Refillable Beauty Pioneer Kirsten Kjaer Weis Launches A Cleanser and Toner
The Danish makeup artist on expanding her skincare line and why you should view her compacts like valuable jewelry, appreciating the patina they develop.
When makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis launched her namesake organic makeup line in 2010, luxury green beauty barely existed. Explaining the concept to retailers proved to be difficult, as they considered prestige and green beauty mutually exclusive. “I remember talking to a department store in Japan, and they had the green [products] in the basement and on the main floor were the luxury [products],” she recalls on a recent visit to Toronto. “I joked that mine should be on the steps [in between].”
Fuelled by an idyllic childhood spent growing up on her family’s farm in Denmark, Kjaer Weiss (fun fact: she trained at the school founded by Dani Sanz, the woman behind Make Up For Ever) had wanted her organic eyeshadows, blush and lip tints in sustainable packaging, but didn’t want to compromise on appearance. That’s how she settled on luxe, weighty metal compacts that can be refilled, an idea conceived by designer Marc Atlan who she approached after falling in love with a perfume bottle for Comme des Garçons he had created. But unlike other beauty brands that were so far ahead of their time they never caught on (Isabella Rossellini’s Manifesto collection comes to mind), the tide was already beginning to turn when Kjaer Weis entered the marketplace.
Her forward thinking is being rewarded now, with the zero-waste movement gaining traction, and refillable cosmetics being touted as the future of beauty packaging, a future where we keep our products, rather than toss them, and they look better with age, like a leather jacket. “I like to speak to it almost like a piece of jewelry, that gains patina over the years, so it actually sort of increases in value because it has that energy and that [sentimental] feel to you,” she says. She’s even exploring creating a service where customers can bring in their packaging and have it repaired or polished, much like a Hermès bag or a piece of Tiffany jewelry, which are treated like life-long investments.
In the meantime, she’s expanding her skincare collection with The Cleanser and The Toner. Like The Beautiful Oil and The Body Oil that came before them, both products feature Discorea Batatas (also known as Chinese yam), a root prized for its skin-illuminating benefits, that was brought to her attention by her long-time Italian manufacturer who patented a way to harness the plant’s complexion-brightening properties. “It’s called the root of light in Western society,” she says, and she’s seen its healing powers firsthand. “My sister’s rosacea is pretty much gone.”
She’s also working on developing a sunscreen at the moment, a category that’s undergoing major change due to environmental concerns and the FDA revisiting its safety guidelines around UV filters, which means plenty of opportunity for disruptive ideas—perfect for a visionary like Kjaer Weis.