The natural instinct is to hug. But Shirley Paul, a salon regular in her forties, offers her stylist, Ursula Stephen, a hesitant elbow bump instead. “It’s my COVID hug,” Stephen says through a protective mask bearing her initials, “US,” of the now socially acceptable greeting. “I miss hugging people,” Paul says. It’s mid-June, and three months have passed since Ursula Stephen The Salon, a seven-year-old beauty mecca located in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, was last open. Stephen—best known as the celebrity stylist to Rihanna, Zendaya, and Serena—suspended business on March 21, when most of New York City was ordered to stay at home, save for essential workers. What qualifies as “essential” is something Stephen has thought a lot about since then. “The one thing white girls were stressed about was mostly their hair color,” she says. “Well, a brown girl, we need everything.
August is National Black Business Month, and while we love celebrating our favorite Black artists and Black-owned beauty brands all 365 days of the year, we felt it was an especially opportune time to shine a spotlight on some of the beauty industry’s best artistic talent and the Black-owned businesses and products they love, consistently use, and recommend to friends, family, A-list clients, and, of course, you!
Below, we asked leading hairstylists and makeup artists (who regularly work with the glamorous likes of Tracee Ellis Ross, Naomi Campbell, Gabrielle Union, Laverne Cox, and so many more) which Black-owned brands and formulas we’d regularly find tucked into their product kits, showers, and high-standard beauty regimens. Keep scrolling! Our panel of experts are sharing 16 Black-owned beauty brands you can support this month in honor of National Black Business Month and always.
AJ Crimson Beauty
AJ Crimson Beauty Dual Skin Creme Foundation
COVID-19 has hit a lot of businesses hard, especially salons. Temporary closures have made it so that many salon owners can no longer afford to keep employees on staff or even pay rent, thus forcing them to close permanently in the midst of a pandemic. Those that were lucky enough to survive the economic fallout of the virus long enough to reopen, are now trying to follow new safety protocols to ensure that they can continue taking clients.
Many of the salons that are open are being asked to operate their facilities by appointment only with only a certain about of clients allowed in. So even if they are functioning, they’re unable to do so in a way that maximizes their profit. When you add in the fact that many people are still scared to risk their health for a haircut (plus the costs of cleaning supplies, masks, disinfectants,