Q+A with Makeup Artist & Beautycounter Chief Artistic Officer Christy Coleman
We chat with Christy Coleman about her "light-handed" approach to makeup, her passion for clean products, and more.
Makeup artist Christy Coleman is all about clean beauty — in 2008 she even made the commitment to make her kit 100% clean! Throughout her years as a professional in the industry, she's not only had her work featured in top publications like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and in the campaigns for several massive brands, but she's also gone on to become a product developer and the Chief Artistic Officer for Beautycounter, where she continues to bring her natural beauty vision to life. Read on to hear more about Christy's experience in the clean beauty space and learn more about her career!
Q: How did you get into makeup?
My love affair with makeup began when I was 12 years old, sitting passenger-side in the wheat truck on our family farm in rural Oklahoma, flipping through Vogue and Mademoiselle.
Q: How would you describe your style as a makeup artist?
Flawless skin, defined brows, and playful pops of color.
Q: What first inspired you to transition your makeup kit to totally clean products?
It started when I was quite young. I used to watch crop dusters spray the fields surrounding my family's farm in rural Oklahoma, and watched as mosquito control trucks sprayed our cul de sac with the insecticide DDT. This sparked my curiosity about environmental toxins, which led me to read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. After educating myself about environmental toxins, I made my own natural skincare products when I became licensed as an esthetician at the age of 18. I learned, early on, that chemicals can be harmful to the environment and the human body.
As a makeup artist, I always used natural products when it came to skincare — it was intuitive to me. Makeup was washed off the model’s face at the end of the shoot, so honestly, I didn’t put two and two together at the time, as I equated makeup to paint. It wasn’t until my father was diagnosed in 2003 with ALS that I became passionate about changing the trajectory of beauty, and that included skincare and makeup. I picked up Not Just a Pretty Face by Stacy Malkan, and this became my “a-ha moment.” I thought, “If I don’t know this as a makeup artist, then how is the world to know?”
I immediately launched a blog to educate others and hold myself accountable, followed by an e-commerce site selling only clean products. And in 2008, I made the whole-hearted commitment to completely transition my makeup kit and only work with clean products, because I wanted to give back to the industry that has given so much to me. I care immensely for our planet, the human race, and our furry friends. It became my manifesto: to make the world a better place for all life, and to change beauty as we know it.
Q: What was the first clean beauty product you tried?
I would say it was pure oils. I had reactive skin as a kid and my mother tried everything, including countless trips to the dermatologist. The only thing that healed my acne was a high-quality vitamin E capsule that I would apply directly to my skin.
Q: What do you love the most about what you do?
I love to travel and discover beauty rituals from around the globe, along with dream up innovative ideas and see them come to fruition. As I reflect back over the last 13 years, it has been beyond rewarding to see the clean beauty space emerge and grow, with countless brands now launching, more than I could have ever imagined! It inspires me to work as a makeup artist and be part of a creative team of photographers, editors, stylists, and hairdressers, all seeking the best creative outcome. And, of course, connecting with the talent (the actual face I am touching) in an honest way.
Q: What is one product everyone should have in their makeup bag?
A face oil! Just place a couple of drops in the palms of your hands, rub them together, and gently pat onto the skin for an immediate healthy and radiant glow.
Q: What is your best advice for someone who is interested in integrating clean beauty into their routine, but doesn’t know where to start? What is the easiest way to start transitioning to clean beauty products?
I always say start with body products first, as they cover the largest area, followed by skincare, then makeup. There are so many more options now than when I first transitioned my makeup kit, so it’s much easier to find high-performing skincare and makeup that will quickly become your new favorites.
Q: What are some of your tips and tricks for a “light-handed” beauty approach?
Apply foundation with an appropriate tool, such as a brush or sponge. Follow with a concealer, applied with a small synthetic brush (I get mine from the paint store), to cover anything you wish to make disappear. This targeted technique allows your skin to radiate through. Keep powder to a minimum and only use it where you may be prone to shine: under your eyes (not on the outer edges, where the powder can settle in fine lines), around nostrils, chin, and forehead, using a small brush. Larger brushes can cover too much skin and leave the skin looking less radiant. Consider creams over powders for eyes and cheeks, as they provide a more "lightweight" finish.
Rapid Fire Round
Q: Worth the splurge:
Clearlight Infrared Sauna & Celluma PRO.
Q: Favorite drugstore find/budget pick:
Magnesium flakes and pure shea butter.
Q: Latest beauty empty:
Q: Recent discovery:
Esker Body Plane.
Q: Product you can’t leave home without:
Persephenie Salt Inhaler & my Apollo.
For more of Christy's favorite products, check out her shop: