Although the beauty industry has made tremendous strides in areas like sustainability and inclusion, I'm beginning to realize that it still has a long way to go. Since I've had the pleasure of speaking with various Black entrepreneurs within the beauty space, my eyes have been opened to the immense challenges those with melanin-rich skin face that I myself wasn't even thinking about when selecting my own product lineup. The needs of people of color are still not being met in a lot of ways and consumers are starting to take notice. For example, check your ingredient list. If you have Black or Brown skin and are using a brightening product marketed toward POC, you might want to check and make sure the ingredients used won't overly (and permanently) lighten your rich skin tone.
This is just one of many things to take into consideration and what has caused many Black consumers to pivot into the world of entrepreneurship. I sat down with a few of these talented and forward-thinking individuals to dive deep into the ethos of their brands. What I discovered is that the world is moving into a time of purpose-driven, conscious capitalism. These entrepreneurs envision a world where businesses listen to their community and create products based on those often overlooked needs. It's truly an exciting time to be alive and I'm grateful I got the opportunity to speak to these incredible folks. Keep reading below for what seven gifted Black entrepreneurs have to say about their thoughtful, well-crafted skincare brands—and what to shop from each brand, of course.
With an award-winning skin hero under its belt and exciting new products coming down the pipeline very soon, I think it's safe to say Common Heir is on the come-up. But co-founder Angela Ubias envisions it becoming more than just another luxury skincare brand. "When I decided to build Common Heir, I knew I had an opportunity to cultivate a brand rooted in legacy that celebrates my multicultural background and love of beauty," she says. "I knew Common Heir was the perfect opportunity to reimagine luxury skincare to be not only better for the environment and efficacious, but also formulated with melanin in mind. We set out to prove that a luxury beauty brand can be helmed by women of color in a way that I always wished I'd seen growing up."
I've always appreciated this simple yet powerful mission statement. Not only were women of color kept in mind during the formulation process, but the brand's debut product also contains innovative, plastic-free packaging and biodegradable vegan capsules instead of a pump. It's also refreshing to know that the founders are always listening to consumers—they'll never put out a product if it isn't 100% up to their standards or meets the needs of their community. "We will never release a product for the sake of newness—we will continue to be thoughtful in curating our product line. Ultimately, my dream for Common Heir is for the brand to become synonymous with luxe and sustainable beauty, skincare, and wellness made for all," Ubias shares.
Common Heir is the real deal—and if I may be so bold to say—the future of luxury skincare.
Many of you know how much I love Eadem and the brand's debut product, the Milk Marvel Dark Spot Serum. Unsurprisingly, co-founders Alice Lin Glover and Marie Kouadio Amouzame were inspired to create an item that addressed the needs of people of color without being harmful. That sounds like it would be a given, right? Wrong. There are unfortunately plenty of toxic ingredients in products marketed toward those with melanin-rich skin.
"My co-founder Marie and I have always been pretty obsessed with skincare, and years before starting Eadem, would have fun swapping tips with each other," says Glover. "It was through these conversations that we noticed just how many 'tweaks' we'd both have to make to create a safe yet effective skincare routine that actually worked for our melanin-rich skin without altering or lightening it. We decided to follow our intuition and create a brand designed specifically for women like us—one that's not pushing the homogenous western beauty ideals you see everywhere and instead celebrates our diverse skin tones and cultures. Eadem is not a marketing play on the clean beauty trend or diversity for the sake of diversity—it's about the real needs and unique perspectives of women of color."
What makes the Milk Marvel Dark Spot Serum the perfect product to address these needs? It's a well-researched and thoughtful formulation. "After years of research, Marie and I came to realize that we weren't the only ones dealing with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation—it's actually the number one reason people of color visit the dermatologist! Our serum is designed to gently and effectively target dark spots caused by hyperpigmentation without lightening the overall skin tone. Our product formulation philosophy is built around Smart Melanin Beauty, which means that we only use high-performance, melanin-compatible ingredients with proven efficacy on skin of color. Our active ingredients are carefully chosen and used at the most efficient dosage to be gentle on skin without aggravating it or altering skin tone. One key ingredient we use is amber algae. It targets only excess pigmentation and is supported by other star ingredients like licorice root, niacinamide, and encapsulated vitamin C, which further brightens, smooths, and removes excess pigmentation."
Undefined Beauty has no desire to be a high-end, overpriced brand. Instead, founder Dorian Morris wants to open a new chapter in the beauty space—one that makes skincare and plant-based wellness remedies both accessible and reasonably priced. "I believe in the power of plants," Morris shares. "I am hyper-intentional in pairing plant magic (aka adaptogens) and clinically tested skincare actives to create supercharged products that work."
