2020 Year in Review

For We Can Only Be Beautiful Together

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (monkeybusinessimages)
© Getty Images \ (monkeybusinessimages)

Related tags Black-owned women of color 2020 diversity Black people

15 Cosmetics Design articles that illustrate how 2020 began to change the business of beauty by and for Black People.

Read here a selection of beauty business news articles, published over the course of 2020. Together they tell (part of) the story of the future of this industry, one that will perhaps someday be truly inclusive.

Afro Sheen relaunched in 2020

At the start of 2020, the popular hair brand Afro Sheen relaunched as a unisex hair care and hair styling collection for the mass market​. Cosmetics Design checked in with the brand’s Product Development Manager Akuba Torvikey to learn about formulating product for a beloved brand that had gone dormant. “Afro Sheen is such an iconic brand and it was an absolute honor to bring it to life,” ​Torvikey told this publication.

Year one for the Breedlove Beauty + Wellness Accelerator

Later in the year, Torvikey launched the Breedlove Beauty + Wellness Accelerator, supporting Black-owned beauty and wellness businesses based in Atlanta, Georgia​. The initiative is named in honor of Madam CJ Walker, whose maiden name was Breedlove. “Walker serves as an inspiration to me on many levels, including entrepreneurship and product development,” ​said Torvikey.

Indie and Industry team up in support of Black women entrepreneurs

In August, the luxury CBD beauty and wellness brand Brown Girl Jane teamed up with Unilever to help mentor Black women beauty entrepreneurs.​ In a post on Instagram, the brand called it “an unprecedented initiative between a Fortune 500 and indie brand supporting #BlackWomenFounders in beauty and wellness.”

Nielsen partners with SSI on multicultural consumer insights

This summer, global marketing research firm Nielsen and the category growth management specialist Strategic Solutions International,​ led by CEO and President Romina Brown, teamed up to “expand the narrative of the multicultural consumer beyond consumption habits and behaviors to include deeper, nuanced insights,”​ as Brown explained to Cosmetics Design.

Debra L Lee now serves on the P&G Board of Directors

“Over the course of her career, Ms. Lee has been a staunch advocate for equality and inclusion. In 20019, she became the founder and CEO of Leading Women Defined, Inc., an association of strategic thought leaders that strives to engage in constructive dialogue that will positively impact the Black community,” ​noted P&G in a statement to the media when Debra L Lee joined the company’s Board of Directors this summer​.

Michelle Hope Skincare pivots to help travel and hospitality

The COVID-19 pandemic affected every industry. Michelle Hope’s first reaction was to use her brand to make it possible for travel service providers to stay in business more safely. In August, she launched the BluBag—an essential care collection complete with skin care basics and hand cleanser and moisturizer​, all “in a bespoke travel bag, specifically aimed at the airline, cruise ship, hotel, hospitality, and corporate industries,” ​Hope told Cosmetics Design.

An industry moves slowly forward

In June, Cosmetics Design asked, Is the ‘mainstream’ beauty industry making space for Black-owned businesses?​ and highlighted several new projects helping amplify Black-owned brands and businesses in beauty, the industry’s new approach to Juneteenth, and the ongoing need for the beauty industry to provide more opportunities for Black professionals.   

Curating makeup that makes sense for WoC

More recently Emmy-nominated clean makeup artist Karim Orange (whose ‘open letter to clean beauty brands appeared in the preceding article) shared her insights in this video on makeup and skin care for Women of Color​.

Anne Cheatham and Dr Christine Martey-Ochola partner with Credo

In September the clean-beauty retailer added NUELE hair care to its product assortment. “When we were creating NUELE Hair Serum, we dreamed of partnering with a retailer like Credo​ who shared our same values when it comes to clean ingredients,” ​Martey-Ochola told the press.

Ozohu Adoh shares her Indie Beauty Profile

Readers of Cosmetics Design may recall Adoh and the brand she founded from this 2018 article: EPARA and rise of luxury skin care for Women of Color​. In 2020 readers had the chance to learn more when Adoh shared a profile of the Nigerian-inspired brand here on the site​.  

J&J invests in textured hair

Late this summer the venture capital arm of Johnson & Johnson participated in the seed funding round of Sunday II Sunday​, an active beauty brand for Black women. The brand’s founder Kennan Beasely explained at the time that “Sunday II Sunday….[provides] a solution for the women in my life who live full, active lives and deal with challenges with their hair care.”

J&J event features Black skin health experts

In the fall, Johnson & Johnson hosted a 3-day webinar series called Black Innovators on Skin Health​ to “address the underrepresentation of Black expertise in the skin health industry.”

Unilever collaborates with Black creatives on Shea Moisture campaign

The multinational personal care company worked with 6 artists​—Monica Ahanonu, Rachelle Baker, Bisa Butler, Alexis Eke, Linda Mawala, and Reyna Noriega—on a campaign publicizing the brand’s commitment to share proceeds from Shea Moisture sales with Black women entrepreneurs.

Retail and Events see value in supporting emerging leaders

In its second year, Unfiltered Experience (the beauty industry event that brings indie brands together with influencers and other valued partners) worked with Target to support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) – led brands. Read more on that initiative here on Cosmetics Design.

Award-winning Black-owned beauty brands

Many new opportunities showed up in 2020, like the grants award program from the New Voices Fund and Barefoot wine brand. “At Barefoot, we are committed to doing our part as an ally and advocate to ensure Black women are recognized and supported,”​ Shannon Armah, Associate Brand Manager for Barefoot told the media when the grant recipients were announced in October.


Discover more coverage of beauty by and for Black People in the ‘Related News’ section below; and a growing list of Black-owned ingredient suppliers, packaging companies, and other B2B service providers can be found here.

“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”​ – Desmond Tutu

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