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Five Black Women Who Made Strides in The Beauty Community

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USF chapter.

Happy Black History Month! To celebrate, I have decided to mention a few black women whose accomplishments stood out in the cosmetics and fashion industries. Equality in beauty standards still have a long way to go, but these beautiful women deserve to be recognized for their achievements.

Madam CJ Walker

Photo courtesy of Madam Walker Family Archives

Madam CJ Walker is widely recognized as the first self-made female millionaire in America. In 1905, she started experimenting with her own product range. She invented the first hair-straightening formula and the hot comb. Her legacy lives today, as “Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture.” Her line was released in Sephora in 2016.   

Jackie Aina

Photo courtesy of @jackieaina via Instagram

Jackie is a Youtuber who is known for advocating for black visibility in the beauty industry. With 2.9 million subscribers as of February 2019, Jackie does not shy away from potentially controversial, but much needed conversations. She has held brands accountable for not having an adequate and equal shade range. She has also called out beauty influencers for offensive remarks.

Jackie has collaborated with Elf, Too Faced, Sigma, and Sephora. Most notable of these is her partnership with Too Faced, which came after she expressed that the Born This Way Foundation did not have enough shades. Too Faced worked with her to expand the range from 24 to 35 shades.

Maria Borges

Photo courtesy of Getty Images for Victoria’s Secret

This Angolan model made Victoria’s Secret history in 2015 when she became the first model to rock natural hair in the show. The fashion show is known for white, skinny models with beautiful hair and skin who walk in lingerie fashions, but Maria decided to strut down the catwalk displaying only her natural short afro.

Borges told Essence “I told my agent I wanted to walk in the Victoria’s Secret show with my natural hair. I was nervous, but I had to do it. When they said yes I did not expect it, but I was so happy.”

Pat McGrath

Photo courtesy of MoreBranches

Pat McGrath has been hailed as fashion’s most influential makeup artist by Vogue magazine and others. She has collaborated with many top fashion shows such as Prada, Valentino, and Dolce & Gabbana. McGrath is known for her unique and innovative makeup looks with bold colors and experimentation with materials like feathers and ornaments. More uniquely, she uses her hands as opposed to traditional brushes.

When asked about her definition of beauty by Nylon, McGrath replied, “Real and true beauty comes from within. It’s like an energy, because the task of bringing out beauty—and at times creating it—really is like a puzzle. Often in my work, the approach to beauty is to seek perfection, yet sometimes beauty is imperfect or quite raw.”

In 2016, McGrath launched her makeup line Pat McGrath Labs.


Photo courtesy of @badgalriri via Instagram

Lastly, it would be a crime not to include Fenty Beauty. Rihanna has always been an iconic pop icon and a sex symbol, but recently she has broken into the beauty industry with her brand, Fenty. Her collection of products was praised for its shade range and inclusivity. Time Magazine named Fenty Beauty as one of the 25 best inventions of 2017.

Rihanna has also recently released a lingerie line called Savage X Fenty. Its promotion has been wonderfully celebratory of womanhood, such as a diverse fashion show.