Beauty has long been a space where self-expression, creativity and individuality has flourished. It’s also been a space where the monumental contributions of people of color have been overlooked and, at times, even appropriated. Supporting and seeking out beauty brands owned by people of color is just one of the many ways we can all celebrate the beauty and entrepreneurship of marginalized communities and start redefining the industry as truly inclusive.
That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our favorite POC-owned beauty brands. Each represents a unique story — whether it’s a product that caters to specific needs of people of color, draws inspiration from different elements of their heritage, or pays tribute to family and cultural traditions.
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A longtime makeup bag staple of ours, Juvia’s Place creates some of the highest quality products at a great price point. The brand was founded by Chichi Eburu, who struggled to find makeup that would enhance her deep skin tone. So she went about creating a makeup brand that celebrated color. “We are a colorful people,” Eburu describes in a blog post. “Our makeup should reflect the richness of our culture, our beauty and our history.” Our favorite products from the brand are its eye shadow palettes, specifically, the Nubian Eyeshadow Palette ($20). It’s truly a perfect option — the shadows are even more pigmented than they look in the pan, super flattering, bold yet easy to wear, and perfect for any look you’re hoping to achieve.
Inspired by “the simple glamor of her grandmother’s beauty routine,” designer and cosmetics historian Gabriela Hernandez recreates the classic luxury makeup from the early-to-mid 1900s in her Bésame Cosmetics line. The indie brand has accumulated quite the cult following, thanks to its historical accuracy and its superb performance. Take the brand’s Cake Mascara ($28) for instance. It looks stunning and it would look adorable on your vanity thanks to its novel packaging. But it’s also a game changer for those with allergies to modern mascara products as it’s completely vegan, gluten free, free of parabens and mineral oils, and formulated specifically for sensitive skin. Another bestseller is the brand’s Classic Color Lipstick ($28). It’s available in vintage-inspired red shades (and a vintage-inspired bullet-shaped tube) that works for folks of all skin tones and shades.
One of the most influential makeup artists in the world, Pat McGrath’ is unmatched for her expertise and acclaim in the beauty space. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II actually made her a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to the fashion and beauty industry. So it’s no surprise that her line of makeup products is just as good. Whether you opt for the absolute perfect blush ($38) or a luxurious and super pigmented matte lipstick ($38), you really can’t go wrong with anything from the brand. But if you have to start anywhere, we’d recommend the Mothership V Eyeshadow Palette ($125). It’s packed with stunning yet wearable shades that are all super pigmented and a dream to blend out.
Tower28 founder Amy Liu was frustrated that having sensitive skin and eczema limited her to serious, clinical-feeling beauty products. So after more than 15 years as a beauty executive, she started her own brand. All of Tower28’s products are non-toxic, free of irritants, vegan and cruelty-free, and a whole lot of fun. You truly can’t go wrong with any of the brand’s easy-to-use, natural-beauty enhancing products that are also ideal for anyone with super-sensitive skin. The SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation ($30) and BeachPlease Luminous Tinted Balm ($20) are perfect for a radiant everyday look, and we’re in serious need of an autoship option for the SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray ($28).
Rihanna credits makeup as her favorite tool for self-expression, not to mention one of the many ways she was able to become the icon she is today. Fenty Beauty has been boundary breaking in its own right, focusing on formulas that work for all skin types, shades that complement all skin tones, and products that are inclusive and representative of everyone. Two of our favorites from the brand totally embody this mission. Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Liquid Foundation ($38) originally launched in 40 shades — the most of any mainstream beauty brand at the time. They’ve since added another 10 shades. The brand’s Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer ($20) is an everyday lip gloss that truly flatters everyone, and it’s a mainstay in our purses and makeup bags.
