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Diversity In Clean Beauty: Black Beauty Bloggers Share Their Holy Grail Products

In the second part of my series on Diversity in Clean Beauty, I am amplifying the passionate voices of Black clean beauty bloggers who were incredibly generous with their time and knowledge to share their holy grail products with me.
There may be a few familiar names and cult favorites in their responses, but I've also been introduced to some amazing under-the-radar beauty brands and traditional beauty secrets. More importantly, they each have an important message to the industry about what it means to navigate this space as Black creators and consumers, and I hold hope that we are seeing the beginning of seismic changes in the industry. 
P/S: Products marked with asterisks are the blogger's own affiliate links (otherwise I've linked to the brand's product page), and your purchase through those clicks will help support the wonderful work that they do!
P/S: Read the entire Diversity in Clean Beauty series here

Alexandra @thealexandraangel
How did you get into clean beauty?

I've learned over time I have very sensitive, acne-prone skin. I struggled with cystic acne for more than 10 years. To cure it, I tried every type of skincare system out there, from drug store to high end. What would work for everyone else never seemed to work for me and I’m pretty sure I spent close to $5,000 just trying to find a cure something that would finally give me glowing, acne-free skin.

I went from synthetic brands to Korean brands and eventually clean beauty. The results were incredible! I was finally able to keep the acne off my face, while using products that were not only good for my face but also for my system. As I continued to blog, I learned how many products were actually making my skin worse and causing my breakouts. It’s been 3 years now on my clean beauty journey and I’ll never go back.

Let's talk favourites!

For anyone struggling with acne I highly suggest the following brands: LILFOXMahalo Skin Care,Josh Rosebrook and One Love Organics.

One Love Organics Botanical A Facial Cleanser: This has AHA + BHA enzymes that are perfect for anyone that struggled with acne. It disinfects, cleans your pores, and help give your face a smooth and plump! This is also great if you are trying to remove any texture on your face caused by fungal acne.

LILFOX MYSTIC AWAKENING Toning Mist: This has been a game changer for me! Their mist is infused with rosemary, which has been a godsend for keeping both my face and back clear of acne. Not to mention the formula is full of beautiful ingredients that help clear and even your complexion. I can’t go very long without it and always keep it stocked on my cabinet.

LILFOX CHLOROPHYLL + TOURMALINE Brightening Mask: Their mixture of French green sea clay, chlorella, spirulina, and matcha green tea is a beautiful powerhouse cocktail to clearing cystic acne. I’ve only had to use this once a week to get my cystic acne to heal quickly. It feels so good and doesn’t dry out my skin either. If I could recommend anyone to start with a product for acne, this would be it

Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream: Not only is Josh an outstanding person, but the quality of his products are incredible. He’s a brand owner that puts his money where his mouth is, and when he makes statements about the results his products will deliver he means it. I ended up buying the largest bottle possible because the SPF is SO GOOD and doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin. And it’s perfect for any POC out there that wants a sunscreen that’s natural and doesn’t leave a white cast.

What is lacking in the clean beauty world? 

I would say sunscreen and foundation. Although there a few brands that have gotten it right, often times the foundation selections leave a strange grey cast when they oxidize after application. Only Josh Rosebrook has made a sunscreen that’s clean, good and doesn’t leave a huge white cast for women of color.

You can follow Alexandra on Instagram @thealexandraangel.

Alexis @alexiskristiana
How did you get into clean beauty?

After dealing with eczema outbreak after outbreak I wanted to do better for my skin. I made the switch to non-toxic products and never looked back- it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. 

Let's talk favourites!

Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation: It leaves my skin looking so beautiful and provides the right amount of coverage. It’s creamy for a mineral foundation and I love to mix it into my own tinted moisturizer. 

Alima Pure Cream Blush in Bijuo: This blush is so creamy and yummy in skin! I also love to double it on my lips for a nice subtle tint. 

Alima Pure Cream Concealer in HeatIt’s hard finding a concealer for my undereye that's not dull, this is it. Hands down the best concealer I’ve ever had on my skin and I model so that says something! 

Alima Pure Highlighter in Dolce: This highlighter literally screams brown skin girl magic! The perfect golden shimmer out there. 

