Be An Informed Cosmetics Makeup Buyer, Don’t Be Duped!

Hey Dolls & Guys,

This is an open letter from me to you, on how NOT to be duped this season when making some online cosmetics and makeup purchases.

Long story short, a YouTube video popped into my Google Reader about a company (which shall remain unnamed, unless you email me specifically for the link). This video was their rebuttal to people defaming their products. Simple enough, right? Happens ALL the time. So really and truly this isn’t a big deal because that’s what happens on the Internet.

Haters are a way of life…except when you type “[Company X] repackaged” into Google and pages upon pages of product reviews start showing up.

That’s the purpose of this post, to tell you about suppliers, how to spot a fakes etc.

So what did I find out?

First of all, there are a few companies out there that produce mineral makeup:-

TKB Trading

(wholesaler – does NOT
sell finished eye shadows!)

You might want to check out companies like Coastal Scents who will sell you 92 mica shadows, to do your bidding with. Better yet the people at Coastal Scents will tell you HOW to make your own mineral makeup by breaking it down in to Ingredient Categories for you to purchase your stuff from. They are another popular wholesaler.

Before you buy any makeup from Etsy, or any other “homegrown” mineral makeup brand, I highly recommend that you visit these three websites and compare/contrast what you are seeing.

Why buy a pretty repackaged brand, when you can get the SAME thing cheaper, custom make your own and get it directly from the supplier for a fraction of the cost?

There is a trend going around that basically, a company pops up, purchases from TKB adds some shimmer, or extra black oxide, or simply doesn’t do anything to the original shade at all — they repackage it and sell it at a 600% markup.

  • NOT a Call out Against the Indie Makeup Movement

Now, before, we take this any further. This is NOT a call out or an anti-Indie, homegrown makeup movement post. If you recall, I have reviewed some of these brands on my blog and loved them. I Touch Roses is one of them. So keep that in mind. This post is not meant to be anti-Indie anything.

  • Know Who Repackages and Who Doesn’t

For example, someone who comes clean about repackaging, but also mixes their own customs shades, is a company called Beauty from the Earth.  BFTE tells you on their website, up front and center that, yes they do repackage, but they also custom make some of their own shades. They are one of the few being transparent. No harm, no foul.

  • How Much $$$$ Will it Cost You?

So what the hell does that mean?

That means, that while you are spending $12-$16 USD for an eyeshadow from one of these companies, you could be getting a pure pigment from MAC Cosmetics or Urban Decay or a similar NAME BRAND, mixed by PROFESSIONALS for CHEAPER.

How did I figure that out?

If you’re spending, $12.00 USD for a 0.07oz jar of one of these “homegrown” mineral companies, that equates to over $170.00 USD per ounce of eyeshadow. When it works out, MAC for example, is around $74.00 USD per ounce.

I bet you were out there thinking MAC was a luxury brand and too expensive, so you thought you would do with the “homegrown” stuff.

Jessica Allison’s Beauty Blog said it best.

Basically, I’m not saying go buy MAC or Chanel or Urban Decay or anything else.

What I am saying is when you go to a website, look at what ingredients they are using to make the makeup they are selling to you. Does it look identical to a wholesaler? What about the color, does it, again, look identical to a wholesaler?

If it does, and the website is charging something like $12.00 for 0.09oz for the shadow — you are better off going elsewhere.

  • Think Before You Buy

Think about it.

Don’t take my word for it, don’t take JA’s word for it. I’ve never tested out any of the brands on JA’s blog above except MAC. I’m just saying think about the information that is out there and do what you will with what is being given to you.

Educate yourself.

  • Understanding Colours

I’m not saying this doesn’t happen all the time. It’s actually quite common. My mom goes to these professional conventions every year and she’s always coming home with samples. Trade companies go to these seminars and sell the product to salons telling them they can easily print the salon name on it. Then TA-DA! You have your own brand.

