Women We Admire | Christine Jairamsingh August 23 2020

Christina Jairamsingh

Christine Jairamsingh is a clean beauty consultant, makeup artist and writer. With over 15 years of experience, she has explored a unique combination of roles in beauty, fashion and wellness, including marketing, product development, retail curation, and working on-set for fashion and commercial photoshoots. Her makeup work has appeared in Vogue Portugal, Elle CI and Fashion Magazine, and is a testament to her love of colour, skincare and elevating authenticity and creativity above all else.

In addition to working behind the scenes, Christine is consistently exploring the foundations of beauty, while finding ways to deconstruct one-dimensionality and lack of inclusivity. She believes that beauty is free-form, fluid and a tool for expression and empowerment rather than perfection. Years of varied professional and personal experience have led her to focus on constructively voicing and bringing criticisms to light while working on initiatives to push for change. She is currently using writing as a medium to express her vision for the evolution of fashion, beauty and wellness, with an emphasis on highlighting BIPOC history, perspectives and talent.

We asked her a few questions about her experience in the green beauty industry.

How did you get involved in the clean/green beauty industry?

I’ve always had an inherent interest in both beauty and wellness. From a young age, I was reading fashion magazines and fawning over products at the department store. I also took an interest in healing, especially nutrition, and ancient and Indigenous methods of care from around the world. The combination of those two passions resulted in seeking out natural beauty products, but only finding the odd product or ingredient at health food and Indian and Caribbean grocery stores, which was all that was available to me at the time.

Ten years ago, after completing holistic nutrition school in Vancouver and deciding to focus more seriously on a freelance makeup career, I wanted my personal beauty products and what I used on clients to reflect the values I held about avoiding ingredients with associated health concerns, but there still wasn’t much available. There were still very few retailers that were associated with natural products, and many of the makeup options they sold weren’t up to standard, selection and performance-wise.

I moved to Toronto six years ago, just as brands and clean products started to pop up exponentially, and, as options arrived, I incorporated them into my focus along the way. I started working for The Detox Market as their Lead Makeup Artist and Educator and initiated staff training on skincare, makeup and wellness products. I also designed and launched a program for professional makeup artists to have access to clean beauty education and community. My time there was all about witnessing the beginnings of what’s referred to as the clean beauty industry now, and helping to shape what that looked like.

Over the years, I’ve spent A LOT of time testing products to be used on set for fashion and commercial photoshoots, as well as on clients, and I love perfecting techniques to make sure I can get long-lasting and professional results. It’s been a rewarding and long term process of discovery, experimentation and curation! I’ve now had experience in multiple areas of the clean beauty industry and work behind the scenes as a consultant and educator for retailers and brands, so, in a way, I’ve come full circle and have developed a unique role. I’m always pushing for growth and improvement in the industry, as it’s a work in progress and I want to see it flourish and succeed.

How has the world of clean/green beauty been different from more traditional beauty brands?

The world of clean beauty is different because it comes with a much larger responsibility for brands. Traditionally, beauty brands were simply tasked with releasing products that work, but clean beauty is often held to a standard of accountability and transparency that hasn’t been seen before. Consumers want to know what all of the ingredients are on a label, sourcing stories, cruelty-free status, the values of founders and teams, if the packaging is sustainable, etc. It’s a much different environment than in previous decades, and many of these expectations have trickled into the beauty industry, as a whole. Natural and clean beauty has been a large part of setting the standard for consumers to be able to ask questions and be empowered in new ways that didn’t exist before.

What do you look for when working with or using a clean beauty brand?

I’m often picking and choosing on a product-by-product basis, as clean beauty brands can really vary and I like to find the gems across the board (aka. try everything). Clean beauty can be quite vast, and what I love is that there are different themes that fall under the umbrella of the label. Overall, I mainly look for quality, performance, and authenticity. I have a big soft spot for brands that focus on natural and herbal ingredients, as I think it’s a huge accomplishment to source those types of ingredients, as ethically and sustainably as possible, and to invest in them when there are inexpensive synthetic ingredients available. To me, it speaks to integrity and upholding the values of the founder and the brand, which is admirable. I also love finding brands that have a unique vision and who step outside of the stereotype of what clean beauty is supposed to behave and look like. Clean beauty doesn’t have to be minimal or “glowing and fresh”, it can be so many things.

What would you say are the biggest misconceptions about green beauty?

That it’s boring. That it doesn’t perform. That the industry solely relies on “fear-mongering” and pseudoscience to push products. There’s a lot of criticism that has been gaining traction, but what’s usually missing from the conversation is acknowledging the needs, preferences and experiences of individuals, and why the industry exists in the first place. What people need to know about are the countless experiences of individuals who have found relief, results and solace in natural and clean products. I’ve witnessed it many times, and that’s been my experience, as well. One example is that I have a difficult time using conventional products with synthetic fragrance, as it often leads to headaches and disorientation. I think until you have a negative experience yourself, it can be challenging for some to understand the motivation to prioritize natural and clean ingredients. It also needs to be widely understood that there’s no shame in simply loving and wanting to use natural, plant-based or clean ingredients. It’s a right and a preference that should be respected and doesn’t require validation.

The pandemic and Covid-19 have dramatically changed the ‘wellness’ landscape. Moving forward what are the things you see that need to change in this industry?

I see beauty and wellness as ever-evolving, and that gives me a lot of inspiration to envision change and transformation. Part of the effect of Covid-19 has been a greater willingness to go inward and question all of our routines, our relationship to community and the industries that we support. It’s developing an awareness of the ways in which we have maybe fallen short on accountability, but also how we’ve put too much pressure on ourselves to be productive, “hard-working”, “beautiful”, etc. People are reevaluating what they invest in (financially and emotionally), and the messages they are sending, both internally and externally, which is amazing.

One of the things that’s often missing from both industries is more of a holistic understanding of the origins of self-care practices and ingredients. We’ve been very lucky to pick and choose and draw from many traditions from around the world, but now’s the time to take it further, and fully commit to honouring the stories of the people that they come from. Making an effort to support and elevate communities and individuals associated with these traditions, both locally and globally, is essential to promoting inclusivity.

I’m also seeing a shift towards not regarding products as a sole vehicle to well-being. We’re starting to acknowledge that we’re unique and complex and that products are a valuable tool, yes, but they are a part of a larger framework that’s needed for true healing and enjoyment. Throughout my career, I have felt at odds with the tendency towards one-dimensionality and “perfection” in beauty, which, thankfully, is on its way out. Body positive movements have affected all areas of beauty, fashion and wellness, and it’s creating personal and collective freedom in how we view and experience ourselves. It’s an exciting time.

How have you been taking care of yourself during quarantine?

Truthfully, my self-care has become very bare-bones since COVID became a thing. The unravelling of everyday routines combined with the uncertainty of the future has resulted in me wanting everything to be as simple and straight-forward as possible. My first inclination at the beginning of quarantine was to focus on gardening and herbal medicine. That’s been my main pillar of strength and a way to check in with myself every day. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and to start thinking too much with everything that’s been going on! Something as simple as watering and smelling plants brings me back to what I value and find joy in, which is important. I’ve also been making infusions with flowers and fresh herbal ingredients and I’m finding that to be really helpful with de-stressing and calming my nervous system. Currently, my favourite ingredients are lemon balm, hibiscus, borage and tulsi. Also, I find journaling is an invaluable way to process emotions.

Learn more about Christine Jairamsingh at www.christinejair.com and connect with her on Instagram @christinejair.
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