In You Heard It Here First, Bustle’s editors introduce the coolest up-and-coming beauty brands you should have on your radar. Here, the founder and CEO of Ami Colé talks about building a makeup brand that celebrates melanin-rich skin and creating a safe space for Black beauty consumers.
For decades, the beauty industry has either neglected or misunderstood Black beauty. From ashy-toned foundations to barely-there pigments, a lot of major makeup brands have missed the mark when it comes to enhancing Black skin and features. Thankfully, Black-owned beauty brands are booming. The newest addition to get hyped about? Ami Colé, a brand that’s creating innovative products that truly cater to and celebrate Blackness.
The FUBU mentality radiates throughout Ami Colé, from the formulation of its inaugural products — the Skin-Enhancing Tint, Light-Catching Highlighter, and Lip Oil Treatment — to its mesmerizing marketing. The brand, which launched in May 2021, prides itself on representing a melting pot of Blackness, stretching from the streets of Harlem (where founder and CEO Diarrha N’Diaye tells Bustle that it all started at her mom’s braiding shop on 125th Street) to those of Saint Louis, Senegal, and beyond.
A proud Senegalese-American, N’Diaye has been surrounded by Black beauty for as long as she can remember. “After school, I’d [go to the shop and] sit in the corner, do my homework, and silently absorb everything that happened in that space,” she recounts to me via video chat. Watching her mother (who’s also the brand’s namesake) unite her Senegalese employees with her New York customers by creating a “safe home for women who, for a very long time, have been in the peripheral of beauty” would prove to have a profound effect on her. “Those experiences are the cornerstone of my perspective of beauty,” N’Diaye explains.
After working at Sephora while attending Syracuse University, she realized that Black and Brown women lacked suitable options for that “my skin but better” look. That need inspired the Skin-Enhancing Tint and N’Diaye has been meticulously building Ami Colé for years. “The first [inspiration for the product] was very selfish,” she says. “I just couldn’t find a skin tint. Foundation is lightyears ahead of skin tint in terms of shade ranges.” To catch tinted moisturizers up to 2021, Ami Colé’s formula comes in six shades that range from a light/medium for olive complexions to a rich ebony with neutral undertones.
The Lip Oil Treatment is a hybrid product that simultaneously treats your lips while making them look poppin’. “It’s treating your skin with passion oil, camellia oil, and baobab seed extract, our hero ingredient,” N’Diaye says. “We also created a glossy, glaze-y look where you can pop off outside.”
N’Diaye gushes over the Light-Catching Highlighter, which she says is “something special because you have to spend time with it.” The translucent balm isn’t the kind of highlighter you need to use sparingly, which is part of the fun of it. You can slather it all over your face— bare or over foundation—and it just looks like an effortless glow.
Ami Colé’s refreshing and welcoming approach to celebrating Black beauty makes this burgeoning brand one to watch. The clean beauty industry hasn’t traditionally catered to melanin-rich skin, but Ami Colé is changing that with eco-friendly packaging and vegan formulas that allow Black consumers to get the no-makeup makeup look while protecting our planet.
Stay ready because N’Diaye says that there’s “something that’s a vibe” launching later this summer. And as someone who’s definitely looking to shine inside and out, I can’t wait.
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