Founder Rea Ann Silva had a long and super successful career as a Hollywood makeup artist before starting her own brand. But the fact that she popularized the original Beautyblender makeup sponge ($20) — a tool that helped ensure her clients looked perfect in high-definition — makes perfect sense. The sponge is basically synonymous with any and all makeup sponges now, and you’d be hard pressed to find a makeup artist who doesn’t have one in their tool kit. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s worth experiencing at least once and we’ll just say, good luck not repurchasing. If you’re already sold on the brand’s makeup sponge, they also have some gorgeous complexion products. We are partial to the BOUNCE Always On Radiant Skin Tint ($29) — a luminous, lightweight tint that’s perfect for those natural beauty days.
Iconic skincare brand Tatcha was founded over a decade ago by Victoria Tsai. After suffering from acute dermatitis, she traveled to Japan in search of a holistic approach to beauty and was inspired by the learnings and rituals of classical Japanese beauty. Today, Tatcha works with scientists in the United States and Japan to create unique formulas that advance those time-honored practices. Two of our top picks from the brand, The Dewy Skin Cream ($68) and The Essence ($95) feature the brand’s signature Hadasei-3 ingredient — a blend of green tea, rice and algae. Not only is this trinity of anti-aging superfoods a dream for sensitive skin, it’s also the basis for original geisha beauty rituals.
Kulfi Beauty was founded by Priyanka Ganjoo, who worked in the beauty industry for years prior to starting her own brand. While she helped indie and established beauty brands alike grow their businesses, she grew frustrated seeing brands tokenize and appropriate South Asian culture. So she left the corporate world to start Kulfi, which she calls “the result of my journey rediscovering the joy in makeup for myself and reclaiming my beauty for myself.” The brand’s award-winning kajal eyeliner ($40 for two) is available in five different colors. It’s extremely creamy, perfect for blending, waterproof and smudgeproof.
Founded in 2011 by Cashmere Nicole, Beauty Bakerie was created in response to a successful fight against breast cancer that caused Nicole to become more health conscious and aware of what she was putting in and on her body. Today, the brand is beloved for everything from its poppy packaging to its activism. In 2018, it became the first brand to label its foundation shades from darkest to lightest. The InstaBake Aqua Glass Foundation ($34) is both lightweight and full coverage, so you can stay comfortable without having to worry about your blemishes peeking through. Its Flour Setting Powder ($24) is a total fan-fave as it gives off that perfect matte finish that’ll blur pores and soften your complexion.
Mexican-American makeup artist Lora Arellano created Melt Cosmetics alongside business partner Dana Bomar with the goal of bringing ultra-matte, pigmented and bold shades of lipstick to market. You can still get the lipstick that started it all — the brand’s Ultra-Matte Lipstick ($22) is available in 27 shades, from your classic nude to a bold pitch black. But the brand has expanded and now offers a bevy of products we love, from a super matte gel eyeliner ($19) to a gorgeous cream blush ($22). Melt Cosmetics’ Amor y Mariposas Pressed Pigment Eyeshadow Palette (the brand’s first 20-shade palette) is a dream, with one reviewer sharing that she feels like this palette was “made for my complexion which means a lot to me as a South American, given the theme of the line.”
One of our absolute favorite K-beauty brands, COSRX has been popular throughout Asia for a couple years, and it’s just starting to get the same level of recognition in the U.S. The brand was founded in 2013 by Sanghoon Jeon, and is most well-known for its line of snail mucin products. Yes, the snails with shells that you can find around your garden — it turns out the slime they excrete is a jackpot of skincare goodness. Our favorite product from the line is its Snail Mucin Power Repairing Essence ($20), a serum-like product that you should apply after cleansing and before moisturizing. It’s super hydrating and soothing, and reviewers rave about how it helps to repair skin from burns, acne, peeling and a whole lot more.
Mented Cosmetics was created over a glass of wine and one key question: Why was it so hard to find the perfect nude lipstick? Founders KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson founded the line with the idea that people of every skin tone should see themselves represented in the products they need in the beauty industry. The brand’s lip products are some of its most popular. The Semi-Matte Lipstick ($16.50) is moisturizing and blends brown and pink shades for a multi-dimensional color that enhances multi-hued lips. The Lip Gloss ($14.99) is a perfect everyday gloss — shiny without being sticky, and a perfect complement to the lipstick. And while the shades look gorgeous on anyone, they’re particularly stunning on those with deeper skin tones.
