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Heavens, I wasn't a huge part of the indie cosmetic scene in 2011, and part of me is glad. I have read so many blogs, comments, even wikipedia pages about other indie brands (about 10, some that are still in business) who have had quite bad reputations. Some of the negative reviews seem to be warranted (namely when cosmetic brands use NOT eye approved neon soap dyes in their eyeshadows) some seem personal. I dont think it is fair to talk about any of the other brands, I hate drama, and would hate to drag down any brands even more, seriously some of the posts seem brutal (but I can understand, I have read horror stories of eye infections, mold growing in eyeliners, and death threats.) I would be mad as a customer too. I thought a blog post on the topic might be helpful to shoppers out there. I have never bought from another indie brand (as I make my own makeup, don't see the need, although there are some really pretty brands out there, if I didn't make my own makeup I would definitely buy from), I never had such horrific experiences, so I feel I am not biased to one side.
So first I must say, don't let the negativity get to you (UNLESS a HEALTH ISSUE!!!) Give a makeup company the benefit of the doubt. Most of the times I think people are trying to do their best, and one bad review shouldn't ruin a company. I mean if all you see are negative reviews, I would keep that in mind, and be aware of that. But just be kind! As a small business owner I feel for companies that get negative reviews, when you work so hard on a product, and it is dashed to pieces it hurts, before leaving a bad review always contact the owner, see if they can fix the problem! : )
OK. There are a few brands I read about, there are some very insightful blog posts on the topic. but really there were a few issues most brands had that created a "scandal". If you are unsure of a brand you can easily google search their name with the words scandal, avoid, drama, ect to find any negative posts (if there are any)
What to look for:
* Using soap dyes (are not eye approved) Usually bright neon colors
* "Repackaging Micas" (without adding any fillers to make it a actual eyeshadow)
* Repackaging wholesale items (and saying they are handmade, paint pots, ect)
* Bad customer service (threatening legal action, deleting/ blocking questions)
* Copying images, text, ideas
* Claiming organic
So let me explain my thoughts on some of the negative points.
A few years back quite a few indie brands used soap dyes (which are unsafe for the eye area, some FDC dyes are safe for the eye area, but not all are) in their eyeshadows. Soap dyes are usually BRIGHT neon, and create intense (yet unsafe) eyeshadow colors. I don't think most of the brands were doing this to hurt their customers, I think they were unaware of what they were doing (not familiar with the FDA regulations. Which is no excuse. The FDA doesn't have much control over cosmetics on the market, so you have to be VERY careful with what you buy and use. The FDA lists what ingredients are not permitted for eye use, but it is up to the makeup brand to make and sell SAFE cosmetics. With any business endeavor you need to know what you are getting into, you need to know what is safe and what is not safe, especially when you are dealing with peoples health and sight. To me this was the scariest, because people can and have had allergic reactions, rashes, and health issues, even blindness (not from soap dyes, atleast not that I know of) from unsafe eye products. I haven't heard of this happening recently, but keep an eye out for ingredients, and if you are buying neon colors, make sure you know what the colorant is (you should be able to ask the seller this, they should be able to provide you with information) From there you can check to see if the colorant is listed as eye safe on fda.org
Although this is not illegal, alot of people find issue with brands who resell products. As a person who makes cosmetics I can break down the process, and explain it in a way that hopefully helps. When making eyeshadows you need a few ingredients, I use a few different ingredients, such as Zinc Oxide, Titanium dioxide, kaolin clay, serecite, iron oxides, ect. Along with what I would call my "fillers" my white base listed above, I use Iron oxides, ultramarines, and manganese violet ALONG with micas to color my eyeshadows. Mica is actually clear in its natural form, but manufacturers can add a sheet of color to them (usually Iron oxides, ultamarine, and other natiral colorants, or even FDC dyes) this creates a sparkly colored powder you can use in cosemtics to add small hints of color.
Mica, even colored mica, is technically just a pigment not a finished product. SO some brands instead of adding ingredients (fillers, white bases which help increase coverage, adhesion, slip, ect) just sold the plain pigment mica. So they would go online pick out a pigment color they liked, opened the bag, and just poured it into a container and sold it. Which customers dislike because they could basically do it themselves and save the markup price.
Some people also seem to use the term "repackaging" when a pigment mica color is not changed. So if a brand buys a pigment and doesn't add another pigment to it to change the color, even if they do add other ingredients to it, people find that dishonest. Many brands use pigments and don't alter the color, but do make it into a eyeshadow product.I don't find that dishonest at all, as you are taking a raw ingredient and turning it into a finished cosmetic. The mica is treated as a colorant, and along with other pigments, and base ingredients you create a unique color. I can see how if a company NEVER made a original color, that would be a problem. Again this is my opinion, and others may disagree.
Repackaging Wholesale items:
Some sellers buy products wholesale and sell them as their own. I know this is a common practce for spas, makeup artist, and other small businesses. I personally don't do this, I don't know if it is illegal but I just don't see the point. As long as a brand is not LYING and saying they are personally making the makeup, and they aren't (which has happened). Again most people don't want to buy something they could have made themselves for cheaper.
Bad customer service:
Well, there is so much on this topic, I cannot even cover everything... But basically there have been brands that have done shady things to their customers. Again I would read reviews, just be aware of how a brand answers questions, does business, and fixes problems.
Copying Images, text, ideas:
I am actually surprised at how often this goes on. I try to make sure I avoid this at all costs, it is one thing to be inspired by something, another to blatantly copy a image and use it for advertising.
Wheew running out of steam. Again I have heard horror stories of people buying eyeliner that grew mold (had water and no preservatives), brands making makeup in unsanitary conditions, (around food, pets, without gloves, without masks, without hair pulled back) Again, rememeber ANYONE can sell makeup, makeup does not have to be tested for safety, so you have to be careful. Always ask before you buy, how they make it, what precautions are taken to ensure the safety of the consumer (some brands might be offended at this question) But personally I am proud to explain how I make sure my eyeshadows are safe, and any other brand that goes out of there way to ensure safety, will be happy to explain their procedures. Its your health, and they should understand and respect that!
This is a often misunderstood topic. NO MINERAL MAKEUP is organic, it is not mined from the earth, as they would be unpure and unsafe. Ingredients are created in a lab to ensure there are no heavy metals and minerals that could harm users. So really you cannot claim your makeup is organic if you are using minerals.
I guess in ending, I just want to remind everyone we are all human, and sometimes we might make mistakes due to accidents, stupidity, or plain ignorance. Don't give up on indie brands, there are so many pretty awesome brands out there that would love for you to give them a chance. Hope this helped and let me know if you have any questions/ comments! Thanks for reading : )