The Beauty Memo

7 Black-owned beauty brands to know and support

From inclusive shades and texture-specific products to genius skincare solutions, we shine a light on our collective of Black-founded beauty brands that are pushing the conversation and enhancing our beauty and hair regimes for the better. By DANIELLE FOX



It was proof of Pat McGrath’s reputation in the industry (Anna Wintour calls her “the most influential makeup artist in the world”) that when she launched her Pat McGrath Labs makeup range in 2016 through a series of visually ravishing Instagram teasers, it sold out within minutes of going live. After all, McGrath, aka ‘Mother’, has spent a career rewriting the rules on how women engage with beauty, and recently announced that Naomi Campbell will be the brand’s first global face. “What I love most about makeup is that you can’t get attached to one thing, one idea or one approach — and once you’ve achieved perfection, you have to wipe it all off and start over the next day,” she says. Try the Skin Fetish Duo, a dual-sided highlighter, which has become a permanent fixture in the beauty team’s makeup bags.


A leader in the natural-haircare movement, award-winning stylist Charlotte Mensah is often referred to as the authority on maintaining afro, mixed and curly hair textures. Visit her London-based salon on any given day and you are likely to see some familiar faces – Jada Pinkett-Smith, Eve, Janelle Monáe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are among her clients, to name but a few. But it’s her eponymous range of products – formulated with organic, ethically and sustainably sourced oils – that has garnered even more followers. The real hero is the Manketti Hair Oil. “It has a nourishing blend of organic manketti nuts and ximenia oils,” Mensah explains. “It produces instant results from the first application, as it cares for the scalp while taming frizzy hair, restoring strength and elasticity.” She recommends adding a few drops around the hairline to keep it hydrated and is also known to use it on her cuticles, the backs of hands and as a lip balm.

THE MASK MAVERICK Kristen Noel Crawley – KNC Beauty

It was on a trip to Tokyo that LA-based influencer Kristen Noel Crawley discovered and fell in love with lip masks. “I soon realized that they were full of hard-to-pronounce chemicals or weren’t very user friendly, so I decided to formulate my own natural alternative that’s truly good for you, as well as fun to use,” she explains. Today, KNC Beauty’s star-shaped lip and eye masks have a cult-like status. Her most recent launch, Supa Balms, are deeply hydrating, vegan rose and mint formulas that will leave lips feeling smooth, plumped and primed for glosses and lipsticks.

THE CLEANSING QUEEN Lauren Napier – Cleanse

As an NYC-based makeup artist working with brands including Estée Lauder and on TV show Saturday Night Live, Lauren Napier was well versed in what it takes to hone a speedy but effective makeup and skincare regime for her on-set clients. But not entirely happy with her tool kit – and with no more than an idea and a credit card in hand – Napier set about creating a cleanser for when she was short on time. And so Cleanse was born. The neatly packaged, skin-saving towelettes refresh, cleanse and hydrate in a single swipe, meaning they’re perfect for traveling and won’t dry out. Available in sets of three to 50, the disposable sheets have a textured finish and are enriched with soothing aloe and cucumber to calm and refresh your skin – we like to double-wipe skin with La Rose to ensure skin is super-clean.


Having cut her teeth as a VP at Goldman Sachs by the tender age of 27, it’s little wonder that Nancy Twine was able to use her entrepreneurial flair and turn her passion for natural beauty into a business. As a child, Twine spent many weekends helping her grandmother create homemade haircare products, and as she got older, she realized that the natural haircare available on the market didn’t meet her criteria. And so Briogeo was born. Taking its name from the Italian and Latin words for “vibrant” and “of Earth and nature,” the range offers texture-specific products that work to boost volume, repair and de-frizz all hair types. Every formula is cruelty-free, naturally derived and is housed in recycled and recyclable packaging. We recommend using Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask for a weekly hit of hydration and smoothness.

THE NATURAL-SKINCARE PIONEERS Liha Okunniwa and Abi Oyepitan – Liha

The objective of best friends Liha Okunniwa and Abi Oyepitan was to create a beauty range that was, like them, a mixture of African roots with a quintessentially British attitude. In keeping with the Nigerian Yoruba tradition of creating products that are handmade in small batches from vegan and ethically sourced ingredients, Liha was conceived. Our edit includes the beautifully hydrating shea and coconut butter-based soaps, oils and moisturizers enriched with plantain, cocoa pods and palm tree leaves – we defy you not to try them all.

THE KING OF COILS Vernon François

He made his name tending to the coils, curls and kinks of Hollywood’s elite, including Lupita Nyong’o, Naomie Harris and Kerry Washington, and now you can reap the benefits of Vernon François’ specialist textured-hair know-how with his eponymous range. “By definition, all hair is textured,” says François. “I don’t want to suppress natural texture; it’s about embracing a genetic gift.” The must-try product? The Dazzling Spritz Shine Spray, which contains shimmering particles to give dull hair that ‘just stepped out of the salon’ shine.