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New Organic Makeup Color Collection by Christy Coleman

by Feifei Sun

Fashion and celebrity makeup artist Christy Coleman creates a visionary new organic makeup color collection
Christy Coleman’s work has appeared on countless international magazine covers (Teen Vogue, Glamour, ELLE UK) and celebrity faces (Cameron Diaz, Kate Bosworth) but the makeup artist’s interest in organic makeup products was piqued at an early age by something much less glamorous: her grandparents’ farm in Oklahoma.
She has vivid memories of making mud pies—and face masks—as a seven-year-old on a flatbed trailer in Willow, a small town in the southwest part of the state, which had a population of 149 at the last census count. Coleman, who now lives in California, also has memories of crop dusters spraying pesticides over the farm, which at the time confused her. “It was a strange realization to see fresh food grow out of the ground and then have chemicals put on top of it,” she says.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]“We shouldn’t ever have to sacrifice our health and safety for products that work.”[/quote]
In 2007, Coleman had a similarly strange realization after reading Not Just a Pretty Face (New Society Publishers) by Stacy Malkan, the exposé about the $35 billion cosmetics industry and the toxic ingredients found in mass-produced cosmetics, many of them linked to infertility and cancer. “I had always been aware that skin is the body’s largest organ and that it absorbs so much of the products we slather on, but I’d never made the connection with health and makeup because makeup was really an art form for me and the skin a canvas,” she says. “Reading the book was really my ‘aha’ moment. What you put on your body absolutely influences your health, so we should absolutely be more conscientious about the ingredients in our makeup.”
After finishing the book, Coleman began the slow and tedious process of greening her makeup kit, only to discover that finding non-toxic products that still delivered the color and finish she needed was a challenge. She caught a serendipitous break in 2010, when Beautycounter’s Founder and CEO, Gregg Renfrew, sought out Coleman to work with her on developing the company’s organic makeup collection. Beautycounter’s mission is to offer safe skincare and cosmetics that don’t skimp on luxury or sophistication: To date, they’ve banned more than 1,500 harmful ingredients from their products. The company already had a strong skincare collection and made Coleman head of design to spearhead its color offerings.
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“There was no benchmark for what we wanted to do when I started,” says Coleman, who counts painters Mark Rothko and Georgia O’Keeffe as inspirations. “It wasn’t like we took foundations from a particular brand and then just made non-toxic versions of them. I went to the labs and mixed the colors myself. The whole collection was built on my arm,” she says with a laugh.
After starting with a few lip colors in 2013, Beautycounter recently expanded its cosmetics offerings to include blushes, eye shadows and pencils, foundation and concealer. Coleman says she’d love to figure out a safe mascara next, but she’s in no rush to create one just to have it in the collection. “I want the growth to be organic, as opposed to rushing to make things just so we have them,” she says. “I really believe that by doing that, Beautycounter can change the industry and the way beauty is defined. We shouldn’t ever have to sacrifice our health and safety for products that work.”

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