Alisha Adkins is an author of horror and speculative fiction. A self-described "aging goth," she has a strong interest in creative makeup.
What Are Indie Cosmetics?
"Indie," or independent makeup brands, are mom-and-pop cosmetic companies—small-scale outfits often run by just a single individual. In fact, many of the more trendy, popular indie brands of today started out that small: Lime Crime, Sugarpill, and Melt were all started by only one or two people.
Products that can commonly be found from independent sellers include mineral eyeshadows, face products such as blush and contour powders, lipsticks (although smaller brands may package them in Chapstick tubes), lip glosses, and, with increasing frequency, liquid lipsticks.
Here's a sneak peek of what you'll find in this article:
- The benefits and downsides of buying from indie brands
- A list of indie makeup brands I've personally tried
- A full list of all of the brands I know of
The Perks of Buying Indie Brands
- You can expect far more individualized service, with personalized touches such as handwritten notes on packing invoices.
- <any companies offer sample sizes as an inexpensive way to try their products. For instance, while a full-size jar of mineral eyeshadow at Shiro Cosmetics typically costs $6.00, you can purchase a sample baggie of the same product for just $1. And, besides, as you can see from this example if you're looking for moderate prices, indie brands tend to be less expensive in general.
- Indie products also tend to be quite unique and quirky. From them, you can expect the unusually colored lipsticks and vibrant eyeshadows that big-name brands tend to shy away from. On top of that, a number of indie companies offer makeup collections dedicated to pop culture favorites such as Harry Potter, Hannibal Lector, and Doctor Who. This is makeup with all of the fun and glitter that will fulfill your inner nerd.
- Many companies often include swag—in other words, freebies. Whether it's a free sticker, a sample of an extra eyeshadow, or some candy, going above and beyond tends to be a trademark of indie brands.
- These brands frequently offer more cruelty-free and vegan options than corporate brands.
Indie Makeup: The Downside
Of course, there are some negatives associated with purchasing from indie cosmetic brands as well.
- There is the average "TAT" (Turn Around Time). Processing time can be excessive when purchasing from smaller cosmetic companies, often running weeks before your order makes its way to the top of the queue. In the same vein, sometimes a shop may close for a week or two while the shop owner takes a break. Remember, these businesses are often run by single individuals, and they go on vacations and have family emergencies just like everyone else.
- You're dealing with individuals. While that is often a benefit, in some cases it also has the potential to be unfortunate. Let's face it, not all personalities are suited to customer service, and there have also been a few cases of outright unscrupulous companies that should be avoided.
A Rundown of the Indie Brands I've Tried So Far
Here's a rundown, in alphabetical order, of the indie makeup brands I've tried so far.
BH Cosmetics, a privately owned online-only brand, is a true success story. Capitalizing on the use of social media, its owner has built the brand to fortune 500 company status while offering a healthy range of modestly priced products. The BH Cosmetics website runs constant sales and boasts cosmetic lines with lots of interesting, vibrantly colored products.
Of particular interest here are BH Cosmetics' extensive offerings of large low-cost eyeshadow palettes.
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Darling Girl Cosmetics
Darling Girl Cosmetics has a large cult following, and for good reason. This brand offers mineral eyeshadows, face products, lip balms, and liquid lipsticks (called "pucker paints") that are grouped into fun and fanciful themes such as mythical creatures, popular TV shows of decades past, 80's pop songs, and "Queens of Horror" (B-movie scream queens).
Eyeshadows are available in sample sizes. Orders ship with an extra sample.
Dawn Eyes Cosmetics
Dawn Eyes Cosmetics is an indie brand that offers dazzling eyeshadows at incredibly affordable prices. Full sized jars are only $4.00 and sample baggies can be purchased for just $.75 apiece.
Dawn Eyes provides superb customer support and ships orders with additional free samples.
A long-established indie brand, Fyrinnae is well regarded within the underground makeup community for its beautiful multidimensional mineral eyeshadows and striking lip lustres as well as their cult favorite, the "pixie epoxy" sparkle adhesive.
Most products are available in full and "mini" sizes. Orders are shipped with a personal "thank you" from the owner and an extra eyeshadow sample.
