B-Corp makeup brand Kester Black ventures into colour cosmetics beyond nail polish

Professional Beauty chats with founder Anna Ross about the launch of four new lipsticks and what colour cosmetics natural makeup artists can expect to drop later this year. “Good for your karma and cuticles” reads the Kester Black homepage. The indie New Zealand brand was one of the world’s first makeup ranges to achieve B Corp status with its clean, long-lasting, cruelty free, vegan nail and lipstick formulations. Ethical and sustainable practices are baked right into the business, which is ever evolving thanks to its Better Beauty Growth Plan. They’re certified carbon neutral, donate 2% of all revenue to social causes and open sourcing their innovative formulations to all. See what founder Anna Black says to look out for from the brand later this year.

PB: Are these the first non-nail products to launch with the brand?

“They sure are, although they are the second drop of colours. The first 6 shades were launched in October 2019 and we took feedback from that launch to develop the next 4 shades.” 

PB: What are your plans for further expansion/products?

“We have a number of other products launching this year. Nails are next up in June, eyeliners in July and brows in September.” 

PB: Tell me in a bit more detail why these are better than regular lipsticks and other clean lipsticks?

“The quality is pretty superior to most other brands and they also won the Clean Beauty Awards! They perform incredibly. They are a real long lasting lipstick. If you don’t eat oily foods (oil removes them) they will last about 12 hours. We decided to manufacture these in Italy where they are literally centuries ahead of the technology we have in Australia. They are made by the same manufacturer that makes the Chanel, Tom Ford, Dior and Burberry cosmetics. They are also not very drying (for a matte lipstick).”

PB: Can you give us some detail about the colour products you’re about to launch?

“The formula is 100% natural and formulated to COSMOS standard. It’s a soft pencil which allows for blending and to be used as an eyeshadow or lip liner. They are really face pencils. The brows are the same formula so they can also be used as eyeliners. They are dermatologically tested and long lasting, it’s a 12 hour formula. Just quickly on the brows, we have pushed these back to launch early next year as we are waiting on the brow mascaras which are also 100% natural (fiber-like formula).” 

PB: Tell us a bit more about your better beauty growth plan?

“I have spent the last month or so fully engrossed in the Better Beauty Growth Plan, which is essentially our sustainability blueprint and strategy. We have put a lot of time into it to explain the big issues so that people really understand why each of our goals are important.” 

Better Beauty Blueprint

“The first part is the Better beauty Blueprint. This is made up of 8 pillars that are designed to inform all of our decision making. It all comes back to our drive to be the best beauty brand for the world, not just the best in the world. We’re really hoping this is adopted by other brands so that we can together offer better products to more people.” 

  1. Clean ingredients
  2. Better packaging
  3. Caring for our environment
  4. Superior product performance
  5. Traceability and Transparency
  6. Supplier standards
  7. Vegan & cruelty free
  8. Giving back

Better Beauty Plan

“The second part is the Better Beauty Plan. This is broken into 6 main headers and in total we have 26 goals, some of which we have already achieved and some we are working towards. Everything from reducing emissions, developing better packaging and ensuring supply chain transparency and paying above the living wage. It’s a very honest document with where we are at and the challenges we are facing.” 

  1. Our Community Goals
  2. Our Governance, Transparency & Accountability Goals
  3. Our Ethical Goals
  4. Our Plastic Goals
  5. Our CO2 Goals
  6. Our Circularity Goals

PB: How can other makeup brands do similar? What are the first steps?

“Download our plan and put it into action! A lot of it really has to be thought about at the design phase so print it and give a copy to the design team.” 

PB: We would also love to hear a bit more about the decision go bestsellers and limited-edition only.

“Last year was an uphill battle in regards to getting our hands on stock. As we’re a small brand, we decided to move with the challenges instead of fighting against them. We are committed to offer premium products so we are putting our capital to ensure that we don’t run out of our best sellers again. We had no top and back for almost 6 months of last year and they are our 2 best selling skus. Fashion colours have a limited sell through phase and we have in the past been caught out by making more of a particular colour once it sold though, only to be left with stock we have to put on sale at 70% off to clear. This drives consumerism which drives waste and that’s exactly what we’re working to avoid. We made the decision last year to never go on sale again so this will avoid people from purchasing products because the discount is too good to pass up, only to have it sit on their shelf and go unused and eventually into landfill.” 

PB: How do you think that Kester Black can be used by makeup artists looking to use more natural makeup products?

“Kester Black makes all the staples. Our Supersonic Top Coat dries to the touch in close to 60 seconds and the Miracle Treatment Base Coat is the perfect ‘nude/clear’ polish for the natural nail look. It’s made with light reflecting pearls to make the nail look super healthy and it’s impossible to apply streaky, perfect for on shoot days where you are always under time pressure. Both products are 77% natural so they should be a staple in every single makeup kit. 

All of our products are designed to be super high performance. We wouldn’t bother launching anything that wasn’t up to makeup artist quality. I would say Kester Black is great for the core products, most makeup artists have mix-your-own colour palettes but we’re here for all your black, brown and natural hues! And keep your eyes peeled for kit worthy pallets in 2022.” 

PB: What are your tips for makeup artists who are looking to transition to more natural makeup in their tool kits?

“Look for brands they trust to put quality first. There are a lot of ‘eco’ and ‘natural’ brands out there and that’s really all they are going for. I made Kester Black to prove that high performing products could also be 100% vegan and natural. This is the reason why we produce all of our products with the leading manufacturers globally, so the hot tip is to look for products made in the EU!”

Find products and brand contact details at www.kesterblack.com.

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