Frivolous as it may sound, beauty is my happy place. Caring for and accentuating my melanated skin brings me endless joy, massaging on skin-care products is my meditation, and playing with makeup is one of the many ways I practice self-love. There's something about using Black-owned beauty brands that makes this experience even more special.
For so long, Black women have been told their looks aren't enough. (I'll never forget the white guy who told me to my face that he simply 'didn't find Black girls pretty,' as if what he was saying wasn't an insult, but rather an objective fact). For me, using beauty brands founded by Black women celebrates the beauty that we have always radiated. Regardless of what anyone may think or do, we've got us. And that will never change.
There are five Black-owned beauty brands that I hold near and dear to my heart. They play crucial roles in my routine and make me feel so good every time I use them. Learn about and shop them below.
My 5 favorite Black-owned beauty brands
1. Agrestal Beauty
The first time I opened a package from Agrestal Beauty, I fell in love. The packaging is gorgeous, and its glass, gold-lidded jars let you know how luxe the product is before you even dive in. Once I started using the products, it was game over—I knew I'd never be able to live without them. The sophisticated formulas highlight natural ingredients like rose petals, turmeric, and shea butter, which leave my skin feeling nourished and cared for.
When Emilia Ramos created the line in 2017, she sought to develop a plant-based beauty brand rooted in self-care, and she did just that. Each product is incredibly thoughtful and intentional, and you can't help but feel like you're giving yourself a big hug with every application.
Two products from the brand are part of my forever rotation: the Turmeric Clay Mask ($18 to $42) and the Rose Hydrating Oil ($70). Anytime my skin even thinks about getting a pimple, I reach for my Tumeric Clay Mask to stop it in its tracks. It blends the anti-inflammatory spice with detoxifying bentonite clay to deeply clean my skin while calming it down. The Rose Hydrating Oil is hands down the best face oil I've ever used. It's infused with literal rose petals. Not little bits of petals that look like gunk if you don't know what they are, but big, juicy rosebuds. It leaves my skin feeling incredibly soft.
2. Pear Nova
Without fail, I spend about four hours every three weeks giving myself a gel manicure. It takes so long because I use this time to express my creativity and have fun playing with different designs and color palettes. I've tried a lot of gel polish brands over the years, and not one has made me as happy as Pear Nova.
Founded by fellow polish-fanatic Rachel James, Pear Nova is a brand that makes gorgeous shades that celebrate all skin tones in formulas that prioritize both efficacy and nail health. The brand started a decade ago with James hand-mixing polishes in her parent's basement. It has since blossomed into a full line of nail lacquers, nail-care serums and scrubs, and, my personal favorite, gel polish.
Pear Nova has an amazing line of nude gel polishes, BrwnGrlMgc ($80), that allows Black and brown people to find shades that complement their skin tones.
The first Canviiy product I tried was the ScalpBliss Itch-Calming Organic-Based Serum ($20), which blew me away. It's a fantastic formula that works to relieve an itchy scalp. Of course, this product is great for anyone to use, but it's especially wonderful for Black people who wear their hair in protective styles. Anyone who has ever gotten box braids or a sew-in knows how intense it is to have an itch when your scalp isn't exactly accessible. As I wrote in my original review, this serum feels like "that ridiculously refreshing feeling you get when you take a sip of ice-cold water while chewing minty gum."
It's just one of the many products that make this hair- and scalp-care brand so good. Every time I chat with Sherrel Sampson, the brand's founder, I get so excited about where the Black hair-care industry is heading. Sampson's products fill a gap in the market by prioritizing scalp care for textured hair—something the Black community has always taken seriously, but not always with the best products.
One of Canviiy's most recent launches is the Hydrate & Strengthen Organic-Based Scalp Balm ($11), a modern-day approach to hair grease. Nearly every Black woman has the memory of sitting at the feet of their mother, sister, or friend and having them grease their scalp or apply a thin layer of an oil-based product meant to strengthen the hair. However, in recent years, we've learned from dermatologists and trichologists that this isn't actually good for the scalp, as it clogs the pores. This balm is light as a feather, breathable, and free of heavy petroleum and mineral oil.
4. Bread Beauty Supply
Bread Beauty Supply provides the type of textured hair care I've been craving—simple. The products aren't meant to be used in an 11-step curly girl routine, but are instead formulated well enough that caring for my hair can be quick and easy.
Maeva Heim created this brand because she was sick of needing tons of products to care for her hair. For decades, textured hair care was limited to relaxers, so when more and more people began sporting their natural hair over the past decade, the products weren't formulated to work. Bread Beauty Supply looks to change that, creating "hair-care basics for not so basic hair."
I truly love every single product Bread has released, but my absolute favorite is the Everyday Gloss Hair Oil ($14 to $24). It's filled with nourishing ingredients that leave my hair looking and feeling its absolute best. It features oil from Kakadu Plum, a native plant in Heim's home country of Australia, which is full of vitamin C to keep your scalp healthy. It also includes safflower oil to coats hair moisture and capryl capric triglycerides to provide lightweight shine and silkiness.
5. Black Girl Sunscreen
Every single human should be wearing sunscreen every single day, regardless of their complexion. But many mineral-based sunscreens leave behind a purplish-white cast on deeper complexions, which presents a barrier for many Black people. Traditionally, it's left people with darker skin tones having to choose between being protected and looking like a ghost and raw dogging it in the sun to maintain their natural glow.
When Shontay Lundy created Black Girl Sunscreen in 2016, she did so with this conundrum in mind. The brand's only product is an SPF 30 chemical-based sunscreen ($16) that's made with moisturizing ingredients like jojoba, cacao, and avocado. It's also coral-reef friendly and free of parabens and fragrance.
Every time I try a different sunscreen, I find myself crawling back to this one. I love it because it's easy to forget that I have it on. It blends seamlessly into my skin without any burning sensation or dryness that I experience from many other formulas. It's a no-fuss product that performs exactly as any sunscreen should.
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