In recent years, we have become akin to the ‘Instagram look’. Heavy contour, polished brows and fluttering false lashes have dominated our feeds. However, makeup is steeped in a rich history of creativity and takes influence from various art forms.
The birth of RuPaul’s Drag Race brought drag culture to mainstream media. The show garnered a huge fan base with many taking inspiration from whom some refer to as the masters of creative makeup.
Elsewhere, the Japanese world of anime became a major source of inspiration for big names in the world of fashion and beauty. In 2020, Moschino’s Jeremy Scott unveiled “Anime Antoinette” directly inspired by his love of Japanese comics and graphic novels.
With makeup artists such as Madrona Redhawk creating avant-garde looks inspired by native American face-painting, redefining the meaning of makeup art that is not limited to the runway and fancy dress occasions.
Here we take a look at ten brands that offer lines designed to create vibrant and expressive looks. Whether you want to recreate a work of art, transform into your favourite fantasy character or just dabble in the art of graphic-liner, these brands have exactly what you need.
Kicking off with a brand on a mission to redefine beauty and empower users to celebrate their individuality and self expression. This British-born brand, whose name is derived from illusion and masquerade was launched by Julian Kynaston and designed to reflect his passion and love for all things subcultural.
The brand delivers award-winning, industry quality products that strive to reject the conventions of the beauty industry.
With a collection of highly pigmented products and a wide array of vivid colours, artists are given the freedom to experiment and unleash creativity with every look they create.
The core collection is based on a range created by Arnold Langer, who learned his trade underground clubs and cabaret performers. Illamasqua maintains that theatrical feel and playful creativity with adventurous seasonal collections.
The Beyond Artistry Palette offers twelve highly-pigmented shimmer powders in a variety of two-tone metallic shades with an ethereal shimmer finish. While the Beyond Powder highlighters create an iridescent and luminous finish to any fantasy-glam look.
This brand is familiar with a character collab and what better way to recreate a look inspired by your favourite fantasy character than with products directly inspired by them.
Colourpop launched in 2014 in California with a line of fun and expressive products, from vibrant liquid lipsticks to mascaras in every colour of the rainbow, this brand is designed to bring out your playful side.
One of their many collaborations, includes a collection of products inspired by cult anime character; Sailor Moon. The collection features a matte, vibrant pink, pressed powder blush called From The Moon, ideal for creating that rosy, cartoon glow. Meanwhile, The Moon Prism Power glitter gel is a long wearing, glitter packed gel in opalescent shades featuring star and moon shaped glitter, perfect for use on the face or body for a look that is so kawaii!
When the American entrepreneur, Youtuber and singer Jeffree Star launched his eponymous cosmetics line in 2014, it was sure to become a favourite.
A brand that is as bold and expressive as its founder, this collection of products is designed to encourage creativity, individuality and fun. A line of dramatic hues and luxurious products to create fearlessly glamorous and risky looks.
What started with a collection of liquid lipsticks, has turned into a cult favourite that covers everything from highlighters to eyeshadows and even accessories.
Fan favourites include; the Blood Sugar eyeshadow palette. A decadent array of matte, metallic and pressed glitter shades with everything from a matte, neon pink to a red glitter.
If a statement lip is more your thing, the collection of Supreme Glosses is the perfect place to look. With shades from a bright sky blue to a pale yellow, these non-sticky and highly pigmented glosses pack a punch.
A brand who believe makeup is an art form, with the tagline ‘colour outside the lines’ Sample Beauty offers a line of products that give users the opportunity to create, explore and transform.
Founded by Clodagh Bell in 2016 inspired by her obsession with makeup and a passion to create multi-use and adventurous cosmetics.
With eyeshadow palettes in every colour you could imagine and a dreamy collection of false lashes, this brand has everything you need to create your next work of art.
Discover your inner artist with The Painters Palette, featuring 27 matte shades and 3 foil shades it is the perfect selection of colours to create your next masterpiece. Finish your look with the Flutterfly Vegan Synthetic Silk False Lashes, adding a touch of luxury glam to highly dramatic eye look.
Founded by makeup visionary Doe Deere in 2008, Lime Crime reached cult-status with its mission to create products and experiences that transport you to a magical world where you can express yourself unapologetically and unleash what makes you unique.
