While the drama of the online beauty world continues to morph into accusations and allegations with potentially very real legal consequences, makeup has felt more like a wary walk on pins and needles. Luckily, I’m here to provide you with a list of indie beauty brands that are free of drama and full of pure makeup-loving fun that prove the beauty community is abundant with options and creativity.
Oftentimes, when it feels like there’s just no escaping the bad and the ugly, we need only take a step back to see that we’ve been missing a whole lot of good.
Inspired by Nordic mythology, the packaging design of this brand is as beautiful to look at as their actual product. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, their entire makeup collection is imbued with the culture and heritage of its home.
The Freja diva palette was the first product they launched in 2017 and is named after the Norse Goddess of love, fertility, and beauty. It was followed by the additions of the Solmåne Highlighter Palette and Solmåne Eyeshadow Palette, Solmåne being a combination of Sol, Goddess of the Sun, and Måne, God of the Moon.
Their most recent collection, named Alva (the feminine form of the Swedish name Alf, meaning “elf”), includes gorgeous matte and cream lip stains, shimmery and matte blushes, and a fairy inspired palette. If you’re wanting to add some romantic, magical hues to your collection, this brand will give you just that.
Co-Founder, beauty blogger Zoey Pu, felt that the mainstream beauty brands were failing modern-day makeup users and wanted to create a company that would “help build the new culture in this industry that values free and creative self-expression through makeup rather than the use of makeup for fixing and conforming to a beauty standard.”
Their packaging is definitely unlike anything else currently out on the market and exudes the digital art aesthetic of the 90s. Their makeup is equally as colorful and encourages an artistic, playful attitude with unique eyeshadow combinations, color-shifting highlighters, iridescent lip-glosses, and duochrome blushes. The Escape Pod, their recently released palette, looks like retro-neon heaven while still having a few neutrals that make it highly versatile.
A one woman show, Shroud Cosmetics (formerly known as strobe cosmetics) is a 100% cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics company based in Southern California. They sell both single eyeshadows and palettes, along with loose glitters and, as the name suggests, the products have a mystical and mysterious mood from the shadow names, to the packaging, to the actual shades.
Each palette has a very unique color story that matches the aesthetic of the brand while still providing something special for everyone no matter your shade preferences. The Creepy Cute palette has matte neon-pastels alongside a deep grey and pure black that work for many complexions. The Arcana palette has a completely different vibe that is filled with deep jewel tones, grungy nudes, and a perfect balance between mattes and metallic shimmers. Each shade in the Divinity palette is named after a goddess of love from a different spiritual practice and has an eccentric color combination reminiscent of autumnal and Halloween tones.
With an obvious adoration of wildlife, this brand donates a portion of their year-end profits to animal welfare charities and the packaging of all of their products is inspired by a specific animal.
They are best known for their palettes, most of which include vivid and bright shades that capture the colors of a particular wildlife environment. All of the shadows from the Pastel Pup, Violet Ink, Whalesong, Feral, and Killer Purr palettes can also be purchased separately as singles along with an empty magnetic palette that has an adorable fox family as its cover art.
The Velvet Liquid Lipsticks come in an impressive color range from ordinary shades to playful greens, blues, a purple and black. This company is not shy of punchy colors.
A small brand with only one product currently under its name, they have already defined what they value through their mission statement and product. They fully realize the role that makeup plays for many as an expression to the world of who they are so they made something for a community of “creators, disruptors, and visionaries” to help them change the way makeup is perceived.
Believing that makeup is an art form, their first palette is called Impressionism after the style of painting that emerged in 1860’s France, which was more concerned with depicting the visual impression of the moment rather than achieving a perfect replication of reality. In other words, it was more about the mood and feel that was captured through the shifting effect of light and color in a painting.
The Impressionism’s beautiful palette design and art-inspired shadow selection truly embody the name.
Truly made for lovers of shimmers and duochromes, this beauty brand sells pressed and loose eyeshadows, pigments, and highlighters with a ridiculous level of glow and shine. The products went viral back in 2017 and an interview between the founder, Megan Martinez, and Allure revealed that the name came from her time as a freelance makeup artist operating as ChaosMakeupArtist on Myspace.
At 14, she had been homeless and doing makeup for others was just a means to an end until her natural talents garnered her an impressive following and companies that wanted to collaborate with her until her own brand was born.
Given the founder’s passion for color shifters, multi-chromes, and rainbows that is exactly what you can expect to find on their website.
After working for the likes of MAC Cosmetics, Glamsquad and Boxycharm, make-up artist Gabriela Trujillo founded a cosmetics line that celebrates her Cuban cultura throughout its branding. In an interview with The Mujerista, she stated that her ultimate aspiration was “to inspire others to learn new things, adapt, change, evolve, but never forget that there’s beauty and inspiration in your very own roots.”
Given Trujillo’s background, all of the products were made with the intent of being inclusive and affordable so that their makeup could be enjoyed by people of all complexions and beauty-lovers could get quality products without breaking the bank.
