Why black beauty is so important to black women

Photo courtesy of https://www.pexels.com

Photo courtesy of https://www.pexels.com

What does it mean to have a black owned business, and why is it so important for the beauty community? A black owned businesses, is a businesses that was exclusively created by, own by, and made for black people. The black community has been distributing and operating their own businesses and companies since slavery times.

As a way to support themselves and their community, while not being afforded the same access and rights to materials and supplies as whites did. Not having any products that were design or created for their skin-tone or hair texture, free black people began to create their own small businesses and companies that were design for and cater to black skin-tones and hair textures.

Early black beauty started off with just hair products, created by Annie Turnbo Malone and Sarah Breedlove, better know as Madame C.J. Walker. These hair products were design to straighten and grown black African American hair. The products had grown to be such a success that they had gain international and global attention, and started being distributed and sold in Africa, South America and the Caribbean. These hair products would make both women fabulously wealthy, in fact they were the first ever American female millionaires.

These early events are what lead black beauty to become a solidify contender in the beauty world, and would inspired future generation of black owned and created beauty businesses. There are currently over 450+ black beauty brands in the market, and some of the most successful brands in the beauty industry are black owned brands like; Juvia Place, Fenty Beauty, and Beauty Bakerie, just to name a few.

What does all this mean, and why is it important to the black community?Usually in teenage years, girls start experimenting and obsessing over their looks, investing their time and parents money into all kinds of makeup and hairstyles. I was no different as a teenager. I remember when I was a teen, Covergirl had just launched their Queen Collection that was created in collaboration with Queen Latifah. I recall it being one of the first and only drugstore makeup collections at that time that was specifically design and created for black and brown skin tones. This makeup collab was awe-inspiring for me and friends.

Like every teenage girl, we were obsessed and in love with make up but did’nt have much options or variety in the market place. Yes, there was make up in the market for black and brown skin-tones, but it usually was rather expensive(more than a teenage girl’s budget) or lacked variety. There was barely any black owned makeup brands. Other than Fashion Fair, I can’t really recall any black owned make up brands that were out during that time. It seem like most of the time when black women had any involvement in makeup, it was always in collaboration and never in any creation or owning of makeup products and companies.

Many make up companies were wise enough to know that there was an untapped demographic that wasn't really being marketed to. So they strategically seeked out famous black women in entertainment- like Queen Latifah, to help aid in creating make up products that would cater to the black and brown demographic. It was all a marketing strategy, a way for major makeup brands to generate more sales and revenue, not really caring about their black and brown audience.

So why was this launch so important to us? My best friend is a very melanated girl, she has a very rich deep dark skin-tone(think Viola Davis). I myself, am more on the lighter spectrum of black skin tone (think like Beyonce ). Even with me being on the lighter spectrum, back then most makeup companies darkest/deepest foundation shades would be around my skin range, and you were lucky if a make up brand even had foundation shades darker than that.

My best friend has hyperpigmentation (a condition where the skin has darker spots/patches on the face) of course foundation seems like an easy fix in balancing out hyperpigmentation. But, if you don’t have any foundation shades to match your skin, the promblem becomes quite complex. I remember even in the early days of Youtube makeup tutorials, deep/dark skin makeup gurus would literally have to use black eyeshadow just to contour/bronze their face because there was no products for their skin-tone in the market.

Make up has definitley come a long way in the beauty industry. Since the reconstruction era of 1863–1877, the black community has had to created their own businesses and companies to even have a voice or space in the business world, and the beauty industry was no different. Throughout the beauty industry’s history and evolution, there has always been a demand and space for non-black women. These women have always had an abundant endless supply of beauty products; hair, skincare, and makeup, that was readily and easily accessibly avaliable to them. These women never had to worry about their demographic not being seen or heard, they essentially were the beauty industry.

It is because of the early pioneers and trailblazers like; Annie Turnbo Malone, Madame C.J. Walker, and Eunice W. Johnson, all who had pushed and made a way for black women to own, create, and have a spot in the beauty industry. And modern day trendsetters like; Jackie Aina, Pat McGrath, and Rihanna , who continue on the torch, further creating spaces and advancing black women’s visibility and voice in the industry. Little black girls every where can look up and aspire to be like the early pioneers and trailblazing black women who have fought and work hard to create a name, space, and demand for black women in the beauty industry. Black girls and black women every where now finally have a seat at the table.

Journalism and Media Communications student at CSU. German born AL/NJ raised, artist, writer, avid anime and boxing fan, makeup and hair enthusiast.