For too long, beauty products have catered primarily to those with European features, and ignored the specific needs of those with natural hair and darker skin tones. And it gets harder to find products when you further narrow the pool to travel-sized or travel-friendly items. Great beauty essentials for all travelers do exist, though—if you know where to look. Black-owned beauty brands like Black Girl Sunscreen and Range Beauty make sunscreens, serums, and beard oil for various skin and hair types. They also have concealers in inclusive shades that suit a range of skin tones.
The best way to ensure that there are more of these much-needed products? By supporting and buying from the Black-owned brands making them. (And yes, many of these products work just as well on Black and non-Black skin and hair.) Read on to discover 28 Black-owned beauty brands we love—and the travel-friendly products worth packing on your next trip.
This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.
Topicals has become a household name in the skincare space. The products have been deemed holy grail items and treat much more than just what the name conveys. For instance, the popular Faded Serum targets discoloration but also treats acne, redness, and blemishes. The handful of products that the brand offers target and treat common skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation, eczema, and psoriasis.
Melyon is a Swedish skincare line that was created by Roger Dupé in 2020. The skincare line creates products that help combat skin inflictions that plague melanated skin such as hyperpigmentation and dark spots. The natural ingredients include and aren’t limited to aloe vera, corn, and broccoli. Although the brand was created with people of color in mind, the ingredients are universal and help the concerns of all skin types and tones imaginable.
Vegan Mia Organics
The term “organic” is tossed around quite casually in the beauty industry. But Life Schneider, who launched Vegan Mia in 2020, doesn’t mess around with her oil-based skincare products—everything she sells is USDA certified organic, and her site details the sources of each ingredient. The PETA-certified line includes a serum packed with seven superfruit oils, including baobab and acai, which acts as a multivitamin and hydrating agent perfect for combatting jet lag. Plus, Vegan Mia sells three elixirs—Strength, Harmony, and Clarity—which are meant to be mixed into the serum for an added boost.
Growing up on sun-soaked courts, tennis superstar and four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka didn’t give much thought to sunscreen. Once she realized the importance of protecting her skin, she decided to create a line of products specifically formulated for people like her who may have also been misinformed about skincare needs. “Those of us with melanated skin might not see the need to apply sunscreen since we’ve been told our natural melanin will protect us, but that’s actually not the case,” Osaka said in an email. Her line, Kinlo—the words “Kin” and “Lo” mean gold in Japanese and Haitian Creole, an homage to Osaka’s bicultural heritage—uses fine non-chemical ingredients like niacinamide, a vitamin, in its products. Pack the star product, Golden Rays Sunscreen with SPF 50, and rest easy knowing it’s formulated to preserve melanin and protect against hyperpigmentation, all while being reef-safe and cruelty free.
This skincare brand was created by three sisters from Ghana who realized they wanted more from the shea butter products their families used, many of which were labeled as pure shea butter but were actually filled with toxic chemicals. The line, Karité, uses sustainably-sourced ingredients from Ghana and the U.S. to create products that are beautifully wrapped in recyclable packaging topped with a chic bamboo cap. The family’s palm oil factory generates its own electricity, too: “After the fresh palm fruit bunches are processed, the energy plant that the factory has on site uses a mix of the palm fiber, palm kernel shells, and empty fruit bunches as fuel for the turbine to convert superheated steam into electricity,” the Karité founders told Traveler in an email. “The energy plant generates 100 percent of the electricity that the factory needs, so the factory is able to operate off the grid.”
Ayanna Denise Skin
After a divorce, Ayanna Freeman focused her energies on a new hobby: creating a face oil using plant-based, all-natural ingredients. She gave the product to her friends and family to test out, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. As people recognized improvements in their skin (related to issues like discoloration and scaly dryness), she took the ability to heal to the next level, starting Ayanna Denise Skin in 2020 with a goal of addressing everything from eczema to psoriasis in a holistic way. Try out her products with the best-sellers kit: It comes with a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, all inside a handy travel pouch.
Helen Rose Skincare
Let’s be honest: Our skin needs a lot of moisture and love when we travel, especially when we’re bouncing between climates. This Portland-based organic skincare line originally started when owner Day Bibb received a grant from American Express as part of a program to help fund 100 Black women-owned businesses. And now, she’s paying it forward—a percentage of the proceeds from Helen Rose products go toward Om Thrive Foundation, a non-profit Bibb founded to provide yoga and wellness resources to survivors of domestic violence. One of her favorite Helen Rose products? “Cupuaçu is a ‘super-moisturizer’ that is much lighter and absorbs much faster than shea butter-based products,” she says.
