All makeup-wearing women of color know the struggle of walking into their local drug store, making their way to the makeup aisle, and feeling as if they have to choose from three “dark” and “deep” shades out of the 15-25 sitting pretty on the shelf.
Prior to the 1970s, the supply of makeup for black women was scarce and existing makeup (made for pale skin) often did not blend with rich skin tones, making women appear grey. The makeup that did exist for black women encouraged the idea that black women should use cosmetics to appear similar to white women.
A number of cosmetic powders and creams were created for the sole purpose of brightening dark skin.
Recently, a number of black youtubers including Jackie Aina and Alyssa Forever have been using their platforms as a means for exposing viewers to black-owned makeup brands; using the B.O.M.B. (Black-Owned Makeup Brands) challenge, where they apply a full face of makeup, using all products from black-owned brands.
Some brands mentioned in the videos include:
Black Opal – $
Black Opal was founded in 1994, when it launched its first doctor-recommended skin care line for men and women of color. The official cosmetics sponsor of the Miss Black America Sponsor Pageant has released a number of skincare and cosmetics products over the years, catering specifically to people of color. The brand has been welcomed in a number of countries around the world including Kenya and the Netherlands. Black Opal’s official website states, “with an impressive range of formulas and a stunning collection of shades our makeup complements and enhances a woman’s natural beauty.” Black Opal offers a range of face, lip, and eye makeup, as well as products for hyperpigmentation, dark spots, brightening, oil control, and pore refining sun protection.
Coloured Raine – $$
Coloured Raine was founded in 2013 and became notorious for their matte lipsticks and opaque lip lacquers. The brand offers a wide range of shades of eyeshadows and lipsticks that appear opaque on all skin colors, which was the main goal of the brand upon its 2013 launch. Coloured Raine cosmetics also offers affordable and vibrant nail polishes.
Shea Moisture – $$
The grandchildren of Sofi Tucker, a Sierra Leone woman who began selling shea butter, African black soap, and a number of her homemade hair and skin preparations in 1912, founded Shea Moisture in her honor. Shea Moisture has become known for their natural hair and skin products, but offers a number of natural cosmetic products as well. The brand offers facial products including primer, foundation, concealer, bronzer, and pressed powder; lip products including lip liner, lip crayon, lip stain, and lip gloss; and eye products including wet and dry eyeshadows, mascara and eyebrow kits (pomade, pencil, etc.). Shea Moisture is an eco-friendly and cruelty-free brand.
Black Radiance – $
Black Radiance is an easily accessible brand that can be found in most local drug stores. The brand offers a wide variety of eye, lip, and face products, as well as accessories such as brushes and sharpeners. Black Radiance’s mission, as stated on their website, is to “enable women of color around the world to be even more beautiful.” as they encourage the “beauty of self-acceptance and inner strength of today’s black women with a portfolio of luxurious, affordable formulas.”
IMAN Cosmetics – $$
IMAN cosmetics was founded in 1994 by supermodel Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid with the intention of catering to black, Asian, Latina and multicultural women with skin tones in a myriad of shades. The brand offers skin care as well as cosmetics products. With products ranging from BB creams to contour kits to eyeshadows to lipsticks, IMAN is a one-stop shop for all things beauty.