International makeup artist and green beauty leader, Kristen Arnett was kind enough to chat with me about her experience in the world of green beauty. Check out her awesome website, Green Beauty Team and her upcoming project, an online product database: CleanPicks (sign up for more release news). As an expert in the industry, Kristen is truly an inspiration to beauties everywhere! Read on to hear some of her tips, unique beauty experiences and exciting new ventures:
As a makeup artist, how did you become introduced to green beauty? It really started when I met a model named, May Lindstrom who is pretty well known for her skincare line now but at the time she was just a model. I was working with her and she was the first person to introduce me to the idea that there was even toxins in cosmetics. So I started to do a little research based on what she had told me and realized that there was this whole world I didn’t know about. As a makeup artist, the idea that I was potentially putting dangerous things on myself and on my clients didn’t make me feel very good. It really was an eye-opening discovery, I couldn’t justify using these products anymore for myself and for my clients. It was almost an overnight thing, I have to say. Even though it took a very long time for me to figure out how to do it.
Before becoming a makeup artist, you graduated from business school and worked in business. Can you tell me about the story of your transition from business to beauty? Makeup was always the thing I really wanted to do. As a kid, I put makeup on anyone who’d let me and was also photographing them. I used makeup as a way to transform my friends into something more beautiful but not make them into something they weren’t. Business school happened because my mom encouraged me and as I was very academically-inclined, I did just that. It just hit me one day when I was working at a music company and listening to the owner. His big thing was: follow your passion, do your art and you can make a living out of it. After hearing this, I just thought that if I don’t try and take a big leap to do the thing that I’ve only ever wanted to do with my life (to be a makeup artist), I’d regret it for the rest of my life. So, I left my job and worked in Portland, Oregon as an artist for a little over a year with the intention of moving to Italy. I wanted to speak Italian, work on runway shows and work in fashion. I wanted to know what made the European aesthetic different. The idea that I was going to move to Italy and be an international makeup artist was almost ridiculous. Yet something in my soul said, “You’re not meant to stay here. Go out and try!” It was a big jump but I had a really good support system with friends and family encouraging me. My biggest fear was that I would fail, essentially. But that was 8.5 years ago. It hasn’t been all roses but it’s been my path. I needed to go on this path. I would have wasted my entire life if I had not done this.
Seeing that it wasn’t just good results but better results from not using so many harsh chemicals all the time was a turning point for me.
Many people view green beauty in a negative light as far as thinking it’s not accessible enough or is too expensive. Do you have any tips or advice on how to motivate people with this mindset to use greener products? Yes, I hear these excuses a lot. The comment about it being more expensive, is not valid to me. The reason why is because a Chanel lipgloss costs $30, well, I can find you 10 natural lipglosses that cost you less than that. You can’t tell me [mainstream beauty] is cheaper because I know a lot of people aren’t just buying their makeup from the drugstore. I understand accessibility is an issue, unfortunately that’s the reality. The question is, at what point does your health and wellness supersede the inconvenience of having to try a little harder to buy something for yourself? I do understand it’s inconvenient, to have to chose from a variety of brands and now try to make a choice based on ingredients? I get it. The reality is, women use the same beauty products on a daily basis over and over again. So it’s about transitioning your staples and taking it step by step. When you run out of one thing, start the new process of finding that one thing. There are always people like me for one-on-one consultations for when you really get stuck. You could sign up for a consultation virtually or in-person with me and I can help find products or brands that will work specifically for you. It’s really a matter of deciding how important your health is.
How would you instruct those who are just starting off in green beauty? I always say, start with the things that cover the most amount of surface most often. Products used on the surface of your skin like, body wash. Body washes do not need to have a lot of chemicals in it. There’s no reason to strip your skin with sodium lareth sulfate which then pollutes the Earth. You also don’t need to be buying $50 soap. There are many great, natural alternatives that are affordable, effective and can last you a long time. Next would be shampoo. A lot of people don’t realize that they have bad hair and skin because of their shampoo ingredients. Especially if hair is treated and you’re using cheap styling products a lot, getting rid of a shampoo that is sodium laurel sulfate-based is a really good thing for your hair and skin. A lot of shampoo also causes breakouts on the face. Many of my clients, after switching to a natural shampoo or a cleaner formula shampoo, tell me that their skin has cleared up. It’s all about taking it step by step and finding out what natural products work for you and gradually replacing your old products. It goes back to: start switching out if you run out.
The beauty of really high-quality products is they’re not putting cheap fillers in them. The brands I like and I use in the green beauty world, they’re potent and powerful. You don’t need a lot.
