A History of Black-Owned Makeup Brands Spanning Over a Century

PhenomenalMAG Staff  |  Beauty Babes & Bosses

The first month after its launch, Fenty Beauty alone produced over $72 million in media value.

Makeup companies have wooed the black population and thrived for more than a century. Instead of a black lady, Anthony Overton, a black male, was the first businessperson to enter this sector with success. Black women's inability to obtain the makeup they desired was out to be primarily due to access issues. Sales of the "high-brown" face powder from Overton Hygienic skyrocketed in the US as well as nations like Egypt and Liberia.

According to Jet magazine, in 1920 the business had a $1 million Dun & Bradstreet credit rating. The packaging of black women's cosmetics was also enhanced by Overton, in addition to the makeup compositions themselves. Cosmetics businesses discriminated against their black customers, as Morton Neumann was aware. His own company, Valmor Products Co., which mostly catered to black clients, was founded by him in 1926. Despite being a brilliant operatic concert star, Anita Patti Brown was only able to perform in intimate settings owing to racial discrimination.

Back then, black women business owners like Madam C.J. Walker, Sarah Spencer Washington, and Annie Turnbo Malone concentrated on the hair care industry. African American ladies with ambiguous racial backgrounds were portrayed in Valmor Cosmetics advertisements with beckoning expressions. For their 1974 album cover, Some Girls, The Rolling Stones mimicked Valmor's advertisements. The creators of the ads gained additional notoriety in 2015 because of an exhibition held at the Chicago Cultural Center. One of the first cosmetics brands for black women was Keystone, and another was Lucky Heart.

Black models first appeared in Avon's 1961 advertisements in Ebony magazine. As far as department stores are concerned, Flori Roberts is the first such line. The first black cosmetics companies were mail-order businesses with mobile sales representatives. To create batches of makeup, they went to a lab, and Fashion Fair was created. The brand was offered by almost 1,500 outlets by the late 1980s, but business hasn't been as good in recent years. The Washington Post article "What Happened to Fashion Fair?" was inspired by customer concerns about a lack of goods in 2015.

Because she believed that black women of color were underrepresented in the beauty industry, Iman Reid founded IMAN Cosmetics. Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and Duane Reade are just a few of the stores that currently sell IMAN. Marjani Beauty's Yursik Smith asserts that in order to cater to a wide range of customers, makeup producers must provide at least 20 hues. The company's founder, Marjani Smith, aimed to provide women of color with more beauty alternatives than those offered in drugstores or department stores. It can still be difficult for black women to find foundation with the proper undertones.

Mineral foundation is available to these clients from B.L.A.C. Minerals, however ladies with darker skin who require more coverage have been let down. Though growing beauty firms in this market don't provide many foundation options for women of color, they do demand "green" cosmetic solutions. That may alter as a result of social media, where businesses are eager to see who is purchasing and wearing their items.

Today, Black beauty brands are exploding into the market, and opportunities are far greater for them to succeed. That said, finding them has not always been easy, but as more of us commit to using only Black-owned products, the brands will grow in both finances and accessibility.


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