It’s no secret that The Root loves a list; annually we produce the highly anticipated Root 100, introduce the world to the Young Futurists, and most recently, celebrated the best and blackest of pop culture with the first annual “Skippies.” So, naturally, The Glow Up wanted to get in on the action; why not also praise the most stylish in our sphere? The 50 honorees chosen for the first class of The Glow Up 50 regularly set trends, champion inclusion in their respective industries, and are unabashedly black in their approach, whether it be diversifying the beauty aisle or the red carpet.
How were they chosen? These deserving talents were nominated, debated and ultimately ranked by our six-person committee of style-watchers and industry experts, including Managing Editor of The Glow Up, Maiysha Kai; The Root’s Entertainment Writer, Tonja Stidhum; The Root’s Social Media Editor, Corey Townsend; G/O Media Software Engineer and veteran makeup artist Victor Amos; fashion historian, author and 2019 Root 100 honoree Tanisha C. Ford; and editor/founder of Afrobella.com and 2016 Root 100 honoree Patrice Grell Yursik.
While our inaugural group of honorees is only a small sampling of the immense talent in our midst (and excludes several luminaries who were honored in the 2019 Root 100), we consider each a strong representation of the best in fashion and beauty—and as we know, representation matters.
First up? The category is: Beauty. Black women have been beauty pioneers since time immemorial—no small feat in a world that has often refused to include us in its standard of beauty (yet appropriated ours at will). But in the spirit of Madam C.J. Walker, whose inspiring story of defying the odds comes to life in Netflix’s Self Made (premiering March 20), we have continued to innovate and inspire with a “for us, by us” ethos and entrepreneurial savvy that increases year over year. As the 10 all-female inaugural TGU50 Beauty honorees prove, our impact is undeniable, whether making sure there’s a shade to fit every face, challenging conventional beauty standards, or building a billion-dollar makeup empire. Whenever and wherever we enter, we’re making our (beauty) mark.
Pat McGrath is the “Mother” of modern beauty—not just black beauty.
There is no conversation about contemporary beauty without mention of Pat McGrath. With a billion-dollar makeup company under her belt, the Englishwoman of Jamaican heritage known fondly throughout the industry as “Mother,”—who has also been awarded Most Excellent Order of the British Empire—has sealed her legacy as one of the most iconic figures in the beauty industry. McGrath does not do makeup; she creates art on a living canvas. If veteran makeup artists are the cabal of trends, McGrath is the nucleus. She has never followed anyone, and her individuality and mastery of color have prompted the likes of Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Dolce Gabbana and Max Factor to commission the artist to create and relaunch their cosmetic lines. No wonder Anna Wintour calls McGrath “the most influential makeup artist in the world.”
When ABC’s Shark Tank failed to invest in Melissa Butler’s cosmetics company The Lip Bar, the CEO discovered it had done her a favor.
Native Detroiter Melissa Butler had no idea her vision for environmentally-friendly cosmetics would be met with cynicism when she appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2015. After five years of developing an incredibly pigmented lip color product from natural ingredients, the gorgeous entrepreneur eagerly presented her wares to the “sharks,” only to be told she would never make it. Well, Butler had the last laugh; not only did she open a flagship store in her hometown, but The Lip Bar is now sold nationally at Target, proving Butler’s brand of inclusivity a much-needed wake-up call for the cosmetics industry. As a black female gamechanger, the former Wall Street employee continues to up the ante with her sustainable, vegan-friendly products, her latest offering being The Fast Face Kit, which promises a thoroughly fabulous face in seven minutes.
If you’ve been impressed with the extensive range of foundation shades offered by L’Oréal’s brands, thank Balanda Atis.
In the beauty industry, the innovations show up on our faces. But Balanda Atis, head of L’Oréal’s Multicultural Lab, is one of the many making magic behind the scenes. A brown-skinned woman with Haitian roots, Atis was well aware of the scarcity of foundation shades that covered the broad spectrum of hues of black and brown women. In 2007, when a senior manager boasted about a new foundation L’Oréal was releasing, Atis, along with other chemists of color, advised the leader of her own inability to find suitable matches from the company for which she worked. That daring admission afforded Atis the chance to research and develop a foundation that encompassed darker complexions. Her groundbreaking work paid off as the formula was used across L’Oréal’s product line, which also encompasses Lancôme, Maybelline, and NYX Cosmetics. For her innovative take on inclusion, the chemist was promoted; Atis now runs the multicultural lab at L’Oréal.
Sheika Daley’s affinity for creating splendid imagery with a paintbrush transitioned the artist to painting faces.
Makeup artist extraordinaire Sheika Daley is one of the most sought after in an increasingly demanding and visible industry. The ravishing Jamaican queen infuses god-given talent with innovative ideas to win over her prominent clients, which have included Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, Nicki Minaj and Serena Williams. Starting her career as a MAC counter consultant, Daley’s big break came as a makeup assistant for Oprah Winfrey. Now, she’s best known as the principal makeup artist on Zendaya’s glam squad, helping to craft the star’s dramatic and often shape-shifting looks for everything from the Met Gala to Lancôme campaigns alongside 2019 Root 100 honoree Law Roach and fellow TGU50 honoree Ursula Stephen; the latter of whom joined Daley and Zendaya for a recent cover of the Hollywood Reporter.
