A Guide To Buying Indie Cosmetics

Hello, I’m Lily, and I’m an indie cosmetics addict. Ever since the age of 14 when I was introduced to Fyrinnae I’ve been hooked. Bored of mainstream cosmetics drab, poorly pigmented offerings, I started ordering from more and more indie companies and haven’t looked back since! Now, the indie cosmetics world can be a little daunting if you don’t know where to look, which is precisely why I thought it was about time I created a guide to buying indie cosmetics…

What exactly ARE indie cosmetics?

Indie cosmetics are created by small, independent companies, free from a bigger ‘umbrella’ company. The cosmetics (be it make-up, soaps, perfumes) are handmade – not re-labelled stock, mass bought stock. 

Most indie companies can only be found online, though a few may have small displays in little shops or occasionally have stands at craft or trade-fairs.

Why buy indie?

For me, it’s because indie products are so much more unique than those of any brand you’ll find in the mainstream. When was the last time you spotted a truly unique eyeshadow, lipgloss or blush shade on the shelves of Superdrug or counters of Selfridges?! Also, I tend to find them to be of a higher quality, longer lasting and far superior in regards to pigmentation.

A Guide To Buying Indie Cosmetics

Indie companies are also cruelty free – animal testing costs money they don’t have. Yes, yes, I know all cosmetic ingredients have undergone animal testing at some stage, but their final products have not been tested on animals. A lot of indie companies are vegan, or state clearly where products contain animal ingredients such as beeswax or carmine.

There’s also the fact that these companies are small, usually run by just one or two people who take care of every aspect of the business. Instead of lining the fat cats’ pockets to pay for their holidays in the Caribbean, I’d rather buy indie where possible and know I’m paying towards keeping somebody’s passion in creating cosmetics alive.

A Guide To Buying Indie Cosmetics

Finding indie Companies

The first thing to do when looking for a new indie company to buy from is browse a few blogs which post fairly frequently about indie cosmetics until you find one which interests you. I’ve compiled a list of some great blogs for you to check out at the end of this post, as well as reputable indie companies – taking the work out of it for you, aren’t I?!

Found a cool looking company? Awesome! Now Google for reviews and swatches. I find swatches absolutely invaluable when deciding where to buy companies, why? Because you get a better overview of a colour when it’s been photographed and swatched in a number of different ways.

A Guide To Buying Indie Cosmetics

Looking good? Take a closer look at the product listings on their site. One big warning sign is when companies do not list ingredients, which is illegal for US companies (where most indie companies are based). Companies which list ingredients such as ‘Shimmer, pigment, shine, colour, glitz’ want to be treated with caution, too -what you want to see are FDA approved ingredients. There’s an awful lot to look into regarding ingredients, which Phyrra covers more accurately than I could ever wish to in this article (-link).

If buying repackaged (un-blended shades bought from the wholesaler) bothers you simply search the company name along with ‘repackaged’ and somebody has probably already posted about whether or not said company is known for this. Otherwise, email them. Some companies will repackaged shades due to customer request, but add their own base (which makes them a completed, useable product) and note this in the product page – which personally, I am fine with.

If the ingredients look okay, move on to looking at the companies’ social media sites. A lot of customers will tweet or write on Facebook walls if they haven’t received their order or something is wrong. If you see a lot of these kinds of posts, a warning light should flash in your mind! Keep clear. 

A Guide To Buying Indie Cosmetics

If their social media sites show only/ 99% positive comments, look for the ‘Turnaround Time’ on their website. This means the amount of time which passes between them receiving your order and shipping it. A long turnaround time is NOT a sign of dodgy goings on, so don’t please don’t think it is. Around 15 days is average. Factor in shipping time (US to the UK can be anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks on average) to work out when you would receive an order. 

If anything at all strikes you as odd during this process or if you have any questions – contact the company owner! A decent owner will send you a polite reply answering any queries. If you receive an overly defensive or rude reply, do not give them your custom.

If you’re happy with everything you’ve seen, feel free to go ahead and place an order!

A Guide To Buying Indie Cosmetics

Extra Tips 

· Look up customs limits for your country before ordering from abroad to avoid hefty customs fees! 

· If you’re placing a pricey order, go ahead and buy shipping insurance. Most companies offer this and it’s usually only a few dollars extra. 

· Keep an eye out for sales - many companies will have flash sales through the year, as well as sales around holidays.

· Join the Facebook pages for your favourite companies or companies you’re interested in to stay up to date with new releases, discount codes and to see pictures and posts from other customers.

· Follow companies and indie bloggers on Twitter to get any questions answered pretty quickly.

· Pay with Paypal where possible so it’s easy to claim money back if anything goes wrong. Don’t let the claim period expire if you’re unhappy, even if the company is promising to fix your problem.

A Guide To Buying Indie Cosmetics

Remember, an Indie Company is a Small Business

This might be extremely obvious, but more and more frequently I see customers expecting little indie companies to operate like cosmetic giants when it’s simply not possible.

Firstly, there are usually only one or two people to deal with making the product, researching new ingredients, formulating, testing, web design, product design, inventory, restocking, packing, customer service, sorting out the accounts, social media and plenty of other areas I haven’t even thought of! As you can see, time is extremely precious, so if an indie company doesn’t reply you for a few days – don’t panic.

Secondly, there is rarely the time or money to be sending free products to bloggers for review. However, many companies do offer discounted blogger review packs – keep an eye out for them!

Last of all, although owning an indie company is clearly a labour of love – it does have to pay off too. The point of business is profit – so most companies have a limit on samples, which take hours to fill and barely scrape a profit. Don’t take it personally if a company refuses to fill 100 tiny sample baggies for you.

The upshot of small businesses, however, is that the people behind them come to know their customers both as ‘an audience’ and personally, it’s slightly easier for them to keep track of which order is which, they appreciate each and every sale and sometimes (if you order often enough) they’ll even send a cheeky tweet updating you with products they know you’d like!

A Guide To Buying Indie Cosmetics

Indie Companies to Try

Those with stars are those I have ordered from personally, those without are ones with fantastic reputations.

Darling Girl Cosmetics* http://www.darlinggirlcosmetics.com

Madd Style Cosmetics* http://www.maddstylecosmetics.com

Detrivore Cosmetics* http://www.detrivorecosmetics.net

Beauty From the Earth http://www.bftecosmetics.com/

One Hand Washes the Other* http://www.ohwto.com

Dreaming Tree Soapworks http://www.dreamingtreesoapworks.com

A Guide To Buying Indie Cosmetics

Bloggers who Support Indie

Here are just a few blogs I enjoy for all things indie. 
Rock, Roll, Glam! http://rockrollglam.com

If you fancy having a look at some more swatches, looks or reading reviews for the companies I’ve tried head over to my blog - www.beautysbadhabitblog.blogspot.com. Thanks for reading, and thanks Adrienne for having me as a guest poster!

Thank you so much Lily!
Such a great post do be sure to check out Lily's blog.