I arrive at Ritual Coffee in the trendy Mission District of San Francisco. Tiila (pronounced Tyla) walks in and warmly offers a hand and a smile. I am instantly taken aback by her cool girl swagger – she is everything you’d picture the creator of Athr Beauty to be. Tall, perfectly tousled hair, and a gorgeous swath of cool toned brick-colored eyeshadow framing her eyes. It is already obvious why her brand is so successful: every fiber of her being is woven into it’s creation.
“What’s good here?”, I asked.
“I always get a cappuccino.”
We make our way outside to a bench to chat all about Athr Beauty – her clean and eco-conscious brand that launched in June of 2018. If you’re a makeup maven on Instagram, you may have seen the gorgeous Rose Quartz Palette circulating through your feed in some capacity – twelve shades of glistening and matte tones radiate like jewels from their pink and rose gold packaging. The four center shadows are shimmery and have a color shift; they’re perfect for layering over the other shadows to create multi-dimensional looks.
Tiila initially worked in the fashion industry for 5 years before landing a position at Sephora. It wasn’t her intention to seek a job in the cosmetics industry. “They offered me a job and I was like ‘No seriously I don’t know anything about makeup!’, and they said ‘that’s not what we’re looking for, we’re looking for someone that knows what it takes to create a product from conception and production to getting it in stores”.
She held the development position for Sephora brand tools and accessories for 7 years (i.e: brushes, eyelash curlers, sharpeners). She also handled makeup collaborations like the Pantone collections, Mara Hoffman, and Moschino to name a few. “It was a fabulous run, I love the team. I like to say I got my 3rd masters degree at Sephora- it can be pretty intense.” Clearly, this woman has expertise in the design and functionality of products.
L: “So what spurred the creation of Athr Beauty?”
T: “I kept looking at the natural clean space, and just noticing how much it lacked trends, how much it lacked color choice, how much it lacked efficacy – just in the color space – I think skincare is amazing, but color really needs to work hard to compete. Being a Sephora girl, I like my purples, I like crazy colors, I like pigmentation, and things that stay on my face longer than an hour [both laugh]. So it was just a huge hole in the industry. What’s really important for me, besides the beautiful packaging and the beautiful feeling for the brand, is I just really want it to be sustainable.”
She has gone to recycling facilities and talked to recycling experts on what actually gets recycled from cosmetics: her palette is the first fully recyclable palette on the market. The pans are glued into the cardboard base (which is very sturdy!); no mirrors or magnets – they can’t be recycled. She added, “What gets recycled [from cosmetics] is something like 8%. The EPA just said one third of landfill waste is from personal care products. So if I can’t get away from plastics, I will use recycled plastics.” When creating packaging made from plastics, she won’t mix materials (such as metal or glass), which would prevent it from being recycled all together. Biodegradable plastics are also out, because they break down differently than virgin or recycled plastics and will ultimately end up in a landfill. The more you know!
More than just a pretty package, Tiila is also incredibly conscious when it comes to ingredient selection. “I ban over 1,400 chemicals in my formulations. I am the client, so I’m never going to put something in my products that I haven’t intensely researched. I’m able to push my formulators and have them substitute ingredients they would normally use.”
The Rose Quartz Palette includes rose hip seed oil, coconut oil, and shea butter – powerful hydrating and anti-aging compounds. Tiila also alluded to potentially introducing some ingredients that have never before been used in cosmetics formulations. They are currently in the formulation and testing phase, so we could see those in some of her future launches.
Taking the philosophy on using the purest ingredients possible a step further, she also believes in ethically sourcing her ingredients. “Usually bases for powder products are made from mica. People don’t know, and they’re starting to talk a little bit about it which is good, but mica is directly related to child labor. If I can’t validate the source of where my mica comes from, I actually substitute synthetic mica. I am not a 100% natural brand; I will use synthetic ingredients that are safe, that are clean, that have been tested, but that push the efficacy of a formula. If you want 100% natural, 100% organic, those are out there, but this is more to show you that you don’t have to give up anything from your conventional beauty to switch over to clean. The cool thing about synthetic mica is that you actually get clearer colors because you don’t have a gray base that you’re working with.” People don’t like to see the word synthetic, but synthetic mica is actually more expensive than natural mica because it’s cleaner. Natural mica is also known to grow near asbestos and lead. In this case, a synthetic alternative is clearly the better option.
Athr Beauty has officially launched at Sephora! A lot of new products will be rolling out over the next two years. While I can’t share the details of what’s coming next, I can tell you that much like the Rose Quartz Palette, the new launches are equally eco-friendly, highly pigmented, and stunningly gorgeous!
The Rose Quartz Palette featured by: Makeup artists Katey Denno for the Emmy’s (below) and Sabrina Jean Bates-Whited for Comicon
Athr Beauty is produced in the U.S.A., vegan, cruelty-free.
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