Glowy skin will always be in. One of the easiest ways to achieve a radiant, highlighted look is to use a highlighter. Almost every beauty brand has its own version of the glow-inducing product—in forms ranging from powder to cream to liquid. But, for people of color, not all highlighters are created equal. Some leave an unflattering gray cast on melanin-rich skin and have chalky formulations. Many highlighters also contain not-so-clean ingredients. A report on the Environmental Working Group shared the alarming statistic that one in 12 beauty and personal care products marketed to Black women are ranked highly hazardous.
Wanting to provide a clean, complexion-flattering highlighter to people of color, beauty brand Āether Beauty has just launched its limited-edition Golden Supernova Crushed Diamond Highlighter ($38). “BIPOC women are more susceptible to toxins, especially in the beauty industries. So, I really wanted to make sure that no matter what I produce for Āether Beauty, there’s always shade ranges for everybody,” says the brand’s founder, Tiila Abbitt. Abbitt previously worked as the head of product development (and later the head of research and development for sustainability) at Sephora before leaving two years ago to prove that she could create an ethical and sustainable beauty brand without compromise.
The Ingredients and Sourcing
Āether Beauty’s new vegan, cruelty-free highlighter delivers on all fronts when it comes to being brown-skin friendly, ethical, and sustainable. “It took me two years [to create] because there was no way to create that formula without using chemicals that are not considered clean. So, I sort of reverse-engineered it and really came up with this really buttery, sparkly formulation without doing a slurry process,” Abbitt says, referring to the non-clean technique that involves extracting a wet formula through a machine to create a dry texture.
The highlighter’s resulting formulation is made from ethically-sourced diamonds from Canada. “So, diamonds actually help to moisturize and protect the collagen in your skin. But, then you also get the spiritual side of all of these minerals that are added. Diamonds actually help to embrace the strength of one’s character,” says Abbitt.
Your skin will also be treated to other good-for-you ingredients when you swipe on this highlighter. Its infusion of rosehip oil helps to protect your skin against sun damage and brightens your complexion. Another star ingredient: honeysuckle flower extract, which has antibacterial properties. Absent from the highlighter is Mica, an ingredient commonly found in other highlighters. “There is no Mica in this product and Mica has a direct correlation to child labor. 30% of the world’s Mica directly comes from the child labor in India,” Abbitt explained.
The highlighter is also housed in zero-waste packaging. After learning that mirrors and magnets—items frequently found in beauty packaging—were completely unrecyclable, Abbitt completely rethought her approach to product packaging. “Magnets actually contribute to rare earth mining, which is super toxic for the environment and its workers. [Magnets] are literally in every single component and every single lipstick component. There’s no reason to have it there,” says Abbitt. “So, I put everything in FSC-certified paper. I make sure that the inks used can actually go back into our system. So, just because something’s paper does not mean it can be recycled. All of the pans are recycled aluminum and you just pop them out at the end and recycle them separately. And instead of a magnet, there’s an elastic on here, which I just say, cut it off or you can reuse it as a hair tie.”
To demonstrate how the highlighter appears on darker skin tones and its all-over wearability, Āether Beauty partnered with makeup artist Delina Medhin. Using a finger or a fluffy brush, she suggests applying the highlight to places like your brow bone. Medhin pointed out that the golden highlight can also create beautiful eye looks by adding it to your crease, lid, inner corner, or center of your eye. She also said that she likes to place the highlighter onto her cheeks, the center of her nose, on top of lipstick, or even dust it across her body.
The Golden Supernova Crushed Diamond Highlighter is available for purchase starting today on aetherbeautyco.com. Āether Beauty is donating 10% of Golden Supernova Crushed Diamond Highlighter sales to United Roots Oakland, which helps low-income youth of color secure educational and professional opportunities in digital and media arts.