Kjaer Weis $68
The Kjaer Weis founder on the events leading up to her successful all-natural color line.
Kirsten Kjaer Weis has been deeply rooted in nature since the day she was born. The makeup artist and founder of all-natural color line Kjaer Weis grew up on a farm in the Danish countryside. “The town I lived in was three or four hours from Copenhagen and very rural,” she explains. “I grew up on a working farm, so everything we ate we grew in our own garden.”
But Kjaer Weis never thought of makeup artistry as a vocation. While she always had a love of design, she thought her future was in architecture. But her interest was piqued when she heard about a makeup school in Paris. “I was working as an apprentice at a salon learning to do facials and makeup, and the woman who owned it was a huge inspiration because she was everything I hadn’t grown up with,” says Kjaer Weis. “She represented art and design. She always wore Yves Saint Laurent and she would say with a smile ‘Anything but YSL itches.’ She took a liking to the makeup I did, and she said I should go to Christian Chauveau Artistic Makeup School.”
After a year at the school, Kjaer Weis headed back to Copenhagen to find work. “I happened to fall into the right place at the right time,” she notes. “From day one I was booked all the time for editorials, advertising campaigns, and commercials, so it was easy for me to build a book.” After three years in Copenhagen, she traveled to Vancouver to work on film sets. She quickly realized it wasn’t for her, then moved back to Copenhagen, relocated again to Paris, and in 1997 ventured to New York City to build her portfolio in the United States.
Luckily, her pared-back aesthetic was well received in New York, and almost immediately she began shooting for Self and Marie Claire with photographers like Mark Abrahams and Mark Seliger. But while on set, Kjaer Weis realized she was no longer satisfied with the makeup she was using. “I had a crazy frustration seeing so many skin issues when using certain products on a model,” she says. “In 2003, I felt like it was time to create a line and solve this ongoing problem.”
It took seven years to formulate the perfect product, based on a hydrating blend of shea butter and castor seed oil. For the packaging she turned to designer Marc Atlan, the man behind the iconic Comme des Garçons eau de parfum bottle, and together they created a modern, sustainable design (her chic metal compacts can be refilled). Finally, in 2010 Kjaer Weis unveiled the range—which comprised cream blush, lip tints, and eyeshadows—to great acclaim. “When crafting my line I was definitely inspired by François Nars, especially the NARS Multiple, because in makeup school we were taught to use such traditional products,” explains Kjaer Weis. “That was a huge aha moment for me, and I was very motivated by the makeup artists with their own lines under their own names. Subconsciously they made me realize I could do it too.”
The collection has grown to include 125 products, with many more on the horizon. “I really love perfecting what was initially just an idea on paper for a product,” enthuses Kjaer Weis. “For me, my line is not just about one thing; it’s about having an equal emphasis on ingredients, performance, and design.”
Kjaer Weis on Sofia Coppola, interior design, and how internal health always comes first.
My area—the Financial District in New York City—is packed with manicurists, so I go to the local ladies. I love Ann Salon on Maiden Lane. Ann is the owner, and she is such a hard worker. It’s not fancy, but they are super nice and they always deliver.
I go to Takamichi Hair for my color. I found a colorist named Sarah there, and she is really able to nail the perfect blond that comes off as completely natural and perfectly undone.
I like Adore Floral Inc. in Nolita. They are really good at creating bouquets that make it seem as though you were walking through a field. It’s not so precious; it’s a little out of the ordinary.
Internal health always comes first. I try to have as alkaline as diet as possible. I really believe in a clean, light diet. Whatever you feed the inside shows on the outside. After that, I care for my skin with beautiful organic oils. They’re very active and they work. I’m currently using my new Kjaer Weis Facial Oil, which will be available in February, but I love May Lindstrom Youth Dew too.
I would love to do makeup on Sofia Coppola. I think she embodies an understated beauty, and she also has great style and holds her own. I think the aesthetic in her movies are specific statements, yet also timeless. She has created a very powerful, calm presence that transcends.
If I wasn’t doing makeup and creating my line, I would probably be an interior designer. I’m very influenced by what I grew up with—mid-20th-century Scandinavian Danish furniture. It literally feeds me. I don’t function if my surroundings are not pleasing to the eye. I love design and I love color matching, especially unorthodox matching and textures—like having something very clean combined with something very rugged.
DO YOU SEE A PERFUME BOTTLE AS HALF-EMPTY OR HALF-FULL?
I’m really an optimist. I always see it half-full.
PREFERRED VACATION DESTINATION
I love France, Ireland, and Italy, all of which I’ve been to. But Japan is high on my list, and I can’t wait to go there.
THE FIRST THING I NOTICE WHEN I MEET A NEW PERSON IS THEIR…
So much exudes from the eyes. I feel like in a split second you can see if it’s a sad person, a kind person, or an energetic person.