It’s no secret that women of color have not been offered the same variety of products that exist for light-skinned women, but what might be news is that the small section that does exist often comes with many high health risks.
Historically, women with darker skin tones have been more exposed to toxic chemicals in beauty products than those marketed to white women. According to the Environmental Work Group (EWG), 75% of mainstream products marketed to Black women are considered toxic.
In 2017, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology released a statement saying that women of color have been disproportionately exposed to harmful ingredients in beauty products, partly because of social pressure to straighten their hair with relaxers and use skin-lightening products. Permanent hair straighteners and dyes have contributed to a 60% increase in breast cancer risk for Black women, as opposed to an 8% increase for white women.
While there has been a rise in clean beauty and consumers being more educated about the harms of synthetic and toxic ingredients in their beauty routine, the green movement has failed to cater to all women. Because of this, e-commerce platforms such as BLK + GRN have focused on curating all-natural products created by Black women for women of color.
Dallas-based Dr. Jennifer Edwards, a scientist on women’s wellness, founded Refinne, a multicultural plant-based brand offering non-inflammatory skincare solutions to women. She started the brand after dealing with several skin challenges, such as eczema and inflammation, and needed clean beauty products to address her needs.
Despite the lack of Black women in the wellness space, Dr. Edwards always had a desire to grow in the industry. “If you are focusing on your priorities and you are serving others in a way that you are passionate about, it doesn’t matter how the landscape looks like,” she says. Dr. Edwards says that clean beauty can be a challenge for African American women. “There are few products marketed to Black women that have considered their specific skincare needs,” she says, but, “Brands owned by Black women are a growing market.”
Dr. Edwards believes change needs to happen at all levels, from giving back to marginalized women and more diverse stories shared on social media to including more medium to deep skin tones in makeup products. “There needs to be more Black women in leadership positions and more representation on advertisements,” she says.
And more representation in the chemistry of beauty brands. Dr. Edwards says Black women have hyperpigmentation issues, which she addresses with her brand. Her charcoal mask, for example, has anti-inflammatory properties that can help lighten dark spots.
“I wouldn’t say our products are one fits all,” she says. Refinne offers free skin health consultations on social media and also talks about the different types of skin challenges women face. “It’s a tailored approach, and we find what works for you.”
Dr. Edwards hopes that women start paying attention to and buying from brands that share their values and mission “by defining what is most important and investing in those aspects,” she says.
To help you do just that, here’s our roundup of Black-owned non-toxic beauty brands.
Online Stores/Marketplaces for Black-Owned Beauty Brands
Pretty Well Beauty is a digital platform focused on 100% clean beauty and wellness. Its founder, Jazmin Alvarez, vets its partners by learning about their ingredients, including where they come from and how they’re sourced. All featured brands adhere to clean and sustainability practices.
BLK + GRN is an all-natural marketplace connecting women of color with high-quality, ethically sourced, and non-toxic beauty products. It curates a selection of Black-owned brands that share its mission of health, wellness, and community cultivation.
CVTD is an online boutique that curates indie beauty brands, focusing on natural, non-toxic and cruelty-free makeup and skincare.
Non-Toxic Products for Textured and Curly Hair
Baltimore-based Oyin Handmade is a hair and body care brand made from natural, organic, and food-grade ingredients. Its products provide nutrition and styling for dry, curly, and highly textured hair types.
Founded in 2015, Ecoslay crafts natural, handmade products for curly style hair.
2 Girls with Curls is a high-quality line of hair care products that provide moisture for curly hair. Its products are plant-based, cruelty-free, and made with natural ingredients.
Founded by Hannah Diop, Sienna Naturals is an eco-conscious beauty company made from gentle ingredients for textured hair. Its products are free of harsh synthetics that focus on hair, scalp health, and everyday styling needs.
Founded by Afro-Dominican Lulu Cordero, Bomba Curls is a premium and organic haircare brand that naturally nourishes the scalp, and promotes healthy hair growth.
Briogeo is a clean, high-performance hair care collection that is naturally based and ethically sourced. Its products are 100% cruelty-free and don’t include sulfates, silicones, parabens, or other harsh chemicals.
Canviiy is a botanical-based scalp care brand offering irritation solutions that soothe, nourish, and protect the scalp.
EDEN Bodyworks is a natural, cruelty-free haircare brand that caters to all curl types, and is formulated with no harsh sulfates, silicones or parabens.
Black-Owned Non-Toxic Skincare Brands
Dr. Jennifer Edwards started Refinne after enduring lifelong severe skin inflammation (eczema and dermatitis) until she studied chemistry in college and was able to use that knowledge to formulate her own natural solutions at home. She and her team source all of their natural, non-toxic ingredients from independent and family-owned businesses.
Out of passion for skincare, Asia Grant and Alejandro Cuevas founded Redoux NYC, a handmade, 100% natural and vegan skincare line focused on sophisticated scents.
