Colour ~ Part 1

What I am most enjoying about writing these blog posts are the things I learn as I delve into researching topics of interest. Colour, similar to the clean beauty post is vast, interesting, at times disturbing, inspiring and amazing.


Colour, it is everywhere! We see it, love it, may loathe it, can be healed by it, are influenced by it, wear it and theme our lives around it. It is created by nature through light. Isaac Newton studied it, it has a theory and in essence, colour could be deemed as magical.


It's an impossible task to whittle down the huge topic of colour into a few paragraphs, so this blog is dedicated to the production of colour. How is colour made in order for us to wear it on our faces? Is this something you’ve considered as  you’ve applied your makeup in the morning?


Historically women and men have worn and used all kinds of materials to give their faces colour for the purpose of rituals, to please the gods, to symbolise status and to appear more attractive.

These materials were made from fruits, vegetable, berries, grains and plants, beetles, red ochre, copper, lead and zinc oxides, ash, crystals, bone, clay and coal. Many of these ingredients are still used in todays cosmetics industry.


Whilst in Mexico I saw Cochineal beetles being ground to create red dye for yarn. Cochineal or carmine (E120 or Natural Red 4 in today's cosmetics), is still one of the most effective source of red available. It’s use went out of fashion for a while and with vegan living gaining more popularity there may be an expected dip in production.  These little beetles are harvested off cacti in Mexico, dried and squished to make an amazing red colour that is used in cosmetics, food and textile colouring.


Minerals like mica and rare bismoclite are used to provide shimmer and have been used for millennia. Ground-up semi precious stone like  Lapis Lazuli is used for blue or ultramarine, and it seems to be a growing trend to use ground-up  Amethyst and Rose Quartz in many beauty products.


I love the idea of earth, science and trend collaborating to make an amazing product when it is done in a non exploitative and safe way. Unfortunately this is not often the case. Child slavery is a huge problem with mica and gemstone extraction. Over-mining and general lack of safety & respect for the lives of the people and the earth is inevitably a massive issue. How can we be a picture of beauty when there is at times such an ugly side to production?

Sad sigh.


If you read my last blog, you’ll be aware that many beauty product ingredients themselves are harmful. We have however made some small steps away from what our predecessors wore. If you have seen the recent film Mary Queen of Scots you will be familiar with the popularity of the white face makeup of this time, a combination of toxic and lethal lead and arsenic.


Early Japanese geishas also adorned a white face, although theirs was less harmful to their health as it was made of ground-up rice. Though it was kind on the body it  wore-off quickly or was absorbed into the skin.


The durability of colour in cosmetics began to really evolve in the 20th century with the birth of film. The official profession of the makeup artist was created, and the need for products that lasted and didn’t come with terrible side effects for the stars was needed. This prompted scientists to get busy and create lasting and ‘safe’ pigments for food, cosmetics and garments.


Pigments are split into two categories. The first being called ‘organic’ (organic in the chemistry sense, meaning carbon based) known as lakes or toners.

A lake is when a dye colour is bound with a solid compound usually a metallic salt to make it stable in liquid. This is a synthetic process and colours are generally made from coal (oil) by-products. These are your brighter colours, oranges, yellows, reds, vibrant blues etc. Found in all cosmetics items from lippies to blushes.

Toner pigments are the same, although they are already stable in liquid and don’t need to be bound with a solid compound.

The other group are called inorganic pigments and are generally made from metal oxides. These colours are duller but have longer lasting staying power and include your browns, and yellows, greens, mustards and whites, more commonly used in foundations but again in lipsticks, eyeshadows and blushes.

Whist there are many dark and unsustainable aspects of adorning ourselves with colour, it seems that the desire to enhance our features has not changed over the centuries.

Science and history continue to evolve and I dream of the day when our desire for beauty does not cost the planet so deeply.


Stay tuned for my next instalment on colour. It will be based around how to choose colour to wear and what will suit you best. I always love to hear your feedback and thoughts and please follow me here on Instagram.

xAmy

Clean - What does it mean, and why does it matter?

The term ‘clean’ or ‘green’ beauty is gaining momentum. If it’s news to you or you are developing an interest in it, then I hope this provides a helpful starting point for what to look for when purchasing ‘clean’ beauty products.

