20 Must-Try American Indie Makeup Brands

With the rapid globalization and the advent of social media, the world of beauty has drastically changed over the years and becoming more popular than ever. If you’re not into make-up before, I’m sure that at some point or by now, you have already tried at least one product – a Maybelline lipstick that Facebook always recommended in your timeline that you eventually got curious so you tried it or a Colourpop palette from an influencer you follow on Instagram that looked so good you thought, “Why not?”

In 2019, the cosmetics industry was valued at around $93.5 billion in the US market alone. Interestingly, this was a $74.7 increase from the year before and estimates for this year project that beauty and other personal care products will breach the $97 billion mark. 

Today, men and women alike (because it’s 2020 and men can wear make-up) are faced with an overwhelming number of options. And while it’s an easy choice to try out established makeup brands because they have already a strong reputation, there is still that curiosity of exploring new brands and even more so Indie makeup brands who have amassed a small but loyal following.

“What is with this brand that people keep buying them?” And for beauty lovers, is there anything that beats the joy of falling in love with a new brand? 

If you’re like me and you’d love to go into this adventure with me then keep reading to discover 20 dope American Indie Makeup Brands that you need to try in 2020.

What is an indie makeup brand?

All makeup brands are either independently owned and operated or owned by a conglomerate company. A conglomerate, sometimes known as a parent company, is a corporate entity that owns multiple subsidiaries (brands) that span various industries. Examples of known parent companies include Coty, Estee Lauder, L’OREAL, LVMH, and Shiseido.

Indie makeup brands are independently owned and operated by an owner that is not a parent company. However, indie makeup brands can be self-funded or financed by venture capitalists.

An indie makeup brand can be mainstream, such as Anastasia Beverly Hills and Melt Cosmetics, or it can be niche such as Touch of Glam beauty. Similarly, brands owned by parent companies may be mainstream or niche.

Though the difference with these brands is mainly a business aspect, at its core indie beauty is more than just a brand but a lifestyle. It has an active community that provides its consumers with a more in-depth experience of the company’s interests and passion through original voice and products. More often than not, indie companies are founded by individuals who are driven to address a cause or need that he or she strongly believes in and empower the people who deserve representation. 

These companies dedicate an extensive amount of time and resources to “perfect” the quality of the products that they bring to the market. They are focused on sustainability and long-term value of their products.

Why choose Indie Beauty?

Indie brands are made for the consumers, by the consumers and they take consumer feedback and satisfaction at the top of its pyramid of brand priorities. This is why they’re able to create an authentic relationship with their audience because they actively listen to what needs to be improved and caters to the needs of their consumers but never sacrificing the brand’s ideals and visions. 

Aside from that, there is also honesty and transparency with indie beauty brands that are admittedly hard to find with big-name brands. Through social media, these brands take their consumers to how the products that they use and trust are made from ingredient selection to the harvesting processes. They have a very close relationship with their product development laboratories and they always ensure the quality of everything that gets put into their product. 

Because they make sure that their consumers get the best quality for every penny they paid for. 

20 Indie Makeup Brands You NEED to try in 2020

1 | Alamar Cosmetics | 2017

About the brand: Founded by Cuban born Gabriela Trujillo in 2017, Alamar Cosmetics aims to bring inclusive Cruelty-Free beauty to the market. Inspired by Trujillo’s Cuban heritage, the brand aims to empower all women of color. It’s a brand that is made by Latinas for Latinas. The name itself of the brand which means “stay close to the sea” pays homage to Trujillo’s roots, a Havana neighborhood she grew up in.

According to Trujillo, she wants to inspire others to learn new things, adapt, change, evolve, but never forget that there is beauty and inspiration in your very own roots.

Why the Brand Excites Me: First, I love how Alamar Cosmetics’ inclusive line of makeup is a celebration of Cuban heritage. Second, Gabriela’s thoughtful product creation and quality of each new release always impress me.

Alamar’s Colorete Blush Trio was featured in my 2019 Newbie Awards roundup. In addition to being an indie cosmetics maker, Alamar creates brushes – I received the brand’s face brush set in my February 2020 Boxycharm.

