Irreverent Reviews: Ten Three Labs

Let’s talk about Reddit real quick, shall we?

I fucking hate that site.

I’ve heard complaints about the content, the people, and the moderation, but that was all after I decided I wanted nothing to do with Reddit. So what mortal sin did they commit to drive me away from their site forever?

Well, I tried to read an AMA (that’s an “Ask Me Anything” for someone completely uninitiated) and wound up so confused and annoyed with the site aesthetics I closed that tab and have never been back.

But apparently I’m missing out, because if you poke around other beauty blogging sites you see r/IMAM mentioned quite a lot. That stands for Reddit: Indie Makeup and More. I know because I was kind enough to Google that for you, like the reference librarian my classes are apparently training me to be.

So what on earth does this have to do with Ten Three Labs? Apparently if I Reddit-ed I would find out about indie make-up start-ups sooner. As it stands, I discover them when sites like Etherealize Me review them. What drew me to actually make a purchase from Ten Three was the “Bad Bitch” collection. I am pro-honoring awesome women, pro-reclaiming the word “bitch,” and pro-anything that makes a reference to  Erzsebet Bathory (even though she is less of a “bad bitch in the sense that we are reclaiming the word female empowerment woo” and more of a “serial killer”).


My order arrived packaged with a fortune telling fish (that proceeded to completely wig out in my hand, there was not a decoding offered for that reaction), a lollipop (“candy with your order” might be my favorite indie makeup trend) and some marigold seeds in honor of the creator’s mother’s “black thumb.” To which I say “oh honey, you sent those to the wrong person.” But maybe I’ll have some luck this time, I’m going to save them til the spring to give the little buggers a fighting chance.


In addition to a growing eye shadow collection, Ten Three Labs also offers tinted and non-tinted lip balms and and some unique scents. Based on their Twitter description the motto seems to be “Indie Cosmetics for the Strange and Unusual.” Like many indie sites, the collection names are referential. Ten Three has a pretty high occurence of references I appreciate and/or get. One of the tinted smudge sticks is called “Tiger, Tiger,” a reference to my all-time favorite poem. I couldn’t justify getting a squashy-orange color lip tint though. While I’m prone to dying my hair different shades of orange, it would have to be deeper for me to put it on my lips. I still kinda want it though.

I did opt to try one of the untinted Salve Sticks in “Nightlock,” the blackberry pomegranate scent. These are nice, moisturizing formulas with way more than just a “hint” of peppermint oil. Mine had a very strong peppermint scent and taste (and it made my lips tingle). It took some time to get used to the added MINT!! but ultimately I like it. They are in the same oval shape that Notoriously Morbid’s Coffin Kissers are in, and I still don’t like it as much as plain round.

In the interest of trying as much product as possible to give the most well-rounded view, I also sampled one of their scents. I chose “Dark Eyed-Daughter” which is described as “Brown sugar, almond, gardenia, lotus, cranberry and plum.” This smells seriously good, lots of the almond notes. Almond is my absolute favorite scent in the world and I was a little nervous it would get lost under the fruity/floral notes. Fortunately that is not the case. Mmmmm almonds.


I made my order at the very end of October. The color of the month was called “Shelley’s Big Eye.” My boundless hatred of Hemlock Grove compelled me  to purchase that color. It is a nice color and it make 100% more sense than any part of the show at all. This was a full-size shadow. A sifter was included for me to add on my own, but was NOT in the actual eyeshadow um, tub? jar? This is half the reason I just buy “baggies.” Anywho, in spite of my knowledge that there was no sifter, I almost dumped it on myself like the graceful swan creature I am.


I ordered the full sample size of the Bad Bitch collection because I wanted to try them all!


Bathory: Named the Hungarian Countess who thought that bathing in the blood of virgins would keep her young, this is a matte dried blood color, perfect to honor it’s namesake. As a bonus, when I went to remove the swatches this color ran down my arm and overpowered all the other ones, giving a bloody, spooky effect. Erzsebet would be so proud.

