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Even as a long time beauty writer and with all the trends pointing to ‘clean’ makeup, the idea of organic beauty brings to mind the sad shelf that sits by the lentil wall at a health store. You know the one, because it’s decked out in shades of legume. This is why Danish New Yorker Kirsten is your new beauty hero. She’s the woman behind Kjaer Weis, the ultra luxury natural beauty brand. Beginning her career as a makeup artist, Weis soon realised that while she preferred her products ‘green’, what was currently available couldn’t stand against the prevalence of synthetic cosmetics. With time, technology has moved bounds and so have the possibilities for organic products. But Kjaer Weis is a brand that took it one step further, opening its packaging feels looks a unboxing a Cartier bracelet and its refillable, silver metal case feels more like jewellery than blusher. What does the woman that’s created one of the most unique cosmetic companies out there use herself? And what does she think about the future of a sustainable brand like hers?
What’s your daily beauty routine?
I start by applying a facial oil which imparts a beautiful radiance and makes my skin feel nourished. It’s so important to prep the skin first. Then I apply the Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation using my fingers and the foundation brush. I tend not to wear bronzer during the daytime but will place the Cream Blush onto the apples of my cheeks to give a healthy, natural glow – never under the cheekbone. I’ll apply powder but only to the T-Zone and the chin, as these are the only areas on the face which produce sweat.
On the eyes, I wear very subtle, earthy eyeshadow. I like that these can take me from day to night quite easily. I also prep my lashes using an eyelash colour to open up eye and then apply the Volumizing Mascara.
What are your personal hero products from the Kjaer Weis range?
The Cream Foundation. It blends so beautifully into the skin so no one can tell you are even wearing makeup.
How does the American approach to makeup vary from Danish?
KW fuses together a minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic with an unapologetic NYC spirit (where our head office is based). Danish makeup tends to be more ‘minimalist’ and there is a strong focus of making the skin glowing and natural, rather than matte and overly contoured. It’s more about enhancing rather than changing or hiding features. The American approach to make up tends to vary state to state but generally I’d say people use makeup as a way to express themselves.
As a makeup artist, do you feel that ‘natural’ makeup can’t achieve certain looks that a client might want?
I started Kjaer Weis as I was working as a makeup artist in New York and found that ‘natural’ wasn’t to the same standard as synthetic items – they would cause models to break out. I saw a space in the market that wasn’t being met, where organic makeup can be luxurious and work just as well as the other stuff.
There are still some limitations, [for example] creating certain shades with completely natural pigments is difficult. However, this has improved [over time] and no doubt will continue to improve in the future.
Opening a KW package feels like unwrapping jewellery, what was the inspiration?
I had always been obsessed with the designer Marc Atlan. His designs are exceptional. I had the Comme de Garcons perfume bottle, which looks like a silver pebble and lays flat in the hand. Every time I held it it made me feel so overwhelmed with beauty. So I emailed him out of the blue, went with my moodboard and we hit it off!
I wanted something [the KW packaging to feel] like a piece of jewellery and two months later, he told me found a metal that’s non-recyclable, but it could be made into a refill system. There were many details to get right: the click, the slide of it opening, the feeling of the metal. It was so fun to hold. And then for the box, we added in the red paper textured paper and it really felt like something special. It took two years to get it right.
With your philosophy on ‘less is more’, is that the same for your personal taste on hair or fashion? Are these categories on the horizon for the brand?
I think so! I personally prefer few, long lasting, quality items instead of vast amounts of products.
At the moment we are focusing on expanding our beauty range with more eyeliners, lipsticks and additional foundation shades in development. We’re also looking to develop more skincare. Perhaps in the future we may [branch out].
Who is the KW customer?
The KW customer is usually a busy woman who wants to maintain a professional and polished look with minimal fuss. Her beauty routine is quick and easy so she will spend her money on quality products.
While the sustainability movement is growing, there’s also growing sentiment that it’s not much more than a marketing tactic. How does a truly sustainable brand stand out?
Sustainable beauty means two things to me: It speaks to both the inside, the actual product and it speaks to the outside, which is our primary packaging. In terms of the product itself, the sustainability piece translates into our products being certified organic. The ingredients that we use are non-synthetic, non-toxic and the raw materials that we use come from supervised organic farming. This means that even the soil in the fields are untouched by any chemicals.
On the other hand, the outside primary packaging is a refill system so there’s minimal waste. Our primary packaging is meant to be a one-time purchase, something you keep forever, so there is no waste involved. Brands need to take a 360 approach to sustainability, looking at not only their packaging but where they are sourcing their ingredients from and what ingredients they are using.
What role does social media play for your brand?
We love social media to showcase our new products and the colours, art and photographs that inspire our own formulas. We also show different natural makeup looks and educate our followers on how to use our products.
What changes would you like to see in the beauty industry?
All brands need to make progress towards being more sustainable, whether this be through their packaging or how they source their ingredients. It’s a movement everywhere: to be more conscious and natural. [It’s in] food, skincare and now makeup is the last one to catch on because it’s harder to produce without chemicals. I hope it will become the norm to at least use natural products, if not organic.
If you could have created another company what brand/product would it be and why?
A lifestyle or interior designs company – which of course, would be luxe and sustainable too!