I am a skincare fanatic. Just like you, I want to look like a sexy, dewy baby angel for eternity. I would even go into the dark arts if you told me it would make me look poreless, tanned and forever good in the twilight of my life. But to avoid invoking people like Marie Laveau when buying products, I read every review, every ingredient, and then five more reviews before I finally make a purchase.
Because the majority of Instagram influencer spon-con I serve are largely white, the reviews that appear on my Google search bar are from white-owned businesses. Those same brands also flood my feed with black squares and Nelson Mandela quotes, figurative button patches about the unsightly racial injustice black Americans experience every day. It’s like putting a sheet mask on an open wound, when what we Actually need to heal is the arrest of Breonna Taylor’s murderers: Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove.
Meanwhile, there are black cutie marks that do the actual work. Brands like Uoma Beauty, founded by Sharon Chuter. With her Initiative Pull up or be quiet, Chuter challenges major beauty and skincare brands to re-evaluate their business metrics so they reflect the real world. To date, the UOMA Beauty founder said only 8% of people employed in white-collar occupations are black, and only 3.2% are in managerial or managerial positions. For me, a side effect of the Pull Up or Shut Up initiative is to consider the fact that whiteness reigns in the meeting rooms of the big brands that I have been loyal to for a long time. And with the application of my vitamin C or my serum, I realize that the companies behind them could barely claim that my life matters.
When I had this epiphany, I felt sunk. Cast like Daniel Kaluuya the moment his get out the character finds all the photographs of the other black men and women in the sunken place. It was all so obvious and obvious, but something I subconsciously chose to ignore. What I clung to was this idea of beauty and eternal youth, which really changed when I reached my grand little age of 30. After three decades in this life, I realized that I had not only been frivolous with my money, but negligent. who I gave it to. By trying in other ways to overthrow a system built to oppress me, I had failed to consider the economics of my beauty routine. And so began my scrutiny, then scrutiny, to find out where my money was going.
Moving away from my usual dive into a beauty product review and ingredients, I first applied my Virgo research tactics to the brand. I think it’s a decolonization of my beauty routine. Skincare didn’t come here on the Nina, the Pinta, or the Santa Maria. She was born from the universal desire to feel beautiful in her own skin. Every person is entitled to this. Everyone has skin! And so I can no longer give another Sacagawea to brands that would probably never have a Sacagawea shadow person in their meeting rooms.
This journey of decolonization has taken me to some amazing black-owned and largely female-owned skincare brands. Many of them are natural, with beautifully clean ingredients. I found many on yes, Instagram. If you look away from the white spon-con influencer, there’s a rich community of black-led brands following each other, commenting on each other’s posts and promoting other black labels and POC on their own feeds. I have found that there is a wider range of inclusivity among their Instagram profiles. Together they form a small but mighty corporate group struggling to remain visible in the shadows of the big corporations that have an outsized economic advantage in both their advertising and production.
And what’s more, they are welcoming. Like everything great about Blackness and the community, every experience I’ve had with a black skincare brand on social media has been met with love and gratitude. Klur’s Lesley Thornton sent me informative voice notes in response to my questions about her products. Nola Skinsentials personally thanked me for supporting them with heart emojis. The establishment gave me a “yassss hunni!” in response to an Instagram story of my glowing skin in their product. Base Butter, Ilera Apothecary and 54 Thrones all sent me direct messages thanking me for sharing and then re-shared my posts on their Instagram. To be clear, I’m just a regular girl living in Brooklyn. I’m not an influencer looking for an audience for my nightly routine. I’m just an average consumer, but these brands have made it a point to connect with me and other customers like me.
The fact is that we need each other. It is risky for a black business to simply exist. The same historical and systemic structures that work to keep black people oppressed also keep these companies in their own ways. This is database access control; every product that I have purchased or researched with intent to purchase is as good or even better than anything on any beauty list. And by de-Christopher Columbus-ing my skincare, I not only get great products, but I support and engage with my community in a way that strikes differently.
AT Aba Love Apothecary, absolute joy, Beauty of Acarré, Alaffia,Altogether beautiful Afrotanicals, Anita Grant, Antik Lakay, under your mask,under your mask,black girl sunscreen, Bold skincare, brown and coconut, Amenda Beauty, ass skin, Dehiya Beauty, EPARA, Essentials by Temi, golden body, Glory Skin Care, golde, Green goods, Hanahana Beauty,Linnic’s House, hyper-skin,Jade & Fox Co., Kissed by a bee Organics, KNC Beauty, Beauty Lauren Napier, Liha Beauty, Beauty Nyakio, NBU Bath Botanicals, Handmade, Papa Rozier, Pholk Beauty,Pinkness Co., plant apothecary, Reddish, ROSE Ingleton MD, Rosen Skin Care, Beauty SDOT, SKOT Beauty, Skindom, Tallwah Cosmetics,Butter Bar skincare, Urthly Kreations Apothecary, epi.logicaland all the other black skincare companies I haven’t mentioned: thank you for existing!
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