5 Black Beauty Icons Who Changed the GameDec 15, 2020 08:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
Throughout history, Black women have been incredibly influential in music, art, film, fashion, and beauty, but are often overlooked. There's an endless list of Black women who have dazzled the world with their talent, personality, and style, and some have become beauty icons in the process. We celebrate five Black women who have made lasting contributions to the beauty industry.
This Jamaican-born actress, supermodel and chart-topping singer of the 1980s and 1990s is known for her signature asymmetrical flat top and dramatically arched brows. She was also known for her sculpted face long before makeup gurus of today mastered the technique and makeup products like foundation and eyeshadow were developed for Black women. A pioneer for the androgynous beauty looks, Jones experimented with vivid lipsticks, lots of blush and either rocked a shaved head or a low fade.
Nigerian-born British singer, Sade, known for her sophisticated blend of soul, funk, jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms, is also known for one of the most iconic beauty looks: a simple red lip, mascara, and minimal foundation if any! With her low ponytail that’s usually braided, gold hoop earrings and rouge pout, her’s is one of the most recreated looks. She was a pioneer for the ‘less is more’ beauty trend.
Diana Ross has been serving iconic beauty looks ever since she debuted with the Supremes in the 1960s. When Ross went solo in 1970, she wore colored eyeliner, lipsticks and eyeshadows with her signature spiky lashes. Ross’s hair has been ever-changing— from voluminous curls, to sultry beachy waves to her expanding afros. In a 2018 interview with Vogue, Ross shared that her makeup must-haves are, “jumbo eye pencils, really black pencils, and mascara, maybe blusher and a light lip gloss.”
The rapper may be best known for her hypnotic beats, but Missy Elliott is also known for having some of the most iconic hair and makeup looks of all time. Her lip gloss and dark lip-liner duo dominated the late 1990s and early 2000s. Her most famous hairstyle is cropped finger waves but Elliott has switched up her hairstyles almost just as much as Diana Ross. In 2004, she joined forces with MAC Cosmetics to promote their Viva Glam V lipstick from which 100% of each sale goes to the MAC AIDS Fund.
Barbadian singer, actress and businesswoman, Rihanna has become a beauty icon from her show-stopping looks both on and off the red carpet, to her makeup and skincare brands, Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin. It’s safe to say that once Fenty launched an all-inclusive foundation line of 50 shades, many other brands began catering more to the various skin tones of Black women. Recently, Rihanna shared with Vogue that her beauty icon is her mother. “My entire concept of beauty came from her. I was always so intrigued by her. I wanted to dress like her, I wanted to look like her, do my hair like her, do my makeup like her.”
Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies.
She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content.