I had the pleasure of interviewing eco-glam writer, illustrator and makeup artist, Aimee Valentine. You may recognize her by her moniker, The Green Makeup Artist; you may have even seen her transform a gorgeously-green blushing bride at a recent wedding!
If you don’t know Aimee, or her work, you soon will. Our first makeup artist interview, Aimee is as charming and inspiring as the looks she creates. Read on to hear about how she got where she is today, why she is obsessed with eco beauty, and her tips for a flawless, and earth-friendly face!
What’s your current profession, and how did you get to where you are?
I’m a writer, illustrator, and green makeup artist. I am an eager learner, and have spent years in various fields related to art, beauty, aesthetics, and the ethics of sustainability. All these elements shaped the life I currently lead.
Tell us about your experience with Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.
My experience with Bobbi Brown was invaluable for several reasons. First, because the brand is highly recognizable (mainstream) as well as upscale, I was afforded the opportunity to work in high profile department stores where I encountered women from all over the world. I met thousands of women. And while they had different skin types and ethnicities, as well as culturally varying ideas of beauty, they shared a similar goal. They wanted to feel beautiful. That’s important to note. Someone might “look” beautiful to others, but none of that matters if they don’t feel beautiful. I realized that part of my role as a makeup artist (and a human being) is to help women recognize and internalize their sense of beauty, and that is still my goal today.
Secondly, the brand’s philosophy is one of a “naturally beautiful” look. I learned to STRIP women of their old makeup habits, and by removing heavy layers of makeup that MASKED their beauty, I could show women how their own features were uniquely beautiful. We should approach our beauty as a thing which already exists, a thing which we can enhance. We don’t have to INVENT it, and it is a mistake to COVER it with someone else’s idea of beauty. Unless you’re going to a masked ball, don’t wear a mask! Don’t get me wrong: it’s really fun to do a “MAC” look. It’s like painting, and I love to paint. The idea of using our faces as a canvas is appealing, there’s no doubt. We can be who we want to be. I think we get into tricky territory when the face that we IDENTIFY with, the face that others KNOW us by is not our true face. The gossip rags love to show “Celebrities without makeup!” And we eagerly thumb through the pages, gasping at the profound differences between the perceived star, and the real star.
And this is perfectly normal. We NEED to know that the images that greet us on covers of magazines and television and film are not REAL. They are photoshopped and airbrushed. The set lighting is carefully controlled, and a makeup artist is always standing by. In REAL life, women are more like “beauty in motion.” Lighting is always changing around us. We have jiggly bits. We are living and breathing.
Finally, I learned that teaching women to become their own makeup artists is key. While I love doing makeup for events, I really believe that every woman should learn how to best accent her own beauty. There is no reason that you should have to rely on someone else to make you look or feel beautiful. That goes, again, to the ideal of internalizing beauty.
What attracted you to eco beauty?
It is one thing to represent “natural beauty” as an aesthetic philosophy. That is saying, “We approach beauty by making a person look naturally beautiful, rather than overly made up.” It is another thing, altogether, to represent “natural beauty” as an ethical philosophy. This is a deeper approach. Sustainable beauty is about ingredients, it is about sourcing materials, it is about fair trade, it is about environmental impact as well as being healthful for the individual.
Just as I believe that beauty is more than skin deep, I believe that “natural” should be more than a “style” of makeup application. Natural should mean something more. We’ve got to learn to look beyond branding and try to understand what we are actually buying into when we purchase products and support corporations. Who OWNS the company you think you’re buying from? Do they do animal testing? Do they buy petrochemicals as fillers and preservatives despite the fact that research shows these ingredients harm the health of their very consumers? How does this make them different than the tobacco companies? Or the oil companies who run ads about how they’re working to save the environment? Yes, of course you want to believe them. And they KNOW that you want to believe them. If all it takes for you to keep funding them is a commercial or print ad about “how they care”, they would be fools not to use the media to their advantage. And you’re not naive because you believe them. You’re hopeful. But you’ll do yourself and the world a favor if you set an example for your family and friends. If you ACT and VOTE through your purchases. Instead of buying something that SAYS “natural”, buy something that IS natural. Instead of supporting giant corporations who dodge the difficult questions, support small businesses, who ask those questions of themselves.
How do you define “green makeup”?
Green makeup is defined more by what ISN’T in it than by what is. I’ve seen products that claim to be organic which, in addition to containing organic ingredients ALSO contain petrochemicals, phthalates, and other unsundries. Green makeup doesn’t HAVE to be organic, but it should be made WITHOUT ingredients considered by research to be toxic. I like to use the Cosmetic Safety Database as a guide. It’s really fun to type in the name of a strange ingredient from your favorite product, and see where it falls in terms of toxicity, and then remember that your skin is your largest organ, and what goes on it goes in it.
How stringent are you about using green makeup?
This is a great question. In my blog, I often say that every person must decide for themselves where to draw “The Green Line”. Some people won’t use any products which use synthetic ingredients, some people allow for synthetics if the ingredients are otherwise organic, some people feel that as long as a product doesn’t contain whichever harmful ingredient they find most offensive (usually phthalates, parabens, or petrochemicals) they are happy enough. As a makeup artist, I try to be accepting and flexible about this spectrum of green. I am constantly testing new products, and if I limited myself to strictly organic, non synthetic products, I wouldn’t have much information to offer aside from various brands of mineral makeups, and one fruit line. As it happens, the fruit based line (100% Pure) is probably my very favorite makeup, but their line has some holes in it, and may not be right for everyone. Thus, I prefer to keep my options open. I also feel it’s my responsibility to find products available in “the mainstream”, for women who may not feel comfortable going online to purchase makeup from a small company. I want to be able to tell women about “green” products that may work for them from lines they can find at their local drugstore, or Sephora, or Target. We won’t all agree about the meaning of “green”, just as we won’t all agree about the meaning of “beauty”. The most important thing is for us to keep talking about it.
Is your skincare routine all natural?
Yes! It would be INSANE to put a bunch of gross nonsense on my face, right into my pores, and then to top it off with “healthy makeup”! I’m unpredictable when it comes to brands of skincare, however. Some weeks I’ll wash my face in the shower with my shampoo (when I’m lazy), with coconut oil as a moisturizer (since I’m using it all over, anyway). Other times, I use “the good stuff”. Sometimes “the good stuff” (whatever line I’m testing) breaks me out. We have to remember that just because it’s NATURAL doesn’t mean it’s the right product for us. We’re all different.
What products should every makeup lover invest in to start their eco-beauty journey?
1) Tinted moisturizer with sunscreen. (it’s a 3-in-1 product that many green lines make.)
2) Clean lipgloss. (You’re EATING it, honey. Make sure you WANT to eat it)
3) Clean lotion. (You’re slathering it all over your body, everyday. Your ENTIRE body is eating it)
-Any advice for people looking to green their beauty routine?
1) You don’t have to do it all at once. Just make a decision TODAY that you will read the ingredients of every NEW product you buy from NOW ON.
2) Decide what ingredients you will refuse to put into your body. (there’s loads of info online about safe cosmetics and toxic ingredients)
3) Be good to yourself. Green makeup is for you, it’s for your loved ones, it’s for your planet.
Remember, this isn’t a race that is going to be won today. It’s more of a map that keeps unfolding, until you get to the place that makes you happiest.
Have a great adventure!
Check out Aimee’s writing, art and beauty tips at her revamped website, greenmakeupartist.wordpress.com!