February is not just the month of love; it's also a time to celebrate Black History Month. Black History Month celebrates the achievements and contributions of African Americans in many sectors. However, some sectors get overlooked. Here, we'll look at the impact of black women in the skincare industry. From the initial trailblazers to the women carrying the torch today, their contributions to skincare should not go unnoticed.
Black History Month
Black History Month was originally established as "Negro History Week" by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926. He believed educating African Americans on what their ancestors achieved and contributed was imperative. He chose February because Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass had birthdays. In February of 1976, it was extended to the whole month of February by President Gerald Ford. Black History Month is observed and celebrated every year in February.
The Trailblazers: Past and Present
Blazing the trail in skin care was Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919). Walker was the first African American millionaire in America. She made her fortune from her line of hair care products for black women. Walker developed this line of products after experiencing hair loss, which led to the "Walker System" of hair care. Not only did she blaze the trail for skin care, but she was also a philanthropist, donating to scholarships for women and charities like the Black YMCA.
After that, there is Pat McGrath, a British makeup artist. Her rise began in the 1990s, when she was responsible for crafting beauty looks for runway shows for top brands like Christian Dior. In 2004, she provided her expertise to Proctor and Gamble on some of their cosmetic lines. Then, in 2017, McGrath released her makeup products. She may have learned something from her mom, who reportedly made her own makeup due to the limited options for women with darker skin.
Shining the Spotlight
As we celebrate Black History Month, let's spotlight a few black-owned businesses in the skin care industry that you may not be familiar with. Supporting these businesses and others like them is a fantastic way to celebrate diversity and their commitment to innovation in their field.
- Hanahana Beauty: Hanahana Beauty was founded by Abena Boamah-Acheampong. The key ingredient in her products, shea butter, helps her focus on natural skincare and honors her roots. Her mother would make her body butter by melting shea butter and cloves. Shea butter was the "go-to" in their house for many ailments.
- Klur: Lesley Thornton founded Klur. It was essential to Thornton to create clean and ethical beauty products to help women in their everyday lives. Klur is an independent and women-owned company.
- Black Girl Sunscreen: Shontay Lundy created Black Girl Sunscreen. She was frustrated by the lack of options regarding sunscreens for darker skin tones. So, she created one with that in mind and filled a hole in the market.
Celebrate Black Women in Skin Care All Year Long
In celebrating Black History Month, we would be remiss if we didn't also celebrate the innovation of Black women in the skincare industry. From trailblazer Madam C.J. Walker to those continuing today, their contributions have shaped the industry in life-altering ways. We should continue supporting Black-owned businesses whenever we can, not just once a year in February but all year.