Zuii Organic Lip Liner in Spice: This is the perfect color for my lips. I either line or completely fill in my lips with this and dab on some lip balm and call it a day! 

Evolvh Wonderbalm for Curls + SuperCurl Defining CreamThey are a match made in heaven for curly hair and gives the bounciest and softest curls when mixed together with 2 pumps of each. 

Browtopia Brow Defining Powder + Browboo Gel are brow products everyone needed to know about yesterday. Hands down the most amazing independent beauty brand out there. Have helped recover my sparse brows to be full and healthy again. Love to dip my brow application brush into some water then into the brow powder to style my brows. 

What is lacking in the clean beauty world? 

I’ve really struggled to find a non-toxic sunscreen that applies beautifully on melanin skin. I’ve tried them all and still struggle with locking in my holy grail. 

You can follow Alexis on Instagram @alexiskristiana, watch her on YouTube and shop her curated vintage store for nursing Mamas Liquid Gold Vintage.

The Arte Sisters @artesistersbeauty(Pictured is Kaha, but there are 10 Arte sisters altogether!)
How did you get into clean beauty?

We started noticing the increasingly negative health outcomes for Black women and went looking for answers. What we found was that racism and capitalism went hand in hand. We have a for-profit healthcare system in the US; one that quite literally profits off our illnesses. We started looking into the way our food and environment affects our health, and it naturally progressed into what we put on our bodies too.

We were really disappointed (but not surprised) to find out that a disproportionately high number of hair and beauty products marketed to black women in America contain potentially harmful ingredients. We also found out that America's cosmetics industry isn't as regulated as we believed it to be.

Some of us live in Canada and we continually compare the policies between our two countries and realized that the US had only banned a little over 10 ingredients while Canada had banned over 600. We decided to take matters into our own hands, and seek out cleaner, less toxic cosmetics but were once again disappointed that the entire green/clean beauty industry was catered to upper-class White women (high price points and extremely limited shade ranges).

Whenever we found something clean/less toxic and that didn't look like complete chalk on us, we would shout it out on our Snapchats. Our girlfriends asked us to compile all our recommendations in one place so they didn't have to screenshot everything - this is how Arte Sister's Beauty on IG came to be!

Let's talk favourites!

Washing our faces with sea salt + water: This works amazing for our sisters with acne-prone skin. We noticed our skin always cleared up when we spent a couple of days swimming in the ocean, so we did some research and found data that backed up what we had observed. Sea salt contains over 20 great minerals like magnesium which hydrates and reduces inflammation. We swear by it. Apparently it's also great for psoriasis! 

Qasil Cleansing/Masking: For centuries, people of the Horn of Africa have used Qasil powder as a basic part of our beauty regimen, whether it's adding turmeric, honey or yogurt and mixing it into a mask - or adding water and using it to gently cleanse and exfoliate our skin and hair, this versatile powder is really affordable and effective. Created from the dried up leaves of the Gob Tree, which grows in the Horn, Qasil powder is jam packed with a power house of benefits - like polyphenols, and flavonoids which have antioxidant properties, and ascorbic acid (aka Vitamin C) just to name a few! You can buy it at literally any local Somali or Ethiopian store; it's everywhere and super affordable.

Marc Anthony Strictly Curls Curl Envy Curl Creme: This is the only curl creme that gives us the perfect finger coil curls without the crunch, or weigh down that we typically get from a creme. This leaves our hair feeling shiny, defined, and soft. Everyone with curly hair that we've introduced this to starts using it and never looks back.

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Body Oil: We get compliments us on how good we smell and how glowy our skin looks, but it's really just this oil! We put this on straight out the shower, and it makes our skin feel silky smooth. It also smells like a warm tropical vacation in a bottle - super yummy!

Shea Glo Orange Souffle Hand and Body Butter: This is a Black woman-owned company, and the founder is the SWEETEST. She's Ghanaian and makes the most delicious natural skin care products. Our favorite is this body butter - it truly feels like we're putting a whipped dessert on our bodies, and leaves our skin feeling deeply hydrated. Her ingredients are simple (no fillers) and effective.

