A Definitive List of the Best Brown-Girl Beauty Products of 2016
For women of color, finding a flattering range of beauty products that is unique to your skin tone and hair texture can be a challenge. I say so as a woman of color myself. Many brands have struggled to provide dark-skinned women with the proper pigments, highlights, and undertones that are truly unique to their various complexions.
While it probably hasn't always been an easy trip down the beauty aisle for black women, 2016 was an exceptionally progressive year for us in that department. Mass-market and cult-favorite brands provided incredible (and effective!) hair, makeup, and skincare products to cater to needs specific to brown girls.
From Instagram-approved foundations to curly-hair products at the drugstore and trendy complexion correctors, some of the best beauty products of the year were definitely created with brown girls in mind. Ahead, I've rounded up a selection of my favorite 2016 launches for women of color. Scroll through to shop them all and cheers to 2017 providing even more beauty options for gals of all complexions!
Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Custom Hair Masque Cocktail Kit
Madame C.J. Walker Beauty Culture created a bespoke hair masque kit, so you can condition your mane based on its specific needs. The set comes with a weekly deep-conditioning treatment, suitable for all hair types. It also includes three essentials oils so you can cocktail and tailor your masque to your strands. Add a few droplets of brassica seed oil to repair heat-damaged hair, mix in some coconut oil for nourishment and shine, or hydrate superdry scalp with Jamaican black castor oil.
Suave Professionals Coconut Milk Intense Moisture Mask
This Suave Intense Moisture Mask features one of 2016's buzziest ingredients, coconut milk, and it smells heavenly. It’ll leave your hair soft to the touch in just a few minutes of use. If your natural hair is noticeably dry, lackluster, or suffering from the harsh Winter weather, nurse it back to life with 10 minutes of this mask on wash day.
Brocato Cloud 9 Hotshapes Heat Protector
I was introduced to this heat protector by Domanik Mager of The Club Salon in Harlem earlier this year, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I frequently blow-dry and flat iron my hair, and I use this to protect my natural waves from frying or breaking off. Not only does the mist help prevent damage from heat styling, it's also non-sticky and leaves my hair with a silky finish. With this protective mist you barely need any additional product to perfect your blowout.
It's a 10 Miracle Defrizzing Gel
Winter can do a number on natural hair, causing it to feel dry and appear frizzy. So if you prefer a smooth mane, use this gel on your hair to lock in moisture and to conceal frizziness. It won’t leave your strands feeling flaky or crunchy, instead, it'll give your curls a gentle hold and a pleasant shine.
It's a 10 Miracle Defrizzing Gel ($11, originally $17)
Huda Beauty Matte Liquid Lipstick in Vixen
Some burgundy lipstick hues can be too cool for warm undertones, but Huda Kattan created a gorgeous deep brown that is superflattering on warm complexions. It’s particularly suitable for holiday functions, or for a sexy date night. And it will stay put for hours!
Kerry Washington x OPI Inside the Isabelletway
The perfect nude nail polish is not one shade fits all. However, Kerry Washington and OPI came pretty damn close to crafting a universally flattering nude lacquer for dark skin. Inside the Isabelletway is a creamy caramel polish that perfectly complements different shades of brown skin. It's the perfect hue to paint on when you're going for a classic, minimalist look.
Bite Beauty Multistick
The Bite Beauty Multistick functions as your lipstick, blush, and even eye shadow, all in one. The entire range features 18 pigmented shades and in a tiny bullet for easy application on-the-go. My personal favorite is the mauve hue Biscotti. Dab a few dots of the powder-infused formula onto your cheeks for a lit-from-within blush, then paint it on your lips for that coveted matte effect.
Bite Beauty Multistick ($24)
Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation
Anastasia Beverly Hills expanded its line of famous complexion products with full-cover foundation sticks. The demi-matte formula glides on like butter but won’t leave your complexion greasy. There are 23 shades of this foundation varying in cool and warm undertones so women of all complexions can find a hue that truly works for them. You can also pick up a shade lighter or darker to highlight and contour with.
Laura Mercier Extreme Neutrals Eyeshadow Palette
Laura Mercier's Extreme Neutrals Eyeshadow Palette comes equipped with all the earthy and chocolate hues you need in your collection. Each pan gives you insane color payoff, so you can create sultry daytime looks and smoldering smoky eyes. It's the perfect, universally flattering palette to add to your makeup kit.
Canviiy ScalpBliss On-the-Go Mini Tube
If you suffer from irritated scalp then the Canviiy ScalpBliss soothing serum will be your new hair savior. It comes with a precise tip for application, and it's packed with peppermint oil, aloe vera, witch hazel, and lavender to deliver a cooling sensation to irritated areas. This treatment is especially useful for women rocking protective weaves or braids so you can target itchy sections without sacrificing your entire style.
Wet n' Wild Wonder Gel Nail Polish in Stay Classy
One of my favorite nail colors of 2016 is Wet n’ Wild’s Wonder Gel polish in Stay Classy. The long-wear lacquer requires no light to get the glossy effect of a gel manicure. It has a dusty pink tone with a hint of brown making it the perfect mauve polish for brown skin. One coat of this and it will become your signature color, promise.
Nivea Cocoa Butter Body Cream
I love the moisturizing effects and heavenly smell of traditional cocoa butter, but it has a fairly thick consistency making it harder to slather on in a rush. Nivea’s new Cocoa Butter Body Cream strikes the perfect balance between a satisfying fragrance and a velvety moisturizer. It’s formulated with cocoa butter and vitamin E, making it a nourishing potion for dry Winter skin.
