Underground Makeup Brands You Should Know About

Over 700 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of Underground Makeup Brands You Should Know About
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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.

  • 1
    307 votes


    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.

  • 2
    228 votes

    A post shared by DOSE of COLORS (@doseofcolors) on


    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.

  • 3
    227 votes


    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.

  • 4
    197 votes

    A post shared by Melt Cosmetics (@meltcosmetics) on

    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.

  • 5
    169 votes

    A post shared by Jouer Cosmetics (@jouercosmetics) on


    Jouer Cosmetics is the creator of the most popular lipstick on Pinterest. Their rose-gold, metallic liquid lipstick shade "Papaye" was pinned over 187,000 times (and it packs a seriously glittery punch). Despite the popularity of Papaye, Jouer remains relatively unknown. 

    This underground beauty brand was founded a decade ago by Christina Zilber, a hardworking mother and proud daughter of a model. Zilber sought to create unique and wearable makeup that was actually good for your skin.  As a result, every product pulls double duty and she considers the brand "beauty with skincare included."

  • 6
    201 votes

    A post shared by Karity (@karity) on


    Have you ever seen anything as magical as Karity's Unicorn Dreams palette? Good thing it's definitely in your budget; the entire brand was founded with a belief in delivering high quality makeup products at drugstore prices.

    Karity's beginnings are too adorable not to mention. The idea was sparked when founder Isaac Rami realized how much his wife spent on a single stick of eyeliner. He ended up launching his beauty brand using his wife's maiden name with the mission of bringing luxury beauty to every woman, not just the ones who can afford it. His self-funded success landed him on Forbes' 30 under 30 list.