Makeup Mutiny: Smart Cosmetics Purchasing

©2008-2010 ~XpaulietheparrotX

In November 2009 I posted a very popular, almost controversial article called Be an Informed Cosmetics Buyer, Don’t Be Duped! It received a lot of feedback and I was introduced to a movement called Makeup Mutiny which after some research, I fully support and believe in their mission.

Started by Kristen Leigh Bell, who is also the founder and owner of Aromaleigh Mineral Cosmetics, Makeup Mutiny is a movement against repackaged cosmetics. It is based on embracing creativity and the folks who put hardwork, science and lots of thought into unique, one-of-a-kind indie, mineral makeup.

Kristen, a primary source, sat down with me and was kind enough to not only delve into some amazing industry secrets, but give Pink Book readers the real deal behind what’s out there. With over 10 years of indie mineral makeup experience, Kristen is an expert who has been around since the start of mineral makeup as we know it today.

©2008-2010 ~polish-girl

  • What is Makeup Mutiny and why is it important?

The mineral Makeup Mutiny is a movement that is a reaction to the drastic increase in repackaged product in the indie mineral makeup business.

10 years ago, the indie segment of the industry was very small and consisted solely of artisanal companies that were creating truly unique items.Today, it is mostly repackagers of straight pigments or relabelers of mass-produced private label minerals. eBay, Etsy and Artfire have given thousands a quick, easy way to “have their own makeup line” and within a week, be up and running, selling repackaged goods that they know very little about.

The difference between a creatively formulated product and one that is just transferred from it’s wholesale form into a jar is vast.

It is the goal of Mineral Makeup Mutiny to spotlight companies that are true artisans, creatively formulating unique products – and to provide education and information for consumers to make them aware of the situation, and know what to look for, what questions to ask, and what the experience of other consumers has been.

All mineral makeup is not created equally, and the amount of mineral makeup being sold as a hobby business, being packaged in kitchens and musty basements, is a frightening thought.

©2008-2010 ~pauladelley

  • How long has indie mineral makeup been around?

For about ten years… it has drastically changed over time.

Today, there are thousands of small mineral makeup companies. Very few of these are making their own unique, creatively blended products. Most are repackaging straight pigments (mica) from manufacturer/wholesaler, or repackaging private label minerals.

Back when I started it was hard to find your ingredients, pigments, jars, labels and resources. It took a great deal of time and researching online and through trade journals to find the elements you needed to create a finished product. There was no paypal for websites back then – you had to get a merchant account from a bank and that was really hard to get approved for. Not only that but you had to back it up with your personal assets.

Today, you can get a paypal storefront and shopping cart and be accepting credit cards in minutes, literally. Anyone can easily get these ingredients and supplies necessary to create mineral makeup or just repack things straight (the most common approach).

Anyone can print out round Avery labels on an ink jet printer, fill jars with pigments purchased from either the manufacturer or a wholesaler of those pigments, or buy bulk pre-made eyeshadows, blush and foundations from a private label cosmetic manufacturer.

You can also buy pre-packaged mineral makeup to resell, and many do this, as well! It has all resulted in a dilution of the positive, creative strength of what it means to be an indie cosmetic company. Lines are blurred, and customers don’t know what’s what or who’s who.

I regularly receive emails with complaints about my prices being too high, when my unique product containing a blend of costly, premium ingredients is being compared to a smaller jar with a shoddy paper label that isn’t labeled according to FDA regulations, no sifter or sifter seal and no passion or creativity. Some of the pigments that offer me the most stunning effects and effective formulations cost $150-400 per kilo. Very few indie mineral cosmetic companies are using these high-end, costly ingredients in their products.

It’s much easier to turn a quick buck by repacking a less costly, basic colored mica (pigment).

©2009-2010 ~Jordee

  • What makes indie mineral makeup different than commercial makeup?

More natural ingredients, simpler formulas, the absence of talc and other inexpensive fillers, greater variety of shades, more creative options (some companies have hundreds of eyeshadow shades, for example), indie= small business, usually 2-10 employees, hand-crafted product, many are women-owned, their companies are their passion, service is personal and the experience is special, items are created by creative artisans… and much more… I could list one thousand things, given the time!

  • Why should someone choose to give mineral makeup a chance if they are used to commercial brands?

Typically because they can’t find a shade that works for them in commercial brands (rarely have pale shades or yellow/olive shades in foundations), or because commercial mass-produced minerals contain Bismuth Oxychloride and a shiny finish, or chemical sensitivities or sensitive skin have led them to the simplest formulas available (typically those made by indie MMU companies), and often it’s as simple as women like to shop online and work with small businesses that offer a very personal experience and a sense of community. Also, indie MMU is less costly than mass-produced, and most companies offer samples of everything that they make, so variety and affordability is key!
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  • How would an indie makeup label join the Makeup Mutiny movement?