Gloss Effect Cosmetics
Gloss Effects Cosmeticsis an Etsy brand that offers lipsticks in a huge range of colors. These lipsticks are exceptionally affordable (the ones I bought were just $3 apiece), but mine did arrive melty with instructions to refrigerate them. This seemed odd, especially considering that it was winter at the time.
The colors are quite vibrant, but unfortunately, once removed from refrigeration, the lipsticks returned to a semi-soft state. This brand seems to still be working out some of the kinks...
Illamasqua is a high-end cutting edge, avant garde European makeup brand that offers a full spectrum of cosmetic products including powder and cream eyeshadows, foundations and blushes, lipsticks and glosses, nail polish, and perfume (their signature scent is called "Freak").
Illamasqua does ship internationally and offers free standard shipping on orders to the U.S. of $75 or more.
Impulse Cosmeticsis a cult indie brand that offers a huge array of lipstick and liquid lipstick colors. Other products include both pressed and loose eyeshadows, cosmetic glitters, foundation, and nail polish.
Most products are available for purchase in sample sizes.
LA Splash is one of the break-through indie brands that has "made it," at least in terms of YouTube buzz, and not without reason. LA Splash's liquid lipsticks are extremely pigmented and long-lasting and are available in a huge variety of shades.
The company has recently branched out into other cosmetics -- eyeliner and body paint -- with more diverse products slated for release soon.
Makeup Monsters Cosmetics is an undeniably cute brand. The company's logo is an adorable little green monster girl (and a sticker of her ships with every order).
Makeup Monsters offers long-lasting, highly pigmented liquid lipsticks that are universally loved across the YouTube community. In fact, demand is so high that the company recently had to shut down for a couple of weeks in order to catch up on its orders!
Medusa's Makeup is an indie brand that offers products such as both pressed and loose eyeshadows, blushes and highlighters, gel eyeliners, and lipstick and lip gloss -- all in vibrant colors.
If you sign up for the company's e-mails, you'll be alerted to regular sales on the website.
Melt Cosmetics is one of the hottest brands around at the moment. This indie makeup company was created by two women with a vision for high quality, unusually colored lipsticks.
Melt Cosmetics offers their unique "ultra matte" lipsticks for $19.00 each. Eyeshadow stacks are also available.
Orders ship with a color-coordinated lip sticker and, frequently, a Melt lipstick keychain.
My Beauty Addiction
My Beauty Addiction offers loose eyeshadows, cosmetic glitter, blush, and vibrantly colored lipsticks in an enormous range of colors.
Customers can buy clamshell samples of eyeshadows, blushes, highlighters, and lipsticks or lip glosses.
Shiro Cosmetics advertises itself as "hand-crafted makeup and geekery." All of its products -- eyeshadows, face products, lipsticks (called "joysticks"), etc. -- are grouped into collections based around themes and fandoms such as Harry Potter and The Hobbit. Nerd girls, rejoice!
Shiro Cosmetics' orders ship with an extra sample, a company business card, and a piece of candy.
Sugarpill Cosmetics is a popular indie brand known for its highly pigmented pressed eyeshadows and loose pigments.
While customers must spend $100 to obtain free shipping on the Sugarpill website, be aware that most products are available on Amazon for the same price with free shipping for Prime members.
Tater Rounds Beauty
Tater Rounds Beauty is an Etsy shop whose main claim to fame is its collaboration with goth YouTube personality Drac Makens to produce a line of Marilyn Manson-inspired lipsticks.
Lipsticks ship in chapstick packaging. Be aware that pigmentation does seem to vary from batch to batch.
Virus Insanity is an edgy indie brand that sells regular and duochrome loose eyeshadows as well as lip glosses.
Clamshell samples are available for purchase.
Now Here Comes the Full List...
Below, please find the full list of indie makeup brands, each with corresponding website. This table includes the brands featured above along with many, many more that I have not yet tested!
Highlight, right-click, and "go to" if you wish to visit any of the sites (sorry for the inconvenience -- Google penalizes articles with lots of active commercial links).