There is no copyright on color. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chosen not to buy the latest fad of makeup because guess what? I already had it, just from another brand. Even then, a lot of major brands are guilty of copying themselves and barely realizing it. For example, I fell in total and complete love with the MAC Loves Barbie Collection. Guess what? I was less in love with Heatherette or Hello Kitty because, besides MAC Loves Barbie, I’ve seen those colours before…or something VERY similar from MAC themselves.

So it is common and something you should be aware of before you go makeup crazy and buy it because it’s some awesome fad.

If you are buying Indie makeup — ask them about it. Ask them about their products. These companies are typically not hobbies and are run as real businesses by real people.

They are there to help you and answer your questions.

So ask. If they respond honestly and try to help you — that’s a good sign.

  • How Do They Do It?

Below are two example of how colours are honestly made. You can see a real and honest company who makes their stuff from scratch called Aromaleigh below and then you can also see how TKB helps people make their own stuff too.

Also, keep in mind, that just like Aromaleigh says, there is lot that you need to know before deciding to become a makeup manufacturer. That’s why she puts that up front in her video to know that it’s not just about mixing pigments to make a shadow. Knowing some chemistry will help you too!

Check these good ones out:-

From TKB Trading

From Aromaleigh

From Morgana Minerals
Someone sent this to me to show you how legit people make their own vegan lipsticks!

In my same set of hours reading one article after another (I felt like a grown up Nancy Drew) I came across a movement called Mineral Mutiny that was started to support Indie Mineral Makeup/Cosmetics brands that actually *do* make they own stuff and don’t just repackage. It another place worth checking out before you make any purchases.

They update with who is a legit and honest company aka who is safe to buy from in terms of no repackaging and making their own stuff.

This is a great help to anyone who is interested in purchasing mineral makeup and doesn’t know where to start.

  • We all love eBay. So how To Spot Fake MAC Cosmetics Products?

I put this in here because MAC is one of the companies that gets the most fakes being sold on eBay. It’s like a disease. So if you wanted to know how to spot fakes — here you go.


  1. MAC’s pigments go for about $19 a jar. If you’re getting it on eBay for less than $10 (even then), I would be worried. Supply and demand folks.
  2. Is there a protective hard plastic cover over the pigment jar? If there isn’t, that’s fishy. (on top of the hard FLAT [aka no inverted cone] lid, there are numbers stamped on top)
  3. Read descriptions, “like MAC” or “similar to MAC” does NOT make it MAC Cosmetics.
  4. Original boxes. Does it have one?
  5. Quality. When you put on the MAC pigment does it come off? Is it a little tough to blend “out” (i.e.) get rid of or lighten)? If it is, it’s MAC. Their pigments are concentrated.


  1. ALL of MAC’s products come with a barcode UPC code printed at the bottom of the box. Look for it. It’s not a sticker.
  2. ALL of MAC’s products come with a box that is slightly matte in finish. Black boxes, white boxes, brown boxes, special edition boxes…it’s part of their colour ‘branding.’ Learn it.
  3. The names of the shade is written at the bottom.
  4. A##, B##  is a serial number.
  5. BOTH the shade name and the serial number are at the bottom of EVERY single product.
  6. There is a small circle sticker, in black, on the top right-hand corner of each box with the NAME of the product.
  7. On the actual compact, at the bottom, there is a small amount of lettering that is raised.


  1. Always a black sticker at the bottom, with the “finish” on it (i.e) Veluxe Pearl, Satin etc.)
  2. Fake MAC eyeshadow pods are typically THICKER. Why? Because you can flip them open like a regular compact and there is a little sponge on the inside. Real MAC shadows don’t come like that…ever. Products and accessories are ALWAYS separate.
  3. The shadow itself is inlaid. It’s set down into the pod. Fakes — they’re a  bit raised or just laid on top. <———- Look at the HINGES on the back. Single = REAL. Double = FAKE. Rounded Hinges = REAL. Square Hinges = FAKE.


