We all grew up seeing our moms and tias getting all dolled up just to go to the market so beauty has always been a part of our lives. Most of us now probably have a beauty bag full of all the essentials and some likely come from Latina-owned brands. Latina entrepreneurship is steadily growing with a 2018 Stanford report that Latinas now own 44 percent of Latino businesses. Another key finding was that 86 percent of immigrant-owned firms, garnering at least $1 million in annual revenues, are owned by millennials who came to the U.S. as children. Furthermore, nearly half of the growth in new Latino businesses came from businesses started by women from 2007-2015.
We are loving the representation in the beauty world after decades of a lack of diversity both behind the brands and in the products themselves. From various shades of red lipstick from brands like Reina Rebelde to pigmented eyeshadow palettes like the one from Luna Magic to the famous Beautyblender, these brands highlight the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of Latinas. These are 10 founders behind the brands working to ensure every detail from the packaging to the product names to the product themselves represent the beauty and diversity of our culture.
Gabriela Hernandez, Bésame
Bésame’s founder and artist Gabriela Hernandez is a makeup historian who immigrated to the U.S. from Argentina when she was 12 years old. She started out in visual arts/design and she later developed their first product, a lipstick dubbed “Bésame Red.” In 2005, they opened a boutique shop in Burbank, California after officially launching the previous year. Drawing inspiration from 1920s beauty trends, she developed the Cake mascara: “It works anywhere on your face, your eyebrows, hair, your liner, your mascara. And I think that’s probably why people took to it, because you could use it for so many things,” she told Hello Giggles. She used her vast knowledge to write Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup (2017) exploring the evolution of beauty and trends from the 1920s to today featuring more than 450 images and detailed vintage color palettes.
Regina Merson, Reina Rebelda
Reina Rebelde founder Regina Merson immigrated to the US from Mexico when she was 10 and it was that dual identity that influenced her development of the makeup line. Growing up she witnessed two things that planted a seed for what would become Reina Rebelde: her mom putting on makeup to leave the house and the telenovela Rosa Salvaje. The Reina Rebelde girl is described on their website as bilingual and bicultural who celebrates both her “reina” side and her “rebelde” side.
“It was important for me to come out with a line that spoke to Latinas that had a prestigious feel and quality to it. One of my personal frustrations is that products that are branded to Latinas are construed as cheesy, cheap, and low-brow. There is such a misrepresentation of who we are. We are a subset of a much larger population that is super sophisticated, educated, and not accurately represented in our society,” she told Modern Brown Girl.
Rocio Nuñez, Midas Cosmetics
Dominican founder Rocio Nuñez launched Midas Cosmetics in 2018 with a business model that brings to the forefront the feedback from consumers to guide product development. The brand collaborates with makeup artists and influencers like Darius McKiver (NeonMUA) to create the Dusk to Dawn face palette. Nuñez founded it with a mission to make sure all of their customers, “feel loved, appreciated and celebrated” according to their website.
Leslie Valdivia and Joanna Rosario-Rocha, Vive Cosmetics
First-gen Latinas Leslie Valdivia and Joanna Rosario-Rocha came together to create Vive Cosmetics in 2016 and became trailblazers in the makeup industry. From the branding to the aesthetics it’s all about celebrating and representing Latinidad. Lipsticks shades work on all skin shades and they’ve developed a reputation for long-lasting products. Joanna, a self-identified “Mexi-Rican”, shares on their website that through Vive Cosmetics “she hopes to help people to realize their power, most importantly, evoke a feeling of belonging by creating a space where they feel seen by a beauty brand, something they have never felt before.”
Mabel and Shaira Frias, Luna Magic
Dominican sisters Mabel and Shaira Frias launched Luna Magic in March 2019 with their first collection, appropriately called “Uno” featuring an eyeshadow palette Cardi B famously used. They previously shared with HipLatina that the brand name alludes to immortality as symbolized by the moon, an ode to their mother who died while they were building the brand. They chose “Luna” to make their Latinidad evident and the “magic” is inspired by the magic of people who think outside the box. They were recently on Shark Tank where they got a deal with Barbara Corcora and they’re looking to grow the brand with their products available in Walmart. They recently provided a behind-the-scenes look at the company with a Jefa Takeover on HipLatina’s Instagram.
Rea Ann Silva, BeautyBlender
Rea Ann Silva created the now iconic Beautyblender and the rest, as they say, is history. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and started her career doing makeup for musicians for videos including Eve, Tupac, and Dr. Dre. It was during that time that she developed the sponge after seeing the need for quick and flawless touchups. She launched Beautyblender as broke single mom in 2002 and in 2019 it was projected to bring in $215 million in retail sales. With the massive success of Beautyblender she launch her own foundation line, Bounce in 2108. It comes in 40 shades, twice the shades she worked with as a makeup artist.
“I am Mexican, Portuguese, Spanish, and Irish. My children are black,” Silva told Business Insider. “My career has been centered around women of color, and I became known in Hollywood, and really around the world, as one of the first makeup artists that really understood ethnic skins, learned how to really match those skins, be creative in ways to create the colors that just didn’t exist.”
Gabriela Trujillo, Alamar Cosmetics
Cuban-American Gabriela Trujillo grew up in Hialeah, Florida and at age 18 she started working as a freelance makeup and made a name for herself in the Miami community. She then invested all of her savings into launching Alamar, named after her hometown in Cuba and among their products is the best-seller desnudeas lip liner in dulce. “As a Latina cosmetic business owner, I love empowering beauty-lovers to wear vivid colors — colors that resemble our roots. It’s essential for me to always keep my culture at top of mind when it comes to creating products.”
Melissa and Lissa, Ella’s Eve Cosmetics
Dominican sisters Melissa and Lissa developed their cruelty and paraben-free makeup line Ella’s Eve cosmetics in 2019 after noticing the lack of Latinx-owned makeup lines. The brand includes a variety of liquid lipsticks, highly pigmented lip lacquers and a highly pigmented eye shadow palette with 15 colorful options with inspiring names like fierce, fearless, and radiant.
Megan Martinez, Chaos Makeup
Megan Martinez told Allure in 2017 that she makes everything for Chaos Makeup by hand in a small lab in south Texas with the help of two other people. Martinez was homeless at 14 and worked odd jobs while doing makeup for her classmates for fun. The following year she was working full time as a freelance MUA and created a Myspace page to promote her “punk aesthetic.” The brand’s rainbow highlighter went viral and they’ve become known for their vibrant and colorful products.
Natalia Durazo and LaLa Romero, Sweet Street Cosmetics
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Natalia Durazo and LaLa Romero celebrate and honor the trademark looks of their beloved city with Sweet Street Cosmetics. The line includes eyeliners (“Wing Queen”) and a trio of lipliner duos in bold colors, all inspired by the LA “chola” style they grew up with. “Sweet Street is all about honoring our generational fly. Culturally we don’t have a lot of heroes and superstars in mainstream media that represent us. And we’re okay with that because we know that the real style and beauty icons can all be found in our family photo albums,” Romero previously told HipLatina. “From our winged eyeliner to overlined dark brown lips, these aren’t new beauty trends, they are classic neighborhood looks that we grew up seeing and emulating.”