Send an email to us, via our contact page. Include company name, website or store front and as much information as you feel comfortable providing about your brand and your involvement in personally formulating your products.

©2009-2010 ~itsKelis

  • How do you verify if they are legitimate or not?

Often, it’s based on years of having been in the industry and knowing first-hand that the companies are not repacking. Having been one of the indie mineral makeup companies that has been around the longest, I have seen companies come and go and the industry change. I have a pretty good idea of who is and who isn’t, and I’ve got first-hand familiarity and access to all of the cosmetic effect pigments and their manufacturers. As an experienced formulator of mineral makeup, you can also often tell visually or just from the ingredients listing if a color is repackaged or unique.

I also will sometimes ask the company questions if the website doesn’t include it, or if I can’t determine it- most companies are happy to oblige, but some don’t respond.

I also use Google to read up on what beauty bloggers have to say. As a rule, they make expansive purchases of beauty products and different brands, often finding dupe after dupe in different brands they are reviewing. They can be an excellent barometer.

In most cases, if a company is repackaging – it’s across the board and they rarely will offer more complex products such as mineral foundation.

Most art companies will have some shades that are close to one another or close to a straight-up mica. The concern is when most of the line is a match for wholesale effect pigments, with no attempts at blending or creative formulation. This is the lazy, get-rich-quick aspect of the Indie MMU industry.

  • Is it a long process for new labels?

The mineral Makeup Mutiny is something that I do only in my spare time, which I’ve had none of through the holiday season. There’s no set process or official guidelines. I am the only person replying to emails and posting new companies. Right now, I’ve had my work with the Mutiny on hold, as I can’t even keep up with the demands of running Aromaleigh. However, I plan to try to get back to it soon, since it is extremely important to me.

  • How much does it cost?

It costs nothing.

I personally have paid for all fees associated with the registration, hosting and maintenance of the movement.

  • How many brands do you currently have?

Right now there’s about 30 companies listed and I have many more to add.

  • Can you list a couple, please?

Some of the companies that have been around the longest:  Monave Canary Cosmetics, Herbs of Grace and Jenulence are all over 6 years old. Most mineral makeup companies are 6-12 months old, if that.

©2009-2010 ~xxazanaxx

  • Now you own Aromaleigh, correct?

Yes, I own Aromaleigh Mineral Cosmetics.

  • How long have you been in business for?

We’ve been online for over 11 years and to our knowledge, we were one of the original indie mineral makeup companies.

The only other companies who were doing what we were (online, to our knowledge) were Canary Cosmetics and Botany 101.

©2009-2010 ~bekind20thers

  • What have you noticed the most about your customers? – Basically, is there a particular trend, or set of trends, that are the most popular amongst people who purchase your mineral makeup?

Repeat Aromaleigh customers are very special women. They appreciate the creativity of the product and the passion behind it. They have developed loyalty for the brand because it has affected them on a personal level.

Price?

Aromaleigh customers always love a good sale, and they crave coupons and giveaways too- but, they appreciate the value of the product and the hard work behind it, so they have no issues with paying full price for items, because they know what they are going to get and they trust the product’s formulation, ingredients and consistency.

Colour Selection?

We’re well-known for our vast and unique eyeshadow colors and the availability of samples. We  have a great deal of customers who discover that they can wear brighter shades or sparkly colors after getting some free samples with their orders. Then, they develop the Aromaleigh color addiction…

Custom making their own?

S0me customers like to mix and match things, but our customers primarily use our products as finished colors. Sometimes they tweak their foundation colors to be darker or lighter based on the season, and you can see a lot of discussions about certain mixes or blends that customers have created on our forum, Aromaleigh Aficionadas.

But in all honesty, many customers have gone on to create their own mineral makeup companies after having been Aromaleigh customers for a time, and being influenced by the product and inspired to follow their

Vegan options?

We don’t advertise our products as vegan, because some of them contain ingredients such as carmine or beeswax.

However, we do provide personalized service to email requests for customers who have sensitivities to any ingredient. There are certain ingredients that some customers may have a sensitivity to (such as Chromium Oxide Green, or Nut-based ingredients, or Carmine). Therefore, we assist customers with sensitivities by letting them know what colors contain the ingredients that they want to avoid. It’s easy with Carmine, as very few Aromaleigh products contain pigments that are coated with carmine.

via WeHeartIt.com

  • Do you think the mineral makeup community has been receptive to the Makeup Mutiny movement?