Clove + Hallow Conceal and Correct: We love this concealer because it provides the best coverage of any clean/less toxic concealer we've come across. It even works well for our super oily skin sisters. No creasing, no cakey feeling, and blends well with many different foundations. We love that everything made by this company is created with 15 ingredients or less, and the purpose of each ingredient is explained on their website. (For color reference - our sister Kaha wears shade 6, and baby sister Hibaaq wears shade 8). Also, the founder of this company is someone that doesn't engage in fear-mongering when it comes to ingredients - which has been really refreshing to see.

Young Blood Mineral Cosmetics Loose Mineral Rice Setting Powder in Dark: It's talc free, with ZERO flashback. It makes us look airbrushed, and we have tried a MILLION setting powders - this stuff is amazing.

Young Blood Mineral Cosmetics Lunar Dust Highlight in Dusk: We get the most compliments on our dewy skin - and this what we credit that glow to (of course the melanin helps too). This highlight is the right depth of gold, without looking like we swiped glitter onto our cheeks (nothing against big pieces of glitter, it's just not our every day vibe). We dust this onto the highpoints on our face and literally get stopped in our tracks with questions whenever we head out. We also mix a small scoop into our body oils to add some glow to the rest of our body too. It's the most perfect gold!

What is lacking in the clean beauty world?

We have yet to find a full coverage, less toxic foundation with a matte finish that actually matches our skin tone and performs like its conventional counterparts. We're still testing some new Black-owned clean beauty brands we've come across - so that might be changing soon!

Also, beauty brands, we watch the way you respond to racist folks in your comment sections; posting about the importance of 'unity' with a feed that shouts 'we believe only White wealthy, skinny, cisgender women matter' and responses that reaffirm this sentiment. We see you, and have been compiling a list of places we will not shop from. If you are not engaging with those customers about why our lives matter, and are instead condoning their dismissal of our pain, you are part of the problem, and missing an opportunity to affect real change. Your customers are your community - you can and should use your platform to influence that community into creating an inclusive world for all of us. Move in a way you would be proud of in 20 years.

You can follow The Arte Sisters on Instagram @artesistersbeauty,

Carron @carroncoleman
How did you get into clean beauty?

Switching to clean beauty was all a part of my overall health journey. For me it started when I went natural with my hair and began monitoring the ingredients in the products I used for my hair. Then it ventured off to the foods I was eating. So it just made sense for me to really think about every single product that goes on my skin and into my body. It’s all related. You cannot be health conscious and not think about what you are putting on your skin. I’ve also suffered from health issues such as fibroids so reducing the amount of chemicals I consume is all a part of my healing journey.

Let's talk favourites! 

I love the Marla Rene Honey Cleanser. I talked about her products a lot on Instagram and YouTube. The ingredient list is short and it does wonders for my skin. The main ingredient in this cleanser is honeywhich is excellent for my sensitive breakout prone skin because honey is moisturizing and antibacterial.

I also swear by the Hydro-Therapy Eye Serum* from Lotus Moon Skincare. Most eye creams tend to break me out and don’t do anything to prevent under eye dryness or circles. This serum is very light and I love that it comes in a roll on.

In makeup my holy grail foundation is the Liquid Crème Mineral Foundation* from Plain Jane Beauty. Hands down the best and most safe ingredients in my opinion especially for a liquid foundation. The coverage is great and I love the fact that it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin or feel heavy on.

Au Naturale has some of my favorite lip glosses and their Su/stain Matte Lip Stain* which is cream base, both of those products are my go to’s. I have them in several different colors. The ingredients are amazingly safe as well.

What is lacking in the clean beauty world?

The most obvious thing is shade range. This has been an ongoing issue in the beauty industry and even more prevalent in the clean beauty space. There are some brands who actually believe black women aren’t interested in cleaner safer beauty. Well, maybe more would be if there were options out there for us. I could go on and on but literally you’ll see some clean brands have one or two shades which is somehow supposed to match every woman with brown skin.

You can follow Carron on Instagram @carroncoleman and watch her on YouTube.

How did you get into clean beauty?

I started switching to clean beauty when I was pregnant with my second child in 2015. I had severe hyperemesis and was put on a home therapy of medication to help with the constant nausea and vomiting for almost the entire pregnancy. I was so concerned about how the medication would affect me and my child but knew it was necessary to have a healthy pregnancy. I decided that I would be much more conscious about the things that I could control - which was what I put on my body. I had already made a switch to a healthier diet and switching to clean beauty and body care was the next natural step.

