Beauty Counter natural beauty interview kristen arnett January 20, 2011 –


Makeup Artist Kristen Arnett’s Got (Green Team) Spirit, How ‘Bout You?

Not all makeup artist kits are created equal, particularly in the case of face painter and backstage regular Kristen Arnett. Arnett, who has been an integral part of glam squads at shows like Alexander Wang, Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin, and Prada, is among the small minority whose suitcase full of powders, paint pots, lipsticks, and glosses is entirely green. It’s an impressive feat, seeing as how earth-friendly beauty ranks far behind speed and precision in the backstage hustle and bustle. An eco convert who had tried every medication on the market as a teenager to thwart a persistent acne problem before cutting out synthetics in her personal and professional life altogether, Arnett now preaches the gospel of natural makeup on set and on her newly launched Web site,

“It’s all my experience—from the perspective of someone who travels to Milan and Paris and works backstage at all the shows—of what products work best.”

Here, Arnett takes us on a virtual tour of how to green your makeup bag, one step at a time. Where’s a good place to start? Two words: olive oil.

—Fiorella Valdesolo

When did you make a conscious decision to start incorporating green products into your beauty regimen?

It happened about three years ago. I was living in Italy at the time and a model friend of mine was always using olive oil as a moisturizer and we started talking about it. She was very particular about what she put on her body, and her skin was so amazing. I had been on Accutane twice and it just stopped making sense at a certain point to put more and more chemicals on my skin. So I started doing the research and then I fully shifted over. When I first started my new regimen in Italy, the easiest way was to go back to the basics, so I was carrying around olive oil as a moisturizer, much to the horror of my Italian friends, who were all like, “My grandmother does that…”

When you got back to the States, were natural cosmetics easier to find?

No, finding good-quality green makeup was just impossible. Being a makeup artist, I have really high standards for how something should wear and perform, so I couldn’t just jump in by buying a bunch of random shimmer mineral powders and throwing them in my kit. I started researching brands based on what people were recommending to me, learning about and test-driving lines that they had tried and liked. I came to find out that there wasn’t much solid information about natural makeup on the Internet—just things like how to make your own avocado mask—and I was like, “Great. But I want to look cute!”

Is that how came about?

The Web site is something I’ve been working on for a year, and the response has been tremendous so far! For me, the site was the thing I could contribute after all my research—after converting myself and my kit to being more green. It’s not that I just get behind a lip gloss because I kind of like it one day; I only support a product if I am certain it performs really well. It’s also a great place for me to be able to send people to teach them about why going green matters; and if you already play for the “team,” then OK, you can learn about the latest and greatest. I’m thrilled about it.

So are your contributors, it seems.

All the experts are people I’ve met throughout this process who are passionately living what they preach. Like Donna Sonkin, for instance, who is a holistic health counselor. Then we have Rebecca Casciano, who is a great makeup artist in her own right but is also a certified wellness consultant by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. And Tasha Gerken, a very passionate holistic nutritionist who understands vitamins better than anyone else.

Aside from the expert tips, what else makes the site unique?

There is “Greening of a Glam Girl,” a feature about educating one woman about how to make green choices. It came out a of a meeting with the woman who was going to help me with social media; she started telling me all these crazy things people were saying to her at beauty stores, like a primer was going to clear up her acne. Women are overwhelmed with information, so I understand that it’s hard to figure out what’s right, and with green beauty you have to seek these products out more because they’re not always available at big chains. So it’s all about debunking those types of beauty myths.

Speaking of, the idea of tossing well-loved products in favor of more natural alternatives can be daunting. What’s your advice for baby-stepping into the process?

With makeup specifically, start looking at changing your foundation first, because it’s the first layer that touches your skin—even if that’s a primer, whatever the first layer is that touches your skin, change that before anything else. There are a lot of great lines out there now, and all kinds of different formulations, whether you are a liquid or a powder lover. Lip products should be the next thing you change. We’re always ingesting so much of them, absorbing them through the skin and in our mouth when we lick our lips, drink, eat, and kiss, so better that it’s a non-toxic formula.

Like what? Can you share some of your personal favorites from the world of eco-chic cosmetics?

The products I use every day on myself that I love are: Physician’s Formula Organic Wear tinted moisturizer, RMS Beauty cream eye shadow in Seduce for eyes and to contour my cheeks, Physician’s Formula Organic Wear 100% natural origin eyeliner, Korres Lengthening High Definition mascara in blue black, and a bit of Youngblood Natural mineral foundation, used sparingly as a setting powder. The star products in my kit for photo shoots are Jane Iredale Active Light under-eye concealer, Shobha brow pencils, Primitive Fruit pigmented blush in Healthy, ZuZu Luxe bronzer, literally every shade of Primitive lip color and liners, and definitely Jane Iredale’s Lip Drink; it’s this amazing lemon-scented balm that really penetrates the lips. All the models are obsessed with it!

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