Finding a Work/Life Balance As A Vegan.

it's Vegan Month.

We asked our mua, Mena pyne to tell us what inspired her to work with a vegan kit.


Food for thought

We are often contacted by makeup artists wanting to join our tribe. They proudly state that they use cruelty-free and vegan brands, but often without little understanding that 'cruelty-free' and 'vegan' doesn't mean clean and non-toxic, which is our area of expertise, after all.

If the ingredients in a product are made from petrochemicals, which in turn devour ecosystems and harm our planet (which support the livelihoods of animals), how cruelty-free or vegan are they, really?

Hair and Makeup by  | Image by Tomila Katsman

Hair and Makeup by  | Image by Tomila Katsman

Mena's Motivation

With skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and skin cancer all in my immediate family, natural and organic skincare always leaned towards being more of ‘the norm’ in my life. Being a natural beauty enthusiast and reaching for the more earth-friendly products, made me realise that incorporating these standards into my job is a must. With all those things in mind, going ‘green’ with my kit was something that made so much sense to me. And it was at that point that I realised that I had found a job that I felt passionate about and truly cared about. After assisting Khandiz Joni on a shoot for Elle Magazine, I knew that it was possible to still create impactful work that resonated my personal values and build a name for myself in the industry.

I’ll be honest, building up the perfect organic, natural kit isn’t a destination at all. It is a process that is ongoing, a journey if you like. Using up my non-ethical products is more important to me than chucking them in the bin. Wasting half used products just to make space for new ones would be going against the idea of sustainability and conscious living.

Last year I went vegan for environmental and animal welfare reasons. After learning that raising animals for food and beauty wasted so much water and produces more greenhouse emissions than all of the cars, planes and other forms of transportation combined, I knew that there was not a better time to go ‘green’ by living green. From that point on my dedication in ‘greening’ my kit also manifested itself into using clean products that also happen to be vegan.

Just like ‘greening’ my kit is an ongoing process, going vegan with my kit is too. Learning about all the different ingredients, getting to know products and being able to afford the switch - it’s definitely not something that can miraculously happen overnight.

Quite frankly, it shocks me that products are still tested on animals. I find it totally barbaric and outdated as a concept. Here's the thing, just because a lipstick claims to be cruelty-free, doesn’t mean that it is ‘clean’ and better for you or the environment. It’s important to note that cruelty-free claims don’t truly mean animal-friendly. A lipstick that isn’t tested on animals for example often contain ingredients that require the death of an animal to produce – a process that’s hardly cruelty-free. 

Likewise, just because a moisturiser claims its ingredients are 96% natural, or totally vegan, doesn’t mean it should be considered an all hail clean product that will do magic wonders to your skin. It might mean it uses natural or vegan ingredients, but do those ingredients contain toxic chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, SLS, the list goes on? Perhaps those toxic chemicals are classified as vegan but they can still be extremely damaging to your health. These are questions I’m constantly having to ask myself and it requires a lot of research, time and patience. You have to fully throw yourself in there if you’re wanting to make the big switch.

It seems crazy to me that as a human race, we have become so blinded by clever branding and marketing tactics. We check our food labels, so why don’t we do the same for our beauty products? We are shocked and disgusted when we learn about olden day beauty regimes; lice infested mouse hair for eyebrows and lead-based mixtures that caused tooth decay and death in the Elizabethan era. The beauty industry today is hardly different, unless you think putting toxic chemicals and animal derivatives such as cochineal dye (crushed beetles), *squalene (shark liver) and guanine (bat poo / crushed fish scales) on your skin is a clever, innovative and modern thing to be doing: non-vegan and non-clean products quite literally contain ingredients that kill innocent animals, are harmful to aquatic sea life and detrimental to our own bodies.

*Note: Squalane can be derived from plant sources such as olive oil and sugarcane.

It is so important to me to remain consistent in being ‘green’ and vegan with the brands that I use both in my kit and for my own personal use and let me tell you, it’s not a matter of just popping into Superdrug or Holland & Barrett and grabbing something off the shelf in the hope that a product ticks one of those boxes. There is so much research that goes into each and every product I include in my kit. 

I am proud to be a conscious consumer and love being part of such a big change in the industry. If I can avoid causing harm to myself, animals and the environment whilst not once feeling like I am sacrificing an amazing makeup product, then so can you!


Would you like to book Mena for your next shoot?