15 Black Women Who Revolutionized the Beauty Industry

The past two weeks have seen global uproar following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville.

Protestors in all 50 states have come together to stand up against racism and demand justice for the hundreds of black lives lost in police custody. 

Mane Addicts stands in solidarity with the Black community. It is not enough to be “not racist,” it is not enough to post on social media. We must be active in order to see true change. We must amplify and support Black voices- not only today, and tomorrow, and the next day- but every. single. day. 

BIPOC are too often excluded from the beauty industry, an industry that is what it is today because of the work of Black and brown creatives. From the advent of the hair brush to the invention of conditioner, Black women are behind some of beauty’s most important innovations. In honor of the pioneering forces, we’re spotlighting 15 Black creators and innovators who completely revolutionized the beauty industry. Check out these amazing women below!

1. Madam C.J. Walker

The first self-made female millionaire in history, Madam C.J. Walker was a pioneering force in the hair health and beauty industries. The entrepreneur developed a signature line of hair products, pomades, shampoos and conditioners specifically formulated for Black women. Walker employed thousands of Black women, taught her employees about financial independence, and consistently donated to organizations like the NAACP. 

 
 
 
 
 
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#TBT a teenage portrait of myself

A post shared by Madame CJ Walker (@_cjwalker) on Mar 22, 2015 at 4:04pm PDT

2. Pat McGrath

Beauty mogul Pat McGrath has been shaping the fashion industry for years, conceptualizing makeup looks for literally every single runway show and magazine you can think of.  She has helped countless other luxury brands, from Giorgio Armani to Dolce & Gabanna, launch cosmetics lines. Vogue‘s Anna Wintour famously proclaimed McGrath to be the “most influential makeup artist in the world,” and the Queen of England awarded her the coveted title of MBE. In short, McGrath is the most important person working in beauty today. With the opening of Pat McGrath Labs in 2015, McGrath took beauty to the ultimate next level with her own line of innovative cosmetics products. We can’t wait to see what she does next!

 
 
 
 
 
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ENTER THE ROSE ROOM 🌹🌹🌹 Presenting the DIVINE ROSE COLLECTION, a blushing bouquet of Mother’s masterpieces to help bloom your look into summer, featuring the NEW #MothershipVIII #DivineRose II Eye Palette, a SEDUCTIVE SEQUEL to the instantly iconic #MothershipVII #DivineRose featuring an avant garden of 10 brilliantly blendable pigments, as well as #MatteTrance Lipstick in ‘SOFT CORE’ and ‘CHRISTY,’ PermaGel Ultra Lip Pencil in ‘BUFF’ and ‘SUBURBIA,’ #LUST: Gloss in ‘DIVINE ROSE’ and ‘PEACH PERVERSION,’ and LIMITED EDITION Divine Rose and Divine Rose II palettes featuring special pink and rose gold packaging 🌹🌹🌹 Shop the collection now at PATMcGRATH.COM

A post shared by Pat McGrath (@patmcgrathreal) on May 29, 2020 at 7:00am PDT

3. Lisa Price

Lisa Price is the founder of curly-girl favorite Carol’s Daughter. What started with homemade products in a Brooklyn kitchen has skyrocketed into a nationally-recognized natural beauty brand–we actually have a full interview with the mogul here. From coveted healthy hair butters to coconut-infused conditioners, Carol’s Daughter never fails to deliver quality products specially crafted for textured hair. In 2016, Carol’s Daughter expanded into Target stores nationwide, so these killer products are now more accessible than ever. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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From my last photo shoot. Shot in November 2019. When I was loving on myself with a whole new head of hair in a whole new color. I learned so much about me and my heart in the Fall of 2019. Life is an interesting journey and it is tough and unpredictable and I am grateful that my relationship with Spirit has taught me to be open, malleable, and trusting. The work to be a better you, a stronger you, a calmer you starts with you. Even when you feel that life is unfair and people are being unfair and you are screaming “It’s just not fair.” Don’t wait for it to be “fair.” Do the world to make it right. Do the work to make it true. Do the work to make it yours. Do the work to be in the driver’s seat. Do not be a passenger in your life. Start with you. Love, Lisa 💚 Credits: Photo – @joe_chea Glam – @camaraaunique Hair – @gabriellecorney Styling – @tiffanirmoore

A post shared by Lisa Price (@iamlisaprice) on Feb 6, 2020 at 7:53am PST

4. Nancy Twine

This lovely lady is the creative force behind cult-favorite haircare brand Briogeo. Briogeo is a groundbreaking brand that’s taking beauty back to the basics with a natural approach to haircare. With coveted products like the Farewell Frizz leave-in conditioner and the Scalp Revival micro-exfoliating shampoo, Briogeo’s high performance, high quality hair products have something for every hair type!

5. Naomi Sims

Naomi Sims is often regarded as the first Black supermodel. She was the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Ladies Home Journal, a major moment for the “Black is Beautiful” Movement, which aimed to dismantle Eurocentric anti-black notions of beauty. Sims went on to appear on the cover of Life and The New York Times fashion magazine, before turning her attention towards the business side of the industry, creating a successful line of wigs and authoring several books on modeling. 

