Makeup Junkie

Underground Makeup Brands You Should Know About  

Jessica L. Yarbrough
3.3k votes 727 voters 24k views 11 items

List Rules Vote up the underground beauty brands you cannot wait to try.

We know you've got a special relationship to the MAC counter and a slight addiction to Rihanna's all-inclusive makeup wares, but these underground beauty brands might just be the thing you didn't know your beauty routine was missing. From Melt's brightly colored, highly-pigmented eyeshadow stacks to the Jouer's sold-out, Pinterest-famous liquid lipsticks, these up-and-coming cosmetics brands give us an extra oomph that's often overlooked by your regular department store offerings.

Awesome makeup doesn’t have to the break the bank and indie brands like Karity, Makeup Geek, and ColourPop give us quality that rivals designer duds with a price tag doesn't make us cry. In fact, if you're looking for a good designer dupe, ColourPop might just be the first place you should look. Not to mention, this makeup is mostly ethical, with skin-improving ingredients that aren't tested on animals. Where the big players like Nars, L'Oreal and Estee Lauder have to test on animals to break into the Chinese market, these indie brands play by their own rules. From Milk Makeup and their holographic minimalism to Jeffree Star and his uniquely bold lip colors, these underrated companies are absolutely beauty brands you need to know.

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ColourPop may have finally worked its way into Sephora, but the underground makeup brand first rose to success by offering an intense range of bold pressed pigments at drugstore prices. Most times, ColourPop's price tag will beat out your local Walgreens. They're the Forever 21 of beauty - fast fashion for your face

The cruelty-free brand launched in 2014 after testing all their products on their actual employees instead of bunnies in a lab.  While you can expect that clothes from a fast fashion brand just won't be the same after a single wash, ColourPop's Super Shock Shadow packs a real punch. The formula is highly pigmented (especially when applied with a finger instead of a brush), and it's buttery soft.


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If you're looking for a lipstick that's wearable and doesn't budge, you'd be hard-pressed to find something better than Dose of Colors. The brand rose to cult status after launching in 2013 solely because of the sheer quality of their vegan and cruelty-free products.

Dose of Colors was founded by Anna Petrosian, a makeup artist with a decade of experience, to truly give makeup lovers a dose of color. Her vision fought against a sad reality where we regularly suffered through sheer, poorly pigmented beauty buys. The brand's wildly opaque matte liquid lipstick has more nudes than a person could reasonably count including muted mauves and sand-kissed taupes.


The blog-turned-makeup brand was launched by YouTube star Marlena Stell. Since its beginnings hawking brushes and eyeshadows, it's expanded to almost every makeup product under the sun. The website has anything and everything a beauty lover could need from gorgeous duo-chrome eyeshadows that rival MAC's quality to pressed pigments and eyeliners.

The brand's success can be contributed to their insanely swift customer service and their dedication to makeup education. They don't just slam you with some eyeshadows and no idea how to use them. The website is chock-full of tutorials and inspiration from Marlena herself (for experts and beginners alike). They even have an entire idea gallery if you're lacking that special spark to make your next look wow.


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From the time Melt Cosmetics was founded by two friends in 2013 to now, it's amassed a whopping 2.7 million Instagram followers. This independent beauty brand did it all with hard work as co-founder Lora Arellano went from being the girl behind the beauty counter to landing a gig as Rihanna's makeup artist.  

The beauty brand always had bold colors in mind and launched to fill a hole in a market that saw tons of pink and red-tinged lipsticks but hardly any blues, greens, and purples. Since then, the brand's eyeshadow stacks have made them a beauty mainstay. Their Radioactive Stack has a vibrancy that is unmatched.