Established MUA, Gucci Westman spills the tea on skincare-makeup hybrids, clean beauty, and starting her own makeup line
Back to basics
If there's a beauty buzzword that's gained prevalence in recent times, it's conscious. Conscious beauty, that is. More often than not, it is in reference to brands of the clean, vegan, and cruelty-free variety alongside a whole host of other descriptors that boil down to the same sentiment: products that are as good for your visage as they are the environment and ecological system.
In an ideal world, it is an unchallenging, straightforward path — quality is not compromised in the pursuit of natural, organic, and good-for-ya-health offerings; pigments retain their punch; and production value is kept at a reasonable cost achievable by most labels. The beauty sphere is, then, naturally populated with mindfully sourced and crafted skincare, makeup, and the like. Everyone wins. Except, of course, there's a lot more work that goes into developing a line of such calibre.
Gucci Westman would know. The makeup luminary launched Westman Atelier just last year, a luxe range comprising clean, high-performance, and skin-nourishing cosmetics. With rave reviews aplenty already rolling in, the question that comes to mind is: how did she do it? Thankfully, long-time partner, Net-a-Porter, was more than willing to facilitate an email interview — and allow us to ask the legend herself all our burning questions. We detail it all, below.
How did your love for makeup begin?
I started experimenting with makeup at a young age. My mom told me I couldn't wear it, so of course I rebelled and really played with it all. On the bus to school in the mornings, I would do all the girls' makeup — it was like love at first sight.
Cool. What was the first ever makeup product you ever used?
I don't use it still but Bienfait du Matant from Lancôme! I was a teenager when I got it and remember thinking it was so luxurious. I would buy a darker shade and mix it with moisturiser to make a bronzing crème.
What made you decide to start your own makeup line, then?
When I've worked with brands in the past, I've always had such a passion for the product development side. I'm fascinated by the dynamic between creating the products in the lab, then as a makeup artist seeing how they work when you apply them to the skin.
To sum it up, I saw an opportunity in the market to create a line that bridged the gap between natural and luxury. I wanted to be able to replace some of my favorite items in my makeup kit with clean, high performing alternatives. I feel there's some sort of unspoken feeling that if products are considered 'luxury' that one must compromise on the ingredients. It almost feels as if like luxury and clean are a contradiction in terms, and I just don't believe that.
Did you have any doubts about starting your own beauty brand?
Absolutely. In the very beginning of Westman Atelier, it was so difficult to put everything into motion. I felt pretty stuck initially. The beginning process is really hard to navigate. We're still a small, humble brand. I'm incredibly proud of what we're doing but I'm always looking to see what I can do better. I think that's part of being a creative person — you're always doubting, re-evaluating and wanting to learn. Even years ago, when I was doing so many magazine covers, I never felt like I was crushing it. I don't want to take anything for granted. It's crucial to be open-minded and have the ability to evolve.
Westman Atelier has such a unique brand philosophy. How did you come up with it?
I developed rosacea later in life and it's truly frustrating to deal with. I wanted to give women and men more from their products. I've always thought makeup and skincare go hand in hand, so why not have active ingredients at efficacy levels in the makeup you wear every day to help the health of your skin? It's a no-brainer for me. My makeup isn't a solution but it's definitely helpful. I want clients to feel reassured that the products they're putting on their skin are focused on soothing and calming the skin.
You guys are a clean beauty brand, too, though there has been some debate on what 'clean' really constitutes. What does the term mean to you?
Clean beauty is mindset. It's about being conscious of the ingredients you put in your body as well as the ones you put on your body. It's an extension of a lifestyle. We deserve more from our products — clean, safe, performing products need to be the new normal. At Westman Atelier, our mission is to create safe, skin-nourishing makeup that targets real issues with ingredients at proven efficacy levels. We've partnered with independent green chemistry advisors to develop a strict blacklist and are committed to using the highest number of plant-based actives possible without disrupting a product's performance. When we do use a synthetic, it has been thoroughly safety vetted, from a human and environmental standpoint, and transparently explained.
Westman Atelier launched at Net-a-Porter last year. Why did you did you decide to launch with Net-a-Porter?
Net-a-Porter is the destination for curated luxury goods. They've been an incredible global partner to launch with.
You have certainly seen the Net-a-Porter customer grow and evolve over the years. From your perspective, how have they changed and how are they the same?
The customer is focused more on integrity, authenticity, and sustainability. They want clean, safe products that are still aspirational.