8 Beauty Brands Founded by Women of Color That You Need to Try

The beauty industry has evolved so much within the past decade; it’s hard to keep up with all the wonderful products that our favorite brands release! But one thing we tend to forget is that many beauty brands tend to cater toward one demographic, rather than try to appeal to beauty lovers of all kinds. Luckily, many talented women of color took matters into their own hands and pioneered their own booming beauty businesses, focusing on delivering superior quality beauty products for every kind of woman in America. Whether you fall into the majority or the minority, these eight bomb beauty brands owned by women of color are sure to level up your own beauty routine.

1. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna   

When R&B queen, Rihanna, announced that she was releasing her own cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty, Rihanna fans and makeup lovers alike were jumping for joy. In a matter of weeks, Fenty Beauty became one of the most popular luxury makeup brands on the market, but it wasn’t just Rihanna’s famous name that won us over. Rihanna made her brand complexion-focused, ensuring that her products flattered all kinds of skin tones. “The biggest challenge was making sure that each product covered all skin tones, and it was a challenge I was up for,” Rihanna says in an interview with BAZAAR magazine. “I didn’t care how long it took, I was going to make sure that we covered most skin tones. Diversity and inclusiveness are important to the brand”.

Rihanna knows the dilemma that many women of color like herself face when trying to find the perfect foundation, so she launched 40 unique foundation shades that could perfectly match a wide range of skin complexions. Rihanna also recently released a line of lipsticks that could suit a variety of skin tones. With this huge a variety of luxurious foundations, lipsticks, and more, Fenty Beauty is sure to make any woman slay as flawlessly as the Bad Gurl herself.

2. The Lip Bar by Melissa Butler 

A unique and bold lipstick that can perfectly suit darker skin tones and lighter skin tones alike? Yes, please! African American founder of The Lip Bar, Melissa Butler had the firsthand struggle of finding a one-of-a-kind lipstick that suited her darker complexion. Like many women with dark skin, Butler found that many of the market’s mainstream lipsticks tended to wash her out or give her lips an ashy look.

And despite being shot down on ‘Shark Tank’ as a contestant back in 2015, Butler designed her own sick lipstick brand. The Lip Bar includes a variety of vegan, cruelty-free lipsticks, some in bolder colors like vibrant violets and gorgeous greens, all with the right undertones to suit women of various skin tones. Butler’s perseverance as a woman of color with a bright idea that mighty Shark Tank judges looked down upon makes this brand seem more badass than we thought! So, check out The Lip Bar for fierce lip colors that will be sure to wow!

3. SLMD Skincare by Dr. Sandra Lee aka Dr. Pimple Popper 

Inspired by her patients’ struggles to find accessible, effective skincare, Chinese-American dermatologist, Dr. Sandra Lee, designed her own line of skincare products known SLMD Skincare. “[SLMD skincare] is about creating effective treatment options for the most common skin conditions and making them available to the vast majority of the world who are unable to see a dermatologist and get the proper treatment for a skin condition that causes [them] discomfort, frustration, and / or embarrassment and shame,” Dr. Lee says.

As a woman of Asian descent, Dr. Lee learned a lot about the attitudes toward her expertise in the beauty and medical realms, which assisted her on her journey to create SLMD skincare. “As a dermatologist and surgeon, I’ve never felt held back or regarded to a lesser degree because of my ethnicity or my sex. [But] if I’m running errands about town and I’m still in my surgical scrubs, strangers will ask me what doctor I work for, not usually assuming that I myself may actually BE the physician…I think this is assumed because I’m an Asian and a woman. [Despite this], I suspect that being Asian and being female actually benefits me and boosts my business as a dermatologist on social media and the beauty industry.”

Dr. Lee tries to not only to bring people with different skin types effective skin solutions but also a thorough education about their skin and a sense of empowerment. Since SLMD products keep all these factors in mind and only use the necessary dermatologist-recommended ingredients to fight acne and brighten the skin, there are tons of reasons to try to better your skin’s condition with this simple, healthy skincare line. 

4. Besame Cosmetics by Gabriela Hernandez 

If you’re up for a fun, vintage twist to your beauty regimen, then look no further than Besame Cosmetics! Founded by Argentinian color connoisseur, Gabriela Hernandez, Besame (which means “Kiss Me” in Spanish) is a beauty line inspired by the cosmetics women used in the 1920s and 1930s. Hernandez was inspired by her own grandmother’s beauty regimen and she decided to build upon that and create a unique makeup experience that takes you back to simpler times.

From classic red lipsticks, to radiant face powders, Besame Cosmetics takes all the lovely charms of early 1900s beauty and repackages them into staple modern cosmetics we can use today. Hernandez focuses on creating simple makeup products that could flatter all skin tones, which means that her blushes and lipsticks can flatter paler complexions, darker complexions, and everything in between. From the fancy old-fashioned packaging to the 1900s inspired colors, Besame Cosmetics makes putting on makeup feel like one of the most luxurious experiences in your daily routine.

