while supporting in any way you can,” says Shelly Davis, founder of hair-care brand Kinky-Curly. Plus, as celebrity hairstylist and educator Vernon François, founder of his namesake line, says, Black-owned beauty brands can often help consumers address beauty-related issues that have for too long been ignored by mainstream companies. “We understand through firsthand lived experience the needs and wants of people of color,” he tells SELF. “Most often we are serving and speaking to an audience that has, up until fairly recently, been overlooked by the beauty business at large.”
To honor and support Black-owned beauty brands, for this year’s Healthy Beauty Awards we’ve compiled a Hall of Fame list of 25 of our favorites, from hair-care brands like Kinky-Curly, to skin- and body-care lines like Oui the People, toshop and celebrate year-round.Skin and Body CareOyin HandmadeOyin Handmade NoAshAtAll Cocoa Butter LotionThis body lotion features cocoa butter as the star ingredient to keep skin looking smooth and hydrated. $17 at Oyin Homemade
Founder Jamyla Bennu started Oyin Homemade after searching for naturally sourced products that worked for her textured, natural hair, but coming up short. “At the time, there weren’t a lot of products available, so I started whipping them up in my kitchen,” she tells SELF. “I was raised out of 1980s food co-ops with only Dr. Bronner's soap and olive or coconut oil to use for personal care. I saw and learned from my parents that I could make literally anything I needed. Making my own hair products as a hobby is a direct result of being raised in such a practically creative household.” Today, Oyin Handmade makes an assortment of food-grade hair- and body-care products for women, men, and kids.
When it comes to the assumption that Black-owned beauty brands only work for people of color, Bennu says this isn’t necessarily the case. “A lot of Black-owned beauty brands are inclusive of our hair textures, skin tones, and beauty needs in ways that many mass-market brands don’t cater to—Oyin Handmade started because I couldn’t find anything in stores for my highly textured hair,” she explains. “However, we do offer a bunch of products that are equally amazing for looser textures and a range of skin types.”Lauren Napier BeautyFlaunt by Lauren Napier BeautyThis pack of 15 pre-moistened makeup wipes gently removes makeup, dirt, and oil, and is 100% recyclable.$23 at Lauren Napier Beauty
Lauren Napier started her namesake skin-care company Lauren Napier Beauty—known for its exceptional premoistened makeup wipes—after years working as a celebrity makeup artist. “There is a ceremony when applying makeup, but there’s also beauty in taking it off,” she tells SELF. Lauren Napier Beauty’s makeup wipes are also eco-friendly: They’re biodegradable, manufactured using solar energy, and come in recyclable packaging.