The Black Skin-Care Experts Keeping Our Melanin in Tip-Top Shape

The Black Skin-Care Experts Keeping Our Melanin in Tip-Top Shape
Photo: Allison Kahler

The best kind of advice comes from someone who knows—better yet, someone who has already been through whatever problem you’re dealing with. That certainly rings true for black women looking to find beauty products that actually cater to their spectrum of skin tones and melanin-specific challenges. And if ongoing inclusivity issues within the beauty industry are any indication, black women are still faced with the challenge of finding products that simply work for them. Thankfully, that demand is being answered—slowly, but surely—by an onslaught of black-owned businesses created for and by us.

Skin care is an especially important category, given the issues that hit us especially hard, such as discoloration and disorders such as eczema and psoriasis. The gamut of brands out there is pretty wide, but what we love about this carefully curated set of experts is that their unique brands are backed by the kind of expertise we can trust. Get to know them, ahead.

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Holly McWhorter

McWhorter and her husband, Bjarke Ballisager, are the founders of PLANT Apothecary. This Brooklyn-based unisex brand is not only 100 percent USDA Organic–certified, it also gives back to the community by partnering with a nonprofit, BKLYN UNLTD, on production and distribution efforts. Besides the fact that everything is relatively affordable, plant-based products are renowned for their ability to provide relief to problematic skin in a gentle, but effective way.

Try This: LATHER, CLEANSE, REPEAT Organic Lathering Oil Cleanser and Shaving Cream, $18 at PLANT Apothecary

Katonya Breaux

While most of us don’t learn the importance of sunscreen until we’re well into adulthood, Breaux has been slathering it on since her twenties. Now a mother of two (her oldest son is singer Frank Ocean), the seasoned skin-care pro has parlayed her expertise into a line of tinted sunscreens, formulated specifically for people of color. What separates Unsun Cosmetics from its SPF counterparts is a tint that doesn’t turn gray or milky white after being rubbed into the skin.

Try This: Unsun SPF 30 Tinted Mineral Sunscreen, $29 at Unsun Cosmetics

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Nyakio Grieco

If you’ve ever purchased a skin saver from Nyakio Beauty, you have its namesake founder to thank. Grieco, a first-generation American of Kenyan descent, based her collection on beauty secrets shared by her grandmother—a coffee farmer—and her grandfather, who was a medicine man. The ingredients within her green line are sourced from all over the world and are helping usher under-represented cultures into the world of prestige beauty.

Try This: Nyakio Marula & Neroli Brightening Oil, $42 at Ulta

Lauren Napier

While on a flight from Dubai to New York City, the celebrity makeup artist dreamed up a simple but incredibly useful idea: makeup wipes for women on the go. Today, her mini miracles, made with water, aloe, chamomilla, and cucumber, are textured enough to scrub away dirt and grime but gentle enough to leave skin feeling silky-smooth. Oh, and each packet is made in the good ol’ USA, engineered using solar energies, and the products are free of hazardous microbeads.

Try This: Cleanse by Lauren Napier—The Weekly, $10 at Lauren Napier

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Kayla Phillips

This twentysomething Austin, Texas, native created her very own bath and skin-care brand after realizing that there weren’t many safe options out there for vegans like herself who are also a part of the chronic illness community. As of this year, she’s created more than 500 products from home and continues to expand her lineup to meet a growing demand.  “I want to create things that get you feeling yourself effortlessly, by your own terms and standards. Beauty is whatever you want it to be and I don’t serve to make you think it means ONE thing!” she writes on the brand’s official website. We couldn’t agree more.

Try This: Foxie Cosmetics Oshin Moisturizer, $46 at Foxie Cosmetics

Monique Rodriguez

A love for beauty and more than nine years of experience as a registered nurse are the foundation of Mielle Organics, an eco-friendly line of hair and skin products started back in 2014. Since its inception, it has grown to become one of the premier hair brands for women of color and now that skin care has been thrown into the mix, men and women are falling in love with her line of face masks and moisturizers, too.

Try This: Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Hydrating Face Mask, $9.99 at Mielle Organics

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Dr. Michelle Henry

Dr. Henry, a black dermatologist who is also trained in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, frequently lends her expertise to big-shot brands like Cerave and Dove, all while catering to her clientele in New York City. Every time we see her name touted in a skin-care advice article, we know we’re in good hands.