Beth Thompson, natural makeup artist & formulator, Cosmic Tree Essentials

Beth Thompson, natural makeup artist & formulator, Cosmic Tree Essentials

"Here in this body are the sacred rivers: here are the sun and moon as well as all the pilgrimage places... I have not encountered another temple as blissful as my own body." Saraha

Cosmic Tree Essentials grew out of a love for nature’s essential oils, versatile aromatic plant oils used in cosmetics through the ages, and is named for the Cosmic Tree, a symbol of the interconnectedness of all life, rooted deep in the earth with branches outstretched to cradle the heavens. 

It began when I was in my twenties, living in Vancouver, and a friend introduced me to essential oils. One visit to the Gaia Garden Herbal Apothecary and I was mesmerized, signing up for workshops to learn to make potted lip glosses and cold creams, reading every book about essential oils I could lay my hands on, and collecting vials of essential oils as I went. 

I was motivated to create my own natural cosmetics, beginning with skin care, because I'm sensitive to the formaldehyde-donor preservatives in most mainstream cosmetics. I had been managing corporate web site strategy for a large telecommunications company, but when I visited the Mayan ruins of Caracol in Belize and our guide showed us a towering Ceiba tree and spoke about the symbolism of the Cosmic Tree, the vision for Cosmic Tree Essentials came into focus and has been driving my creative development ever since.

Between bursts of formulating small batches by trial and error, I researched good manufacturing practices, regulations, packaging (I use Miron Violettglas to shield botanical facial care from light degradation, and magnetic compacts to encourage reuse), labelling with French translation and International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients, brochure and web site design (I spend hours deliberating over typefaces and was relieved when the documentary Helvetica came out in 2007 and I realized so does everyone else). I created in early 2007 and, with the encouragement of my friend Laura from Osha Mae soap, applied for and attended my first Halifax Crafters' Show late that year. 

I have a journalism degree and I love to research. I source any organic botanicals I don't grow myself from suppliers who test their essential oils for purity using use gas chromatography, their hydrosols to ensure they surpass the safety standard for drinking water, and their dried herbs and petals to ensure they are free of microbial contamination, heavy metals and pesticide residues. I use only cosmetic grade minerals. I study the properties of each ingredient I use, and check its safety profile on the Skin Deep database, which cross references dozens of databases around the world. Most of the emulsifiers and preservatives I use are food grade and all are approved by ECOCERT for use in certified organic products.

My all-natural lipsticks are artisan crafted with fair trade organic dark chocolate in a base of cocoa butter, plant oils and candelilla wax which I colour with cosmetic grade minerals and cast in a teardrop shaped mold. I blend my loose mineral foundations, blushes and eyeshadows from cosmetic grade serecite, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, kaolin clay, micas and iron oxides. It took me a year to develop the foundation shades and another year to develop blush, lipstick and eye shadow shades to harmonize with a diverse range of skin tones. My family was an important source of encouragement through those years, and still is!

In 2010, I went back to school to earn a diploma in Makeup Artistry and Design, largely for the opportunity to match my shades to as many skin tones as possible. I was the only student using my own cosmetics for practicums--many thanks to my mentor, makeup artist Nadine Poirier, for making that possible--and graduated with a 99 per cent GPA. Upon graduating. I became a licensed makeup artist. Since then, I've formulated the Sylphide, Naiad and Crucible collections of colour cosmetics, as well as the complete line of botanical skin care and hair care.  

I’m fascinated by colour theory and keep a finger on the pulse of colour trends and what’s on the runways each season. My work continues to evolve through my interactions with clients--often, people will ask me to match the shade of a favourite lipstick or eyeshadow another company has discontinued, or create a natural alternative to a mainstream product they love. 

As a makeup artist, every time I apply makeup for a client, I'm assessing how each product is performing, which is the best brush or sponge to use, how well the product adheres, how well it blends, how well it harmonizes with the other products I'm using and with the client's colouring.

Many thanks to all of you whose special requests have sparked ideas for new products and shades : )  

And thank you for your interest in Cosmic Tree Essentials!