We often talk about how the mainstream beauty industry can do a lot more to recognize and cater for the needs of Black women, however, in 2018, perhaps inspired by the words of Sis Solange, many more of us were way past asking for a seat; and are now creating our own tables!

Josephine Otuagomah and Paige Lewin, co-founders of hairstylist discovery platform The Black Hair Book take a short trip down memory lane and remind us of some of the highlights in the beauty space that made the biggest impact on Black women in 2018.

There is much to be said for looking forward to the future of inclusivity and to continue striving for where we want to be, but it is also incredibly important to take a breath and reflect on what we have achieved so far and how far we have come. Here is our roundup of some of the Black beauty highlights in 2018.

Project Embrace’s Afrovisibility 2018 Proud To Be Me billboard campaign

Advertising standards in the UK have long had the unmistakable wash of white. With only 34% of models in Spring 2018 advertising campaigns being people of colour, and some of the Black women who did make the cut featuring chemically processed and straightened hair, the birth of activist Lekia Lee’s Project Embrace in 2017 could not have come at a better time.

Image credit: the-dots.com

Image credit: the-dots.com

Project Embrace built on their earlier success with their 2018 Afrovisibility campaign. The stunning visuals, featuring beautiful, powerful and relatable Black women wearing their natural hair, further highlighting the beauty of afro and afro-textured natural hair. It was hugely popular and continued to share affirming messages to drive out stigmas surrounding black hair.

Along with the powerful hashtag #Afrovisibility, this incredible movement shows no signs of slowing down and has truly championed Black women and their natural beauty to the nation this past year.

Project Embrace


Shades of Beauty LIVE launch

African and Caribbean women reportedly spend about 80% more on cosmetics  and double the amount on skincare as their non-Afro Caribbean counterparts. However, events that catered for us were still few and far between.

Shades of Beauty LIVE debuted last summer and did a brilliant job of creating an inclusive London based event to advance the Black beauty sector, whilst showcasing trends, products and services in hair and beauty that really catered for women of colour.

Shades of Beauty Live
Grace (left) and Christina Adesina, Founders of Shades of Beauty Live
Shades of Beauty Live
During filming of the Shades of Beauty Live promo video Image credit: Shades of Beauty Live

The launch of Shades of Beauty LIVE not only fostered much needed conversation around topics of beauty diversity, but allowed a community of Black British entrepreneurs, influencers and business owners to network, connect and engage with one another in a safe and exciting environment. Empowering the hair and beauty needs of women of colour on a grand scale such as this played a large part this year in levelling the playing field for Black owned businesses and helping Black British consumers to be better served.

Shades of Beauty LIVE


Launch of Afro Hair and Beauty Association

It’s no surprise that the beauty industry rarely provides adequately for black consumers. A recent study by major high street retailer Superdrug, revealed that 70 per cent of Black and Asian women felt the high street did not cater for their beauty needs.

2018 saw the official launch event of the Afro Hair and Beauty Association (AHBA) where Black British hair and beauty brands can access the support, assistance and guidance they need to thrive.

Launching the Afro Hair & Beauty Association in the UK

The AHBA is the first UK organisation representing Black British hair and beauty brands and aims to not only further develop brands within hair and beauty but also to positively progress the wider community.

Afro Hair and Beauty Association


The World’s first model agency for dark skinned women

Unfortunately, tokenism is still very much alive within the fashion and beauty sectors, often citing growth in diversity whilst visibility of people of colour within campaigns remains at a minimum. Of 214 covers published by the 19 bestselling glossies last year, only 20 featured a person of colour. That’s only 9.3%, although 13.7% of the UK are BAME (download research).

Former model, Kereen Hurley, put real change in motion when she launched Choco Media Models, the modelling agency, which books jobs for dark skinned women. However, although the agency was launched in 2016, it was only last year (2018) that it has seen real growth. Now currently working with 14 black models, Hurley has gained vital high-profile coverage in some of the biggest mainstream publications in the UK and is now handling countless requests from young women of colour, eager to join her industry and her agency.


Charlotte Mensah: first black woman to be inducted into the British Hairdressing Awards Hall of Fame

For 34 years, the British Hairdressing Awards has been hailed as the Oscar equivalent for the hair industry, yet it wasn’t until 2018 that they inducted the first black woman into their Hairdressing Hall of Fame.

Charlotte Mensah
Charlotte Mensah with her award at the British Hairdressing Awards 2018

Charlotte Mensah, three-time winner of Hairdresser’s Journals annual best Afro Hairdresser of the Year Award and hair stylist to some of the biggest names in black culture including Erykah Badu, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Janelle Monae, showed young aspiring hair and beauty professionals that there is no substitute for hard work by becoming the first woman of colour to ever be inducted.



Black woman wins Miss Universe Great Britain for the first time

The first Miss Universe pageant was held in 1952, and over the last 66 years, it has seen numerous fair skinned winners take the crown. This year, Dee-Ann Kentish Rogers made history by becoming Miss Universe Great Britain. Rogers is a beautiful Anguillan native with natural twists and chocolate complexion. YES QUEEN!

In a world where beauty pageants have been known to overlook black women, 2018 gifted us a long-awaited shift in the industry with Rogers’ win and an exciting perspective of what the future of beauty holds for women of colour.


Launch of the Black Skin Directory

Maintaining high quality skin care is just as important for women of colour as anyone else, so it was concerning to see recent survey findings showing that 92% of black women still found it challenging to find a professional to treat their skin needs.

Enter the Black Skin Directory, a website launched this February by Aesthetician Dija Ayodele, to assist women of colour in locating talented skincare professionals who have experience in treating darker skin tones.

Dija Ayodele’s Black Skin Directory for Women of Colour
Dija Ayodele: Founder of Black Skin Directory

The platform which provides a self-proclaimed ‘Yellow Pages’ experience has made positive steps towards more innovations being created for black women and has highlighted the importance, and the value of the needs of women of colour to other innovators and brands that are watching from the side-lines.

Black Skin Directory


Fenty Beauty continues to shake the table

While fans clamoured for new music from Barbadian musician, Rihanna, she was working hard behind the scenes to make serious waves in the beauty sector with a new collection that would be monumental for Black beauty.

While Fenty Beauty had its initial launch in 2017, with its more diverse 40 shade standard, 2018 was the year it went from strength to strength. Named as one of TIME magazines 50 Genius Companies of 2018, Fenty Beauty has not only empowered Black women but forced more diverse beauty standards in the cosmetics and makeup industry ensuring that to succeed, competitor brands must rise to the diversity challenge. These brands certainly took notice of the consistently long queues around the Selfridges building in central London by hordes of Black women eager to get their hands on their true foundation shade.

As a result of the success of the “Fenty40” industry standard, 2018 has witnessed key players in beauty such as CoverGirl, CoverFX, and Dior following suit, launching more shades for a wider range of skin tones than ever before.

Fenty Beauty


We could go on… These are just a few highlights in the Black Beauty journey in 2019 and yes, we know that there are loads more. We’d love to hear your examples. Please comment below.


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