Maybelline Face Studio Master V-Shaped Contour Stick
Instead of using multiple concealers and foundations to highlight and contour my skin, I’ve simplified my routine with the Maybelline Face Studio Master Contour Stick. The mini contouring tool comes with a side to sculpt and an another to accentuate the high-points of your face. It comes in three versatile shades (including Medium and Deep), and it’s super easy to toss into your bag and apply on the move.
Ole Henriksen Power Bright Treatment
Like many women of color, I suffer from hyperpigmentation and scarring from breakouts. In an effort to clear up my scars, I’ve made the Ole Henriksen Power Bright system a key part of my skin care routine. The brightening treatment comes in three steps to reveal clear skin. It features potent ingredients like citrus extract, honey, and rosehip seed oils to exfoliate, brighten, and nourish your skin.
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Concealer
When it comes to covering up hyperpigmentation and dark circles, I’ve been using the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Concealer. Formulated with Pure Focus Pigments and hyaluronic spheres, the medium-to-full cover concealer will instantly blur any imperfections and brighten under your eyes. It comes in 13 versatile shades, with nearly six of them targeted to medium to deep complexions. The line also includes a few shades that can double as a color-correcting concealer for added coverage.
Becca Backlight Targeted Color Corrector
To give some additional coverage to my standout dark spots, I’ve hopped on the color correcting bandwagon. Becca Cosmetics has removed the complexity out of the trend by formulating four basic shades targeted to specific skin tones and concerns. Of the bunch, Papaya and Peach are perfect for medium to dark skin complexions. Peach (my personal favorite) neutralizes dark spots and hyperpigmentation, making it perfect for when your complexion needs more coverage. Papaya neutralizes deep blues and greens in brown skin, so it’s ideal to use under your eyes and in areas where veins are prominent.
Dove Advance Hair Series Leave-In Detangler
I love spritzing on the Dove Quench Absolute Leave-In Detangler to condition the cuticles of my hair before styling. The iconic brand made this line specifically with naturally coarse and curly hair in mind. It's super nourishing for your Winter wash and go, and equally hydrating for strands that are frequently heat styled.
Milani Cosmetics Amore Matte Metallic Lip Creme
Milani’s Amore Matte Metallic Lip Creme collection features bold, pigmented matte lip colors with a metallic finish. My favorite for the holiday season is its gilded cranberry hue in Pretty Problematic, the perfect sultry red for brown skin. It applies to your lips like velvet and provides a subtle sparkle, making it extremely wearable for daytime or holiday parties. To prevent my lips from feeling dry I prep them first with a hydrating lip primer, then continue to apply the color.
Ghd Copper Luxe Flight Travel Hairdryer
I’ve recently made the ghd limited-edition hair dryer a part of my styling arsenal. The mini dryer can actually fold and fit into a tiny pouch, making it super easy to control and stow (especially for traveling!). It provides the perfect amount of heat to soften your strands so you don’t spend hours drying your hair. To cut drying time down either further, I use this dryer with a Denman brush and my hair dries in minutes.
The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops
Instead of spending extra of cash on finding the perfect foundation color, The Body Shop created shade adjusting drops so you can easily alter the tint of formulas you already own. The custom shades include white and brown drops for lightening and darkening, respectively. Simply add a drop of white in your existing foundation to neutralize the color if it's too dark, or mix in a drop of the darkening liquid if your foundation is too pasty.
Mizani HD Shyne Spray
When my hair needs a quick weightless shine I give it a spritz of the Finish & Polish Sheen Spray by Mizani. The lightweight mist provides a nice gloss to my hair without weighing it down or making it feel greasy. It’s formulated with monoi oil and anti-breakage ceramides to strengthen your hair while giving it a healthy glow.
Mizani HD Shyne Spray ($17)
Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Curl Refresher Spray
You can preserve your twist out and wash-and-go for days with the Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Curl Fresher Spray. The hydrating mist is packed with mango oil and bamboo milk to moisturize and rehydrate your curls a few days after styling. It has weightless botanical oils that will also give your hair a visible shine so your style will look and feel good as new.
H&M Beauty Glow-to-Go Highlighter Stick
For women of color, there’s a glorious range of gold-pigmented highlighters for our complexions. Of them all, the Glow-to-Go Highlighter Stick from H&M has been one of my favorites. The portable stick comes in the most radiant shade of topaz and has an Instagram-worthy color payoff. Unlike most stick highlighters, this one glides on like silk and won’t leave your skin looking shimmery or greasy. Makeup artist Yolanda Frederick also used the pigment to create Ciara’s iconic Met Gala glow, so this is definitely worth trying out.
Jay Manuel Photo Illusion Concealer
The Jay Manuel Beauty Photo Illusion Concealer isn’t your average concealer. In fact, not only will it give you flawless coverage, it’s packed with aloe, vitamin E, and collagen for added hydration and anti-aging benefits. It also comes with a cool-tip applicator to help soothe puffiness under the eyes. Jay Manuel Beauty is the official beauty sponsor of The Bodyguard the Musical, and its leading lady Deborah Cox swears by this concealer for her onstage performances. "I love that you can just layer it on and it won’t cake or crease" she raved to us.
Shea Moisture African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask
If you're prone to the occasional blemish, but also try to keep your skin care as natural as possible, then you'll love Shea Mositure's African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask. Unlike other potentially irritating treatments, this won't make your skin feel super tight. But thanks to its potent blend of African black soap, tamarind extract, and tea tree oil, you'll still get incredible decongesting and blemish-fighting benefits, all while using ingredients that are kind to your skin.