After growing up with a mother who was dealing with an autoimmune disease and couldn’t afford continuous appointments with her holistically-minded physician, Trinity Mouzon wanted to make accessible wellness for people of color. Along with her partner, Issey Kobori, Mouzon co-founded Golde, a vegan and cruelty-free wellness company that makes supplements, gummies, face masks from all-natural superfoods. Its hero ingredient is turmeric, a potent super-herb recognized for its beautifying, healing, and mood-boosting properties.
Flora Lee Naturals is a handmade, plant-based skincare brand founded by Nia Baucke in 2017. Inspired by her grandmother’s, Flora Lee, gardening, Baucke creates products that are meant to brighten and moisturize the skin.
Former pre-med student Akilah Releford founded Mary Louise Cosmetics, a natural and organic skincare brand targeting acne scars, hyperpigmentation, and razor bumps. Releford named the brand after her maternal grandmother Mary and paternal grandmother Louise, Mississippians who taught her homemade beauty remedies that had been passed down from generation to generation.
Founded in 2015 by Keli Smith, KAIKE is an all-natural, plant-based skincare brand that solves a variety of skincare issues specific to melanin-rich skin. Its multi-purpose products are handcrafted in small batches in the northern suburbs of Chicago.
After discovering and falling in love with lip masks while in Tokyo, Kristen Noel Crawley founded KNC Beauty, an all-natural collagen mask with rose flower oil, cherry extract, and vitamin E. The brand now carries a variety of lip and eye products, including masks and scrubs.
Black Girl Sunscreen is a natural sunscreen brand that caters to women of color. Its products do not include harmful chemicals and are infused with natural ingredients to moisturize skin with melanin, without leaving a white residue.
After being diagnosed with lupus and barely surviving, Dana Jackson created Beneath Your Mask, a small-batch luxury brand with natural and organic ingredients that does not challenge the immune system.
Breedlove Beauty Co. is a natural skincare and beauty brand based in Baton Rouge. Each product is made in-house in small batches with natural oils, herbs, clays, minerals, and extracts.
Desiree Verdejo created Hyper Skin after not being able to find a product that would help with her dark spots and hyperpigmentation caused by hormonal breakouts. The brand’s first product is Hyper Clear, a vitamin C serum made with clean, natural, and effective ingredients.
Base Butter is an all-natural, vegan multipurpose beauty brand for oily and combination skin types. Founded in 2015 by She’Neil Johnson and Nicolette Graves, Base Butter sources raw ingredients responsibly ensuring it abides by the cruelty-free seal and fair trade imports.
Founded in 2018 by Shadora Martin, Best Life Organics formulates skincare made with raw shea butter and plant-based ingredients that are ethically sourced and non-toxic.
Founded by Jennifer Culpepper and Selam Kelati, I+I Botanicals is a CBD-infused skincare line based out of Annapolis, MD. Its products are made out of American-grown, lab-tested CBD, and other responsibly sourced ingredients that are suitable for all skin types.
Handcrafted in Brooklyn, Aba Love is a plant-based, organic skincare brand made out of natural, globally-sourced ingredients.
Founded in Africa in 2010 by Valerie Obaze, R&R Luxury is a natural, plant-based skincare line made from shea butter and other natural African ingredients. Its products are sourced, manufactured, and sold in Africa and are good for women, men, children, and babies.
Based in North Carolina, Anne’s Apothecary is a handcrafted small-batch skincare brand offering 100% non-toxic products that are hypoallergenic and good for all skin types. Its collection is cruelty-free, petroleum-free, silicone-free, and packed with organic ingredients.
Be Transcendent is a plant-based, all-natural skincare brand for all skin types. Its products improve skin radiance and are free of synthetic fragrances, fillers, and other additives that can irritate the skin.
Founded by two Boston-based sisters, Brown & Coconut is a vegan skincare brand crafted with blends of plants, botanical extracts, and clays. Both sisters suffered from acne in their early 20s and became inspired to create their own products after not seeing results with their skincare routine.
Dehiya is a multi-tasking botanical and organic skincare line inspired by Moroccan time-honored beauty rituals. Its products are made in California from wild botanical ingredients ethically sourced from all over the world.
Founded by environmental scientist and chemist Evelyne Nyairo, Ellie Bianca is a non-GMO, cruelty-free, and sustainably sourced skincare brand. Its products are centered around raw, unrefined African shea butter and oil that are sourced in person by Nyairo.
Born out of a need to provide luxury skincare products to women with dark skin tones, Ozohu Adoh developed EPARA, a handcrafted, luxury skincare brand. Its high-quality products derive from the rich soils of Africa that repair and hydrate the skin.
Inspired by her own active lifestyle, Tami Blake founded Free + True, a natural skin and body care line made from locally grown botanicals formulated in California.
Grn Goods is a non-toxic, all-natural beauty brand born out of a necessity for effective and sustainable personal care essentials catered to women of color.
Nolaskinsentials is a plant-based, handcrafted skincare line for all skin tones and skin types. Its products are formulated in small batches to ensure quality and address multiple skin concerns, including hyperpigmentation and acne-prone skin.
