With all the environmental attention that gets focused on things like transportation and energy, fashion is only now beginning to pick up a real head of steam. It’s still easy, however, to get hemmed in by the clothes, and not really think about the environmental and health impacts of another aspect of fashion & beauty, cosmetics. Together with hair and skincare products, the cosmetics business is a $40 billion a year enterprise, and it is a fiercely competitive and chemically innovative industry. All this innovation can make for some great looks. However, water quality regulations, treatment facility processes, and federal chemical regulations that are nearly 3 decades old are far from keeping pace with new unregulated chemicals produced for cosmetics. Some of these chemicals fit into disconcerting medical categories like “hormone disruptors” and slip through water treatment plants that are simply not equipped to deal with them.
It can be argued that, despite all the disconcerting facts, and aside from governmental regulations, market-based advocacy is one of the best ways to change mainstream consumer choices and reduce environmental impact. Even in a world of increasing environmental awareness, people still want choices that appeal to them as consumers and not just as activists, per se. The best and most successful eco-fashion designers realize this, and design apparel for the very same person who might otherwise choose a conventional product for looks alone if the eco-friendly choice doesn’t measure up in terms of fashion. They are looking not only for the eco-conscious consumer, but want to produce designs that people pick up, try on, and love, before they even know it is eco-friendly.
Bearing all this in mind, I got together with professional makeup artist Sunny Fire for a test (Yes, her real name. When grandpa Fuoco, “fire” in Italian, came through Ellis Island, he Americanized). We set out to create a fashion look using conventional cosmetics, and then replicate it as closely as possible using only eco-friendly products. The results were fairly encouraging. As you can see below, despite some of the challenges, the look was pretty closely followed from one set of products to the next, and spells good news for the every-day person looking to start transitioning to more environmentally responsible products. Ultimately some of the differences here such as cheek color, had more to with differences between available shades than anything to do with quality. We take a look here and follow up with some Q&A for Fire.
Photo: Tony Secker Makeup: Sunny Fire Model: Kaycee Phillips Hair: Scott Kane Propaganda Salon
aerochug.com: Any surprises, Sunny?
Sunny Fire (“SF”): I am very pleasantly surprised that a fashion photo look was achievable using all eco-friendly products.
aerochug.com: What were some of your concerns going in?
SF: As a make up artist for many years, I had doubts that the pigments would be intense enough in the loose mineral eye shadows that I used for Kaycee’s lids and brows. I was also concerned that SPF in the tinted moisturizer would reflect too much light for photography.
aerochug.com: At least with respect to this shoot, and the products involved, what’s the verdict in your opinion?
SF: I think a high fashion make up look is easily reproduced with natural, eco friendly cosmetics. Unfortunately, there are fewer choices and certain conventional products that I refuse to work without at least at present. It also requires relearning application techniques.
aerochug.com: Setting aside fashion shoots, what about eco-friendly makeup for everyday life, from business, to casual, to out on the town?
SF: I absolutely think that the every-day woman could easily start replacing the conventional make up in her drawer as it gets used, and switch to eco friendly cosmetics. It’s easy to get a beautiful everyday look that can be slammed up for evening. As for me, anyway that I can support sustainable, natural, and safe cosmetics and help reduce my impact, I will.
Here are the cosmetics from the conventional and eco-friendly lines Sunny used to create our look along with the average price of the full original product off the shelf. This examiner was pleased to see that our eco-friendly collection actually cost a few dollars less. You can look great, and not take a hit on your pocketbook.
Conventional makeup used to achieve this look:
Foundation: Boots Tinted Moisturizer No. 7 (1.3 fl oz) $12
Lip: MAC Viva Glam 1 $15
Brows: MAC Eyeshadow –Cork $15
Eyes: Lancome Eyeshadow (Burnt Sand) $17
Eyes: Lancome Eyeshadow (Exhibition) $17
Powder: NARS Venus $30
Mascara: Sephora waterproof Black .33 oz $10
Cheek: MAC Out of Bounds powder blush $19
Eco-friendly, animal safe makeup used to achieve this look:
Foundation: Tarte healthCouture Smooth Operator
Oil free with SPF 20 “Agent 02 aka Façade $35
Lip: Tarte healthCouture vitamin-infused “Vinyasa” $21
Brows: Alima Pure Satin Matte eyeshadow MINERALS (Auburn) $ 9
Eyes: Alima Pure luminous shimmer .08oz (Tigereye) $ 9
Eyes: Alima Pure luminous shimmer .08oz (Black Orchid) $ 9
Powder: Alima Pure Satin Finishing Powder .16oz (Hanae) $15
Mascara: Korres Natural Products ProVitamin B5 &
Rice Bran Mascara (Black) $ 18
Cheek: Alima Pure Luminous Shimmer Pwdr .16oz (Whisper) $15
For more info: Sunny Fire Makeup, Tony Secker Photography, Propoganda Salon, Alima Pure, Tarte Cosmetics, Korres Natural Products, MAC, Lancome, NARS, First Research, Environmental Working Group. Links for Comment Questions: WebMD, Mineral Makeup, EWG Mineral