  1. Just ask the seller for more pictures of the actual product, if no box is available. If they are real — they’ll send them to you, details and all.
  • Be Safe

Take a look at the Cosmetics Database here. Know who had harmful products in their cosmetics and who doesn’t.

Phyrra, from the Fresco Phyrra blog, sent me a link to a guide she put together on how to buy Mineral Makeup. It’s a guest post on the blog Painted Ladies. Take a read here.

Also, Phyrra, has a list on her blog of people that she knows who make their own stuff. It doesn’t hurt to read it, here.

Words to be wise:-

Before making any online purchasing from an Indie or Lesser Known Brand (i.e.) not Chanel, Urban Decay, MAC, NARS etc.) type in “[Company X] repackaged” into Google and take the time to read what you find.

Don’t be scared or put off by Mineral Makeup or “homegrown” companies. NOTHING is wrong with them. Like I said, one of my favourite brands of makeup, that I reviewed on this blog, is I Touch Roses.

Just know what you are buying before you do. Just because it’s a Brand Name doesn’t make it amazing and just because it’s an Indie label doesn’t make it bad. Weigh the options yourself and understand what you are looking at/trying to buy.

Be a smart




Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ and has been a makeup artist with MAC Cosmetics since 2004 in Florida. She has over 10-years experience in professional makeup. If you live in South Florida and are looking to hire a makeup artist, or if you just want some makeup advice, send her your inquires here.

Copyright © 2009 SashaH. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Great post, very informative!!! TY for link

  2. you are welcome Samantha, I hope more people find good use out of this article!

  3. Hi your article isn't actually accurate in a few aspects.

    TKB Trading is a wholesaler of mica, as is Coastal Scents. There are several other companies that sell mica wholesale.

    Pure Luxe is a mineral makeup company, and certainly not the major company in the industry.

    I actually wrote a guide to how to shop for quality mineral makeup earlier this week, which you can see here:

  4. Great article, Sasha! Very informative. It's amazing what's out there if you look for it. I love your “recessionista fashionista” series!

  5. Thanks, I just edited the article a bit to reflect the difference between wholesalers and retailers above.

    I'm looking at your link now, thanks for sharing it with me.

    If you have any other information you would like to share, please do! I would love to update this article and make it more accurate!

    Email me at


  6. I really have mixed feelings about this post (and all those that popped up regarding repackaging mineral makeup)… On one hand, thank you for pointing out there are those who make their own stuff and those who don't. It's something I fumed about myself when I first started my business, especially when I saw some brands clearly just slap their labels on repackaged stuff and resell. On the other hand, I do appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit of all these companies, even if they're just reselling. Creating a successful business is not just about the products (although it is a VERY IMPORTANT aspect), but more importantly, the BRANDING of the business. If a company is spending more resources and energy in creating the BRAND (PR, marketing, packaging, customer service, etc.) than creating the products and becomes successful, good for them that their business strategy works.

    The longer I'm in the business, the more I realize that are actually an whole array of wholesale companies out there who rely on these resellers. These wholesale companies stay in business by providing the resellers products. I'm not just talking about makeup, but everything from shampoo to lotion to detergents. And this is not limited to the personal care/cosmetics industry. Without the resellers to purchase their products, the wholesalers can't stay in business. Some wholesalers might dabble into the retail business (e.g. TKB), and some retailers dabble into the wholesaling business (e.g. Pureluxe). But it's the wholesale-retail relationship that provides variety (brand identities, price points, etc.) Remember, even the wholesalers have to buy their stuff somewhere and not mining the micas or minerals themselves. If one truly wants to find great bargin, she should go straight to the very bottom of the supply chain where she can buy tons for micas from the mining company dirt cheap (pum intended). But then, I doubt the wholesalers will tell you who THEIR wholesalers are…

