You know the trusted lip gloss from MAC you’ve been using since middle school? What if we told you that you could find one that’s just as luxe and luminous, at half the cost and with a decidedly cooler vibe? Because you can, and it’s all thanks to the best indie beauty brands. There’s a lot of things we’ve learned in 2020 - from how to bake bread to the best hand sanitizers - but one of the top lessons is the importance of supporting local businesses. Buying makeup and skincare products from indie brands isn’t just edgy, unique, and affordable - it also helps local artists and businesses with financial support in these trying times. Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an Estée Lauder eyeshadow on occasion… but the year 2020 has taught us to give back in the form of supporting up-and-coming brands. And treating ourselves the most exquisite and innovative products in the process. As we head into 2021, here are the best indie brands and beauty products you need to try.
Tower28 is an indie beauty brand that everybody needs to know about in 2021. Only launched in April 2019, it puts a modern twist on the classic “California beach girl” style. Founder Amy Liu isn’t a tanned blonde with mile-long legs and a surfboard, either - but a daughter of Chinese immigrants who took inspiration from her beach town in Los Angeles, and aspired to create beach-inspired inclusive makeup for all skin types and tones. She’s succeeded, as the brand’s lineup of healthy and natural products is beloved by everybody from influencers and celebrity makeup artists to beauty beginners. The brand’s ShineOn Lip Jelly is a standout product, with the comfort of a lip balm and shine of a lip gloss to give your pout a pop of California color. Choose from six shades like the sheer red Spicy, berry-esque Fear Less, and pink XOXO to give your lips a lift. A pretty pop of color, nourishing oils, and a non-sticky formula that won’t dry out your lips? It’s no surprise that these glosses are flying off the (virtual) shelves, and the ShineOn Milky Lip Jelly Gloss is one of the best skincare products for delicate lips that you need in 2021.
“Liberate your glow.” It’s not just the phrase that True Botanicals has in their Instagram bio, it’s an empowering statement that you should carry with you each day. You deserve the best skincare products that take care of your skin, mind, soul, everything… and True Botanicals has natural, nourishing formulas that are guaranteed to deliver results. Become one with nature with the Renew Nourishing Cleanser - a gentle face wash with biocompatible ingredients to deep clean, condition, and soften. It’s made with Green and White Tea for antioxidant protection and anti-inflammatory properties, Aloe Vera to soothe and prevent moisture loss, and Green Tea Seed Oil to reduce flaking and improve skin texture. Every skincare product by True Botanicals has a similar blend of natural and effective ingredients that work for all skin types, and you’ll liberate your glow all through 2021 with this indie beauty brand.
If you’re one of those people who can never have enough sparkle in your life (you know who you are,) then you need to dip your fingers, toes, and everything else in the glitter pots like LEMONHEAD.LA. After a year of only lip balm and leggings, there’s a good chance that you’re ready to go bold and stay home with your makeup in 2021… and this indie beauty brand has everything you need to make a statement with shimmer. LEMONHEAD.LA has plenty of popular makeup products, but you’ll be looking out-of-this-world with Spacejam. This glitter paste is available in a range of radiant colors - each designed with a custom blend of luxury cosmetic glitters - and may be applied to the eyes, cheeks, and lips with ease. Use just a dab on the inner corners to refresh your eyes, or spread across your lids for a glamorous and glittery cut crease that’s begging to be worn out on your first girls night after quarantine. How do you know that you’re in good, and sparkly, hands with LEMONHEAD.LA? Euphoria cast members regularly wear the brand’s products on the hit TV show, and if you’ve seen Hunter Schafer’s neon makeup or Zendaya’s glitter tears… you know that these beauty products are the real deal for dazzle.
When makeup and skincare meet, you get the powerhouse indie brand that is ILIA Beauty. Each and every product is nontoxic, cruelty-free, and made with only the best natural ingredients to nourish your skin and get an inner and outer glow up for 2021. Besides being avid believers in SPF (duh) and lipsticks infused with moisturizing Shea Butter, the brand also makes one of the best skin tints we’ve ever tried. Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 is a first-of-its-kind formula made with Plant-Based Squalane to balance skin and improve elasticity, Niacinamide to smooth texture, and Hyaluronic Acids to deeply moisturize and plump the skin at different levels. Now that we’ve covered the skincare part, let’s get to makeup and environmental protection! This beauty product delivers a sheer tint of color that applies evenly for a “second skin” dewy finish - covering all imperfections while ensuring that you still look like you. It’s perfect for your natural, everyday makeup looks! You know, like the ones you wear every day at your Zoom meetings… as Super Serum Skin Tint also contains SPF 40 to protect against the sun’s rays and harmful blue light damage that emits from your smartphone and laptop. This is the closest you’ll get to a flawless makeup product from one of your favorite new indie beauty brands, and a must-have for 2021.