Where to Buy: Alamar Cosmetics

2 | Clionadh Cosmetics | Toronto, 2016

**Please note: Clionadh is not an American brand, but is Canadian. However, I had to showcase this North American.**

About the brand: Founded by sisters Leigh and Maggie Cavanaugh in 2016, Clionadh Cosmetics aims to bring Cruelty-Free and Vegan handmade beauty to the market. Leigh and Maggie were initially indie beauty brand consumers expressing how much they appreciate the creativity and the passion that came with every drop of products. Having both artistic backgrounds they saw how it fit with their beauty hobbies and so they  jumped in to building an indie makeup brand after they graduated university in 2016. 

Why the Brand Excites Me: Have you seen the brand’s Stained Glass collection? These show-stopping multi-chromes from Clionadh Cosmetics come in a variety of shades and finishes. Check out swatches of the Clionadh’s Stained Glass shadows in my indie beauty single shadows collection.

Reviews on the way: Stained Glass Collection

Where to Buy: Clionadh Cosmetics

3 | Devinah Cosmetics 

About the brand: Founded by DeAndra DeArmas, Devinah Cosmetics set out to provide MUAs of all stages and talent-levels with affordable, high-quality hand blended, hand poured, and hand-pressed shadows that span a wide range of colors and finishes. DeAndra was a self-proclaimed MAC lover who with a little mix of curiosity found herself making her own makeup. Devinah, a name she saved for a baby girl, which means beloved, devine, and heavenly is now a makeup brand that offers over a hundred of color-popping shadows. 

Why the Brand Excites Me: Devinah Cosmetics takes risks. The founder constantly works hard to release new and interesting products. From the brand’s high-quality mattes to its impressive shimmers, beauty lovers better watch out for Devinah.

Also, for swatches of the Devinah Cosmetics shadows in my collection, check out this post full of Melt Cosmetics Gemini Palette dupes or my indie beauty single shadow collection.

Where to Buy: Devinah Cosmetics

4 | Dose of Colors | 2013

About the brand: Anna Petrosian founded Dose of Colors in 2013 to provide pigmented, high-quality beauty products. The brand has since garnered a cult following for its popular lip glosses, liquid lipsticks, and well-known collaborations with Desi and Katy as well as Karen Gonzalez a.k.a. ILuvSarahii

Why the Brand Excites Me: Like so many other Dose of Colors fans, I love the brand’s lip products and eyeshadow formula. Dose of Colors’ comfortable, high shine lip glosses are some of my favorite glosses in my lip gloss collection, while the brand’s all-matte quintets are go-to eyeshadow staples.

Reviews on the way: Baked Browns Palette, Blushing Berries Palette, Liquid Lipsticks, Lip Glosses

Where to Buy: Dose of Colors | Ulta Beauty | Beauty Bay

5 | Give Me Glow Cosmetics

About the brand: Give Me Glow Cosmetics is an American Indie cosmetics brand known for creating highly pigmented shadows and blinding highlighters. The brand’s single shadows and palettes frequently run in and out of stock due to the hype surrounding the brand.

Why the Brand Excites Me: First, I am always so impressed by the performance of the Give Me Glow shadows that I own. Check out some swatches of my single shadows from Give Me Glow in my indie beauty single shadow collection. Second, the Give Me Glow Shadows and Highlighter swatches posted on Instagram are sickeningly pigmented.

Reviews on the way: Summer Vibes Palette, Single Shadows

Where to Buy: Give Me Glow Cosmetics

6 | JD Glow Cosmetics | 2015

About the brand: Best friends, Jennifer and Deandra founded JD Glow Cosmetics in 2015. This Baton Rouge-based indie makeup brand aims to make beauty accessible to beauty lovers through its high quality, affordable beauty products.

Why the Brand Excites Me: Have you seen the brand’s Galaxy Shadows or Multi-chromes?! These multi-dimensional, wet-looking metallic shadows are quite impressive! To see some swatches of the JD Glow Multi-chromes check out my indie beauty single shadows roundup.

Reviews on the way: Galaxy Shadow & Multichrome Shadows

Where to Buy: JD Glow Cosmetics

7 | Juvia’s Place | 2013

About the brand: Juvia’s Place was founded in 2013 by Chichi Eburu. Makeup lovers everywhere love this Black-owned indie beauty brand for its high quality, super pigmented, and affordable eyeshadows and visually stunning packaging design. The African inspiration behind each palette is clear and quite beautiful.

