The importance of recognizing and championing black female entrepreneurs cannot be understated. As in many industries, black leaders are sadly under-represented in the beauty space. This is especially disappointing considering black women make up an enormous percentage of beauty patrons. Last year, EWG.com reported that though African-Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, black consumers’ spending “accounts for as much as 22 percent of the $42 billion-a-year personal care products market.” So even the numbers prove it: Black women need more support and representation in beauty.
So let’s take the opportunity to support the following 13 women: inspiring entrepreneurs of color who have founded some of the best beauty brands on the market. From New Orleans-based indie brands to Sephora best sellers, their hair and makeup lines deserve both your applause and your dollars. Keep reading to meet 13 inspiring black women doing incredible things in the beauty industry. (As you scroll, don’t forget to check out their brands and add a few products to your cart!)
The brand: Briogeo
Nancy Twine had already led a successful career in finance for almost seven years before she made the leap to beauty in 2014. Her haircare line, Briogeo, made her the youngest African-American woman to launch a beauty range at Sephora. Plus, the products themselves are incredible—her ridiculously nourishing Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask ($36) has earned standing ovations from women of all hair types.
Miko and Titi Branch
The brand: Miss Jessie’s
Natural haircare brand Miss Jessie’s is one of the most beloved in the industry, and it all started with sisters Miko and Titi Branch, who built their business from the ground up. The brand is named after the duo’s grandmother, who taught them the value of independence (and how to concoct the best natural-hair elixirs from scratch).
The brand: Beauty Bakerie
You’d never know from the sugary-sweet aesthetic that Cashmere Nicole’s cruelty-free cosmetics line was born from struggle. After the now-32-year-old makeup artist became a mother in her teens, she was diagnosed with breast cancer but powered through it all to launch Beauty Bakerie. The brand was discovered by Beyoncé herself, and naturally, it skyrocketed from there. All of that without mentioning that the products themselves are lovely—check out the Matte Lip Whip ($20), which comes in a shade for every personality and skin tone.
The brand: Pat McGrath Labs
What would a list of beauty powerhouses be without Pat McGrath? The revered celebrity makeup artist launched her hotly anticipated line in late 2015, and now whenever she releases a new product, it is swept off Sephora shelves in seconds. (Her Lust 004 lipstick, $25, is back in stock for a limited time right now, so snag it quick!)
Kim Etheredge and Wendi Levy
The brand: Mixed Chicks
Kim Etheredge and Wendi Levy created their curly-hair line out of a need for products that cater to people with multicultural backgrounds. Now their stuff is used by celebrities from Halle Berry to Jennifer Hudson. (Check out their incredible Leave-In Conditioner, $20).
The brand: CurlBox
Myleik Teele started her career in PR but soon went on to create this genius monthly subscription box for women with curly hair. The smartly curated subscription offers amazing curly-hair brands both well known and under the radar, from SheaMoisture and DevaCurl to Alikay Naturals and Uncle Funky’s Daughter. A true media mogul, Teele also has a web series, “CurlBox TV,” and a lifestyle podcast.
The brand: Iman Cosmetics
Another of the most successful beauty brands around was founded by Somali supermodel Iman. Her iconic line offers luxurious skincare and makeup for black, Asian, Latina, and multicultural women with an impressive range of shades and formulas. Her award-winning Radiance Liquid foundation ($16) is a must-try.
Eunice W. Johnson
The brand: Fashion Fair
One of the first black female trailblazers in beauty, Eunice W. Johnson founded Fashion Fair in 1973 after discovering that there weren’t nearly enough makeup shades for women of color on the market. Johnson died after a long, illustrious career in 2010, but her brand remains the largest black-owned cosmetics company in the world.
The brand: Pooka
You may not be familiar with this holistic beauty line yet, but it’s absolutely worth a perusal. Dawn Fitch founded the line after she fell mysteriously ill and embarked on an epic mission to transition to an all-natural skin- and haircare routine. The ingredients she uses in her line are free of preservatives, dyes, phthalates, parabens, and sulfates, and all the products are aromatherapeutic and utterly divine—we recommend her Forever Lavender Body Oil ($18).
Niala and Tia Howard
The brand: Magnolia Makeup
Some of the brightest, most colorful makeup available comes from this New Orleans-based brand. Sisters Niala and Tia Howard had a lifelong infatuation with makeup before launching their playful, highly pigmented line, which was created to suit all skin types and tones. (They even created a version of last year’s viral Rainbow Highlighter, $40!)
This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated