For Black men and women, having products made specifically for them, readily available and accessible, wasn’t and—in many cases, still isn’t—the norm. You might have to go to three stores in your small town to find an edge control or need to drive to a Sephora in the city to find your foundation shade. Having Black-owned beauty brands at the forefront of our minds as we’re shopping is not only an important way to support those brands and founders but also to support the entire Black community.
Sephora and Ulta both participated in the 15% Pledge (vowing to place Black-owned brands on 15% of shelf space), and their catalogs have grown exponentially over the last two years with diverse brands in all categories. This has made shopping for Black-owned products, as well as products made for and by Black women, easier than ever. Amongst our other favorite brands dedicating shelf space to Black-owned brands are Target and Nordstrom.
After years worth of testing, our editors have compiled their top favorite Black-owned beauty products—from skin to hair to makeup and more.
Shani Darden Skin Care
Until I tried this, I thought eye creams were a crock of bullsh*t, TBH—just a device of capitalism to convince us to buy more products and have a long-standing fear of wrinkles. And while I still kind of think the latter is true, I am now a firm believer in an eye cream, specifically this one.
Celebrity esthetician Shani Darden is known for her efficacious-yet-gentle approach to skincare (particularly her famous Retinol Reform), and this eye cream is no exception. It’s thick and viscous without feeling heavy, and I noticed a major difference in the puffiness, moisture, and dark circles under my eyes after using it consistently.
The Lip Bar
I have come around to the no makeup makeup look, but the one thing I refuse to skimp on is concealer. I like to have a medium-to-full-coverage concealer in my arsenal to cover up dark circles, blemishes, and discoloration, but it has to seamlessly blend into my skin and look natural (a task I’ve discovered is near impossible). This concealer does exactly that, leaving a natural, satin finish that just looks like my skin.
I mix the first two shades to get my exact color, but the extra legwork is totally worth it for the result on my skin.
I snagged this powder after one of my favorite influencers swore by it, and I was not disappointed. This makes my skin look so smooth and even without adding a heavy feel on my skin. I love the shade range, as we all know that “translucent” is never really all that translucent. On my olive skin tone, the yellow shade is perfect for brightening and blending into my skin.
I apply this with a brush just in the areas I need to set (under my eyes, sides of my nose, any blemishes, etc.), and it keeps my glow exactly where I want it all day long. Trust me: Your makeup is going nowhere with this powder on.
LYS Beauty was the first Black-owned brand Sephora incubated, so I immediately tested all of their products, and this one came out on top. Even a year later, this still sits high on my list as one of my all-time favorite bronzers. It gives my skin a natural glow that doesn’t look orange, powdery, or muddy—the trifecta of what most other bronzers have given me in the past.
I use a fluffy brush to dust this all over my face to give my skin a little dimension, and it looks perfect every single time. It’s so creamy and soft that even a 5-year-old could blend it.
I’ve tried a lot of serums in my life, but this one will always have my heart because it has actually made a difference in my skin by boosting brightness (as in it gives me post-facial glow). I’ve struggled with acne scars and some discoloration from the sun in the past (I’ve had a sun mustache for years—IYKYK), and this serum makes a serious difference when I use it consistently by fading dark spots and evening skin tone. I’ve also noticed acne scars go away a lot quicker, and I’ve transitioned to a lighter foundation since I have less to cover (major win!).
I’m a diehard fan of dry brushing for lymphatic drainage, exfoliation, and boosting skin glow, and the body brush by Gilded is by far the chicest one I’ve ever seen. Pre-Gilded life, I stored my dry brushes in drawers and would often forget to dry brush before showers (out of sight, out of mind!). The Gilded brush is so pretty (and so high-quality) that I wanted to leave it out on my counter (it makes my whole bathroom seem way more upscale), and now I never forget to dry brush because I see it all the time. It’s made a huge difference in my self-care routine.
Listen, I know what you’re thinking. That is some bright ass blush. When I first saw one of my fav makeup artists (@makeupxka) use this stuff in one of her IGTVs, I can’t lie—I had the same thought. But after audibly gasping at how bright yet natural the finished look was, I near ran to Sephora to pick some up for myself. If you’re looking for a blush that will make you look flushed (read: alive) while still looking natural, look no further. This lightweight cream blush is the way to go.