Why the Brand Excites Me: The Juvia’s Place eyeshadow formula is one of my absolute favorites. These shadows are easy for makeup beginners and makeup masters, alike.

Also, Juvia’s Place makes palettes for colorful shadow lovers and neutral lovers, alike. I’ve reviewed two of my favorite Juvia’s Place Palettes – the Nubian Palette and the Warrior Palette on my blog.

Reviews on the way: Warrior 2 Palette, Nomad Palette, The Berries Palette, The Nomad Palette, etc.

Where to Buy: Juvia’s Place | Ulta Beauty | Beauty Bay

8 | Makeup Geek | 2008

About the brand: Founded in 2008 by beauty influencer, Marlena Stell, Makeup Geek made waves in the beauty industry with its high-quality single shadows. When the brand first started it was known for making more affordable dupes to MAC Cosmetics single eyeshadows.

Why the Brand Excites Me: Makeup Geek is one of the first influencer-owned, dope American indie makeup brands to burst onto the beauty scene. In many ways, Marlena’s success paved the way for new generations of influencer-founded brands.

Also, the brand’s focus on single shadows excites me. While I love palettes, I want to be inspired to create my own color stories using singles!

Reviews on the way: Makeup Geek Color Matrix System

Where to Buy: Makeup Geek | Target

9 | Melt Cosmetics | 2012

About the brand: Founded by professional makeup artists, Lora Arellano and Dana Bomar in 2012, Melt Cosmetics ushered colorful beauty products to the market through the brand’s boldly colorful matte bullet lipsticks. The brand has since expanded into eyeshadow stacks and palettes, as well as countless other lip and cheek products.

Melt Cosmetics delivers unapologetically bold and ultra-pigmented products which definitely embody freedom of expression. 

Why the Brand Excites Me: If this is your first time on my blog – welcome.

If you’re a regular reader, then you know that Melt Cosmetics makes one of my favorite formulas and created some of my all-time favorite palettes. In fact, I own so many of the brand’s palettes that I’ve ranked them.

The founders create products thoughtfully, with clear passion and inspiration. Each product is created with great attention to quality and feels authentic to the brand.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve reviewed many releases from this American indie makeup brand on my blog. Check out my in-depth reviews of the Blueprint Stack, Amor Eterno Collection, and Millennial Pinx Palette.

Reviews on the way: Smoke Sessions Palette, Radioactive Palette, Twenty-Seven Palette, Matte Lipsticks, Blushlights, Digital Dust Highlighters

Where to Buy: Melt Cosmetics | Sephora | Beauty Bay

10 | Menagerie Cosmetics | 2019

About the brand: Founded in 2019, Menagerie Cosmetics is a wildlife-inspired, Vegan, Cruelty-Free, and indie makeup brand that burst onto the market with its Feral Palette. Samantha, founder of the brand, is passionate about animal welfare and every year, she contributes to animal conservation charities through the profits her company makes. It’s a self-funded brand operated only by Samantha and her husband, Jay, and each formulation is made in-house and hand-crafted in small batches (there is no mass production). 

Samantha and Jay are committed to making innovations in their products and they encourage consumers to not be so attached to one because they are always out to make better ones that everyone will absolutely love.

Why the Brand Excites Me: I love the brand’s nature-inspired aesthetic and ability to create high-quality, colorful shadows that are Vegan! Also, the brand’s Violet Ink Micro Palette impressed me, so I want to try more from this brand!

Where to Buy: Menagerie Cosmetics

11 | Midas Cosmetics | 2018

About the brand: Founded in 2018 by Rocio Nunez, Midas Cosmetics is an affordable indie beauty brand known for its colorful palettes and glitters.

Why the Brand Excites Me: From creating bold color stories to collaborating with small creators, Midas Cosmetics is an indie makeup brand that takes risks. Midas frequently collaborates with influencers who do not fit the typical ‘beauty guru’ mold.

Additionally, the brand’s transparency with customers during the release of the Smokey Glow collection impressed me. Both Hannah (Smokey Glow) and Rocio honestly answered buyers questions and allowed concerned fans to cancel orders impacted by the pandemic.

