5 Afro-Latina-owned self-care brands to support this Black History Month and beyond

This year’s Black History Month theme is “Black Health and Wellness” which explores the legacy of Black scholars, medical practitioners, birthworkers, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists and more. 

Through the 2022 theme, we are asked to consider the “activities, rituals, and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well.”This includes celebrating our Black-owned self-care and wellness brands

Today, we’ve gathered a list of our favorite Afro-Latina-owned businesses to shop and support this month and beyond! 

Check out these awesome Afro-Latina-owned businesses and treat yourself or your loved ones this Valentine’s Day with a little self-care and pampering.

5 Afro-Latina-owned businesses to shop and support now! 

Luna Magic, Afro-Latina-owned business

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Luna Magic 

Sisters Mabel and Shaira Frias founded their makeup brand, Luna Magic, as a celebration of the rich culture found in the Caribbean and Latin America. Combining their passions for beauty and lifestyle, they created a vibrant brand that celebrates their mutual love for their multicultural heritage. 

Luna Magic’s mission is to introduce high-performance cosmetics, bold flavor, diversity, inclusivity and vibrancy to the beauty industry. 

“We’re inspired by the rich cultures and music of the Caribbean & Latin America, the hustle and bustle of NYC and glamour of Los Angeles.” 

Mabel Frías is a digital strategist with 12+ years of experience in executing digital merchandising strategies at fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Savage x Fenty, lingerie by Rihanna.

Shaira Frías is an entrepreneur, professional makeup artist and former journalist. Her work has appeared in media outlets such as NY1, Fox News Latino, and Mundo Hispánico.

Reina Skincare, Afro-Latina-owned businesses

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Reina Skincare 

Reina Skincare is a luxury skincare brand founded by Afro-Latina, Adriana Isabel Robinson Rivera. With products made from all natural ingredients, Reina Skincare prioritizes quality. 

After suffering from acne for years, Adriana wanted to offer products that were natural, effective and represented a part of her that is deeply rooted within her. 

The term ‘Reina’ means Queen in Spanish and was chosen to represent the brand because because they wanted to establish that their products are fit for royalty. 

“For the image of this brand, we dove into the tropics, played with Kokum Butter and danced to the rhythm of Celia Cruz.” 

Offering a wide range of products from face washes and soaps to body butters, scrubs, serums and oils, Reina Skincare has everything you’ll need to pamper your skin and leave you feeling like royalty.

Vela Negra, Afro-Latina-owned businesses

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Vela Negra 

Vela Negra is a luxury candle brand founded by Aisha Cort. With candles inspired by her Afro-Caribbean heritage, Vela Negra is a celebration of multiculturalism

 “The fragrances and their namesakes remind me of my heritage and places like, Cuba and Puerto Rico, that I have been lucky enough to call home.”

Popular candles include “morena,” “azúcar,” and “wepa” and “coquí” —a “tribute to coquito.” 

All Vela Negra candles are made with black wax because of the belief that “black absorbs and dispels negative energies and provides new beginnings and clarity as when the light of the vela appears, the darkness is illuminated.” 

Each candle is individually hand-poured using 100% vegan coconut soy wax and ethically sourced wooden wicks, fragrance and dye to provide you with a luxurious and environmentally conscious, clean burn with the highest quality ingredients. 

Experience the power, comfort, and strength of Vela Negra today!

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Mixed Up Clothing

Sonia Smith-Kang is a multiracial female founder based in Los Angeles, California. Born in Puerto Rico to an African American father and Mexican mother, Sonia understands the ins and outs of multiracial life. She founded Mixed Up Clothing to bring cultural diversity to children’s clothing.

“In dressing my children, I noticed fashion didn’t reflect a rich, multicultural reality that I wanted to see in the world,” said Sonia. “I want children to see themselves in fashion, on the runway and in print. Everything we do comes from a place of celebration and showcasing heritage and culture.”

Sonia uses fashion as her vehicle to tell multicultural stories. Mixed Up Clothing sources fabrics and trims from all over the world, mixes and matches them, and then sews them into fun, everyday pieces that children are proud to wear. 

In addition to children’s clothing, they now also offer face masks for all ages with patterns that embrace multicultural roots, such as their Día De Los Muertos themed masks and their African Patterns collection.

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La Boticá 

La Boticá Studios is a conceptual brand and niche fragrance house providing curated, luxury and sustainable products for the intentional self care ritual. 

Founded in 2018 by fine arts photographer, Dawn Marie West, Afro-Dominican & African American culture is the foundation of the concept brand.

Through La Boticá, Dawn brings the intersectionality of luxury perfumery and contemporary art into one lifestyle brand. La Boticá Studios has become a cult-following luxury fragrance and conceptual brand recognized in several international magazines such as Vogue, Architectural Digest, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, The Zoe Report and Byrdie.

