The 9 Best Beauty Brands for Women of Color
As any woman of color can attest, finding a foundation that matches your skin is right up there in difficulty with applying false lashes. At least, it used to be. Thankfully, we’re starting to see a shift, as existing brands are expanding their shade offerings and newer ones are breaking down old barriers. Here, nine standouts that have been vetted by beauty experts and obsessives alike.
When Rihanna creates a brand, people get excited. But this is far from just another celebrity vanity project. Fenty came out of the gate with a clear mission: to create a range of products that work across all skin tones. To this end, it launched with a 40-shade foundation range, as well as a nude gloss that somehow looks good on everyone. And though the brand’s purple highlighters and vibrant palettes get the most hype on Instagram, the true standouts of the line are the everyday workhorses, like the Invisimatte blotting powder, which seamlessly buffs into deeper skin tones without leaving a chalky cast or giving flashback in photos.
Fenty Beauty ($32)
Next to Fenty, the brand to elicit the most excitement among beauty editors recently is Flesh. Created by Linda Wells, the founding editor-in-chief of Allure, the 12-product line is streamlined in its offerings, but substantial in its shade range. Case in point: The Firm Flesh Thickstick Foundation comes in 40 shades, while other staples like lipsticks come in no fewer than 24 hues and textures to cater to every complexion and preference. The fact that the most expensive product in the line caps at $38—a nine-color eye-shadow palette in case you were wondering—makes it all the more accessible.
Flesh Beauty ($18)
Ask any glowy-skinned beauty lover what their favorite highlighter is and we’re willing to bet that at least half of them say Becca. Though the Australian brand has been around for over 16 years, it wasn’t until the launch of the now-cult Champagne Pop Pressed Highlighter that it became the sold out sensation it is today. What makes it so special? The peachy, rose-gold shade was one of the first to incorporate both cool and warm undertones to compliment different complexions. Lucky for us, that ethos has extended beyond a single highlighter to include a range of flattering primers, bronzers and a limited-edition palette with Chrissy Teigen.
Becca Cosmetics ($38)
Some of the best innovations are born out of sheer frustration—as was the case with Stellar Beauty, which launched after founder Monika Deol, a Canadian-Indian woman and television personality, spent most of her career struggling to find makeup that matched her skin. In developing the brand, Deol charted every foundation sold at Sephora and found a huge gap in the middle range, which includes Hispanics, Latinos, West and East Indians, Asians, Middle Easterners, and bi-racial consumers. Her solution? Create a line of products that are formulated based on true undertones and tested on real people to ensure a spot-on match. In a happy twist of fate (or destiny), the brand is now sold exclusively at the mega retailer.
Stellar Beauty ($27)
Let’s start with the name: Mented is short for pigmented so there’s zero confusion on the brand’s mission. Launched last January, the non-toxic line started with nine shades of nude lipsticks that deliver creamy, full-coverage and, most importantly, seamless color to all its wearers. Since the initial launch, the buzzy brand has released more everyday neutrals including a trio of nude nail polishes, highlighters, lip glosses and an eye-shadow palette.
Mented Cosmetics ($17)
Inarguably one of the OGs when it comes to inclusive makeup, MAC has long catered to a spectrum of skin tones with its Studio Fix powders and foundations. Based on sheer volume alone (there are literally hundreds of lipsticks and eye shadows within the massive range), you’d be hard-pressed not to find a color that suits you. Ruby Woo aside, we’re forever loyal to the Studio Conceal and Correct Palette, which offers the perfect combo of colors to camouflage every last spot, patch and under-eye circle.
MAC Cosmetics ($35)
Ever swipe what you thought was a purple eye shadow only to have it barely show up on your lids? It’s disappointing to say the least. Which is exactly why Paula Hayes, a chemist and woman of color herself, created Hue Noir. This beauty brand is focused on creating affordable products (nothing in the line costs over $20) that won’t skimp on coverage. The Perfect Pigment Velvet Eyeshadows, in particular, impressed us with its generous color payoff. Don’t take our word for it: It has a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee and a 45-day return policy to ensure that you find your perfect match.
Hue Noir ($14)
With fashion-forward shades and super-sleek packaging, NARS has a reputation for creating makeup that’s as high functioning as it is beautiful. And, as any longtime fan knows, a large part of their staying power can be attributed to the comprehensive color range that’s equally diverse in textures and finishes. Exhibit A: The blush shown above is a cult favorite among many women of color because though it looks intense in the pan, the finely milled pigments impart the sort of healthy flush that you only thought possible from cardio. (Exhibit B: The entire Orgasm collection.)
NARS Cosmetics ($30)
A quick YouTube search of the brand’s Teint Idole Ultra Long Wear Foundation will yield no shortage of rave reviews from women across all skin types and tones. Formulated using special pigments that maintain your skin’s pH level (translation: so the color doesn’t oxidize), this cult product took eight years to develop. Leading the charge was Balanda Atis, manager and chemist at L’Oréal’s Multicultural Beauty Lab, which was created in 2014 to develop more products for women of color across its expansive portfolio that includes Lancôme, Maybelline and Garnier.