Beloved haircare brand Briogeo was founded by Nancy Twine, who started her beauty journey very early in life. During visits to West Virginia throughout her childhood, she would assist her grandmother in creating homemade hair care products. After moving to New York City and using store-bought products, she realized that the natural hair care on the market wasn’t living up to its claims. So she started Briogeo, using her grandmother’s beauty recipes and a natural chemist team. We recommend the Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave In Conditioning Spray ($24), which smells incredible and is a perfect easy-to-use product for taming frizz and leaving your hair soft and healthy.
For lovers of natural beauty without the fuss, CLE Cosmetics is our go-to brand for everyday essentials that don’t just look good, but also are good for your skin. Founded by Lauren Jin, the brand is centered around Korean beauty technology. However, it’s distinct in its minimal approach — no need for an elaborate multi-step routine here. Our favorite product from the brand is its CCC Cream ($38): a one-step product to perfectly radiant, glowing and flawless skin that still very much looks like skin.
Founded by beauty vlogger Kathleen Fuentes (aka Kathleen Lights), Lights Lacquer is a nail polish brand all about community. It’s no surprise given the online following — shades are named after everything from Fuentes’s favorite TV shows to Cuban coffee drinks. The polishes are both high quality and incredibly pigmented, plus new colors are released every season. You can’t go wrong with whatever you choose, but we’d suggest starting with a perfectly curated collection like the It Was All A Dream Bundle ($58), which features five dreamy pastels (and a glitter coat) that work for any season.
Danessa Myricks started out as a self-taught makeup artist and eventually went on to lead product development for some of the biggest beauty brands like Benefit Cosmetics. Despite this success, she still felt that the world of makeup felt exclusive so she started her own brand. Danessa Myricks Beauty focuses on versatile products that are multi-functional and intended to work on all faces. One of our favorite products is the Lightwork Highlighting Palette ($42), which is available in two different shade ranges. Whichever you opt for, the glow is radiant, intense and creamy — everything you could ask for in a highlighter.
Rare Beauty’s products are gorgeously minimal and simplistic. According to the brand, it’s all about breaking down unrealistic standards of perfection and helping you feel your best being who you are — something that’s totally in line with founder Selena Gomez’s authentic, candid and relatable personality. We’re big fans of the brand's Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer ($19) and Soft Pinch Liquid Blush ($20), both of which are easy to apply and give you an effortless, naturally radiant look.
Founder Tata Harper launched her eponymous skincare brand in 2010, at a time when plant-based skin care wasn’t really a thing. Fortunately, that didn’t deter her. The now-famous brand is all about 100% natural products that meet Harper’s own standards of efficacy, quality and purity. In fact, many of the ingredients used in Tata Harper products are grown on her Vermont farm. However, it’s Colombia that she credits as forming her love for beauty — specifically, helping her grandmother host spa parties in her hometown of Barranquilla. We’d suggest starting with one of the brand’s fan-fave masks, like the Resurfacing BHA Glow Mask ($65), the Clarifying AHA + BHA Mask ($72) or the Purifying Pore & Blackhead Detox Mask ($72).
One/Size is a makeup brand founded by Filipino-American beauty influencer and makeup artist Patrick Starrr. And the brand’s facial products are truly everything you need for a flawless face with no filter required. The Turn Up the Base Butter Silk Concealer ($25) is creamy and super blendable, with that perfect amount of medium/full coverage that doesn’t look cakey. The Turn Up The Base Versatile Powder Foundation ($33) is a great full-coverage powder foundation that will keep everything set all day, while the On 'Til Dawn Mattifying Waterproof Setting Spray ($30) is our go-to for a night out — your makeup won’t be going anywhere.
Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.