 

Firstly I want to say: women, our choices absolutely matter! We hold a lot of power, in simple terms our spending can alter the world. In an industry that’s worth USD $532 billion, and geared almost exclusively to women, it’s incredibly important to exercise this power and our right to choose what is good for us, our children and our planet.

 

These days we are way more clued-up about our food, household products, fashion and now beauty. We are spending more dollars on organics, reading food labels, checking where our food is coming from and turning our hands to growing things.

 

Plastics and other petrochemical products are undoubtedly a worldwide problem. Global warming is impacting us all and the world is reflecting this stress on many levels. What we do and why we do it is up for re-evaluation and it should be no different with beauty products.


The beauty industry has for many years gotten away with limited labelling legislation, often using cheap and harmful ingredients, preservatives and fillers. It's been been down right unbeautiful to turn over big bucks and in many ways has dis-empowered us with potential health side effects.

  

Do we want petrochemicals and harmful ingredients in our creams and lotions? Absolutely not! However, we do very much still want our beauty products. At times we’ll turn a blind eye to the unsightly aspects of the beauty industry to keep applying our beloved foundation, or mascara, right? Maybe not even a blind eye, just a misty eye. Let's not. We can opt for cleaner options without compromising what we like.

 

So what exactly does ‘clean’ beauty mean? This is a question that I have been pondering as I’m investigating and investing in consciously made, yet high-quality products for my professional makeup kit.  It seems that there are many different facets of ‘clean’ as there is currently limited regulation around the clean beauty movement. Until a fully transparent industry emerges it means prioritising what’s important to you. If cruelty free is the best you can do, then do it. If vegan is where you are at, then, great.  

 

But what do I mean by ‘clean’? Organic ingredients. Sustainable processes. Scientific research. Recyclable packaging. Chemical and petrochemical free. Cruelty free. Local. Vegan if it can’t meet other criteria.

Collaborative shoot for Antipodes Skincare, a clean beauty brand, showcasing their mud-mask ‘Halo’. Hair and makeup by me, illustration by Zoe Gillet.

Collaborative shoot for Antipodes Skincare, a clean beauty brand, showcasing their mud-mask ‘Halo’. Hair and makeup by me, illustration by Zoe Gillet.

 For me, organic is tops. Ingredients grown without sprays, insecticides, fertilisers, genetic modifications, and generally in a holistic approach that takes into account soil health, eco systems, companion planting, crop renewal and rejuvenation, and the well-being of the humans contributing to its processing. 

Dr Hauska and Logona, both originally German brands, have done this very well for years. RMS, Sante and Absolution are also brands that use a lot of organic ingredients .

Not all ingredients can be, or are organic, so secondly I am looking for sustainability. Most clean beauty brands use derivates of coconut and palm oil – if not sustainably produced these have devastating impacts on the planet. Many of the other oils and alcohols are sourced from large crops such as corn, soy, rosehips and many, many other plant materials, again often farmed with negative impacts. Some brands will say if they use sustainable sources, many don’t. Insist on sustainably produced plant materials. 

 

Remember, we do still have power by asking and enquiring; the more of us doing so, the more we create a culture of transparency. I really do suggest reading ingredient lists on brand websites, writing to companies and exercising your dollar power and social influence.


The next stop is packaging. Is it made from recycled material or can it legitimately be recycled here in NZ? This does require some research. I am currently opting for glass as NZ has a major recycling crisis going on, but glass we can handle. RMS use glass pottels, Aleph Beauty, an Auckland brand has also created conscious packaging, using glass and aluminium. Some companies are starting to sell refills, therefore cutting down on their packaging altogether. Ere Perez and Kjaer Weis offer fantastic refill options.

 

Many brands are cutting out animal ingredients in their products, stamping on their labels “vegan” and calling themselves ‘clean’; whilst I support vegan products, I don’t know if being vegan is simply enough. Many products still have harmful ingredients in them, such as BHAs and BHTs, synthetic colours and dyes (petrochemical derivatives), these are some of the ingredients with question marks around them regarding hormone disruption and cancer. Not to mention the environmental effects the oil industry has on our world. Again it’s about what’s important to you, and doing your research. Many ‘clean’ products still need to use synthetic ingredients, but many are now very well tested, and don’t have harmful effects on us. “Us” being humans. Because lastly, cruelty-free is not negotiable, and the fact that animal testing still exists is appalling to me and a lot of the big brands still do this, if you can do one thing, it’s to make a shift to cruelty free brands.

