You know her name. In the ’70s, Vera Moore, who was born to working-class parents in Queens, New York, became one of the first Black actresses contracted to a soap opera. For over a decade, she portrayed nurse Linda Metcalf on NBC’s “Another World.” Immediately, the singer and theater actress turned soap opera star was faced with a harsh reality — slim to no makeup options available to performers of colors.
“They did the best they could with what they had but it wasn’t sufficient. I knew there was a void. I wanted to look good on television. I knew that if I felt this way, my gosh, many other women must feel this way, too,” she tells rolling out. Of course, during the time, the few products readily available to Moore weren’t worth the hassle. “We were all wearing that brand – the quality just wasn’t there. It was on my collar, my phone; it was all over the place. The colors were too red, oily, greasy – especially under hot lights.”
In response, Moore, alongside her husband, Billy Helms, a veteran cosmetologist and esthetician, launched Vera Moore Cosmetics in 1979 – a beauty brand advocating the importance of natural beauty. “Our mantra is that ‘skincare is the foundation – makeup is an accessory,'” said Moore. “We really emphasize how to clean the skin and prep the palette. Then, when we transitioned into make-up, I wanted something that was natural and soft. I wasn’t interested in covering up the spot. I was interested in cleaning up the spot.”
However, it wasn’t a cake walk; the duo initially had to mortgage their home to fund a simple mall shop, a leap of faith that has since reaped plentiful fruit. Today, Vera Moore Cosmetics has set up shop in over 50 Duane Reade and Walgreens stores, including 30 in the Big Apple. Presented in “high scale” specialty-makeup “LOOK boutiques,” customers can get their hands on a variety of quality goods, including gentle face exfoliants, light (but build-able) coverage foundation, pressed powder and moisture rich lipstick.
They’ve even got Moore 4 Men, featuring the Calendula Oil-Free Moisturizer, rich in vitamin A, C, and E – leaving your skin looking healthy and feeling replenished. With products ranging from $11.50 – $47.50, there’s a little something for everyone trying to be “Moorefabulous.”
While makeup is a great tool for highlighting your best features, Moore believes “beauty starts from within.” In order to maximize your experience, you’ve got to eat your veggies, drink water and exercise. Tying back to her mantra, Moore advises that “skincare is the foundation. Eat fresh veggies — everyone can take a walk.”
What makes Vera Moore Cosmetics even more impressive — her staff. “We are 100 percent Black owned and staffed,” she said. In fact, Moore’s “daughter, Consuella, is also an esthetician who travels all across the states educating Walgreens employees on our products,” said Moore. Got to respect a brand that keeps it in the family, all the while providing our community with much-needed employment.
For more information on Vera Moore Cosmetics, check out their online boutique here. In the meantime, Essence Festival goers can check out Moore at the Beauty & Style Expo July 1-3, located at the Earnest N. Morial Convention Center, in New Orleans, where the cosmetics CEO herself will be serving as a panelist.