Holly Hall Supply Co.
What started as a 2017 Kickstarter campaign now attracts a loyal following, particularly in Houston, where the brand was born. Creator Justin D. Moore, whose dad and brother are dermatologists, started the line to offer a straightforward skin care routine—and that’s exactly what you’ll get with Holly Hall. Start with the Essentials Skin Care Travel Kit, which includes a face wash with energizing peppermint, a shaving gel made with willow bark and floral extracts, and a collagen moisturizer. We also love the organic beard oil with argan and jojoba oils, which softens coarse hairs.
“No one I knew with melanin-rich skin ever talked about skincare or addressed my skin concerns,” says Buttah Skin founder Dorian Renaud. So, he created the products that his skin craved, with ingredients like creamy shea butter, imported from Africa, and vitamins A and E. The vitamin C serum is a favorite, with antioxidants like green tea and grapeseed to fight wrinkles, blemishes, and pigmentation issues. The daily gel cleanser, with calming lavender, is great for soothing tired skin after a long flight or drive.
Black Girl Sunscreen
It can be tough to find a sunscreen that caters to melanin-rich skin. So in 2016, Shontay Lundy, frustrated that every sunscreen she tried left a pesky residue, created this paraben-free brand to suit her needs. Black Girl Sunscreen‘s sheer formula has no fragrance and only natural ingredients, including avocado, jojoba, aloe, cocoa butter, and carrot juice—and, thankfully, it leaves no residue. Order it online, or find it in stores at Target or Ulta (in case you need to restock mid-trip).
Abena Boamah-Acheampong, who started Hanahana in 2017, wanted to give back to the Katariga women of Tamale, Ghana, who handcraft the shea butter that goes into her beauty products. “We pay two times the fair-trade price for it,” says Boamah-Acheampong. A small tin of her shea balm is small enough to fit into your purse or pocket while promising to leave your lips smooth and chap-free. We also love the exfoliating cleanser made from black soap and honey.
Cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson, the CEO and founder of BeautyStat, spent five years finding a completely stable version of pure vitamin C. The result is his Universal C Skin Refiner, a silky serum that smooths and evens skin with continued use over time, on all skin types, and is lightweight enough to be used in hot summer temperatures. Chase it with BeautyStat’s rich moisturizer, made from bio-fermented ingredients, which acts as a shield against polluted air on city trips.
Toks Fahm Ajayi’s Skôt fuses African beauty rituals and French spa secrets, in a line of skincare essentials that includes serums, oils, masks, and peels. The Discovery Kit is a good way to get to know the brand—it has four miniatures, including a light cleansing cream, hydrating mist, Lip Smoothie treatment, and a moisturizer made with grape skin and spinach leaf extracts.
Started in 2017 by recording artist, actress, and 2023’s SuperBowl Halftime Performer, Rihanna, Fenty Beauty has been making head waves since it first came on the scene. Since launching, Fenty Beauty has set records and new standards for the makeup market with its wide foundation shade range. With more than 55 shades of the Pro Filt’r Soft Matte foundation available with varying undertones from olive to red, you’ll find the perfect match.
Initially, it’s hard to pass up on cute designs such as the Butter Hydra Silk Primer or Organic Blending Eggs, but after trying out Beauty Bakerie it’ll be your one-stop shop for your makeup needs. The best-selling Face Flour baking powder is available in six different shades that offers a matte finish with without leaving you feeling dried out.
A surprisingly new Black-owned business is Black Opal. Although they have been at the forefront of black women’s beauty products for over 25 years, they changed ownership in 2019 where Cheryl Mayberry McKissak and Desiree Rogers now serve as president and CEO. The brand continues to bring an inclusive range of completion products. Black Opal can be found at major stores such as Walmart and Ulta.
In 2016, Chichi Eburu launched Juvia’s Place after struggling to find makeup that best suited her deep skin tone. With varying color combinations, the eye shadow palette has the ability to be used for everyday makeup or a more formal affair. Eburu has expanded her brand and surpassed just eyeshadow palettes and has introduced full-face products such as foundations, bronzers and blush sets.
LYS Beauty keeps skincare at the forefront of its makeup products. Tisha Thompson has been able to cultivate formulas that identify and treat problem areas without giving up the beauty aspect of makeup. The Speak Love Matte Lipstick is made with chia seed oil which adds hydration, reduces fine lines and wrinkles while also plumping the lips.
