Just Cosmetics is an online alternative luxury cruelty-free beauty, cosmetic and life style destination and blog founded by celebrity make-up artist, industry influencer and Humane Society International Cruelty-Free Beauty Ambassador JUSTINE JENKINS. (www.justinejenkins.com) Enjoy!
My Story and why I chose to become an industry rebel.
I became a make-up artist 15 years ago after fleeing a soul-eroding stock-market career in the City. Making the transition onto a totally different career path was a leap of faith and required a lot of hard work and self-belief, but I made it and would do it all over again. I never looked back and have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed a highly creative, well-travelled and successful career.
It is perhaps not easy to understand the magnitude of my disappointment and disillusionment the day I attended a lecture on the process of making cosmetics and heard that the majority of the best-known manufacturers still test on animals. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; surely this was not true – I thought to myself – besides, I always check the product packaging to ensure that it has not been tested on animals, knowing that I was using these products and brands on my celebrity clients. I listened in shock as to how brands avoid being identified as ‘testers’ by a particular use of contorted language that appears to emphatically state that testing has not taken place on animals when the very opposite is true!
I left the following morning for a holiday in the Caribbean. I should have been relaxing and enjoying myself, however my mind was in total conflict and my ethics in opposition to my actions. I had thought that testing beauty and cosmetic products on animals was a thing of the past – I had even marched against testing in the 1980’s! I had to make a decision based on my conscience. It sounds pathetic but at that time I had just been offered an ambassadorship from a large brand that would have been worth a lot of money and propelled my career. Of course, I thought about what I could be missing, but for me this wasn’t an option. As I was flying home I was reading the in-flight magazine in which there was an article where they had used a quote from Buddha, which read: “All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life.” This was my confirmation to re-invent myself as a Cruelty-Free Make-Up Artist.
It hasn’t been an easy journey and in many respects I have had to start from the beginning. Being a professional make-up artist you get to know a huge range of products intimately – after many years your instinct is honed and you know how one brand’s tone of eye shadow blends with another’s – more importantly you know exactly what suits and works perfectly on which client’s skin – all pivotal to being a trusted and successful artist. I literally had to throw away 90% of my kit, which had a financial impact to the tune of several thousands of pounds worth of product. I also had to turn detective and journalist, researching, sourcing and conducting my own testing on new brands, many of which I had never even heard of. It was an exhaustive but exciting and fulfilling learning curve.
My pillars for information and inspiration alike were charities such as PeTA and Humane Society International who tirelessly investigate and speak out about testing practices and how brands mislead their consumers. Both offered me so much support on my journey and without them I don’t think I could have done it. As well as the support, they offer a rich resource in which companies and brands are officially authenticated as cruelty-free.
My first shoot as a cruelty-free make-up artist was an important one. David Bailey was shooting Kelly Hoppen for the Evening Standard magazine. Kelly was amazing and couldn’t have been more receptive to being my first cruelty-free ‘guinea pig.’ Kelly and all of my regular clients (Fearne Cotton, Millie Macintosh, Laura Whitmore, Keeley Hawes, Lulu Guinness and Ophelia Lovibond – to name just a few) could not have been more supportive of my choice to become a cruelty-free make-up artist – in fact the whole ‘testing issue’ has been a revelation to EVERYONE. It goes to show how insidious and contorted the big brand’s “we don’t test” communication is.
Since then, I have fully and committedly embraced this new phase of my career. The hard work and dedication are now beginning to pay dividends. I also feel that I have regained my ‘intuitive’ product knowledge that I had before and I have also found some amazing brands, whose products are not only cruelty-free, but in many cases vegan, paraben free and totally organic. I have made it my mission to write, talk and offer advice on cruelty-free beauty and cosmetics, which is a total minefield for most people. More recently I have written extensively on make-up brushes – this too is another horror story, as many manufacturers use animal hair, which is often extracted under the most despicable conditions and in many cases is an enabler and bi-product of the fur industry.