Reclaiming Black Beauty

category - skincare
sector - beauty
category - black lives matter
category - gender
category - society
sector - diversity & inclusion
category - black history month
The beauty sector is developing to meet the needs of Black consumers, driven by innovative Black founders who are authentically prioritising and understanding their requirements

Across all industries, the Black Lives Matter movement is forcing brands to re-assess their own attitudes, actions and values pertaining to racism.

In beauty in particular – an industry known for ignoring the needs of Black consumers, who happen to be among its most devoted spenders – the sector is evolving. Not waiting for major retailers or brands to step up, a series of independent Black-founded brands and entrepreneurs are taking the 'for us, by us' approach to drive change, providing Black beauty consumers with products and knowledge suited to their skin and hair needs, while also helping to strengthen communities online and offline.

Mindful marketplaces

At a time when 41% of black Americans say they feel brands don’t understand their experience, international beauty retailers such as Sephora, Boots and Ulta are being challenged to address their inventories, marketing and outreach (source: Opinium and Marketing Dive).

Forging ahead, however, are a new generation of Black-owned digital marketplaces offering curated selections of products and visibility for lesser-known brands, while celebrating Black culture and community in all its intersectional variation.

Beautyocracy helps Black womxn shoppers discover diverse and inclusive beauty brands, curated in one marketplace, focusing on ethically sourced products that are vetted and verified as ‘diverse, inclusive, clean and simple’. It’s founder Auja Little, who moved from real estate into beauty, explains: ‘I felt like traditional retail was failing me. I hated that I was spending money with retailers who relegated me to a separate aisle or made me feel, as a Black woman, like a second fiddle in their marketing,’

Geenie, meanwhile, has created a digital marketplace that helps Black womxn shop from brands that align with their values. By focusing on intersectionality and inclusivity, it's formed a tight-knit community that provides educational content, helps people connect with like-minded individuals to share beauty tips and encourages values-based discussions.

Similarly, the UK’s Candour Beauty focuses on brands that are aware of their ingredients and the social impact of their products on the world around them, while also working to remove the ‘will this work for my Black skin?’ pain point faced by many when shopping online.


Published by:

18 October 2021

Author: Mica Anthony

Image: Beautyocracy


Faces Campaign 2020 by Melyon

Homage to ancestry

As Candour recognises, Black beauty brands and consumers throughout the diaspora are returning to traditional, ancestral ingredients used by generations before them.

Taking centre stage are Moroccan argan oil, baobab oil, chebe powder and mango butter from the African continent, while Jamaican black castor oil, moringa oil and coconut oil are star ingredients from the Caribbean. Belle Bar Organic’s Chebe Powder Growth Hair Mask, for example, takes direct inspiration from the ancient beauty ritual widely practised by the Basara Arab women in Chad to maintain long, thick, strong hair.

Liha Beauty helps Black beauty shoppers connect with their heritage through its West African-derived body products. Its Ose Gidi soap – Yoruba for ‘real soap’ – takes a modern approach to traditional African black soap, while the Asé Rollerball fragrances are inspired by three traditional female Yoruba deities.Using only ‘fresh and organic superfoods that have been tried and true for centuries by our ancestors’, Terra-Tory’s soaps and body butters are formulated to treat eczema and sensitive skin. Shea butter, plantain and patchouli essential oil are used alongside other ingredients of West Indian origin – enabling users to seamlessly integrate heritage practices into modern-day routines. ‘When I was concepting Terra-Tory, I went back to my roots and re-evaluated my core values,’ says Kim Waldropt, its founder. ‘I wanted to create a product that elevated natural healing and herald back to the practices that my mom had mastered so many years ago.’

‘The global market for shea butter will surpass £2.2bn ($2.9bn, €2.5bn) by 2025, owing to strong demand for natural and safe cosmetics among consumers’
Global Market Insights​

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