Let’s face it, there aren’t many things a celebrity can’t make look good. Thanks to great lighting and unlimited access to the best photographers and editors on the planet, Hollywood starlets can make any item look like a must-have. But, as every beauty lover soon finds out, looks can be deceiving, and that item you just knew was going to be one of your essentials is now on your you-better-not list. That lipstick was $30 wasted, that moisturizing shampoo dried out your tresses, and that acne-clearing formula did just the opposite. Sad but true.
As the beauty industry continues to soar, more and more celebrities have found themselves taking their talents to the booming market. And while we’re sure they have good intentions, the truth of the matter is, (as mentioned above) their products don’t always hit the way they need to. So what is a beauty enthusiast to do? The key is to be as discerning as possible with your coins and never hitting “purchase” until you’ve read through the reviews. It’s also okay to buy an item, test it out and decide you don’t love it. A little trial and error never hurt anyone.
That said, we, along with our millions of friends on the world wide web, put some of the most popular celebrity-owned beauty brands to the test. We tried products for skin, hair, makeup and nails — and left no beauty brand unturned. The fact that they happen to all be Black-owned is just a bonus. Here are the companies that made the cut — reviewer-approved.
Celebrity-Owned Hair Care Brands
1. Flawless by Gabrielle Union
Initially launched in 2017, Flawless, actress Gabrielle Union’s hair care line, is back and ready for business. Just like all of her endeavors, it’s clear that Union wants to give the feeling of luxury, and the results of luxury, without an enormous price tag. And, wow, does she deliver?!
Along with her hairstylist of ten years, Larry J. Sims, Union ensured that this wave of Flawless was completely authentic to her, and that meant making it Black-owned, Black-led, and accessible for all. A maximum price point of $10 means everyone can have their hands on Gabby-approved and -tested goodies.
The bottom line: Try everything. Since we’re always looking for moisture in the washing and drying process, our two favorite products from the line are the Hydrating Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner and the Restoring Exotic Hair Oil, each just under $10.
2. Sienna Naturals x Issa Rae
If Sienna Naturals sounds familiar, it’s because the brand, originally owned by natural hair guru Hannah Diop, is not new to the hair care game. The vegan and clean hair care system is made for all textures of hair and its styling, though it is a mainstay in the natural hair community.
Issa Rae, a friend and longtime admirer of the products, recently hopped on board as co-owner. Rae told Elle magazine, “I have an opportunity to make hair care digestible via my sense of humor, my openness to my own hair struggle journey.” Because both owners personally know the concerns of Black hair, the ingredients and the care put into the brand make wash days a little less daunting. The company is now offering a Salon In A Box system that includes a product I personally adore: H.A.P.I. Moisturizing Shampoo.
The bottom line: With generous product sizes and science on its side, Sienna Naturals is here to stay. One reviewer had this to say about the H.A.P.I. Moisturizing Shampoo: “I am in love! I have searched high and low for a hair cleanser that would leave my hair feeling fresh and clean, sans that stripped-of-moisture feeling.”
3. Pattern x Tracee Ellis Ross
Can you think about Tracee Ellis Ross without thinking about hair? As we watched her on shows from Girlfriends to Black-ish, her curls, waves, and poofs have been the topic of conversation for at least 20 years. That’s why when Ross announced Pattern , a hair care company catering to textured strands, we had to try her products.
The line has styling tools, conditioners, shampoos, gel, and anything else you need to style and maintain a healthy coif. Plus, we appreciate good packaging. The bright yellow bottle with bold Black graphics won us over. For those choosing products based on porosity, the website recommends products based on hair textures. We’re suckers for well-moisturized hair, so we opted for the leave-in conditioner, which currently sells for under $30.
The bottom line: The conditioner left our hair moisturized for a week, with no need to reapply. The formula was thin enough not to weigh down medium porosity follicles, but rich enough to penetrate the hair shaft. It has a strong, fresh, summer fragrance (think: cucumber mojito), which we liked. But if you are sensitive to fragrance this may not be for you. We really want to try the curl gel, so that’s next on the list. Yes, we tried one product at a time because we’ve been hurt before. But at this point Tracee, bundle us, sis.
4. TPH By Taraji
Taraji P. Henson can do no wrong in our book. She’s bold, sincere, and beautiful, and honestly, so is her eponymous line. The bright teal and yellow packages lets you know exactly what the product does, and which hair types it works best with (conveniently right on the bottles).
The differentiator with this line is that it focuses on the scalp. For decades, experts have advised that better scalp health would result in healthier hair. With pronged bottles bearing cheeky names that you can’t help but read in Henson’s voice, this task becomes more possible, no matter the style. The line celebrates the “hair chameleon” in all of us, whether we’re rocking ‘fros, braids, sew-ins or straightened styles.
