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A Skincare Routine For People Of Color

Like many women of color that I know, many of my product recommendations come from other people of color. That’s not to say that there isn’t stellar advice that my melanin-free friends can’t shell out, but there’s an implicit bias I have. That is, is that toner too harsh for my dry sensitive skin? Will that moisturizer really keep the ash away during these tundra-esque days? Will that spot treatment help with my hyperpigmentation? By the way, mine is a little different from yours because of the melanin factor.

Seeing your skin represented in the brands that make products specifically for you is a welcome feeling that simply can’t be overstated. Growing up and hearing about new incredible products or procedures, my mom always told me that I had to be careful because they weren’t always made with my skin in mind. There’s a relief in using a brand made by people of color – it means that you were part of their design, formulation and building process. There’s nothing like feeling included.

Full disclosure: I have not tried all of these products. However, I have taken it upon myself Harriet-Tubman-style to read and investigate brands created by people of color, or for people of color and here are a few that I am ready to invest my own dollars in.

If you’re looking for a one-stop shop to fully submerge your skin in FUBU products, look no further than BLK+GRN. Every brand on their retail site was birthed by a person of color who also had a focus on green products. It’s like a collective fistbump with mother earth.

Writer’s Note: Should you choose to support more black-owned businesses, I stumbled upon this chrome extension called Buy Black that helps you find black-owned alternatives to the things you need.

Between Blk+Grn and some more in-depth searching, I put together a whole skincare routine with products specifically for people of color. One ingredient I was on the hunt for is shea butter. It’s not found in any of the products in my current routine, but my mom smuggles raw shea butter back to New York from her trips to Cameroon (our homeland) for me, so I get it straight from the source. You’ll find that you can create an entire skincare routine with melanin-positive products without having to go through customs.

Want to see if any of the products recommended fit your skin goals? Head to Rate Your Routine to check!


Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Darker Skin Tones Enzyme Cleanser

This solidly falls under the category “Purchase When I Have Jada Money”, for two reasons. Price ($70), welp, it’s up there. Then there’s the fact that Jada Pinkett Smith uses it. I told my trainer that my body goals were Jada, now I’m telling you, if there is a path to aging like Jada then I want to be on it.

Micellar Water:

Marla Rene Cucumber Cleansing Water

Calendula is one of the standout ingredients here. As an antioxidant, it helps to regenerate skin. If you’re experiencing puffiness or have sensitive skin, its anti-inflammatory properties could be helpful.

Face Scrub:

Black+ Brown Face Scrub

This face scrub features an ingredient that has gotten a lot of buzz in the community: black soap. For some it’s a godsend of an ingredient, clearing up hyperpigmentation and cleansing like no other. I’d say this scrub is worth a shot as the black soap is paired with a superstar lineup including coconut oil, honey, and jojoba oil. However, lavender essential oil, another one of its ingredients, can act as an allergen so if your skin has been sensitive to other products with lavender essential oil, do a spot test first.


Dark Spot Corrector Pads

I’m always wary of a quick fix. Skincare is much more about long term sustained gains than an overnight solution. Part of my wariness stems from the fact that quick fix solutions tend to be harsh on the skin. I’d go out on a limb and try these pads because they’re specifically formulated with dark skin in mind. Hyperpigmentation is a huge skin concern when you have cocoa skin, as they tend to last much longer than we’d like and can be harder to manage.


The Aloe Vera Face Jelly

This (also, what a name) stood out to me because it’s not that common to see jelly formulations for moisturizers (does Vaseline petroleum jelly count?). This sort of formulation might be a great idea for airplane travel as a tremendous amount of water loss happens in those pressurized cabins. A thicker moisturizer would help prevent such rapid evaporation.


This entire line is for sale at ULTA beauty and there’s no greater feeling than seeing your skin represented on the big name shelves next to beauty stalwarts. I’m really intrigued by the restorative oil products that they’ve created.


For a sunscreen that won’t leave a cast! Everyone has to use sunscreen, and for people of color it’s not just about preventing cancer, it is a critical part of treating hyperpigmentation. Black Girl Sunscreen and Bolden are a couple ray blockers that are making me so excited for the nerdiest part of my routine.

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