There's definitely something comforting about having a go-to makeup brand in your life. Some of us are diehard MAC or Maybelline fans, and eagerly await the new season's offerings. But while there's comfort in the familiar, there's nothing quite like the feeling of discovering something new.
In the past few weeks, I've had the pleasure of being introduced to three unique makeup brands -- two fairly new, and one that's been quietly gaining traction for a few years now. They all have very strong points of view, and each includes innovative products unlike anything else out there in the market.
Click through to get to know Make, Ardency Inn and Antonym.
If you love Nars or MAC, you will adore Make. Nikos Mouyiaris, a cosmetic industry veteran who helped launch Francois Nars's line, founded Make in Jan. 2013 as part of a larger platform called We See Beauty. We See Beauty, which will eventually launch other products, donates 33.3% percent of sales to women-owned co-ops. It's a beautiful site, filled with lush photography.
Make is a sophisticated makeup line. Ariana Mouyiaris, Nikos's daughter and the creative director, said, "We look at beauty from outside of beauty." To that end they have done small collaborations with up-and-coming makeup artists and artists like Faye Toogood, a furniture designer, and photographer Erik Madigan Heck.
There are 260 pieces in the collection, so in addition to the limited edition artist runs, there's a pretty impressive base collection to choose from. Their best seller is the "Custom Finish Effects Matte/Dew" compact (which Stephanie is already addicted to). I can also vouch that it is downright life-changing to have both products in one compact. Eye shadows are richly pigmented with buildable color, and come in some unusual shades like mustard yellow -- surprisingly flattering -- in addition to the usual neutrals. For spring, Make is launching a mattifying lip product, which will turn any lipstick matte. Think a matte nail polish top coat, but for your lips.
Prices range from $23 for an eyeliner pencil to $48 for a primer. Get it here.
If you're an Urban Decay kind of girl, this brand just might be for you. Gilles Kortzagadarian and Stephane Siboni, two beauty industry vets and self-professed music junkies, founded the line last year as an homage to the downtown NYC music scene. James Vincent, a makeup artist who looks like he could be a Hell's Angel, is the director of artistry and education.
Instead of using standard models in its brand imagery, Ardency Inn taps indie singers and songwriters, like Seasick Mama and Marie de Villepin (fun fact: she was once romantically linked to Amber Heard). The collections have names like Americana (natural and neutral), Modster (pops of color) and Punker (black, duh). The line launched at Sephora, which is always a safe bet that it's going to hit big.
Ardency Inn's most innovative product is its Custom Coverage Concentrate, a concentrated foundation that you add to your own moisturizer. I was skeptical of this at first, but after playing with it and trying different recipes with all my various face potions, I'm a convert. It's also great as an undereye concealer when mixed with eye cream. You only need the tiniest amount, and you can build the amount of coverage you want based on how many drops you use and the consistency of your moisturizer.
Prices range from $19 for an eyeliner to $38 for the concentrated foundation. Get it here.
Are you an eco-conscious francophile? Meet Antonym, a small yet perfectly edited line of makeup and brushes, founded in 2010 by Cannes-born makeup artist, Valerie Giraud. Antonym is the only makeup line to be accredited natural/organic by Ecocert, a sustainability organization in France. Its brushes are vegan and the brand does not test on animals.
The standout product and a best seller is the baked blush, a subtle powder blush. Not surprisingly considering Giraud's background as a makeup artist, the 20 brushes are well-designed and the kabuki brush in particular performs beautifully. The packaging, made of sustainable bamboo, is gorgeous. Just pulling it out and opening a compact makes me feel peaceful.
Prices range from $16 for a lip pencil to $249 for a brush set. Get it here.