The bottom line: One reviewer said, “I love the fragrance of all my products. My sister is a beautician and she loves the Hot Commodity — I will be trying it this weekend.” Us too, sis. Us too.
Celebrity-Owned Skin Care Brands
5. Fenty Skin x Rihanna
Rihanna gave us something to look forward to when she unveiled her skin care line, Fenty Skin, in July. With bright, glowing skin (hello, Lil Nas X) reflecting the waves from the pool, the promo almost made us forget how we were spending our summer in quarantine.
Bringing affordable but simple skin care to the masses, the line boasts a simple 4-step routine complete with cleanser, toner, and moisturizers. The fact that you can get a full AM + PM set for $112 is also quite appealing if you aren’t sure how to upgrade your skin care regimen from just a facial cleaner. We had to see what the people were saying.
The bottom line: When reviewing the FENTY SKIN START’R SET one user said, “After using it my skins looks and feels really clean. Black spots I could never get rid of is going away. I am very happy with the product so far.” The kit has a nearly perfect rating, but a comb through of the reviews reveals that it may not be the best for very sensitive skin.
6. Humanrace x Pharell
For years we wondered how legendary producer and entertainer Pharell was able to preserve his youthful appearance. Was it the Illuminati, the waters of Lake Minnetonka, genetics, or a blood oath?
We still don’t know the answer, but his newly launched skin care line, Humanrace, might hold a clue. In fact, the products appear to be working so well that the entire site is sold out. So what makes this one so special? Besides a company mission to have you “wake up every day feeling empowered to turn good intentions into actions,” the entire line consists of three products: a rice powder cleaner, a lotus enzyme exfoliator, and a humidifying cream.
The bottom line: An InStyle assessment of the hydrating cream has me impatiently waiting for the restock. “…this cream is my absolute favorite product in the line. Like, if you’re going to go with just one thing from Humanrace, I’d say go for the cream.”
7. ELEVEN X Venus Williams
Sunscreen is that often overlooked yet essential step in skin care. At a time when you literally aren’t allowed to leave the house unless it’s to be in the great outdoors, sunscreen, like your favorite influencer, has gone from overlooked to overbooked.
In another online shopping spree, we decided to try Venus Williams’ On The Defense Sunscreen. Priced at $42 for less than 2 ounces, it’s definitely a splurge, but the mineral formula feels light on the skin, does not leave a white shadow, and won’t leave you feeling oily.
The bottom line: If you have the money, buy. It’s good for sensitive skin, is super clean, and reef-free.
Celebrity-Owned Makeup Brands
8. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna
At this point, everyone has a fave Fenty Beauty product. Hey, Time magazine did name the makeup line the best invention of 2017. From that epic fall launch day that left Sephora stores packed for a month as people tried to find their perfect Pro Filt’r foundation shade to now, the brand has had a product launch every year. Whether it’s for your face, eyes, or lips, there is a product, or five, for everyone. We’re curious about the new Diamond Bomb All Over Diamond Veil.
The bottom line: Consider this Diamond Veil review, “This is a sparkle I never knew I needed. I love dusting this over my face with a large fluffy brush once I have finished my makeup. It is a subtle yet dramatic effect that finished my makeup look perfectly. It melts into the skin so well. I have recently purchased the 2 new colors. I can’t wait to receive them and try them out!!”
9. IMAN Cosmetics x Iman
Let’s be clear, IMAN Cosmetics is the mother of all companies that carry a plethora of shades above tan. Founded in 1994 by supermodel Iman (so iconic she doesn’t even need a last name), the makeup line was born out of a need for colors and formulas the industry was not providing for brown skin. The solution-oriented beauty boss went from bringing her own foundations to work, to creating them. From lipsticks to foundations to blushes to shadows, there is a shade for every brown in this line.
The bottom line: IMAN is affordable and inclusive and will have you glowing. The line was made with brown skin in mind, so the normal side effects of makeup aren’t an area of concern. Plus, there’s something for every age group.
Celebrity-Owned Nail Brands
10. Pear Nova x Rachel James
We went on the hunt for gel polish that’s easy to apply and doesn’t peel off. After a failed pharmacy run, we tried reality starlet Rachel James’ nail polish line, Pear Nova. The brand was constantly popping up in beauty ‘zines, and we convinced myself that we were saving money and helping the environment with the vegan alternative. Plus, Oprah named the brand one of her favorite things.
The bottom line: The gel polish is about $20 a bottle. Add the top coat and base coat, and you spend just under $100, which means in two manicures, they’ve paid for themselves. The color selection is giving “classy with some pop,” which is nothing too surprising, and the actual manicure lasted a little over two weeks for me. Consider this a win.