Though many companies in the beauty industry are contributing proceeds, speaking out, or giving flat-out donations in response to the unjust murders of Black lives including George Floyd, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, Black-owned businesses have been supporting Black creatives, movements, and magic — and asking for outside support — for years. So, in turn, it's important to give back to these businesses that have always supported this movement from the beginning. If beauty is your top spending category, shopping from Black-owned nail polish brands and other cosmetic companies is a good place to start.
Despite their high-quality products and non-stop support, Black-owned businesses still aren't receiving the acknowledgement and shelf space they deserve, which is an upsetting truth and poor mistake of retailers. Many industries, including beauty, skin care, and haircare, have neglected Black shoppers and failed to realize their spending power and the importance of including products catered to them in stores and online. According to a report by Nielson in 2018, "Black shoppers spent $473 million in total hair care (a $4.2 billion industry) and made other significant investments in personal appearance products, such as grooming aids ($127 million out of $889 million) and skin care preparations ($465 million out of $3 billion)."
As much as the industry loves to take from Black culture (long nails, big lips, and wigs to name a few), it still centers Eurocentric beauty standards resulting in white-tailored products. Most notably, this rings true in shade ranges that don't flatter, or don't fit, darker complexions. This is something that's startlingly noticeable when it comes to things like eyeshadows and foundations, but it's just as common in the color options available for nail polish. However, there is a growing lineup of entrepreneurs who are working to make the nail-care industry more inclusive.
Ahead, 14 Black-owned nail polish brands to shop and support now.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Janet & Jo.'s pineapple motif isn't just to be trendy (although it seriously is); it's a representation of hospitality. For founder Kendra Woolridge, the brand is an invitation for people into her family, and with each 10-free shade she shares a pieces of her story and welcomes you in.
The nail polishes (gel and traditional) from Pear Nova are not your average liquid formula. Founder Rachel James decided to take the finishes up a notch by incorporating the texture of luxe fabrics, like leather and silk, into the creme for subtle texture and depth.
On every bottle of OOO Nail Polish — gel and lacquer — reads the words "Diversifying Beauty In Nail Care." That's because founder Symantha Wechie-Onyechi not only wanted the colors to look good on Black women, but wants to disperse imagery showing underrepresented skin tones wearing the polish, as well.
Originally made so founder Brandi Blocker's mother could wear nail polish while going through cancer treatment, La Pierre Cosmetics has a safe, 10-free formula — and has a wide range of colors from neutrals to brights.
While the bottle lets you know the polish is 100 percent vegan and toxin free, LAW Beauty Essentials' formula is also 13 free and cruelty free as well. Created by Tanisha Lawrence, the brand is about making you feel good and expressing yourself.
No matter who you are, Brooklyn-based CEO Ariel Terry believes this nail polish is for you. According to the site, "The colors are strategically made to appeal to the business woman commanding Wall Street, the earthy chick soaking up the sun in Prospect Park and the quirky female who frequents every local coffee shop."
This nail polish line was created by Adrienne Blanks, a licensed nail technician, esthetician, and self-proclaimed art enthusiast. Along with offering toxin-free lacquers, the brand has its own non-acetone, soy-based remover.
In an effort to create a beauty technology company inclusive to all, Samara Walker made Àuda.B. This platform connects "customers with luxury salons/on-demand beauty services while integrating AI/VR for product alignment and booking." And, of course, there's a line of nail polishes with unique colors to go with it.
Shop from Bernadette Thompson if you want nails like Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, or the Spice Girls — because she's the one that does them. Her eponymous nail care line is chock full of not-your-everyday colors, care kits, and appliqués that look $100 bills.
Founder Jacqueline Carrington started People Of Color to put out shades with underrepresented skin tones in mind. And though the brand thinks of people of color first in terms of hue, its slogan notes that there's room for all to enjoy the polish: “Nail polish for People of Color and those who live in color."
Adore'her Nails is on the more affordable spectrum of nail polish, which is exactly where founder, Devorne Wade, wants it to be. Ringing in at $8 a bottle, the brand has a wide array of colors with shimmer, metallic, and glossy finishes.
Started in 2011, Polish & Co. has over 40 shades in its lineup at this point. For creator Theresa Williamson, having a wide range of shades is about having a collection of polishes that can be used as an accessory for any mood and any place.
Color is an important factor for Lisa Nail Lacquer, a company founded by Lisa Wilson. But equally as important as the bright range of hues is its cruelty-free (certified by PETA) and 10-free formula. This means you won't find toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, dibutyl phthalate, xylene, TPHP, parabens, fragrances, animal products, or phthalates in its polishes.
Though the brand may only have three colors — light pink, taupe, and chocolate — as of now, users are obsessed with the hues that are perfect for any base look on any skin tone. Best of all, Mented, founded by friends KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson, is an entire cosmetics line. So while you shop around for nail polish, you can also get peruse its eyeshadow palette, blush, and nude lipsticks.