Pearl: Named for Pearl S. Buck, the anthropologist and adoption advocate whose beautiful home is in the running for our wedding venue! A pearly brown color that honestly matches the stones used to build the house quite nicely! I solemnly promise to use this color in my makeup if I do get hitched at the house.

Dandridge: Named for Dorothy Dandridge, an African-American film star from Hollywood’s Golden Era, this is a shimmery orange/red.

Murasaki: Named for Lady Murasaki Shikibu, courtesan in feudal Japan and author of the world’s first novel: The Tale of Genji. I’ve actually read Genji, and my honest take on the book is that it’s probably not going to interest you unless you have a background knowledge and interest in feudal Japan and Japanese court culture. That said, literature ended up being a pretty dude-dominated field, so it’s nice to have the reminder that we owe it all to a badass lady we know practically nothing about. This is a nice shimmery light purple color, described on the site as “violet” even though I think it’s more of a lilac. Either way, it’s an appropriate color as the Purple Gromwell flower is called “murasaki” in Japanese, and used to make the purple dye for kimonos.

Hatshepsut: Named for the Circe to Egypt’s own underaged Joffrey, acting as ruler for the too-young technical heir. Like all Egyptians, she marked her reign with some impressive architecture, and like some Egyptians her successors tried to wipe her from memory because she just annoyed them that much. This is an incredible gold color that is very fitting of a deceased Egyptian Monarch. Much like Darling Girl’s Antiquity, this shadow is proof that if you want gold, you go indie.

Coretta: Named for Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. and activist in her own right. This is a nice green that kind of looks like the David’s Bridal color “clover” (how it appears in person, not on their website.)


Antoinette: Named for bungling (and headless) French monarch Marie Antoinette, this is a very shimmery pale pink that looks straight out of the color palette from the Sophia Copolla film with the same inspiration. It didn’t swatch for me very well.

Cruz: Named for “Queen of Salsa” Celia Cruz. This shimmery seafoam green is similar to my all-time favorite eyeshadow, Aromaleigh’s Hellebore. Selfish wish: That this color had been blue, like Celia’s hair/Grammy dress.

Seondeok: Named for the ancient Korean Queen. When I taught in Korea I forced my students to do a report on famous women during the month of March. I got the expected number of pop idols, but a lot of the girls picked Seondeok for their reports. This shimmery white has just a hint of a green sheen, kind of resembling some of the lighter pieces of jade.

Sotomayor: If you get no other reference, I hope you get this one, as Sonia Sotomayor was appointed the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice less than ten years ago! This is definitely a “black” color, but it’s not a really deep coal black. I’d say it’s bordering on grey, even though it is black (some of the photos on the site make it look like it has a greenish sheen, I didn’t catch any of that in person). I imagine you could build it up to be a darker color with some effort.

Hiawatha: So, I’ve skimmed Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha, and I’m pretty sure the title character is a dude. Perhaps the reference is supposed to be to the fictional Minnehaha? Either way, this lovely purple is evocative of the Iroquois flag.

Flip: I got this color as a sample, I cannot find it on the website! It is not part of the Bad Bitches collection. It is a shiny brown.


Joyce: (this one got separated and I almost forgot to swatch it!). Named for African-American singer and actress Joyce Bryant, this is the perfect shade to honor a woman known as the “Bronze Bombshell.”

Overall: Some of the shadows did more for me than the others. There’s room for growth, but a strong enough base that you can go ahead and enjoy what is there, you don’t have to sit back and say “eh… let’s see where this is going.” I’m overall pleased and would repurchase from this shop (maybe I’ll cave and get Tiger, Tiger). I think I’m most impressed with the scent . I also really appreciated that the Bad Bitch collection included women from very long ago to the present day, from different races, countries, and professions. I think the website could use a little organizing, it’s hard to tell if colors belong to sets or not, and there’s no way to see just sets or just individuals. Nothing major, and nothing prohibitive!


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