“In our quest for happiness in everyday moments, we seek out new experiences and sensations,” K-Beauty brand Oh K! writes on their website. “We create opportunities for calm or play and products that spark joy and curiosity.” If that isn’t a statement that makes you want to slap on one of their many nourishing sheet masks, or the Chok Chok Illuminating Serum, we don’t know what is. This indie beauty brand has been around since 2014, and believes that skincare is happiness, and happiness is skincare. Each product is designed for real people who want to discover themselves or soak up what gives them joy. In some cases, we mean that literally. Like with the Coffee Bean Hydrogel Mask that brightens and tightens the skin while refreshing your complexion, the same way your morning cup of coffee does every AM. Ready to collect these products yet? Oh K! understands you and your skin, and will upgrade your beauty and wellness journey as you descend into 2021.
“We created Mented Cosmetics because we believe every woman should be able to find herself in the world of beauty, no matter her skin tone.” Harvard graduates KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson founded the brand on a quest to find the ideal nude lipstick shade for women of color. It’s safe to say that they achieved that with the brand's Matte Lipstick, and so much more. Jackie Aina is one of the most outspoken voices for Black women in beauty, and even says that she wished Mented Cosmetics was around 10 years ago to help find makeup for people who looked like her. What a compliment! Mented is an upscale indie beauty brand that is specifically designed for deeper skin tones, and every lipstick, eyeshadow, and foundation is perfectly pig(Mented) to provide a flawless look and nourish the skin with moisturizing, pure ingredients.
Beauty products by Kosas have a similar style to ILIA: clean, captivating, but most of all… comfy. These mascaras, foundations, and lipsticks are made with 100% clean ingredients, and the indie beauty brand wants you to feel the difference in their formula. Who doesn’t love a foundation that lets you reach complexion perfection, while infusing your skin with tons of vitamins and minerals? Or a mascara that takes your lashes to great lengths while keeping them nourished? Kosas always has your back, and you’ll love The Big Clean. This mascara only needs a coat or two to create your most thick, fluffy lashes - and it’s formulated with Castor Oil to nourish, Provitamin B5 to revive, and Biotinyl Tripeptide-1 to support healthy hair. Whether you’re doing a natural makeup look for a virtual happy hour, or going full glam for New Year’s Eve at home… this clean mascara will give your lashes the love they deserve. And it’s just the beginning of the clean Kosas products you need in your 2021 makeup routine.
There are plenty of lessons to be learned from Melissa Butler and her vegan beauty brand, The Lip Bar. The first is to never let rejection get you down, as the initial pitch for her (now highly successful) lipstick brand was universally panned by judges on Shark Tank back in 2015. A great lesson after the stressful year that was 2020. But one of the best? That Matte Liquid Lipstick is even more beautiful when it’s 100% vegan and cruelty-free. While The Lip Bar is mostly known for their range of lip products, from liquid lipsticks and bullet lipsticks to lip liner and gloss, the brand also has concealers, bronzers, eyebrow products and more. Each and every one is made with pure and natural ingredients to make you feel beautiful in your own unique skin. In fact, that was Butler’s main goal when launching The Lip Bar. She hated the way that the media portrayed only a certain image of beauty, and began mixing lipsticks in her kitchen back in 2012… in shades that looked flawless on all complexions. “I believed beauty shouldn’t compromise health, and because I was determined to change the way people thought about beauty,” Butler said about her Black-owned vegan beauty brand. “There is no standard!” Now this is an indie beauty brand that you want in your routine for 2021 and beyond.
If there was only one word to describe Noto Botanics, it’s inclusive. The indie beauty brand is genderless, vegan and cruelty free, packed with both makeup and skincare products, and dedicated to making positive change in the world. How do you know? Noto Botanics donates a portion of all sales from their AGENDER Oil to organizations like Planned Parenthood, Black Mama’s Matter, The Okra Project, LA LGBT Youth Center and more. The brand believes in activism through identity, and it doesn’t hurt that these products are high-quality and feel ultra-calming on your skin. A MIRA favorite is the Hydra Highlighter Pot, which delivers a sheer and dewy glow on your cheekbones, nose, or jawline for a shimmer moment that still looks just like you. And then there’s the fact that this tiny pot is packed with tons of nourishing skincare ingredients to hydrate and highlight. Hydra is formulated with Organic Olive Fruit Oil, Coconut, Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter, Vitamin E and more for your most petal-soft skin that’s always healthy and hydrated. Beauty has no gender or archetype, and you’ll be changing up your makeup routine in 2021 with these gorgeous products by Noto Botanics.
Shop all the best products from your favorite indie brands in 2021 on MIRA.