 

Thank goodness there are some awesome brands out there, doing important, innovative work, and it’s only going to get better. I am grateful that I can even delve into this world of ‘clean’ in a professional capacity, and it is exciting! It has given me a new passion for my job and is aligning me with the issues right at my heart.

 

I would love to hear from you about your clean beauty wins; brands that you are loving, products you have found. And please also let me know what you would like me to write about. I will delve more into some of these big topics, so please stay tuned.

 

Beautiful is a whole picture, let’s turn our attention to every part of that picture.

 

Resources:

David Suzuki Foundation Website

FTC Green Guides

Acme-Hardestry/Green Cosmetics

Other Clean Bloggers – including Lou Dartford







An Easy Wedding Morning

I am not married, and have not yet been through the boggling task of organising a wedding. In my heart of hearts, I do have a vision of walking down an aisle between our friends and family, speaking well-thought-out, meaningful vows, and committing our love, lives and dreams together forever in front of our chosen audience.

 

Whilst I am in a relationship and have a child, house, mortgage, rates, insurance, washing and all the other general admin that comes with a partner and children, it strikes me as somewhat ironic that I spend so much of my time supporting others in the endeavor of marriage, which has eluded me thus far.

 

I am not unhappy about this work, it is a lovely experience to be involved in someone’s special day as a makeup artist – a brief welcoming into someone’s life, family and excitement.

 

I thought a blog on weddings should be my first as I am right in the middle of my wedding season, and as it is fresh in my mind, I wanted to record some of the observations I have made, makeup-wise and other, to hopefully help you be at ease on your day; if you are not ‘in’ your day, enjoying it, then I think that would be tragedy after all of your planning. So here, in my opinion, are some key ingredients for your day’s success.

 

The biggest fear most brides have is about everybody looking at them. This becomes very real for them as their make-up goes on. My advice is always the same: we rarely get to feel nerves, and when we do, it’s because we’re out of our comfort zone, which generally means we are close to something important to us, something that will grow us, something new. How lovely! That in itself is such a great experience. And yup, everyone is looking forward to seeing YOU and hearing your vows and celebrating your love. Take some rescue remedy, a few deep breaths and enjoy those rare, jittery feelings!

Livvy looking relaxed on her wedding day. Photo Credit: Billie Brooke

Livvy looking relaxed on her wedding day. Photo Credit: Billie Brooke

 Think about who you want around you when you are getting ready. If you like quiet, and need time to prepare yourself, don’t have a rowdy bunch of friends and family; if you need distraction and a bustley vibe, then organise a full house.

 

Above all, have someone there dedicated to supporting you and your needs during the progression of your day – be it your MC, maid of honour, mother, sister, best friend, groom – someone to make sure you’ve eaten, have a drink in hand, that the music you want is playing, keeps an eye on the time, locks-up the accommodation, turns off the lights, has your bag packed, or theirs if they’re not coming back to your accommodation. The happiest brides, I have observed, are the ones that have the least to think about and someone totally ‘there’ for them.

 

The time flies by! Do your daily rituals that keep you feeling good: run, yoga, have a nice brekkie, and then hand-over to the professionals you have employed for your day, they will provide you with their timeline, trust it – they have seen it all before and know what works best.

 

Have your nails done the day before and your tan done at least 3 days in advance, you’ll love not having to worry about them or fit them in on your day and consider ‘green’ alternatives when planning these tasks.

 

I am not going to tell you how to choose a makeup artist. I am sure you will be recommended someone, or have googled someone in your area.  Instagram is a great way of visually seeing someone’s work. Most artists who speciaise in weddings are well-versed in what they do, so it should be hard to go wrong.

 

The most common feedback I receive from brides is that I am calm, considerate and I really listen to what they want. For me this is the best praise, as these are the qualities I would want my makeup artist to have. When picking someone, trust your instincts, I think we generally find those who we are the best fit for, then you can just enjoy having your face touched and your hair done – it’s so rare that we are pampered in this way.

 

I always ask brides to consider green, natural or organic makeup choices, beauty is undeniably important, but so is your skin’s health and our planet’s wellbeing.

 

It is a magic day, love that you are loved, and enjoy the fruition of all of your organisation and decision-making.

 

xxAmy