I think there have been mixed reactions and a lot of uncertainty.

Many customers, bloggers and company owners immediately “got it” and wanted to support a movement that would help to restore the creative integrity of the industry and provide education for customers. Also, a big part of the Mutiny is to raise the bar… get companies to hold themselves and their products to a higher standard creatively, and also to properly list, label and represent their products online.

Smart company owners have created momentum through supporting the movewment. Other companies have become extremely defensive and there’s been a lot of “anonymous” commenting going on in beauty blogs, forums and places such as LiveJournal, creating rumors and “conspiracy” theories about why the Mineral Mutiny was formed.

I realized when I started the movement that it would most likely backfire on me and could potentially create havoc for me professionally, as well as with my customer base. However, I was positive of the need for change in the industry and I know that change doesn’t happen when you’re sitting still. You have to take a risk and go on what you believe in. I strongly believe that the Mutiny will slowly gain momentum and result in a drastic improvement in the industry. But, I know that anything that is worthwhile and an honest change takes time and perseverance.

via WeHeartIt.com

  • I’ve read some of your blog posts on Makeup Mutiny’s blog and some of the comments have not been kind to you and have included some makeup labels threatening you – has this hindered the movement in any way, shape or form?

The main issue is that customers just want to know what is repackaged, because they are sick and tired of being “duped” again and again. Many straight pigments are extraordinarily beautiful on their own. Some customers love certain shades even though they know they are straight pigments. I’ve realized that companies will always repack, but if we could get the companies to acknowledge it? It would earn customer trust for them, and who knows- maybe they’d even try their hand at getting more creative and making some unique shades from that point.

It’s a process.

  • Is this one of those cases where, all publicity is good publicity?

Companies have to use publicity as a transformational thing.

Bad public relations can be turned around into a company making positive changes that are sincere, transparent and to the benefit of their customers.

There’s so many companies right now that beauty bloggers are questioning as potential repackagers. Some companies are admitting to some colors being repacked and agreeing to label them as such. Others are denying it flat-out.

I’ve been accused of self-appointing myself and doing this all as a publicity stunt, however, I can say with all honesty that not only doesn’t make sense, it’s not true. No one else was doing anything, and I’m not one to sit back and rest on my laurels. Also, what I did was very high-risk. And I’ve been featuring companies formulating their own unique product on the mutiny webpage, not creating a witch hunt to take down other companies. It’s actually been nice to correspond with some of the other company owners and feel that we are all in this together, to improve our industry for years to come.

via WeHeartIt.com

  • An example?

One company in particular has been hit hard with accusations of repackaging.

They claimed that their colors were the result of bright and vivid shades not being available in the marketplace, so they developed the brightest line of makeup possible. This, combined with the company spokesperson’s online persona and blogging style and topics- resulted in her customers feeling violated and cheated when they realized that the colors they had saved up for at their after-school job were not original at all, and not magical, or special, or even unique.

The outrage in the online community was widespread and massive comparisons and swatching and photographing of the colors and the purported straight pigment repack were posted all over the internet. The company owner responded after several weeks, by calling people “jealous haters” and flat-out denied that her product was repackaged. As of today, all but one of the companies colors have been confirmed as exact dupes of easily-purchased wholesale mica.

When you asked me about all publicity being good publicity, this is a situation where the owner of this company could have totally turned things around to suit her, in magical and mythological proportions.

I truly think that if this company owner had taken the lemons being thrown at her, she could have turned the entire situation around and made it into really tasty lemonade.

  • Is there any advice you can give to someone who wants to start making their own mineral makeup? Or either personal or commercial use?

There is tons of information about how to blend your own mineral makeup, as well as a pretty active forum on TKB Trading, a company that provides an extremely valuable service in the indie mineral makeup industry.

My recommendation if you are going to make mineral makeup for commercial use is to do your research!

Know what the FDA guidelines are for colorants, and Good Manufacturing Processes. Don’t repack. Experiment and create unique formulas.

Don’t copy other companies- come up with your own ideas.

Curiosity is your muse.

The more curious you are about the world you live in, the more likely you are to be influenced and inspired by things and have this translate into something that you can actually use in business. Reach out into the world around you, and pay close attention to the little things. Don’t overwork yourself and understand that it’s better to make ten gorgeous and amazing colors that are a passionate extension of yourself, than to have 50 shades that are boring and blah.

via WeHeartIt.com

  • For the people who are new to mineral makeup, and are visiting Etsy and searching Google for brands – what are some tips you can suggest on how not to be duped?