Finally, a sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white cast on my face! This tinted sunscreen works for all shades and skin types, but for those with darker tones, you don’t have to worry about it leaving any weird residue because the blendability on this product is top tier. I also love that this sunscreen feels super light on my face and goes on smoothly.
For my besties with dry skin, this face wash is for you. I have searched high and low for a face wash that doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight and dry after use, and it’s safe to say this one has been my holy grail. The jojoba oil and aloe vera soothe my skin and leave it feeling so hydrated.
Pat McGrath Labs
The dark circles under my eyes have put me through a lot of trials and errors when it came to finding products that would work best for maximum coverage without looking too cakey. This Pat McGrath powder is the perfect final step in that routine. It’s so light and blurs my skin perfectly. I’ll even dust it with a small brush in the more oily parts of my face (t-zone, corners of nose, etc.). The sheer and silky formula feels comfortable and lasts all day. Pat McGrath is the queen of makeup for a reason.
This is one of very few products I’ve ever tried that actually makes a difference in my dark spots and acne scars from past breakouts. It also instantly makes my skin feel refreshed, bright, and even. However, one of the main things I love about this is the price point. Vitamin C can be so expensive, but I’m also a little bit weary of drugstore vitamin C products because I want to make sure what I’m using is really working. This product is still an investment, but it’s more affordable than some other brands (and you can get it in a smaller size!).
After recommendations from many friends and coworkers, I finally got this Blurring Skin Tint for Christmas—and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. I’m someone who exclusively wears light-to-medium-coverage foundation products (I simply can’t stand something that feels heavy on my skin), and this is one of my favorites that I’ve tried. I love that I can just apply it with my fingers for light coverage on minimal makeup days, but I can also use a sponge or brush to build up coverage for when I want a more intense makeup look. It feels great on my skin and blends super easily, and it really provides that “your skin but better” look.
My favorite thing about this primer is that it provides instant results. After application, my skin immediately looks smoother and more even—whereas with some primers, I don’t really know if it’s working until I apply makeup over it. This one is also formulated with niacinamide, an AHA fruit blend, and grapefruit extract, all of which are designed to even out texture and brighten your skin. This primer instantly creates a beautiful base layer to work from when I am putting makeup on.
I first tried this mascara for our drugstore mascara review, and it not only earned the #2 spot, but it’s also a product that I’ve consistently reached for since then. It is easy to apply, not too wet or messy, and provides both length and volume. I tend to use this mascara when I’m going for a full-glam makeup look because it has a pretty dark and dramatic effect. It is also very long-lasting and does not leave any residue under my eyes, even after wearing it all day. It’s formulated with argan oil, castor seed oil, and Kalahari melon oil, which is not only the reason it’s so long-lasting, but it also nourishes and moisturizes your lashes over time.
Several years ago, I saw my friend wearing what could only be described as the most gorgeous lip color I’d ever laid eyes on; it was, of course, the Fenty lipgloss. And from the moment I tried it, I knew it was holy grail status. It’s a universally flattering color, isn’t sticky, and can make you feel instantly put together even with nothing else on your face. This has a permanent spot on my vanity (or in my purse or on my desk—literally anywhere I am) because it really is that good.
When the two main ingredients are argan oil and aloe, you know that this body glow not only looks good but is good for your skin too. This all-shade match will blend seamlessly with any skin tone and is guaranteed to give you that dewy glow Instagram craves. A little bit goes a long way, so be sure to use sparingly and enjoy! Trust me, the sun will never look so good on your skin.
Pat McGrath Labs
When it comes to blush, there literally is nothing better than this. It’s so good that I have it in three shades, and it never looks dry or cakey and lasts all day long. They’re so beautiful and have a unique velvety texture that just makes your cheeks look like they have the perfect glowy flush. I’m a blush fiend, and this has become the only powder blush I ever use (and even if I’m using a cream blush, I always set them with one of these).