Finally, this indie brand creates affordable products that many cosmetics fans are sure to love. Plus, discount codes and frequent sales make this brand’s products a steal!

Reviews on the way: High Times, Smokey Glow, and Temptation Palettes

Where to Buy: Midas Cosmetics

12 | Nomad Cosmetics | 2015

About the brand: Founded in 2015, travel-inspired Nomad Cosmetics aims to provide users with Cruelty-Free cosmetics free from Phthalates and Parabens. The brand does not only want its consumers to experience high-quality makeup but also the beauty and local character of the different destinations they have been to which is the “creative beginning” of every product they launch. They design their makeup on location to fully capture the captivating sense of the place and take every individual on a journey as they use every product. 

Why the Brand Excites Me: I love the inspiration behind the brand. Each product created has a clear destination-specific inspiration with a unique flare.

Reviews on the way: Berlin Underground Palette

Where to Buy: Nomad Cosmetics

13 | Ofra Cosmetics | 1994

About the brand: OFRA Cosmetics was founded by Ofra and David Gaito in 1994 to provide beauty lovers with professional quality makeup and skincare products. Their products are developed and manufactured in-house and have been a favorite among make-up schools. 

Why the Brand Excites Me: Ofra makes some of my favorite cheek products. From blinding highlighters to creamy bronzers and blushes, I’ve enjoyed every cheek product I’ve tried from the brand.

In fact, the Ofra Highlighters are some of my top-ranking products in my highlighter collection. Check out this in-depth review of the Pillow Talk Highlighter or for this glowing review of the Samantha March Collection.

Where to Buy: Ofra Cosmetics | Ulta Beauty | Beauty Bay | Morphe

14 | Persona Cosmetics | 2016

About the brand: Founded in 2016 by Armenian makeup artist, beauty blogger, and YouTuber, Sona Gasparian and her husband K.B., Persona Cosmetics provides must-have staples created with Sona’s color theory expertise. Moreover, Persona provides inclusive, high-quality products expertly curated and designed to help beauty lovers look and feel their best.

By definition, persona is the aspect of someone’s character that is perceived by others. According to Sona, KB came up with this name years before she launched the brand and it just felt right as it encapsulates what she believes makeup can do for women. 

Why the Brand Excites Me: Not only is Sona one of my favorite YouTubers, but Persona is a favorite makeup brand. I love the way Sona reinvents classic products with a modern twist. Thoughtfully crafted, Persona’s products work for makeup beginners and makeup artists.

Thought I was joking about my love for the brand? Read my review of the Persona Lip Glosses, Liquid Lipsticks, and Identity Palette.

Reviews on the way: Super Blush, Identity 2 Palette, Copper Color Theory Kit, Pink Color Theory Kit

Where to Buy: Persona Cosmetics | Ulta Beauty

15 | Shared Planet | 2019

About the brand: Founded by 17-year-old Aashna Sharma in 2019, Shared Planet is a Cruelty-Free and Vegan Indie brand that donates 10% of all sales towards Panthers & Polar Bears International. The brand features easy to blend shades that are flattering on all skin tones. 

According to Aashna, “I always want Shared Planet to be at the forefront of both eco-friendly innovation and makeup trends, providing our supporters with exactly what they want and expect from us.” With only a year in the industry, Shared Planet has managed to be featured in Boxy Charm and mentioned in British Vogue. 

Why the Brand Excites Me: I love Shared Planet’s mission to support animal protection and conservation for threatened species. Moreover, I am so impressed that Shared Planet was founded by such an accomplished teenager who is passionate about animal conservation.

Reviews on the way: Tiger Palette and Polar Bear Glosses

Where to Buy: Shared Planet

16 | Shroud Cosmetics

About the brand: In 2019 the brand formerly known as Strobe Cosmetics rebranded to Shroud Cosmetics. The rebranding was an attempt to bridge the gap that its founder, Chloe, felt unfolding from starting the brand when she was just sixteen years old. It was also a homage to her (Chloe is legally blind) as shroud meant “to obscure from view”. 

This Cruelty-Free and Vegan indie makeup brand is known for its edgy color stories and fun with color.

