This Black History Month, we’re celebrating the Black women who revolutionised the beauty industry. From Madam C J Walker, America's first self-made millionaire who created hair products for Black women, to artist turned beauty entrepreneur Rihanna who shook the industry with her inclusive Pro Filt’r foundation range - this is our timeline of Black beauty bosses you need to know about.
Madam CJ Walker b 1867
· “I am not merely satisfied in making money for myself. For I am endeavouring to provide employment for hundreds of the women of my race.”
· The first female self-made millionaire in America, Madam C. J. Walker created a line of beauty products for black women during the 1900s. She made her fortune and continued to support thousands of other women by training them and having many women in key management roles.
Donyale Luna b 1945
· In 1966 Luna became the first Black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue. A powerhouse that did not let others define her, she was the first Black supermodel and due to her beauty was claimed by others to be the reincarnation of Queen Nefertiti. Following her British Vogue cover she became an international celebrity and one of the most in-demand models in the world. Time Magazine dubbed 1966 the Luna Year.
Beverly Johnson b 1952
· “My cover shattered that notion forever…Women of color could boldly say to the world, ‘Hey, look at me! I’m here and I have value and I am beautiful.”
· In 1974 Beverly Johnson became the first Black model to appear on the cover of American Vogue. Since then Johnson would appear on more than 500 magazine covers over the course of her modelling career. She has since launched “The Beverly Johnson Rule” which aims to bring structural change to the fashion, beauty and media industries, by encouraging business to employee Black professionals at every level.
Tracey Africa Norman b. 1952
· Tracey Norman became the first Black trans woman model when in 1975 she made history and appeared as the face of hair brand Clairol No 512 hair dye, as part of their global Born Beautiful campaign. In 2016, at age 63, Tracey reappeared as the new face of the Clairol Nice ‘n Easy “Color As Real As You Are” campaign.
Pat McGrath b 1965
· “My intention when I created Labs was that the people that used our products would be empowered to explore a fearless, daring attitude towards makeup - that's why we always write 'Use Without Caution' on everything we make.”
· Pat McGrath is a world-renowned makeup artist, one of the most influential, renowned and respected beauty professionals, who has inspired global beauty trends for more than two decades. In 2015 McGrath launched her billion-dollar makeup brand and redefined the beauty industry with her visionary ability to create fantastical, beauty magic on some of the most recognisable faces in fashion and beauty. In 2017, McGrath became the first Black woman and makeup artist to receive a Founder's Award from the CFDA for her revolutionary work in the industry.
Laverne Cox b 1972
· In 2015 Laverne Cox created the hashtag #TransIsBeautiful as a way to define beauty on her on terms and to enable trans women to embrace all parts of themselves.
· “I think it's important to be able to be like, ‘Yes, your shoulders are broad, yes your hands are big and your voice is deep and you're really tall and people notice you, and that makes you noticeably trans, but that doesn't make you any less beautiful'. You're not beautiful despite those things, you're beautiful because of those things.”
Sharmadean Reid, MBE b 1984
· In 2009, Sharmadean Reid founded WAH Nails, the iconic nail salon in Soho, London that revolutionised the beauty and nail art culture globally. In 2018, Reid founded Beautystack a new way to book beauty treatments via images and a platform that empowers women in the beauty and wellness sector to achieve economic freedom.
Rihanna b 1988
· “Fenty beauty was created for everyone: for women of all shades, personalities, attitudes, cultures and races. I wanted everyone to feel included that’s the real reason I made this line”
· In 2017, Rihanna revolutionised the beauty industry with the launch of Fenty Beauty. The makeup line shook the table with the launch of her Pro Filt’R foundation range of 40 shades, since expanded to 50 designed to suit women of all skin tones. Within the first month of business Fenty Beauty generated more than $72 million in sales, with the cosmetics brand recently being valued at $3billion. The launch sparked change within the beauty industry, as brands looked to expand their shade ranges to be more inclusive.
Nyma Tang b 1991
· In 2017, Tang gained online popularity for her YouTube series The Darkest Shade, in which she reviews the darkest shades of products from different makeup brands and highlights the under-representation of deeper skin tones in the beauty industry.
· Tang has 1.3 million subscribers on YouTube, in her videos she discusses her experience with colourism, shares tips for darker skin toned women to find their perfect shade of beauty products and encourages beauty brands to develop more inclusive shade ranges. Her videos have amassed over 90 million views. In 2018, Tang created her own shade of MAC Cosmetics lipstick called 'Nyma Tang' and has since collaborated with brands including Fenty Beauty, Bobbi Brown and Pat McGrath.