Organic Makeup Artist Cathy Tolpigin on the Future of the Industry

When makeup artist Cathy Tolpigin swapped her kit for clean, green and sustainable only products, she was taking what would become the first of many giant leaps toward a more eco-conscious industry. The Green Edit founder reveals to Hannah Gay how Earth-loving brands are finding their footing amongst the pros.

Cathy, you’re a makeup artist by trade. Give us a brief run-down on how you got started, and how long you’ve been in the industry.

“My creative career spans over 20 years, having studied fashion at The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). I graduated in 2000 and worked as a fashion stylist in television. I later studied Advertising Media in 2007 whilst working in creative services for a busy boutique branding agency.

Personally, I love the power of makeup and the ritual of skincare to nourish and enhance, so I studied Makeup Artistry in 2014 when my kids were young, as I was looking for flexible working hours. Since then I have worked as a freelance makeup artist on fashion, advertising and beauty shoots for many brands.

I also work with brand founders to create bespoke imagery and content, managing all aspects of shoot production including concept, storyboarding, styling, sourcing the perfect studio or location, photographer and videographer, model casting and, of course, creating a glowing makeup look for models on the day of the shoot. This is where all of my experience working in the industry has come together.

My passion is bringing brands to life and working with brand founders who share the same values when it comes to natural, ethical, sustainable and cruelty-free beauty.”

You specialise in the use of organic and natural brands. Tell us what prompted you to work with organic makeup only?

“Whilst completing my makeup diploma we were advised to purchase what were considered to be the high performance, luxury mainstream brands as we were told these were the only brands that work in a professional capacity, and that clients would want to see these brands in our professional kit. So, I stocked up on these products initially and used them on my clients.

At the time, I was on a personal health journey and through my research it became apparent that these beauty products had questionable ingredients in them and many were not cruelty-free, so it just didn’t sit well with me. I was also asked by my clients to recommend beauty products I used in my kit and I didn’t feel good about recommending these products either. So I invested a lot of time and funds to test and try natural products in order to curate a professional kit I could trust and felt great about using.”

Does using organic makeup consistently provide the same result to your clients as non-organic? Why or why not?

“Professional makeup has to work under studio lights and last on long shoot days. I have tried and tested hundreds of clean beauty products on various skin types and under different conditions. My experience was that when I found the right clean alternative, it worked just as well (if not better) than the mainstream counterparts. 

It took a lot of research, time, trial-and-error and personal investment, but in the process I discovered so many incredible brands and founders. I learnt more about the processes involved, and gained so much respect for those pioneering the space.”

Makeup artist Cathy Tolpigin chooses clean, sustainable beauty products

What is The Green Edit? 

“The Green Edit’s purpose is to incite change by showcasing only the best clean beauty and lifestyle brands in a way that’s transparent and considered. We shine a light on the best organic and natural makeup, skincare, hair products, fragrance, nail care, sunscreen, lifestyle and inner beauty supplements.

We do this through four main channels: The Green Edit In-Person Event, The Green Edit Podcast, The Best Of The Green Edit Awards, and The Green Beauty Directory + Digital Content Offering.

If you are a clean beauty or wellness brand, we connect you with top tier media, influencers, international and Australian retailers, as well as mindful consumers to grow brand awareness and provide distribution opportunities. 

And if you are a mindful consumer, we want to arm our community with the tools they need to make informed choices about the products they use; to understand the impact their choices have on their health, the planet, animals and other humans.

We are all about facilitating authentic connection, we love to explore and unpack the idea of clean beauty without green washing, as all brands who are part of our community are vetted to ensure that they too align with our values.”

Why do you believe green brands should be provided platforms like The Green Edit to market themselves into the mainstream?

“I believe that ethical brand founders should have a loud voice; to share their story and the way in which they ethically source, create and produce their products. 

Having worked with many clean beauty brands over the years on shoots, by consulting, creating beauty campaigns and content, I loved getting to know the brand founders and hearing their stories. It was obvious that they really put in the work in order to consciously create a brand with ethics and integrity at the heart of their business. I also had brand founders tell me that there really wasn’t a platform in Australia that supported and promoted truly clean beauty and lifestyle brands, minus the greenwashing.

So I did my research and asked brand founders a thousand questions about what type of platform would be of service, and I tailored The Green Edit’s first event in 2020 to meet that need. 

The Green Edit event also provided each exhibiting brand access to mainstream media, retailers, influencers and the general public who were curious about clean beauty. Brands had the opportunity to meet, connect and share their story and products with so many key players on the event day and I am so proud of the wonderful connections that have been made.”

Cathy Tolpigin launched The Green Edit in 2020

Outside of a general passion for green beauty, what are the monetary and commercial benefits to brands that opt to align with this ethos?

“I truly believe that ethical, sustainable and clean beauty will become the norm, and that if brands would like to tap into this audience, they need to get on board quickly and with authenticity and integrity. Consumers are looking for the whole package when it comes to beauty products. Clean ingredients that are sustainably sourced, not tested on animals with minimal impact on the environment.”

“If brands would like to tap into this audience, they need to get on board quickly and with authenticity and integrity.”

What’s next for the clean, green, ethical beauty industry in Australia, and for you as an organic makeup artist? 

“Clean beauty is no longer a trend or buzzword and there are many key brands pioneering the way. There are brands and initiatives that mindful consumers are looking to support, and I am so proud to have had those brands be a part of The Green Edit community.

New Zealand brand Emma Lewisham is the first to adopt a circular and carbon positive business model in beauty, recently sharing her IP and blueprint with other multinational beauty brands so they too can create positive change. Inika Organic announced their groundbreaking sustainability initiative that hallmarks the brand as certified Plastic Neutral. This is a world first in the makeup industry and something the Inika team have been working toward for many years.

And as for me, like so many other small businesses the last two years have provided many obstacles and challenges brought on by COVID that have affected my work as a makeup artist and event organiser. My passion is to support, promote and grow ethical brands – I look forward to seeing where this motivation will take me following on from the success of this year’s The Green Edit event.”

What’s in Cathy’s makeup kit?

  • Inika Organic
  • Ere Perez Cosmetics
  • Eye Of Horus
  • Kylie’s Professional
  • Luk Beautifood

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