    Obviously it's not okay for a company to claim THEY make the products when they are only repackaging coz that's lying. But I do want to point out a few things:
    — Mineral makeup ingredients can be very simple. Some colors might consist of only 1 or 2 ingredients, espeically if a raw ingredient by itself looks stunning on skin. Mineral makeup IS an ancient form of makeup and back in the Cleopetra days there were a lot of processing technique available.
    — Pure mineral makeup needs so little ingredients so just because the ingredient lists of any 2 companies are the same it doesn't mean 1 is repackaging from another. The ratio of ingredients plays a HUGE part of any formula.
    — Sometimes in attempts to create “unique” formulas, companies start putting things in their products just so their products are different from everyone else. This is when the mineral makeup market starts getting “liquid mineral makeup”, “mineral makeup with vitamins”, “mineral makeup with vibrating brush”, etc. Some people call it varitey; others call it muddling…

    Sorry I didn't mean to write an novel on your blog (again!)…

  7. Thanks for the helpful hints, Sasha! Looking forward to more “recessionista fashionista” posts. 🙂

  8. Hi Amy,

    No worries, thank you so much for providing such an informative post!

    A few links that were shared with met hat I think you mind find interesting:-

    Okay — other things:-

    Some of the companies out there brand really well and these people are very well business-minded.

    But I think that there is a distinct difference between people who do it honestly and people who lie.

    I have an ethics issue with that. Especially, as someone in PR, and not as beauty manufacturer. I think ethics are so important and people who go out there and seemingly lie about their products to the masses, but then produce these amazing 'brands' — it makes me sad.

    The thing about wholesalers is that — they can sell their stuff regardless, since they are the source.

    My whole thing about some of these repackaged products is that they are being sold for about 600% more than the original and more than a “designer” or “luxury” brand name makeup label.

    That's not just making a killing, that's a brutal murder. It's so unfair the consumer.

    I love the points your made about how mineral makeup is made. Those are excellent tidbits to know and thank you so much for sharing them.

    Someone else who read this post, sent me an email and explained to me that what they would assume is happening with some of the people who repackage, is that they repackage and add shimmer or or mica or 1 other thing to the product to give it body. Since the pigments from the wholesalers aren't finished eye shadows.

    It's an interesting thing going on and it's sad to be honest.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Amy!

  9. I disagree with you on a few points.

    Whilst wholesalers may get some revenue from repackagers, I don't feel this absolves the repackagers from their moral responsibility, particularly when some of them apply outrageous mark-ups, like 4000% in the case of one shall-not-be-named company.

    Is it supplying the wholesaler with business? Yes. Is it all of their business? No. In addition to the individuals you mention there are plenty more mineral make-up companies which purchase their mica wholesale from TKB and other places so that they can actually – uh – make their own products? So they can blend it with “fillers” like your website says (i.e. products like Sericite Mica coated with Carnauba Wax for instance to aid adhesion, long-wear and blendability) and different mica in order to create their own shades, or finishes, and create a finished product.

    I myself have used pure mica from a variety of sources, and whilst it can show up beautifully on the skin, it ISN'T a finished eyeshadow, it's an ingredient.

    If a company blends their own colours using mica, that's not repackaging, but neither is it really creating eyeshadows. I disagree with your assertion that companies only add extra things in for the sake of it to make the ingredients list look different – many companies spend time and effort coming up with a formula which uses ingredients other than simply mica in order to make an eyeshadow smoother, more long wearing, oil-absorbing, or simply apply better without a base.

    Yes, Cleop(a)tra almost certainly used iron oxides etc and other minerals in her make-up back in the day, but I like to think with the creation of the FDA things have moved on a bit since then. The Victorians used to use lead, mercury and deadly nightshade in their beauty regieme, and we all don't think that's a good “natural” idea.

    I'm not trying to attack you or your company (which I have no experience with), but I do reject the assertion that simpler is always better and than companies who sell anything other than pure mica are adding gimmicks or fillers.

  10. Hi Anastasia,

    Thank you for your comments.