6. Tracey Norman

The gorgeous Tracey Norman was the first Black trans model to achieve prominence in the modeling industry. Throughout the 1970s, Norman graced the pages of countless top publications, including Vogue Italia, Essence and Harper’s Baazar. Norman also landed a major commercial campaign as the face of Clairol’s popular “Born Beautiful” shade No. 152. The brand brought this barrier-breaking fashion icon back as the face of their “Nice ‘n Easy Color As Real As You Are” line in 2016. 

7. Beverly Johnson

Supermodel Beverly Johnson made fashion history as the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Vogue and French Elle, paving the way for successive generations of famous faces to do the same. The multitalented creative went on to appear on over 500 magazine covers, and had successful career turns as an actor and a memoirist.  Johnson was also one of the first women to speak out against Bill Cosby, a brave move that inspired many other women to come forward. 

 
 
 
 
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Spreading good feelings today .. #smile #grateful #goodenergy #love #voguemagazine #blackmodel #supermodel

A post shared by BEVERLY JOHNSON (@iambeverlyjohnson) on Apr 11, 2019 at 10:17am PDT

8. Grace Jones

Who could forget a face like Grace Jones? With a futuristic sense of style and a uniquely androgynous aesthetic, Jones has left a major mark on nearly every industry. She’s been a disco queen, a new wave rocker, a Bond girl, and a fashion model. You name it, she’s killed it. Her boundary-pushing creativity has paved the way for countless more provocateurs to challenge conventional. 

 
 
 
 
 
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Grace features on the cover of the @Telegraph Magazine today, discussing Bloodlight and Bami #BloodlightandBami

A post shared by Grace Jones (@gracejonesofficial) on Oct 14, 2017 at 6:49am PDT

9. Naomi Campbell

The 1990s would not have been the 1990s without Naomi Campbell. The British supermodel was the first Black woman on the cover of French Vogue. At the height of her career, Campbell walked on pretty much every catwalk there is, starred in global ad campaigns, and graced the covers of countless publications. Campbell has also been vocal about the pay disparity between herself and her white counterparts, calling out beauty brands and fashion houses for discriminatory hiring practices. In 2018, she was awarded the prestigious CFDA Fashion Icon Award for her considerable work in the industry. 

 
 
 
 
 
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Join me today as I interview a very dear friend of mine, the amazingly talented @pppiccioli live on YouTube at 3pm EST. #NoFilterWithNaomi Link in bio. ❤️🤍

A post shared by Naomi Campbell (@naomi) on Apr 10, 2020 at 11:01am PDT

10. Rihanna

Nine-time Grammy award-winning musician Rihanna is taking the beauty industry by storm. After a decade spent making chart-topping bops, Rihanna founded skin-tone inclusive cosmetics line Fenty Beauty in 2017. The brand has quickly turned into a multi-faceted fashion empire celebrating people of all shades and sizes. 

 
 
 
 
 
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2 new baddies on da block! #CREAMblush #CREAMbronzer @fentybeauty fentybeauty.com out now.

A post shared by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on Apr 19, 2020 at 7:02pm PDT

11. Kellie Brown

Fashion blogger Kellie Brown is breaking the industry’s stick-thin body barriers. Not only does Brown have an amazing sense of personal style, the “And I Get Dressed” Youtube star founded #fatatfashionweek, an online initiative spotlighting the beautiful bigger women in the fashion industry. 

 
 
 
 
 
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Please give yourself space to smile today ❤️

A post shared by Kellie Brown (@itsmekellieb) on Jun 4, 2020 at 9:44am PDT

12. Maria Borges

Maria Borges was the first Black model to wear her natural hair for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Her bold move prompted the brand to end it’s archaic, Eurocentric practice of requiring its models to wear hair extensions on the runway.  Hair discrimination in the fashion industry is pervasive and specifically targets BIPOC. Maria’s VS moment called attention to these discriminatory practices and put pressure on the fashion houses and retail brands to make meaningful change. 

 
 
 
 
 
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“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” Here’s to all the strong women out there. 🔥

A post shared by MARIA BORGES (@iammariaborges) on Dec 1, 2016 at 3:12pm PST

13. Iman

Somali supermodel Iman is one of the most recognizable faces from the 1980s and 1990s. Apart from playing muse to the likes of Gianni Versace and Yves Saint Laurent, Iman is also an avid activist, philanthropist, and the founder of Iman Cosmetics, one of the first cosmetics lines to cater specifically towards BIPOC. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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#MetGalaMemories 2011, IMAN wearing custom @stellamccartney Hair @oscarjameshair Makeup @iamsamfine using @imancosmetics #IMANarchive #IMANcosmetics #MetGala

A post shared by IMAN Cosmetics (@imancosmetics) on May 4, 2020 at 9:49am PDT

14. Alicia Keys

Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys is more than just an incredible vocalist, pianist, and activist. The Grammy award-winning musician is an ardent supporter of the No Make Up Movement, an initiative focused on emphasizing every individuals natural beauty.

 
 
 
 
 
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In my feelings today

A post shared by Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys) on May 27, 2020 at 9:38am PDT

15. Jackie Aina

Beauty blogger Jackie Aina was the first influencer to take home the NAACP Image Award for her advocacy and activism fighting discrimination in the beauty industry. With her transparent product reviews and tutorials, Aina is using her platform to challenge beauty brands to do better for Black women. 

 
 
 
 
 
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“stop breaking yourself down into bite-sized pieces, stay whole and let them choke”

A post shared by Jackie Aina (@jackieaina) on May 9, 2020 at 12:55pm PDT

 

 

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