Fresco Phyrra, has also written a helpful article on the topic, and she blogs a lot about small companies and many Etsy companies. She lists companies that she recommends and companies that she avoids.

I wrote about demonstrating an example of a “wee change” in the industry, and the familiar “rainbow” shades that a lot of repackers all seem to carry, even sometimes with the same names.

Also, I wrote another post that helps consumers decide, but it not all-inclusive.

Another blogger who extensively reviews indie MMU companies, etsy shops and provides very helpful, resourceful info and swatches Is Gothique. She has organized reviews of Indie companies, Etsy companies, and other FYI posts such as shopping for mineral makeup and sample sizes.

Anastasia is another beauty blogger who provides incredibly informative, detailed insights into different indie companies. She has written a great deal about the repackaging controversy in the MMU business on her blog Lipsticks and Lightsabers. Her swatches of products and colors from different brands speak for themselves, but she’s also a risk-taker, and tells it like it is, with a dose of well-researched sass.

  • What would you like people to know about the Makeup Mutiny movement?

That the movement is positive, and it’s not a witch hunt or a publicity stunt:-

“This movement is about holding this industry to higher standards, expecting creativity and exceptional, remarkable products from companies while providing an educational, informative and enlightening resource for consumers and businesses, too.

I want this industry to have credibility and impact.

I want to personally make a lasting dent in the mineral makeup industry, through my dedication to improving it and making it as good as it can be.

Happy consumers of mineral makeup means more consumers of mineral makeup.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it over and over again… real change takes time.

Little by little, the storms of today will blow over and the blogosphere will realize that this “mutiny” thing isn’t about one company. It isn’t about weeding out repackagers. It isn’t a concept that was created to squash competition and monopolize the market.

It was created to make a statement, to stand up for creativity and hard work and to collectively work towards the future

I’m devoted to making changes in this industry, even as it takes time away from my business. You might notice that as of today, many other companies have their holiday products beautifully displayed on their websites. Where are mine? They are concepted, they are written down, they are in a nascent stage. Why? Because I’m here. That says a lot.

If you support companies that create their own unique, proprietary products, tell others about it! Tell others about the positive things that this site was created for.”

Belongs to Kristen Bell of Aromaleigh

A major thank you to Kristen for providing all the information above 🙂

–

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 © 2009-2010 SashaH. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments

  1. frescophyrra says:

    Fantastic Interview!

  2. It was great to talk to Kristen and I know I learned a lot!

    🙂

  3. tiannemarie says:

    What a smart cookie Kristen is. Thank you for taking the time to bring this info to light. Finding Aromaleigh has changed how I view makeup and I know a lot of others have felt that way as well.

  4. Hello Sasha… this is my first time reading your blog. I enjoyed this article very much!

    I've been a customer of Aromaleigh for almost 3 years now. The honesty and integrity Kristen displays is clear in everything she does; I recently met her in person… she is many more things, but a shining star of a business owner and a generous woman for sure.

    I was so proud of her when she decided to start the Makeup Mutiny. She decided to take a stand… for us, the customers, to reap the benefits. There has been NO negativity toward others. This is what I respect about her the most.

    Thank you for bringing this topic to the attention of other ladies!

  5. I just love that pink book thank you for the tips

  6. Kristen is a liar and an insecure @#$@.

  7. Those are really high quality photos! It looks like it was taken by a very good photographer and to add it up with some editing.

  8. Check out weheartit.com 🙂

  9. Jennifer says:

    I have been purchasing AL on and off for years, and am sorry to see her go, but I do remember when Kristen used to sell micas just as they are, repackaged as her “Pure Hues” line. She doesn't anymore, but it's interesting that she didn't mention that in her interview.

  10. What's AL, by the way?

    I think that Kristen is making a point that repackaging isn't acceptable. If
    she did do it in the past, she doesn't anymore, and at the end of the day
    that's what important. Especially, since she' been in the business for over
    ten years.

    I think even, with the unnamed brand, that is obvious from the article — if
    that brand were to turn around, I'm sure at the end of the day, people would
    be forgiving as long as they aren't cheated anymore.

    The point, I think at least, that Kristen as trying to get across, was being
    a smart consumer and being a smart company. Both people win in the end.

    Either way, thank you for your comment. I appreciate you taking the time to
    state your opinion 🙂

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  15. Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I’m the president of a company that creates, formulates and packages our own propriety mineral makeup as well. I’ve been trying to find an active link to sign up for Makeup Mutiny and can’t find one. Can you help? I would really appreciate it. I’m thrilled about Kristen taking a stand and want to support it any way I can. Thank you!