When you're discussing Black-owned beauty brands to know, you're almost guaranteed to hear (or come across) Buttah. The brand created by Dorion Renaud is part of an elite club of skincare lines making waves in the beauty industry. Renaud launched the brand in 2018, but his mission of making skincare less intimidating was a long time in the making.
Renaud started the industry as a model and entertainer and his relationship with his skin has been complex. "I've always struggled with my skin growing up, and I couldn't find products that suited me," Renaud tells me, cozied up in a blanket on Zoom. "I would go into department stores, order all the Proactive, and nothing helped my breakouts." It wasn't until Renaud walked the streets of Harlem and came across raw shea butter from a street vendor that his skincare journey changed. "I also happened to meet my business partner, who was just a friend at a time. He asked me: What do you really want to do?"
At the time, Renaud was promoting skincare lines and hosting beauty events for a living, but deep down, he was passionate about starting his own brand for melanated skin. More importantly, he wanted to change the way Black men approached skincare. "I grew up watching my grandmother applying her products; she loved using Vaseline on her face and taking care of herself," Renaud says. "I found that many men I knew felt ashamed or emasculated to start using products that were, essentially, designed for women."
Renaud paid close attention to the lack of quality skincare options available in his local neighborhoods and used that to create Buttah. "For many Black people getting quality products and education was difficult, and in drugstores, the good products were locked up behind the register," Renaud says. "I wanted to share the simple solutions I've found that worked for my skin."
Buttah has since launched with an impressive lineup of cult-favorite products that has garnered a devoted customer base. For its launch, Renaud tapped inspiration from the ingredients he discovered that helped him in his skincare journey. In the lineup are a smooth facial shea butter ($19) and a cocoa butter hybrid formula ($19) meant to pack on the hydration. Buttah also offers a variety of serums, mists, sunscreens, and cleansers to build a comprehensive routine or fill in gaps in your current regimen.
Still, in a market where it can feel like everyone's out to push product, Renaud is confident that Buttah speaks for itself. "I love Buttah because it's all interchangeable. If you have a good cleanser and moisturizer, everything else is there to enhance what you have," he says. "There are many good products, but they don't haven't to be used daily or at once—do what works for you."
Taking care of yourself shouldn't be embarrassing.
While Renaud's skincare journey is ongoing, he's found a beat that works for him. "I try to get a facial once a month, which I haven't been great with because of my schedule," he tells me. "Otherwise, my routine is simple. I use my gentle cleanser, tea tree scrub, vitamin C, and cocoshea moisturizer as my go-to for my skin type. I am usually not at home using all 20 of my products. Instead, I fit them into my routine and schedule to meet me where I am."
Skincare plays a more significant part in Renaud's approach to working on his mental health, which he says has been a continuous learning process. "My mental health took a huge hit early on by starting on television," Renaud says. "I was super young and didn't know who I was. Working on a brand, the pandemic, and life has also been overwhelming, but, ultimately, I am learning the importance of balance and finding my peace."
Renaud spoke openly about his mental health, sharing that he's turned to various practices for self-care. "I try to read even if it's for 20 minutes. I go to therapy, and I try to make time to deal with myself," Renaud says. "Back in the day, mental health was positioned as something you're going through or something you should pray about, but we should take it seriously."
For Renaud, some good days look like shooting campaigns for Buttah, attending boardroom meetings, and hanging with close friends. Other days, his phone is on "do not disturb", his window blinds are closed, and old cartoons are on television. "Knowing when I'm in my feelings and need space has helped me tremendously," he says. "Some of us can take hits and move on, while some need more time to work through things. Either way, it's worth acknowledging."
Renaud hopes his transparency about his mental health will inspire other Black men to tap into more than just their skincare routines. "I know many of us can write off self-care and mental health as having issues," Renaud says, "Many Black men are scared to even talk about it." Renaud wants to help erase that fear by encouraging people to spend some time with themselves, even if it's only for a few minutes at your bathroom sink. "Many men don't realize how good taking care of their skin—or other areas of their life—feels until they do it," he says. "It helps you feel good about yourself."
Ultimately, Renaud wants Black men to feel empowered to show up in the world as their best selves. "It's okay to work on your skin to feel more confident and it's okay to present yourself to the world in your best light," he says. "I want to humanize skincare and help Black men feel more confident. Taking care of yourself shouldn't be embarrassing." Renaud says he's witnessed a shift in the number of Black men turning to Buttah and it's for the better. "I want us to be comfortable caring for our skin—whatever that looks like for you," he says.
Many men don't realize how good taking care of their skin—or other areas of their life—feels until they do it.
Despite the challenges of running a startup business, Renaud is staying the course with Buttah, which he says is more than a bottle, but a lifestyle. "Buttah is a vibe and, culturally, it's a compliment. When someone says your skin looks like buttah, that's a form of praise, which is why the brand's name is spelled that way," he says. "It's more than selling a product, but bringing the soul of the brand to life."
It's why Renaud is focused on only giving his customers the best in product quality, packaging, and even campaigns. Most recently, Renaud tapped his (gorgeous) friends Nazanin Pimentel and singer O'Ryan for Buttah's latest campaign Buttah Is Everything, which captures how unique the brand is to various shades of brown skin. "Everything down to the people we work with is part of who we are as a brand," Renaud explains to me. "I love O'Ryan and his brother [Omarion] and we hang out. He has a specific lifestyle and he captures the Buttah man." Buttah has also tapped famous friends like Keri Hilson, Sevyn Streeter, and Melanie Fiona for campaigns and content. "These are people who make me feel good and who help bring the vibe of the brand to life."
Renaud took a grassroots approach to build a successful beauty brand, which started as a solution to his skincare concerns and has transformed into much more: A safe space for underrepresented people to look and feel their best. "I'm a consumer, a skincare lover, and a cool dude who believes everyone should have access to effective products," Renaud says. "I'm trying to share that with the world."