Once called the “the most influential makeup artist in the world” by Anna Wintour, Pat McGrath is known worldwide for her constellation of makeup products. For a touch of sparkle, try the Mothership + Intesnsifeyes Duo—they’re ideal for a night out—and are customizable—so switch out the colors you believe to suit your trip best. When you don’t have much space to pack but need versatility, try the Liquilust Duo which includes a lighter and darker gloss shade.
Nigerian-born Sharon Chuter got into the beauty business after noticing how few skin tones most products catered to. With Uoma, she created 51 shades of foundation categorized within six ‘Skin Kin’ groups, each with unique skincare ingredients for that group’s needs. The Stay Woke concealer and Say What?! foundation are buildable and creamy—and the brand’s online shade finder makes finding your exact match a breeze.
Range Beauty’s motto is “clean beauty for the forgotten shades,” and the brand delivers—every product functions as both skincare and makeup for a range of complexions. There’s a bronzing primer that evens skin and plumps fine lines, and a foundation that targets acne and eczema. True to its name, the diversity of shades is impressive as well, with products made for olive complexions, tan skin with yellow undertones, and deeper, cooler brown complexions. The hydrating foundations, containing chamomile extracts and French clay, are travel-ready in tiny one-ounce containers.
TPH By Taraji
Founded by Actress by Taraji P. Henson, TPH by Taraji is known for its “scalp first approach” to hair care. For a soothing scalp treatment try Ultra Chill, made with aloe vera, biotin, and tea tree oil—it helps to calm an irritated scalp, especially after a day packed full of vacation excursions. In combination with the Ride or Die Leave In conditioner, you’ll be met with a hydrating duo that fits into your carry-on.
Founder Nancy Twine grew up making homemade hair care products at her grandmother’s kitchen table when she would visit West Virginia as a child. After moving to the Big Apple in her twenties, she felt that natural hair products stores had to offer didn’t live up to their catchy tag lines and promotions. With Briogeo, Twine aims to use the same rhetoric used for skincare products in the media for hair care products—emphasizing the need for natural ingredients that nourish, detoxify, and protect your follicles.
Actress Tracee Ellis Ross’s Pattern Beauty aims to empower your curl pattern. The natural hair care line focuses on embracing one’s natural texture and helps to build strong, unbreakable curls, coils, and confidence. In addition to wash and styling products such as hydrating shampoo and curl gel, the line also includes a wide range of tools such as a shower brush used to detangle and an edge tool to craft the perfect baby hairs.
Founded by Adria Marshall in 2015, hair care line Ecoslay started with homemade products for naturally curly hair. Now, despite 30 retailers across the world selling Marshall’s products, little has changed regarding its quality, and every product is still handmade with ingredients like jojoba, almond, and Argan oils. If you’re a traveler who loves options, there are custom sample sets you can build and take with you on your next big trip. “If I were to pack one product in my suitcase it would be our Moonshine hair and body oil because it’s so versatile,” Marshall says. “It can be used as a hair oil to ‘scrunch out the crunch,’ and is fantastic for dry heels and elbows. And it simply smells incredible.”
Black Travel Box
After traveling to many hotels and finding shampoos that didn’t work for her hair, Denver, Colorado–based Orion Brown started Black Travel Box out of sheer frustration. Made with natural ingredients like coconut oil and rosemary leaf extract, these sulfate-free products are luxurious on a range of natural hair textures. The brand’s $35 starter kit contains solid just-add-water bars of her popular rosemary mint shampoo and conditioner, and balms for your hair, body, and lips. The solid bars are highly efficient, too: each contains the equivalent of a 16-ounce bottle.
Designed by Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Kay Cola, OrganiGrowHairCo caters to natural textures and tight curl patterns, with all vegan products free of preservatives and fragrances. The GrowPoo shampoo soothes overworked hair, while the Conditioning Curling Custard delivers serious hydration.
Yoruba for “honey,” Oyin was created in 2003 by Jamyla Bennu, who wanted organic hair care products that worked as well as the rest. “At the time, there were not many naturally sourced formulations in the ethnic hair aisles, and the products were almost exclusively dedicated to straightening, chemically relaxing, or texturizing,” Bennu says. She began making products in her kitchen, leading to current bestsellers like the ginger- and mint-flavored Co-Wash, a non-sudsy conditioner that invigorates the scalp. The leave-in Hair Dew brings pliancy to hair, and a good pick for thirsty strands is the What the Hemp deep moisture mask, which deeply moisturizes but feels light as air.