Ode to Self is a 100% natural made in-house skincare line that offers products to women of color affected by hyperpigmentation, dry, dull, oily, hormonal, and sensitive skin.
Founded by Jamika Martin, Rosen Skincare is a clean and natural beauty brand for people with acne-prone skin.
Inspired by the skincare practices across the African diaspora, Niambi Cacchioli founded Pholk, a natural, vegan, and affordable skincare line for women of color. Its products range from face oils, and masks, to toners and cleansers that are loaded with natural butter, oils, and floral waters.
Founded in 2003, Alaffia is a social enterprise creating clean, natural skin and hair care with fair trade ingredients that support community empowerment projects in West Africa.
As an esthetician, founder Lesley Thornton began formulating products for her clients to take care of their skin at home in between appointments, which prompted the creation of KLUR, her own ethical and clean brand. The prestige skincare brand is based in Los Angeles and creates plant-based, cruelty-free, and sustainable products. From concept to completion, KLUR’s products are made in the U.S. using low-impact and low-energy processes.
Black-Owned, Clean Bath & Body Brands
Karen Young launched Oui The People in 2015, a luxury shaving brand offering crafted razors, rich shave oils, and a high-quality blade. Its razors are made of stainless steel, a durable, sustainable alternative to disposable plastic razors with packaging that is recyclable or refillable.
Founded by Tiffany Staten in Atlanta, The London Grant Co. is a handcrafted collection of non-toxic, plant-based, and fragrance-free body care.
Founded in 2014 by Gianne Doherty and Jay Weeks, Organic Bath Co. is a 100% organic and Fair Trade Certified bath and body line crafted without any harsh chemicals.
Butter By Keba is a luxury, plant-based body care brand made with natural essential oils and phthalate-free fragrance.
Handcrafted in small batches, Bathe Brand creates clean and certified organic bath products that are vegan, ethically sourced, and cruelty-free.
IYOBA is an Oakland-based environmentally conscious brand that creates vegan hair and body care that is free from harmful chemicals. Its packaging is made of recycled and/or recyclable materials.
Founded in 2014 by a mother-daughter duo, Eu’genia creates all-natural premium, sustainably sourced shea butter moisturizers. The social enterprise is dedicated to fair wages and opportunities for its female workers in Ghana.
Handmade in Chicago, Blade + Bloom is a small batch apothecary brand specializing in 100% natural, plant-based products. The brand features body balms, bath salts, soy candles, cleansing bars, and fragrance oils. Its candles use skin-safe fragrances, lead-free wicks, and do not contain dyes or colorants.
Inspired by the benefits of Flotation Therapy, the team at Unplugged Essentials created a line of luxurious Hemp Soaks with ingredients like Epsom salt, hemp, charcoal, and essential oils to detox and nourish you inside and out.
Black-Owned, Sustainable Makeup Brands for All Skin Tones
Based in Texas, Lamik Beauty is a vegan makeup line made with natural and organic ingredients for multicultural women. Its products are made without parabens or other known harmful ingredients and delivered to customers in reusable and recyclable packaging.
Founded by KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson, Mented Cosmetics is a premium beauty brand offering nude makeup that matches deeper and diverse skin tones. All products are vegan, paraben-free, non-toxic, and cruelty-free.
Founded in 2015 by Jasmine Rose, Laws of Nature is a clean makeup brand that provides Black women a diverse selection of shades with high-performance botanical ingredients designed to nourish the skin while also providing coverage. Its products are suitable for all skin types and conditions—normal, dry, combination, eczema, sensitive, or oily/acne-prone.
Licensed cosmetologist turned entrepreneur KéNisha Ruff founded Marie Hunter Beauty, a luxury cosmetics, skincare, and home fragrances brand that globally and ethically sources all of its ingredients. Every lipstick, candle, cream, and fragrance is certified cruelty-free and vegan.
Alicia Scott founded Range Beauty, a clean and affordable makeup brand, out of a need for more diverse shades and fewer toxic ingredients in the cosmetics industry. The brand uses simple, high-quality ingredients such as water, french clay, and flower extracts that suit all skin types— sensitive, oily, acne-prone, and combo skin.
Non-Toxic, Black-Owned Nails Polish
After not being able to find a quality, toxin-free nail polish while pregnant, founder Kitiya Mischo King was inspired to create Mischo Beauty, a clean, vegan nail polish. The richly-hued lacquer brand avoids all ingredients that have been known to contribute to cancer, reproductive issues, nausea, headaches, and more.
Started in an effort to create colors that are more complementary to darker skin tones, People of Color polish is free of toxic ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene, parabens, artificial fragrances, etc.
Habit is a natural strengthening nail polish made with Myrrh Extract. It’s PETA-certified as vegan and cruelty-free, gluten-free, free of Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, TPP, Xylene, Phthalates, Parabens and Fragrances, and is made in the U.S.A.