In honor of Black History Month, we’re rounding up our Beauty Through the Black Lens series in one place just for you. Hear from Black brand founders, dermatologists, models, makeup artists, and more about their experiences as people of color in beauty. Things have come a long way, but these inspiring stories prove there is still a lot of work to be done.
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We’re seeing big changes in the fashion and beauty industries: racial diversity on the runway, age inclusion in hair care ads, and size inclusion in athletic wear to name a few. While it’s easy to get swept up in these important industry shifts, Hannah Harris is focusing on the little (albeit equally impactful) changes. Her first daunting question: Where are all the brown hands? With a beautifully curated Instagram feed and an emerging content studio by the name of Brown Girl Hands, Harris is beginning to answer her own question.
Jade Ponce has an immediately recognizable gentle spirit. Sure, you might first notice that she has mastered the art of a glowing soft beat or that her highlighter is the perfect shade for her honey complexion—but then you take note of her sweet smile and inviting demeanor and think, I want to be friends with this girl.
There’s a gap in the beauty industry, and Tisha Thompson is on a mission to fill it starting with her new company LYS BEAUTY. This good-for-your-skin makeup brand includes vegan, cruelty-free, and sustainably packaged products that all retail for less than $30. The brand launched in 2019 and has already joined Sephora’s shelves as the first Black-owned clean beauty brand, but it’s no wonder this cosmetics company is such a hit. Thompson is a trailblazing clean beauty veteran with more than 15 years of innovation under her belt, and she’s using her industry expertise to service women of color.
Looking at Tennille Murphy’s salt and pepper curls, one can’t help but look forward to living authentically. The 40-something multifaceted content creator is vibrant and thriving in an industry that has a reputation for prioritizing youth above all else, and her unapologetic choice to embrace her individuality inspires others to do the same.
There are certain unspoken beauty standards that we all seem to have fallen in line with, no matter how woke we may be. Somewhere between believing that thinner is better and that straight hair reigns supreme, we’ve also silently agreed that taking care of your skin is for women. Bryce Anthony is here to change that.
If you’ve ever been to a Dominican hair salon, you were likely greeted with the smoky aroma of hair sheen and the sizzling sound of hair being pressed and stretched from curls and kinks into the famously bone-straight Dominican blowout. This hair-fried sizzle that is familiar to so many will not be found at Carolina Contreras’ natural hair salon, Miss Rizos salon. Her namesake brand has two salon locations (one in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and the other in New York City) that are working to not only transform the way that curly-haired people see their hair but to also change how Afro-Latina women see their own beauty.
Danessa Myricks has been called “your favorite makeup artist’s favorite makeup artist.” As hyperbolic as it sounds, chances are it’s true. Over the past few years, the respected makeup artist has made vibrant, glittery waves as shoppers discovered her namesake brand in stores and online—but before that, Danessa was already a beauty industry standout.
Get used to seeing Tabria Majors. The accomplished model has made her presence known with her work ranging from Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty show to Forever 21, and even an exclusive swimsuit collaboration with Fashion to Figure. She practically broke the internet when she channeled Beyoncé for Halloween, and she also happens to be plus-sized—which, quite frankly IMHO, is one of the least interesting things about her.
Dermatologist Adeline Kikam, MD, a.k.a. @brownskinderm, is a wellness provider, an educator for skin of color, and serious all-around inspiration. If you follow her on Instagram (she has more than 47,000 followers!), you know that all of her posts will not only provide a study-backed perspective, but also advice geared to help people of color to better understand their skin and how to care for it. From dropping intel on which sunscreen to use, to reminding the skincare industry that true diversity and inclusion does not end with a social post, Dr. Kikam is the skincare advocate and leader Instagram needs.
This year, Black social media influencers from YouTube to Instagram saw a surge of followers, opportunities, exposure, and success after the Uprisings following George Floyd’s death. But that success came at an emotional price for many. We caught up with Aja White, a beauty influencer who spent years steadily building up a dedicated following. Like so many Black influencers, she saw a fast surge in followers and opportunities around the time of #BlackoutTuesday. We got a chance to ask her about what life was like before and after the Uprisings, and how she has handled the surge in her followers—despite the events that led to that growth.
“Breaking the stereotypical mold of beauty with style, grace & a beat face,” are the words that make up beauty influencer Ndeye Peinda’s catchy yet powerful Instagram bio. It’s a sentence that encompasses the work she’s doing simply by existing and thriving in her own skin—though the idea of her beauty being revolutionary isn’t one that she asked for.
If there’s anything that Renée Loiz has learned in her twenty plus years of makeup artistry, it’s that beauty has an impact. Quite literally, she’s touched countless people as a celebrity makeup artist preparing Los Angeles’s young A-listers for the red carpet, but more recently, her reach has expanded further than her brush could alone. Amongst the angst and discomfort of the racial reckoning of 2020, Renée was compelled to do her part to increase visibility and access for Black-owned brands and creators.
Bianca Alexa is a UK-made, Puerto Rican-raised model based in Los Angeles. While she never could have imagined that a little island girl would one day build a career as the face of several fashion and beauty campaigns, Bianca has managed to work her way into an industry that so often has held little room for diversity. Her curly natural hair and complexion were outwardly celebrated in beauty campaigns, but behind the scenes, she often found herself in an experience that was quite isolating.
From harsh, acidic cleansers she should’ve left alone, to DIY masks and at-home extractions (please, don’t try that at home)—beauty and wellness writer Kindra Moné has probably tried it all on her quest to clearer skin. She’s experienced what felt like embarrassing breakouts for months on end in which she wouldn’t dare leave her house without makeup on, but she’s happy to say that lately, wearing concealer feels like an added boost to her look rather than a reluctant obligation. These days, it’s not a rarity for a friend on social media to ask her to drop her skincare routine or for a follower to comment on her newfound glow, but this was not always her story.
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