Beauty is not specific to race, color, size, or any other physical attribute. The world may try to tell us that we must sacrifice our natural beauty for the standards that the media portrays, but we know that the most beautiful parts of each of us are the things that make us unique.
There is nothing inherently wrong with makeup or other beauty products, but our wish is that we choose things that bring out who we are and what we stand for—whatever race we are and whatever background we come from.
In light of all that is going on in the world today, we wanted to highlight five amazing Black women who are actively changing the beauty industry. From making make-up shades more diverse to making hygiene products cleaner and more earth-friendly, women of color are making a difference for good.
1) Pat Mcgrath
Pat McGrath is arguably the most sought after make-up artist in the beauty industry. When Pat was a child, foundations for darker skin tones were hard to come by. Her mother showed her how to mix eyeshadow with light foundations in order to make colors that better matched her skin tone.
In the ’90s when makeup consisted of lots of shiny Vaseline, Pat started focused on big ideas like yellow eyebrows and silver lips. Today, she works with and knows how to bring out the beauty in models of all skin tones in fashion shows and events across the globe. One of her trademark themes is keeping the model’s natural skin as visible as possible when doing even her most creative work. She avoids heavy foundations and ensures that the skin’s natural beauty can shine through.
2) Balanda Atis
Balanda Atis is a chemist and manager at L'Oréal's Women of Color Lab. Like Pat McGrath, she always struggled to find products in shades that matched her own skin. Now, she works on creating products for women of color all around the world. Up to this point, she has created over 30 new shades of makeup for all different skin tones. She continues to work on research to keep this and many other causes alive.
3) Nancy Twine
Nancy Twine grew up in West Virginia making natural hair care products with her grandmother. Once she moved out on her own, she started to use commercial products that claimed to be natural and quickly realized that she and others in her community deserved better.
Fast forward and Nancy is now the founder of Briogeo—a natural hair care company that makes products for all different hair textures. Briogeo strives to be completely open about what ingredients are in each of their products by including percentages on their labels. Ingredients are ethically sourced, clean, and cruelty-free.
4) Gianne Doherty
With her husband, Jay Weeks, Gianne started Organic Bath Co.—a company dedicated to clean and simple self-care products. Gianne and Jay realized over time that there weren’t many clean, healthy products designed for and being advertised to Women of Color. After a personal battle with products on the market and Gianne’s sensitive skin that kept breaking out in hives, Jay created a clean, natural moisturizer that solved everything. The couple decided to take a stand and not only create Organic Bath Co., but also start a movement dedicated to wellness that focuses on community and empowerment. Organic Bath Co.’s skin and body products are ethical, clean, and 92% Certified Organic.
5) Melissa Butler
Melissa Butler is all about natural beauty. She was never make-up obsessed, but she did start to realize that when she wanted a little bit of color on her lips to brighten her day, she couldn’t find anything that was clean, healthy, and natural. That’s why she started The Lip Bar—an all-natural line of vegan, cruelty-free lipsticks.
It all started in her own kitchen with the intention of encouraging people to be themselves while wearing products that are safe and healthy. Her brand is all about diversity and being yourself. In her own words as written on thelipbar.com Melissa says, “...I am passionate about creating an inclusive narrative on what beauty is and reminding women that we don't have to settle for anything.”
The beauty industry is changing because of the contributions of Women of Color from diverse backgrounds. Through only one perspective, our possibilities are limited—our possibilities for growth and our ability to stand up for the underrepresented. However, when we look at the world through the lens of others who have different experiences than we do, our ability to bring out the true natural beauty in the world and in ourselves is boundless.
One person can make a difference. That difference may be brought about in your own unique way—using your unique talents and skills to fill in the gaps when voices go unheard or are misrepresented.
The industry is more diverse than ever, but we will not stop here. We have miles to go and we will keep moving.