A Truly, Honest Conversation About Natural Beauty Products

Why one of Canada’s leading makeup artists uses natural beauty and skin care products on all of her fashion and celebrity clients.

Natural beauty, Meghan Markle's makeup by Sheri StrohPhoto credit: Geneviève Charbonneau

When it comes to buying beauty and skincare, I have different expectations of different types of brands. With French ones, I anticipate a luxurious texture and a hint of perfume. With the doctor-approved bottles, I want no-fuss and an effective formula. And with the mass, drug store labels, I want something quick and dirty – and cheap. But when it comes to green and natural brands, I’m a bit at a loss.

Some are prestige brands. Others are locally made. Some even have doctors behind the grassroots brands. Some work. And some not so much.

That’s why I went straight to Sheri Stroh, a hair and makeup artist with Plutino Group. She’s one of our favourite makeup artists – that’s her work above on the gorgeous Meghan Markle.

Sheri’s known in the beauty biz for using natural makeup and skin care on her celeb clientele, including Selena Gomez, Sofia Carson, Nikki Yanofsky and many, many more. And since she’s participating True Beauty Talk Toronto on June 8, 2017 and hosting Juice Beauty Mini-Master Classes at Holt Renfrew on June 9 and June 10 , I know she’s the right person to ask about natural beauty.

Why is natural beauty important to you?

“I find natural lines incorporate much more powerful and beneficial ingredients and jam pack them into their products. Where many conventional brands may have one or two active ingredients – that may in fact not even be near the top of the ingredient deck – with a bunch of fillers that don’t really do all that much for skin, cleaner brands tend to forgo the fillers in turn for ingredients that are nutrient dense and work synergistically.”

“There are a lot of companies that promote sustainable ingredients and environmental practices. There is a general care about the planet. And when buying ‘natural,’ you support smaller businesses. And if it becomes larger and more popular, it can bring the whole industry to the forefront.

“There has not been legislation when it comes to cosmetic ingredients for a very, very long time and we don’t know the implications of how much we are actually exposed to. As someone who underwent treatment for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, I would like to avoid any potential chemicals that can play with my hormones.”

How do you define if a product is “natural” enough to include in your kit?

“It’s not that a product has to be ‘all natural’ for me to believe in it and use it. There are many natural ingredients that have no place in our skin care and make up. And there are safe, or safer, synthetics as well. The beauty of doing what I do is that I get to have closer relationships with brand owners and formulators and they are always willing to answer questions and be of tremendous help. And they will usually do this for anyone, I just bug them more because of my job. As a makeup artist, I am of course pretty obsessed with performance, so that is obviously big to me.”

Are you ever concerned with “green washing” with natural beauty products?

“Green washing bothers me because companies can just do that to mislead people and make them think they are safer than they may actually be and regardless of safety, it really dilutes the industry and the brands that are working so hard to do it right. It may seem like a fad and trend, but it’s not, it’s the way the world has to go – and not just in the beauty world. I want brands I use to be transparent and upfront with their products and what goes into them and their philosophy. Be honest and clear, that is most important to me. I am not here to judge at all, but I don’t want to be lied to.”

Give us some insight into your talk and your Master Class. What can we expect?

“I want to focus on skin prep and maintaining your skin with the right products. I don’t like to ‘cover’ skin. Skin is too beautiful [to cover]. Also, women are too harsh with their skincare too. As always, glowing healthy looking skin is my goal with very natural looking makeup. Maybe a lip or a flushed cheek with some mascara thrown in, but I want women to know that you don’t have to wear a lot of makeup to make an impact.

“Summer is the time to pare down, but maybe have fun with a lip or a multi-purpose product to create a more monochromatic look. Think quick, easy and effective.”

natural beauty, sheri stroh headshotphoto credit: Alvaro Goveia