~ (3) An Interview with Crystabel 
Riley: Conscious Beauty

Photography Lara Coassin

Model Lilly Marie Goodman 
Shoot Assistant Pia Luise Gross
Words Lara Coassin

We spoke to Crystabel Riley, sustainable makeup artist as well as writer and curator for Beauty Papers about her process, inspiration, and her thoughts on the conscious beauty movement. She left us with great advice on how to be more mindful in makeup.

Lara Coassin Green beauty is not only stunning but also kinder to the planet and people, what made you turn to eco-friendly and organic makeup?

Crystabel Riley I suffered from eczema and started to react to contact with make-up. I gradually couldn’t use much of my kit on myself, so I started to slowly transform my kit and become more interested in the ingredients, which then lead to an interest in the ethics and the objects themselves, their pre- and afterlife and how they interact with the world and how I fit into that as consumers of these objects. ︎︎︎

LC How do you usually start your process? Do you begin with the concept of a look, or do you experiment with ingredients and go from there?

CR I work in teams of people, some of which are my friends, but everyone is different, and my process reflects that. Sometimes I do a lot of preparation for a shoot, and other times, I improvise and respond to more immediate sources of inspiration like the set, clothes, the human being I’m working on, the lighting and story, etc. I like to experiment with materials that are low waste like corn mays starch as powder for larger areas changing textures etc- always I am interested in exploring how to work whilst purchasing fewer objects in plastic pots etc. I am always careful to experiment in a safe way thinking of ingredients that won’t harm the skin, and ideally benefit it.
This whole process of discovery, plus the people I work with, the real history and future of people, and the messages they want to send through make-up is a deep pool of inspiration. ︎︎︎
LC Do you have any favourite products? And is there a specific makeup look you love?

CR I have spent years plucking my mum’s brows to smithereens, and her make-up is a thin brow with a bold lip. I really like this and executing this in a multitude of different ways that balance in framing the face like that. ︎︎︎
LC How do you feel about the sustainable beauty movement, do you feel you are part of a larger community of creatives?

CR I think it is changing all the time, and perhaps before it was a smaller community, but it is widening thanks to groups of people that have been involved in it for years - like the Conscious Beauty Union. But I think it’s still really hard to get people to engage with it in a total way as there are so many elements to it and so many value systems that you could choose to follow and be interested in. But in general, we need some big changes, so it is easier to use make-up and have less impact on the world. At the moment it’s still hard. We live in a world where we can’t even recycle a crisp packet - I have to collect them all and walk 1 mile to my local Co-op - so when it comes to beauty, we are still having to go out of our way to find appropriate places. It would be great if beauty could lead the way a bit and if the community could be strengthened. ︎︎︎
LC What tips would you give an aspiring makeup artist who wants to be more mindful about their practice?

CR I think a mistake people make is to try and solve the problem with more purchasing so I would definitely advise people to look deeper into their current kit, think and ask about where and how things are made. It’s really good to start a respectful dialogue with the brands you work with asking questions about how they interact with and what they are doing about the issues around Mica? Or why they might include liquid microplastics like Polyethylene in their formulations? How is the object made for disassembly and recycling and refilling options?  Informed dialogue is our best tool as an artist that has influence over people around us and the brands we work with. I would say it’s really important to find make-up that can be used in multiple different ways, and really seek to finish the products you purchase and see if there are any elements that can be disassembled disinfected, and reused such as mirrors and spoolies.

~ (March 2022)