A prolific educator, artist and photographer, Myricks offers affordable, professional-grade cosmetics that make the artistry of makeup approachable.
Internationally-acclaimed makeup artist and entrepreneur Danessa Myricks uses her expertise to confront the difficulties black women face finding representation in the cosmetics industry. An experienced artist who left the corporate world to pursue a creative career, Myricks became keenly aware that though beauty brands now offer a wider variety of products for women of color, there was more work to be done. In response, the self-determined boss launched an impressive, cult-favorite eponymous line offering professional-grade products for an affordable price. Also an educator, Myricks imparts her brilliance to other industry professionals and makeup aficionados who want to hone their craft by offering online classes and presenting at industry shows across the globe.
A long-respected celebrity makeup artist, Ashunta Sheriff’s technical knowledge and eye for creating exquisite looks has been her key to longevity in an often fickle business.
When Ashunta Sheriff began her career as a makeup artist some 20 years ago, little did she know she would become the industry powerhouse she is today. The beloved artist was mentored by two of the best-known makeup artists in the world, Pat McGrath and Laura Mercier. Sheriff’s impeccable skill, dedication to artistry and gracious spirit have not only propelled her to the top of her craft—with an extensive roster of devoted celebrity clientele like Taraji P. Henson, forever first lady Michelle Obama, Alicia Keys, and Sanaa Lathan—but she makes time to mentor fledgling artists on technique and the money side of the business. Sheriff is living proof that hard work and generosity truly pay off.
Since 2014, Juvia’s Place has been a favorite brand of beauty enthusiasts.
With only $2,000, Chichi Eburu founded Juvia’s Place in 2014, a beauty brand focused on creating colors that popped on black women, prompted by Eburu’s own frustration finding shades that looked vibrant on her brown skin. The Nigerian beauty mogul’s first collection, a series of beautifully packaged, highly-pigmented eyeshadow palettes, each gave a nod to the Motherland—Africa. Even better, they were offered at a price point that sent beauty enthusiasts flocking in droves to the line’s Instagram account—and cemented the brand’s cult-favorite status. But Eburu’s marketing savvy didn’t stop there; she did what no other beauty brand dared do at the time: In place of traditional ads, the brand’s social media account featured amateur makeup artists and influencers using the products, a genius marketing tactic that helped Juvia’s Place become a multimillion-dollar business.
Cooper’s love of art inspires her work as one of the fiercest makeup artists in the industry.
From Mary J. Blige to Iman, Porsche Cooper has blessed the faces of a bevy of renowned beauties. Starting her career in management with MAC Cosmetics, Cooper took the risk to break out on her own, a brave move that set the stage for a major breakthrough. Now, her gifted hands have created looks featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Elle, and LOVE magazines, in addition to major brands like Gucci, Estée Lauder, and TGU50 sponsor Netflix, among others. As Cooper’s profile grows, the hardworking beauty professional continues to discover new ways to enhance her craftsmanship, drawing upon her love of art and travel to inspire her beauty aesthetic and inform the new techniques she brings to well-known faces like Ava DuVernay, Joan Smalls and Andra Day.
Feeling the disconnect between the beauty industry and black women, beauty exec Sharon Chuter addressed the problem by creating a product line just for us.
When she considered the range of color options that still weren’t available to black women, Refinery29 2019 Beauty Innovator Award winner Sharon Chuter stepped into action. Formerly the head of operations at Benefit Cosmetics, she recognized the gaps in suitable shade choices that remained for women whose complexions reminded her of those in her native homeland, Nigeria. While most industry leaders were still struggling to understand the nuance and complexities of black skin tones, Chuter knew our skin wasn’t a monolith; in 2019, she launched Uoma Cosmetics with an impressive 51 foundation shades across six formulas to fill the chasm most other makeup companies overlooked.
With her eclectic style and knack for standing out, Raisa Flowers steps to the beat of her own drum when it comes to beauty.
Conformity doesn’t exist in Raisa Flowers’ world. The Yonkers, N.Y. native’s love of makeup began at the age of 13, when frequent trips to the MAC counter with her mother inspired her passion for beauty. In the years that followed, Flowers’ in-your-face brand of artistry caught the eyes of Nike, Gucci, and Pat McGrath. And while most makeup artists never see the front of the camera, the proud ambassador of eccentricity also models in addition to making up faces; Flowers’ fearless personal aesthetic has earned her spots on the catwalks of designer Nicholas Kirkwood (where she was the only full-figured model) and Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty show.
The Glow Up 50 is presented by Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker. Watch Self Made on March 20, only on Netflix.