In Sanskrit, the word Kosås, pronounced ‘Kosh-as’, refers to the Vedantic philosophy of the five layers of one’s self. The first layer known as ‘Annamaya kosha’ refers to the physical self, but being aware of the rest of the layers is crucial to knowing one’s self. That is to say that there is more to us than just our physical appearance, or beauty.
To demonstrate this desire for authenticity, Kosås founder, Sheena Yaitanes created a makeup line designed to enhance a woman’s beauty with just the barest and simplest of products — starting with lipsticks. “It’s all you really need on your face,” she says.
In a twist of fate, Sheena’s background provided her with the chops to take on the bullets and wands market. Growing up surrounded by makeup that her mother owned and shared with Sheena to experiment with, she went on to study chemistry and biology at UC Irvine, followed by a stint as a painter. It was when she was studying portrait painting that she realised the range and depth of shades of human skin. Like destiny, everything she knew and experienced before then came together to birth Kosås.
Striving to simplify beauty — a paradox, it would seem — Sheena launched her line in 2015 with only four lipsticks. The demand skyrocketed. Today, there are eight, and next up are plans to do a full face. But the options will always be kept to the minimum, and minimalist, just as she envisions it to be.
With “active botanicals balanced by strategic, safe synthetics” and completely devoid of parabens, phthalates and sulphates — yay — Kosås is a lip colour line for the women who know their makeup, and won’t settle for anything less than the best performing options.
“It is very important to exfoliate your lips because you can’t hydrate lips if they are covered with dead skin.”
Sheena in her home office
Why is it important to you to use natural, clean ingredients, especially on the lips?
I use botanicals because they perform better!
What is unique about your lipstick formulations, and what are the hydrating and skin smoothing ingredients you use that are different from other brands?
We use a combination of botanical oils and butters. Botanical oils have a small molecular weight, so they are able to penetrate the skin and absorb quicker. You get a hydrated feeling, but no weight, and there is a thin layer of pigment left behind for weightless wear.
How important is it to exfoliate our lips?
Very, because you can’t hydrate lips if they are covered with dead skin. Exfoliating lips is really easy. You can just wipe them with a washcloth.
Kosås sells eight lipstick shades for now. The plan is to do a full face of offerings
Say you had a friend who didn’t like to wear lipstick, and didn’t believe in wearing a lot of makeup. What would you say to her to persuade her to applying a bit of lip colour, and being more open-minded to makeup in general?
I understand that. I didn’t like lipstick before I made my own because they often didn’t feel nice and there were too many options, which felt intimidating and confusing.
I’d reassure her by saying that there are only eight to choose from in Kosås’ collection, and point her toward a sheer. And of course remind her that if you don’t like it, you can just wipe it off!
What is the right way to apply lipstick?
I like to apply lipstick directly to clean, exfoliated lips. If you apply a lip balm to soften dry lips, then it must be wiped off before adding lipstick, otherwise the colour won’t deposit evenly and the lipstick will slide off.
My favourite way to apply lipstick is with my finger. I apply a generous amount to the pad of my middle finger, then pat and wiggle it into the lip. You can stop there for a more blotted, stained look, or proceed to layer straight from the tube. That first layer is really important though. It’s meant to receive the next layer, like the first coat of nail polish or the crumb coat on a cake.
Which colours best suit pink, yellow and olive-undertone skin shades?
For pink undertones, I like a cool-toned pink like Rosewater or blue-red like Electra. For yellow undertones, a warmer sheer like Stardust or a brick red like Fringe. For olive undertones, I tend toward bright and warm shades, like Thrillest, or Undone for a more natural look.
How should one care for their lipsticks?
Use them gently and don’t expose them to heat. If they do get exposed to heat, let them cool completely before using them so they don’t break.
“I didn’t like lipstick before I made my own because they often didn’t feel nice and there were too many options,” says Sheena
“My favourite way to apply lipstick is with my finger. I apply a generous amount to the pad of my middle finger, then pat and wiggle it into the lip.”
You have such glowing, healthy skin. What is your daily skincare routine?
Thank you! I’ve struggled with my skin a lot actually, because it’s oily with a dehydrated surface. I exfoliate daily to remove dead skin so that products can penetrate. I love Tata Harper’s Regenerating Cleanser, because it’s a very gentle physical exfoliator. I also like to cleanse with oil because only oil can dissolve oil, and it really cleans out pores. I work the oils in really well, then use a hot washcloth to gently wipe everything off.
What are some makeup products you think the market could do without?
Frosty lipstick, nude lipsticks that are too light, and highlighters with visible glitter.
Lastly, what does conscious beauty mean to you?
Conscious anything means knowing why you are doing something. When it comes to formulating beauty, it means knowing exactly why each ingredient is in the product.
“Conscious anything means knowing why you are doing something.”
Images courtesy of Kosås