If you’ve seen some of the products I swatch and review, there may be some brands you don’t recognize if you only frequent the drugstore or makeup retail locations. Many of these brands are indie cosmetics brands — independent small cosmetic businesses that often only retail online. If you find all the products in makeup stores seems the same, you may want to check out indie cosmetic lines. They offer unique colors and finishes of makeup and unique perfume scents. Plus if your a huge fan of, say, Harry Potter, you’ll find that many indie companies have products that cater to fandoms. Indie companies are also quite transparent about the ingredients of their products, and many offer cruelty-free, vegan cosmetics. And best of all, they’re often significantly cheaper than what you’ll find in stores!
Here I’m going to highlight some indie cosmetics and perfume companies that you may want to try. Many of these brands I’ve tried myself (which you can find swatches of on the Swatches page and reviews of on the Reviews page), and others are well regarded indie brands that are still on my list to try! Note that this list is by no means exhaustive.
Arcana Wildcraft is an indie perfume company founded in 2003 in Washington. Their perfumes are handmade perfume oils that come in generally 5mL amounts in glass jars. Many of the scents are quite unique, and the company offers a large variety of scents. Most of their perfume oils cost about $20.00USD.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (often shortened to BPAL) is an indie perfume company out of California. Their perfumes are handcrafted and have a dark, romantic, and Gothic tone. Generally, their perfumes come in 5mL glass jars or 1/32oz sample vials. BPAL has various collections inspired by people and things such as Shakespeare and the writer Neil Gaiman.
Corvus Cosmetics is an indie makeup company founded in 2014 out of Baltimore that makes small batch, ethically sourced makeup. Currently, the company sells pressed and loose eyeshadows and highlighters with products ranging from $2.00-$8.00USD. I’ve personally tried some of their pressed eyeshadow (swatches here) and find them to have good pigmentation and a nice consistency.
Dawn Eyes Cosmetics
Dawn Eyes Cosmetics is a US based indie makeup company founded in 2011. The company specializes in mineral eyeshadows and has lots of gorgeous duochrome shadows. Some of their duochromes have some of the most intense shifts I’ve ever seen.
Sydney Grace Co (Formerly Feather River Body)
Sydney Grace Company is a California based indie makeup company sells mineral makeup. Note that this company was formerly called Feather River Body but has recently transitioned to the name Sydney Grace. This company sells both pressed and loose eyeshadow as well as other mineral face products such as highlighters. I’ve personally tried their pressed eyeshadows (swatches here) and can say the formula is wonderful — smooth consistency and nice pigmentation. I especially like their matte eyeshadows.
Femme Fatale is an Australian indie boutique established in 2011. While they do have their own house line of makeup and body products, they also sell other indie brands through their website. Hence why they’re considered an indie boutique. In their own line of products, they have gorgeous nail polish and loose eyeshadow. I’ve tried some of their loose duochrome eyeshadows (swatches here) and they’re some of the best duochromes I’ve tried with a very apparent shift. Femme Fatale also has a bi-monthly beauty subscription box called Emporium Beauty Box.
Fyrinnae is an indie cosmetic and perfume company out of Washington. They sell handmade eye, lip, and face products as well as perfume oil, and everything is vegan and cruelty-free. I’ve tried several Fyrinnae products (swatches here) and have loved them all. They have gorgeous shimmer eyeshadows with unique colors and special eyeshadows called Arcane Magics that shift color depending on the angle and intensity of light. Their whipped liquid lipsticks are very comfortable with a nice range colors.
Hello Waffle Cosmetics
Hello Waffle is a US based cosmetics company founded in 2014. The company name is a reference to the owner’s Korat cat named Waffle. They sell eye, lip, and face products inspired by fairy tales as well as a monthly subscription box called Monthly Visage. The Monthly Visage is a set of special Hello Waffle products and one guest indie product often inspired by popular culture. I’ve tried products from the May 2017 Visage which was inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (swatches here). The eyeshadows were nicely pigmented, lovely colors, and the blush was a nice subtle rose. Note that the owner of Hello Waffle, Christine, has handed ownership over to another indie brand, Shiro Cosmetics, but the products will retain the same style and formulation.
Meow Cosmetics is a US based indie makeup company that specializes in mineral based cosmetics. The products are hand-made, small batch, and, obviously, cat-themed. They sell eye and face products as well as This company is unique in that it offers a very broad range of foundation and concealer shades, so if you always have trouble getting a good foundation match, you may want to check them out.
Nocturne Alchemy (often called NAVA by fans) is a Califronia based indie perfume company founded in 2006. They sell thematic perfume oils inspired by ancient lands, music, art, and poetry. All of their products are cruelty free and only use sustainable notes. Sizing on their perfumes runs from 2mL – 10 mL.
Notoriously Morbid Cosmetics
Notoriously Morbid is an indie cosmetics company out of West Virginia. They sell cruelty-free eye, lip, and face products with a gothic aesthetic. Several of their loose eyeshadow collections are based on popular culture, such as the “Slay Me” collection based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the “Winchester Gospels” collection based on Supernatural. They also have subscription boxes called the Mystic Monthly and the Vanishing Cabinet. I’ve tried some of their loose eyeshadows and liquid lipsticks (swatches here). The matte eyeshadows are nice and have some unique colors. I really like their liquid lipsticks — the formula is very comfortable to where and the colors are lovely.
Shiro is an indie cosmetics company out of Portland , Oregon. They sell eye, lip, and face products as well as nail polish. If you consider yourself part of a fandom, you’ll probably love Shiro’s products — they have collections inspired by things like Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, The Legend of Zelda, and more. In fact, most of Shiro’s products are inspired by pop culture. I’ve tried Shiro’s loose eyeshadow (swatches here) and enjoy their unique colors, ease of application, and inspiration. Note that Shiro also distributes other indie brands such as Femme Fatale and Detrivore.
Sixteen92 is an indie perfume company out of Texas. They sell perfume oils and body products inspired by literature, history, lore, and magic — their name is a reference to the Salem Witch Trials. Most of their products are vegan, with the exception of those containing honey. I’ve tried some of their scents and, as someone who thinks all the perfume in the store smells the same, I like the diversity of their scents. Plus the products are all reasonable priced.
Solstice Scents is a Florida based indie perfume company founded in 2004. They sell perfume oils and body products, many of which are vegan. Their scents offer a variety of unique scents for both men and women. I’ve tried some of their products and was surprised with how nice and complex the scents were. I prefer more unisex, earthy scents, and there were plenty of scents that fit (among many other types of perfume)
The Strange South
The Strange South is an indie perfume company out of Mississippi and founded in 2017. Their products are hand-bottled, small batch, and cruelty-free. Many of their products reference magic and the Old American South. I tried several of their scents and find them to be quite unique with some unusual notes. They also have quite reasonable prices.