She's so Cult

She’s So Cult: Sheena Yaitanes of Kosas

Founded by multi-talented LA artist Sheena Yaitanes, {Kosas} unites impeccable shade ranges with botanical-rich formulas. The result? Make up that’s as good for your skin as it is gorgeous to look at, flattering a vast spectrum of skin tones with beautifully pigmented products – from lipsticks to bases – that are crammed with nutrient-dense ingredients. A consciously formulated collection of good-for-skin and treat-for-the-eyes make up? Yes please… 

Ahead of Kosas’ launch at Cult Beauty, we sat down with the brand’s founder, Sheena Yaitanes and asked all the questions you could possibly want to know about this lust-have brand that we’ve quickly fallen head over heels for.

{Cult Beauty} Hi Sheena! First off, can you tell us about your background and how it helped you create Kosas?

{Sheena Yaitanes} I studied both science and fine art, but make up and beauty were a huge part of my life growing up. I use both every single day, because they let me get incredibly precise on both formulation and colour.

{CB} So what skills from your fine art and organic chemistry background did you take into creating Kosas’ formulas? 

{SY} Studying fine art allowed me to have a vocabulary around colour and to truly understand the “anatomy” of colour, which is incredibly helpful when it comes to skin tones, because they are so delicate and complex. Organic chemistry lets me get creative with formulation, question ingredients, and find different pathways to the results that we’re looking for. 

{CB} Can you describe Kosas in three words/one sentence? 

{SY} Clean. Weightless. Vibrant. Freeing.

{CB} That’s so interesting. How important is diversity in your colour ranges? Are they as hard to formulate as people say?

{SY} A fully inclusive colour range is possible, if you take the time to observe all the different skin tones and not try to combine undertones. To observe means to look at real skin with both eyes open, and then approach the colour innocently and honestly, without skewing it via our own biases.  

{CB} Kosas’ formulas are known for being incredibly versatile across skin tones too. How do you create colours that work on a variety of skin tones?

{SY} The only way to achieve this is to test across a variety of tones. Colours that work across a variety of tones still look incredibly different on each one. The goal is to make them look flattering on all and this is usually achieved through a process of balancing red pigments. 

{CB} When creating your shade ranges, how many iterations might you go through to find the perfect shades?

{SY} As many as it takes to get to the truth! It has happened in as little as a single iteration, and so many that I’ve lost count for the {Weightless Lipstick}. 

{CB} Can you give us any tips on how to find your perfect lipstick shade?

{SY} I love looking at photos of people with similar skin tone to myself, and then asking them what they’re wearing. 

{CB} Why was a ‘clean’ make up line so important to you when creating Kosas?

{SY} I’m very mindful of the things I put on, in, or around my body. I didn’t even think twice about using clean formulations. That wasn’t even negotiable. I did it because I knew it could be done, and I knew the result would work better than anything else out there. 

{CB} What do you think of the EU’s plan to ban the term ‘clean’ from beauty products?

{SY} I can understand why a regulatory body would move to ban an undefined term. The next step would be to define it, because I do think it would be helpful to those who are searching for clean formulas.

{CB} What can’t you leave the house without?

{SY} My phone and my LipFuel.

{CB} Can you tell us what ‘cult’ means to you?

{SY} To me, it means that something is so good, that you want to bond with others over it. 

{CB} What beauty rules do you think we still need to break?

{SY} The existence of rules itself needs to break. 

{CB} When did you first fall in love with beauty/what was your first lipstick?

{SY} I will never forget my very first lipgloss. It was from Lancôme, baby pink like a ballet slipper, and I was around 10 years old. It was so cute in the bottle, and so awfully unflattering when I put it on. I never wore it for that reason, but I adored it anyway. 

{CB} Do you have any bedside beauty essentials?

{SY} Just a small bottle of vetiver essential oil. It puts me in the deepest sleep. 

{CB} And for those unfamiliar with Kosas, what product is certain to trigger addiction?

{SY} Probably {Tinted Face Oil}, because the result is so striking but it still doesn’t look like make up, and it just takes a few seconds. 

{CB} What are your favourite good-to-skin ingredients that people need to incorporate into their routines?

{SY} I’m a huge fan of botanical oils for the skin (not essential). They balance the skin like nothing else, because they give your skin just what it’s craving.

{CB} Finally, seen as Kosas started as a capsule collection of lipsticks, what’s next on your radar?

{SY} We are moving across the entire face! From {Color + Light Crème} to the {Color + Light Powder} I love every feature of faces, and it’s such a fun challenge/obsession to discover the best way to approach each part of it. 


Emmie Thornhill

Emmie Thornhill

Deputy Content Editor

Emmie is Cult Beauty’s Deputy Content Editor. Her love of skin care began in primary school when she first learned the term “hormonal acne” and has been in a love-hate relationship with tea tree oil ever since. She lives in East London – where you can normally find her baking, tending to her plant jungle or planning her next tattoo or hair cut/colour appointment – and is known to start DMCs with you about your birth chart placements, the importance of wearing SPF every day and the difference between a vagina and vulva.