Black Beauty and its History
Society’s use of beauty products and cosmetics has come a long way, to say the least, from its initial inception. Individuals in Ancient Rome developed their own wrinkle cream, and kohl eyeliner was heavily used in Ancient Egypt. It’s not until the 19th century where you begin to see careers created around these beauty products. Black women (and some men) began to capitalize on this now thriving industry as means to bring income to the household; hair products, hair services, and cosmetics were all offered to consumers. Although the sector was growing, products weren’t necessarily being created for Black skin or hair. This period is where we are introduced to the notable Madam C.J. Walker, the first woman self-made millionaire and Godmother of hair. We were also heavily seeing skin-lightening and bleaching products being marketed to African-Americans of all hues. Despite the commercial exploitation of Black skin that was prevalent during the early 1900s, Theodore K. Lawless, a dermatologist and medical researcher, used his expertise to create skin treatments for damaged skin. From the likes of Rose Meta Morgan to Annie Turnbo Malone, the beauty space became the perfect haven for social entrepreneurship. A community was taking a market where they weren’t included, and began to make room for themselves. Without these important Black figures, the beauty industry would not have seen that leverage, nor would it be the $500 billion market that it is today. Their influence continues to persist today, as we now see a growing number of beauty companies prioritizing diversity and inclusivity with their products.
There are over 2 million Black-owned businesses across the nation, and this month is the perfect time to put your dollars towards one. Black women are running things, and we love to see it! Although the journey to entrepreneurship isn’t an easy one for us, Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. Harvard Business Review reported last year that Black women are now more likely to start a business than white men. In the typical Ornami fashion, we’re here to share some of our favorite businesses that are thriving in the beauty sector right alongside us. Pay their Instagram’s a visit, and tell them Ornami sent you!
Ankh Care Co. is a Black woman-owned hair care company based in Los Angeles, California. Their products are vegan, cruelty-free, and made with love in-house by the owner. Some of their products include moisture and hydration packs, deep conditioners, shampoo, and more.
Ashleigh Cortes is the mastermind behind the non-profit organization known as Stay Beautiful Foundation. The foundation focuses on supporting women who have been affected by cancer with beauty products and community support. Founded in 2016, they have now reached over 3,000 people and provided over 20,000 products during their fight against cancer.
Harlem Roots Herbal Apothecary was created by herbalist Corrinna Wainwright as a means to honor her family’s history and their connection to the historical Harlem, New York. Wainwright offers handmade, plant-based, medicinal products that not only heal you, but remind you of the remedies used by our ancestors.
Makeup By Sparkle is a beauty brand created by celebrity make-up artist, licensed esthetician, and technology specialist, Sparkle Chanel. From lip kits to face/eye palettes, these cosmetics will have you feeling sexy, confident, and fierce. This line initially started as a hobby, and has now grown to reach over 10,000 women across the nation.
Shoutout to our lovely ladies in STEM! Hue Noir was founded by product chemist Paula Hayes in 2009. Inclusivity is their motto, as their products are made by women of color for women of color. Paula understands the logistics that go into creating cosmetics for women of darker hues and actively works to perfect this technology. Visiting their shop you can find foundation, lip butters, eyeshadow, and more for your makeup needs.
Wrapping up February, we hope your Black History Month was spent loving a Black woman from infinity to infinity. Recognizing what occurred in the past makes for a better future for generations to come. We’re always more than happy to shed light on the legacies left behind by those who came before us. So remember, buy Black, support Black, and, most importantly, love Black!