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#SheDidThat: 5 Black Women Who Changed the Beauty Industry

Posted on 11 February 2020

From wigs to runways, black women have broken the mold of beautiful for decades—ahem, centuries. Often overlooked and overshadowed, black women continue to show up in spaces where we are met with curious glances and unwelcome side-eyes. And despite it all, we continue to turn the tides of the status quo. Here are five women who we think truly embody this idea of breaking the mold and who forever changed the course of the beauty industry for black women.  


Madam C.J. Walker 

In 1905, Madam C.J. Walker was named the first black woman millionaire in America. Also known as Sarah Breedlove, she invented her own hair pomade and developed a line of specialized products designed to promote healthy hair growth and scalp rejuvenation for black hair. 


Bernadine Anderson

After filing a class-action lawsuit against some of Hollywood’s most exclusive events for discrimination, Bernadine Anderson’s career in the makeup artist industry began slowly falling into place. After being rewarded a three-year apprenticeship with Warner Bros, she gained access to work with some of the most influential black actors and actresses in the game doing makeup artistry for casts in both movies and television. 

Photo via Essence Online


Naomi Sims

Hailed as the first black supermodel, Naomi was an American businesswoman, author and of course, model. After securing the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal in 1968, she began her career as a highly sought-after fashion model working with big names in the designing community.  She later ended her modeling career in the mid-’70s to start a wig-making business catering to black women. Her business later expanded to a multi-million-dollar beauty company and led her to opportunities to write books about her knowledge in the beauty and modeling world. 


Beverly Johnson

An American model, actress, and singer, Beverly Johnson redefined what it meant to be a cover girl in 1974 when she became the first African American woman to grace the cover of Vogue. And one year later, she changed the game yet again by becoming the first African American woman to land the cover of Elle Magazine—paving the way for black women of all shades to do the same. 

 

Photo via Models.com


Veronica Webb

Supermodel. Writer. Actress. Designer. Cosmetics mogul. In 1992, Veronica Webb became the first African American woman to land a major cosmetics contract with one of the most well-known brands in the world: Revlon. She helped the company launch Revlon’s Color Style Line, a collection exclusively made for women of color. 


We honor and recognize these black women (and countless others not mentioned here) for paving the way for us in the beauty world and beyond.

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