    One of the things you pointed out that I find to be extremely important and that I included in my post was the issue of companies, like Aromaleigh (above in post), that say you need to know what you're doing. Making mineral makeup isn't about blending colours, there is a technique, there are things that you do to make something brighter, smoother, shine more, etc.

    I think that's the mark of someone in the industry who isn't repackaging but who is honestly developing their business and being true to the Indie makeup industry.

    I think that the Indie industry is a great thing to be honest, some of the things I've come across are by far better than some brand named stuff.

    With quality producers and people keeping tabs on the repackagers, I think the industry can ultimately thrive and expand.

  11. I agree completely, Sasha. I read your original post but held off on commenting because I knew Phyrra was going to get in touch and correct a few things.

    I'm in Advertising myself, so I really love and admire companies with a strong brand image, but if they don't provide either the same product cheaper, or a unique product to back it up, then I don't believe they deserve to stay in business and I'm certainly not willing to pay an outrageous mark-up for an identical product in order to faciliate them.

    With designers you at least get the notoriety of the brand label, but that simply doesn't work with indie companies because they're too small/unheard of to carry a social value on their name.

    If a company is up-front about it and people want to support them anyway, that's fine. If they aren't, I think it's tantamount to fraud and they should be reprimanded for it.

    As a blogger, I'm delighted to support the Mutiny's efforts and as a consumer, I won't again purchase from a company without their seal of approval. I don't want to worry that I might be getting ripped off, I don't want to support ANY make-up company which doesn't agree with honesty & creating your own, artisanal products (whether they do or not), and I want to add incentive and value to the award with my own limited buying power.

  12. Thanks Alexis! 🙂

  13. Thanks Krista! 🙂

  14. Anastasia, I agree that even repackaging or reselling, a company should do it ethically. 4000% mark-up is crazy. I wish I could make that kind of profit and still stay in business… And as I mentioned, it is NEVER okay to lie about the products.

    But now we're starting to get into the territories of personal preferences. Some people like their products as pure as possible so they mix them in their kitchens (I'm just talking about consumers here, not companies); others don't care so much so they buy whatever that's cheapest, prettiest, most brand-recognized, etc off the shelves. Then there are those in between… they make some, they choose and buy some selectively. I'm more on the purist side, and that's what my products reflect. (After all I'm in Oregon, the Tree-hugger state) The great thing is there ARE a variety of products & formulas for every need and every taste.

    I do want to clarify that I do not think mineral makeup should contain only micas, because there ARE a lot more going into a product than just micas. Can an eyeshadow contain just a single mica? If that's what someone likes, why not? Can a mineral eyeshadow contains 10-20 ingredients? If that's what works somebody, sure! Whether a non-mineral ingredient is a filler or not that's debatable since all ingredients have some kind of purpose. Whether these ingredients are beneficial to consumers is all subjective.

    I'm really not trying to defend any particular company or companies, but simply stating what I've observed. I am in no position to tell others how to run their business (I have enough of my own business to worry about). I do feel for other small/indie businesses (whether they are repackager/resellers or not) because I'm part of that community. Companies that scam their customers will get theirs in the end (I hope so!). And as I mentioned, repackaging is not limited to just the mineral makeup or cosmetics business. It's in the businesses of motor oil, food, cars, clothing or electronics… everything! All we can do is making informed decisions when it comes to buying. Eventually the market will work itself out.

    Just a random thought… If people have no problem spending big $$$ on Name Brand products, do you think they would still buy them if they found out the products came from the same factory and design of some No-Name Brands (i.e. a wholesaler supplying the same product to both Name and No-Name brands)? Would they think it's the No-Name copying the Name Brand? Or would they switch to buying from the No-Name (i.e. generic)?

  15. Really excellent and informative post. Consumers totally have the right to know these things and the cosmetic industry isn't exactly known for their transparency. I personally prefer Urban Decay to Mac because Urban Decay is 100% Vegan. Mac claims to be “cruelty free” but their claim is sketchy, at best. Their well intended sales representatives aren't really informed about the production process behind animal hair makeup brushes. Again, congrats for such a well informed consumer oriented story.

