Green MUA? Futurenatural's Emma Pezzack

Futurenatural’s Emma Pezzack

Though it may feel like makeup is a necessity when you wake up exhausted, hung over or both, in reality our little pots and tubes of color are extravagances. And like four-dollar coffees, frosted-to-death cupcakes and doggie sweaters, these little indulgences are what makes life fun.

But at what cost do our good times come, to both our health and that of the planet (which is really one and the same)? I’m not the only one who thinks that life’s little luxuries should come with zero impact; if it’s not necessary, then the first rule should be “do no harm.”

Good thing the beauty industry is catching on. Following in the wake of sustainable fashion, less-toxic makeup is now available everywhere from the drugstore (Physician’s Formula’s new Organic Wear line to makeup megastore Sephora.) But for a serious selection of the most toxin-free cosmetics, check out online retailers Kaia House, Futurenatural and Beautorium.

We know that consumer pressure can encourage companies to consider the impact of their products, but the makeup industry also works with professional makeup artists (pro-MUAs) who can have influence on both the companies’ products they use and the clients they work with. GreenMUA has a great listing of companies, articles and links for pro makeup artists who are interested in making their industry more sustainable.

I spoke with the Australia-bred Emma Pezzack, the owner and founder of Futurenatural, about Earth-friendly makeup for regular women and the new move by makeup artists to bring these products into the pro makeup arena.

Starre Vartan:
What put you on the path toward sustainable cosmetics?

Emma Pezzack:
In a nutshell I grew up organic (my family lived on a farm) and my parents were very self-sufficient and all about being seriously resourceful. We had cows, goats, chickens, fruit trees and a massive veggie garden. My mum used to round us up on Saturday mornings and we’d have to pick caterpillars and slugs from the veggies since we never used any pesticides. That was just how we lived and it really stayed with me. After working in beauty (as a makeup artist and on the business side) since I was 15, one day I had an epiphany that I wanted to create something that resonates with what I’ve done and what I want to do that will have influence in the beauty community. I really want to impact the world in a positive way.

SV: How do you decide what products to offer at Futurenatural?

Right now we have 25 lines altogether, with more to come. Our vetting process is stringent. It’s not enough to be a brand with organic and natural ingredients. We also look at the social impacts and other environmental impacts like packaging. It must be well-designed and cannot contain any highly suspect ingredients. No parabens, petrochemicals or propelyne glycol allowed!

Can makeup used on models and movie stars really be environmentally friendly and still work well?

EP: The days of organic and natural makeup being hippy-dippy are long past. That said, there were a lot of dodgy makeups that didn’t perform in the past. But as a makeup artist I can say there are now plenty of products that are as amazing as conventional stuff. I want to make that known and increase awareness. I’ve been talking with Sarah Brown at Vogue, as well as editors at Body and Soul and Lucky, and they are all interested and excited about what we’re doing.

Scores of designers are interested in sustainable fashion and we have a great opportunity to follow through with natural makeup and hair. I want to connect with industry as a whole. I’d love to work with someone like Stella McCartney and supply her with a team of makeup artists who have a suite of brands in their kits that she can then use in her shows.

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.