Black Owned Beauty Month: The State of Our Black Beauty Union

Oh, this look? I’m just doing a little bit of post-SOTU chilling with Beauty Bakerie’s Coffee & Cocoa palette.
Photo: Maiysha Kai

Ask, ye shall receive—that is, unless you’re Donald Trump, still asking for that damned wall funding. But I had far better luck on Day 5 of our Black-Owned Beauty month challenge when a quick stop to Whole Foods put an end to my deodorant drought! (I promise you, we are all grateful for this.)

In fact, the Alaffia deodorant I was musing about in yesterday’s post was right in Whole Foods’ Personal Care section, along with most of the other goodies from the fair trade line. There was even an entire two-sided display of the brand’s array of bar soaps—which, at three for $6, were pretty enticing, despite me being a body wash devotee.

Whole Foods, Streeterville Neighborhood, Chicago, Il.
Photo: Maiysha Kai

What other black beauty brands did I find at Whole Foods? Of course, Sundial Brands’ Nubian Heritage and Shea Moisture, which is pretty much everywhere, at this point. Though a narrower selection than the Alaffia offerings, it was great to know that I could grab some black body buys when buying my organic, non-GMO, ethically-harvested whatever. (And at a reasonable price—the Lavender and Charcoal solid deodorant I grabbed was $5.99, the same as on Alaffia’s site.)

Of course, since I’ve had the option to purchase Shea Moisture pretty much everywhere I’ve visited on this Black Beauty Month journey, they’ve stayed at the forefront of my mind. But it’s always worth acknowledging that since the 2017 sale of Sundial Brands to Unilever, they’re technically no longer a fully black-owned brand—though co-founder Richelieu Dennis is still CEO of the brand. (Fun fact: few black brands that reach mass popularity are, as funding is critical to businesses’ growth, and investors come in all colors.)

This has proven problematic for those who would prefer black brands remain entirely self-contained units—despite the fact that one of the terms of Shea Moisture’s acquisition was an initial joint investment with Unilever of $50 million to empower women of color entrepreneurs through their now-$100 million New Voices Fund, which was announced at 2018's Essence Festival, Dennis’ first since acquiring the legacy magazine last year.


Would that have been possible without the extra capital? Do black businesses need to stay small to “stay woke”? Does selling automatically equate to “selling out?”

Frustrated (as always) with the ongoing debate about who’s “black enough,” my five-head, a face full of Beauty Bakerie’s Coffee & Cocoa palette ($38, and worth every penny. Get this—for real). and I decided to give our brief take on the issue last night. To be clear, I want to state for the record that I have been and will be using some Shea Moisture products during this challenge, out of sheer necessity. The accessibility, price point, and range of products have made them indispensable as I navigate the black skincare world on a set budget for this series. Unfortunately, comparable products don’t always come with comparable price tags. But for those with purity standards, let’s discuss.

Speaking of price tags, I did fall back into another mini-vortex on Tuesday night. Anyone who knows me knows I love red lipstick like a religion—but this challenge left me with only my Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint to rely on! Because I’m a responsible spender (yeah, that’s the reason), I returned to Sephora to cop the other set of Pat McGrath’s Mini MatteTrance Lipsticks in her red range, which, at $25 for three, actually makes them cheaper than purchasing individual shades from any other brand (and we get to test drive shades—whoo-hoo!).


Of course, the Sephora associate I’d worked with last weekend swooped in to let me know they’d had a new arrival since last visit; McGrath’s Mini Lust: Gloss sets (also $25 for three) were now on Sephora’s shelves. Obviously, I couldn’t just leave them there—they’re limited edition! I brought the darker set home to play with, and now have plenty of lip options (though that’s never stopped me before—and The Lip Bar is bound to call me back).

Now, I just need to figure out what I’m going to do with all these loose gold sequins... *Birdman handrub *

Photo: Maiysha Kai

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

About the author

Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.