5. Dermovia: Lace Your Face by Anita Sun 

We all love a good spa day, but when life gets busy, a nice breather is hard to come by. Asian-American Medical Esthetician, Anita Sun, didn’t believe it had to be that way though. Sun’s Dermovia: Lace Your Face masks are made of flexible material which latches onto the natural contours of your face comfortably, so you can go on with your day while thoroughly moisturizing and relaxing your skin!

“[Dermovia’s] Lace Your Face collection of masks target various skin concerns and helps to boost hydration in all skin types,” Sun tells us. “The goal of these products is to keep your skin healthy and strong,”. As a woman of color, Sun says she’s actually had a mostly positive experience breaking into the beauty industry with her Dermovia brand.

“I think that many retailers and customers support diversity in the marketplace and they take well to businesses that are started by different ethnic groups,” says Sun. “In the beauty industry, I realized that being of Asian descent was beneficial since most other ethnic groups recognize that Asian women are taught at a young age the importance of skincare and protecting the skin from sun damage. Because of this, people may be more willing to learn the secrets of good skin based on my cultural heritage.” If these Dermovia: Lace Your Face masks are half as refreshing as that perspective, we definitely recommend trying them out!

6. Huda Beauty by Huda Kattan 

A household name in all makeup conversations, Huda Beauty is one of the hottest makeup brands around! Huda Beauty was founded by Iraqi-American makeup master and YouTuber, Huda Kattan. Starting off as a finance major, Kattan was always drawn to the makeup world and she began to share her own tips and tricks for looking fabulous on her blog and YouTube channel. From there she realized the kinds of products she wanted on the makeup market and soon enough Huda Beauty was born.

The Dubai-based brand launched with dramatic false lashes then eventually expanded to luxurious foundations, eyeshadow palettes, highlighters and lipsticks, all carefully crafted by Kattan herself. As an Iraqi-American woman, Kattan appealed her YouTube content to makeup trends in the states and in the Middle East. With all those perspectives in mind, Kattan managed to design Huda Beauty cosmetics, which garnered beauty buzz from all over the world. If you want to create elegant eye-looks with well-pigmented shiny eyeshadows and popping lashes, then Huda Beauty will surely deliver.

7. Purlisse by Jennifer Yen 

Did you know a former Power Rangers villain founded this skincare line? Yup, Jennifer Yen, the Chinese-American actress who played Vypra in the Power Rangers television show actually founded the popular skincare line, Purlisse! Yen came up with Purlisse after trekking out to find skincare that could repair her skin from the damage of long-wearing costume makeup.

“I turned to my heritage to solve my skin issues I was having during my Power Rangers days,” Yen says. “My skin was WRECKED from heavy costume makeup (and performing combat scenes CAKED in the stuff). I tried everything to heal my ravished skin, and nothing worked. It was only when I turned to my heritage my skin started to heal.”Purlisse features a wide array of skincare products, like facial cleansers and BB creams that use gentle, natural ingredients to elevate skin condition. “Purlisse means Beauty through Asian Wisdom; I was inspired to create a skincare line from my grandmother’s home remedies (that have been tried and tested for thousands of years!),” Yen says.

Through the magnificence of old Chinese beauty rituals, Yen realized the great potential of her own heritage’s practices and how they made her a worthy competitor in the beauty market. “I felt that I had an edge as an Asian woman, starting a beauty company inspired by Asian beauty rituals - I was coming from an authentic and true place,” Yen says. “Although it’s always difficult to start a business, I never saw or felt there was a ceiling.”

With her own heritage’s ancient beauty traditions mixed with modern innovations in skin science, Purlisse is a skincare brand worth trying out; if it's worked for 5000 years it’s gotta be the real deal!  

8. Cocotique by Dana Hill

Dubbing itself “the best beauty box for women of color”, Cocotique Beauty Box subscription service has definitely caught our attention. Dana Hill, an African American beauty junkie, wanted to create an easy way for women of color to find the best beauty products for their individual beauty needs. The subscription service delivers sample and full-size beauty products including haircare, skincare, makeup and many more goodies. It can be tough to find haircare that conditions and strengthens thicker hair, or eyeshadows that pop against tanner complexions, but with this subscription box, all the items are curated for you and allows you to try out products originally made for these specific needs. After trying out some of the sample size products, if you end up loving them, you can purchase them on their website. If you want to experiment with new products but still be steered in the right direction, Cocotique is a perfect service to try out!

These gifted women of color came from all walks of life, but it was their passion for beauty and their heritages that inspired them to create all these extraordinary products for us to enjoy. Get inspired by the products of their passion and let them invigorate your own beauty routines!

Iesha Ismail is currently a junior double major in English and Women's Studies at the University of Florida. Iesha is a Feature Writer and Style Blogger for Her Campus National and Features Editor for Her Campus UFL. She is an Editorial Intern for Ecophiles Media as well as a Writer for UF Sparks Magazine. She loves to observe nature and fashion as inspiration for all kinds writing she's into. Fashion, culture, drawing, and animation are just a few of the passions she plays with on the daily. Whether it's writing colorful stories or sketching in her worn out sketchbooks, Iesha always dabbles in anything art.

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