The 6 best makeup brands you've never heard of
If makeup companies were movies, with brands like Estee Lauder and Lancôme taking center stage as the blockbusters, these six lines would be the independents of the bunch. Little-seen but much beloved by in-the-know fans and critics (in this case, beauty editors), they all have a distinct point of view. It should come as no surprise that each of these six was started by a woman.
RMS Beauty: Editorial makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift’s organic line appeals to us on so many levels — the formulations are all cream-based and completely natural, each of the five products has multiple uses, and the uniform clear glass pots keep the look happily minimal. A particular favorite of ours is the Living Luminizer ($38), a slightly pearlescent balm that can be used on cheekbones, browbones, lips and eyelids to give skin a glow that is not sparkly or glittery. rmsbeauty.com
Kimara Ahnert: Makeup artists often get short shrift in beauty salons, but at Kimara Ahnert on the Upper East Side, they are the star attraction. There, Ahnert and her team attend to plenty of brides as well as regular clients wishing to update their look from season to season. Part of what keeps them coming back is the in-house makeup line. It’s a comprehensive tour of tried-and-true mineral hues and ingenious products like Mineral Shimmer, a riff on Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Bricks, and Chiffon lip liner, a seemingly-drab taupe pencil that helps lip gloss stay put without altering its subtle tints. kimara.com
Becca: It’s all about glowing skin for this Australian brand, which focuses on finding a color for every complexion (The Stick Foundation comes in 30 different shades) Our top picks are the Luminous Skin Colour, a lightweight tinted moisturizer with an SPF of 25, and the Mineral Bronzing Powder, which comes in one universal shade and has not a trace of orange. Also worth mentioning are the Beach Tints, creamy, colorful cheek and lip stains, and the Shimmering Skin Perfector, a highlighter that can be worn alone or mixed into foundation. beccacosmetics.com
29 Cosmetics: This vino-themed brand has mined every oenophile term in existence for products like Late Harvest eye shadow, Tannins blush and Spicy on the Finish lipstick. It’s not a big shock once you find out that the founder of the brand is one Lydia Mondavi, wife of Robert Jr.. While the colors are indeed crush-worthy and enhanced with grape seed extract, our favorites are the luxe lip treatments—an exfoliating stick, wine-tinted balm and grape seed extract and honey moisturizer—that come in the cutest white quilted case. 29cosmetics.com at Neiman Marcus.
Hourglass Cosmetics: The Veil Fluid Makeup is the cult hero from this Venice, California line, but we want to give a shout out to the palettes. The well-edited four shadow, two gloss combos don’t try to be all things to all women — instead focusing on a few versatile colors. Cashmere is a study in nudes, while Zodiac is led by khaki and pink hues. Our art director Nathalie Kirsheh is devoted to the liquid eye liners, saying, “It stays on all day, and if I have an evening event, I barely have to touch it up.” hourglasscosmetics.com at Sephora.
W3LL People: The playful newcomer of the bunch, this line is for anyone who’s into simplification, ease and eco. The line contains none of the nasties (parabens, sodium lauryl sulfates), plus all the packaging materials are recycled. The Universalist Multi-Use Color is the makeup equivalent of finger food—a balm-like stick that can be applied all over lips, cheeks and even eyelids for a fresh, outdoorsy glow. w3llpeople.com
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