Story Collected by Sarah Hernandez

It was only eight months ago that I really learned about makeup. On occasion I would smudge black eyeliner and blotch a light pink lipstick, but nothing was ever extravagant. I started to frequent makeup forums online and found this huge community of people that loved to share their art of makeup. It was fascinating to me; I researched all the products, ingredients, colors, brand names. I went for it all. Makeup routines in the morning became a relaxing ritual; I would wake up, brew my coffee, and sit on my bathroom counter to apply eyeliner and shade in my eyebrows. 

One day, I read a new post on the community forum about an independent makeup company called Shiro Cosmetics. The post detailed eye shadow swatches on a woman’s wrist of beautiful colors, with sparkling duo chrome sheens. Mother of Dragons? That was the name of one of the shades, which was part of a Game of Thrones collection.This is so cool! I thought, the colors match the characters perfectly! Shiro had created collections based on The Hobbit, The Hunger Games, Pokemon, and even a lip gloss collection based on Nicolas Cage and his ridiculous acting. I never thought a company could ever create makeup based on these media based fandoms that I’ve loved for years, and that was it, I was hooked. 

I learned about eye shadow ingredients used in name brands sold at Sephora that are completely unnecessary to bind the product and can potentially cause irritating skin reactions. I learned that some large makeup companies simply buy Mica, the primary ingredient in eye shadow, to repackage and sell it at a higher price. I learned about the corrupt business practices behind many corporate makeup companies that indie companies actively rebel against. I learned that the owners of indie makeup companies actually engage in the community, that there is no separation between customer and business owner. I learned through conversations on Facebook, indie companies create “colors of the month” that the community votes on. I learned that being completely vegan or at the very least properly labeling if a product is vegan or not vegan is a strict norm in the indie makeup community. I learned that using local and organic plant-based ingredients is essential to indie companies that sell skincare products. I learned that you can have a conversation with the owner of an indie company about what ingredients actually mean and do. I learned that owners love to show their workspace and process of making the products, like a behind the scenes tour. I learned how plants like bamboo, pumpkin, jojoba, argan, candelilla, carnauba, coconut, and avocado can be used in different makeup recipes.

I realized that indie makeup companies are sustainable in their own unique way. In creating a community with no communicative distance from consumers, sustaining local practices, using ethical and environmentally friendly ingredients, and ultimately creating a new model of production that goes against the corporate norm, indie companies fill their own unique cultural niche of what it means to be sustainable. They redefine what it means to be independent by creating community and collective consciousness with the consumer, which ironically ends up seeming so far removed to major corporate makeup companies on the market today. I finally have come to my own understanding of the catchphrase “buy local.” My peaceful morning makeup ritual is now filled with thoughts about the creative labor of love that went into making shadows like “Still No Oscar For Leo DiCaprio.”