Kirsten Kjaer Weis guides us through her uncompromising approach to sustainable organic cosmetics and the life changing power of a Chinese Yam
Who? Kirsten Kjaer Weis has incredibly luminescent skin. It’s the first thing you notice about her, besides a gentle and convivial demeanour. Immediately, one wants to know her secret, considering that she’s only just landed in the UK after taking a rather dehydrating long-haul flight from New York – the city which she now calls home via an upbringing on a farm in rural Denmark and a stint at make-up school in Paris. Perhaps it’s this potent concoction of an eye for Danish design, a penchant for Parisian opulence and nostalgia for her agricultural childhood that has resulted in her namesake organic beauty brand Kjaer Weis. “It is a lot more time consuming to produce organic cosmetics,” says Weis with a soothing Scandinavian timbre. “In a lot of ways, you can compare it to the wine industry due to the fact that the harvest of natural ingredients is different every season, and that goes into the raw materials we use.” 15 years into her career as a make-up artist (Weis tells of her work on a photoshoot with Christy Turlington, where the supermodel had accidentally chopped off most of her eyelashes, and painting the face of Angelina Jolie during the era in which the actress took to wearing phials of Billy Bob Thornton’s blood round her neck), Kirsten learned where the gaps in the market lay. “There was a huge need for the world of luxury cosmetics that really perform as products to include ethical and sustainable ingredients. So that was my idea; to fill that space.”
What? There is nothing available to purchase from Kjaer Weis that can’t be found in a non-organic make-up line, the array of products on offer forming the basis of an essential make up kit, with creamy formulations and highly blendable textures in abundance. What sets the range apart from products sold at traditional beauty counters is the staunch ethics of sustainability injected into the brand, combined with incredibly luxe packaging (co-designed with Marc Atlan, the man responsible for Comme des Garçons’ iconic perfume bottles) from an alloy metal called Zamak. The metal isn’t recyclable, but Weis and Atlan found their way around this environmental predicament with an ingenious refill system that ensures customers only need invest in one item at a time. As for the range of shades: “All colours are mineral-based,” explains Weis. “About two years into having the line, there were certain colours that I wanted, like a pop-art orange lipstick. This is pretty much impossible to create with a natural dye. So some of our colours – not a lot – but a few of them have less than one per cent of artificial ingredient. The only place I will compromise on this is with colour.” The brand has also recently branched out into skincare too, launching The Beautiful Oil, complied from a blend of organic plant extracts and the healing power of Chinese Yam; an ingredient endorsed by Austrian esotericist Rudolf Steiner, who attempted to find harmony between science and spirituality through the study of root vegetables.
Why? The current trend for Insta-make-up caked on with a trowel obviously has its merits. For one, it’s inspired by the legacy of drag, which we wholeheartedly adore (a statement that Kirsten nods her head at enthusistically). But for those who prefer their look to sit at the subtle end of the beautifying spectrum, Kjaer Weis is the range for you, following the mantra of ‘enhance but don’t cover’. The brand also paves the way in the field of organic cosmetic production, with a lack of compromise in creating products that are equally as ethical as they are covetable, competing with the mainstream market. As Weis reiterates, “organic and luxury beauty ranges were once always separate entities: the green, eco-warrior products on the shelves of health food stores and brands that really perform and look beautiful too. My aim is to remove this compromise and create something that encompasses both.” To merely hold a Kjaer Weis product in your hand is to know that her aim has been accomplished.