Let's talk favourites! 

Plain Jane Beauty Creme Minerals Foundation Stick: This is my all-time favorite foundation! Medium coverage, skin-like finish, and it's the best matching foundation that I own!

Odacite Blue Aura Cleansing Water: I'm on probably my 5th bottle of this since I started using this last year. I use this to cleanse my face in the morning. It refreshes the skin without being overly drying.

Fitglow Lip Color Serums: I am such a fan of these lip glosses! They check every single box for me - clean ingredients, non-sticky formula, and gorgeous colors!

Prisma Palette Eyeshadows: These shadows are AMAZING and Angelica is the kindest person you can have the fortune to interact with. You can find your staple neutrals as well as more bright, fun colors too.

Kharis Organic Body Souffles: Marie, the owner of this brand, sent me some travel sizes of her body souffles and they are incredible. I immediately bought full-sizes once the travel sizes were empty. The floral body souffle has a beautiful light scent and the fragrance-free version has been so helpful in healing my youngest daughter's mild eczema.

Lovinah Skincare Face Masks: I can't just pick one of the Lovinah masks that I love the most! Depending on my skin's needs I rotate between the Black Tea, Blue Butterfly, Dragon's Blood, and Chocolate Truffle masks. You can't go wrong with any of them. Beautiful formulations all around!

Beauty Heroes Monthly Discovery Service: I know this isn't a product but the Beauty Heroes' monthly discoveries are a fabulous option to start experiencing clean beauty or if you're already a vet in the clean beauty space to try out new brands/products. Clean beauty can be cost prohibitive for many people and the monthly discovery is an economical way of accessing luxury brands.

What is lacking in the clean beauty world?

I think the clean beauty space still has lots of work to do in terms of diversity, inclusion and representation. It's so frustrating to comb through a brand's IG feed or website and see that the aesthetic that they clearly want to achieve and the demographic that they're marketing to is still very much a young, white, thin/fit, female audience. In the wake of the uprising we've seen over the last several weeks, more brands are sprinkling black and brown faces into their feeds which is a nice start but it's not enough. Including women and men of color shouldn't be reactionary. Clean beauty brands need to work to get to a place where diversity and inclusion are a natural representation of their values and vision. 

You can follow Jamila on Instagram @jamilaloves_.

How did you get into clean beauty?

I had been into herbal, DIY beauty products for several years but I made a definite move to cleaner beauty after a miscarriage in 2015 and a subsequent diagnosis of fibroids. My midwife shared with me some research on endocrine disruptors and fibroids, and although I ate clean, I realized not all my home care and toiletries were of the same standard.

Let's talk favourites! 

Terra Tory Sea Moss And Oatmeal soap: I love this soap for after workouts and for everyday use. The eucalyptus scent is so refreshing, and it has also greatly reduced my mild keratosis pilaris.

BGLH Marketplace Whipped Shea Butter: I have been following Leila for over a decade since she created her natural hair and beauty blog Black Girl Long Hair. Her whipped butters have been a staple for many years, and my favorite blends include vanilla and lavender.

Andalou Naturals Sensitive 1000 Roses Foaming Cleanser: Even though I have dry skin, this cleanses so well for me. I also like to use it post-oil cleanse to help further remove makeup.

Florihana Rose Hydrosol: I am a sucker for roses and this hydrosol is thirst quenching for my dehydrated skin. I use it as a base for DIY hair products, face masks and prior to applying serums.

What is lacking in the clean beauty world?

For me, what I find most lacking is BIPOC input and reviews of products in the clean beauty space, particularly corrective products for issues more commonly affecting darker skin tones like scarring, texture, acne, hyperpigmentation and eczema. Having more representation in the results / proof of concept would be refreshing to see (with the understanding that topicals are only part of the solution).

Also, I've found some great sunscreens but I haven't found one that I've been really dedicated to using that gives me the full experience - no cast/skin-friendly tint, moisturizing, mineral formula, economical size for multiple uses and kid friendly.

