- Jenica Barrett
6 Black-Owned Sustainable + Green Makeup Brands
Updated: Feb 6, 2021
How many zero waste cosmetic brands are owned by Black folks?
Can't think of any?
Almost every single zero waste cosmetic brand you have probably heard of is owned by white folks. Elate, WIII, Lush, Meow Meow Tweet, Clean Cosmetics, and all the rest - not a single one of the frequently discussed zero waste makeup companies is owned by a Black person.
Why is the green cosmetic industry so white?
There are Black-owned zero waste beauty brands out there though! Some have broken into the sustainability realm but haven't gained traction on many of the social media accounts and blogs covering the low waste lifestyle. The Zero Waste Movement spotlight is dominated by white women (myself included) and the brands marketing themselves as "zero waste" tend to reflect that white skin tone.
Since cosmetics are something we tend to match with our skin, brands pick and choose which skin tones to create. When you think of the color "nude", do you think black? Brown? The color society (because of white supremacy) labels as nude is a color that can best be described as white, cream, or light peach. It's the color of my skin tone. If you're white (and even if you're not), you probably think of "nude" as this color. This becomes the default for cosmetic companies and makeup brands.
Support Black business owners in the Zero Waste Movement
There are definitely green, sustainable, zero waste brands that are owned by Black folks even if they haven't gained attention in the broader movement yet. Whether or not they officially mark themselves as "zero waste" is also irrelevant. The benefits of supporting these businesses are numerous and we (the collective white "we") aren't going to diversify the zero waste movement if we continue to only support white-centered businesses.
Below are six different cosmetics brands that are owned by Black folks - that also have a focus on sustainable ingredients, limited packaging, and environmental preservation. These Black-owned zero waste cosmetic brands are from around the world too!
Pressure brands to diversify!
It is also important to advocate for more diverse color tones from the brands marketing themselves as zero waste! If you are white or white passing, take a look at the cosmetics you purchase. Does the brand offer an array of colors that include black and brown tones of different shades? Most makeups will have a variety of white skin tones and only a token two or three in darker shades.
When white women dominate the zero waste movement, own the zero waste cosmetic brands, and model the products, the brands will continue to produce only white skin shades.
This is simply not acceptable. Use your voice and make sure the brands know that if they want your money, they need to offer products that all people can use, regardless of their skin color. This is just one way that the zero waste movement can begin to become more intersectional in its approach to environmentalism.
This post may contain affiliate links where I earn a small commission on purchases made through the links.
Black-Owned Zero Waste Beauty Brands
1. Mented Cosmetics
HQ Location: New York, USA
Highlights: Black-owned, vegan, cruelty free, paraben free
Products: lips, foundation, eyes
Description: Marketed as makeup specifically designed for Women of Color, Mented provides an array of darker shades across their foundation, powders, and lipsticks. Founded by two Black women, KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson, who couldn't find their skin tone in "nude" shades from traditional brands, they created a line to make sure BIPOC make-up wearers don't have to feel like that again.
I cannot comment on the exact feel of the products as I haven't tried Mented myself. This brand stays true to its purpose and designs products for women of color. I, a very fair skinned white-woman, don't have a match to my skin tone because they don't go light enough. That's the first time in my life though I have ever had to say that about a cosmetic company. So I'm going to reflect on my privilege and continue to promote Mented as an incredible company for so many women out there, even if not for myself!
2. Plain Jane Beauty
HQ Location: USA
Highlights: Black-owned, woman-owned, Leaping Bunny Certified, Gold Green America, vegan, mostly organic
Products: foundation, lips, eye makeup
Description: Plain Jane Beauty has inclusivity at its core and boasts 17 shades of foundation to show for it! The shades of foundation also match across powder, cremes, etc. so you don't have to figure out your color each time! Their commitment to empowerment and giving back reflects in who they also partner with. The company chosen to process their credit card transactions also has an eco-office and donates 50% of their profits back to the community. Plain Jane Beauty could have just picked someone easy - but they went out of their way to find a partner that aligned with their values!
3. The Lip Bar
HQ Location: Michigan, USA
Highlights: Black-owned, women-owned, vegan, cruelty free
Products: foundation, lips, eye makeup
Description: The Lip Bar gets a special seat on this list of zero waste cosmetic brands because they represent inclusivity and diversity like no other brand. Their website features individuals wearing makeup that don't traditionally fit the stereotype and the selection of colors in their foundation line is immense (26 shades!). Although the brand does not have a focus on sustainability per say, they market themselves as simple and efficient - designed to only have a minimal amount of products to get your gorgeous face ready quickly!
Zero Waste Wisdom readers can save 10% off The Lip Bar when they use this special discount code: 9601E38A923
4. Blac Minerals
HQ Location: USA
Highlights: Black-owned, woman-owned, toxic-free
Products: face, cheeks, brushes
Description: Blac Minerals is a cosmetic line designed for women of color. Similarly to Mented Cosmetics then, it's not a cosmetic line that I can use because the color line is darker than my skin complexion. However, their products look amazing! The ingredients mirror homemade versions of makeup that I have tried myself so there are no hidden or surprise ingredients! Completely non-toxic and natural, these cosmetic products will also moisturize your skin while looking gorgeous! The colors are created using natural mica powder pigments that are smooth and bright.
Blac Minerals has foundation, concealer, setting powder, blush, and brushes. They don't currently make any eye makeup.
5. Dimension Nails
HQ Location: Florida & Ohio, USA
Highlights: Black-owned, woman-owned, PETA certified, Leaping Bunny certified, 10+ free (chemical free), 5% of sales to animal sanctuaries, vegan, cruelty free
Products: nail polish
Description: Dimension Nails markets a wide range of nail polishes inspired by nature. It's run by a daughter and dad duo as well which I find especially lovely! The products are vegan, cruelty free, and free of at least the 10 heavy hitter chemicals typically found in the nail polish industry. They donate 5% of sales to animal sanctuaries and provide links to Earth911 to learn how to recycle their pots after use. The nail polish and lacquers are manufactured in the USA.
Their products also include nail art, glitter, and embellishments. These are made in China, not the USA. If ordering more embellishments, you can drop them a note and they'll send it in a refill bag that has 50% less plastic than the typical container. Might be better just to skip the embellishments though or at least make sure they're not made from plastic.
6. BLK + GRN
HQ Location: USA
Highlights: Black-owned and features ONLY Black artisans, toxic free, natural ingredient focused, small businesses
Products: facial powder, mascara, nail polish, skincare, haircare, oral care
Description: BLK + GRN is a unique company in that they're really more like a store front. They offer an Etsy-like collection of products made by Black artisans from around the U.S. Their products include skincare and cosmetics, but aren't limited to just that! No matter what you buy on there, you'll be supporting a Black business owner producing sustainable products for your body and the planet - a win-win-win!
BLK + GRN collections are limited in some areas. While they do have some cosmetics, the collections are mostly around skin care rather than makeup items.
Although there are only a few cosmetic brands run by Black business owners, there are a wide variety of skincare brands out there to choose from! I've compiled a list of Black-owned Green + Sustainable Skincare Brands for you to check out too!