The makeup is best described as tropical from the floral-leaf and tawny packaging to the eyeshadows that look like a Cuban summer (yellow, coral, greens, bronzes and teals), ideal for achieving an effortlessly beachy, bronzed look.
Known today for their monochromatic color palettes and eyeshadows that seem to cover every shade on the spectrum, it’s interesting to note that the first products they ever carried were false lashes.
Sure to satisfy any artistic inclinations you may have, the brand’s products also seem to flatter an inclusive range of complexions. An important note as many popular color stories can look grey or ashy on darker skin tones when not thoughtfully formulated.
With an abundant eyeshadow palette selection, wide variety of lashes, and cute peachy brush set, Ace Beautē lives up to its motto of “‘Beauty for All’ regardless of age, sex, skin color, religion or socio-economic status.”
Vibrant and fun, this is a brand that puts an emphasis on “creating products enhanced with nutrition derived from natural ingredients.” They keep their formulas clean and simple in order to include natural oils and plant-based extracts that will both nurture your skin and deliver intense color. Perfect for those with hyper-sensitive skin and or allergies, or anyone with a desire to have their makeup products count as an additive part of their skincare.
Don’t let the nutritive elements fool you, The Beauty Crop does not hold back when it comes to striking color performance as proven with their recent Piña Colada palette filled with all the rainbow brights, their brazen green Mojito palette, Sangria palette of pinks, purples and blues, and many more products worth exploring on their site.
The brainchild of husband and wife team, Anna and Kai, the company was founded in 2016 because they struggled to find fun vegan and cruelty-free makeup in their home country of Germany. The ethics of this brand are integrated into everything they do and the formulation of all of their products which they make sure to emphasize in their brand story.
Lethal Cosmetics produces makeup that covers a wide range of color themes and finishes so they will most likely have something that matches your tastes no matter if you prefer subtle hues or punchy metallics. Most, if not all, of their products are also demonstrated on both models of lighter/medium and deep/dark skin tones to showcase what their formulas look like on complexions at the opposite sides of the spectrum.
As a brand that sells single shadows, eyeshadow palettes, gel liners, highlighters, liquid lipsticks, lip glosses, and more, they have no shortage of options for anyone looking to revamp their makeup collection with an indie beauty brand.
Their only product, Neon Drip, is a pressed pigment palette of matte and shimmery electric pinks, oranges, magentas, and chartreuses. The color story is as aesthetically pleasing in the packaging as it is on the eyes and is more versatile than you might initially think, especially when you browse through the looks people have created on their company Instagram page.
Founded by beauty-lover Niki Namin, Poppi Cosmetics was created “to encourage people to not be afraid to experiment and pour out their creativity onto their faces similar to an artist with his canvas.” Her bright and bold product very much reflects her desire to create a brand that is innovative and invites creatives to express themselves without boundaries through makeup.
Without a doubt they are best introduced in their own words: “Vive Cosmetics is a Latina-owned and operated beauty brand created to celebrate our love for all things beauty and cultura in one place. Vive Cosmetics’ story has become less and less about lipsticks and more about celebrating the diversity and power of the Latina and Latinx community.”
With a heightened sense of awareness over the short comings of the beauty industry when it comes to representing and marketing towards communities of color, their beauty products are all made with the broad and diverse Latinx community and BIPOC in mind.
The Que Matte Liquid Lipsticks and Cremosa Matte Lipsticks are the brand’s most notable products as they come in common nudes, berries and reds but also intense pinks, corals, and oranges with high, unapologetic pigment. They also sell a highlighter duo, Loteria inspired makeup bag, and adorable pink hand-held mirror decorated with a crystal graphic that says Eres Magia (You’re Magic).
If you watched Michelle Phan during her YouTube heyday, odds are you’ll know about her beauty brand’s less than impressive beginnings and evolution into the ethereal collection that radiates effortless golden hour energy, today. If you know nothing of her, there is a likelihood that you also know nothing of the brand considering it doesn’t get talked about much in the YouTube beauty community – most likely because of its soft and delicate brand story.
The products fully embody the concept of attaining that natural glow from within that enhances what you already have rather than remapping it entirely. Inspired by the way skin looks under the light of the golden hour sun, the most iconic items are the Heaven’s Glow Radiant Veil Blush in Magic Hour and Faded Clementine, Color Drops Serum Blush in Rose Milk, Sunset Sky, Pink Nectar, and Soft Amethyst, Lip Cushion in Magic Hour, and the Divine Skies eyeshadow palette.
With so many of us needing to re-evaluate who we give our support to as consumers of product and content it’s crucial we realize that, despite the online beauty community’s downfalls, a huge plus is the ability to find small, inclusive and BIPOC-owned businesses through the power of social media and search engines more easily than ever before.
Makeup, as many of the brands listed here have said already, is about what you need to feel happy and free to express yourself. So – what brands are you adding to cart?