Meet Nat Van Zee, an international makeup artist and clean beauty consultant at VANZEE Beauty. Featured by Psychologies Magazine, Breast cancer UK, The Soil Association, guest speaker at WEN Forum at Amnesty International. Nat van Zee has worked backstage on high-end shows for Celine, Lanvin, Mulberry and many more. Her client list includes Vivienne Westwood, Selfridges, Vogue, i-D, Style as well as celebrities such as Cara and Poppy Delevingne, Gemma Arterton, Natalie Dormer and Karlie Kloss. She is a guest educator at LCF, Central St Martins, and Solent University, so we sit down with her to talk about common misconceptions within the beauty industry and her latest mission to promote non-toxic beauty.
What is a typical day in your life like?
There is no typical day, I could be doing make up for a photo shoot, consulting with a brand, speaking at an event, or meet with PR’s. I am always testing natural, organic, vegan beauty products and treatments. I also produce and art direct both still and motion brand content for multiple sites including my own. This year I trained in cosmetic facial acupuncture and light therapy which I love as it promotes well-being and youthful skin at any age.
You are currently promoting non-toxic beauty, can you talk to us about this?
Sure, five years ago I had a beauty treatment that changed my life. I was in Sydney on a massage table, booked in for my first organic skincare experience. Soothing music played while I was wrapped in soft fluffy towels. I then received Sharon’s full celebrity facial treatment. The facial oils very much lifted my mood and then peeked my interest. I was so relaxed I was unable to talk ‘shop’, so Sharon and I arranged to meet again to discuss her artisan MV Skincare range in more detail. The next time I found out way more than I bargained for. Sharon explained that our skin absorbs what we put on it, and that commercial beauty products are formulated with chemicals derived from petrol! And how these petrochemicals can disable skin function, add to the burden of toxins in our body, risking not only allergic reactions but also pre-mature aging, hormone imbalance, fertility issues, neurological illness and even cancer. To say I was horrified is an understatement – to find out my professional makeup kit contained carcinogens changed my perspective on my career in a big way. I decided to find non-toxic beauty products that work and inspire others to empower their beauty and health choices.
I launched www.vanzeebeauty.com showcasing my favourite tried and tested natural, organic and vegan beauty heroes, with shopping links to make it easy for people to switch to clean beauty. Most are not found on the high street and often only available online, which is why I do consultations, events, and masterclasses for people to experience them in real life.
What has the journey been like trying to get consumers to understand the potentially harmful effects of modern beauty?
It has been challenging and rewarding. There is an awakening amongst consumers demanding for more transparency and seeking brands that represent their values whether its sustainability, fair-trade or cruelty-free. Yet this awareness is not widespread. I regularly advise consumers to always read the ingredients label just like we do with food and be aware of what is in the product as you may still find toxins.
Right now big corporations are buying up the smaller ethical brands, as natural beauty is big business. It is up to us to remind them we want non-toxic beauty for our health, animals and the planet.
You mention that our beauty routine can often be linked to health issues, why do you think a lot of people haven’t come to this realisation yet?
A lack of awareness, a lack of availability of essential information is normally what I find when speaking to people about their health and beauty. In daily life, our bodies are exposed to many manmade chemicals in our environment, many that did not exist 60 years ago. For example, Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC’s) are found in many consumer products – including beauty – these lab-made chemicals that can change our natural hormone balance and may cause health issues.
The big take away here is to take responsibility for our own health, reduce our toxic exposure by investing in our health. Our skin absorbs what we put on it and every change we make makes a difference. We have access to a wealth of nutrient-rich organic beauty ingredients that are in synergy with our bodies, tried and tested far back in time. So my advice is to read the ingredient label of your products and buy the purest plant-based products you can find, to nourish your looks from the outside in.
What is the common misconception about ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ products in which they may or may not be?
Any brand can say they are natural or organic if they have 1% natural content in the product. Any label like ‘non-toxic’, ‘herbal’, ‘conscious’ or ‘organic’ has no legal definition. Toxicity apps like ThinkDirty, CodeCheck or EWG will help you screen your products for common toxins to avoid. To make it easy for yourself look out for certification logos for authentic products, but be aware their standards vary and are a guarantee of safety, not performance.
Best piece of advice you have been given?
I am really inspired by Arianna’s Huffington’s book Thrive. In which she writes to live your life simply by how you want to be remembered when you die. For me, that is to be kind, inclusive and play. I follow my passion and speak my truth now more than ever. Life is too short to do otherwise, and anyway you can’t please everyone in this world. But if I inspire people to make empowered choices for their health and our planet, I’d say job well done.
What would you like to see changed in the beauty industry?
I’d like clean beauty to be mainstream instead of niche; championed by top models and celebrities on front covers. I want to see magazines to promote healthy beauty products and attitudes. Students and teens who are new to make up to know and understand how to make healthy beauty choices. I like to see one global standard that legally defines organic and natural criteria so consumers cannot be misled.
What can we expect from you in 2018? Maybe an organic product line or book perhaps?
I am in the middle of editing a digital Clean Beauty Course, a complete toolkit to help you choose the healthiest beauty. Feel free to follow me over on my social media channels and sign up for my news to hear when it goes live, you will receive a Clean Beauty Mini-Guide!
And yes that product line is certainly on the cards, stay tuned…
Finally, can you give us 3 staple pieces of advice we can apply to our lifestyle to prevent these chemicals getting into our system?
Find out about and feel the benefits of clean living. Explore what things work for you. Buy certified organic everything – from beauty to food and cleaning products.
Twitter:@vanzeebeauty | Instagram: @vanzeebeauty