Morris's philosophy and business practices involve a clean, conscious, and inclusive approach. "Conscious capitalism is a key Undefined value and we partner with female-founded, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ businesses across our supply chain because business empowers business. I [also] incorporate diverse illustrations on my packaging to tie back to the ancient plant magic in the formula or end benefit of the product—showcasing the beauty of diversity and inclusivity in action. Representation matters. Economic inclusivity is also important with a focus on accessible luxury with high-quality yet accessibly priced products."
Undefined is at the forefront of an important paradigm shift—we're moving away from narrowly defined beauty standards and into a more comprehensive, community-driven approach. "I think the people are ready for something new. Historically, the beauty and wellness industry has had one face and she was blonde, skinny, affluent, and white. That's a broken paradigm. We all deserve access to high-quality products that don't cost your firstborn child. Undefined is celebrating this new and important method of 'undefining' the industry. Wellness shouldn't be elusive or exclusive. Let's democratize it."
Anne Beal, M.D., felt like she was on an endless quest to find effective youth-preserving products for melanin-rich skin. "I have always looked for the best products for healthy skin, and as a physician, I thought I had an excellent knowledge base for choosing products," Beal says. "But as I entered my 40s and then 50s, I found that most anti-aging products focused on fine lines and wrinkles, which weren't my concern. Instead, I was seeing changes in my skin tone and emerging dark marks, and I realized melanated skin shows age differently. I also didn't like the general focus on fighting my skin and fighting aging. Instead, I wanted products that promote healthy skin and aging beautifully."
AbsoluteJoi also focuses on the larger picture when it comes to skin health. Those with mature skin don't always have just one concern. "I also struggled with oily skin and adult acne while looking for anti-aging products, and most were too heavy and occlusive," she says. "Then the final straw was when my daughters entered adulthood and wanted to elevate their skincare, but struggled because their skin is so sensitive. As a physician, I know that Black and Latinx patients have more issues with allergies that show up as asthma, but also as sensitive atopic skin. This is when I leaned into my research and development background to create science-based products that address our specific skincare needs and challenges for skin health at any age."
4.5.6 Skin is another purpose-driven brand that was born from—you guessed it—consumer frustration. Founder Noelly Michoux was more than ready to disrupt the status quo when building the brand. "I was eager to challenge myself and dare to dream of creating melanin-driven skincare formulas to help solve issues that uniquely affected my skin and millions of other women and men who shared my skin physiology. There is a point when you just get fed up with asking to be seen and genuinely considered," Michoux states.
There were a few other key things Michoux really wanted to address with 4.5.6 Skin and you'll definitely notice a running theme. "Despite the advanced technology and awareness we have in the industry, there was still a neglect of health and wellness elements in the skincare and beauty equation—especially for women of color who were frequently being exposed to unsafe, toxic ingredients in the beauty products marketed for our skin tone. And lastly, that people of color, despite their massive financial contribution to the beauty industry, were still an afterthought for the majority of leading brands in the beauty and skincare space." What emerged were products high in quality and customizable based on the consumer's answers to a quiz about their skin type. You can even choose to opt-out of having fragrance in your product if your skin is sensitive to it.
Hyper Skin founder Desiree Verdejo saw an open space for people of color dealing with breakouts. "I've struggled with acne since I was a teenager and that was always followed by noticeable dark spots," she shares. "I owned a beauty boutique in New York City and my incredibly multicultural customer base was constantly seeking solutions for their dark spots, yet I couldn't pinpoint a skincare solution for them or myself. I finally came to the realization that there really just wasn't anything out there addressing that concern or other key issues for skin of color. I created Hyper Skin because I set out to fill a void by creating an easy, fun, results-oriented skincare brand that is hyper-inclusive. The goal of the brand has always been to celebrate real skin, real diversity and to consistently create products that render real results."
Another wonderful brand powered by plant-based formulas is Anové, founded by Evonna S. Kuehner. Kuehner created her brand with two main focuses in mind: "First was tapping into the goodness and healing properties of plants to address concerns I had and second was wanting to contribute to more Black female founders in the luxury skincare space with a line that was effective for all skin tones," she says.
She also has a vision for the company that expands beyond just care of the face. Refreshingly enough, the brand doesn't use synthetic fragrances or harsh chemicals so we can expect other skincare that is gentle and non-irritating. "Next up for Anové is definitely body care this year since I’ve always envisioned this brand offering a luxurious full-body experience! From a distribution perspective, you can expect to find our products in more retailers this year as well."
Other Beauty-Editor Favorites From Black-Owned Skincare Brands