While we can appreciate a solid beauty steal, finding a hidden gem is a special sort of art form. You know what we’re talking about — the type of find that uses high-quality ingredients or offers a mysterious formula that somehow outperforms every single mass-produced product you’ve ever tried. Like the crazy viral rainbow highlighter or uber popular Korean beauty brands, many handmade or indie beauty brands have a devoted cult following. We’ve rounded up 13 of our favorite lesser-known independent makers — and our go-to products from each — to keep you in the know on the underground beauty scene.
1. Glossier: Boy Brow ($16) may be Glossier’s newest breakout star, but you’ve probably heard of their Milky Jelly Cleanser ($18) or Balm Dotcom ($12) too. Luck for us, they continue to release hit after beauty hit, including Generation G matte lipsticks ($18) and Stretch Concealer ($18). What makes this brand so great is that they started as a blog, and then let their community have a say in their products. Basically, load up fast, because these beauty essentials were made for you, by women like you.
2. & Other Stories: It’s been a long time coming, but & Other Stories is finally available in the US. While their fashion pieces are definitely noteworthy, we’re currently obsessing over their beauty line — especially their well-loved Twinkle Pearl Radiance Cream ($28).
3. LUSH: Best known for their bath bombs and dry shampoo, this vegan shop also has incredible makeup products. Check out their fan-favorite liquid eyeliner Independent ($20) and let us know if you ever go back to department store liners again.
4. W3LL People: Founded by a makeup artist, a dermatologist and a hippie entrepreneur, W3ll People is the free spirit’s beauty brand of choice. The company’s goal is to create super high-quality cosmetics using all-natural formulas free of the potentially harmful artificial chemicals found in most conventional makeup. If you’re overwhelmed by their options, we recommend starting with their Bio Brightener Stick ($29). Even if you’re not a highlighter person, a quick Google search will turn up four- and five-star reviews that will convince you otherwise.
5. ColourPop: If you’ve heard this name before, that might be thanks to Ms. Kylie Jenner. It’s rumored she worked with ColourPop to create Kylie Cosmetics by using their formula and rebranding the bottles. Regardless, if you’re a major LipKit lover but haven’t been able to snag a gloss, give one of ColourPop’s Ultra Matte Lipsticks ($6) a try. We’re loving this very Kylie-esque Limbo shade.
6. Pixi: Started by makeup artist Petra Strand, Pixi is now about 10 years old, but you may have only heard of the brand recently because it originated in the UK and moved stateside a few years ago. Now, it’s popping up everywhere from Target to Walgreens. If you’re a Pixi newbie, their H2O Skin Tint ($34) is what all the #bvloggers are swearing by, and it’s oh-so-perfect for summer.
7. Sigma: This rising star is coming for your vanity. Founded in 2009, it’s become a BFD relatively quickly. It was largely based online until 2012, when it opened up its first and only brick and mortar space in Minnesota. There’s a good reason for Sigma’s increasing popularity, though — just take a swipe of the Lip Switch ($14) and you’ll see what we mean.
8. Drunk Elephant: If your skin is sensitive or you just hate putting harsh chemicals on it (who doesn’t, really?), Drunk Elephant was made with you in mind. The one ingredient you’ll find in all the products is Virgin Marula oil, which has a high content of fatty acids and antioxidants, plus it’s made in the US and is fragrance-free. We’re especially obsessing over their T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90), which provides a solid base for makeup application.
9. Vinter’s Daughter: Speaking of setting a healthy base for your makeup application, Vinter’s Daughter is definitely one to watch. Considered the ultimate face oil, the Active Botanical Serum ($185) contains 22 different botanicals and essential oils sourced from “the most conscious and quality focused growers around the world.” It’s also free of parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, PEGs and SLSs. Not sure about you, but just talking about this serum makes our skin thirsty.
10. Stik’s Cosmetics: With gorgeous colors, a solid formula and mostly five-star reviews, it’s a wonder the whole world isn’t talking about this cult favorite. Because the best things always come in threes, we recommend trying the Front and Center Lipstik Set ($38). Consider the crayon-like case an added, nostalgia-fueled bonus.
11. Stowaway Cosmetics: Sick of beauty products that take up too much space or fall apart after being jostled inside your summer bag for all of four seconds? So were the founders of Stowaway, which is why they created this minimalist beauty line designed to go with you anywhere and everywhere. Our favorite busy-girl staple? Their Cheek & Lip Rouge ($15). Because #multitasking.
12. Lanolips: This AU-based and AU-made company has developed your all-purpose, natural beauty must-have. Use this product on your lips, hands or wherever you’re in need of a little added moisture. While there are currently multiple varieties of Lanolips, we recommend starting with the award-winning OG: Lanolips 101 Ointment ($16).
13. Velvet 59: The creator of this brand? Yeah, she’s 22. If that doesn’t blow your mind and make you think “Oh my gosh, this makeup company is totally going to get me and my life!” then you haven’t seen Velvet 59’s incredible Exotic Lotus Palette ($39). It’s basically all the colors you’d need for every summer look imaginable.
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