“I started with lipstick because [you] can have the most fun with color,” says Sheena Yaitanes, founder of L.A.-based clean beauty brand Kosås. “[Lipstick also has] a sensory experience [to it]: you taste, feel and smell it, and oftentimes that experience is offensive.”
While pregnant with her first daughter, the now-mother-of-three set out to formulate something fresh. “I wanted to create the richest, most flattering and modern shades, but also a [pleasurable] experience, which I achieved by harnessing the power of botanicals,” she explains. Yaitanes, who studied biological sciences, found her niche with nontoxic, high-quality formulas that work with the skin instead of masking it. “Beauty products have to work, and every maker should feel a responsibility to achieve [performance] without using harmful ingredients,” says the California native.
Devotees of the brand—which recently expanded to include blush-highlighter duos—herald the rich, universally flattering colors, something Yaitanes credits to her fine arts background (having apprenticed under L.A. artist Stephanie Pryor). “When I was studying portraiture and how to mix skin tones for paintings, I learned to start with primary colors rather than browns or earth tones, and the final result was alive and human,” explains Yaitanes. “I knew that if I brought this perspective to color cosmetics, I could create flattering, spot-on shades.”
Today, the focus on all-natural, highly effective products has permeated the local beauty scene. “L.A. women tend to wear less makeup, [and seek] multipurpose products instead,” says Yaitanes. “[That] lines up perfectly for Kosås because we don’t have an overwhelming selection. One compact, one lipstick, and you’re done.” Credo, L.A.