I’m not big on wearing makeup all the time and I think a part of it is because I don’t know what I’m putting on my skin. I do know that whatever I put on my skin will be absorbed and so out of fear of slathering some scary toxic chemical on it, I just try to avoid it as much as possible. That being said, I love cosmetics! I know we don’t “need” it but I love the way it instantly makes me feel more beautiful and more put together.
I started following Elate Cosmetics on Instagram and was so impressed by everything I was learning about them. Their products are gorgeous, toxin-free, cruelty-free and vegan. Their practices are sustainable and moving towards zero waste packaging. Their staff are friendly and knowledgeable. Definitely a company I am proud to say is Canadian.
So I reached out to try some of the products for myself. Founder, Melodie Reynolds, sent me an amazing package and introduced me to their Ontario Elated Artist, Lisa Torti, for a makeover. I must say, there’s nothing better than putting on a foundation that has the perfect amount of coverage and blends magically with your skin tone and that’s exactly how their Fresh Tint Foundation felt. It’s made with argan and coconut oil so that smooth feeling when you first apply it, never goes away. I am a huge fan of the pressed eye colour because it can be used with a shadow brush for a softer look or with a wet angled eyeliner brush for a more precise line. The wearability is remarkable and I do not need any touch-ups for a night out! My absolute favourite product has got to be Elate’s lipstick line. First off, the bamboo packaging is so stunning. The lipstick is blended with shea and mango butter which gives it a smoothness that is often overlooked in traditional lipstick. The colours are so good! I don’t think there’s a single one I wouldn’t want to own. I asked Lisa what her favourite product was and she said, “The Brow Balm. Buttery, smooth to apply, holds your brows in place and looks natural. Can’t get any better than that!” So there you have it from the professional!
Here Lisa applied a moisturizing toner and then a facial oil to prep and prime the skin. She started with my eyeshadow so that if there was any fallout from the shadows, it could be easily cleaned up and not mess up your foundation and concealer. Next she applied my foundation, concealer and finished off the eyes with eyeliner and brows. To finish everything off she applied loose powder to set my foundation and added blush, contour, highlight and lipgloss.
Melodie spent some more time with us for the Q&A below. Be sure to check out Elate Cosmetics online.
How long has Elate Cosmetics been around; where did you start and how much has it grown?
We just celebrated our third birthday. I started Elate in the basement of my home in Victoria, BC. We outgrew my basement last year and have moved our headquarters downtown. We have a warehouse, offices and a studio where our artists work. We are a staff of 7 people and hopefully growing more in 2018.
Other cosmetic brands seem to be moving towards the cruelty-free and toxin-free route but tell us about how you are leading the way with your sustainable practices and movement towards zero waste.
This is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. Elate is vegan because there is no reason to use animal ingredients in our cosmetics. I personally believe this and it is very important. For the most part, choosing the non-vegan ingredient also means that there is cruelty involved. The cruelty-free portion encompasses the vegan portion as well. It’s about our ingredients, whether they have been tested on animals, our final product as well as any of the companies that we work with. So cruelty-free doesn’t just extend towards animals for us. We’re also talking about cruelty to humans and cruelty to the planet. A lot of people don’t realize that many of the ingredients that are used in traditional cosmetics come at the marginalization of people around the world and sometimes children as well. Mica for instance is a key ingredient in most cosmetics and quite often it’s mined by children or by workers not being paid a fair wage and having to work in very dangerous conditions. We only partner with ingredient suppliers that offer fair trade and cruelty-free stances.
In terms of the toxin-free route, we use these products on our bodies every single day. It’s just as important as the food that we eat so it was inherently important for me to offer a product that people didn’t even need to think about. People could pick up the product and look at the ingredients and feel good about what they were using.
Cruelty-free moving forward towards the planet is now what we base our sustainable practices on and our movement towards zero waste. I’ve been quoted a number of times saying that for us the opposite of kindness isn’t cruelty, it’s in-attention. That’s essentially what cruelty can be; it’s not paying attention to the things that we do. When we cease to pay attention to how our everyday product use affects the planet and the beings on the planet that becomes a problem. The sustainable part of the business is actually the heart of the business. It’s why I started it in the first place. I had an experience a number of years ago where I purchased a cosmetic product I waited a long time for. I had saved my money and was very excited about it. When I received it, I unwrapped plastic after plastic after box and more plastic and I was left with this small product in my hand. I looked at the pile of garbage I had created making it and suddenly realized that I didn’t want the product anymore. It affected me very deeply and it still does when I think about it. I imagine there have been many people that have had that epiphany; that a product that’s supposed to be fun and exciting then makes them feel bad about that purchase. It’s about paying attention, reuse where we can reuse. Recognize that true reusability is immediate and can show its affect. And using sustainable material from the get-go. Bamboo is sustainable which is why we like to use it. We minimalize our use of plastic, we use glass whenever possible and encourage people to reuse it instead of recycling. Reusing, of course, is the best defence. We are moving towards becoming zero waste within our first 10 years of practice. We are on track to do that. We are really proud of that. Our seed paper packaging is a totally waste-free product. You plant it and it grows wild flowers or herbs.
Where do you source the ingredients from? Why are you 90% organic?
The thing about ingredients is that we have a mandate within our company to make sure that everything is always cruelty-free. Occasionally we will have to make a choice based on what is available in the market place on whether it is organic or whether it is totally fair trade and cruelty-free. And that is when we make that call and why we’re only 90% organic. There’s a lot of small farms that treat their people really well, produce a beautiful product but they can’t afford the organic certification even though they are essentially an organic farm. So when we partner with ingredient suppliers we pay much more attention the relationship we’re building, creating that trust and looking at what their operation actually is. We place their certification sort of second to that. Our ingredient sourcing is all done now by our lab. It was a huge undertaking for me personally. They have our mandate and we approve all of the suppliers and it’s quite nice to have it done for us. Now all the ingredients come from as close to the source as they can possibly get. Shea butter for instance, is a beautiful butter from a tree in Africa, we are sourcing from a fair trade women run business in Africa.
Where can customers find you across Canada? And in Toronto specifically?
We are in 90 wholesale partner locations across North America. Salons and spas and high-end boutiques that have a special interest in clean, toxin-free, vegan, cruelty-free and/or sustainable products. We are in some boutiques that are specially designed for waste-free, sustainable, mindful lives. In Toronto, you can find us at Logan & Finley, which is an eco-boutique. They carry clothing and all kinds of wonderful things for your minimalist eco-chic lifestyle. The Healthy Road in Corktown which is a natural health food store. We do have a few more places in Toronto that will be opening up soon but I can’t tell you who they are yet.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I would add for your readers to pay attention to things that you are using in your everyday life. Make sure that they are bringing you joy and making you feel good about your purchases and your beauty rituals. Thank you!