It wasn’t until recently that I started to really take a look at my skincare routine and whether or not I was using products that were truly right for my melanin-rich skin. It’s just the reality that Black and Brown folks deal with dark spots and other challenges that those with lighter skin tones don’t. It took a lot of research and product swaps to fully get my skin to a better place.
That’s why I love to see that the beauty space is now filled with incredible brands that are truly by people of color for people of color. And this includes makeup—another topic I love that can be tricky to navigate when you have Black or Brown skin. Luckily, now that these entrepreneurs of color have fully disrupted the beauty industry in the best way possible, I can proudly say I’ve tried a good portion of these brands. After much sampling, I came to the conclusion that the ones listed here really do the trick for me. Below, you’ll find a list of all-stars I always keep around without fail. If you’d like some new staples to add to your collection and want to support these wonderful Black-owned businesses, keep scrolling.
Using just about anything from Shani Darden’s cult-loved skincare line is like laying your head down on a warm, soft pillow at night. Each product envelopes your skin in that soft, smooth feeling you’d hope for in a cleanser, serum, or moisturizer. Personally, I’m obsessed with the Cleansing Serum—it’s easily one of the best face washes I’ve ever used. I was originally skeptical to give it a try since I have acne-prone skin, but it provides just the right amount of soothing nourishment my skin needs. It leaves it feeling clean but not overly dry, not to mention brighter and deeply hydrated thanks to the hyaluronic acid in it. And of course, there’s her Retinol Reform serum. It’s a great starter retinol or for days when you like to use a retinoid that isn’t prescription strength.
Klur was founded by holistic aesthetician and Black entrepreneur Lesley Thornton. The brand utilizes nourishing botanicals and a less-is-more approach when it comes to skincare. Although it’s formulated for many different skin tones and textures, I’ve found it particularly helpful for my combination skin. The Supreme Seed Purification Mask is a particular favorite of mine—and not just because it smells like chocolate. It leaves my skin feeling soothed and balanced long after I’ve taken it off.
It magically lifts away the layer of film that accumulates on your skin during the day from wearing makeup, revealing a clearer complexion with reduced redness. The brand’s Immersion Serum is also great to have around if you use a retinol. It really helps your skin retain extra hydration to make up for the dryness that can come with using a retinoid.
I know, I know—Bread Beauty Supply is a haircare brand, but it still makes this list of all-stars for its killer formulas. I’ve been a longtime fan of the brand because its ethos is something that really resonated with me. Founder Maeva Heim decided to take matters into her own hands when she realized there weren’t many brands out there with clean formulas that catered to textured hair. The brand’s Gentle Milky Hair Cleanser and Creamy Deep Conditioner have been my washday staples for quite some time now. Each product is so nourishing and makes my hair feel extra soft and shiny but never stripped after each use.
I only recently fell in love with Buttah Skin by Dorión Renaud. Each product targets the main issues faced by POC—discoloration, dryness, oiliness, and blemishes. I’ve been loving the Charcoal Detox Mask for weeks my skin feels extra congested. My skin feels noticeably smoother and softer the more I use it. I also adore the brand’s toner-exfoliator hybrid with rose water because it always gives me a healthy glow.
For Black History Month, the brand and Renaud are collaborating with creator and host of Now With Natalie Natalie Manuel Lee on a special digital series called Beyond the Surface. The series will highlight Black creatives and dive into the stories that have shaped their lives, focusing on mental health, wellness, inner beauty, and more.
I’ll basically never stop talking about Juvia’s Place eye shadow palettes and how stunning they look on Black and Brown skin. The brand was literally created to celebrate the rebels, rulers, and queens of the African kingdoms. There’s just something really empowering about using makeup created specifically for your skin tone.
Maybe it’s the way the colors complement your complexion to a tee or the fact that they highlight your features in such a gorgeous way. I have to say the eye shadow palettes do exactly that for me. The Nubian and Warrior II palettes are makeup-bag staples of mine. I love using either of them every day, but I find myself reaching for the Nubian most. The palette just has the perfect everyday neutrals.
True story: Fashion Fair was one of the first cosmetics companies ever to cater to Black and Brown skin. The brand broke racial barriers like no other and continues to celebrate the beauty of Black women to this day. After hearing from a makeup artist that the line is still one of the best out there, I, of course, had to try it for myself. The Priming Serum and Crème to Powder Skin Foundation do it for me the most. The foundation literally does feel like a second skin, and it just glides onto my complexion like butter.
I’ve got a lot to say about Uoma Beauty and its founder, Sharon Chuter. First of all, I love that the brand is highly inclusive and the shade range for products like the Say What!? Foundation is so wide. That along with its gorgeous lip colors are a few of my favorite items from the brand.
Additionally, Chuter and Pull Up for Change have relaunched their incredible Make It Black campaign in honor of Black History Month. This breakthrough campaign sees beauty brands like E.l.f. Cosmetics, MAC, Mented, Morphe, Flower Beauty, Ulta, IPSY, and BoxyCharm wrapping their products in limited-edition black packaging. These limited-edition products will be available throughout February and will be sold on Ulta and through IPSY’s and BoxyCharm’s subscription boxes. The goal of this campaign is to shift the perception around what it means to be Black, raise money for the Pull Up for Change Impact Fund, and provide capital to emerging Black entrepreneurs.
I mean, any list about the best beauty brands for Black and Brown skin is simply incomplete without Pat McGrath Labs. McGrath is a living legend, and her formulas are pretty on par with that caliber. The Mothership V Eyeshadow Palette is so drop-dead gorgeous I don’t even know where to start. The richly pigmented shades are perfect for Black and Brown skin and blend together so seamlessly that it’s never hard to create a showstopping look. Add in the Skin Fetish Highlighter, and you really have my ideal night-out look.
LYS earns major points for being a clean beauty brand that features products all under $30. A line conceptualized by beauty expert Tisha Thompson, its formulas are all packed with skin-loving ingredients and feature universally flattering shades. I have to say the bronzer and liquid highlight are a few of the most-used items in my makeup bag. They just really pop on Brown skin and provide that lit-up look I strive for every day.
Eadem is another new skincare line that immediately impressed me. I’ve always really resonated with the brand’s ethos of creating skincare specifically for melanin-rich skin. It’s refreshing in a space that often markets products to those with darker skin tones that aren’t actually safe to use. I know—huge red flag. But it’s an important brand paving a new way in this department. The brand’s founders, Alice Lin and Marie Kouadio, formulate their products with their own skin in mind, and you can tell when you use them for yourself.
The brand’s Milk Marvel Dark Spot Serum and newest offering the Cloud Cushion Airy Brightening Moisturizer are two products I reach for consistently. I feel really seen by this brand, and the serum has worked wonders for any dark spots that creep up after I have a breakout. If you struggle with the same issue, try it out for yourself—you really won’t regret it.