Indie Makeup Brands
Back to the Earth
Bad Bitch Cosmetics
Beauty Bar Baby
Bitter Lace Beauty
Black Moon Cosmetics
Black Rose Minerals
Black Widow Balm
Carina Dolci Mineral Cosmetics
Chameleon Eye Cosmetics
Chequered Lily Apothecary
Dark Matter Makeup
Darling Girl Cosmetics
Dawn Eyes Cosmetics
Dirty Little Secret Cosmetics
Dose of Colors
Dream World Hermetica
Eight Bit Cosmetics
Elixery Cosmetic House
Feather River Body
Femme Fatale Cosmetics
Geek Chic Cosmetics
Give Me Glow
Glamour Doll Eyes
Gloss Effect Cosmetics
Hello Waffle Cosmetics
House of Beauty
Innocent & Twisted Alchemy
Inspiring Love Inside
Jeffree Star Cosmetics
Kiss My Sass Cosmetics
Lonely Planet Co
Love Luxe Beauty
Lunatick Cosmetic Labs
Mad Lab Cosmetics
Micki Song Cosmetics
My Beauty Addiction
My Pretty Zombie Cosmetics
Phee's Makeup Shop
Indie Makeup Brands continued
Portland Black Lipstick Co.
Pretty Addictions Cosmetics
Pretty Zombie Cosmetics
Pumpkin and Poppy Cosmetics
Rituel de Fille
Scaredy Cat Cosmetics
Sobe Botanicals Cosmetics, Bath & Body
Star Crushed Minerals
SweetPea and Fay
Tater Rounds Beauty
Ten Three Labs
TheBodyNeeds (TBN) Cosmetics
Tooth + Nail Cosmetics
Tick Tock Cosmetics
Victorian Disco Cosmetics
Wonderland Beauty Cosmetics
Zodiac Killer Cosmetics
An Ever-Growing List
Of course, this list is not static; I will continue to add to it as I learn of new brands (and will remove defunct companies as necessary). If you are aware of other indie makeup brands, please leave a comment below and let me know so I can update to reflect that information!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: I am trying to purchase some lipstick from Beauty Undead. Where can I buy her lipsticks?
Answer: Unfortunately, Beauty Undead recently went out of business.
Marcy on July 28, 2018:
Most of the links to non etsy sites don't work. They redirect you to ad sites or I get a warning via chrome that says the page isn't secure. Even when googling some of these brands, the same thing happens. I wouldn't trust those brands with 15 foot pole.
Jessica on November 05, 2017:
Wow this is such an in depth article! I really appreciate all the information. I've heard of some of these brands but their are soooo many that I am unfamiliar with! I recently came across a new company: http://kuvitbeauty.com! They have such beautiful, pigmented shadows and AMAZING customer service!
Jennifer on September 22, 2017:
I also was taken to a virus when I went to brazen cosmetics website.
Nicole on April 10, 2017:
I just started working with a new Indie brand, Glogirlcosmetics.com
They launched sometime last year, check it out and let me know what you think! @bluefox_partners
Odalys on April 09, 2017:
Love him, love the list. Although there are many other indie brands that I think should update already: kylie and others who have mentioned you in the comments
maria on January 15, 2017:
there is an indie brand named nomad cosmetics which is not in the list
Alisha Adkins (author) from New Orleans on October 07, 2016:
I just saw your comment about Brazen Cosmetics. That is very strange, as I have ordered from Brazen's site before.
Rebecca on October 07, 2016:
You should check out rebelqueen.ca. We are a 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free indie makeup/clothing company. Currently located in Ontario, Canada, specializing in extremely opaque colors for women of every color. Every item is made to order and each order comes with a sample and lollipop.
jessica on July 31, 2016:
hi, i found some more that you may want to add:
MDM FLOW: http://www.mdmflow.com/
JAY JILL: http://www.jay-jillcosmetics.com/
AJ CRIMSON: http://ajcrimson.com
Alisha Adkins (author) from New Orleans on May 18, 2016:
Thanks! I'll go through the article and update soon. Indie companies tend to change sites fairly frequently. I know Love Luxe Beauty has also moved to its own site as well.
jessica on May 18, 2016:
this give me glow company has changed sites: http://www.givemeglowcosmetics.com/store/c1/Featur...
jessica on May 18, 2016:
this link doesn't work either: http://www.chinovicosmetics.com/
Jasmeet Kaur from India on May 02, 2016:
Alisha Adkins (author) from New Orleans on March 18, 2016:
CherryBlossomTree on February 29, 2016:
Like this post, i will check out some of the products listed. I am new to hubpages and could use some traffic and feedback, please check out my 2 first posts