Why the Brand Excites Me: The Creepy Cute Palette is a classic and well-loved pastel palette within the beauty community. After hearing or reading so many people rave about this palette, I knew it was time to try it for myself.

Reviews on the way: Arcana Palette, Creepy Cute Palette

Where to Buy: Shroud Cosmetics

17 | SUGARPILL | 2010

About the brand: Founded by Amy Doan in 2010, SUGARPILL aimed to provide the market with gender-inclusive, colorful, Cruelty-Free makeup that other brands seemed afraid to make. Its products are made from their combined love for animals and everything technicolor. The brand is made for beauty rebels who are not afraid to stand out from the crowd.

Why the Brand Excites Me: SUGARPILL has always been a hyped-up and well-loved maker of colorful shadows. I’ve always wanted to try the brand’s shadows – particularly the Fun Sized Palette.

Where to Buy: Sugarpill Cosmetics | Ulta Beauty | Beauty Bay

18 | Sydney Grace Cosmetics

About the brand: Sydney Grace is a high-quality, California-based indie makeup brand that is best known for its diverse range of eyeshadow singles. Founded by sisters Heather and Laura, this concept of the brand was born from a work-from-home mother (Heather) who released her stress by taking on her creative side. The technical formulation of coloring soap with mica was inspired from their mother who used to make soap from goat’s milk. Sydney Grace was named after their daughters. 

Why the Brand Excites Me: Everyone from Mel Thompson to Jen (Jen Luvs Reviews) raves about the Sydney Grace eyeshadow formula. In fact, shadows from this American indie makeup brand are often used to dupe unique, luxury formulas. Click here to read my review of the Enduring Love Palette.

Where to Buy: Sydney Grace Cosmetics

19 | Thrive Causmetics | 2013

About the brand: Thrive Causemetics was founded in 2013 by professional makeup artist, Karissa Bodnar to create beauty with a purpose. Created after the loss of a friend to Cancer, Thrive creates Vegan and Cruelty-Free products. Additionally, the brand donates a portion of all sales to partners who aid women facing cancer, homelessness, and domestic violence.

Why the Brand Excites Me: Not only do I love the brand’s mission, but just looking at Thrive Causemetics’ turquoise packaging makes me feel joyful. So far, I’ve loved everything that I’ve tried from the brand. I like how Thrive Causmetics creates products that create effortless-looking beauty.

Where to Buy: Thrive Causemetics | Ulta Beauty

20 | UOMA Beauty | 2019

About the brand: UOMA Beauty was founded by Sharan Chuter in 2019 to rewrite what it means to be inclusive and diverse. The brand celebrates and accepts people for who they are and not how they look. UOMA is considered the most inclusive black-owned beauty brand. It is a “powerful, contemporary, prestige and culturally irreverent ‘Afropolitan’ beauty brand” empowering the rebellious and the innovative. 

When the company was first launched at ULTA beauty, it had fifty-one shades of foundation in six custom formulas. 

Why the Brand Excites Me: UOMA’s mission resonates with me due to its authentic feeling. Everything the brand puts out exudes empowerment and celebrates badass women, particularly women of color. The brand’s high quality, unique formulations continuously impress me – I’ve even reviewed the brand’s Savage Black Magic Palette.

Reviews on the way: Badass Icon Matte Lipsticks, Say What?! Foundation, Stay Woke Concealer, and Double Take Contour & Highlight

Where to Buy: UOMA Beauty | Ulta Beauty | Beauty Bay

Final Thoughts on the 20 American Indie Makeup Brands You NEED to Try

Technically, I featured 19 American indie makeup brands on this list, since Clionadh Cosmetics is Canadian. However, Canada is still a part of North America, so I had to mention them (plus they really deserve the mention)!

If it wasn’t apparent from this roundup, I love supporting American indie makeup brands. Not only does it make me happy to support a small business owner, but I love seeing people pursuing their creative passions. Many American indie makeup brands are the first to set trends that mainstream brands eventually follow.

Beyond my love of supporting small business, I enjoy seeing how so many American indie brands are Cruelty-Free and 100% Vegan or Vegan-friendly. I hope that more brands follow along with this trend to create inclusive makeup for all to enjoy.