Women of color have a standout, multi-dimensional beauty that is all their own. However, it has not always been acknowledged or mentioned. But thanks to a select group of woman who broke through the glass ceiling.
- Madam CJ WalkerWidely recognized as the first self-made female millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker, née Sarah Breedlove, developed a line of innovative hair-care and skincare products for African-Americans that bolstered them with hygienic pride. Though she initially started out hawking the products of her financially-savvy mentor Annie Turnbo Malone (who many dispute as the true first Black self-made millionairess), the self-proclaimed hair culturalist and marketing magician broke away by developing her own product range and achieved ultimate success within a dozen years by expanding her product reach from door-to-door, by mail-order catalogue and “hair culture” colleges. In 2016, Sundial Brands, manufacturer of SheaMoisture, reintroduced her culturally-rich legacy to the millennial set by rolling it out to a multitude of Sephora doors.
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- Beverly JohnsonNever accept anyone’s limitations. Lauded for her accessible elegance and beauty, the iconic model was the first women of color to grace the cover of Vogue, despite the fact that Eileen Ford, the eminent model matron of the times, told her that she would never land on the front of the world’s foremost fashion magazine.
- Vanessa WilliamsThe award-winning actress and recording artist loosened the color lines when she was the first African-American to be crowned Miss America in the pageant’s history. Several months later, the former beauty queen abdicated her title amidst a Penthouse nude photo scandal.
- Maria BorgesThe Angolan stunner made Angel history when she sashayed down the Victoria’s Secret catwalk sans chemically-altered or artificially-extended tresses—displaying only her gloriously natural-textured, afro strands.
- Trina ParksAs Thumper in Diamonds Are Forever, Parks shone brightly besides Sean Connery as the first African-American to portray a Bond girl, in the infamous 007 film franchise.
- Lisa PriceFounded out of her Brooklyn kitchen, the beauty entrepreneur’s top-of-the-line multicultural brand, Carol’s Daughter, disrupted the haircare market by being the first to serve the needs of those within the natural hair community. The unparalleled success of her enterprise caught the attention of L’Oréal, which acquired the brand about a decade later, and inspired other independent beauty impressarios, such as Nancy Twine of Briogeo and Mahisha Dellinger of CURLS to follow in her footsteps and try to revolutionize the textured hair-care industry.
- Pat McGrathHailed as the most influential makeup artist in the world, the maquillage wizard conjures up mesmerizing beauty looks for long-time collaborators, like the influential editorial and advertising photographer Steven Meisel and the haute design houses of Prada, Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana. In 2004, the visage visionary was named Global Creative Design Director at Procter & Gamble, in which she’s in charge of translating her fashion-forward face-paint ideas to the masses for Cover Girl, Max Factor and as well as her own recently launched cosmetics venture, Pat McGrath Labs.
- Veronica WebbIn 1992, the Detroit-native paved the way for other luminous Black faces to sign prominent deals with cosmetics brands, such as Lana Ogilvie with CoverGirl (also 1992), Liya Kebede with Estée Lauder (2003), and Lupita Nyong’o with Lancôme (2014), by inking a major beauty contract with Revlon.