12 Black Beauty Ads That Show Us Just How Much the Standard Has Changed Over the Years

by Amber McKinnon

It’s impossible to browse your favorite online magazine or scroll through your social media accounts and not spot a splashy new beauty ad, or a sneak peek at an upcoming product release. That’s part of the reason we follow our favorite brands, right? To know what is the latest and greatest in beauty the moment it drops – which is pretty much every day it seems. And why not? Black and multicultural beauty is big business, after all.

While iconic beauty brands are offering expanded shade ranges to suit our skin tones, and hiring Black models and celebrities in an effort to profit from our massive spending power, a new wave of indie Black beauty brands have dominated store shelves over the last several years. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and the failure of mainstream beauty brands to meet our beauty needs, has led to the creation of some of the most iconic and beloved Black brands.

Fashion and beauty trends are often a reflection of our society at that moment in time. Nowhere is this truer than in Black beauty, where our history intersects with our unique culture and style sensibilities, and the politics and societal norms that affect and influence our lives and communities. These vintage Black beauty ads have appeared in magazines and newspapers over the last century, making it clear to see where we’ve been and how it has influenced where we are today. 

1920s and 1930s

1940s and 1950s

1960s and 1970s

1980s and 1990s

Amber McKinnon is a beauty blogger, brand ambassador and on air beauty expert. You can find her online at
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