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16 Black Owned Beauty Brands You Need To Know

Skeptics used to say black girls "didn't buy" foundation. Explain that to these beauty empires.

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1. Beauty historians are quick to talk about how Estee Lauder, Charles Revson, and Helena Rubenstein changed the realm of beauty . But the first self-made millionaire in America was Madame C.J. Walker, who created hair products for African American hair.

New York Daily News Archive / Getty Images

Here's a picture of her around 1916 driving her car, being a millionaire with her girls, NBD. Her products are still available, by the way.

2. Black Opal Beauty make some of the best foundation sticks out there.

Danielle Gray / Via

These foundation sticks are in the kit of nearly every makeup artist we work with at BuzzFeed — the shade range is great for women of color. It's a velvet finish somewhere between matte and dewy and looks great year round, regardless of the weather. They're also super affordable, at less than $10 a pop. They have other foundation types that vary in coverage, but not in quality: all tops on that front.


3. Fashion Fair was one of the first, and remains one of the best, black owned beauty companies in the world.

Fashion Fair / Via

It was founded by Eunice W. Johnson, the creator of the Ebony Fashion Fair, with her husband John H. Johnson, the publisher of Ebony and JET magazines. The Ebony Fashion Fair was this amazing celebration of African American women who got to walk the runways in designs by Vivienne Westwood, Dior, and more. Johnson noticed that models in the fair were mixing foundations to achieve their own shade, so she created this line to better serve the women in her life. It started off as a mail-order company and grew exponentially to what it is today.

Here's a video of past Fashion Fairs -- there's currently an exhibition of the Fair on tour.

View this video on YouTube

You can see if it's coming to a museum near by here, if you'd like.

4. Miss Jessie's is a cult favorite for curls.

They have products for all kinds of curls — the slightest of waves to the kinkiest curl. They've only been around since 1997, but it's hard to imagine the natural hair marketplace without their products at this point. They're everywhere, because they're just that good.

5. Shea Moisture, AKA the #1 brand that, when on sale at Target, can cause a stampede.

Doesn't she look radiant? From the Shea Moisture'd hair down to the lipstick choice.

Keyshia Ka'oir (the founder and CEO) always looks totally on point in her own creations.

7. IMAN Cosmetics — yes. That Iman. Ageless supermodel beauty, entrepeneur, and David Bowie's wife. That Iman.

She was the first to come out with BB Cream specifically for darker shades, and she's also spoken out against the racism of beauty brand placement in drug stores. She was once told that "black women don't buy foundation," and she laughed in their faces and made her own line to sell anyway. An actual hero.


8. curlBOX, the subscription box service for curly haired girls.

Look at their babely satisfied customers. I wish I could like this instagram ten thousand times.

9. Ginger + Liz, a vegan-friendly, toxin-free nail polish line that's specifically formulated against chemical reactions (and also just has a great shade range, which definitely helps).

10. Black Up Cosmetics has a great foundation range — it's a must, at least to try out. Their lip lacquers are awesome, too.

11. If curlBOX isn't for you, COCOTIQUE is another subscription service that sends not just hair products but makeup products, too.

13. Mixed Chicks, a curl-defining system founded by two bi-racial women for ladies with all kinds of curls.

I first discovered this brand in the bathroom of one of my friends who had the coolest hair I'd ever seen — and I've since seen it in the vanity of every other curly haired babe I know (particularly those with primarily 3C curl patterns). The most loved product is the Leave-in Conditioner — and remember that a little goes a really long way.


15. Sashe Cosmetics has a really fun shade range of greys, blacks, reds, pinks, greens, etc — I'd like all of them, by yesterday.

16. MDMflow is a London based beauty brand centered around a hip hop zine you can read online, too.

Look at that blue, you guys! And they were doing the baby hair thing long before it became trendy.

Did we miss your fave, or do you have a favorite product from these guys? Let us know in the comments below.

This post has been updated to reflect that Carol's Daughter was recently acquired by L'Oreal, and as such has been removed.