Between the perspective that 'We need minimal to no products to care for all BIPOC skin's needs' and 'BIPOC skin is so complex that solutions cannot be created' lies a happy medium, with brands that make an effort to support the healthiest, beautiful skin that I can have. I'm excited to discover more brands that see me and my skin, and not just my money.

You can follow Lina on Instagram @linanatlife.

How did you get into clean beauty?

I got into clean beauty about 10 years ago when I decided to stop chemically relaxing my hair. I began to seek out natural hair products to use for my hair in its natural state. This piqued my interest in ingredients and caused me to pay attention to everything I was putting into and onto my body.

Let's talk favourites! 

My new favorite cleanser is the Earth Cleanser from Rosen Skincare*. It contains clay, zinc oxide, and niacinamide; all of which work great to help keep my eczema at bay. (Use code THENATURALDOCTOR for 20% off)

It can be really hard to find a physical sunscreen that won’t leave a dreaded white cast. My favorite is from Unsun Cosmetics. It comes in 2 shades for different skin tones, and they also have a body lotion and hand cream with SPF! I highly recommend. (Use code NATURALSUN for 10% off)

My all time favorite lip color is the Clove and Hallow Lip Velvet in Uptown (which is what I am wearing in the photo above!). I think it will work on almost any skin tone.

I haven’t been the biggest believer in primers. I have a solid skincare routine and usually feel they are unnecessary. Plus, many of them leave an unusual tint on the skin. I recently tried the True Intentions Bronzing Primer from Range Beauty and I love it! It applies beautifully and creates an even canvas for your makeup. It can even be worn alone on no makeup days. And the ingredient list is impeccable.

My favorite body product is Free and True Skincare's Body Prophet. The smell and the packaging make this lotion feel so luxurious!

What is lacking in the clean beauty world?

I think the community has moved beyond begging for inclusivity, especially when there are a plethora of brands with stellar products owned by BIPOC.  There are also brands who have always gotten it right without having to be guilted into change due to the current climate. The best thing we can do moving forward is to support those brands. 

If I were to state something I see missing, however, is shades in the medium/tan range. The first thing brands that *clearly* have very few POC behind the scenes promise is to create darker shades. And while dark shades are indeed necessary, this overlooks the fact that POC come in a wide variety of skin tones and undertones. It is not enough to have 12 shades of beige and 2 shades of chocolate. That is pacifying and inconsiderate. That is not true inclusivity. 

You can follow Lorece on Instagram @_thenaturaldoctor_.

You can read Saleam's open letter to the beauty industry here.
How did you get into clean beauty?

I can’t say that I ever formally switched. I’ve always tried to use the best products I can, as far as ingredients are concerned. It’s an interest that has grown over time. Because I have more access to products - I’m able to keep up an almost completely clean regime. I wasn’t aware that there was a community until I started meeting brand owners, and I’ve been able to learn a lot because of these relationships. I think I’m still learning.

Let's talk favourites! 

Essentials By Temi Radiance Elixir Oil: This is my go-to oil for creating glowing skin all year round. I also love this as a post-shave treatment - because it has patchouli and lemongrass essential oils.

Graydon Skincare Skin Stuff Face + Eye Cream: I love this light cream for nighttime skincare. I use it in the day time in the colder months. It really works with my various serums because it’s so simple.

Herbivore Lapis Blue Tansy Face Oil:  This is one of my favorite summer oils. It keeps my skin balanced and it's really light and doesn’t clog my pores.

Boscia Cactus Water Moisturizer: This makes a great sleep mask for warmer months. It has an amazing texture and leaves a natural dewy glow in the daytime.

What is lacking in the clean beauty world?

There’s a lack of presence from black people in particular. It’s the same for Latin X people. That’s from a customer and marketing point of view. I’d love to see more black-owned brands get the retail opportunities they need to grow. I think it’s also a matter of affordability. I’d love to see a wider range of price points. That way more people can get their hands on clean products. 

You can follow Saleam on Instagram @themethodmale and read his articles for Byrdie Beauty here

"Diversity invites people to the table, but inclusion empowers your voice to be heard while you're at the table.
I do not want to sit at any tables that want my skin for marketing but not my voice for truth and perspective."
- Terence Lester

Read my Diversity in Clean Beauty series here

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