Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are you connected to any mineral makeup companies?
A: Only as a consumer. When I describe a product, you can be sure of two things: 1) I bought and paid for the product myself; or 2) I got the product as a “free sample” when I purchased other items from the company. Freebies are great; but since I have a comparatively narrow range of interests and many of the companies from whom I buy product are small independent businesses, I don’t know that waves of freebies will be forthcoming. Not accepting lots of freebies from manufacturers also lets me stay clear about why I’m reviewing something…and keeps me from having a bunch of things that I ultimately won’t use to clutter up the landfill.

Q: Why are so many of your individual colors dated in, 2008? Isn’t that before you started the site?
A: Yes, yes it is. I already had acquired quite a few colors by the time I started the site, and of course acquired more afterward - but since I had a pretty big backlog to deal with, I didn’t want to date them all on the day I actually entered those older colors into the system and bother the living daylights out of anyone subscribed to my RSS feed. Thus, for any colors acquired after September 2009, I put them on the actual date I acquired them. For any colors acquired before that point, I’ll have their entries dated in October/November/December 2008.

Q: How do you photograph your colors?
A: I photograph my colors, swatches, and looks in my vanity area with the lights turned on - even when it’s a bright sunny day. I use daybulbs, so the light spectrum is closer to department- and store-lighting. This may not resemble natural daylight for most folks, but a) in the perennially-overcast Pacific Northwest, most natural light is more blue-grey than yellow-gold; and b) that keeps the camera flash from going off and casting weird shadows all over the place. I don’t use professional photography lights because…let’s face it. How many of us go through life surrounded by a bubble of professional-photo or soft-focus lighting?

I do not use my camera flash. Again, I find that while that can more attractively showcase the color, it doesn’t give you an idea about what the color will look like day-to-day, in an indoor environment (which is where most of us spend most of our time.)

Q: How do you swatch your colors?
A: Before December 2011: I apply the colors wet (also known as “foiling”) on bare skin, or apply them over a cream shadow base.
After December 2011 (when I got my Canon 12.1 megapixel camera): I lightly pat or stipple dry-swatch eyeshadows over primer, and sweep my foiled-swatch eyeshadows over bare skin.

Q: Why aren’t you part of the Mineral Makeup Mutiny?
A: I haven’t actively supported it for a few reasons. One, I am not a huge joiner…or I’d have badges plastered all over my site. Two, while I do agree that companies who just resell the exact same pigments available elsewhere and sell them at a huge markup and claim to have created those products all by themself are pretty low, sad, and pathetic, I don’t agree that companies who just buy premixed base colors then add some colored micas are in the same category. The folks who claim that it’s less work…well, they’re right. That doesn’t meant that someone somewhere won’t value it. There’s also the skill-involved argument. Someone who adds a colored mica or two into an oxide pigment, and then sells that end product at $150+ an ounce is asking skilled-labor prices for something that’s about as difficult as fixing a bowl of cereal. Someone who does the same thing but sells it at $30 an ounce isn’t going to get the stink-eye nearly as quickly, because they’re just recovering their costs plus a small markup. They’re not being super-creative, but they’re not charging for that either - so, okay. I’m good with that, same as I’m good with paying someone else to fix the brakes on my car or make clothing that I’ll buy off the rack. While the MMM has been very careful about saying that reselling is not evil, but price-gouging and lying about your business practices is reprehensible - their message still seems open to interpretation, especially by consumers who aren’t a part of the mineral makeup world. There are companies that resell straight oxides and mica powders - or simpler mixed colors - along with their custom-mixed, created-in-house colors…or the aforementioned companies who don’t do a whole lot in the way of creativity, but who aren’t charging “creative-genius” prices, either. I have no problem with either of those two groups…and the Mineral Makeup Mania, while something that at its core is trying to educate consumers about what constitutes quality and value versus what is a blatant ripoff, can quite easily be hijacked or misunderstood, or transmuted into a club to keep anyone else from starting up a mineral makeup company. So yes, I’m staying out. (I’m a web host, and if you want an industry that’s plagued with hobbyists and irresponsible kids looking to make a fast buck off of ignorant consumers…there’s a prime one. But I don’t join “quality control” groups in that industry for much the same reason: too many of those groups can brand anyone who doesn’t run their business a certain way as an “imposter” when that may not be the case. It trades one form of consumer ignorance for another. It also seems a hell of a lot like “I got mine, I don’t want anyone else getting theirs unless they can start on Day One where I wasn’t until Year Four.” Uh…no, and no.)

