Best of Makeup award for 2010

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Sustainable, authentic makeup

Be Yourself Beautiful is a website dedicated to sustainable, authentic beauty. So when we find something that we really love, we want to shout it from the rooftops. Our standards are so high that we have a hard time finding things in the real world that measure up to our ideals –especially product. When an ENTIRE product line achieves that gold standard with everything they make, I just want to get out my pom-poms and – wait a minute, I don’t own any pom-poms. Well, you get my drift.

Afterglow Cosmetics wins the Be Yourself Beautiful Best-Of Award for makeup

On the heels of the Academy awards (which I did not see), I think it’s fair to give awards for things less theatrical, or more behind the scenes, like best makeup line.

There are multiple categories that a makeup line must receive high marks in to pass muster. These are: truthpurityease of useblendabilityresults, and  color. As a professional makeup artist I never dreamed that I could have my organic cake and eat it too. Not only does the makeup I use have to satisfy these consumer standards, but it must also perform under extreme conditions, have long wear and quick changeability, AND look fantastic in every media. Let me just say that this is an impossible thing to ask of one line. Except that one line has managed to do it all.

So, with great pleasure, I would like to announce the winner of this year’s Be Yourself BeautifulBest-Of Award for makeup, an entire line. (Drum roll.) And the award goes to . . . (dramatic pause) Afterglow Cosmetics (very loud applause, cheering, hooting, whooping, and cat-calling)!

Afterglow Cosmetics is the top (please hum the Cole Porter tune “You’re the Top” along with my not-terribly-lyrical-but-enthusiastic little ditty). It’s the top of the sometimes-not-so-natural makeup world.

How I fell in love with Afterglow Cosmetics: a love story

And no, it’s not just about the name, even though I do love the name. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love an afterglow?

I wasn’t looking to fall in makeup love. In fact, I thought that true makeup love was a myth. And truth be told, I was just fine living out my makeup lust, going from one affair to the next. If you had asked me if I had ever been in makeup love or would like to be in makeup love I would have scoffed at you; laughed in your face. I just didn’t believe.

A brief history . . .

I had been working as a makeup artist for more than a decade when I went to school to become an esthetician. I was never interested in skin itself, only in what would make my clients look better in front of the camera. And I certainly never believed that natural makeup and skincare would ever perform as well as their synthetic counterparts.

That is, until I discovered my love for natural product formulation and ingredients. This I discovered while in esthetician school (as part of the curriculum) and continued after I was hired by Pangea Organics to research every one of their ingredients and write an extensive ingredient glossary. Knowing every little thing about their products and what goes into them made me a perfect candidate for a new job position they were creating. This job was to educate stores and consumers alike about ingredients and how to make healthier choices in skincare and bodycare. I then hung up my makeup brushes and toured the west in the name of natural skincare. At this point, I fell in love with educating people about something that would affect their lives (if even in a small way) and affect their imprint on the planet. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the perfect training ground for what I do now–educating people on the internet about products and the ingredients that go into them in order for them to make informed, healthy choices.

The proposal

So, as I was working in the Soap Mines (as we affectionately called the Pangea Offices and Warehouses) one day I was brought in on a conference call with Pangea’s Marketing Head and a makeup company I had never heard of – Afterglow Cosmetics. This company had only been around for a couple of years, had a very niche following, and was sold only on the internet. The owner herself was on the line asking if Pangea would like to do cross-marketing with her company (brilliant thing to do) since they share much of the same market. She had already been recommending Pangea to all of her customers because of the purity and efficacy of the product. At that time, there were not many alternatives to Pangea for really clean product that worked really well. I had hooked up with them for the same reasons.

Of course, I was skeptical of this offer to get into bed with an unheard-of makeup company. Her ingredient lists looked good and seemed to uphold Pangea’s standards, but would it be great makeup? Would it really produce that afterglow, and would the afterglow last? Remember, I had been freelancing as a makeup artist for about 15 years, not affiliated with any line whatsoever, and picking and choosing what I believed to be the best products wherever I found them. I never found a line that I loved every single product. And I certainly never found a natural line that I liked more than one or two of their products. Especially in the foundation realm. I didn’t even like any of the natural foundations for use on myself, much less to rely upon them in my work. My kit was loaded with MAC Cosmetics, because they worked well for what I needed as a professional. And what I needed as a professional was a lot. Working in film and video is way different than doing photo shoots, which is way different from making a bride gorgeous, which is different from what a client wants to look like every day. You need different products to work with each medium. If you’re lucky, a single product will work well across most media, but probably not all. As a consumer and wearer of makeup, I never liked most of what I used in my kit because it all felt yucky. Especially the foundations. They all felt like they were suffocating my skin. And guess what? They were!

The half-hearted acceptance turns to genuine love

I was probably a little sarcastic with the well-meaning owner of Afterglow Cosmetics as I told her that if she sent me some samples of her line I would use them and review them for the Marketing Department. I certainly did not believe that I would love them. I had never loved a natural line yet. I would stand behind my disbelief. The quality and performance were simply not there in the natural market; it had not been developed enough. Until I put it on my face. It was love at first application. I removed all of the makeup I had used previously from my bathroom cabinet and installed Afterglow. I travelled with it. I looked flawless with it on. My skin became better with it off. I was beyond impressed.

But it was many moon before I was won over in the professional realm. I insisted on using the same things I always used in my kit; the tried and true. When your reputation is on the line every time (you’re only as good as your last job), you don’t take kindly to experimentation. Deep down in my heart I still didn’t believe. How could my dream makeup find me after all these years?

It was really only after I began to work for Afterglow and had an entire kit to play with that I started using it as a makeup artist. I began getting jobs that required me to use all natural makeup, like photo shoots for Elephant Journal. The switchover was immediate. It only took seeing the results of one photo shoot with many diverse models to believe.

  • It is easy to work with.
  • Every skintone is accounted for or can be blended for on the spot.
  • The coverage goes from sheer to opaque in no time.
  • It stays on and stays put.
  • The color range is great, keeps getting better, and many more colors can be mixed easily from existing colors.
  • It blends really well.
  • Did I mention that it blends really well?
  • It layers flawlessly.
  • The brushes are divine.
  • The minerals improve your skin.
  • The company is completely trustworthy and transparent.

I could go on, but I think I must stop for now.

Head over heels

Okay, just a little bit more. It is the purest natural & organic makeup line AND performs just as well, and in many cases better than, its synthetic counterparts! How did I get so lucky? I ask myself that every time I have a shoot, every time I do a makeup lesson, and every day that I put makeup on (which is most days since I live a mile above sea level and need the sun protection those minerals give).

What sparked this missive of Truly, Madly, Deeply? Afterglow Cosmetics had a Valentine’s Day contest to elicit love letters from customers. I may be a little late with my love letter (Valentine’s Day is long gone and so is the contest deadline), but I have to show my love anyway, and say my piece. In fact, I can’t hold it in. I am regularly awestruck by how utterly amazing it is. So much so that I have to call the owner and gush at her every few months to tell her how much I love it and what a genius she is. The other love letters are pretty good too . . .

Jen MurphyComment