  16. Hi Susanna,

    Thank you so much! I'm glad you like it and found it helpful. I've tried to hammer out anything that was a little inaccurate at the beginning and had two great people email me some new information. So I'm confident the article is very accurate now.

    I love that Urban Decay is Cruelty Free as well! Have you tried their Ink for Eyes eyeliners? I have a few and they are superb! I really love them.

    As for MAC, I don't know about that. And you point on the animal hair brushes opened up my eyes. I didn't think about that before. That would make an excellent article or research project! *the gears are turning* 🙂

    Thanks again Susanna!

  17. desja1475 says:

    I am looking to get into the make-up buying industry. I have over 15 years experience in make-up application. Have done everything from retail sales in a department store to freelance. Any advice on how to get started doing this online?

  18. I know nothing personally but I have friends who have been to “farms” where they harvest the hair for brushes. Not specifically MAC mind you, but for badger and squirrel brushes. The animals were kept in “large outdoor-like rooms”, very used to humans and were brushed with de-shedding combs to get the fur. I like to think it's always like that *weak smile*

  19. Reading this brought out the knowledge I got which is hidden long time now. This was really full of tips and such stuffs that helped me discover new things.

  20. Hello,

    So i came upon your blog while reading all the drama on lime crime…i read her blog like about a year or so, i then noticed she started to change into “candy” stuff…so it hit me, she is friends with some girl named PaintHead..who's blog i started to read, which i learned from Doedeere blogs…i noticed Doedeere blog started to “copy” paintheads…it's slight, but you can see it…now i am keeping quite of this because i want to gather some more evidence…..but Xenia blog started gearing into candy and colors..blah blah…
    that is what painthead blog is about…so time goes on and i notice that when i read paint's blog a few days later i see doe makes a similar post..i thought at first is was a coincidence..but no it kept going and still is

    Here are some proof…you can also tell by the DATES..who wrote it first and you can tell she is looking at her blog, i follow paint's and i can tell Doe is looking
    at her blog…..let's keep this shhhhh for now until we get more stuff, then we can expose her on this scam as well.

    Proof 1:
    I saw this post on painthead's blog
    about packaging and then Doe writes this post, how she is re making her package for her make-up

    Proof 2:
    Paint did a post on snow and added a photo of her front
    then doe makes a post, kinda the same photo??

    Proof 3:
    Paint does a post on “guyliner”

    then Doe does as well, days later

    Proof 4:
    Then paint does a post on sugar pill, and how amy “shrinkle” started in EBAY

    Doe then writes about her “days in ebay”

    Proof 5:
    Paint makes a post on how everyone is going made for Alice in wonderland, like from dolls to nail polish

    Doe makes a post on that topic as well, and uses the SAME O.P.I nail polish photo

    Proof 6:
    This one takes the cake…she is
    also looking at older post of hers..paint did a post a year ago on this pretty dress
    by Mori lee

    and Doe does this post on it

    She is CLEARLY copying and looking at painthead's blog..stealing her post because she can't come up with her own.
    Makes you wonder , where she gets her ideas from, she is not at all original, she is a lier, and even if she is inspired by
    painthead she COULD at least give credit to her for making her known in polyvore and making her blog what it is.
    poor Painthead, she is a cool person. It's pretty sad how people think she is this super original person and she is not, she is a fake and
    takes people's ideas ugh…freaking people, people NEED to know about this.

    Thanks for listening
    Love Angie

  21. Painthead, since this is obviously you, you are a psycho. Get help. It's obvious from this post and your blog in general that you have many screws loose.

  22. Painthead, since this is obviously you, you are a psycho. Get help. It's obvious from this post and your blog in general that you have many screws loose.

  23. Great post! This would be very helpful to all MAC fans 🙂