Q: What’s the “Similar Shades” on all of your eyeshadow/blush/lipstick entries? Are you saying that companies are duplicating each other?
A: Nope. There will be similarities, either by happenstance or because of customer demand; and those similarities don’t necessarily mean that companies are scouting other companies’ sites and trying to duplicate their product. It just means that while Company A created a cool color with a vivid blue base, here’s another vivid-blue-base color created by another company. It also helps people find dupes or substitutes for now-discontinued shades, or find shades that are similar but more to their personal tastes (more sparkle, less pigmentation, a muted shade, what have you).

Q: Why don’t have have similarities listed for MAC colors? A lot of people buy MAC, and they might want to see similar indie colors to something they already know.
A: If I had access to MAC colors, I’d definitely include the information. However, MAC is pretty costly - and it’s mostly pressed powder, which is something I don’t really buy any more. If someone can send me photo-swatches of a MAC color next to any loose-powder color in my collection showing the comparison, I will be able to include that information for others’ benefit. In fact, if you have photo-swatches comparing any MMU in my collection to any other existing eye colors, go ahead and send it along. I’ll credit you with the photo and information.

Q: If you focus on buying from independent makeup companies, why do you have so much Bare Escentuals?
A: Bare Escentuals was where I got my start. I was able to go to my local Sephora, test it out on the back of my hand, and see what the colors looked like in person before putting down that much money. Once I had bought a few jars, I looked on Ebay to see if I could find BE for less money - and things snowballed from there. I admit, things REALLY snowballed. I’ll probably still buy the occasional kit or color from Bare Escentuals, even now that I have over half a dozen solid-performing indie MMU companies from which I’ve already bought products. I just won’t buy as much BE. (For one thing, I own most of the colors in their line. I don’t really need that many more.)

Q: What made you start buying from indie makeup companies?
A: Price - plain and simple. Bare Escentuals charges a lot of money for their product - and a lot of that is for branding and marketing, and the prestige of owning something from “the leader of the mineral makeup revolution” (sic). I can get loose-powder, no-preservatives, no-harmful-chemicals makeup from many other sources…and now that I’m personally more familiar with MMU in general, I can make better judgments as to color, price, and value even when shopping online. The first MMU company whose product I tried was selling their jars for under $2…and I got 1/3 more product than in one jar of BE. So I was quite content to sample a whole whanging boatload of their product, but wasn’t all that eager to start buying from the manufacturers who were online only, and who were charging half of what BE was charging. They were still unknown quantities to me, I had no means of comparison, and I wasn’t going to trust random blogs that I found. (I’m both a cynic and a linguist, and I know how easily language and thought patterns can be manipulated. Until I’ve followed a blog for a while, I’m not going to trust their recommendations.) A person reading about an MMU product online is like a medical student learning to recognize “livid skin”: they can read dozens of definitions, view photos from different angles, see videos, et cetera, but until they see it directly with their own eyes, they still won’t have a completely reliable basis for comparison. It’s the same with mineral makeup: not only do you need to understand the difference between “low sheen” and “satin finish” and “sheer wash” (or “glimpse”), you have to know what these things will look like in your home versus on your computer screen. When I started buying from these less-costly companies, I was getting two things: some mineral makeup (of admittedly varying quality), and a relatively inexpensive education. I learned how to judge color and finish, I learned how to apply mineral makeup, and I did it all without breaking my bank. When I was comfortable buying colors from online descriptions, I headed out to some of the other online-only MMU companies’ sites and sampled their products.

Q: So what’s the best mineral makeup company you’ve found?
A: There is no “best” - there’s just what’s “best” for you. For quite a while, Simply Naturals was a great go-to source (they were my “training wheels”, so to speak.) Then it was The SheSpace. Then it was Pure Luxe. And so on, and so on, and so on. Each of the companies I currently shop with has its stronger points and disadvantages: selection, comparative value, price range, customer service, et cetera. Even Simply Naturals, whom I don’t buy from much any more, does have some certain specific advantages. You have to figure out where you want to spend your money and why. Maybe you want to buy only from companies located in a 400-mile radius from you, for faster delivery times. Maybe you want to buy mostly from a certain company because you’re friends with the owner. Maybe you just love their packaging a whole lot. It’s your money, it’s your choice, do with it what you wish.