This sustainable luxury fragrance house focuses on self-care, showing deep respect for the Earth with their ingredients, and minimalist design. Ingredients are sourced  from South America that give reverence to the earth.

Try one of these luxury fragrances and join in the curation of “modern rituals that promote sacred restoration for within and conscious reconnection to the earth.”

See something that caught your eye? Shop and support these amazing Afro-Latina-owned businesses today!

“In the Heights” colorism controversy and why accurate representation is important

Recently, the newly released film adaption of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical–In the Heights–has received some controversy regarding the film’s casting choices and lack of dark-skinned Afro-Latinx actors, with critics citing colorism as the root cause of the inaccurate representation of the historic NYC neighborhood.

In the Heights, colorism controversy

In the Heights faces blacklash regarding colorism controversy. (Image Source)

Set in the New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights, the film’s themes celebrate diversity and identity. However, audiences were quick to notice the lack of dark-skinned Latinos in lead roles. Instead, all of the main Latinx characters are portrayed by light-skinned or white-passing actors. Viewers took to social media to voice their feelings and bring attention to the longstanding issue of colorism in Hollywood. 

In the Heights follows the lives of various Latinx characters living in Washington Heights, weaving their stories together in a celebration of Latin pride and Latinx stories. However, the film adaptation notably lacks dark-skinned Afro-Latinx main characters, creating an inaccurate portrayal of the NYC neighborhood. Described as a “melting pot” by In the Heights actress Melissa Barrera, Washington Heights, the film fails to portray an accurate “mosaic of this community.” 

While the film maintains a high rating on critic site, Rotten Tomatoes, and has favored well with general audiences, the issue of colorism remains a valid criticism and an important conversation to be had. 

Commenting on the controversy, actress Melissa Barrera said that “the audition process, which was a long audition process, there were a lot of Afro-Latinos there. A lot of darker skinned people. And I think they were looking for just the right people for the roles. For the person that embodied each character in the fullest extent,” clarifying, “Because the cast ended up being us, and because Washington Heights is a melting pot of Black and Latinx people, Jon and Lin wanted the dancers and the big numbers to feel very truthful to what the community looks like.”

It is true that there were dark-skinned performers in the group numbers as background dancers, but this only further highlights the key issue: there were none in lead roles. To dark-skinned Afro-Latinx viewers this sends the message that their lives and their stories are not important. It tells them that they are only “background” characters in the lives of light-skinned and white people. The film’s only dark-skinned character is Benny, played by non-Latino actor Corey Hawkins. In the musical, Benny pursues a romance with Nina, though he is viewed as an outsider by Nina’s father because he is not Latino. Being the only dark-skinned character in the main cast, this sends another message to audiences, that dark-skinned people are “outsiders” or don’t belong in Latino communities, which could not be farther from the truth. 

In our current socio-political climate, where race issues are at the forefront, this significant lack of dark-skinned Afto-Latinx actors in a film about a historically diversey neighborhood cannot be ignored. Movements like Black Lives Matter have made it clear that there is still so much work to be done regarding the treatment of Black lives in our society. The lack of visibility of Black lives and Black stories in our media is just one of many symptoms of systemic racism. Just as systemic racism prevents Black individuals from accessing resources, education, and employment due to long standing biases ingrained in our culture, Hollywood, too, is affected. 

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As Melissa Barrera pointed out in her statement, the audition process included many Afro-Latinx actors auditioning for lead roles. However, not a single one made it to the big screen. Why? Some may say it was down to talent, but there are many, many talented dark-skinned actors in Hollywood, so one has to wonder why they were not given the same opportunity to star in the film as light-skinned and white Latinx actors. 

In the Heights creator and American actor, singer, songwriter, rapper, producer, and playwright, Lin Manuel Miranda. (Image Source)

In a Twitter statement addressing the colorism controversy, Lin Manuel Miranda expressed his deep apology for the lack of dark-skinned Afro-Latinx representation in the film. 

“I started writing In the Heights because I didn’t feel seen,” he says. “And over the past 20 years all I wanted was for us — ALL of us — to feel seen. I’m seeing the discussion around Afro-Latino representation in our film this weekend, and it is clear that many in our dark-skinned Afro-Latino community don’t feel sufficiently represented within it, particularly among the leading roles. I can hear the hurt and frustration over colorism, of feeling unseen in the feedback. I hear that, without sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latino representation, the world feels extractive of the community we wanted so much to represent with pride and joy.”

“In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I’m truly sorry. I’m learning from the feedback, I thank you for raising it, and I’m listening. I’m trying to hold space for both the incredible pride in the movie we made and be accountable for our shortcomings. Thank you for your honest feedback. I promise to do better in my future projects, and I’m dedicated to the learning and evolving we all have to do to make sure we are honoring our diverse and vibrant community.”