Hailed for creating one of the first liquid matte lipsticks and their award-winning unicorn hair colour, this brand is not afraid to be a little different.
Their high-quality and cruelty free products are designed for high performance wear and strive to deliver high colour pay-off to make all your unicorn dreams come true.
Best selling products include; the Venus Liquid Liners. A line of highly-pigmented liquid liners that go on smoothly without flaking or transferring, in every shade from a deep, wisteria purple to an electric, ocean blue they are perfect for creating a dramatic graphic eye look.
For a more (semi) permanent change of look, try the famed Unicorn Hair Dye. The Full Coverage, ultra-conditioning formula delivers high intensity colour results, this semi-permanent fantasy hair colour comes in a variety of bold shades.
Founded by Amy Doan in 2010, Sugarpill cosmetics is an innovative brand striving to produce cruelty-free, bold, and richly-pigmented cosmetics. Frustrated by a beauty market saturated with products which focused on natural beauty, concealing “flaws,” and blending in, founder Amy was inspired by the colorful characters in her life and began to develop her own unique brand of cosmetics for beauty rebels who want to stand out from the crowd.
Sugarpill has quickly become a favourite in the indie makeup world, with its cute packaging and vibrant marketing it is a breath of fresh air that is beloved by drag performers and beauty lovers everywhere.
The limited edition Little Twin Stars Liquid Lip Color Duo is inspired by the Sanrio characters. The infamous matte-to-sparkle formula offers creamy smoothness with a glistening finish. Whilst the Shimmering Loose Eyeshadows give remarkable colour pay off and out of this world sparkle.
If your character is a little more Marie Antoinette than Hello Kitty, Les Merveilleuses Ladurée is for you. The beauty brand brought to you by the iconic French macaron house, Ladurée perfectly embodies the luxurious, OTT aesthetic Ladurée is most famous for.
Inspired by eternal elegance and sophistication, the colourful products and decadent packaging are a must-have.
The rose-stamped Duo Face Colour offers lustrously luminous skin whilst the charming ‘high-heeled’ lip gloss gives irresistible shine. For the perfect base, the Face Powder, housed in a glamourous, spherical container makes skin look flawless and clear with a refined sheen and no cakey-look. After all, as Antoinette once said cake is for eating … or something like that!
Etude House products look just like the makeup we used to play with as kids, in a good way. With packaging straight out of a Barbie Playhouse, this brand brings sweet and playful imagination to life. Created with young women in mind, the brand offers a wide range of colours in playful packaging at affordable prices.
Established in Korea, Etude House delivers whimsical cosmetics that speak to your sweet and romantic side. The brand name “Etude” means “beautiful study of music” in French and speaks to your inner young girl who always had princess fantasies. Etude House’s mantra is “all of you are born as a princess”, making the princess fantasy a reality with playful beauty products that both girls and women will adore.
A firm favourite for beauty lovers everywhere, MAC offers a wide range of products for any look you desire. MAC is the world’s leading professional makeup authority because of our unrivalled expertise in makeup artistry,celebrating diversity and individuality for all ages, races and genders.
Alongside best-selling favourites, MAC have collaborated with big names from the world of beauty, music, pop-culture and more to create limited edition collections.
Their latest collaboration is with designer Harris Reed, famed for his role in driving gender-fluid fashion and beauty and makeup artist Terry Barber.
The collection aims to champion authenticity and plays with ideas of identity.
“If makeup is applied in a customized, finger painted and slightly smudged or pulled apart way that’s when it really connects with the wearer emotionally. What I love about the collection that Harris has made is that… it’s not just about an impossible beauty,” Barber said about the recent collaboration.
Gypsy Shrine is the go-to brand for festival queens, offering everything you need to become a shimmering, magical, otherworldly being.
Born out of festival culture in 2016, Jenna Meek wanted to create festival looks like no other, her passion for all things sparkly led her to create one of the most disruptive cosmetic brands around. Launching a range of face jewels, glitter products and hair dyes, the brand has become a fan favourite.
The Face, Hair and Body Glitter in Unicorn Dreams is everything you need to create a glittering, fantasy look and the UV Glow in the Dark Pigment allows you to take face painting to the next level. We dare you not to turn into a shimmering mermaid after trialling some of these products.