While sustainability has become a hot button issue in the beauty industry over the past few years, eliminating unnecessary waste and using clean ingredients have always been a priority for Kirsten Kjaer Weis.
The Denmark-born makeup artist, who grew up on a farm, noticed how people's skin would become irritated from using products with synthetic ingredients on set, along with how much she collected by going through the products in her kit so quickly.
Unhappy with the performance of the clean formula options out there at the time, she created her own brand, Kjaer Weis, a line of luxury clean makeup products that come in refillable and recyclable packaging.
"I really wanted to take that overly green aspect out of natural products and showcase that even if you were going down the avenue of using only green and organic, it could still be beautiful and luxurious," Kjaer Weis tells InStyle. "And so that it can one day hold its own, because this was before 'clean' was really a term."
When Kjaer Weis first launched 10 years ago, the brand quickly became known for its innovative cream blush and pigmented lipsticks. Now, the line offers every product one would need for a full face of makeup, including liquid foundation, lengthening mascara, and powder and cream eyeshadows. All in refillable packaging.
"For the actual formulas, I was looking in the states and was trying to find a manufacturer over here, but eventually teamed up with one in Italy," says the founder. "The first products I launched with were a cream blush and a lip tint, and I was told you don’t put creamy stuff on the cheeks. It was really about stretching the perception of what makeup was like, which was more centered in an old school approach."
As for the packaging, the businesswoman says the options weren't as evolved back in 2007 when she started developing her line. Eventually, she landed on a metal that while it isn't recyclable, can be refilled for years. But as the demand for sustainable options continues to rise as the clean beauty space continues to grow, and the brand is continuing to improve its options based on the new materials available, too.
"We recently launched the Red Edition, which is a second option to our primary silver packaging. The red isn't going to last as long, but it's fully recyclable and compostable. Now, you can pick your refill shade first, then whether you want red or silver."
While many brands are shifting to more sustainable practices, from how they source ingredients to recyclable packaging, Kjaer Weis says it's a multilayered process that requires them, as well as consumers, to look at where they can do better. For her brand, she's looking to scale down the packaging e-commerce orders are shipped in.
"We're seeing that you don't have to compromise luxury in order to be sustainable," Kjaer Weis shares. "I’m encouraged by that because I think it’s here to stay and not a niche thing just happening in the beauty industry alone."
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Shop Kjaer Weis’ Cult-Favorite Makeup Products
This skincare-infused liquid foundation offers light to medium coverage and a natural dewy finish. It comes in 24 shades categorized by skin tone and undertone.
To buy: $48; kjaerweis.com.
This easy-to-blend, creamy formula melts into cheeks for a sun-kissed look. No brushes required.
To buy: $32; kjaerweis.com.
This award-wining organic lipstick offers just as much pigment as traditional formulas. The shades range from classic red to tawny nude, and every color in-between.
To buy: $32; kjaerweis.com.
Kjaer Weis' powder eyeshadow has a silky texture so it's easy to apply evenly. Instead of synthetic silicones, Kjaer Weis' powder eyeshadow gets its silky texture from bamboo. The long-wear formula was designed to be gentle enough for sensitive eyes.
To buy: $27; kjaerweis.com.
It's notoriously tough to formulate a clean mascara, but this one has become one of the brand's best-sellers for a good reason. It thickens, darkens, and of course, lengthens lashes. Plus, the wand is designed to apply just the right amount of product to lashes to avoid waste.
To buy: $28; kjaerweis.com.
From non-toxic makeup and skincare to sustainability practices, Clean Slate is an exploration of all things in the green beauty space.
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