What are your essential natural beauty and skincare products that you use? That’s a difficult question! Mainly because I have so many products and it typically depends on my mood. I do change out my products through the seasons. For cleansing, I’ve been using the Josh Rosebrook Moisturizing Cleanser, a little bit goes a long way. The serum that I’ve been using to moisturizing my face is an anti-aging serum from Intelligent Nutrients. Those are my 2 staples for cleansing and moisturizing now. At this time of year, I also like using RMS Beauty’s “Un” Cover Up.
What are you views on the current state of green beauty? In your perspective, have you seen any exciting changes? Yes, what’s great is that green beauty is finally starting to become sexy. It’s not just for the hippies anymore. People can actually find really beautiful products in beautiful, sustainable packaging that looks luxurious that you wouldn’t necessarily want to hide. Beautiful packaging that looks modern and fresh and products with formulas that hold their own. Brands are really putting in time and energy to make things that work on skin, in the body and as cosmetics. The options have gotten a lot vaster. There’s still a ways to go, but [the green beauty movement] is just getting so full of people and products that are speaking to a customers who aren’t willing to give up looking good or smelling good and still want to exceptional products.
Have you had any models or clients who, after using green products on have gotten excited or asked you more about it? Is that a common experience for you? On every single shoot! These are people: model, actress, singer, whatnot, who wear makeup all the time. It’s not in their personal life, but they’re having a lot more of it put on more than most women and they feel the difference on their skin. And so when we first me they kind of brush me off like, “Yeah you’re another makeup artist and you’re just going to but more makeup on me, whatever.” Then by midday, they come up to me and are like, “Okay, tell me what you put on me”. They’re taking photos of all the products. Sending me emails afterwards, saying “Thank you so much, I ordered this and my skin is so great now.” It’s more common than not that I turn someone into a believer based on working with them. Their face is their living.
How did the idea for your website, “Green Beauty Team” come about? The idea came while I was doing nothing in particular. All of sudden I was hit with inspiration because I was frustrated that I could not find information about green beauty that was credible. As a working makeup artist, I needed somebody who I could trust telling me that the products actually perform. I couldn’t find experts talking about [green] beauty anywhere. So, it hit me that I needed to create that forum and that place. My expertise has been makeup, so I found a team of people who are experts in their own fields and could talk about other areas of beauty. I still edit every single article myself and make sure that we are telling people things that are useful and intelligent. This is a journey of educating myself and helping others to find out more at the same time. [It’s] from the perspective of someone who has dedicated their career to it, this isn’t a hobby.
What have been some of your memorable projects that you have worked on as a makeup artist? I have done so much in my career that is so different and unique that I love for different reasons. This summer, I worked with a photographer who has breast cancer and has been undergoing a lot of treatment. Her vision was to help her get through this process by finding the beauty in cancer as a photo project. It was all self-portraits, she asked me if I would do her makeup. My one condition was that I wanted to art direct. The concept that I came up with was, I asked her what she had wanted to be when she grew up as a young girl. What was that? Cinderella. Here she is, in her mid-forties, bald and we made her into her childhood fantasy. I think the statement was so powerful. The story that went along with that, that was part of the art direction has such a great meaning behind it. I didn’t want to take away from the fact that she’s dealing with a disease but the disease isn’t who she is. For me, with beauty and makeup, I get reminded over and over again that there ain’t no amount of lipstick to make you pretty. It’s all about your soul and that perspective.
Any exciting, new projects coming up? The one that just recently launched was the Alima Pure Me Encanta Holiday Collection. For me, there’s got to be meaning and substance behind the beauty. When I was in Spain, I saw flamenco dancers they were just so powerful and entrancing, everyone was transfixed. And the dancers aren’t flashing their chests or “twerking”, you know? I thought, these dancers represent what women are. It’s about what makes us beautiful, interesting, complex women and the kicker to this collection is that there are just 4 colors. You get to be your own artist, dance whatever dance you want and express yourself in any way you want. I’m very proud of it. It’s $50 for five pieces with a mascara. Anyone concerned about that costing a lot of money, that is $10 a product! It’s a great collection with unique colors. That contour shade, I created it very selfishly for myself. I couldn’t find a shade like that until I made it. Another exciting project, I’ve become the main writer for the Whole Foods blog. It’s been so fun. All my recipes that I make, you can use them as treatments or you can consume them. Because you should be able to eat your beauty, right? So I make these dual-purpose recipes and then occasionally I do a beauty story. I’m trying to feature different ages, skin tones and models.
What is your favorite part of your job? I think the [projects] that really stood out in my mind are really when I’ve tapped into the soul of what was going on and it became much more than just makeup, it became about some form of creating beauty or healing for someone. That’s what I see my job as.
Thank you, Kristen for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me! You are a true inspiration to every green beauty out there! Visit Kristen’s site, Green Beauty Team for more amazing tips, tutorials and expert advice.
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