Kirsten Kjær Weis is a true pioneer in the field of natural beauty. Her eponymous label, which she founded in 2010, aims to merge the two worlds of natural and conventional into one while keeping a luxury component. A decade on, Kjær Weis cosmetics has become synonymous with high-quality makeup without compromise. The brand only uses clean, organic ingredients and comes in alluring, refillable packaging that wipes other brands – organic or not – off the map.
The Danish-born, US-based makeup artist spent her childhood on a farm in rural Denmark, which she has often attributed her close connection with nature. In conversation with ILLUM, she talks about how her vision for the brand has developed, what sustainability means to her, as well as what the past year has taught her.
In November 2020 it was 10 years since you founded Kjær Weis, how has your vision developed over the past decade?
To be honest, the vision was quite clear right from the beginning so there hasn’t been any need to evolve it. We are firmly rooted in being a transformative, high-performance beauty brand with a cleanest-of-the-clean ingredients profile, and a luxury experience that is also sustainable. In the past 10 years the space we occupy has definitely become busier, and the definition of ‘clean’ has become more occupied with many shades of grey. So we really have to stay true to our vision of excellence.
Kjær Weis unites organic beauty with luxury, what’s been the hardest part of merging the two?
Probably explaining to people and having them believe that it is possible. The stigma around organic is that it lives in a ‘healthy food world’. They don’t fully comprehend that the high-performing quality you can get out of organic is unparalleled! It truly is the best option you could buy for yourself.
Clean beauty has been on the rise for years but is still largely reserved skincare. Why do you think natural makeup hasn't gained the same traction?
There hasn't been as many brands doing it, and a truly clean formulation that doesn't cut corners is not an easy production. It's really time, resource, man power and all-consuming. You have to have a very good formulator to produce high quality. Also, makeup is all about colors and textures, whereas skincare is not, and the textures that we’re all used to in makeup are hard to create without silicones. A truly natural, non-synthetic cosmetic formulation requires a lot to nail.
What does being sustainable imply to you?
Sustainability means being thoughtful and intentional in choices from the quality of the certified organic ingredients we use, to the wellbeing of the farmers and suppliers we work with. In parallel to that, being conscious in terms of the packaging we use and what impact that has for our planet is imperative. I consider it a holistic approach to sustainability, with the conviction that it’s multilayered and therefore has to be a multilayered effort.
When creating refillable packaging, what’s most important to keep in mind?
The most important thing for me was to have it be an uncompromising approach, the prestige experience couldn't get lost in the effort to make it sustainable, which is why we landed on a refillable system which allows for a combination of luxury and sustainability in one.
With sustainability being the new norm in beauty, what’s your best advice for consumers to navigate the market and avoid buying into greenwashing?
A good place to start is by looking for certifications which customers can trust like CCPB, Cosmos etc. They represent a stamp of approval of the validity of the product.
Otherwise the next step is learning about ingredients – just in broad strokes; getting to know the names of the ingredients to avoid and why, that makes it easier to feel comfortable going over an ingredients profile when debating what to buy.
What does your everyday beauty routine look like? And has it changed during lockdown and the pandemic?
It hasn't changed too much despite the lockdown. I wear a minimal amount of makeup which includes our Liquid Foundation that evens out skin tone while it works as skincare. A bit of blush to the apples of the cheeks, mascara and/or a light dust of eyeshadow to make the eyes pop and a lip product that is pretty natural looking as well.
I have a lot of meetings in front of the screen and it is important to me to feel like I look polished and ready for the day as if I was in the office, both for the team and people I have meetings with as well as for myself.
What do you see makeup as a tool for?
It’s not to cover up who you are—it’s to enhance who you are. Makeup is playful and fun. It helps you feel the best version of yourself.
The past year has been intense. What are you taking away from it? And what are you looking most forward to leaving behind?
It created a pause across the globe that forced everyone to get off the hamster wheel and really take a good look at their lives. Certainly, in terms of work and our business, we’ve been forced to become super-resourceful because everything stopped and all of the sudden you have to make it work, you try to keep the wheels turning. You adapt, find silver linings, and get creative. It also made everyone stop and reflect and ask what we could learn from all this? We’re spread over continents, but we’re all connected.
Leaving behind… oh, lots of stuff. I think we were good at a high speed every day, with no time to stop and look at life. With this forced pause we’ve all been looking at life differently. Life won’t end if you take time aside for yourself, if you create small pauses here and there. It is possible!