I have been asked many times since starting my blog about how I determine which independent mineral makeup companies to buy from and which ones to avoid. I had never used very many indie brands before starting this blog so it has been a process of trial and error for me. While there is no exact science to picking a perfect indie company to support there are several things that you can look out for while shopping online.
1. Look at their reviews!
This is kind of a no-brainer I know. The first thing I usually do when deciding if I want to buy from an indie company is to google their name + review. Usually there will be at least a few blog reviews for you to look at even if it's a newer company. Be wary if you can't find a review or if you find multiple well-written negative reviews. Also check out Youtube to see if anyone has done a video review. This should give you a pretty good idea of what kind of customer service and product you are going to get. Checking out color swatches from other customers can be helpful in not only determining if you want to purchase from that company, but it can also help you decide which colors you'd like to buy.
2. Check out their Facebook fan page!
Many indie mineral makeup businesses have turned to facebook to help promote their products. This is an excellent tool if you're looking to find out more about how that particular business operates. Watch the interactions on their fan pages. Are they courteous and friendly to customers? Do they frequently respond to feedback and questions about their shop? Do they respond respectfully to negative feedback/customer complaints? These fan pages can be a great way to gauge how reputable these businesses are. Do be cautious when ordering if: they are rude or disrespectful to their customers, have a closed wall, frequently erase comments, or you notice otherwise unprofessional behavior. Many business reward their facebook fans with great flash sales and giveaways so it's always good to support them on facebook anyways.
3. Do they sell repackaged makeup? Are they honest about it?
Now let me be clear before anyone gets their panties in a twist. I have no problem with people who sell repackaged makeup if they are 100% honest about it. In fact a lot of makeup companies do this for certain eyeshadow shades (in example: Beauty from the Earth). Some companies are not forth coming about this information and will pretend they formulated the makeup themselves in their "lab" (in example: Lime Crime).
There's nothing wrong with this makeup, in fact many shades are quite pretty. A business that respects your patronage will always be honest about what things are handmade and what isn't.
The topic of repackaged makeup is something that is coming up quite frequently lately. I do plan to do a more in-depth post on specifically this subject in the near future. Repackaged makeup is not just limited to mineral makeup by any means. In the mean time, here are a few blog posts that I feel are excellent sources to find out a little bit more about this: Little Pink Blog, Painted Ladies, Lipstick and Lightsabers, PopChampagne
4. Are they upfront about their ingredients?
This biggest factor in deciding to purchase from a company for me really depends on what is in the actual makeup itself. Do they list all the ingredients on their website? Do they follow all FDA labeling guidelines? This is something you should always ask about if you are unsure of. A professional business will tell you upfront what is in their makeup. If they won't tell you it's probably safe to say that you don't want to buy it.
Now if you aren't an expert at mineral makeup that's okay (I'm not either!) just keep in mind to avoid the following ingredients:
-Bismuth Oxychloride- An inexpensive filler that can cause skin irritation and itching.
-Parabens- (Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben,.) - Increases risk of breast cancer.
-Talc- A cheap filler that can cause severe respiratory irritation.
-FDC Lakes and Dyes- Studies have shown that dyes/lakes can have a neuro-toxic effect on the brain.
-Propylene Glycol- Permanently damages cells, linked to contact dermatitis, auto toxicity, kidney damage,
and liver abnormalities, may cause gastro-intestinal disturbances, nausea, headache, vomiting, and central nervous system depression.
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfate- A harsh detergent used to break down the surface tension of water. It may damage the outer layer of skin.
For more information regarding FDA guidelines for cosmetic labeling please see: Cosmetic Labeling Manual
And for more information regarding FDA approved color additives please see: Color Additives Permitted for Cosmetic Use
5. Talk to people!
Here's another easy step you can take towards making an informed purchase: just talk to people! Talk to other people who have purchased from that particular business. The internet has a host of makeup-related social networking sites/forums where makeup artists and aficionados converge on their favorite (and sometimes not-so-favorite) brands. Use that to your advantage. Are your friends really into makeup? Maybe they have tried a few of the brands you are interested in and can give your their opinion. Again, check out Youtube to see if anyone is mentioning this brand in their videos. It never hurts to ask around if you are unsure.
If none of these methods are useful to you, or if a business is super new and there just isn't a lot of info yet -BUY SAMPLES! It never hurts to try a sample or 2 before you make a large purchase. Many of these businesses even offer special deals on sample packs of multiples. It'll give you a good idea of what you're going to get and it'll show some support for a small business just starting out. Everybody wins.
Hopefully you found this somewhat helpful. Please leave your own tips for finding a great indie company in the comments below.